Sunday, December 30, 2007

jet lag

at the moment, i'm in korea. which is sixteen hours ahead of where my parents are, meaning that it's 7 in the morning there and it's 11 at night here. in romania, where i have been and will be returning, it's 4 in the afternoon. hard to keep the differences straight.

i arrived here in the evening a few days ago, and neglected to reset the time on my watch. i don't wear a watch, but figured that with all the traveling i have been doing a watch would be very helpful. with the direction i'm traveling, it's really easy to fall asleep and also easy to wake up early, often sometime between 5.30 and 6.30. when i woke up the morning after arriving, i looked at my watch and it said 1.15 in the afternoon. then i was able to find a clock on the wall that said 5.15 in the morning. a few hours later i opened my computer which is still set to romania time, and by that time it said 1 or 2 in the morning. whoa .. no wonder my body is a bit confused! my mind is too :)

but things haven't been too bad .. i've been able to sleep at least 6 hours every night, and go back to sleep when i wake up early at least a few times. and my siblings (who i'm with) like going to bed sometime between 10 and 11 .. which is very nice for my sleepiness. something i'd like to keep up, as a matter of fact .. going to bed sometime around that and getting up a bit earlier. although 5.30 still seems a bit too early if you ask me. (some others wouldn't agree .. but God made all kinds of people!)

and having problems with sleep is well worth it, if it means that i get to see people that i love. and go new places and experience new things and taste new foods and build relationship and deepen relationship and learn and discover and ... mhmmm. good things. although i am glad that i don't always travel. it's nice to have a place to call home. and the place that i currently call home is a place that i miss now. not so much that i need to buy a plane ticket right now, but enough that i will be excited to return, and that i am reminded to pray for people i know who are still there.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


today at our Christmas eve service, i got to take communion for the fourth time in less than two weeks. you might think that's a bit much .. but some people take it every day. and i've been averaging about once a month, so it's nice to have an abundance for a few days. each time, there have been different ideas that God has brought to mind. tonight, i was aware of the weightiness of choosing to follow God.

our paster (the one at my church in salt lake) talked a bit about the gifts that God has to give us. first of all is the gift of His Son. (clearly!) but then there are other gifts, like grace. and forgiveness. and ... the list could go on a long time. and in return, He asks us to give back to Him. to choose Him. to love Him more than we love things, more than we love friends, more than we love family .. to follow Him even if it means leaving much that we love. because He is good and if He wants us to go somewhere, it must be the best place for the next season. not the easiest place, or the warmest place, or the most beautiful place .. but the place where He will grow us and make us more like Him, the place where He will be glorified, the place where He is present and ready to bring His Kingdom even more. and as i took communion, i again told God that i will follow Him. even if it means some of the things above will be true. because He has put this deep love for Himself in me that i cannot deny, and i believe in the depths of my soul that His plans are the best ones. even if it means i have to say 'goodbye' waaaaaayyyy too often.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

three old friends

my language teacher recently broke her leg. this is bad in any case .. but when one is 81 or 82 .. it can be pretty bad. the amazing thing .. this woman has been living in the same city for many years now (since before high school) .. and she happens to have a few friends that she has known almost that long. of the three that i've met so far, one has known her for 70 years -- and the other two for 50 years. that is amazing! talk about longevity of friendship and depth of relationship.

the other day, two of them were over and chatting with her, and taking care of her. asking to make sure that she was comfortable, adjusting her blankets to make sure that she was warm, trying to get her to eat more food (that they had brought!), all in all being wonderful to her. it was good to see that, to see how they care for each other and how comfortable they are together. talking over each other, asking about each other's kids and grandkids, catching up on all the people in their families .. very amazing. the people that i've been friends with longest (other than family!) are from seventh grade, and i don't talk to them all that often. the people i'm closest to are people i met in college, which means at the most i've known them for six years. guess we've got a long way to go!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

random happenings

a number of things have happened in the last week or so, that i'd like to write about. they don't have a particular theme or order, so here they are as they come to mind.

- i made pumpkin pie twice. two pies each time. from scratch. mmm... very tasty! got to eat some myself, as well as share with kids and staff at the office, teammates, and a friend.

- i washed a 'load of laundry' .. by hand. this is something many romanians as part of their regular routine. i had washed an article of clothing periodically by hand, but never a whole load. it takes lots of energy! the rinsing and wringing out at the end sure can make one's hands tired and sore. and arms too. i'm glad that i have friends with washers, but it's good to experience this a bit.

- it snowed! just enough to dust the ground in the early morning, disappearing by mid morning. but nice that there is some actual winter and cold weather.

- we started doing a bit of waltzing with our kids (because there was the possibility of a dance performance. we are forgoing this one, but still plan to do something in the future). some of them already knew a little bit, and one in particular knows what he's doing, in terms of the basic step. he's graceful and quite light on his feet. nice to get to do a bit of dancing too. tomorrow we'll watch some videos from youtube and practice some more. hopefully i can find some slower music!

- watched 'a christmas story' this past weekend for the first time all the way through. my roommate has quoted a few things to me from it periodically, so it was nice to finally see where the quotes come from. it's not my favorite movie, and it's a bit weird, but certainly has some funny parts in it. and glad that i've finally seen it (more than the bits and pieces as i looked at what was on tv during the christmas season in years past).

