Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Here are some pictures that Beth has sent us.  They are of things she has seen along the way of her time in Romania.

Gypsy house

Gypsy house

Sheep on side of hill

Bear skeleton in cave

View from fortress

The fortress

Roman ruins

Stadium in Roman ruins
Column (laying on the ground)

An old vault


Courtyard in castle (I don't know who that is with the cape)


Dinner table

Long hallway with holes for archers

Old Fireplace
Old Well that is 28 meters (about 100 feet) deep.
Legend has it that it was dug by hand by prisoners

Pit where prisoners were thrown to bears

Other side of castle

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Please forgive me but I won't be updating for a little while because I am staying home to help Linda. The weather looks rainy all week so I doubt there will be anything worth writing about going on. :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Read this post second!

Please read this post after reading "It's like a roller coaster" :)

We started the day off with breakfast at the hotel. It didn't take much of a car ride for the boys to fall asleep so we decided to go out of our way a bit to see something else so they could sleep for a little while longer. We decided to go to a national park to see some European bison. They were pretty neat. It's amazing at how big the animals are, even the babies (calves). Then we continued on to the roman ruins. These were amazing. It was pretty much a field with all parts of an old roman city in it. We saw houses, a stadium, the financial offices, and the town center with a fountain, and vaults. It was cool because you could just walk through everything. There weren't any restrictions. Of course you don't jump on anything but still to be able to sit in the stadium or touch the pillars was pretty neat. I was told that the structures there were over 2000 years old. We then went  to the Castle. If you google Huniazilor Castle that is the one I saw. It was incredible. Absolutely unbelievable. It was so big and just awesome. Once again you could just lead yourself around at your own pace which was nice. Most of the rooms were on display besides a few that were under construction. There was a couple getting their wedding pictures done there and which I'm sure will be beautiful. Here is a link for information: I would have really liked to get a few senior pictures taken there but I wasn't looking very good today with the not changing clothes and everything. It was all good until Linda fell and sprained both her ankles. When we got back into Cluj the boys and I went to their grandmothers apartment so that Linda and Andi could get X-rays at the hospital. Luckily it didn't take long so we were home by 8 but Linda can't walk for 3-4 days so her father-in-law is coming over to help me with the boys tomorrow. I won't be going to the school because the teacher isn't able to make it. Pray a quick recovery for Linda because it will be a tough few days with her not being able to walk.

