If we had to choose a week of our mission that we have enjoyed the most, it would be this week.
It started with the approval of a major wheelchair project that we have been working on for two months. Our proposal made it through committees on two continents and we got the go-ahead that will keep us bustling until September, and beyond. In addition, we also got approval for three area initiatives. We'll be buying computers for an employment training center, Braille writers for a school for the blind, and goats for poor families. Our life is a Primary song, "When We're Helping We're Happy..."
Work aside, we left for a "Bucharest Mission Senior Conference" held in the little city of Brasov in the Transylvania Alps. We spent three days with six other couples and enjoyed classes and workshops and a heavy dose of sightseeing and levity. As we got acquainted, we realized that we had many common threads among us. It is a small world, after all! Bragging about grandchildren was a common topic. We totaled up the numbers and among all seven couples there are 57 children, 153 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren! That's a lot of righteous pride!
After enjoying the old city center of Brasov, we headed for the castles of Transylvania. The countryside of Romania is breathtaking, especially in the spring. There are rolling green hills and farmhouses teetering on snow-capped and jagged ridge tops that remind us of the beautiful Cascades in Washington State.
Peles Castle is a magnificent centuries-old castle tucked away in the mountains. If you have an imagination, (we do) you would think you hear the soundtrack of "Beauty and The Beast" as you walk the reception halls and elegant dining rooms.
In contrast but just as enthralling is Bran Castle. We got the heebie-jeebies touring this spooky place since this is Dracula country and the setting of Bram Stoker's novel, "Dracula". This is big business here and Vlad Tepes' enthusiasts come from all over to tour this castle and some ruins of his real castle not far away. "Vlad the Impaler" was the character that contrived "Dracula". He was really a ruthless and cruel ruler who had a creative way of punishing his enemies. Quoting from our Lonely planet tour book: "A wooden stake was carefully driven through the victim's anus, to emerge from the body just below the shoulder in such a way as to not pierce any vital organs. This ensured at least 48 hours of unimaginable suffering...." You think?
Here we are standing on a "lookout" in Bran Castle with the beautiful Romanian countryside in the distance.
We really did do some "work" at the conference.
We all had an assignment. Here, Denny is explaining what we do as humanitarian missionaries. Sora Lundberg looks very impressed as the President stares into Space. Everyone else was excited! I had to speak on the culture of Romania and how we can love and serve the people.
This is Peles castle. It is furnished and decorated to the nines. It's magnificent!
The king and queen in a rare appearance.
This is our group of senior missionaries.
This picture hangs in Bran Castle and it portrays Vlad the Impaler's favorite torture method. Notice the little figures impaled.
The walk was a tough one but the castle was within view.
The happy bunch. What's on your tie, Denny? (Gets him every time!)
13th Century Bran Castle
Denny entering the secret staircase
This was spooky!
Four of us stopped to rest and take pictures.
Our mission president and his wife--Presidentele si Sora Lundberg.
Our group and some missionaries in Brasov after church today.
And finally, a view of the beautiful Romanian countryside taken from a castle turret.
Now that we are back in Bucharest, we feel rejuvenated and ready to go back to work. It was so nice to "get away" and enjoy some different scenery and sit at the feet of our mission president and some amazing couples. We feel so blessed to be in Romania. We wouldn't want to be anyplace else (except maybe with our grandchildren!).