- led team prayer. and used music to do it. listened to and sang worship songs, with specific people and places and requests in mind. haven't done that in a while, but i was amazed at the way it was so easily and quickly prayer and concentrated focus on God and what He's doing. glad that there are so many ways to pray .. and that we have a God who really does hear and respond.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

a bit of sunshine

i've been surprised lately at how important sunshine can be. i returned from my trip to a week of cloudly, chilly days, and by the end of it my spirits were rather down. and it took lots of energy to get of bed in the mornings. then one day there were blue skies. it was amazing! i got out of bed a bit more easily, i could breathe more easily, i looked up periodically .. i felt refreshed somehow. it's been alternating the past couple of weeks .. some days there's bright sunshine and blue skies, and other days it's cloudy without any sun to be seen. i've been enjoying the sunshine whenever it makes an appearance.

to add insult to injury (meant in a not mad way), when i talked with my sister on sunday, she commented that her legs hurt. i asked why .. because she and her husband participated in an ultimate frisbee game the day before and she got sunburned on her neck and shoulders and back of her legs. somehow.. i didn't feel sorry for her. it's gonna be a while before i get a sunburn again. many many moons. ah well. there are things to enjoy here too .. like warm blankets and hot tea in the evenings and radiators that work and fun hats and scarves and wool sweaters and squash soup.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

3 weddings (but no funeral :)

so .. recently i had the great gift of being able to be at a friend's wedding. it happened to be in turkey :) .. which means i also got to be in a new place and meet some new people and see new things and taste yummy new foods. after knowing my friend in college, it was wonderful to meet her parents and some friends, to be at her home, to spend time with her there. and also to meet her fiance (now husband) and his family.

as for the three weddings .. there was a legal one, a turkish one, and one in english. which meant there were also quite a few jokes about them being 'two-thirds married' and 'the third time you get married' and that sort of thing. one part of being there which was so encouraging was that we were all Family. so with all the things to be done, preparations to be made, setting up on the last day, preparing food for all the people there .. it all got done. an hour before the last wedding (which was outside at their house) i went to ask my friend's mom if there was anything else to be done, and she turned to me and said she couldn't think of anything. she went to check on one thing but that was it. what a gift .. so after people worked hard to prepare, the last hour before the wedding was about enjoying people, having good conversations, actually sitting down and taking a few breaths. a good gift from Dad.

i went expecting to watch the wedding from the audience. thursday night i asked my friend if i needed to be there for the rehearsal, and she turned to me with a sorta grin and said, "i guess i forgot to ask you... would you help serve communion at the wedding?" i gladly agreed, but we laughed together about that. then at the rehearsal, there was a song with an echo, and i knew it so was singing along with the man at the mic with his nice voice and guitar. oddly -- there was another microphone set up, but nobody singing. the song stopped and the groom said he was hoping somebody would sing the echo, and everybody turned around to look at me. so .. i ended up singing that song. and also the other ones that we sang at the wedding. very much a time of worship and celebration. and i certainly was involved!

and, of course .. there was dancing! i got to dance quite a bit .. a few swing dances (two with a guy who has had lots of practice and knows what he's doing!), some other random varieties, and even a sort of improved modern dance with my friend the bride. the people at the celebration exhibited some of the most freedom that i've seen in a long time in a community. like a big family .. so everybody danced, uncles and little kids and the bride and the groom and the cooks. good to see such freedom and real rejoicing.

Friday, September 28, 2007

perfect timing

i recently moved into a new neighborhood, and have been thinking and wondering about how to meet my neighbors. not an a loud american way, but in a more culturally sensitive (and personally appropriate) way. because romanians are fairly suspicious of strangers (a characteristic that was necessary for survival during communism), it's hard to meet people .. and to build relationship. especially with a foreigner who doesn't speak the language very well. but our Dad has a cool way of working things out .. in a way that does not bring honor to us but to Him. and that can help us trust Him more that He really does know what's best.

a few nights ago, i arrived home right before it got really dark. most of my thirty minute walk it was about 'dusk', and by the time i got home, it was getting past dusk to 'hard to see' and 'light in the sky but dark in the street. but when i got to the steps in front of the apartment block where i live, one of the kids that we work with was sitting there. he lives in the next building over (same building, different stairway, to be exact), and knows all the other kids and a fair number of the adults. he invited me to sit down, so i did .. and we had a nice 45 (or so) minute conversation. outside. so i got to meet a few of the other kids who came over to listen for a bit or to ask him a question or to just sit down and rest from a hard game of football (aka soccer). and some parents saw me sitting and talking to my friend. and i got to listen to some of his stories and how his day was and share what i think about imagination and hear some recipes. in fact, tomorrow he's coming over and we're going shopping and then he's going to teach me how to make bors. it's a sort of sour soup that romanians make. and it's very tasty. sounds like a nice way to spend a saturday afternoon to me!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

house church .. and a cool image

this past thursday i went to house church for the first time in a long while. with the busy-ness of the summer and the traveling and activities, it just didn't happen (and there were a few weeks where it didn't happen because everybody was on vacation!). it was nice to be back. and surprisingly, it was only females (except for the leader and his son). the main topic for the evening was what questions we would ask Jesus if he came and pulled up a chair on our circle. i love that image. i know that when two or three are gathered together in His name, He is present .. but thinking of Him being present in such a tangible way can be helpful. we each wrote down some of our questions and then shared them. it was great to hear some of the things others wonder about. and it got me thinking .. so here are some of the questions i'd love to sit down and ask Jesus and get an answer for! (i know i can do that in prayer .. but sometimes i'm still learning to hear His answers well.)

what do you have me in romania to do?
how do you specifically want me to spend my time?
why do you give people and then take them away?
how can i love you better?
how can i speak truth to "lisa" in a way that she'll understand?
what are you doing in my neighborhood?
is it part of your plan for me to get married?

hmmm... as i am writing these, i'm realizing that i feel fairly vulnerable. questions reveal a lot about a person. and these aren't all of my questions. but some that i feel comfortable sharing. if you want to comment and add some of your own .. please do. maybe writing them and acknowledging them will allow us to hear better.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

7 random things

long ago, amy over at experience imagination tagged me for a meme. and this particular one requires me to write seven random things about myself. and there are lots of random things to choose from, so ..

