Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ending Quote

The next two days were not exciting...I packed and got ready to leave for my 10 day trip around Europe. In conclusion to this blog I would like to end with my favorite quote:

"No individual has the right to go into this world or go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it." - George Washington Carver

I hope I did in Romania.

The Final Goodbye!

August 11, 2008 (Tuesday)
The Lord’s Hand in my Life: Feelings of peace and comfort after I said goodbye to Andrei and my orphan kids.

This morning I woke up feeling sick. I knew I had to say goodbye to all my kids. I was not excited about it…not at all. I met Whitney S. at her apartment to print something off for Andrei and then we made our way to the orphanage for the last time. I was dreading going – because I knew it would mean goodbye forever.

When we walked into the orphanage I couldn’t help but think that it was the last time I would walk through those doors and smell that smell of mashed up food. We got our scrubs on and I grudgingly went up the stairs. The second we walked upstairs the first little person I was saw was Andrei sitting at a kid’s table. He signaled for me to come to him with his hand and did a big cheesy smile and laugh. I waved at him and signaled to him that I would come in a few minutes. I wanted to say goodbye to my kids in the other room first and Andrei last. Whitney S. and I went into the other room for about 15 minutes and quickly said goodbye to our kids and kissed them. Then we went to the other room.

I hate reality sometimes. I hate it even more when reality doesn’t feel real. That’s what it felt like when I walked into the second room. I kissed my kids goodbye, and then I turned on a cd that I had burned and danced with Andrei to a couple of songs. In between songs I gave Andrei his gifts. The second I gave him the stuffed monkey he kissed it – I was glad he liked it. It made me feel good. Then I opened the photo album and showed him the pictures of the girls and me that were in it, and he looked at it intently and smiled. I was really surprised because he is three. I didn’t think it would interest him in the slightest. It made me feel good that he recognized I was in the pictures, and he seemed quite pleased. In between songs Whitney S. and I also asked the workers if we could take a picture with them and Lumie said “Yes, and you with Andrei?” I was like “yes!” So I got a couple pictures of Andrei and I on my last day which is amazing because they normally don’t allow them. At least I have something to remember him by.

As we danced Andrei was his usual cute self. He kept giving me hugs, winks and smiles. He is the best dance partner ever – I’m going to miss him dearly. Then the last song I danced to with him was I Hope You Dance by LeeAnn Womack. I had remained strong (when I say that I mean I hadn’t cried) until the end of the song – that’s when I fell to pieces. I started bawling. One of the workers came in and said they were going outside so Whitney S. and I decided we would help the workers take the kids outside and then leave. I put Andrei in the swing for the last time and pushed him in it for a few minutes as I continued to cry. I looked across the playground and Whitney S. was bawling too. After a couple minutes Whitney S. signaled to me that we needed to go. I knew we needed to go…after all this was torture, but when I tried to get my feet to move it was like they couldn’t. I felt like my feet were in cement, like I couldn’t take the step because once I stepped it would be stepping away from him forever…Finally I forced my feet to move, kissed him one last time and walked away. It was the worst feeling ever. I would be gone, and he would have no idea why. When Whitney S. and I got into the dressing room to get changed out of our scrubs we both looked at each other, hugged one another and started bawling. In between sobs I was like “I just hope the Lord takes care of our kids.” Whitney S. replied “He will, he will.” I know He will…but it’s still hard to leave – really hard.

Before we left the orphanage I left my orphanage shoes for Maria (one of the workers). She had requested my shoes a couple weeks after I arrived at the orphanage. I have been given so much I figured what the heck she can have them. Then we left for the last time.

As Whitney S. and I walked back to our apartment and we were able to stop crying I felt feelings of peace. Heavenly Father answered my prayers. Even though it was horrible to say goodbye to him, I knew it was what was necessary for me to do at this time. The Lord is so aware of us. Thank goodness.

After I got home I worked on some homework the best I could. Then Kenz came home. Her and Mindy had gone to say goodbye to their kids after us. She came in and was like “I have to tell you something.” She said that she saw Andrei sitting at the little table in the lunch room eating and smiling and when he saw them walk in he looked up and gave them the nod that guys always do. I was cracking up! He is so cute. He is such a little charmer. It just breaks my heart that he has no idea what’s going on. Maybe it’s better he doesn’t know that I’m gone forever, but as of right now he thinks I’m coming back just like I always do.

I talked to Mario on the telephone. I wanted to make sure the workers kept the photo album for him in a safe place. Mario said she would personally make sure they keep it for him and that she would check on it from time to time. She said that she would make sure that he knew I was a part of his life – a part of his history. That made me happy.

A few hours later we made our way to the hospital for the last time. I said goodbye to all the regular kiddos Alexandra, Mihait, the twins and Marion. They are all so cute! I’m going to miss seeing every one of their faces. In Alexandra’s room there were a bunch of girls, and I put fake tattoos on their arms that I had brought. They loved it! They thought it was the neatest things ever. Then I walked away and said goodbye forever.