It's just like a roller coaster

Well, where do I begin than to say that this was by far the greatest weekend ever. Friday I was not feeling too hot and I knew that we had plans for Saturday so I just laid low and caught up on some sleep. Saturday we had to plan to drive a few hours to see a cave (pestera ursilor) that had some cool bear bones in it. It was pretty rainy but we decided to try it anyway and left mid-morning to drove through the mountains. These were some of the most gorgeous scenery that I have ever seen. Absolutely amazing. I must have looked silly because I was pretty much drooling looking out the truck windows. :) This is also where I could be quoted saying that the streets were like a roller coaster because you go up and down and take sharp turns. It was crazy! Oftentimes you would see herds of sheep grazing on the mountains. I asked if it would be OK to stop and take a picture. We did and ended up going to the herd and petting one of the sheep. It was pretty neat. We continued to drive and got to the town at about 1:00. We had some lunch before going into the cave. The streets leading up to the cave were lined with people selling souvenirs. One lady even said that she would take other currencies. Why she would think I would have a different currency it beyond me. :) Once in the cave we felt a sudden temperature change as it was much cooler. The cave was amazing. I got some great pictures. There also was full bear skeletons in it. Just sweet. We left the cave and I was told that we were going to take a different route home to show me some different things. About five minutes later Linda turns around and asks "Do you want to make a real adventure out of this?" "What do you mean?" I asked with hesitation. "Well we could spend the night somewhere and see Roman ruins tomorrow." She explained. "Does that sound like fun?" At this point I'm thinking NO! I have nothing to change into, no toiletries, absolutely nothing. I raised these concerns to her and she said that we would just sleep in what we are wearing and re-wear it tomorrow. This didn't sound appealing to me at all so I let them decide what to do. A few minutes later Linda said, "Oh, and we would see a really cool castle. You do want to see a castle right?" I get a big grin on my face and nod. "OK then," she said "We're going!" Now I was really excited. I have always wanted to see a castle. On our way to the hotel we passes an old fortress where we also stopped. That was pretty neat also. Then we went to the grocery store to get necessities like toothbrush, toothpaste, and diapers for the boys. We had dinner at the hotel at 10, then called it a night.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Not much happened today. I went to school like normal where everyone seemed very sleepy. haha. I walked through town again today but was surprised when the city center was blocked off because they are setting up a stage for a concert this weekend. I walked around trying to make sure I could get certain places on my own. I was successful. :) I was walking through a small side street where there are booths set up with different things. At the end an old lady was selling flowers. Before I knew it there were some in my hand. I asked her how much they were and she didn't say anything or even react. I continued to ask but finally gave up and said thank you and started to walk away. That woke her up "no no no buy" she said. I turned around and again asked how much. I feel that at this point she should have know what I was asking and held up fingers. Well she again didn't answer so I pulled the smallest bill I had out of my wallet and asked if it was OK. She nodded so I walked away. I guess they really know how to trick the tourists. ;) We are getting a thunderstorm right now so it is the second time that it has rained since my being here. From what I hear though it sounds like MI has been getting some pretty bad storms? Hope everyone stays safe.

Kids playing futbol/soccer

Blowing kisses

Lunch time

Better picture of outside of church

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Today started like any other at the school. I got a few more pictures that will be coming soon. At about noon the teacher said I could go on a walk today if I wanted. So I went on a walk to find a McDonald's because I have to know where it is so my dad doesn't starve while he's here. ;) I had never been brought there before but we pass it every morning on our drive so I thought I could figure it out. It was really simple. Follow the main street to the end and turn right. Besides having to do some weird things to get to cross walks it worked out fine. While there I got something to eat because when doesn't a burger sound good for 3.5 lei? ($1) Then I went back to one of the city center to eat. Afterwards I walked around some more just to get a better feel for where certain things are. I walked past a shop that had soccer jerseys in the window. My brother asked me to get one for him so I stopped in. There were no kids sizes but I looked on the clearance rack for something for my dad. When I found a good one I proceeded to the checkout. The lady there started talking to me in Romanian so I apologized and said I didn't speak Romanian. She must not have cared because she just kept talking. I continued to nod and smile like I knew what she was saying. Then all of a sudden she looks at me and goes Congratulations!! I start to look around thinking what is happening? There was no confetti or guys running out with a big check so I don't think I won anything, it must have been the only English she knew and just decided to say it without knowing what it meant. Well at least it gave me a laugh for the day. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm really starting to like it here.

Today was awesome. I went to the school in the morning where I took a few pictures of the kids to show what goes on there. Then I decided that I wanted to go somewhere for lunch so I left for about an hour to go grab something to eat from the city. I felt pretty confident on where to go and what to do but i was a little nervous. I got to the city center in about a 20 min. walk. Then I went down a side street to a kabob restaurant that I saw yesterday when I was being brought around. I knew what I wanted last night so I google translated the veggies that I wanted and wrote them down. I have never had to do research the night before for going out for lunch but today was an exception. Now just so you are aware the kabob is not meat on a stick, rather it is chicken, and fries warmed on a tortilla shell and then topped with veggies and sauce. I got to the window and said to the guy, "sorry I don't speak Romanian" and handed him my piece of paper. The only thing he had to ask was if I wanted a big one or a small one. I said small and I'm glad I did because it was HUGE. Then I walked to a plaza (where the ice cream festival was) and ate. I finished about half and will save the other half for lunch tomorrow. Tonight we had dinner with the bikers from the backyard. We had some mititei, french fries, and salad. It was all very good. Then one of the bikers said that he was willing to take me for a short ride if I wanted. Of course I said yes! He took me up the street and through the pasture. It was really fun. I got a video of it so I will try and download it if I can. On Sunday Linda told me to make it a goal to try something new every day that I am here. She said that it doesn't have to be food but just something. Well today was a pretty big day so I told her that today should cover the next two days. :)