1. yesterday i played mafia with the jr high kids we work with, and i was the criminal three times in a row. and i don't even like mafia!
2. my ideal temperature is somewhere around 55 or 60 degrees .. cool enough to wear a sweater or long-sleeves and yet warm enough to be outside often
3. my inboxes collectively only have 24 emails at the moment
4. i could literally spend hours in a bookstore or library .. especially if the books are in english!
5. i have only ever dated one person
6. on average, i drink about 2 liters of water a day
7. for more than six years, i haven't lived in one place more than nine months

Rules: Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs the 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog.

as for those i am supposed to tag .. many people i know who blog don't do so very often .. so i'm gonna be lame and not tag anybody. sorry.

Friday, August 31, 2007

moving. again..

today is friday. wednesday and thursday my roommate and i packed all of our things and moved them into our new apartment. for a variety of reasons. the main one being that our previous landlady asked us to move even though we had the contract for another six months. so we have a new place. it's smaller and unfurnished, so we have a bit of work to do (like buying a stove and a couch and a few other things we don't already have; painting everything; and deciding what goes where and how to organize our space) .. but i'm glad to have moved.

last night my roommate and teammate was figuring out some details with our new landlord. he lives in italy 11 months out of the year, so it's pretty important that we get things figured out while he's still easily reachable. they went to the building facing ours to talk with the administrator and one of the kids we work with was outside and directed them to the right place. when he saw my roommate, he asked her what she was doing. she said 'moving' and his face lit up. he talked about us being able to visit each other and come over to ask for a cup of sugar or some eggs if we needed it .. that sort of thing. another kid came by and also got really excited. which is really good to hear and to see. we talk about this ministry we want to do being 'life-on-life' .. that as we live together and as neighbors we all grow together. and that somehow God is seen in who we are, not just what we do. and the fact that we are so much closer to our kids (almost next door to a couple) means that perhaps we'll get to have that much more impact. we might have less privacy and space than we'd like or than we think we need .. but boundaries are important, and God is good at giving each of us what we need -- even if it's not exactly what we want or think we need :)

as we adjust to the new apartment and discover new things about it and our neighborhood, i'll try to keep you updated. since it's unfurnished we actually get to make it our own. which we're looking forward to. when we looked at the place we just left the last day, not much had changed - because so much of the things there were the landlords and not ours. so having a place that is ours to paint and decorate and arrange and really make home .. certainly feels like a gift

Friday, August 24, 2007

conference in hungary

i'm sitting at the hotel in hungary, at the end of our four-day conference with CRM. and it has been wonderful to be here. the theme of the conference was rest .. so we talked about rest, got to practice a bit of rest, discussed in small groups what keeps us from rest, worshiped, and got to enjoy people. there were about 70 adults here for the conference, who are missionaries from all over the europe & this part of the world .. (hungary, france, russia, poland, uk, romania .. to name a few).

i'm part of innerchange, and innerchange is part of crm. i've spent a fair bit of time with ic people, but less time with crm - so being at this conference has been a gift. the people who are part of this organization are quality. some have been in missions almost as long as i've been alive, which is a bit mind-boggling. my three year commitment feels pretty wimpy. but then i remember that i'm only 24 and it's okay that i don't know what i'm gonna do for the rest of my life. God knows, and that's enough. it has been a blessing to spend time with people who have chosen to serve God overseas in cross-cultural contexts. have chosen and have been called. and encouraging to know that it's possible to stay in this sort of ministry for many many years. and to see that God does really call us to be faithful and not to be successful -- although sometimes he honors that faithfulness with great success and visible movements of people into His Kingdom. He is powerful, and He is moving. mmm.

Monday, July 30, 2007

summer camp

we just returned from a four day camp (that included the 3-4 hours in a bus each way) with 14 junior high kids. it was full and busy and good. very enjoyable. it included ..

3 breakfasts & 3 lunches & 4 dinners with some form of pork

doing two french braids for lots of girls .. mabye 10 sets of hair?

playing a really fun game (sorta romanian dodgeball?) 5 or 6 times

hiking up a mountain with most of our kids and half our volunteers to see a beautiful landscape and valley with lots of green and space and even a lake we visited later the same day

two campfires (and s'mores one night!) and time to stare at the stars a couple nights

sleeping in little cabins that have two beds, a walkway between them, steep roofs and not much else

being cold! (with weather in the high 90s or so, it was refreshing to actually wear a fleece jacket and still be a little bit chilly!)

a few good discussions (both planned and spontaneous)

speaking romanian oh so much more than i could a year ago and even having trouble talking in english sometimes because i was so used to thinking in romanian .. woo hoo! progress is being made!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

whoa .. people actually read this!?!

did you notice that there have been over a thousand visitors?
(granted some of them are the same four or five who visit to check and see if i've actually written anything recently .. )
but still. that's kinda cool!
just wanted you to notice that.
and to say 'thanks' for reading!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

hot hot hot

in the past week, we've had temperatures in the low 100s. like 102 and 104. which, as you might imagine is really warm. but God is gracious, and there are gentle breezes sometimes and cooler weather today and nights that are a bit cooler. (although sometimes not as much as i'd like!) i've been rather amazed, though. usually when it's hot outside i'm complaining and not able to do much of anything. i haven't been super-active or productive, but life is continuing. and in the midst of the heat i'm able to find the shade as i walk, and enjoy the sunshine, and be glad for simple things.