When we got home we had a group dinner because we hadn’t Sunday because Sora Genevias. Then we went straight to our final Family Home Evening. We had a lesson by Radu and played Musical Chairs and Do you love your neighbor? for the activity. It was a lot of fun, but musical chairs was getting pretty aggressive. Elyse will buck you out of your chair at all costs. Then Kenz was on one – she was so hyper. During the lesson I kept trying to listen and she would make some goofy comment. I was having a hard time concentrating. Then to make matters worse for the opening song they sang Love At Home. I have hated that song ever since my parents would always sing it to us when we were fighting in order to help create peace. The girls all know I dislike that song so they looked at me and smiled and sang it extra loud. Thank you girls – thank you!

My mom called soon after I got home from Family Home Evening to make sure I was feeling okay about saying goodbye to Andrei and my kids. She said she had been thinking about me all day and cried when she thought about me saying goodbye to him. It meant a lot to me that she was concerned enough to call me and see how I was doing. I told her that it was hard to say goodbye, but that I felt peaceful about things…She said she had been praying really hard for me. The prayers of my parents and mine were answered…

After I talked with my mom we decided to have roommate bonding time for the last time. We went outside and looked out over the city and chatted about family traditions and other random topics. As we were looking outside I looked up and saw the moon. I remember when I was real little and I had to go back and forth between my parents my dad told me that if I was missing him to look at the moon because the moon meant “Daddy loves you.” He always told me that when I looked at the moon he was looking at the same moon and he wasn’t far away…good memories.

Then I did my fifth and hopefully final scabies treatment and went to bed after an emotionally exhausting day.
August 10, 2008 (Sunday)
The Lord’s Hand in my Life: Writing a goodbye letter to Andrei (my little three-year-old monkey) expressing how much I love him and how much he is loved by the Lord.

I was exhausted when I woke up this morning. We all got to bed really really late, and I felt the effects. I literally had to pull myself out of bed.

During sacrament I should have been listening more intently, but I was tired and I couldn’t focus because I was worried about saying goodbye to my kids the next day – especially Andrei. So I wrote a letter to Andrei during sacrament meeting. I decided to put the letter in an envelope in the photo album I bought him so someday he will be able to read it. Then I gave it to the Elders and had them translate it in Romanian. This is what it said:

Dear Andrei:
I wanted to write you a letter to express how much I have grown to love and care about you over the short time I have been here. The first day I walked into the orphanage you instantly ran to me, and you have been by my side ever since. You have been the light of my life everyday and for that I thank you. Your three year old brown eyes, smile and flirtatious wink instantly stole my heart, and I will always remember you and the impact you’ve had on my life.
Andrei, I want you to know that you are loved dearly by a loving Father in Heaven and that He is aware of any trial, pain or heartache you will experience in your life. Andrei, you are an intelligent, loving, serving and carling little boy – never forget that! You have so much potential to accomplish great things! Take advantage of the opportunity to do good, and the Lord will bless you.
Saying goodbye to you Andrei is one of the hardest things I’ll ever have to do, but I’m trusting the Lord will take care of you in my absence. You will always be in my prayers and reside in my heart. I love you like you were my own son! Someday I will be able to tell you again face-to-face!

With Love, Whitney Alexander

P.S. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.

I felt peaceful after I wrote the letter. I think I needed to write it in order to feel closure about the entire situation – even if he won’t know what it says until later. Later in life when Andrei wonders if anyone ever cared about him I want him to know that someone did very very much. He will always know that someone loved him.

During sacrament I made a bit of a fool of myself and Sora Stoica started laughing so hard she was practically crying. There was a young girl sitting next to her that I had never seen before and even though she was blonde I just assumed she was Romanian, so I looked over and to be nice asked “Cum te cheama?” (What’s your name?) I soon found out she was American and she had come to Romania five years ago and worked in the same program. Sora Stoica thought it was the funniest thing that I talked to her in Romanian and she was an English speaker. Leave it to me to do something like that.

Because it was the last Sunday we said our goodbyes. I hate goodbyes so much. We printed out a group picture we had taken with the Branch and gave them each a cd full of pictures that we had taken from the last couple of months. I think they enjoyed them. Then we ate banana cake.

After church I went to the girls’ apartment and did the video because I had time. We decided to put together a video for each girl where we each say our favorite characteristic and memory about them. That way we will each have a video – it will be a great keepsake. I had a lot of fun doing mine. I can’t wait for them to watch the recording I did on each of them. Especially Elyse – she is in for a treat!

