Summer Camp Update!

God is good!  We needed a minimum of $4500 for camp and we received $4595!  This is fantastic.  Yesterday, I passed out invitation to 35 kids from Stroiesti!  I didn’t realize how nervous I was to make the announcement about camp until after I made it; I wish I could have invited every child there.  Nor did I realize how nervous the kids were.  I’m amazed they were so well-behaved during the lesson!  I have 10 kids on the waiting list to come to camp.  I was glad there were no tears, even though some of the kids were disappointed about not getting an invitation.  The kids got invitations based on merit…who was coming to Sunday School, learning verses, behaving at Sunday School.  For the teens, the criteria was a bit different: the mentoring group, Sunday School, and those who work hard in the village.  For example,  Maria is 18 and does not come to Sunday School.  But I see her almost everyday at the school helping her mother clean the elementary building.  Maria doesn’t get paid to do this, she just does it to help her mom.  Because of this, her mom gets done sooner and is able to spend more time with the younger children in the family.  When I asked her if she wanted to come to camp, Maria was so excited; she’s never been to camp.

Because of last years swine flu “crisis” each child is required to have a doctor’s note stating they are healthy.  Last year, a few of kids just couldn’t get these forms.  There are a couple of families where the children’s health just isn’t a priority.  It breaks my heart. A couple of the kids got TB last year, but never finished their treatment or had follow ups with the doctor.  The whole family has been exposed. The doctor in the village is very frustrated with them. So I have my doubts that the doctor will give them a pass to come to camp.  The doctor also doesn’t like to pass kids with lice.  HA!  Most of the kids have lice, but they cut their hair super short and get rid of it.  There are some girls who absolutely refuse to cut their hair or  to pick the nits out.  I find this frustrating too! I have offered lice shampoo, but no one has taken me up on it.  Last year, the doctor gave health slips to us for the kids who’s only health issue was lice with the promise that we would get rid of the lice.  I pray the doctor will let us to this again this year.

Camp is in less than 3 weeks.  Pray that the kids can get through the last 2 weeks of school and get their medical forms. The kids must have their health slips in by the 13th.  I will post a list of kids to pray for as they come in. In the meantime, please pray for our team: Ana, Rebeca, Mihai, Teo, Alina, and myself, as well as Gabi and Mihaela, as we finish preparing lessons, games, art projects, music, and all the details for camp. Pray that camp this year will be life changing for the children.

Adventures with my Parents

My parents and I had a few interesting adventures while they were here.  We never, ever got lost on the confusing road of Romania, we only had unplanned adventures!  My favorite was the Salt Mines at Cacica (Ca-chi-ca).  Underground in the mine is a ball room, a church, a chapel, and a sport terain….and 286 steps with no working elevator.

Another fun adventure was to the Suceavita monastery and the village of Margina.  Suceavita is a wonderfully painted monastery, still in use today.  We had a nice time looking at all the painting and marveling at the details and dedication it took to paint it all.  Next was Margina, known for its unique black pottery. The Ceramics of Marginea are well known all over the world. The beginning of the pottery in Marginea was dated by the historians around 1500. Marginea’ s geographical location, surrounded by forests, crossed by the Sucevita river and its clay land were the main conditions for this art in which clay, water and fire are working together in a magic triangle. Before the communist regime in Marginea were approximately 60 families who were working in this art. During the communism regime the possession of a potter wheel was considerate an offence and a lot of potters renounced at this art or they were working in secret. Later, the communists tried to exploit this art in their benefits and to give a new form trying to mechanize it.   

Next to the pottery shops is a little cottage where Grandma Ana sells embroidered tablecloths, shirts, and other cloth items.  My mom bought so much stuff that Grandma Ana cried and gave my mom a ceramic bowl to remember her by.  So sweet.  One of the tray clothes that my mom got Grandma Ana made when she was a young woman…..
oh, and I can’t forget the Romanian traffic jam…..

So charming, it wasn't a bother.