maybe my body temperature has matured and i can take the heat better. or maybe it isn't really all that hot. or maybe i'm getting better at living in the moment and being glad for today. or maybe a combination of these things. but .. even in the heat, God is present and active! and being gracious and joyful on hot days is one way to enjoy him. crazy .. but true!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

at the dog pound

well .. it's officially been more than a month since my last post. and may be another month until i post again. but i guess that's alright. hopefully i'll create space to add more before then .. but we'll see.

last week we spent time with our kids at the dog pound. they wanted to help animals for the community service projects that we're doing this summer, so last week we visited the pound three times. to give the dogs some meat, as well as to take them for some walks and give them lots of attention and petting. but it got me to thinking .. (imagine that!)

about comparisons between these dogs and people. please give me some room .. these comparisons aren't perfect or even all that well-thought out, but they're still part of what's going on in my brain. God often teaches me things (and shows me things) through things i see in others or stories, so this was an ideal opportunity.

-- there were twenty or so dogs in a largish grassy area with a fence around them. when people were outside the fence, some of the dogs would come over to be petted without too much fear. but once people went inside the fence -- even if they squatted down and made gentle noises, no dogs would come close. they were too afraid. as humans we do this too .. when others are outside our walls, it's okay to talk to them a little bit and share a bit .. but once we've let them inside the walls (or even one set of walls), it gets scarier to let them see us as we are, and sometimes we just want to run away!

-- there's lots of barking at dog pounds. this seems universal .. but it struck me that so often humans are like that, trying to draw attention to 'me' so that i'll get my needs met. pushing others aside so that i get noticed.

-- a couple of the dogs that were chosen to be taken for walks didn't know what to do when they were outside their cage. one jumped all over the place and ran back and forth and was confused and not sure where to go or what to do. another pulled as hard as it could to get back into the cage, where it was safe. another laid down and wouldn't move. (this might have been due to the fact that it just wanted to be petted and didn't so much care for going walking..) but this seems true of people too .. we want to be given freedom to try new things and experience new places. but then when it's handed to us, we just don't know what to do and it's easy to be too scared to act at all.

-- dogs are with other dogs, but it seems like they are mean to be with humans. maybe not all of them .. but go with me on this. humans feed dogs, take them for walks, love them and pet them, give them safe places to sleep, etc. other dogs cannot do all these things. but i wonder if it's easy for dogs to look for other dogs to take care of them. like dogs .. humans look to each other for all our needs to be met, but it just isn't possible. we were created to be in relationship with someone Bigger, someone Wiser, someone more capable, someone who can actually care for us well. aka God. mmm... and He does care for us well!

please feel free to add your own thoughts or questions or doubts or reasons why what i wrote doesn't make sense. or just say hi :)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

new feature

so .. with my sister's help (yet again), i've added a new feature to my blog. i read other blogs, and sometimes there are thoughts or articles that i want to share. so now i can. and i've added to so far. if you have time, maybe they'll interest you as well.

and for the first two, i'll even add the reasons! 'what the world eats' is a photo essay and was just a good attention grabber, something to think about (i was gonna say good 'food for thought'.. :)

and the second is a woman i know from a church that i had the privilege of going to for two years. she posted her 100th post and did a list of 'favorites' or 'best' from the posts that she's done so far. and i'm quoted!?! wow. thanks, amy)

signs of summer

i'm told it will keep getting hotter, and be above 40* during parts of july and august, but the weather recently has been plenty warm. (40*C is about 104*F!!) there are signs everywhere that it truly is the season ..

the 'z' on my feet caused by wearing my chaco sandals often. the way the straps are made, the part of my feet which does not see the sandals makes a nice white 'z' on each foot (although on my left foot it's backwards..)

i wore long sleeves and pants this morning to church because it was a cool 70* and i didn't want to get cold (especially if it rained... which it didn't)

i've seen more varieties of tank tops in the last two weeks than i thought possible (you can take you pick of which parts of your skin you'd like to show .. shoulders, back, belly, cleavage.. a large variety!)

the most common thing i see people eating as i'm walking around is not pretzels or sunflower seeds (as is usually the case) .. but ice cream, which can be found in at least half the stores here

sometimes at night, even a sheet is too warm to sleep under

the kids finished school this past friday, and there was an excitement in the air that afternoon .. there are more kids out and about, and the college students are getting ready to leave so their part of town is suddenly becoming very empty

it stays light until about ten in the evening. i'm sure it gets light early too .. but i haven't been up early enough to see it. when i wake up, the sun is always awake. (and i'm not confessing what time i usually wake up .. suffice it to say, there is no worm-getting :)

my favorite foods as of late have been fresh fruits and vegetables that require no heating or baking, so the apartment doesn't get any hotter than it needs to

before our 'cool weather' today, i hadn't even looked at my long-sleeved shirts for almost a month

yup. that's about all i can think of for the moment. i'm trying to enjoy summer and not wish for any other seasons, but simply be glad that God planned each of the seasons for their times.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

baptism & communion

hello there .. i'm still alive and well. and busy! but here's a short story..

this past sunday we had three baptisms at church. it was very enjoyable. each of them told part of their story and who God has shown Himself to be for them. and we sang some good songs, and prayed for them, and watched them get baptized. good times. and after that we had communion together -- their first communion and a time to be the Body of Christ together. when i was in college, i got to attend an anglican church for two years and we had communion together every sunday. which got me a bit spoiled, i suppose. but i miss the tangible reminder of who God is and who we are in Him. so it was good to have that this past sunday.

