Summer is over

I pray that I am wrong, but it looks like summer is over.  This weekend a cold front came in and fall arrived.  And it’s not ever September yet!  I guess I’ll be packing away the summer dresses and flipflops and trade them in for sweaters and snow boots.  This has been the shortest summer with the hot weather coming in July and leaving in August.  But its has been a great summer. 

I’ve been unexpectedly busy this summer with English Club four days a week in Stroiesti, 4  trips to Iasi with Lavinia and Bogdan, 3 trips to Oradea for my permit, and multiple adventures to visit friends in the area.  Its been a great summer…I just wish it wasn’t ending.

Today is the last day of English Club and then the kiddies will go full-time into the potato fields (once it stops raining of course).  And school will start on Sept 13 for the kids.  I’ll start the following week with my afterschool English program.

I will be taking the next couple of weeks off.  I need some time to recover and to plan for the fall and Christmas….wow, we’re talking about Christmas already!

There is one good thing about the end of the summer.  The hot water will be turned back on any day now.  And I have learned that by law the hot water must be turned on by the start of school (no body wants smelly children in the classroom!).

I hope your summer was a great as mine!

A Challenge!!

This is a challenge to you all from my Aunt Ami and Uncle Aurel in Huntersville, NC:

 Melissa, I went on-line to MBK – the pictures of the meeting place are lovely! It will be a wonderful place for your children.

I challenge all who are able to meet or exceed the $500.00 donation, Uncle Aurel and I have made online toward the purchase of the meeting place and offer continued prayers for success.

With much love, Aunt Ami

  Dear Melissa,

 Uncle Aurel thinks we should do more to help raise funds for the new center, so our plan is this: when the first person meets our original challenge of $500 or more, we will donate another $500. Be sure to keep us informed of progress.

  ….and did I say that at $500 per donation, it would take only 90 donations to reach the $45,000.00; or 180 donations of $250.00. Looking at it that way helps put the amount in perspective.

 Love and hugs, Aunt Ami

A youth center

When I first started preparing to come to Suceava, to Romania to stay, I envisioned a place in Stroiesti for the kids to go after school, a place for Sunday School, for tutoring, a place for teams to come and stay, a place for me to live in the village.  Well,  God has answered my prayers and we have found a beautiful house near the center of Stroiesti.  There are 4 rooms in the house plus a bathroom and kitchen.  A hall way divides the house well so that 2 rooms can be for ministry-a large room for meetings and activities and smaller room for study and tutoring!  There are 2 rooms for me to live in and they end up being bigger than my current apartment!  And there is storage space…oh the storage space…… There is a barn with 3 rooms, 2 of which can be turned into a space for the kids to play and one for the coveted storage space. While the house does not have running water, it is all set up for running water.  Only a water pump and water heater needs to be installed.  It will be easy to install a water based heating system to heat the entire house so that we won’t have to rely on the ceramic stove, which will not heat the entire house in the winter.

The front of the house

The barn-the second set of doors opens into 2 large rooms.

There is a fruit orchard in the front garden with apples, pears, plums, cherries, sour cherries, nuts, red grapes, strawberries and apricots.  God has provided snack for the summer and fall and the kids can collect the fruit to turned in compot for the winter! There is an outdoor grill and well in front.  Behind the barn is a field.  This field will be a perfect play space for the kids…away from neighbors to the kids can run and scream and just be kids. There is a vacant lot on one side of the property followed by fields and fields. 

Fruit trees!

The property is close to the lake and is only a 2 minute walk from our current meeting spot.  It’s in a quiet area of the village but still quickly accessible by car and foot.

I found out today that the owner will accept 30k euros for the property. We don’t have that amount now.  We are praying for the money.  We will also need a some money for the immediate renovations such a running water and the heating system. Please pray for the money to buy this building.  Pray that this center will be a place of peace and hope for the village…that it will be a light in the darkness.

To see pictures and how you can help go to:  pictures are at the bottom of the page.

MBK has a new web site

Visit My Brother’s Keeper new website at

Full of great pictures and opportunities for you to get involved here in Romania

Update on Bogdan’s Eyes

Last Friday, I took Bogdan to his annual eye appointment in Iasi.  With only a minor confusion and detour we made it to the appointment on time.  (You may think its crazy that I get lost each time I go to Iasi..but you haven’t been to such a confusing city!) 