The kids like to pretend that the radiator is a piano

 The kids enjoy playing ring-around-the-rosey

All fall down

This is my lunch view. So awesome!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chicken chips??

Today I went to the school but was picked up early by a family friend who had offered to take me around town. She is 10 years old and took me all around Cluj all afternoon. It was so much fun! First she took me to an art gallery where there were a few statues. Then she walked me through central park (no, not the NY one). Then we went back to the main part of the city where she took me to some more Churches. I know I have been talking about churches a lot on here but they really are breath-takingly beautiful. Sometimes I just stand in them and think this can't be real. Then she took me shopping. It was really fun because she took me through all the side streets and we weaved in and out of shops. It was a awesome day. While we were out we stopped at a little grocery store where I saw Lays brand chips but the chips were chicken flavored. Of course I had to try them and they were actually pretty good. The girl that took me spoke broken English so we did a lot of pointing. We laughed at each other a lot because we both want to communicate so bad but it is just very difficult. I also had more covrig today. That stuff is just so good! :) Tonight we had some guests come to visit us. Andi has some friends that live in the southern part of Romania and they are taking a motorcycle trip around the country. Tonight and tomorrow night they are staying in our backyard. It was kind of funny because they introduced themselves to me in Romanian and then when I said hello back they went Oh she doesn't understand us. haha. Another beautiful day in Romania. I hope it stays like this the rest of my time here. Thanks again for the prayers.

Sunday lunch with the family

Sunday started with me being able to sleep in again. (ahhh what a treat) :) Then I went with Linda and her two boys to the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania. It sounds boring but was actually really neat. It was an outdoor museum that had original Romanian houses that have been preserved. It was kind of like walking through a ghost town because it is set up like a village, all the houses are furnished, there are dirt roads, and even old farm equipment. The neatest thing about this museum was the church. It was very dark but it was made completely out of wood and had paintings all over the walls. Definitely a neat thing to see. After the museum we went to Andi's aunt's house because it was his grandmothers 87th birthday. I'm going to be honest and say that I was REALLY nervous for this lunch. I kept thinking to myself 'what if I don't like what they are serving? I have to eat it. What if I can't?' It turned out that lunch was actually very good. It started with vegetable soup and bread and then we had white rice, chicken, and pork. I was very relieved. It all tasted great. We left right after eating because the boys were tired and wanted to take a nap. The rest of the day was spent relaxing. It rained for the first time since I have been here also, other than that though it has be absolutely beautiful weather. Warm but with a nice breeze.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pictures from my travels around Cluj

The ice cream festival lined the city square. (you can see First church in background)

View of largest Catholic church when you first walk in

Original paintings on the wall

Front of church
Close up of front of church

Staircase to balcony (yes that is a wood carved staircase)

Roman ruins from 100 AD

Kinda dark but organ in back of church

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saw my family today

Today started with me being able to sleep in. It was a nice change to having to get up at 6:20 during the week. The afternoon was spent at one of the two malls here in Cluj. I walked through a few stores but didn't see anything that I couldn't get at home (why waste the luggage space?). Then we went the a grocery store that was located inside the mall. Now this is still weird to me because I have never been in a mall in the U.S that has a grocery store in it yet it seems that every mall in other countries (Romania/Philippines) do. It makes sense so I think the U.S needs to catch on. Before we left the mall I asked to go to McDonalds because I really wanted a hamburger. I stopped there on our way out and it was worth it. We got home early afternoon so I was able to skype my family. It took a while for the technology on my end to work but we eventually got it going. My webcam didn't work so my family couldn't see me but I could see them. It was good to know that they are surviving without me. ;) I asked them to bring a few things when they come in 2 weeks and I told them all about the Germany/Bucharest airports for when they are trying to navigate through them. haha. Thanks again for the love and prayers while I am over here. I really do appreciate them.