Yesterday, I went to a wedding in the village.  Actually, I was asked to come and take pictures.  I very much enjoyed being the wedding photographer!  The young couple had a civil ceremony at the Mayor’s Hall.  This is required for each marriage in Romania and the Church Wedding is optional.  The Mayor was very funny during the ceremony.  When the bride and groom responded “da” or “yes”, the Mayor said, like a game show host “That is the correct answer.”  Afterwards, he was much more serious and gave the couple some advice and blessings. The Bride’s Godparents served at Witnesses. The Bride’s parents and neighbors where there and the Groom’s friend. 

The Mayor presiding over the ceremony.

The young couple has a little girl, Gabriela Georgeta, who is 5 weeks old. I was able to join the family for a small celebration and meal. The Groom’s grandmother was at the little party with the baby.   It was a wonderful celebration, despite the rain.  I pray that God will bless their marriage and their family.

The happy family

Summer Camp Update

God is in control and He has a plan for the children of Stroiesti…we just don’t always know what it is!  The planning for this year’s summer camp has been…interesting…. with no team from the States, I’ve had to find folks from Romania…and then keep them!  Right now, I have a great group of people who want to help with camp.  Pray that no more obstacles will get in the way.  One woman, Rebeca, spent last summer in Africa with orphans and she will be sharing her testimony with the campers.  My “partner in crime” every Sunday, Ana, who is a German and English teacher at a Christian school in the city, will be the main teacher at camp.  We have 2 guys who have just completed a missions training program in Spain.  And we have a lovely 17 year old girl who will join us for the second half of camp to help with the children. Gabi and Mihaela will be with us providing loads of support and keeping the hyper kids in line!

I am happy…no thrilled to announce that $3975.00 has been sent into MBK for camp.  We need a minimum of $4500.00 to have camp, and more would be ideal.  The more money, the more kids who get to come!

Please continue to pray for all of us as we plan and prepare for camp.  We have less than one month to go…..

Bogdan’s New Job


Bogdan is almost 16 and he has a new job for the summer.  He is working with sheep in a neighboring village, about 8 km from his home.  He guards the sheep as they are grazing and he assists the other men in gathering the sheep to milk.  He works all morning and in the afternoon he visits his cousins on another hill or works around the camp.  The sheep are milked and their milk is turned into cheese.  My parents and I were able to visit the sheep camp and the men gave us some cheese.  The men do not sell the wool from the sheep.  It turns out that it doesn’t make that much money.  Last year, the boss sheered the sheep and took the wool to the city and after paying the workers and the delivery truck, got very little money.  He said it just doesn’t merit the work.


Bogdan sleeps in this box near the sheep. Others are around the sheep pin.


Making cheese


Bogdan loves working with animals and enjoys his job with the sheep.  He is making a good monthly wage and wants to buy horse this summer.  With a horse, he will be able to join his father in the forest cutting wood.  He does get a bit homesick, so he his mother gave him an old cell phone and he calls her every evening. 

The view of the mountains and valleys are amazing.  The pictures do not it justice.  The air is so fresh and view is truly breathtaking. At times, the villages are hidden behind hills and you feel like you are a million miles from civilization, but you go to the next hill and see the city.    


The last 20 mins of the trip is on foot, up hill. I wore heels that day. (idiot)


Bogdan loves coming to Sunday School and usually, he would have to stay in the camp and miss Sunday School.  But Bogdan has amazing parents who know how important Sunday School is, not only for their son, but to their son.  Each Saturday afternoon, Bogdan’s dad bikes out to camp and trades places with Bogdan for the weekend and Bogdan goes back out to the camp on Monday afternoon.   My parents and I were able to play taxi drivers for Bogdan and his father.  Because of this, Bogdan’s mom sent along potatoes, onions, and bacon.  It was great being able to help.  His mom also said that Bogdan’s father will take his place with the sheep, while Bogdan is at camp with MBK this summer.  What an amazing family.  

