Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Missionaries have a name for it. It's the day when you realize your mission is exactly halfway over. It's HUMPDAY and we're there! From now on we'll be sliding down, picking up speed!
This past week we stayed close to home---no train rides, no visits to orphanages, no jaw-dropping excursions. Instead, we worked at our computers, answered our 100 emails (our average for a week), wrote yet another project, attended our Zone Meeting, had some medical tests, almost went to a concert, toured a museum and enjoyed every minute.
Here are the pictures to prove it!
A "Zone Meeting" happens once a transfer (every 6 weeks) where the missionaries of 2 or 3 zones (50 or so) get together to receive encouragement and instruction. It's a great time!
Sora Hardy and Sora Slaeman are in their last transfer. President Lundberg couldn't resist stepping in the picture.
As we mentioned in our last post, Denny had some eye concerns that needed further testing. Our trek across the city to this hospital took an hour. Like a lot of experiences here, it was like stepping back 50 years.
Before entering the land of high-tech-ness, I took this shot down the corridor.
Never trust an Opthamologist who uses binoculars duct-taped to a tripod to do your exam. Of course, she washed her hands in the sink in the background and DRIED HER HANDS on the sanitary towel! Denny's eyes checked out fine. City dust is probably the culprit.
One of the members invited us to a symphony concert in this magnificent concert hall. Tickets were sold out so we took a few pictures and went to dinner.
This is a glimpse of the interior.
We will be back...next time with tickets!
Walking is what we do most. Here, Elder Linerud and Elder Van Orman mortify their wives at a street corner as they do the "stretch".
....lest we become old and...
This is a common scene we see every morning on our way to the Metro (subway). Romanian women sell herbs, vegetables, flowers, anything they can.
Some Romanian women drown their sorrows with bottles of beer.
And now....for the picture of the week! When you think you have too much on your plate, and you can't possibly do it all....
you see someone doing the impossible.
There really is someone pulling this wagon. Luckily, he's licensed!
Monday, June 7, 2010
For the past month, we have spent most of our time working out the details of ordering a 40-foot shipping container. A container is like a moving van and contains 20 pallets of goods. Our order is for 5,500 hygiene kits, 2,100 school kits, 480 handmade quilts, and 8 children's wheelchairs. If you have ever donated school supplies or packaged 2 combs, toothpaste, 2 hand towels, 4 toothbrushes, and 2 bars of soap into a zip-loc bag, this is where it goes! As humanitarian missionaries, we are committed to finding trustworthy community organizations that share our values. We network with a variety of organizations and usually, one will lead us to another. Friends trust friend's friends!
With a list of 10 possible recipients from a trusted NGO, we have spent the last 2 weeks finding them (no small feat) and interviewing them. A director of one organization told us where to meet him so he could take us to his headquarters which, he explained, was in a rough part of the city. YOU THINK? We are told that the missionaries are banned from this neighborhood known as the "Ghetto of Bucharest".
On our drive through the neighborhood, our jaws dropped as we saw piles upon piles of garbage. Why the city doesn't take care of this problem is a mystery except for the fact that these "residents" are squatters--they don't pay rent, or taxes. They pirate electricity to watch satellite TV (the dishes are everywhere) but they don't have running water. Thievery is rampant. Young girls become prostitutes at 12, selling themselves for food. It is a different world and we came away sobered and thankful that we could help in some small way.
We're not sure what this girl was up to but when she saw my camera, she ran.
A gypsy wagon in the "hood".
Imagine sending your children out to play in this!
Everywhere, piles of garbage.
We got out of the car to walk closer to this block building but we were turned away by the stench. How can anyone live here? They do!
The satellite dishes!
Meet the hero, Ovidiu Fillipescu in front of a kinder garden and daycare that he organized. He and his wife are teachers and love children. Since they were not blessed with children of their own, they organized this foundation to rescue the children that come from across the street.
The young children come here in the morning where they play on grass and have a hot meal. Unfortunately, they have to go back home in the afternoon.
The teenagers come here also in the morning where they can have a shower and have their clothes washed before going to school. This is a classroom that they come back to in the afternoon to get help with homework.
Since dental care is a luxury here, Ovidiu added this dental office where once a week, a dentist comes to donate his/her time. Next to this, there is a doctors office as well.
Ovidiu told us the story of this 14 year-old girl and then had her join our meeting. When she was about 7, she was noticed living in a stairwell being kept warm by dogs. The dogs would bring her bread, which kept her alive. She has no family and Phillip found her a place to live. Before she goes to school, she comes by the center to help with the children. She is smart and cute and told us she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. She loves dogs. They saved her! Really, Ovidiu saved her!
These cute girls were clean and smiling and having a bowl of rice stuff.
As much as I tried, I couldn't get a real smile.
We came away thankful for what we have and what we know. "I am a child of God" rang in our ears. Phillip House will receive 560 hygiene kits and 420 school kits. It's not much but it will make a difference in these lives, as long as we have people like Ovidiu Fillipescu.
After leaving the ghetto, Denny attracted some dust in an eye and after some "doing", we found ourselves headed for a clinic to check it out. Hospitals in Romania are experiences in living in the past. Horror movies are made here!
We found a nice Optometrist and she went through the motions of checking Denny's retina. Here, he is giving the "hand". Touch each finger and say,"You're in Romania now, friend!"