A salty bath

Today began with me at the school from 8-2. Then David (the oldest boy of the family I am staying with who goes to the school I am helping out at) and I were picked up by Linda (The owner of the school/Davids mom) and brought to a saltwater lake. It was different for me since I am so used to lake Michigan and fresh water but it was still a good relief to a hot day. What was really neat was that the water was so salty you actually floated!! It was quite strange being in water and not having to work to say afloat. We ate lunch there where I was able to try mititei. It is a traditional Romanian food that is cooked on the grill. It is made of pork and it tasted a lot like a brat. Then after a good few hours of swimming we went to Andi's (Linda's husband/Davids father) mother and sisters house for dinner. Andi's mom made fried chicken and mashed potatoes. It was so good to have some familiar food. :) I was also able to Skype my dad tonight for a little bit. My dad wanted me to let everyone know that he changed the settings on my blog so that now anyone can add a comment. :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Another amazing day

Yesterday had to have been one of the best days I've had here yet. I was picked up early from the school I am working at and was able to walk downtown with a family friend named Dalila. First I tried Covrig which was very good! It is basically a pretzel but instead of salt it has seeds on it (sesame, sunflower, etc.) Then there was an ice-cream festival going on and lets just say that we definitely had our fair share :) Then Dalila took me into some of the churches that are around town. They were amazing! The first church we went in was the largest Catholic church in the city. The second one was built in 1428! I'm pretty sure that I had a stupid grin on my face the entire time we were in them because it was absolutely breathtaking. Then we continued to walk around town and I also saw some old roman ruins from year 100 AD. It is really neat to be in the middle of all this history. At night I went over to the neighbors house with the family's oldest boy David and the mom Linda. The neighbors have a farm with many animals and David loves to chase around the chickens. After being there for a little while I was offered some traditional soup. I was somewhat hesitant since I didn't want to offend anyone if I didn't like it but I said I would try. We went inside to a small kitchen room where we all sat around and table and had chicken soup. Let me tell you that it was hands down the best chicken soup I have ever tasted. It was amazing!! I kept thinking to myself what an amazing experience this is. How many people can say they have had traditional Romanian soup made by farmers in their own home? It was quite the awesome way to end a night.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thats nice, use the Mercedes to move the goats

Hello all! I have enjoyed another beautiful day in Romania. This morning I went to the school and helped out from 9-2. It was a lot of fun. Many of the kids looked at me strange and it took a while for them to get used to me but by the afternoon we were all friends. I hope to bring my camera tomorrow to show some of what I am doing. At first I was struggling finding what to eat but tonight I had chicken and potatoes which tasted very good. Tonight I met the neighbors. They were out in their field working. They didn't speak a word of English but through the translation of the guy I am staying with I learned that they had never left Romania and have only left the city a few times. To me that is incredible. Last night I took a walk with the two boys and their grandmother where we saw the cows coming in from grazing on the mountains. Also we went to the local bar and shared a bag of lays chips (Mmmm). Thanks for the prayers while I am away.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Its Beautiful Here