Bogdan and his Father


My Parents in Romania

So my dad has learned how to be a Romanian electrician.  I love my dad, so impressed w/ his work!  He’s fixed the toilet and 2 outlets….using the parts from an outlet that doesn’t work at all and will need to have part of the wall chiseled out to get the wire…so dad just used the parts and waa-laa! For my birthday my folks got me a dresser w/ coat hooks and a mirror for the hall and a lamp for my bedroom.  My dad built the dresser…its great!  We moved a bookshelf w/ doors covering the bottom half into the laundry room and for $65 I got a lovely new book-case for my living room.  It has just my stuff–books and dvds– on it.  The bookshelf that was in the hall and another bookshelf (both of which were here when I moved in) got put on top of each other and put into a corner of the living room….it now has all the stuff for the kids– english book and sunday school book. On the bottom are art supplies, which my mom covered w/ an old table-cloth!  I got my self a floor lamp and have plugged it into an outlet my dad fixed!  I couldn’t have moved the furniture or built some of the stuff w/o them.  They have turned my apartment upside down…in a good way.  Its been great. 
Today I took them to church and folks made my parents cry 3 times by saying nice things about me (I hate that).  The pastor got up and said how glad they were to have me, and challenged the people….”melissa left america to come and work in the village here and we don’t even go to that village and it right here.”  He then talked about Jonah and preached that as Christians we are supposed to be obedient to God and to serve Him and others. It was powerful. My friend, Tim translated (Tim’s English is so good, I didn’t think he was Romanian) and then went out w/ us to lunch since his wife was out-of-town on business. 

41 kids in Sunday School ages 4-16.

Then to the village we had 41 kids and rain. It was a blast. My parents were impressed w/ the singing. We sang the kids’ favorite songs along to the cds, so of course they were great!  We played a game after praying and singing, then passed out stars for those who knew their verse from last time. Then the lesson. Ana  talked about Gideon.  Remember how Gideon asked God to give him a sign twice just to make sure he understood God’s request?  Well, I shared how I asked God twice for a sign that I was to come here to Romania.  Its good when the kids can see God working in the lives of those around them, even if they don’t see it their lives.  The kids were reminded again, that Gideon was from a poor family and he was the youngest and God used him, and God can use all the children too!   My mom has decided she wants to take some of the kids home with her.  I’ll checking her suitcase before she gets on the airplane.

Florin's first time at S.S.

Mihai makes an airplane!

Then we had a paper airplane contest! And paper airplanes landed in the lake!  That was a blast!

