The Craciun Family!

Just a quick little update with what I have been up to the last couple of weeks.  The Craciun family is one in a million. I am not sure what I have shared about them in the past but this is a family with seven children, no father, and absolutely nothing.  Here are the conditions they live in.

These photos are from October when my cousin and her husband and children came out to donate clothes to them. The weather now is harsh! Last week was -16 and snowing every day. Thankfully it has started to warm up and spring has sort of arrived.  Thankfully some of the Market of Hope money was used to buy them fire wood so they could heat their one room “home” Like I said in my last post, with the MOH money I am also able to buy them food so they have lunch to take to school and start their day with a good breakfast. Here is what my cart looks like every week or two!



Along with providing them food for the week. I also cook lunch for them when we meet a few times a week. All of this money so far has been donated from Market of Hope so thank you to all of you who were involved.

Because last week was a snow week, we were able to meet everyday. They are stuck in a one “room” place with seven family members so its good for them to get out and meet at our office daily.  We played lots of new games last week (all in English of course) like Bingo, and Go Fish. And on Thursdays, all of the kids take showers. They usually share the same old towel (all 5 of them!) so I posted on Facebook to see if anyone would consider donating money to buy them each one-  the next day I was able to buy them each a new towel for Thursdays! Here is what we were up to last week!


This week we celebrated “Women’s Day” and each of them made their mother a card and surprised me with flowers and these:


They are all soooo well behaved, polite and smart.  They attend school every day, and their mother makes sure they look clean and well dressed.  Their mother is desperate for them to have a better life than she has and is ding everything in her power to make it happen. They are always on time, in a good mood, and excited to learn.  Its such a privilege to help a family like this.  Like I said, they are truly one in a million!

Here we all are: Alberto 15 (next to me), and from left to right, Gabi 11, Andreea 8, Eva 6 and Alexandra 10!  And at home with their mother is Sorina 4 and Nicolas 1!


Please remember to keep this family in your prayers. If you want to donate money for food for them, educational supplies, clothing or any other essential needs they have, please email me directly.



As amazing as 2017 was, I was definitely ready for a new year. I started off 2018 with a month long social media detox and let me just tell you, it was so amazing and refreshing! Things I learned from a month away from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. 

  1. I am on my phone too much. This month I found myself walking to the store, or going out without my phone and whenever I would have to wait for more than 2 seconds for any reason, I grabbed my phone to try to check social media. It was really nice to be disconnected and to focus on what is going on around me. I love living in a big city in Europe because of public transportation, and feeling like I am living in more of a community.  In LA, you take your car everywhere. You never bump into people on a bus that you know. Or you never have the opportunity to help someone who has fallen after running after a tram. In London, you don’t look at or speak to anyone on the tube. You just don’t.  The community feel in this big city is amazing and I think that my phone is taking me away from that. This month I have felt more connected to the city, and have even left my car at home way more often to enjoy the metro and buses!


2. I sleep better and longer without social media. I don’t have my phone on me in bed anymore because I don’t need it. And I can set my alarm for 20 minutes later because I don’t wake up and check all the platforms. Sleep > Social Media


3. The biggest thing I realized is people who truly care about you and your life WILL find a way to contact you. Even emailing is becoming uncommon because of how easy and popular Facebook messenger is. There have been just a handful of great friends who have kept in touch with me this month compared to the rest of the year when people can shoot off a small talky/ quick message of  “Hi hope you’re well!”. That kind of speaks volumes.  As negative as it sounds, it’s not! Its actually given me some great insight and perspective on my relationships! I truly have cut back on the amount of small talk or gossip in January and doubled the amount of meaning conversations with people who are closest to me.

ANYWAYSSSSS, I have decided to not have the apps on my phone anymore. It means I am not responding to be as quickly as I used to, and I am not always available but it also means I am living in the real world more than I was in 2017! Maybe I will check my messages once a week or something. I don’t know, I just know January was one of my happiest months and I don’t think its that crazy to suggest detoxing from social media was a part of that!

2018 plans….

Christmas is over and that means one thing is quickly approaching…. CAMP! I always say this but its so true- it will be here in no time! I have been busy planning the two camps we will hold for the homeless children in June and July. The high school team from RHCC will be running a sleep away camp in June at the same location that we were at last year. The college team will be running two VBS camps a day in two locations in Bucharest. I am excited to take the older children we have closer relationships away with us for camp again, to a safe space where they can be free and feel safe.  But I am also excited about reaching lots of new children through our city VBS camps with the college team.




I can’t remember how much I have explained about Market of Hope in previous blogs so I will go over the basics again. My home church in LA, Rolling Hills Covenant, puts on a Market of Hope every year.  There are lots of booths with countries that are in need of supplies and necessities. This year my advocate, Carolin Wade, ran a booth for Romania. It was my first time being invited to be a part of it and I am so thankful Carolin did the hard work by manning the booth and having people buy clothes, medicine and food for the families I work with here.  This is what I am talking about:


I was overwhelmed with the support of the congregation and so thankful for everyone being so generous. A lot of the money for the food will go towards Easter food packages so that dozens of families can receive basic food necessities for the holiday. I have been using some of it for the past month to provide food for a specific family though. The Craciun family. The Craciun family has 7 children and and no father in the picture since Christmas. I work with 5 of the kids a few times a week and provide them food, teach them English and play games with them (In English!).  Our office gives them a warm safe space for them to be a few times a week. I don’t have many pictures but the photo on the left is where all 8 of them sleep and live. And the photo on the right is them playing Candyland in our office.