Well I have finally arrived in Cluj after a long 30 hours of travel and about 36 hours without sleep. When planning for this trip, I kept saying to myself once I get onto my plane to Germany everything will be fine because I knew the German airport was just one long line of gates so it wouldn't be hard to navigate through. Little did I know that when I got onto my plane to Germany was when everything would go wrong. I had a three hour layover in Washington DC where there was a small thunderstorm. It passed pretty quickly so I assumed that it wouldn't affect my plane. When we boarded for Germany they told us that we would have to wait 30 minutes because the storm was in our flight path. To keep a long story short we didn't take off for 2 hours. They said we would land at 9:20 AM and my next flight took off at 9:25 AM so I figured they would announce the gate information on the plane and then I would run to my next gate. It ended up that we landed at 9:05 AM so I thought I would have enough time to find my gate and still catch my flight. When I got off the plane I asked the first person at a computer that I saw if they could look up the gate info for me. She said I had to look it  up myself on one of the screens. Well there weren't any screens anywhere around, so I started walking past gates to try and see if any of them said Cluj. None of them did and there were no workers at any of them either. I finally found a gate with someone at it so I asked if he could tell me where to go. After typing in lots of numbers into his computer he looked at me and said I can't help you. So I then went and got into line at the airlines help desk. The guy that helped me there was so nice and even let me use his phone to call the people that were going to pick me up in Cluj to tell them I would be late. He said I would have to go to gate H16 and fly to Bucharest and then to Cluj. So I thought I would just go to my gate and wait. I walked to gate H15 and then there was a glass wall blocking H16 and the rest of the gates. So I walked around and found that in order to get to H16 I had to go through security. So I walked up to security and they told me I couldn't go through because I was too early because my flight left at 12:45 and it was only 10:45. They said to come back at 12. So at 11:45 I started walking back towards security. They started talking to me in German so I walked away. I asked a flight attendant where to go and she said that if I went to get H15 the doors would be opened. Eventually they were so I walked through only to find that the gate had been changed to H25. so then I walked all the way back. When walking up to my gate a guy asked me (In English yay!) if I really went to Davenport University because I was wearing a Davenport sweatshirt. I said that no my mom went there. He said that he was from the GR area. I said that I was also. We started talking and he also missed the flight to Cluj and was re booked through Bucharest. Once again to keep a long story short we stuck together throughout the rest of the day and if it wasn't for him I would have had a much harder time navigating through the airports. I am so thankful that I met him because he made the last part of my travels much easier. I got into Cluj at 6:30ish and slept 14 hours my first night here. (Tired much?) The family that I am staying with has a 6 month old and a 2 1/2 yr old. The oldest one (David) spent this afternoon sleeping on my lap in the yard. He speaks multiple languages (English, Romanian, Hungarian) and thinks its funny to speak to me in different languages because he knows that I don't understand. I told him that every time he talks to me in a different language that I am going to talk to him in Spanish. That's all for today. I have pictures but they don't want to work for me today. I will try and email them to my parents and have them post them.

Monday, June 13, 2011

She made it!

We just heard from Beth about an hour ago. She made it to Cluj, Romania and our friends were there at the airport. I am sure she was so glad to see some familiar faces.

We will let Beth give you all the details, but the short version is her flight from Washington, DC to Munich, Germany left 90 minutes late so she missed her scheduled flight from Munich to Cluj. But, our world traveler just decided to take a different flight which took her to Bucharest and then from Bucharest to Cluj. What's another flight in a 24 hour day? So in the end she arrived about 6 hours later than originally planned. But she arrived and so did her luggage. YEAH!

Romania is 7 hours ahead of us, so at least it's getting close to their nighttime so hopefully she will get some much needed sleep soon.

Thanks for all your prayers on her behalf. It was a bit unnerving for Brad and I to see her walk down the terminal in Chicago yesterday and then we were besides ourselves last night when we realized that she was going to miss her flight in Germany and there was no way for us to communicate with her. But, God was with her and we will let her update you all on just who He sent to her. 

Love you Beth!!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

The night before

I am finally packed and ready to go. It was a crazy week here at our house so I am glad that I won't have to pull an all-nighter to do last minute packing. I will try and update this blog as often as possible but won't guarantee anything because I don't know how strong my internet connection will be. I want to thank all of you for your prayers on safe travels and a good trip. I am pretty nervous about the traveling but hopefully it will go OK. Another update when I land :) Have a nice night!