On the way to Sora Geneviva’s in the evening we ran into this English guy who had stopped us on the street earlier on the way home from church. He was probably in his early 30s and very buff. He was from Great Britain and heard us speaking English and decided to find out why we were in Romania. We told him we were doing volunteer work here, and he thought that was neat. Then we told him we were going to London in about a week and he gave us all kinds of suggestions of things to do. He gave us his phone number and card and told us we should meet up with him and he’d show us around. He was really nice, but I don’t know why he’d care to help us out around the town. Hmmmm…

After a quick chat we made our way to Sora Geneviva’s house. She had asked us at church to come to dinner at her house, but we told her we already had plans. So we said we would come to say goodbye, but that we didn’t need dinner. She said she would only fix us a “little something to eat.” We should have known that wouldn’t be true. Luckily we decided not to eat before we went over just in case…because we have discovered several times over that Romanians feel it is essential to feed you if you’re a guest. Boy was I glad we didn’t eat when we arrived! She made us a “little something” which consisted of a bowl of soup, eggs, bread, French fries, deep fried salami, cheese, herbal tea and crepes. Haha…love Romanians.

In between courses we all had fun playing with Ionut (Sora Geneviva’s 23 year old son who has disabilities). He is such a character! I played the card game War with him for a while, but then switched with Mindy after I got bored. She took one for the team.

After dinner some of us girls tried to sneak in and do the dishes while the other girls distracted her. We only got two dishes done when she came charging into the kitchen knocking us all out of the way. The girls who had been trying to distract her were following behind her trying to keep her out of the kitchen – it didn’t work. She was so set on us not doing the dishes she grabbed the dish Kenz was washing out of her hands and it broke in the process. Then she quickly shooed us all out. We were all laughing pretty hard. Then she made us dance in a circle for a while. We had to wedge ourselves out the door – she didn’t want us to leave. We had so much fun though! It was a blast! I’m just grateful we didn’t eat before we went.

At home I put Andrei’s gift together and the missionaries dropped off the translated version of the letter. I’m really nervous about tomorrow, but I’m really excited to give him his gifts. I talked to my mom for a bit and that was nice. She helped calm me down about saying goodbye to Andrei. She said she would keep me in her prayers. I just hope that my last moments with him will be good, and that I will feel comfort when I leave him, because I’ve been freaking out tonight about saying goodbye.
August 9, 2008 (Saturday)
The Lord’s Hand in my Life: We didn’t get sick from eating mici at the branch barbeque.

I woke up this morning with Whitney’s feet in my face. Haha…we had a sleep over last night, and I guess she didn’t feel like she had enough room so she decided to turn the opposite way Annie and I were laying. Good times…

After a few of us woke up Whitney S. and Elyse decided to play a little joke on Mindy, and I decided to film it. A couple weeks ago the girls asked me for a fake tattoo that came with one of the books I was reading in The Twilight Series. It was a tattoo with the name Jacob (he is one of the main characters in the book). They wanted to tattoo it on Mindy’s forehead while she was sleeping, but they decided to do it on her upper back to be nice. So Elyse and Whitney S. carefully crept around and put it on her. She woke up immediately, but she didn’t really know what was going on. She was a bit disoriented and confused. To make a long story short we were successful in getting the tattoo on her, and I was successful in capturing it all. The footage is amazing. Mindy is so grouchy in the morning…haha…it made it even more fun to mess with her.

For the next couple of hours we did homework and then Kenz, Annie and I ran to the mall to get some last minute gifts. I got a gift for Andrei! I got him a little stuffed monkey (because I call him my little monkey since he is always climbing and running around everywhere). I also got him a little album and put some pics of me and the girls in it. Then I got a card, and I’m going to write a letter to him so he can read it later on in his life. I want him to know and understand how much I love him and how much the Lord loves him. I’m glad I’m leaving him with something from me. It gives me peace of mind and makes it easier to say goodbye for some reason.

At the mall Kenz had a little misunderstanding. I walked into a souvenir shop and noticed she was buying decorated eggs that cost 180 lei – which was pretty expensive, but I figured “heck if she wants them.” Then right after the transaction she came up to me and was like “I thought it was 18 lei for all of them, not 18 lei per egg. I’m not spending about 80 bucks on eggs!” After she told me that I immediately thought that stinks because she probably can’t get her money back. Romania doesn’t really do returns – I’ve learned that first hand. So she went back and talked to the lady and explained the misunderstanding. They said they didn’t know how to do a return (surprise, surprise) but that she could get something else for 180 lei. Kenz wasn’t happy about it, but she accepted their offer. She ended up getting 180 lei of random souvenirs…She just laughed about how much it sucked…Oh Romania…

After the mall we immediately got ready to leave for the Branch barbeque at the lake. Don’t ask me how or why, but we ended up fitting eight girls in one taxi. Whitney S. and I were in the front seat and there were six girls in the back. We were laughing the entire time. It was really awkward, and probably dangerous considering they are Romanian drivers, but it made for a humorous story?

Once we were dropped off at the cemetery, which was where we were meeting everyone to then walk down to the lake, we ended up sitting there for an hour. We were so confused about where everyone was. While we waited we got bored so the girls had me teach them a dance. I put Elyse front and center of the triangle formation and taught them some moves to a dance I made up a long time ago. They were adorable. I was laughing so hard…Oh I love those girls dearly!

After we waited continued to wait forever we called some of the Elders and discovered we were in the wrong place to meet them. We were kind of sad about it because for once we thought we were on time and even better early. We shouldn’t even try anymore. So the Elders and President Popavich had to come find us. Once they finally found us we were so far away from where the barbeque was taking place that it probably took another good half an hour to an hour to reach the barbeque at the lake…we were just laughing about how everything is so difficult – Romania.

