Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Good Week!

Our wheelchair project was submitted for approval in April and last week, 250 wheelchairs were delivered to Cluj, Romania--to the location where they will be distributed the 1st week of September. We were traveling when the word came that the truck was on it's way so we rearranged our appointments to meet the shipment. We announced the need for muscle-power and the missionaries and members and other volunteers made up the crew of 10 workers. It took 3 hours of intense labor, made difficult by the heat and humidity. Each box weighed more than 50 pounds. As always, the missionaries stayed cheerful and upbeat to the bitter end. How we love working with these fine missionaries!

The site of the unloading...a busy 3-lane road. The School for the Blind is in the background.

The only way in was through this courtyard. It got longer and hotter as the day progressed.

The gym...uncluttered.

Senior missionaries, the Lamoreaux's and Denny. I took all the pictures! Someone had to do it!

Elder Bernier

Elder Ott (Spiderman)
Elders Ott and Bernier had a teaching appointment later in the day but they managed to keep their shirts clean for the 1 1/2 hours they worked. That's dedication!

Elder Marks

Elder Frandsen

The Elders plus two helpers celebrate the last box! Elder Frandsen cut his hand early but worked to the bitter end. Next time, I'll bring more than 5 band-aids.

250 wheelchairs, organized and ready for distribution.

No sweat-fest can be complete without pizza and ice cream!

250 Wheelchairs Delivered to Romania

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Almost right on schedule, our newest granddaughter, Kate was born in Salt Lake City on Wednesday to Steve and Barb. We got the news as we talked to Steve on Skype on a train in the middle of Romania. The reception was poor but we heard the words, "Kate is here. She and Barb are doing great." We cried.
Kate is our second grandchild to be born while we have been serving here in Romania. We are so very grateful to a kind, loving Heavenly Father who has blessed our family with these precious spirits. Do we miss these new babies and all of our 14 grandchildren on the other side of the world? Of course. But, we want these grandchildren to know that we are a missionary family and that we love Heavenly Father and the gospel of Jesus Christ. We will be home soon enough and the "holding" will begin!

New baby Kate

Kate and Barb's mom and cute Izzy.

Jon...not so sure about another sister!

Izzy will be a great helper. She's a natural.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Heartland of Romania

Romania is a knock-down beautiful country! This week, we took the train into the heartland visiting NGO's in Sibiu and Arad. We also attended a celebration of a completed project where the Church donated 6 computers to a career center. As we traveled the countryside in the hottest train in captivity in first class accommodations, no less, we took pictures to share.

This old train did not have air conditioning so we stood next to the windows like real Romanians, for 6 HOURS! But, oh, the pictures we snapped!

Every 20 minutes or so, the train picks up passengers, and lets some off. If you're not standing by the door, the train takes off without mercy. The name of this station is "Huedin Banffyhunyard". Honestly!

Steaming along the countryside we saw villages with temple-like churches dotting the landscape.

This Orthodox church dwarfed the houses around it in this village.

We passed miles and miles of sunflower fields. Sunflower oil is a main product of Romania. Romanians love to eat the seeds and you see piles of shells near every park bench.

Baling machines have not been invented here. The farmers rake the hay and straw into piles around long sticks. It is very picturesque. Notice the horse and wagon on the left and, the porta potty. Ahh Romania!

The spring rains have made this countryside lush.

This is a view of the city of Deva. We have 4 missionaries serving here.

Cornfields, a church, and houses make a village.

Entering Sibiu.


Sunrise from our hotel

Meandering through the streets of Sibiu is fascinating. These houses line the wall of the city and date into the 15th century. There is a restaurant on the left that has been in business since 1561. You just can't find this kind of "old" in America (but you can find a bathroom and a drinking fountain!). The colors in this picture are in every home decorating book.

Sibiu is famous for these little windows in the attics of old houses. They look like eyes and if you look at them long enough, it gets creepy.

What did I say about creepy? A crane family resides on the chimney and doesn't seem to care.

We paid 1 lei (31 cents) to tour this Lutheran church. It houses the largest pipe organ in Romania and the organist was practicing as we walked through.

A better view of the church, built originally by the Catholics in the 14th century.

When you think of Europe in the summertime, you think of eating in an outdoor cafe. That is because Europeans love this! We loved it too!

The architecture in this city is amazing. This is the city hall and sits in the most famous square.

A treat for us was watching a rehearsal of the opera "Carmen" which was to be held 2 days after our leaving. This is Sibiu's Grand Square and it was fun to watch the production take shape. It is considered by specialists as the biggest show of this type to be held in Romania this year. The music reverberated through this square.

The dancers are from Japan, New Zealand, Italy, Belgium and Romania.

This is another view of the the square or "Centru" as we call it.

and another view. Europe is like this...point your camera in any direction and shoot!

We wondered around until we found the old wall.

Soras Ausen and Olson. The hardest-working missionaries we know!

We love Elder Martineau! He is the Zone leader in Arad and a great missionary.

I snapped this pictures as these missionaries walked toward us in centru. From left:
Elder Jensen, Johnson, Wirthlin. The Best!