Anyways, you may remember that last year, the doctor was adamant about not having surgery and that surgery was only cosmetic.  Well, this year, after only one minute in the chair, she was talking about surgery. Both me and Olga, Bogdan’s mom, were surprised and  sceptical.  Olga politely reminded the doctor of what she had said last year and the doctor suggested new glasses.   We were ok with new glasses.  Bogdan is also supposed to do exercises with his eyes using eye patches.  I told him he will be a pirate!   So Bogdan got new glasses, which he needed because he had grown so much in the past year, that his glasses no longer fit his head.  The new glasses should be in next week.

Olga and I talked some more about surgery and it wasn’t until we got back to Stroiesti that she made the comment that the doctor never told us how much the surgery will be, only that because Bogdan is on “medicare” the hospitalization is covered.  Then Olga made a comment about the economic crisis.  ….

We will go back in November for a three-month check up and we’ll see then.

Diana’s Birthday

Diana turned 12 yesterday!  She had a little party; it was so sweet. Enjoy some pictures.

Around the table waiting for food.

Making crazy faces!

Best friends with Izzy--who got a new pink collar for Diana's birthday.


The children who had been coming to English club faithfully got backpacks yesterday!  Thank you New Harvest Church for the backpacks. Also thank you to COTC for sending some too!  These kids earned their new backpacks and the moms were thankful they didn’t have to find the money to buy new ones.  When the kids are asked by classmates why Miss Melissa gave them backpacks, I told them their response is: We earned them by going to English Club all summer! 

Adventures with INS: The 3rd and Final Chapter..I hope

My latest (mis) adventure started last Friday when I was driving to Iasi to pick up Lavinia.  I received a call from Mihaela.  She has just received a call from Bucharest.  They had lost their copy of my passport and there were in the middle of a committee meeting discussing my file.   Well, Mihaela and Gabi didn’t have a copy of my passport with them and they were on the road to Oradea.  My passport was in Suceava, but fortunately, I keep a copy in my purse.  So when I hit the first city between Suceava and Iasi, I stopped and searched for a copy shop and faxed my passport to Bucharest.  I didn’t leave until Mihaela received confirmation.

Sunday night, I left for Oradea on the night train. I had made arrangements to stay with my American friend, Kelly.  When I got close to Oradea I called Gabi and Mihaela because they were going to pick me up.  Well, Gabi had the flu and couldn’t come and pick me up.  No problem, I texted Kelly to ask what tram to take.  Her reply: I don’t know, there is construction.   Ok, so I just took a taxi.  And Kelly wasn’t kidding; half the tram tracks were dug up.  So I got to Kelly’s and slept for a couple of hours.  Then I went over to see Mihaela. 

Bucharest still hadn’t faxed my paperwork. This was the last bit of paperwork needed for my file.  Now, my visa had been approved by the police in Oradea, but they still needed this final form. So, Mihaela had called and called.  Finally, they just sent it (I think they were tired of Mihaela calling!!!).  Then, I took a taxi to the police (Mihaela couldn’t drive me because she had the girl and Puky McPukster to take care of…totally understandable).  I was at the police for less than 5 mins when I was greeted with a loud “MELISSA!”—is it good when the police know you by name??   My favorite Policewoman was happy to hand over my residency permit especially after I gave her the missing form from Bucharest.  And she didn’t make pay the fine for starting the process late (see earlier blogs for details).

So I was able to spend the rest of the day and Tuesday in Oradea with Kelly before getting on the train Tuesday afternoon.  The train was uneventful until in the middle of the night.  I had given my bottom bunk to a pregnant woman and her little dog and was on the top bunk. Well, she got up in the middle of the night, and I thought to myself “this is the time to go to the bathroom.”  As I was climbing down the ladder broke apart and I was hanging there with my feet where the woman’s pregnant belly should have been. Well, I scared the dog when I fell and it peed in the bed.  Wow!  Only insane things like this happen to me!