The barbeque was fun, but for some reason I didn’t feel like running around. I did have fun talking to Mary and Alexandra #1 though. They are really cute girls. They asked me about whether or not I had a boyfriend and random things like that. Then I asked them about boys in Romania. I mentioned to them that most boys seem disrespectful towards women. They both whole heartedly agreed that it was almost impossible to find a good Romanian boy. They said they wanted to meet a nice American boy. I told them to come to America, and I’d set them up with one of my friends. They just laughed.

The rest of the barbeque was fun. I chatted with some of the sisters for a while and watched people get in water fights. I didn’t feel like being in the middle of that so I just observed everything that was going on around me. We ate mici (it’s some type of meat). It was okay …just not what I’m used to. After we ate Annie and I left pretty soon after because we were getting eaten alive by bugs. On the way home we were both craving a chocolate croissant and decided to split one…we figured heck we only have a few more days here. Then we walked inside our apartment and it started raining really hard a few minutes after…perfect timing. Normally it starts pouring every time I walk out the door. I finally beat the rain!

After we got home we waited for the other girls to arrive and then Mary, Kenz and I went over to meet with Elyse to plan our Europe trip. We were only supposed to be over there for a little bit, and we ended up being up until about 2:30 in the morning planning and booking tickets for various activities. It was kind of fun though because everyone else in the apartment was up baking banana bread for church the next day. Plus we were all slap happy because it was so late and we were all sooo exhausted and tired. We were all laughing at the dumbest things.

As we were planning we found out that the two days we are in Rome are the only two days out of the month that Vatican City is closed. Just our luck. We were all so sad when we found out. We aren’t going to be able to see the Sistine Chapel or St. Peters Cathedral which are both two major sites people go to in Rome. Oh well…I guess that’s life. I started telling the girls to be optimistic and that maybe if we go walk around the city there will randomly be a guy outside of the Sistine Chapel with keys who will feel bad for us and let us in. MacKenzie made fun of me for about an hour for saying that…then she kept teasing me all night about it. Oh Kenz I love you!

After looking at our budget and how much everything is going to cost we realized that we probably aren’t going to be able to afford to eat in any of the countries we’re visiting. Haha…after we budgeted for the hostels we’re staying in, transportation and money to do the activities in each city there was pretty much nothing left. This is going to be an interesting trip.

When we got home we felt really bad because we were supposed to eat cake Annie made and have a final apartment night sitting and chatting outside. We ended up getting home way later than we thought. Annie was asleep when we got home, and there was cake waiting on the counter for us. The cake was amazing. Thanks Annie!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Part 1 of GOODBYES...

August 8, 2008 (Friday)
The Lord’s Hand in my Life: A good, last full day with my orphans…

My stomach felt nauseous today because I woke up knowing it was my last full day with my kids. I had been feeling okay until today. I prayed that I would have a peaceful last day, and that I would be able to spend quality time with all my kids. That would have been horrible if Andrei or one of the other kids were stuck in their crib all morning. Thankfully the Lord answered my prayers.

When I got to the orphanage Whitney S. and Elyse were blowing up big workout balls. We bought them with money that was donated and gave a couple to each room as gifts. They ended up liking them. Ana tried using the kids as bowling pins with the ball so we quickly had to put it away in the other room. Oh Ana our little angel. Then Whitney S. and I gave gifts to our workers. We bought them each a scarf. They seemed like they appreciated them. They gave us a couple of chocolate bars in return…the chocolate here is so great. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have to go back to waxy chocolate in America…hmm…

For the first hour and a half Whitney S. and I went and played with our kids in Mickey Mouse Room #1. Costy was sooo happy. I danced, held him, and swung him around. He just laughed and laughed. Then he did his usual cooing at me. For some reason as I was holding him I started feeling really emotional. I didn’t cry, but my eyes did tear up for a second. I looked over at Whitney S. and started laughing and fanning myself – I didn’t want to cry – after all I was coming back Monday to say my final goodbye. I’m just glad I’ll have Whitney S. to talk to if I’m missing my kids when I go home because she will understand. What’s even better is that she lives about a 10 second walk away from me.

After Costy I held and tickled Irina. She had that wide eyed look that I love. She was also really happy and giggly. I loved it! Sadly she did have a lot of gas though. Every time I tickled her she shot some bunnies. Whitney S. and I were cracking up.