This family has been very sick for the last few weeks so I am so thankful for the Market of Hope funds to pay for HUNDREDS of dollars worth of medicine and food for this family so they can get through this tough time. I am so thankful to everyone who was involved in donating towards the Romania booth and cannot wait to update you in the next few months with how all the funds were used! THANK YOU!

Along with this, I have started Romanian lessons again (never-ending process that I do not enjoy until I communicate with the kids!) and also paperwork. I feel like all I ever do here is paperwork?  This stuff is a little less painful like getting a new American passport, and updating my car insurance and papers but everything here takes longer and is a little more stressful and time consuming. BUT, this winter has been less harsh than normal. We haven’t been snowed in, but that might change next week. I haven’t had to attempt to dig my car out of three feet of snow and hopefully I wont this year!

I am in Bucharest now with lots of visitors from England and Northern Ireland! I feel like I run a hotel sometimes but I looooove showing people how amazing this country is, especially when they can come visit work with me! Thank you to everyone who continues to visit me! Tomorrow I have Peter and Debbie coming from Liverpool who are coming to Romania for the third time!  This time we are traveling out of Bucharest to ski and enjoy the mountains for a couple of days! I can’t wait, and with that said, I need to prepare for their arrival!


Sorry for the very wordy blog post. Hope everyone has a great and safe President’s Day weekend!

Blessings from Buchaaaaaa



Christmas Wrap Up (GET IT?!)

HELLOOOOO strangers!

Christmas seems like a lifetime ago, how is it already February? I don’t know, but I do know that I needed a serious break from all things digital after this December so here I am with my final recap of Christmas.  I had zero time, ZERO, to update throughout the month of December so I hope you’ll forgive me for the delay.

Vanessa and I ran around Bucharest for weeks collecting gifts from all the wonderful people who sponsored a child this Christmas. Along with our own project with over 125 gifts for children who live in an extremely poor village about an hour away from Iasi, we helped host the team from England (had them over for dinner a couple of nights and I am very proud to say that no one got food poisoning) attended every single Christmas party with the children, and even managed to have fun? Right, Vanessa, WE HAD FUN!!

Here are just some of the pictures I took throughout those couple of weeks.

Picking up the gifts from the US embassy: (Thank you so much to everyone who participated and especially Tiffany who organized it!)



Group of volunteers who came with us to deliver gifts to a village 2 hours away from Bucharest.  We had music, a skit, and gifts for the children. We were expecting about 30-40 children and over 200 people showed up. Basically the ENTIRE village showed up- it was amazing!


One of the great changes this year was having an actual party for our “Rahova” kids. In the past few years, we would deliver the gifts to their house with a small hot meal and be so busy we couldn’t spend much time with them. This year we invited them to a restaurant that we rented out, for music, a hot meal and to receive their gifts. We all agreed it was much better. We were able to spend time with the children and eat together in a warm place. ALSO, the kids were very very well behaved so we should be invited back next year!


Sometimes we did make house calls though! Here we all our at one families home!


And of course, we delivered almost 100 gifts to my favorite area- India! I am so jaded now that these images almost seem like my new “normal” When I bring friends or new volunteers to these places I realize how brutal these conditions are.



Went live on Facebook to show people more than just photos this year! Here is me in Bucharest, a little place we called India. Some of these children have come, and will come to our camps, and we make sure to give every child here a gift every Christmas. Also, if you know anything about me its that I cannot do the simplest things on computers so I have no idea how to make the video smaller. Sorry. (Edit: I figured it out, maybe I should be in IT)



My apartment is wayyyyyy too small to hold over 120 huge gifts SO I used my friend Brad’s guest room and bathroom to store them all! A huge thank you to FitPilates, the US Embassy, parents of the British School, Grace Garden families and everyone else in between who donated these AMAZING gifts. THEY WERE HUGE! ANDDDD  huge thank you to Royal Russell school in Croydon, Susan Lyon’s hair clients, The Captain’s Wheel church and all of my friends on Instagram who put up with my nagging and donated money so we could shop for the rest of the gifts! Also, for paying for the truck to take all 128 gifts 6 hours away from BUCHAREST! Without you, kids would have gone without this Christmas. I appreciate your support and love for not only the children, but me and my work. THANK YOU!



And of course, a huge thanks to Vanessa who was my right hand man throughout these few weeks! We were so proud of ourselves this morning as we loaded up the van! We had spent weeks shopping, organizing, wrapping, and today was the day we got to load the van and relax (or so we thought) ONE gift was coming from America in a friend’s luggage that morning, and well…. the luggage was lost of course. So we shopped for one final child, at 9pm 3 days before Christmas.


The next day I dropped Vanessa at the airport at 3am and started my long journey to the village to throw our final two Christmas parties. There was no way I was going to miss these two after all the work we had put into it! The 6 hour drive in the dark was dangerous and probably stupid. But I made it and it was worth it!  Look at their smiles 🙂


Again, thank you so much to everyone involved. A couple years ago I could have never imagined the amount of people…. friends, family, internet strangers, expats… who would be involved to make this possible. I am so grateful for friends here who support this work and love these children.  And for everyone abroad who supports these wonderful kids without ever meeting them. Thank you thank you thank you! Roll on Christmas 2018!

If you’re wondering what I did for Christmas this year, it was nothing. I did nothing. And it was amazing.

Hope everyone has had a great start to the New Year (I have!)

New blog will be posted NEXT WEEK with January’s update and 2018 resolutions that I have been actually keeping this year!

Til then,

Blessings from Bucha,