But I arrived safely at home at 4:30 am and went to bed.  I’m legal again in Romania and I’m here to stay…at least until this visa expires.***

***Just kidding..I’m really here for the long haul!

A Diagnosis for Lavinia

I picked up Lavinia yesterday and the doctors have finally given her a diagnosis.  She has Muscular Dystrophy, Chronic Infantile Encephalopathy, which is a form of cerebral Palsy, Radicular Syndrome, and Anemia.  There is no cure for these diseases, but the treatments include lots of physical therapy and celebrex.  I asked Lavinia what she knew about these diseases and was shocked to find out that no one told her.  I hope the doctor here in Suceava will explain to her what is involved.  Lavinia is a trooper and was so excited to get home yesterday.  She plans on meeting with her local doctor on Monday.  She was very pleased with the doctors in Iasi and has nothing but nice things to say about the hospital.

In the car, we talked about her going back to school.  She is excited to on Monday to register for classes now that she will be able to go back to school.  It will be hard for her.  She missed a year of school and spent much of that time in the hospital.  She wants to go to the technical school and learn to be a hair dresser.  She loves hair and nails and I think she will be very good at it. 

When we stopped for some lunch, Lavinia fell getting into the car.  She doesn’t want pity or help; she craves to be independent.  Her mom told me that she is scared for Lavinia to go to school because, although she won’t tell you, she falls a lot.  Her mother fears for her safety especially on the uneven pavements of Suceava.

Please pray for this courageous girl.  She just wants to be  a normal teenage girl and giggle about boys and listen to music.  She is interested in going to church and Sunday school.  She wants a better life than that she has seen in her family.

Checking in at the Hosptial

First of all, Praise the Lord we got to Iasi and back without getting lost or any illegal u-turns!

Ok, so we got to the hospital on Monday morning around 10.  We had been an appointment to check in to the hospital by the doctor last Wednesday for any time on Monday morning.  The line at triage was long with folks waiting to check in to the recovery hospital.  We waited in line for about 30 mins or so, only to find out that because Lavinia was a neurology patient she needed to first check in with that unit.  So, we went to the other side of the waiting room and waited with the other neurology patients until there were enough patients to merit the neurology nurse coming down to check folks in.  So we waited another 40 mins. The nurse came and signed our paper and sent us back to triage to check in.  That line had gone down more, so we only had to wait about 20 mins.

After we got Lavinia checked in, we were sent to the bathroom around the corner and had to wait (20 mins) until Lavinia’s name was called.  She was then told to change into her pajamas and her street clothes were taken and put into a small trash bag.  Lavinia was given a ticket for them and the nurse put them away.  Patients are not allowed to have their street clothes because then they might escape the hospital.  (I’m so not making this up!)

We were then sent upstairs and waited only a couple mins to be told what room she was going into.  Lavinia chose the bed closest to the window.  There is a pretty church on the top of the hill and she has a clear view of it.  There are 5 beds in the room and 3 of them had older women in them; some with pretty serious problems.  I hated to leave Lavinia there. 

The nurse came in and started doing an evaluation.  The doctor came in too.  They were lovely.  They listened to Lavinia and didn’t mind when I added information that Lavinia was hesitant to share or just couldn’t remember.  The doctor questioned why her mother or another family member wasn’t there, but didn’t dwell on it.  She questioned why all the tests and such started last fall and not 10 years ago, but again, didn’t push it.  They showed real concern about Lavinia.  Lavinia had fallen recently and had a horribly skinned knee and ankle; the nurse made sure it was cleaned up nicely.  Ana and I were able to stay for the entire evaluation. During the evaluation, Ana and I both realized that Lavinia’s mobility problems are much worse than she ever let on.  She is in more pain than she says.  I have never heard her complain, NEVER.   I don’t know how she climbed the mountain at camp in June.  Lavinia is such a brave girl. 

Ana and I instantly liked the doctor and nurse.  I will tell you that the doctor looks just like Uncle Joe’s daughters!  I couldn’t get over that…Cousin Estelle…I have met your long-lost sister!  Seriously,  the nurse and doctor were very professional and were nice to Lavinia.  There were genuinely concerned about her.  The doctor promised she would have a diagnosis before Lavinia checks out…however, she couldn’t tell us when that would be.  She could be there for a week.  After speaking with the doctor and watching the interaction, both Ana and I, felt at peace leaving our girl there.  She is in good hands!   Pray for a quick diagnosis and healing!

In the hospital with Lavinia