After I held them I went outside, and Andrei was outside sitting on a bench eating a banana. He instantly smiled at me and reached his arms out for me to hold him. I’m going to miss him excruciatingly, and I think he will miss me too …Please pray for both of us…we are going to need it. Thankfully the day with him was pretty perfect. We just did the things that we normally do. I pushed him in his swing and chased him around the playground. Ana was mean to him though. When I took two steps away from the swing he was sitting in Ana jumped off the swing she was on, stopped Andrei’s swing and pinched his cheek as hard as she could. That girl…I wish they would put her with the older kids so they can at least defend themselves. I don’t really understand why they stuck them in the Mickey Mouse Room. Oh well…I guess they have a good reason. As I pushed him in the swing I kept thinking to myself how he has no idea or understanding that this was the last time I’d ever swing or play with him. I was going to be gone – and probably forever. It’s interesting how when you know you don’t have much time with someone you value every second and minute you have with them. My question is why don’t we always value every second and minute we have with our loved ones around us? We should love even the bad days, because at least we are spending them with people we care about…I guess we’re just human…dang…

Outside I also played with Valentina. I pushed her in the swing next to Andrei’s for a while. Then I let her get down and walk around. She’s so funny…she walks with her upper body ahead of her lower body and after a few steps she almost always falls. It’s hilarious. Then she just laughs. I also played with Iulia as I sat and pushed Andrei in his swing. Iulia started crying so I just grabbed a piece of plastic for her to play with, and she was perfectly content. I love that she loves the feel and sound of random plastic bags, wrappers, etc. So random, but it is what makes Iulia unique!

I also cuddled Vali. While we were outside Vali started freaking out and crying uncontrollably. He had his arms reached up, and he was pulling on my shirt so I held and calmed him down. He just wanted to be held…Sometimes I wonder if he randomly thinks back to a bad experience. He will be fine one minute and then start sobbing all of a sudden.

After we played outside for a while we went inside and I played with Maria. Maria scooted around the floor wherever I went as usual. Then I cuddled her and she kicked and flailed her legs uncontrollably like she always does. I love that girl!

As we left I kept thanking the Lord for a good, last full day. I needed that in order to feel closure. Even Ana and Daniela didn’t bother us too much…just a little. I got to play with all my kids and do the normal things I do with them ever day. Some how there is just comfort in being able to spend my last full day with them doing the normal simple things. I also made sure I told every single one of them that I loved them. On Monday Whitney S. and I are going to go and stay for about half an hour to an hour and simply say goodbye…I have a feeling I will be balling. Thinking about saying goodbye for the last time makes me tear up as I write this. What am I going to do when it’s the real thing?

In between the orphanage and apartments Kenz ran with me to a little shop that sells painted eggs, and I bought some. Painted eggs are classic Romania. They take so much talent, precision, detail and patience to make. I’m excited to bring them home. They are beautiful.

In the afternoon Kenz, Mary, Elyse and I headed to the apartments. We planned to have a dance party with 3rd and 7th floor for our last visit. It ended up being a blast – I couldn’t think of any better way to say goodbye! We put together a play list before we went and danced our hearts out with our kids. We were all drenched in sweat. At the third floor we danced our last song to I Hope You Dance By Lee Ann Womack and each picked a partner. My partner was Cosmina. She is such a cutie….Then we said goodbye…forever.

At 7th floor apartments the kids are all older and knew how to dance so it was even more fun. The second I walked in Mirel instantly ran to me and did his arm flapping thing. Then when we turned the music on Laura and Catalina went crazy. It was hilarious. They were shimmying and doing all kinds of crazy dance moves. So adorable. We didn’t end up getting to dance to our slow song because the worker decided to have dinner early, but at least we got to dance for a little while. Then we said goodbye…forever. I really hate goodbyes – I need to go with Whitney’s motto. She always says “It’s not goodbye it’s a see you later.”

As we left I thanked Heavenly Father for a good ending day with the kids at the apartments. The workers even let us take pictures with them which made me happy. At least I will have something to remember them by. We aren’t really supposed to take pics, but they said we could so we didn’t question it.

Immediately after we got home we had to get ready to meet Mario for dinner – we wanted to take her out to eat and giver her a gift we got her in order to let her know how much we appreciate her for everything she has done. As we were getting ready Mindy informed me that the kids at the hospital asked where I was – apparently they missed my dance moves. She told them I would be ready to dance Monday for them (our last day at the hospital). Then since I wasn’t there today because I went to the apartments she said she had all the children gather around and watch the video of me dancing the other day. According to Mindy they were still quite amused…thanks Mindy – thanks!

As we got on the tram to go to the restaurant somehow Mary and Annie didn’t get on the tram with the rest of us. Luckily they ended up finding us – they were about 45 minutes late though. I guess they got lost. They both arrived at dinner and were like “Well we’ve memorized all of Iasi.” That’s awesome considering we are leaving in four days. Haha…we just laughed at them.

Dinner was nice and relaxing – we went to the restaurant that Nicu (member of the bishopric at church) sings at. We just sat outside and enjoyed sitting down and breathing. All of us girls were exhausted from the day. There was a lot of physical, emotional and mental stress we had been through today.

During dinner I asked Mario if one girl out of the group were to marry a Romanian who she thought it would be. (I was hoping that she would pick anyone besides me because I’m paranoid since Ionut said that he cursed me to marry a Romanian. I don’t really believe him, but I was looking for some type of alternative opinion.) Of course Mario ended up picking me. In my mind I was like “dang!” When I asked her why she said “There is something about you – you are sticky.” I looked at her with a confused look, and she said that people are drawn to me – especially boys - and that I have a big smile. I guess that was a compliment…I don’t know if I agreed with it, but I just laughed and said “oh..”

