Easter in Romania!

Easter in Romania is celebrated on the Orthodox Easter date which was yesterday! I hope everyone who celebrated both yesterday AND the week before had an amazing day! Thankfully, in Bucharest, the weather has turned and it has been in the 70’s all week! I was able to spend the day on my friend’s balcony playing dominoes and eating steak in the sun! Perfect Easter Sunday! In the Orthodox churches here, you go to church at midnight the night before Easter and light a candle with hundreds of other people! It is very culturally different from anything we do in the western world and I love it! It is one of my favorite traditions in this country!

This week we were able to bless over 60 families with food packages for Easter. It is always great to see their smiling faces when we bless them with the basics like eggs, oil, rice, peas, pasta etc etc. Here are a few pictures from the week:

 

Unfortunately, I am kind of jaded with the conditions these families live in. Nothing really shakes me like it did years ago. Its unfortunate but its also become my normal after almost 6 years here.

We were delivering our final packages to “Hasdeu” Hasdeu is an abandoned building near the famous People’s Palace with dozens of families and many many children.  Its where Gwynn Lewis gave his testimony, its where I first delivered Christmas gifts over 5 years ago. We have visited there for over 3 years for Christmas, to take some of the children to camp, and even to hold church there.  When we went to visit the entire vibe had changed.  There were NO children. All of the children had been taken to orphanages or foster homes because this place had become a complete drug dungeon. Mothers and fathers that we had visited for years had become so sickly and addicted, they were almost unrecognizable. It was hard to see.  But even harder to know that its unlikely I will ever see these children again.

 

Praying that their life now is better, happier and healthier.

Blessings from Bucharest,

Camilla

 

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!

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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:

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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!

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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.

Camilla

2018!!!!

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.

 

 

MARKET OF HOPE

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

camilla