and what a good reminder that all over the world and throughout history there are innumerable Children of God who are part of Christ's Body. bigger than i can understand or grasp. and i'm glad that He can use symbols from 'daily life' to help us recall what He did, who He is, and who we are.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

a traditional romanian wedding

saturday night i had the privilege of being invited to an orthodox romanian wedding. not to the wedding itself, but to the reception afterward. our landlord's son was getting married, and they invited us because we (amy and i) had never been to an orthodox wedding before. so we got to experience it first hand. and what an experience!

the reception started at eight in the evening. we arrived about 8.15, but the party really didn't get started until 9.30 or so. what i mean by that is that the dancing started. and didn't stop. there would be breaks periodically, but only very rarely. so wonderful to see older couples dancing away. amazing that it's the norm for people to know how to dance well, and how to enjoy themselves that way. at some points there were more people on the dance floor than sitting down at the tables (which is a feat, considering that there were more than 100 people there). much of the music was older romanian music, so sometimes the singers had lots of 'accompaniment' with the guests joining in.

food is also very important .. various small sweets on the tables, as well as rolls, water, coke, and orange juice. each guest had 3 glasses -- one for white wine, one for a stronger alcohol (cognac for the men and something a bit sweeter for the women), and one for something non-alcoholic. romanians do like their drinking, that's for sure. the first plate of food was cold appetizers .. salami and cheese and chicken salad and a few other things. second -- chicken with a few vegetables and mamaliga (sorta like a tasty cornmeal mush). third -- fish with steamed mixed vegetables. fourth -- pork with potatoes. (all these were full plates -- it's important to have too much food, somehow. like you get what you pay for. the tradition is that you give not presents, but large amounts of money to help pay for what you ate and enjoyed and how you were entertained, as well as for the bride and groom.) then last, they had cake, of course! with maybe six or seven tiers? it was tall!

certainly an experience i'm glad for. but am glad it doesn't happen that often -- since the party started at 8 pm and when we left at 4 am, there were still hours of party left! a real celebration.

Monday, April 30, 2007

a walkway

there's a walkway that i didn't discover until a couple of months ago. but since i moved, i've been using it a couple times a week. it's a footpath that goes over the train tracks and main train station, which is about 10 or 15 minutes from my place. this footpath is wide enough for three people to walk comfortably, but has a metal stripe down the middle because there's traffic moving both directions. it takes probably 3 or 4 minutes to walk from one end to the other, on wooden slats with metal on both sides and a bit overhead. it's always interesting to see the people i pass (and since i'm usually trying to make it somewhere on time, i'm generally walking rather quickly..). a wonderful variety of people. one of my teammates made a comment that it's the closest she comes to feeling like she's driving. in that it's like a two lane highway. and if you have to pass someone, you have to do it before the person coming the other direction reaches you so you don't get in their way or impede traffic. and going over train tracks. it's rather nice. that's what i wanted to share with you today. maybe i'll get a picture and post it. maybe..

Monday, April 23, 2007

'my place'

so .. i've been a bit out of the loop in terms of internet and communication. two weeks ago i moved into my new apartment! which has been rather exciting. and it does indeed make me feel like i'm growing up (at least a bit!). in the next couple of weeks, amy will move in, but for the moment it's 'my apartment' and 'my space' -- but my space to share!

and sharing is something that i have indeed been doing.

17 tuesday .. had the team over for dinner, prayer, and a team meditation on purity (and i cooked my first meal for them .. spaghetti, salad, garlic bread, and cookies!)

18 wednesday .. had a friend over after we went walking, and prepared dinner for her (which happened to look pretty similar to tuesday's dinner .. )

19 thursday .. got to spend the afternoon and evening with a friend (who happens to be the executive director of ic), and we also made dinner together in the evening

20 friday .. had my friend (who happens to be my team leader) over for dinner and some 'criminal minds' .. she brought some of the food for dinner, but we did prepare it together

21 saturday .. whole team and e.d. over. ate lunch together (with everybody bringing something), spent time reflecting and preparing for our new season as the ic romania team, played some games, watched an episode of 'alias' .. and just got to be present together

so .. 5 days in a row i had friends over and got to be hostess. to invite others into my space and to share life with them in a very tangible way. excited about what it means that i can invite people over to 'my apartment' with freedom. and i'm even enjoying cooking and cleaning a bit (crazy, i know!).

Monday, April 02, 2007

out & about

the weather here has been rather marvelous. like 14- 16 degrees. celsius. which translates to high-fifties - low sixties. which is definitely spring weather. and in spring (and summer and fall) it's nice to be outside, and people don't call you crazy for walking. (when it's winter and cold outside, people give all sorts of funny looks. anyway .. )

walking. at the moment (for another week or two), the places i visit most often are a bit spread out. where i live to the office .. 30 minutes by bus or 50 minutes on foot. one teammate's place .. 30 minutes on foot. another teammate's place .. 60 minutes on foot. and it's nice weather, and i'm not generally pressed for time, so i've been enjoying walking. as i walked home today i did a bit of calculating.

60 minutes to language lesson (a bit past the office)
60 minutes home
30 minutes to second teammate's place (shortened because i rode a bus partway)
60 minutes home

these are approximate figures, and i'm not speed walking at these rates .. but that means that i was walking about 3.5 hours today. and my feet and legs aren't even sore. apparently i've been doing a bit of walking so i'm in shape to do this. it's nice. to be outside. to breathe fresh air. to use my body. to observe spring and people and buses and practice sounding out romanian words. to
process events of the day. to pray for those i pass, for the places i walk through, for the emotions i see in the eyes of some i pass, praising God for the beauty of what He has created. pretty good times. maybe i'm not "accomplishing much" during my walks. but they feel right and 'useful' to me. and maybe it's more about the process than the product.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

random quotes!!

so, i have this cool sister.

she can do all sorts of amazing things. one of which happens to be writing programs. (which happens to be what she's doing for a living at the moment.) and she wrote a program to show a random quote. meaning .. i have a post with lots of quotes that i like, and now whenever you open this page you'll get to see one of those quotes. i think it's fun. it makes me happy. (especially since there's absolutely no way i'd be able to do it on my own!)

thanks, larq! (and if you're interested, she has a blog with various computer stuff. for geeks? nerds? geniuses? and i do mean that in the kindest way possible!)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

smiles today

one thing that has become more integral to my life in the past six months has been enjoying simple pleasures. taking delight in small things. searching for beauty. savoring life and vitality when and where i see them. so i'm taking time to share a few things that made me smile today.