During dinner I was chosen to present Mario’s gift – we bought her a beautiful, silver, cross necklace for her (she is Greek Orthodox). She loved it! She just kept saying “Guys you weren’t supposed to do that! I know that you are broke!” Then we continued with “We don’t care. We appreciate everything you have done for us!” She also gave me a good suggestion for a gift for Andrei which I appreciated. She said that if I buy a photo album and put pictures in it of me that she will personally make sure the workers keep it for him. That way she said when other girls come that fall in love with him they too can put a picture of themselves so he knows that he was loved and cared about by so many. Along with the pictures I’m going to write a note to him about how much he has meant to me. Hopefully someday he’ll get it…

Before Mario left she gave us the cutest little speech. In her most sincere voice she told us how we had been eight angels for three and a half months to the children we worked with and how she didn’t think we needed to go on a mission for our church because this mission we had been on was enough. Then she kept saying “You guys are so good and natural with the kids. I just don’t know where it comes from.” I laughed because she wouldn’t state that the reason we are so good with the kids is because of the Lord’s help and guidance, but she did look up in the sky as she kept saying that over and over. She mentioned to us that she has seen the medical students in the hospital and noticed the contrast in how we deal with the kids and how they do. She said they barely touch the kids and treat them like a subject. She said we touch, love, cuddle and care for them no matter what disabilities they have or whether or not they have scabies (we laughed about that one). She said we had done good work and that we should be proud of ourselves. She’s right. We have done good, and we have improved the quality of life for the kids we’ve worked with. That was what we came here to do, and we’ve done it! It feels so good!

By the time we got back home from dinner it was late, and we were all exhausted. However we had planned for the other apartment to come over for a sleepover so they did. We didn’t really do much except write in our journals, but we always enjoy each other’s company. No complaints here.

August 7, 2008 (Thursday)
The Lord’s Hand in my Life: We received the proper approval necessary in order to stay in Romania without technically having a Visa…

This morning we had to go to the Visa office with Mario. We stayed longer than we were allowed to stay in Romania without having a Visa – so we had to ask for an extension and get it approved. We brought some chocolates to thank them for being so nice and not charging us an outrageous fee. Mario said that in Romania when someone does something nice for you that they don’t have to do you always get them something. In essence, bribery works well here…. I’m glad in this case! Everything went smoothly. We were not kicked out of Romania early, and it was a fairly quick and painless process – even humorous. While we were there they had to take our picture for their files and apparently we aren’t supposed to smile. The first time I smiled he told me not to smile so big – just a little smile - so I did. Then he said my smile was still too big so he tried several more times – I thought I was smiling small! The guys working with us thought it was hilarious that I couldn’t smile small. Finally he told me to keep my mouth shut when I smiled – so I did, but I was not satisfied with the picture. I asked him why we couldn’t smile and he replied “because you’re not in America.” I was like “okay…” After seven pictures they finally settled on a “half smile.” The girls were cracking up when the guy told them how many tries it took for me not to smile…oh well…Romania is so strange.

By the time we got to the orphanage from the Visa office we only had about an hour and a half left to play with our kiddos. Andrei was inside sleeping when I arrived, but lucky for me our “two little angels” were outside running around. Ana was on one today. She still wasn’t as bad as earlier this week, but she kept biting me. Every time she did I would push her away, ignore her, and say “nu frumos nu fetele.” I probably said that phrase a thousand times this morning.

Vlad’s mom came to visit him today, and she was standing there as Ana came up from behind and bit my back and said, “She doesn’t do it maliciously – I’ve watched her, and she really likes you…she will walk around but she always comes back to you.” I wanted to tell her that she hasn’t seen half of the “non-malicious”stuff she has done to us. Then in my mind I kept thinking “Great…she likes me that’s wonderful!” Whitney S. agreed with Vlad’s mother’s comment and she said “She didn’t bother me today at all. I think she does like you.” Apparently the more she likes you the more she comes around, and the more she hurts you. Oh I’m so lucky to be her favorite! Haha…at least I only have one more full day. Today I noticed whatever child I was giving attention to she would hurt. My poor kids. She pinched Maria really hard when I was holding her, and then she pinched Alex really hard when I was walking around with him outside. I told the workers, and she was put in timeout. What’s sad is that Ana will never be able to form a relationship with anyone. Whitney S. and I read a book that talked about street kids and sociopaths. She seems to have the characteristics of one.

Outside Maria was hilarious – she does not like Ana, and I don’t blame her. I took Maria out of her chair to hold her, and Ana came and sat in Maria’s chair next to me. The entire time Maria kept grabbing at her chair and trying to push Ana out of it. She did not want her in her chair. It was pretty funny…haha…

Andrei was the most adorable little angel today. Once he got up from his nap he just cuddled with me in my arms. He rarely lays in my arms still (normally he’s the biggest wiggler), but he did for a while today. He just laid in my arms like how you would hold a baby and looked up at me and smiled and played with his toys – which happened to be dolls…haha... It was precious. I am going to miss that boy so much! He is my little angel. I just hope Heavenly Father takes good care of him for me – especially with the two girls around.

