Christmas boxes

Well, folks, I had to take a break and leave Suceava for a couple of days.  I went to a small village about 45 mins from the city to stay with Ana and her grandma.  It was great.  We watched movies, read books, and baked banana bread and cookies….it is a good thing I’m not planning a pre-wedding diet!  The only down side is that it got down to 3.2 degrees F that would be -16 C, regardless, very cold.  We stayed warm by the fire, but going to the outhouse was not so much fun!

Anyways,  here are some pictures of the kids with their boxes. They loved their gift.  It was great having Tyler, Jaime and Lydia with us.  They had organized the boxes so well and were able to really match the boxes with the kids who were not sponsored. Everyone went away happy! We did have some boxes left over and I was able to take them to some poor families that I know.  I have some boxes that will be birthday presents for the kids in Stroiesti.  Thank you to everyone who made and sent boxes.  You made Christmas a little brighter for the kids in Stroiesti and their families. 

Maria receives her box after the Christmas program.

Denisa tries to hold up her backpack, but it's almost as big as she is!

Larisa loved getting such a big box!

Tyler passed out boxes to the boys!

Many little ones came to our program for the first time!

Jaime passes out the boxes to the girls!

Even the littlest kids got boxes!

Jaime takes her job seriously as she find the perfect box for each child.

Ioana gives a cute little pose with her box!

Some of the boys give a last wave of thanks!


Enjoy these pictures from sledding with the kids.  Jaime, Tyler, Lydia and I had a blast sledding with the kids.

Two year old Denisa on the sled.

Lydia tries sledding with the kids.

Jaime with Ana and Denisa

Ioana slides down the hill on the ice!

Taking a break from sledding for the sheep.

School Christmas Programs

Class 2-a poses in front of their class Christmas Tree.

Class 2-b dressed in their finest sing by candle light.

The 8th grade boys danced dressed up like bears and other animals. No one could explain why they do this, except that "we always have..."

Santa visited each class and brought them gifts.

The children said their poems for Santa inorder to "earn" their gifts.

The boys from Kindergarten are all dressed up and perform for us all.

First graders line up and practice their carols in English.

Third and fourth graders celebrate winter!

First graders meet with their teacher before the show.

The Snow Fairy makes a visit!


Aren't the Kindergarten girls just beautiful in their traditional costums? Little Alexandra is all in white as the snow fairy.

Kindergarteners wave branches as part of a New Years tradition.

I had a great time going to all of the children’s programs.  In a few on the shows, the kids said poems or sang a song or two about Jesus Christ…the real meaning of Christmas.  Most of the events were celebrating Santa and Winter!  The children were so cute in their costumes and their very best clothes.  What a joy.  Last year, the children didn’t have a program because there was a strike the week before Christmas vacation, so everyone was extra excited about this year’s program.

Christmas Boxes

Thank you Thank you Thank you–Multumesc, Multumim!  I have 257 box: 88 for boys, 104 for girl, 4 boy/girl, and 60 boxes that were made for specific children.   This year we did something new.  My mom asked me for names and ages of some kids so she could get some family members to sponsor children.  Well, her excitement grew and so did interest.  Soon, folks from Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York and all over North Carolina had asked for children.  I sent pictures and short stories about the children.  Now, some folks wouldn’t let the shoebox size limit them and the boxes are much bigger!  (My brother’s family being the biggest offender!!!!!!!!!) It shows how much the folks connected with their “kids” and how big their hearts are.  The recipients will love it and I wait to see how much trouble I’ll be in with the other kids.  There is some thing really special about getting a box with your name on it and finding a note inside written to you personally. Depending on the reaction from the kids and families, we may have to do this again next year!

I also want to say thank you to my home church: Church on the Cape in Wilmington, NC for the boxes they sent.  They are beautiful.  Thank you to all of you who sent boxes from PA.  You are a blessing to all of us here.  Each box was packed with love and a prayer and every child will be thrilled to get his or her own box.  Each person who made a box has shown love to my children here in Stroiesti; you have shown the love of Jesus Christ.  Thank you.

That moving box is the one from my brother's family!!!!!! But who's pointing fingers..oh wait, me!

We will be passing out boxes on Thursday, December 23rd at our Christmas program. The kids have learned Christmas carols, including one in English, and poems.  Ana and Ancuta wrote a poem call The Christmas Alphabet.  Please pray for us as we prepare for this special program. 

Thanks again for all the wonderful boxes. The kids are so excited to get them…they have been asking me for months!!! Merry Christmas.

A man with a van

Brother Florin told us at the beginning of November that he would no longer be able to help us Sunday School.  This was a blow to the group.  Brother Florin has been with the group longer than anyone.  He makes the fire for us in the winter and brings cookies and chocolate bars to the kids each week.  He is a great influence on the older boys. He was having some problems at work, he’s an ambulance driver, and had to take on a second job. 

Six weeks later, he called and said that things had cleared up and that all was going well and could he please come back to the group.  We, of course, said “YES.”  We were so happy he was back.

The following week, Brother Florin came to Sunday School in a new van..well, new to him.  He has had this dream to take the teens from Stroiesti to church in the city each week, but his car was too small to take more than 4 teens.  So he went to a co-worker who had a van and explained what he wanted to do.  He told his co-worker, “I don’t have any money, but I would like to trade my car for your van. Let me know what you think.”  Well, a week later, the co-worker, who is not a believer, but his father was a pastor, came to Brother Florin with the keys and made the trade.  Praise the Lord. 