-- the gentle sound of raindrops on the hood of my raincoat as i walked to our office

-- a young boy with super-curly light brown hair and a smile under his umbrella

-- a girl (high school? college?) with bright green rain boots on -- green with a giraffe (or duck?) painted on the outside of each boot

-- being told i must have been born in alaska since i actually enjoy cool (some might say cold!) weather

-- a piece of a cappuccino chocolate bar

-- walking home, and for one small section there is a short wall beside the sidewalk, where i walk whenever i have the chance, even though it's a bit 'odd'

-- more space on the sidewalks because of the rain and people staying inside

-- knowing how to judge the speed of cars so that i can slow down just enough that they pass me without hitting me and then i can walk right behind them (maybe sounds dangerous? it's rather normal over here and doesn't really feel dangerous to me anymore .. which might not be all that healthy?)

-- a long drink of yummy water after walking up the hill to the office

Thursday, March 15, 2007

relationship tree

last saturday we did art with our kids. the theme this month is relationships, so the project for art was to create a physical representation of our relationships. we had a variety of materials to use, including popsicle sticks and a glue gun (which most of the kids used).

this task was overwhelming to me. because of the life i've been privileged to live, i know many people. and it's important to me to stay in touch -- sometimes that just means a monthly update, but it also means prayer, phone calls, emails, letters, and missing people. so i asked God how i could do a tree that was honest and actually able to hold most of the people i know. and this is what came to mind. a many layered tree, with each layer being a portion of those i know (family, people from my college, people who i work with, places i have some relationship with, etc.). i really like the symbolism of that .. that my "tree" (or self) is full because of those i have known and do know.

a friend of mine says "the quality and content of our lives depends on the quality and content of our relationships with God, others, ourselves, and the environment." we are largely defined and changed by our relationships, and it's important to name them -- to realize who are important people and places and ideas. the symbol that each of us has a 'tree' or is a 'tree' is also quite nice. a growing, changing, being which goes through seasons and produces fruit or blossoms or thorns. having roots and leaves, presence in today and yesterday and hope for tomorrow. by the grace of God. i've been amazed at how i have some friends who i don't speak with that often, but when we do speak our relationship is stronger than before -- somehow God keeps growing us together.

most of the kids were able to write names of most of those they know. and in 6th or 8th grade, most people don't have a large circle of acquaintances -- family, schoolmates, neighbors, and people from activities. it was strange to see that contrast between their trees and mine. i wrote initials because it didn't seem like there would be room for names. (and i keep thinking of new people to add .. i'm not sure it will ever be 'finished'.) it means i have more people to miss, among other things .. but i somehow believe that God isn't done yet. with life comes more opportunities to know others, to know and be known, to love and be loved, and to see God reflected in beautiful unique ways in those we are privileged to know.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

wisdom distilled

ummm... so i haven't posted in almost three weeks. which is rather a long time. and i do apologize. i want to make a habit of posting once a week or so. so that you find something new when you happen to check every so often. instead of just the same ol' posts. thanks for looking again, though!

i've recently been reading a book called Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today by joan chittister. and really enjoying it. i don't like writing in books (and this one i'm borrowing so have not choice!) but sometimes i just have to write down certain quotes or thoughts. and i have a small journal where i've done this with a few other books that had an impact on me. but i'm writing a lot of quotes down from this book, and wanted to share a couple.

the real monastic walks through life with a barefooted soul, alert, aware, grateful, and only partially at home. (p10)

to pray in the midst of the mundane is simply and strongly to assert that this dull and tiring day is holy and its simple labors are the stuff of God's saving presence for me now. (p31)

humble people walk comfortably in every group. no one is either too beneath them or too above them for their own sense of well-being. they are who they are, people with as much to give as to get, and they know it. (p64-5)

we need to learn that there are some things worth doing in life that are worth doing poorly, if doing them perfectly means we will have destroyed people for the sake of producing the product. (p91)

the problem is that either domination or dependence demands so much less of us than collaboration. (p115)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

small victories

so it's important to enjoy little things, to find pleasure in simplicity. here are a few examples from the past week.

-- wednesday i finally got up the courage to go into a music shop i'd noticed in my second week here. i don't walk past it often, and it's usually closed when i do .. but this time it was open and i went in. and i asked to look at and play a violin. so i did .. tuned it, played a scale, and then played 'tis a gift to be simple. talked to the lady about how much it cost (and the difference between a cheap one and a really nice old one..!?!), and then walked out with a big grin on my face.

-- friday we played a romanian version of "will you smile for me?" where the goal is not to smile or to laugh. i've never been very good at this game. but this time i was able to keep a straight face every time i was asked (which was often, since i was a 'tough target'). whoa! i must be growing up or getting more mature. or something..

-- thursday i went to house church even though i didn't want to. and it was good to be there. hard and frustrating and challenging, but good.

-- friday i started reading the booklet i have about retirement funds. i'm not particularly interested, but it is something i want to (and am supposed to) do, and i'm finally starting that process.

