Saturday, January 24, 2015

Doctors and Dentists

Before I begin with any sort of update, I want to say a very special THANK-YOU to all of our year-end sponsors in 2014.  We were so blessed by your giving, and because of your generosity, we are about 70% funded in our one-time gifts category (local taxes, health insurance, plane tickets, etc.) for all of 2015!!  That's an incredible way to begin the year!  Thank you for allowing God to provide for us through you.  He has increased our faith and our dependence on Him because of your sacrifices.  Thank you!!

We survived another week here in Romania... it might sound strange to put it that way, but between Paul and me, I'm not sure we've had one fully healthy day yet!  I Face-timed with my mom yesterday, and the theme of our conversation turned out to be "Frame your setbacks as opportunities."  So, this week we had the exciting "opportunities" to visit both the doctor and the dentist!

The trip to the doctor was for me.  Last week you might remember I was sick in bed for the first time in, I think, years!  And finally Paul convinced me that it might be good to go see a doctor.  We called Adél, who so graciously dropped whatever she was doing to go with us to their Hungarian-speaking family doctor.  This was my very first trip to a doctor outside of the United States!

I don't have any pictures (sorry, maybe next time!), but if you can imagine, there is an old building in the middle of some very old communist-era bloc-style apartments.  You enter the building through an open doorway and go up some dimly-lit cement stairs to a long hallway.  The hallway is full of doors, and behind each door is a different kind of doctor.  The hallway is lined with chairs and benches, and you can see people waiting outside each door.  Patients are seen on a first-come, first-served basis, and it's pretty much on the honor system.  There's no sign-in or secretary or nurse to take your name, appointment time, and insurance card :)  There was another lady who was there waiting for our doctor before us, so we sat outside for quite some time until the door opened and she came out.

We walked in to a room filled with filing cabinets and two desks.  At one desk sat the doctor.  At another desk sat the nurse.  We (Paul, Adél and me) all stood there just inside the door and answered questions about how I was feeling.  We stood there for what seemed like a very long time!  Eventually, the doctor stood up and took me in to the next room, a cement-floored/walled/ceilinged room with an exam table.  There was no sanitary roll of paper to put down on the exam table.  There was a plain cotton sheet with a rubber mat at the end where there was dirt from someone's - the previous person's? - shoes.  I was instructed to lie on the table.

At some point along in here, I will admit, I was close to tears.  I was being asked questions in Hungarian that I didn't understand, trying to communicate, not feeling well, not sure what to do next, and a little petrified about pretty much the whole situation (germs, anyone????).  I fought back the tears, but I was a little traumatized.  {Quick side note: I don't know what I would have done without my husband there!  He knows Hungarian better than I do, so he explained some things to me along the way while I was clutching his hand tightly, and he stood there at the door while I was being examined.. just his presence made me feel so much better!  I am so thankful for my husband.}  So, The doctor quickly examined me (again, speaking in Hungarian words that I mostly did not understand), and concluded that I probably had some kind of stomach virus that has been going around.

We went back in the room of desks and files, and the doctor wrote 5 (yes, 5) prescriptions for me.  I still have no idea what 3 of them were for.  The two that I knew were for something like Prilosec and for a probiotic pill of some sort.  I think another one was for nausea.  There was some (15-20 minutes??) talk about our insurance.  Because of my residency permit, I had to get one year of private Romanian insurance.  Paul and I also have international health insurance from the states.  As it turns out, the doctor had never even heard of the Romanian insurance I have (they only ever deal with state-sponsored insurance) and the concept of international insurance here is virtually unknown, so we were prepared to pay out-of-pocket for the visit (and then submit it to our US insurance).  When we asked how much the visit would be, they said, "It's ok, you don't have to pay anything.  You can come anytime you want or anytime you have questions."  Well, ok!  We'll take it!  And, the doctor and nurse are very interested in coming to our English class, so we're excited about that opportunity!  I am feeling much better now and hoping to stay healthy for a very long while :)

The dentist visit was actually for our very first routine cleaning and check-up here in Romania!  Paul found a Hungarian-named dentist on our street (we are always excited to find Hungarians here, as our Hungarian is much better than our Romanian!), and when he went inside to make an appointment, he found a very nice, wonderful, young English-speaking dentist!  We were both impressed with the cleanliness of her office.  Everything felt new!  She cleaned our teeth with a water gun (probably not the official name), polished them with a fierce blast of mint-flavored salt spray (not my favorite part) and sent us on our way!  X-rays were not a part of our visit, but she did send Paul to a separate office downtown to get an x-ray of one of his teeth that the dentist thought looked suspicious.  He walked in to that office (which was a single room in a basement - all they do is x-rays there!) and got his x-ray.  He has an appointment next week to take the x-ray back to the dentist for her to read it, and, if there's a cavity there, to fill it.  Probably the most amazing thing (besides the cleanliness and up-to-date-ness of the office) was the total cost of this dental work.  We paid the equivalent of $13 each for our cleanings.  The x-ray (which was actually of 3 teeth) was the equivalent of $3.  I just did a quick search online for "average cost of dental cleaning and exam in America" and I came up with $285!  This dental visit was easy on our missionary budget, and we will hopefully be back every six months!

