Twenty weeks down, fifty-four to go, (but who's counting?)! Time is starting to fly now as we are getting intensely busy accomplishing Humanitarian projects. We are juggling nine projects in various stages of completion at the moment. We never thought we'd say this but, our appointment books are our best friends! I have always been the multi-task-er but Denny is getting better at it every day as we have calendar planning sessions every evening and check email every morning. This week, we hit the road (or rail) visiting 3 cities. As we returned to our one-bedroom ghetto block apartment on Sunday evening, we heard ourselves say, "It's great to be home!" HOME???? Jonathan told us that this would happen...we'd finally reach a point where all this craziness felt ordinary and our former life would begin to dim. Call us "dim" but we are fully into this mission life and we love it!
We tried saving some money this trip and opted for 2nd class. It was quite interesting. We shared a cabin with a young Army soldier then a 75 year-old former Communist factory administrator. Next time I'll remember to take pictures of the actors!
This is a picture of a meeting that took place in a Mc Donald's outside seating area. It was the first sunny day of the long Winter and we worked out the details of a container shipment as we froze our buttons off! (As you can see, I was entertaining Denny with my Bugs Bunny impression!)
Our first stop was a little town on the way to the Black Sea called Fetesti. We were the guests of honor at this wheelchair distribution where 12 of the 250 wheelchairs that arrived in December were given to deserving disabled people. Kind words were said about the generosity of the Church and then Denny spoke about how the donation from members and non-members made it all possible. We love this job! This was a small "distribution" and in the coming weeks, we will attend more, in larger cities, until all 250 have been distributed.
This is a government official who also spoke. Afterwards, we were interviewed by a TV station. We're not sure if we made the 6 o'clock News!
The recipients are taught how to use their wheelchairs in a 4 hour course. Here, a disabled man who works for the consignee that helped us import the wheelchairs, instructs us on how to transfer from chair to chair.
Each recipient and caregiver gets to practice.
Sometimes, smiles are our greatest "thanks".
On the back of each wheelchair we give is the name of the Church, embroidered in white.
On to Constanta where we attended the hand-over ceremony for a project we instigated where the Church funded the gift of 8 radiant wall heaters to a group who supports counseling efforts for disadvantaged families. They had built a center for families from donated funds two years ago and didn't have enough money to install heaters for the second floor. We proposed the project and now the work of this great charity can continue, in a warm classroom!
They thanked us profusely and then Denny spoke for the cameras. He's getting infamous!
They fed us wonderful foods!
Along with community leaders, we also invited the missionaries who are assigned to work in Constanta. The Branch President was out of town.
On to the next adventure...
Last year the Humanitarian Missionaries before us completed a project where five poor families in a village were given goats to help them become more self-sufficient. They make cheese and sell the milk and cheese to have an income. During the week, the goats graze with a village herd and the milk is brought to the families by the herder. Four of the five families have been very successful in this project. The fifth family killed their goats the first month and enjoyed goat sausage. I don't think they understood the big picture!
This is Paul Davies, the director of the charity. He is from Wales and came to Romania 15 years ago with a desire to help. He and a driver took us to the village to visit the family with the goats.
The boys loved showing us their goats. The goats were bashful!
This single-parent family has 2 children infected with AIDS. The mother is doing a great job raising this family and the boys have found purpose in their goat-raising skills.
Our final stop was Brasov, in the Transylvania Alps. The snow in the old city center was melting and everyone enjoyed the first sunshine of the year. We came because Denny had an assignment to speak in church the next day. Little did I know, until 10 minutes before the meeting, I was also speaking!
We arrived on Saturday and our hotel is next to the church. As we checked in, we noticed people filing into the church. They were coming for the free English class that the missionaries teach twice a week. It is wildly popular with over 100 in attendance!
In another room was the advanced English class.
This is an all-too-common picture of yet another poor begging Romanian woman. We gave her a Lei (34 cents) and she smiled for our camera. On the train on our return home we were interrupted in our compartment by 2 begging men, sliding along the floor because they couldn't walk. They were filthy (what do you expect mopping a train floor?) and we were curious how they even got up that first huge step into the train. We wondered, did someone throw them on like baggage? After a few minutes we looked to the end of our car and saw them both standing and walking like normal! Con artists! There's a billion of them here!