-- thursday i didn't wear a coat. two long-sleeve shirts with a wool sweater, a scarf, and a hat. but no coat. it wasn't all that cold, so i was plenty warm. and i didn't care that people (especially older women) stared at me like i would catch cold on the spot.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


woo hoo!!
thanks, God!
not much, but still ..
it's snow.
and a sunny morning.
what more could one ask?!

classical music

last weekend i went to the philharmonic with friends. it was almost two hours of music, with a 10 minute intermission. a full orchestra (i think), with a french horn soloist for one piece. how marvelous. i have lots of friends and acquaintances from college (and other places) who play instruments or sing beautifully, so when i go to hear music like this, it often makes me miss those friends. and it also makes me want to play my own violin .. (we'll see about that .. )

so the crazy thing about classical music in romania is the price. my ticket cost:
- less than it would cost to go to the movies on a weekend here
- the same as a set of 10 bus tickets
- about the same as a novel
- slightly more than 2 liters of milk
- slightly more than 500 grams of nutella

and yet .. most romanians that i know cannot afford to go often or at all. one time i asked a friend who was rather low on funds, and her first response was 'how much does it cost? i still need to eat.' that's not something i have to think about. i have enough money to enjoy beautiful or fun things now and again. not everyday, but the material differences between the romanians i'm beginning to know and myself is often overwhelming. no matter what, though, i savored the music and my soul was refreshed.

Monday, January 22, 2007


so, i saw this idea on a friend's blog recently and liked it. the idea is this: getting an idea of who reads my blog. i have some general ideas (from some comments, stats, and mentions in emails or the like) .. but would enjoy knowing for sure. just cuz. no good reason, really. i like sharing pieces of my thoughts .. but it would be fun to know who is reading my thoughts (and thinking about them too perhaps). so .. if you would add a comment to this post, that'd be cool. could just be your name. or something specific so i'll know who you are if you don't want to write your name. or a funny memory we share. or some of the questions you're asking these days. thanks, friends.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

bus rules

riding on a bus in romania is an experience. so, i'll prepare you. (for any visitors i might be having, you know. or if somebody just happens to be in romania and wants to ride a bus).

3 sets of doors (all on the same side, of course!)
24 seats (really. i counted)
wide aisles
lots of standing room in the middle
poles run along above aisles for handholds
often full (sometimes very full..)

you must have a ticket that you put into a machine so it is marked when you get on the bus. you can also buy a pass for a certain period of time, like 2 weeks or a month. you can also buy booklets of 10 tickets. or you can buy a ticket from the driver when you get on the bus. if you get on the bus at the middle door and the bus is so full you cannot get to the driver, you send up the necessary money. it gets passed through many hands and eventually your ticket comes back, and usually someone has put it into the machine so it is already marked. no other place have i seen someone hand over money to an unknown person .. but i haven't seen any bad results.

a month or so ago, a few buses started to have televisions at the front. these play just commercials for various businesses in the city. and there are maybe 7 ads? so if you're on the bus for more than 10 minutes, you see and hear them multiple times. the most interesting for me is one for a football (soccer) team, and the music is the same as a worship song i know (here are the lyrics if anybody is interested). when i hear it, i sing along silently with the real words that praise God. too bad they're singin' the wrong ones!

if an older woman gets on the bus, she deserves a seat. if one is not free, usually someone will stand up to give her one. this happens with older men, but mostly if they look frail or demand it. young children also often get seats given up for them. sometimes a mother with a young child will be given a seat and will take it and put the kid on her lap. i suspect this mostly depends on how tired the mother is.

many times during the day (and not always the same ones), the bus is full. this means all the seats are taken, and people are standing so the aisles are full, and sometimes when the bus stops at a station, it's a challenge for people there to push their way onto the bus. in this crowd of people, it's important to keep your bag in front of you where you can see it and possibly feel it. pickpockets might it too tempted otherwise.

in terms of positioning yourself, a seat is a good option, although one might be obliged to give it up for someone who needs it more leaving you in an awkward position. i personally prefer to enter in the middle of the bus and go to the opposite side, in the standing space. there are two corners and some nice windows or railings to lean against. this way at least one part of me is safe from being touched. and touching will happen on a full bus. not sexual touching, but what, i suppose, is necessary. let's just say that for the twenty-five minutes it takes to ride from the office to home, personal space doesn't exist.

when you need to get out of the bus, it's best to start moving toward an exit a few moments before the bus stops at your station. on a full bus, this moving toward the door often requires almost switching places with people who will not be exiting the bus just yet. no speaking is necessary, although it is somewhat polite. sometimes this also requires gently (or not so gently) pushing one's way out onto the street. if you happen to be near the door and not exiting, beware -- people might be pushing to get around from a couple directions. in some cases, it's best to get out and then quickly get back in once the outflowing traffic has ceased. if you happen to be claustrophobic, there are a few options .. waiting an hour until less people are traveling, walking (not a brilliant idea if you're alone and it's dark), or taking a taxi (which isn't too expensive). there's also always the option to just stay home ....

