Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dress A Girl Around the World: Nojorid and Calatele, Romania 2011

Before coming to Romania, I was contacted by a dear friend, Rachel Eggum Cinader about bringing over some dresses from her organization Dress A Girl Around the World. I met Rachel on a Hope 4 Kids International missions trip to Romania in 2005 (some of you may remember I first came to Romania under H4KI). Rachel is the sister of H4KI's founder, Tom Eggum, and has made such an impact on the women in Uganda through Hope 4 Women International (H4WI) as well as on the lives of so many little girls through her Dress A Girl Around the World campaign. Rachel was so generous in entrusting me to deliver over 50 dresses to some gypsy children in Romania. As you can see from the photos, the girls are just adorable in their homemade dresses! Thank you Rachel and to all of the women who sewed these dresses. If you would like information on how you can get involved in this great cause, please read more at

Beautiful Romania: Apuseni Mountains and Vladeasa Countryside July 2011

While Randy and his team were here, we were able to drive over the mountains from Sancraiu to Sacuieu and visit the waterfalls in Rachitele. Thought I would share a some pictures of how beautiful the countryside in Romania is...just enough to tempt you all to come and see for yourself a few reasons why I love this country!

Haystacks in Sancraiu

Ciorban (Shepherd) tending to his sheep

View driving from Sancraiu to Sacuieu
Cascada Miresei (Bride's Veil Waterfall)~Rachitele

Inside the Reformed Church, Sancraiu (built in the 1700s)

Reformed Church, Sancraiu

View of Braisoru, a village 4 km from Sancraiu~a beautiful walk!

Highlights from Sacuieu and Calatele: July 20th-30th, 2011

July 20th I traveled from Oradea to Sancraiu to meet up with the Hagiu's along with their team from Calvary Chapel Treasure Valley (CCTV). Initially CCTV had planned to have a team of ~10 people come to do a VBS for the children of Calatele and Sacuieu; however, due to several circumstances, the team dwindled down to Daryl (their pastor) and Tom. However, we knew that this was still part of God's plan. Back in May I had spoken to my friends Randy and Adelina about possibly helping with a 2 day VBS in the villages. Thankfully God carved out for their team (Randy, Adelina and 2 of Randy's interns~Vic and Josh) a few free days~ the exact time period in which Daryl and Tom would be in Romania!

Before I write more on the VBS programs, I want to share with you a few pictures from one of our services in Sacuieu. When we first entered the village, several people came out to greet us. Most of them I knew; however, there was one person I did not recognize, a woman holding a baby. Others then brought her to me, wanting me to look at her infant daughter. Her baby was born with only a partially formed arm/hand. Knowing how much disability is regarded as such a stigma here, I was amazed to see the love this woman had for her child. The mother, Luminita, has been faithful at coming to church and you really see her joy despite her many trials. Interestingly, her name means "light", a fitting description as she truly is shining her light for the Lord in Sacuieu! During our worship service, Nicu did a baby dedication for Luminita's sweet baby girl, Maria.

Baby Maria and her mom, Luminita

Nicu dedicating Maria

Randy and his team blessed the children (and adults!) with a wonderful 2 days of VBS on June 25th and 26th.  They prepared stories, songs, object lessons and skits that truly spoke to the heart of the gypsies. Randy and Adelina then put their clown skills to work and made each of the children a balloon. We were so thankful for their labor of love~thank you Randy, Adelina, Josh and Vic!

Waiting for VBS to start~Sacuieu

Adelina and Randy~bringing lots of smiles to Sacuieu

Captive Audience~Sacuieu VBS

Randy made balloons for all the kids (with help from Adelina)

My friend "Jimmy"~he was the first child I met in Sacuieu in 2007

Veta, Corina, Garafoa, Larissa~Sacuieu
Calatele VBS~ nearly 40 children were packed into this small room!

Sweet smiles in Calatele

Adelina leads the kids in prayer~Calatele VBS

Cristina and Crucita~Calatele VBS

Vic, Josh and Randy with gypies in Calatele
We then did an additional 2 days of VBS on the the 28th and 29th. Tom and Daryl had brought a variety of puppets from CCTV so with the help of Naomi and Leon (the Hagiu's children) and Nicu, we were able to put on puppet shows in both villages. The children and adults loved the puppets! We did 2 skits, one on waiting and one on the parable of the sower and the seeds. Daryl and Tom then did a great job explaining the skits and trying to related them to the lives of the gypsies.
Waiting for the puppet show~Sacuieu
Watching the puppet show~Calatele