Outside of medical visits, we had a fairly normal week of after-school and weekly church meetings.  This weekend, there is another installment of leadership training for church members who are interested in taking on more responsibility.  We're excited about this series of trainings, because as our churches grow, so do their needs!  We are also beginning a new women's meeting tomorrow (Sunday) in Reghin!  The church decided to have these women's meetings one Sunday afternoon a month in place of their regular second Sunday service.  I'm excited for this time to spend with other women!  When we have women's meetings in Apalina, we always have many women who feel comfortable coming in that environment rather than to a typical Sunday morning service.  I am curious about who these women's meetings in Reghin will attract, and I'm hopeful about forming some new relationships there.

I do have two pictures to share this week, and here they are!

First, here is some accountability toward our health resolutions for 2015.  We tried to set ourselves up for success with our resolutions, but we were very specific in the food area of our goals.  We wrote "Eat less bread and fewer processed foods."  Well folks, here's proof that I sent Paul to the store for two things: bread and bacon.  In my defense, we were having company for dinner, and I got a little insecure about making brussels sprouts withOUT bacon (who does that??), so... we fell off the bandwagon a little bit :)

Second, I used to wonder what these bottles are that stick out of the ground all over town in winter.  In the warmer months, rose bushes grow here, but in the winter, the roses are cut back and protected from fluctuating winter temperatures with these mini greenhouses!  Neat, huh?  We see these everywhere.

Thanks for tagging along with us on another week of adventures!  We've got our calendars filling up for 2015 - it's going to be a great year!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Our Winter Begins

We've been back in Romania for exactly a week now, and what a week it has been!  Paul wrote about our luggage problems, and we were happy to get those solved by Saturday afternoon!  We're happy nothing was missing when the bags arrived.  Since the bags arrived from an international flight, we had to sign over permission for them to be searched upon arrival for customs purposes.  I'd lost things in the past during this process, but we were thrilled when all 5 packages of chocolate chips safely arrived :) Along with all the other less important things like Paul's clothing and shoes :)

Sunday was an exciting day here in Reghin!  We had the dedication service for Dani, Attila and Adel's new little boy!  He grew so much while we were in the states!!  Most of Attila's family came to town for the service, and Adel's brother Csaba performed the dedication, so it was a special family affair!  We love being a part of their family too, and we were so honored that they waited to have this special day until we were back from the states!

Here is Csaba praying for Dani in the Reghin church

The beautiful Toth family and busy, busy Kaleb :)

It was also an exciting time to reunite with our church families here in Reghin and Apalina, and Paul and I even made the trip to Filpishu Mic for Attila so he could have the extra time with his family.  So, we got to visit with lots of special people!  Of course, Paul's time was in high demand after church in Apalina!  He was flocked with people bringing him requests for trips to town or other favors, and it was a little overwhelming, but it's good to know he's so... appreciated :) Thankfully, we made it out alive to get home in the cold, snowy night and rest up from all the day's excitement!

One of my new year's resolutions is to have more structure for the time I spend at home.  A couple of days a week, Paul is gone with the car for a pretty long stretch of time, and I want to do a better job of being intentional about how I spend my time, whether it's working on ministry tasks, studying Hungarian, or keeping the house running.  So, I arrived back in Romania with neat and tidy expectations for how this was all going to play out - perfectly, of course, even from the beginning :) Well, I told Paul (after a very crazy Monday that ran complete circles around me and my tidy new plans) that Monday felt like a total mockery of all my new schedules and systems.  Of course, everyone (even me) knows that ministry, and especially foreign ministry, doesn't revolve around our preferences for convenience and order.  And that's a good thing!  Because we're not here for convenience and order.  We are here for the people around us.

As the week progressed, I ended up sick in bed and Paul was called on a prison trip and this and that and this and that... and now here we are on Friday, and nothing this week has gone as planned, but it's actually completely ok and good because it means that we have been available to the needs presented to us, and that's a blessing for us in and of itself.  As for my new and neat little schedule... well, I am saving it for those days that I just happen to be home and wondering what I am going to do with myself all day.  I'll let you know when one of those days ever happens again :) (but, seriously, I need to find some time to study Hungarian SOMETIME :) )

Paul has been back at after-school, and the kids are so excited to have him there!  He dove right in to all the cooking and cleaning, but thanks to a very generous donor through Teleios Ministry, we will soon have a brand new dishwasher in the kitchen in Apalina!!!  Paul will get to spend less of his time cleaning up and more of his time working with the students and teachers!!  Thank you so very much!!!  We can't wait to pick out the dishwasher... maybe even this weekend! :)  Here are some pictures from Apalina this week.