In between the orphanage and hospital a bunch of us girls went to Carrefour to shop. Carrefour is probably the largest grocery store in Romania – it reminded me of a Wal-Mart but not quite as big. Kenz kept saying how she felt like she was home. I agreed with her to a certain extent. We decided to go look around and buy our final groceries there. I bought a ton of chocolate bars to take home with me so everyone can taste them. I’m pretty excited about them. Then Kenz and I looked around for decorated eggs and other souvenirs, but we didn’t find anything good. I also looked for a necklace for Andrei. I can’t seem to find a plain silver necklace anywhere – I think I might end up getting him a stuffed horse. His favorite toy in the orphanage is his little toy horse he rides on.

We ended up taking some time at Carrefour so we all got back a little late for the hospital. Once we got to the hospital we only had an hour and a half left – just enough to have a birthday party for Marion. While we were waiting for the rest of the girls to arrive for the birthday party we were all in the room Marius used to stay in before he left for the United States…(I’m not sure if I mentioned that, but he left Monday. We are all so excited for him). Because we chatted with Marius so much we became friends with the kids in that room. Then all of a sudden the girls started telling all the kids how I was such a good dancer and they all started exclaiming that I had to dance – they even turned music on. I figured what the heck and got my groove on. The girls and kids were cracking up, and when I stopped dancing I realized that half the people down the hall were stopped in their tracks watching me (there are windows in between every room which allow you to see anything and everything that was going on). Some were smiling and some just looked confused – but I didn’t care, I just laughed and kept going…the kids loved it and that’s why I’m here. Luckily Mindy got it on tape…thank you Mindy thank you.

Once I finished dancing Whitney S. and Elyse arrived for Marion’s birthday party. They had planned the entire thing. They bought Marion a Mickey Mouse birthday cake, juice, and all the utensils needed to complete the party. Because we all got to the hospital before Whitney S. and Elyse did we found out before them that one of the nurses had taken Marion home for his birthday. We tried calling Elyse and Whitney S. to tell them but it was too late…When Whitney S. came in we told her the bad news. Then we asked where Elyse was and Whitney S. sadly replied “She is outside setting up for the birthday party.” As you can imagine Elyse and Whitney S. were very distraught. They bought and brought all the stuff needed to make Marion’s 2nd birthday amazing, and he wasn’t there to share in it with them. They were both sad and disappointed which is completely understandable. We all felt so bad that they had put so much effort into it…but there was nothing we could do. Then because they were distraught and they had already set up for the party, they decided we would still have a birthday party without him. When we walked outside Elyse and Whitney S. were sitting on the ramp where they had the cake sat up with the saddest looks on their face. We ended up singing Happy Birthday in Romanian to Marion while Elyse held a picture up of Marion. After the song we cut cake and started eating it. That’s when one of the glasses of juice spilled and Elyse exclaimed “This party sucks!” and started crying. It was the straw that broke the camels back. Then Whitney S. started crying…it was so sad…Then they tried to make me dance for them – Mindy said it would make them feel better, but I refused…sorry girls sorry…I had already made a fool out of myself enough for the day.

After Marion’s Birthday party Annie and I went and played with Mihait. He was his adorable self. We played with stickers for a while. We ended up putting them all over his shirt and face. Then all of a sudden about seven or eight people walked into the room. It’s funny, but we automatically attract moms and kids in the other rooms. They just sat and watched us play for a while. Then I gave some of the other kids stickers. I think they had a good time!

On the way home from the hospital we all suddenly felt something wet on our arm and realized that someone had spit on us as they were driving by. SO RUDE! Then we had multiple men yell and hollar at us…Romanian men are pigs…they should oink instead of speak…

The rest of the night was uneventful. I had to finish my write ups about all my kids. They took a lot of time, but it was good to get them all done. I love my kids! I’m going to miss them a ton!

Friday, August 8, 2008


August 6, 2008 (Wednesday)
The Lord’s Hand in my Life: The Lord helped me figure out how to handle our two new girls! He is aware…

This morning I was dreading going to the orphanage. I have been praying the last couple of days that I will know how to handle the two girls with love – even though they are abusive towards everyone around them. I prayed the entire walk there that everything would be okay…the last two days have been miserable.

As we got changed into our scrubs at the orphanage I started laughing and was like “I feel like I should go into the room with the girls with dark paint on my face and army gear.” I felt like I was gearing up to go battle – except I wasn’t going to fight just get beat up on.

