Wednesday, July 4th 2012
Thursday, June 28: Common Language
We’re here at a camp with 2 other groups – a small group of special needs children and a group of Hungarian gypsies, mostly children too. One of the Hungarians was sitting outside on a big rock playing the guitar. His companions were singing a praise chorus while he played: “Open the eyes of my heart”. We walked over and joined with them in English. Then a handful of Romanians also joined the singing.
What a fabulous experience to be singing the exact same song in three different languages to the same God.
The world isn’t so big after all.
Monday, July 2nd 2012
Wednesday, June 27: Foreign Foods
What I wouldn’t give for a big mushroom bacon cheeseburger with fries and a gargantuan tossed green salad with all the fixin’s on the side. Romanian food is… well… interesting. There are lots of people in the world who find interesting food interesting. But if you know me at all you know I am not an adventurous eater. So the food has been… well… interesting.
There are a few staples you’ll find at almost every meal – cheese, bread, and other starches being the main three. Bread is definitely number 1. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, there are baskets and baskets of it. It’s possible that the 5 loaves and 2 fish that Jesus multiplied are still multiplying these 2000 years later here in Romania – only without the fish.
Not counting bread, there is at least one other starch at every meal. Potatoes come in practically every form – cubed, fried, boiled, mashed, mixed with cheese, you name it, it’s probably been done with a potato. Pastas are also a hot commodity, and they are served mostly plain or in soups.
And of course there is cheese. I think that’s a staple in most places. It’s the most common breakfast item served with salami and, of course, bread.
“Salad” means tomato wedges and cucumber spears. No lettuce. No broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots. No sunflower seeds or bacon bits. No dressing. Just tomato wedges and cucumber spears.
“What’s so interesting about that?” you may be asking. Okay. Let’s talk about milk. It’s served every morning with cold cereal. Not too unusual, except that the milk is served hot. Not warm, but hot. Hot enough for steam to rise from the pitcher. It’s whole milk too, so after a slight cooling process from being on the table it begins to congeal. As one of my traveling companions says, “Romania: where the milk flops out of the pitcher!”
I will grant you that we’re at a camp, and we all know that camp food can be a little less than desirous. But we sat down one night to a delicious meal of stroghanoff – rice and big chunks of meat in a tasty sauce. Turns out the meat was liver. You may like liver, and I say “to each his own.” But this was not thinly-sliced-pan-fried-liver-and-onions liver. Nope. This was big, thick, hearty chunks of liver, probably boiled. Mmmmmmm, tasty. We all went hungry that night.
How about a nice big bowl of sugar noodles? Correctamundo… sugar noodles. Pasta shells, plain, coated with sugar. Not a little sugar… SUGAR. Mmmmmmm, tasty. We all went hungry that night too. To be fair the Romanian kids didn’t like them either.
Pickled beets, slightly pickled raw cabbage, boiled cabbage, a vinegar-ish relish that looked like oatmeal, jelly that smells like ketchup, carrot soup that’s mostly hot water with 1 or 2 thin slices of carrot.
What else can I say? It’s interesting!
Wednesday, June 27th 2012
Tuesday, June 26: The Wind in the Pines.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, the wind in the pines sounds the same. So does the laughter of children, the strum on a guitar, and the “thwack” of a soccer ball as a foot makes contact. Not to mention the smell of lunch cooking and the visual appeal of white fluffy clouds in an azure sky. But above all, there is the universal need to be loved and accepted.
The children here come from broken homes, bad homes, or no homes at all. They are being raised by grandparents, foster paretnts, or group home parents. But fortunately none of them are being raised by the streets. And even though their short lives have been ruled by uncertainty, they are remarkably open and crave affection – not attention, but affection.
It’s something to walk from one place to another and find a 16-year old quietly slipping her hand into yours, if only for a brief moment. I am a stranger to them, yet they still seek my affection. Hugs and kisses abound and even though there is a language barrier, I still know when I’m being invited to play ping pong, jenga, or paint nails.
They are beautiful children, and I pray they see themselves as both beautiful and worthwhile. they are God’s creation. And like the wind in the pines they are the same as me.
Tuesday, June 26th 2012
The director of The Outdoor School, Deb Guinn, is currently spending a couple of weeks in Romania volunteering at an orphanage out there. One of her projects while there is to be in charge of recreation for a week during their camp. The Outdoor School would love to share some of her journal entries from this trip!
Saturday, June 23: Travel Days and Barking Dogs.
I haven’t been this exhausted since my one and only all nighter in college. Most of my travels have been vertical (Canada, Mexico, Venezuela) so there hasn’t been much change in time zone. But Romania is a full 8 hours ahead of Texas and the jet lag is rough.
We landed in Bucharest a full 24 hours after leaving Kingsland and I’d gotten about 1 hour of sleep on our very last leg (of course). As much as I wanted to watch the scenery go by I just couldn’t keep my eyes open and slept most of the way to Predial, about 3 hours away. We arrived at our hotel, showered, changed, ate dinner, and promptly went to bed.
I haven’t determined yet if dogs here are ptes or scavengers. I’ve seen 2 on leash, but most have been roaming free without collars. Predial is a pretty little ski resort community nestled in among the mountians. Which means that sounds (like barking dogs) echo. All night. Of course when one pooch begins barking another must answer which sets off a chorus of noise – soprano, alto, tenor, bass…. every dog in Predial chiming in to the cocaphany. Hotels here don’t have air conditioning so with the window open, the sounds were quite audible. Fortunately, I was so tiered that I was able to turn back over and go right back to sleep, but I was woken every hour just the same.
Thursday, June 14th 2012
Another great school year has come and gone! Thank you to all the students, teachers, staff and supporters for taking the time to experience and better our program! Please, spread the word if you know of any schools or various extracurricular (girl scouts, church groups, etc.) groups who would also enjoy our program.
Our new second location, The Outdoor School at Camp for All, was a great success this past spring as well! If you are interested in this site feel free to contact Darren Smith with any questions at .
See ya’ll next fall for the start of the 2012-2013 school year!