Snowy (and icy!) winter

Busy child working on his writing

One big happy moment that occurred this week was when Paul and I drove for the LAST TIME to the immigration office in Targu-Mures.  We had a little scare at passport control when we entered Romania last Friday.  I had to stay behind while Paul went ahead, because the officers had to confer and make calls and be 100% sure I was ok to enter the country.  We had called the immigration office while we were in the states to be sure my residency permit had officially been issued, which it had been, so we knew I was in the system.  But, I didn't have the physical card yet.  Well, they did eventually let me in (obviously), so on Tuesday, we picked up the card!  It's really official this time, I can stay here in Romania until 2019 :)

One last bit of fun happened last night when we got to spend some time with our friends Lucian and Cristina.  They are a young Romanian couple that we have enjoyed getting to know.  Lucian is an assistant pastor and a kindergarten teacher, and Cristina is a music teacher here in Reghin!  We love hosting each other for dinner and games and great conversation.  We had them over last night for a make-your-own-pizza night, and I also made a new recipe for an amazing Hot Fudge Cake that you can find here (it's like MIRACLE cake!!!  And so perfect for winter!!).  It was so good to be together again after a long six weeks.

Thank you again for your love, support and encouragement while we were at home in the U.S.  I want to reiterate what Paul said last week - your care means so much to us, and it keeps us going in the harder moments of being so far away from our families and the familiar life of America.  When you tell us that you enjoy reading our updates or that you're praying for us with your children, we feel built up (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and enabled to keep doing what we are doing here (Hebrews 10:24).  When you think about it, leave us a comment or send us an email!  We love staying in touch, and in fact, we need that very much.  Thank you!!


P.S. In case you missed it, check out Wednesday's post for a link to an informative article about the history and lives of Roma Gypsies!

P.P.S. One more thing!  While we were at home for Christmas, my very amazing mother made us some new throw pillows for our apartment!  Thanks Mom!!  Here are the ones in the living room:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Article on Roma Gypsies

Many of you have asked us some great questions about the Roma people we work with here in Romania.  Here's an article that was published this week about the specific group of Gypsies that are here in Romania.  It's actually a book review for a new book that's been published about the Roma (The Romani People by Yaron Matras), but the article itself give a brief history of this people group and brings up many of the same questions we have been asking ourselves since we began working here.

Here's a sneak peek that reveals the difficulties of school attendance that we are trying to address through our after-school program:

"For a variety of reasons, the Romani fight school systems tooth and nail. In the Romani world, Matras writes, the child is extremely important, and the removal of a child from the household even just for the day is extremely painful. It also represents, in the mind of the Romani family, an opportunity for the government to influence children away from the Rom life. Depending on the branch of Rom, the pursuit of education by a female may not be permissible beyond a certain point. As a result, Matras writes, Romani parents sometimes work assiduously to keep their children from getting a full education." - William O'Connor, The Story of the Roma, Europe's Most Discriminated Group

You can access the full article here.

Hope you're all having a great week!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

We're back in Romania

After an interesting week of packing and traveling, we are finally back in Romania.  First, let me take you back to last weekend.  We enjoyed some "get-away" time in North Carolina.  It was great to go somewhere together and invest some time in us.  On Saturday, we were able to meet with the leader of Teleios ministry and talk with him about the coming year.  He was a great encouragement to us as we think about what our responsibilities are to the ministry and to each other. We also had a great time with the Brown family on Saturday night.  On Sunday, we were able to meet with two church groups. It was encouraging to talk with so many people who care about us and are interested in what God is doing here.

Monday we started the monumental task of trying to pack!  During the day, I was able to meet with another church leader in Charleston. Again, what an encouragement it was to talk with someone who cares about us and our ministry here. By Tuesday night we were tired, packed, and ready to board the plane. We didn't realize that our trip would be much longer than we expected. We left Charleston on Wednesday more than two hours late causing us to miss our flight to Munich. We stayed in a hotel for the night and headed back to the airport on Thursday for our new flight. There was so much turbulence, that we weren't able to sleep at all, so we arrived in Munich having missed a night of sleep.While the flight to Romania was uneventful, we arrived there to find out that two of our bags were missing. When we got back to Reghin, I spent most of the evening trying to track down our lost luggage without any luck. We finally got a call this afternoon that our bags had arrived and were on the way to Reghin. Thank you Lord!

This may sound like a lot of stress and wasted time (and I'll admit, we were exhausted at the end of it all), but I am so thankful for all the love and support that we felt while traveling. We are also thankful for the extra night of sleep that we got in Washington. Even our delayed bags gave us more time to unpack the bags that did arrive. God is good to us in all situations!

I want to share one more thing before I sign off for tonight. One of the things that Katie and I learned during our time in the States is how important and precious to us your support is. I'm not talking about financial support (although we are thankful for that and could not be here without it). What I'm talking about is the knowledge that people are out there (and all over the world, too) praying for us and standing with us in our work here. We felt this many times during our visits in churches and with friends. That kind of support keeps us going. Thank you to those of you who went out of your way to speak to us and make us feel loved! When you think about it, send us an e-mail. Even if it's very short, it means a lot!