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

no snow!

snow. winter. cold weather. fur hats. warm black coats. all things which romania is known for. the clothing i see everyday. the winter? not so much. it's been sort of cold here, but i'm fine with a long-sleeve shirt under a jacket. haven't needed my long underwear yet. (which i do have! in case i do happen to need it some day ..) so this is me complaining. it will be short. i promise.

the temperature outside this afternoon is in the low 50s. which is not so much winter, as early autumn. whenever i talk to my parents they make references to below-freezing temperatures and snow. which makes me jealous. i mean it's natural that the rocky mountains should have snow and cold weather. but i'd like some too! last year i lived in LA, and had a sad winter. (in terms of weather. it gets 'cool' there, but not cold like i enjoy.) friends told me it would be better this year, because romania gets really cold and snowy. i looked forward expectantly. but .. nothin' yet. ah well. just get to keep waiting. somehow that doesn't surprise me. waiting. hmmm...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

i like books!

so .. i read a lot. i like books. i learn from them. not just facts, but emotionally -- stories are one way that i understand and comprehend life. so it's fun to read .. but also good for me. really. it's true.

and i keep a record of what books i've read, some of the things they made me question, a vague plot, and the number of pages. the books i've recently read are posted over on the right, and if you click on them you can also view a variety of others, if you happen to be interested. but the main idea i wanted to share was just how many pages i read in 2006. and the number of books. ready?

59 books
17,422 pages

and .. this is a fair bit less than last year. (believe it or not!) anyway, the range of books is rather wide -- young adult, nonfiction, fiction, Christian nonfiction, classics, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, humor. mostly stories are what interest me, in almost any variety. an intriguing story with good questions, enjoyable writing, something worth saying, and characters that feel real in some sense. mmm .. that's worth savoring.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


my Christmas was restful. refreshing. humorous. real. enjoyable.

i got to be myself again. under stress humans change. it's a proven fact. so i got to have a week with little stress and little responsibility and familiarity -- and it gave me a chance to remember. like the fact that i can be funny. (it's hard to be humorous in another culture.) that i enjoy and know how to have deep conversations. that i can throw a frisbee pretty far. that kids playground equipment in a park isn't just for kids. that i can grasp a whole sermon and pay attention the whole time. that americans (and my family) show love in ways that make sense and feel right. that marshmallows with hot chocolate is tasty. that being dependent is a hard challenge -- but a worthwhile one, both personally and spiritually.

rest is good. we need it. work and play. not just work. not just play. seriousness and humor. balance of things which 'shouldn't' go together. after a week which was so soothing and comfortable, it was hard to want to return here. to this space which is not soothing or comfortable. at least not yet. but i'm here. and have energy to continue being here. being present here. seeking to remember who i am and also to learn who i am -- and to be aware that God is constant and here and knows both who i am and who i am becoming.

Monday, January 01, 2007

(some) quotes i like!

  • There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. -- Marianne Williamson
  • The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you can never have. -- Soren Kierkegaard
  • To love a person means to see him as God intended him to be. -- Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • I want to learn to live in the now. I want to breathe my way into it and hang out there more and more and experience life in all its richness and realness. But I want to do it later, like maybe sometime early next week. Right now I want to rush. -- Anne Lamott
  • The maturing of a woman who has continued to grow is a beautiful thing to behold. -- Naomi Wolf
  • It is so easy to convince yourself that you are the one who needs all the attention. But once you can see the other concretely in his or her life situation, you can step back a bit from yourself and understand that, in a true friendship, two people can make a dance. -- Henri Nouwen
  • Art is so wonderfully irrational, exuberantly pointless, but necessary all the same. -- Gunter Grass
  • You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. -- Robin Williams
  • Missions then is less about the transportation of God from one place to another and more about identification of a God who is already there. It is almost as if being a good missionary means having really good eyesight. Or maybe it means teaching people to use their eyes to see things that have always been there: they just didn't realize it. You see God where others don't. And then you point Him out. -- Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis)
  • When I was memorizing the names of the stars, part of the purpose was to help them each to be more particularly the particular star each one was supposed to be. That's basically a Namer's job. Maybe you're supposed to make earthlings feel more human. -- Proginoskes (in A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle)
  • If scarcity makes things more precious, what does it mean to choose the spare world over one in which we are sated with abundance? -- Kathleen Norris (The Cloister Walk)
  • Why do we keep hiding our deepest feelings from each other? We suffer much, but we also have great gifts of healing for each other. The mystery is that by hiding our pain we also hide our ability to heal. -- Henri Nouwen
  • Gently, Teacher explained the difference between a lie and a story. A lie was something you told because you were mean or a coward. A story was something you made up out of something that might have happened. Only you didn't tell it like it was; you told it like you thought it should have been. -- Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
  • Pippin glanced in some wonder at the face now close beside his own, for the sound of that laugh had been gay and merry. Yet in the wizard's face he saw at first only lines of care and sorrow; though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to gush forth. -- J.R.R. Tolkien (The Return of the King)
  • God is not only the God of the sufferers but the God who suffers. The pain and fallenness of humanity have entered into his heart. Through the prism of my tears I have seen a suffering God. It is said of God that no one can behold his face and life. I always thought this meant that no one could see his splendor and live. A friend said that perhaps it meant that no one could see his sorrow and live. Or perhaps his sorrow is splendor. -- Nicholas Walterstorff (Lament for a Son)
  • The real monastic walks through life with a barefooted soul, alert, aware, grateful, and only partially at home. -- Joan Chittister (Wisdom Distilled from the Daily)
  • The next day he [Ender] passed Alai in the corridor, and they greeted each other, touched hands, talked, but they both knew that there was a wall now. It might be breached, that wall, sometime in the future, but for now the only real conversation between them was the roots that had already grown low and deep, under the wall, where they could not be broken. -- Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game)
  • When you start on a long journey, trees are trees, water is water, and mountains are mountains. After you have gone some distance, trees are no longer trees, water no longer water, mountains no longer mountains. But after you have traveled a great distance, trees are once again trees, water is once again water, and mountains are once again mountains. -- Zen teaching
since my sister is cool -- she created a program that will randomly select one of these quotes each time my blog is viewed. so i got to pick a few quotes that i really value (for one reason or another) and then get to share them. i'm excited about this. thanks, larq!