From my Mom

Well, we are now in Romania with Melissa.  We mostly came here to check up on our daughter and make sure all was okay for her.  Already John has fixed the toilet and I’m fixing the hem of the kitchen curtains and there is mending to do.  I not really sure what else I expected.  I don’t think it was the change of roles, Melissa is teaching us all kinds of things….Don’t talk to strangers, especially the ones that sit on the park bench all day, how to flush the toilet, to take off your shoes when you go inside, how to do laundry. We are having trouble with saying “thank you” but I think it is a language thing.  And today, Melissa really told her father that  “he was going to be late for school and she was leaving in ten minutes, with or without him.”  My, how times have changed.
The trip across country took much longer than I could ever have imagined.  But the country is so beautiful!  The vast stretches of land with no advertisements on what I should eat, drink, where to sleep or where to buy the cheapest gas.  Just wide open spaces.  We crossed two majestic mountain ranges.  Drove through a great deal of farm land, ready for planting.   It is perfect.  There are lots of small villages along the way and the folks seem to get along just fine.  You see the ruins of the communist era here. It is by far the saddest part of the trip.  There is so much going to ruin because of poor building and abandonment by the former government.
We finally made it to Melissa’s apartment in Suceava.  It is really a sweet little three room place. Perfect for one person full time and just fine for three people for two weeks.  Although Melissa  had John get a guitar for summer camp and now  Melissa wants to learn to play.  Well at least “Kum By Ya”.  This apartment just got a lot smaller
Melissa has taken us into the village twice now.  We went to school with her.  The children all seem to gravitate to her.  All are calling “Hello” and are quite curious about the two people she has brought with her.  Melissa could her them whispering “parents” in Romanian.  So the word was out.  These kids are so beautiful and I really mean that. They have the most wonderful faces. All are ready with a smile and their faces light up with each smile.  I took pictures of each child.  Some don’t have pictures at home and Melissa will give them all their own pictures  after I have them printed.  But every child sat perfect for the pictures and wanted to see for themself how they look.  We got to play Bingo and watch Melissa in action.  John became the caller and I will confess I helped the kids find the right words and numbers.  I only regret not being able to understand everything they had to say and to talk to them so they could understand me. I promise to work harder at learning Romanian before I come over again.
The second grade teacher came up to meet us and tell us how special Melissa is and how much the children love her and what a great opportunity it is for them to learn from someone who speaks English as their native tongue. 
Melissa is very comfortable here and if I had any doubts (which I didn’t…okay maybe a few) there is no doubt now.  My daughter is doing what she was called to do and is so very much at peace. God truly blessed her.  It puts my heart at peace to know that.
We were able to visit with one of the families so far.  What wonderful people, they welcomed us into their home and treated us to cake and a drink.  I was most eager to meet their son, Bogdan, as I have a special place in my heart for that young man.  He was not there.  He is tending sheep for another farmer, who lives 8 kilometers away and Bogdan will stay there for 3 months.  He is earning money so the family can buy a horse.  Something he wants very much.  I almost cried when I heard this, I was afraid I would not get to meet him.  But his mother, Olga, said Bogdan would be at Sunday School because his father would go over Saturday and take his place.  Instead, we will take Vasile, (the father) to trade places with Bogdan and then take Bogdan and his sister, Diana out for the afternoon. 
Olga (the mother) has promised to teach me how to make wonderful rolls stuffed with homemade cheese next week.  Wish me luck!  She served them to us and I only hope I can do half as well. As we left her home today, we were given more cheese roles, a liter of milk and some of her wonderful homemade cheese. What a gracious and beautiful lady. The life I see here is so different from the one we lead back home.  This family has worked very hard for the life they have and they are very proud of what they have done.  They are also willing to share it with us.  While we have so much and they so little, I never once saw poor people in that house. There are many lessons to learn from these kind and wonderful people.   I am grateful Melissa has such good people as friends.
Their beautiful daughter, Diana, is doing very well in school, in fact she has the best grades in the whole 5th grade.  She works very hard so she can go on the high school.  Her parents want that very much for her.  Many children in the village and in her extended family drop out at the age of 12 and some even earlier.  Many work with the family on the farms and find few ways to leave the village.  But not Diana, She is working hard and (if Melissa has any say) will probably go on to University as well, so she can help her parents and brother.
We’ve only just begun (no Carpenter songs please)  this “adventure” with Melissa in Romania.  Already I feel very humbled by what I have learned from them and about myself.  I look forward to where this adventure takes us and what else God has in store.
Annie in Romania   


the hair cut

finally a picture of the short hair…. its not the best pic, but it shows the hair.

Summer Camp

We are still in need of fund for summer camp.  I have made a list of kids and teens for camp and would love to be able to invite each one to camp!  The cost is $100 for a kid or teen for one week of camp and $200 for each counselor.  The teen camp will be 5 nights and 6 days of camp followed by kids camp, which is also 6 days and 5 nights.  The counselors will be there for all 10 days.

The address is as follows:

My Brother’s Keeper
P.O. Box 11
Roxbury, PA 17251
Please mark the memo line of the check as “camp, Melissa” so that we know how to direct and receipt the funds.  If sending by other method than check, please indicate the same information in some way to us.
If you desire camp advertisement material, information, etc. please don’t hesitate to ask.

Road trip with my parents

Yesterday, my parents and I drove from Oradea to Suceava.  Mileage wise, its like driving from Wilmington to Charlotte.  But it takes between 8-10 hours because the speed limit is about 35 mph in the countless villages and we crossed 2 mountain ranges. We make it in about 10 hours because of a detour and stops for pictures and food!  Instead of writing about the road trip I thought I would just show the pictures!

A stork in a nest. I finally know where babies come from.


A village hidden in a valley.


A Gypsy Palace...this one is actually finished.


Lake Belis-This 1 1/2 hour detour was well worth it. The lake covers a mass grave and a church; the steeple can be seen when there is a drought. The lake was stunning.


My dad was fascinated with the communist ruins


Carpathian Mountains....capped with snow.