Our amazing puppeteers~Naomi, Nicu and Leo

Silvana, Nicu and his sidekick Cristi

Great attendance~Calatele VBS

Tom illustrating the parable of the Sower and the Seeds
Daryl teaching on "waiting on the Lord"

The puppet shows were a great success in Sacuieu and Calatele

Delivering dresses from "Dress A Girl Around the World"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Turkey Part III: July 1st-8th (Ephesus, Izmir and Istanbul)

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart would be enlightened in order that you may know the hope  to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and His incomparably great power for us who believe..." ~Ephesians 1:18-19

Considering I have been back in Romania for almost 2 weeks, I thought it was due time to write my final update on Turkey. After wrapping up our time in Ankara, Jenny and I headed to Ephesus and Izmir (Smyrna) for a few days of vacation before heading back to Istanbul.


Before I left for Turkey, I decided to read through the book of Ephesians as well as review Acts and Revelations as a way of preparing myself for seeing Ephesus. In Revelations, Ephesus is referred to as the church that lost her "first love". Jenny and I got up early Sunday morning and walked to the top gate of Ephesus. Upon entering the ruins, we were transported back in time. As we walked through the ruins, I imagined Paul there and could not help but feel a little sad, knowing that this place had once heard and received the gospel. But thankfully I know He is not done with Turkey yet. After visiting Ephesus, we also visited the ruins of the Basilica of St John where John, the beloved disciple, is said to be buried. Discovering that the Aegean Sea was just a short bus ride away, we then headed to the beach for a quick visit. I loved getting to observe families together, including many women fully covered, yet fully enjoying themselves in the water.

Jenny and I with the Library of Celsus in the background
Hadrian's Temple, Ephesus

Theater~Ephesus (imagining Acts 19)

Basilica of St John

Baptisitry at Basilica of St John's

Playing in the Aegean Sea


We took the train to Izmir (Smyrna) Monday morning and were able to explore the city for a few hours. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring the maps with us, so we ended up walking all over the city. In Revelations, Smyrna is called the "persecuted church". Jenny and I visited the ruins from the old city and then meandered through an area called Havra Sokagi, which is in the old Jewish area. Going to Izmir (and especially the Jewish area) was quite meaningful to me as my paternal great-grandmother, Molly, was born in Smyrna.
Church in Izmir
Along the seaside in Izmir
Ruins from the ancient city of Smyrna
Old Jewish area of Smyrna
Havra Sokagi

We flew from Izmir to Istanbul Monday evening, landing on the Asia side and then taking an hour bus ride to the Europe side, where we had booked a hostel. Getting to our hostel was a bit of an adventure, but once we arrived we found it to be a wonderful and convenient place to stay. Jenny was a great tour guide, taking me to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia (a church that was built in the 500s), Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Chora Church etc. We also took a ferry to the Princes Islands to spend one day away from the craziness of Istanbul. Every day He gave us opportunities to speak of His love, whether it be with a roommate at the hostel, a tour guide or even a waiter at a restaurant. We may not know the outcome, but we know for sure seeds were planted.
Posing with the Turkish flag~on the ferry to Princes Island
Jenny at Princes Island (Sea of Marmara)

Inside the Blue Mosque

Courtyard of the Blue Mosque

Marble door inside Hagia Sophia

Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar
Grand Bazaar~an overwhelming experience!

Mosaic of the apostle Peter in the Chora Church

View of Istanbul from Seven Towers
Before coming to Istanbul, Jenny had been in contact with a woman who heads up a ministry for refugees coming to Turkey. As it turned out, we were staying in the same area, so we were able to visit with her.  Unfortunately, Turkey does not offer much hope to refugees and the stories we heard we overwhelming. Yet, we were blessed to then hear amazing stories of how God is revealing Himself to many of the refugees, knowing that He is our only true hope. His timing is also amazing.  Jenny's home church had a missions team in Istanbul at the same time we were there and they were planning to be at the refugee center the very same day that we visited (without us knowing), thus we were able to meet up with them for some sweet fellowship and prayer on our last night in Turkey. 
Jenny's church brought over suitcases of dresses from Dress A Girl Around the World
On our very last walk through the city, I noticed a building with a Romanian flag. While looking at the building, I was approached by a man who questioned me on why I was interested. I responded that I am currently living in Romania and that I love the country. He turned out to be a Romanian who is living in Istanbul and helping to open a Romanian cultural center. After speaking in Romanian for a while, he invited Jenny and I in for a "sneak peek" of the grand building~ highlight of my last day in Turkey: having my picture taken with a group of Romanians and the Romanian flag!

Posing with the Romanian flag in Turkey
Posing with Romanians living in Istanbul

Saying goodbye to Jenny~Istanbul airport