We made our way upstairs and everyone was inside because it rained yesterday. Whitney S. and I decided to go to the first Mickey Mouse room because we didn’t get to spend a lot of time with them the last couple of days. Luckily the two girls were in the other room so it was nice and peaceful. I just played with Irina, Constantine and Valentina. I swung Constantine in the air and boy did he love it! He was giggling and smiling so big. Then I practiced jumping with Vali again…she is getting better at pushing off the ground, but she still doesn’t exactly understand the concept of jumping…I sure wish she would jump on her own for me at least once before I leave…grrr…

While we were in the first room Ana kept peeking her head around and giving me an evil smile as if to say “I’m ready for you – just wait until you get in here.” However, somehow I immediately knew how to handle the situation – with Heavenly Father’s enlightenment. When she stuck her head around the corner and looked at me I waved and smiled at her as big and cheesy as I could (she hadn’t done anything mean yet so I wanted to give her positive attention). She persisted in peaking her head around the corner, and each time I did the same thing. I made my hello as big and extravagant as possible so that when she was bad I could turn and ignore her and make an extremely stark contrast. I wanted her to understand that if she is nice we will play with her, but the second she is mean we will ignore her and pay no attention to her. It ended up working! I realized I needed to be more black and white in my actions than yesterday. Everything she did that was nice or good I overemphasized it and made it a huge deal…then everything she did that was mean received no response. Although she still did a few pinches she was much much much better than yesterday. I even got her dancing and playing ball with me. Then she sat by me for a while, and I cuddled her and scratched her back. Her behavior was a huge improvement from yesterday. At least I wasn’t punched, kicked, bit, stomped on, and hit with blunt objects – only pinched…Whitney S. and I were pretty proud of ourselves today.

The rest of the kids in the room were really well behaved today. Maria was so cute today – she really wanted to be cuddled. She can’t walk, but she can scoot…whenever I got up to walk she would follow me around the room and scoot to wherever I was and pull at my legs. At one point I was dancing with Ana and she pulled on my pants so hard that they almost came off. I was like “excuse me!” Haha…Then Andrei was his cute usual self. I got him to dance for a little bit. It’s so adorable. He’s doing really well on his signs. I feel pretty good about the fact that he didn’t know any sign language when I got here and now he knows several signs…some things I have taught him have stuck! Yes!

At the hospital the sister missionaries joined us today. Sora Betham came with Annie and I. We went and played with Mihait. He is a four year old orphan boy and dang is he cute. He is just a petite little guy with big brown eyes, pale skin and purple fingers and toes. Annie gets to visit him everyday and she adores him, and he adores her. I have to go to the apartments a couple times a week, but I like to see him when I can. Today we had Sora Betham ask the nurse why Mihait is in the hospital and apparently it’s because he needs plasma and if he doesn’t get it he’s going to die. Annie asked if Americans were able to donate plasma – apparently not. Annie and I were talking about how frustrating it is that Romania is the way it is. In America plasma is so easy to get it’s ridiculous. In Provo alone half the student body sells their plasma because they get money. We think the reason people don’t donate it as much in Romania is because they probably don’t get paid for it – if they did half the country would be standing in line every day all day to donate. It’s just frustrating that a little boy could die over something that is so easily treated in America…ahhh! He is seriously the cutest little boy! When Sora Betham was translating for us what he said it was so cute…he just has the cutest personality. At one point she went to ask him a question and he was like “what do you want?” (As if to say I’m busy playing with my little cars why are you bugging me.) We were all laughing pretty hard.

Later we visited Florine and Alexandra and took them outside. I promised Florine I would get him a treat for his birthday because it is coming up – so I did. That little stinker was such a pill though. I told him he could get a small treat, and he was going for things that cost 10 and 15 lei in the store. That boy will try and take advantage if you let him. After saying “no” to several things he finally settled on a chocolate cake from the bakery section and a soda. I was like “Florine be grateful!” One thing I’ve learned about Romanians is that if you are nice they usually take advantage so you have to be careful…really careful…

Tonight was my last time to cook for group dinner. I made lasagna from scratch, corn on the cob and franzela with butter. It was pretty good except the corn was hard for some reason – I think I got bad corn from the piata…oh well I tried…

For the rest of the evening I spent my time doing write ups on my kids. At the end of every semester we are required to write a page or two on each kid about their likes, dislikes, development, things you have been working with and other useful bits of information for the next group. That way the girls don’t have to start at square one when we’ve already built up to square 10. We have a binder that has all the write ups and pictures of each kid. They are very helpful. I had a lot of fun writing my write ups tonight. They took a while, but thinking about some of the silly quirks, experiences or random things they like to do made me laugh. Even though I’m going to miss them a great deal I’ve felt more calm and okay with leaving this week than I have the entire semester which is strange considering it’s my last week. The blessing the elders gave me has helped.

To end the night I had an unwanted visitor in my bed. As I was doing my write ups I looked over and all of a sudden I saw a baby roach sitting in the place Annie usually sleeps. I was like – not okay! So I hollered for Annie and she lifted our sheets so it would get out of the crack. Then I scooped it up with my flip flop and flung it out the window! We both cheered and laughed once it was gone…SICK SICK SICK! MacKenzie found one in her bed the other day. We are going to have to spray for roaches again – they must be making babies.