After a hot 5-hour train ride, we arrived in Cluj just in time for a baptism of Macdonald, a medical student here from Uganda. He is with wonderful Elder Bernier who helped teach him.

Elder Ott baptized him.

The Church is growing in Romania!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Our mission continues to be a tremendous experience. Each week is filled with challenges that stretch our capacities. Sometimes we dream about boating on a northwest lake, grandchildren huddled around us, smores waiting. When we gain consciousness, we realize what we are doing now, at this time of our life, is so fabulous that we wouldn't want to be anyplace else. Our children (former missionaries themselves) told us that there would come a time when a white shirt and tie felt as good as a t-shirt and a skirt felt as comfortable as peddle-pushers and life as a missionary would feel "normal". Why do we love this quirky lifestyle? The answer is in the name tags we wear. We love being missionaries, proclaiming the restored gospel, helping people, and growing in our own faith.

And, growing we are! We have put on the "freshman 15" and are now in the throes of shedding it! You would think that a mission where you walk your shoes into oblivion, one would actually lose weight! This is Romania--land of carbs and delicious bread (also carbs). So, since this past week has been a relatively dull one, we thought we'd share our excuses for our weight gain. Romania has wonderful food and even better cooks. We are living proof that if you eat everything on your plate, your clothes will shrink! Lest you are worried, we are working on shedding it.

This is Sora Wilson from Australia, eating her first Romanian Sunday meal since arriving on Tuesday.

It is called Musaca and it is actually a Greek/Turkish dish made with beef, potatoes, other vegetables and...OIL! It is delicious.

This is a typical Sunday spread--Schnitzel and Sarmale (cabbage rolls).

...sometimes there's more. These are pork chops and sausages.

Add to that...a spread for your bread made out of eggplant and onions.

No meal is complete without a blob of Malmaliga. This is a cornmeal mush formed in a bowl and then dumped onto a plate. Romanians love it!

Romanians are wonderful cooks. Sora Ene is serving stuffed peppers. So far we've eaten stuffed zuchinni, peppers, grape leaves, cabbage until we're...stuffed!

Sarmale, Mamaliga, pickles, peppers...TRADITION!

Sarmale at the Branch party. It was delicious, really!

This is Salata a la russe or Salata de beuf, depending on who corrects you! It is made with boiled potatoes, peas, carrots, mystery vegetables and then "frosted" with mayonaise and decorated by the cook. It is delicious!

This cook flunked art decor.

Whenever we travel to visit a charity or NGO, we are fed. Here, sandwiches were provided as we talked.

When we complete a project, we have a celebration provided by the NGO. Since we are the guests, someone usually makes up a heaping plate just for us!

This was the most amazing feast! All the children in the schools in this village were assigned to bring something for this banquet. Some brought chickens, fish, eggs, ducks, duck eggs, homemade cheese, fruit. Eating this food almost made us emotional because it was so gladly given to us to thank us for helping them.

Since we are out and about a lot, we eat out! This is such a typical Romanian meal that is prepared for a group of four. It has a little bit of everything--sausage, chicken, veggies.

If you're lucky, you discover the one Mexican restaurant in town. This is Fajitas, in case you couldn't tell! Don't quit your day job! (nothing to write home about!)

The first day in Romania, we were treated to Romanian fast food by the office Elders.

These are Shaormas. Pita bread with chicken, cabbage, tomatoes, pickles, onions.....sauce.

Eight months later, we were forced to try another one. This one was actually very tasty!

And then there's bread! People sell these pretzels on street corners and in little shops. They are called Covrigei and they come 6 or so connected by a string.

This picture was in our blog last week but worthy of a second glance. Delicious.

As if the Romanians don't have the bread cornered, Sora Dummar makes her own!

So. If anyone has a suggestion on how to avoid eating this, let us know.

On to desserts. Lily and Beatrice are the masters of cakes. This one was served yesterday!

Sora Doru made this cake, layered with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

Then you have desserts from bakeries. They look delicious but they are NOT. Every missionary agrees that there's something wrong but we're not sure what!

Don't waste your calories on this. Trust me!

Don't be fooled!

So, there you have it...the reason we're fat! Now that we've discovered that the desserts have no taste and the breads have all been tasted and now can be avoided, we are on our way to losing the pounds. What we really need to do is to eat more in the villages. You can lose your appetite in a hurry!

These goat cheese pastries were whipped up next to the dead flies in the poison. Yummy.

Soup anyone? This is Ciorba, made with fat meat and sour cabbage.

This is Tripe Ciorba. Tripe is the stomach of sheep!
A missionary shared this picture with us. Luckily, we were not invited to this dinner appointment!

This is a Romanian salad bar. We relegated to this sentence until the pounds come off! Promise!

Next week should be a fabulous blog. Steve and Barb will add a new baby girl, our 14th grandchild to our family on Wednesday. If you can't stand grandma pride, you might want to skip reading!
Also next week we will be on the tracks, visiting three cities and NGO's. There will be no food pictures!