Yesterday, Sunday, Brother Florin took 8 teens from Stroiesti to Diakonia, my church, in the city.  I wasn’t able to be there, since I had gotten some crazy 24 hour stomach flu, but I heard the reports.  The teens loved it.  There was a visiting choir and visiting missionaries from Africa.  The teens are so looking forward to going back next week.

I praise God that He was able to bring Brother Florin back to our team and even more so that He provide a way for the teens to come to church each Sunday.

Brother Florin and his new van

Helping Out

On Saturday, Ana, Ancuta and I had the opportunity to help out another Sunday School program in another village.  This group meets on Saturday and the leader had to go into the hospital for some treatments.  They meet at someone’s house.  The group doesn’t have a team.  There is the 20-year-old guy whose parents own the house where they meet and the girl who was in the hospital.  Ana, Ancuta, and I were quick to agree to help them out last Saturday.  Because we know what it’s like to be in need of team and in of help for Sunday School..been there done that!

We were asked to teach the kids some Christmas songs and do a lesson.  I brought along some beads so the kids could make bracelets. 

We were amazed at the children and not in a good way.  They were very disrespectful.  The teenage girls were rude and spent the whole talking or text messaging on their phones. When we called them on misbehaving, they just got sullen.   The children had trouble paying attention to the lesson.  Of course there were many children who were well behaved and enjoyed the lesson. There was one boy who sang with all his heart…a bit off key, but with all his heart. 

Before I came to Stroiesti there wasn’t much consistency with the Sunday School program.  There was no fixed team and therefore the kids felt free to goof off and not pay attention.  But all that changed, especially when Ana came.   We have a fixed schedule with a team that loves and cares about the kids.  The kids know we love and respect them, and therefore, they love and respect us.  Our teens are generally happy and have good attitudes; our children, even the 4 year olds pay attention to the lesson. 

We shared some insight and advice with the 20-year-old guy and Ancuta volunteered to help out a bit. I left a big box of crayons and a Christmas coloring book for next week.  The three of us left appreciating our amazing children in Stroiesti.  We thank God for what He has done in Stroiesti.  We pray the other group and hope they are able to get a  good team and strong program.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

So at the beginning of the week, I was trying to think of something fun to do with my kindergarteners for Christmas.  I was looking at the book shelf and found a book with beautiful pictures for the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”  This brought back memories of going to Grandma Osborne’s house for Boxing Day (the day after Christmas–it’s an English thing; my grandmother was from London.)  We didn’t go often for Boxing Day, but the one thing I remember doing every time we did go was the Twelve Days of Christmas.  My Aunt Jackie would get up front and dance out the Twelve Days.  We would have what seems like a million people in the front room dancing out each day from twelve drummers drumming to a partridge in a pear tree.  So it was this dance that I have taught the children in school, and not just the kindergarteners.  I first explain the story in Romanian….which they just think is hilarious, especially the eighth day where my true love gives me “eight maids a-milking” but no cows.  Then we dance and by “five golden rings” they are singing along.

I recently read a book about the history of Christmas carols.  One of the stories was about The Twelve Days of Christmas.  The song was sung by 16th century Catholics  to teach children catechism.  It was illegal to be Catholic in England in the 16th century  and to write and speak about Catholic catechism would lead to imprisonment or death.  So each verse had hidden message  and isn’t just a silly song about silly gift.  “My true love” guessed it, God Almighty.  The “partridge in the pear tree” is Jesus on the cross, because a partridge mother will sacrifice herself for her children.  What a wonderful song, when we know the real meaning behind the words.  The book is called: Stories Behind the Best-loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins.  I swear, I’ll never hear the Twelve Days of Christmas the same again.

Bogdan’s Eyes–Update

I took Bogdan and his mother to Iasi on Friday for his three-month check up.  The doctor said that his vision has improved greatly in the last three months of “patch therapy” and new glasses !  She was really pleased.  She told us that surgery was an option to straighten his eyes.  The surgery will not improve his vision, but it will prevent his eyes from turning inward involuntarily.  The doctor only does this surgery in the summer, so the family has time to consider and pray about whether or not they want it.  Bogdan’s father is currently in Portugal working at an olive farm, so the family definitely does not want to make any decisions without him.

Please continue to pray for Bogdan and his family.

Slumber Party

The three mentoring girls came over and had a sleep over this weekend. We worked on English, ate pizza, made a cake, and played Mexican Train!  We, also, went for a walk in the city center to see the Christmas lights.  While we were out, it started to snow.  It was really fun.  The girls went with me to church on Sunday morning and then  I took them back to the village in time for Sunday school.

The sleepover  was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better.  The girls have been in the same class together since the first grade, so they really know each other.  I am getting to know them better, too.   For two of the girls, going to church with me, was the first time they had ever been to a non-Orthodox church.  They enjoyed the music and preaching.  They liked reading along in the Bible as well. 

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Happy Romania Day!

December first is a public holiday here in Romania.  And that means no school.  Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching the kids in school, but like everyone else, I love a free day! 

December 1st is also the day the Christmas lights get turned on in the city and the Christmas tree in the city center is lit.  I may go and watch them light the tree tonight, depends on how cold it is.

The snow is falling and it’s actually very pretty.  The snow last week melted quickly because the ground was so warm and the temperature rose to a balmy 45 degrees.  It’s now down to 18 and the snow is sticking to the sidewalks and roads.  This should be fun!  The kids in the village are looking forward to the snow piling up.  They love to go sledding on the hills in the village.   As for me, I’ll stay home today and bundle up!