We're back!

This is Rich and Carol Schempp from Tulcea, Romania. We hope you will visit our site often. Carol is serving as the Mission Co-worker for NOROC (New Opportunities for Romanian Orphaned Children) from March 1-May 30. We will return to the US for 3 months, and then will return to Romania again for another 3 months, and so on.  This is an exciting time for us in our "retirement" years. Come join the adventure with us! (We will be adding the new pictures at the top of our blog page (except for this heading) so you can see and read about the most recent adventures first. Just scroll down if you want to view the previous content.)

 

Traditional Martisor pins, or amulets are worn by women during the month of March to celebrate the coming of Spring. As of March 2 we are back in Tulcea. I will be updating our blog regularly from now until the end of May. The Romanian adventure continues...and what an exciting adventure it will be. We are happy to be with our Romanian friends and NOROC family again!

Pastele Mortilor or Easter for the Dead

Sometimes also called little Easter, the Monday after Thomas Sunday (one week after Easter) is a day of celebration in the Orthodox tradition.  This tradition takes place mostly in Southeastern Europe.  Families gather in the cemeteries and bring quantities of food and drink in the name of their dead relatives or close friends who join with them, in spirit, to help them in their daily lives.  The event often lasts for most of the day.  The food, or pomana, is placed on the gravesite and it is usually blessed by their priest before it is easten or shared. 

Easter Dinner - Romania style

When in Romania, do as the Romanians do!  On Easter Sunday Rich and I were the guests at the home of our dear friends Petru and Marilena Solca for a traditional Easter dinner.  We  learned some new Easter traditions, as well,  and enjoyed many delicious traditional Easter foods, several of which were new to us.  You can see from the photos that good food is never in short supply in Romania!

 

Can you tell which ones are the Americans?

Eggs dyed red to symbolize the the shed blood of Christ and Easter Pasca: the eggs are the first thing you eat (after you have an egg battle by knocking the eggs together) and Pasca is a traditional Easter cheescake which is always decorated with a cross.

Easter cozonac is a necessity.

How about one of each?

Holy Week in the Orthodox Tradition

In the Orthodox Church Easter is calculated according to the Julian calendar, so this year it happened on April 28.  Beginning with Palm Sunday, church services are held every evening and culminate with the midnight Resurrection Service, at which the light of Christ (from the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem) is shared with the entire Orthodox world.   In Romania, willow branches are distributed to parishioners, since there are no palms.  These branches will be taken home to hang someplace in their home.  

 

Maundy Thursday

Thursday evening was a 4 hour service which included the stories of the Last Supper, Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Trial, the Betrayal, and the Crucifixion.  An icon of Jesus on the cross is erected in the middle of the church and adorned with objects people bring from home including towels, cloths, and flowers.  

 

Good Friday - Great Friday

The Lamentations at the Tomb – Matins of Holy and Great Saturday On Friday night, the Matins of Holy and Great Saturday, a unique service known as the The Lamentation at the Tomb (Epitáphios Thrēnos) is celebrated. This service is also sometimes called Jerusalem Matins. Much of the service takes place around the tomb of Christ in the center of the nave.  As the worshippers enter the church they crawl under a table covered by the Epitaphios, which symbolizes entering the tomb. A unique feature of the service is the chanting of the Lamentations or Praises (Enkōmia), which consist of verses chanted by the clergy interspersed between the verses of Psalm 119.  Toward the end of the service (which lasts 3-4 hours) the Epitaphios cloth is removed from the table, suspended from 4 poles and carried in a procession around the outside of the church, followed by the worshippers.  Upon re-entering the church everyone passes under the cloth and receives flowers from the priests.  

 

Easter - Paste

The Easter service begins at midnight on Saturday with the passing of the "Holy Light" from Jerusalem as worshippers gather on the church steps and in the street. At midnight the church bells ring and there is a brief, 20 minute service including a homily by the Bishop outside of the Cathedral.  After their individual candles are lit, the people take them home.  For those who wish to attend, there is an additional 3 hour service held only in the Cathedral but not in the local churches.  Hristos a inviat!  Adevarat a inviat! (Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!) is repeated 3 times and then many times following, as well as in the coming days.

 

Sometimes "Plan B" is better!

Today we hosted 12 of the younger kids from Speranta at Casa Noua for a Bible story (David and Goliath) using the wonderful flannel board set donated by First Presbyterian Church in Lubbock - part of Plan A - and then a time to play outside on the soccer field and playground - also part of Plan A.  Another part of Plan A was to serve bananas and granola bars for snack, but the bananas we had purchased turned to mush overnight - definitely not part of Plan A.  So, Carol decided on a cooking project using the bananas instead.  Anyone who wanted to help make banana muffins could choose to help Carol in the kitchen while the others went outside to play.  We had 6 helpers, the muffins became our snack, and the result was delicious!  There were enough muffins for everyone to have 2, one to eat and one to take home in a ziplock bag.  (We also shared with Domnul Barbu, our van driver, since he is a very important person.  Without him, the children could not get to Casa Noua.)  Cooking is an experience the younger children from Speranta never get to do, so this was an amazing experience for them.   Maybe we should call it "Plan G", for God!

 

The children helped to retell the story using the flannel board characters.

We are ready to put the batter in the pan. "God, this feels so good!" (A direct quote from one of the children.)

Warm temperatures and no wind. What more could we wish for?

On the road again...

This week Rich, Ioana, and Carol traveled to 3 centers in surrouding villages to share the story of hope that we, as Christians, share in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We began with a game in which small groups were instructed to build a tower with only 1 block as the base, or foundation.  The challenge was to see which group could build the tallest tower.  Rich used this analogy of building to help the children discover that all Christians have Christ as the foundation of their faith, and without Christ as the base everything falls apart. The Easter story gives us hope that we will never be separated by God's love.  Since the Orthodox Easter is April 28 it has been a particularly appropriate time to share this story with the children. We are so happy to have new Bibles to take with us for the children to read from!  After these activities we always provide a healthy snack for everyone, to feed the body as well as the soul.  The photos below tell the story much better than words!

 

So far, ours is the tallest!

If we work together we can do this.

Bravo! That was a good job of reading.

I didn't know you were going to take my picture!

We can do this, I am sure.

I think this is a good foundation.

This is harder than it looks!

Is this where I start reading?

The church is like this tower, with Christ as the foundation.

Teamwork is the only way to succeed. Go team!

The new Bibles are so much easier to read.

Ioana is amazing at translating into kid-friendly language!

"Lazareul" in Izvoarele village: April 20, 2019

In a small village not far from Tulcea, a very old tradition (Greek Orthodox combined with a folk tradition) commemorating the death of Lazarus takes place on the Saturday before the Orthodox Palm Sunday.  In his memory, girls of the village dress in colorful traditional costumes to sing, play and perform a special dance in the courtyards of their neighbors.  The girls form a chain in decending order of height, with the tallest one leading the group.  She is named buianciu and receives gifts of money, flour, or eggs from the householders.  Petru told us about this tradition so we took a chance and went to the village to see what we might see.  We were lucky to find 2 groups of girls who were walking through their neighborhoods and saw beautiful faces, costumes, and bright smiles!  This was yet another wonderful "slice" of Romanian culture to add to our experiences here in Romania.

A special dance for Lazarus!

This is the dance performed by the girls in the village.

Could they be any more beautiful?

It was a beautiful, sunny morning to remember the death (and resurrection) of Lazarus.

Upclose & personal...

This week we again had the opportunity to invite the children from Cocorii 1, 2, & 3 to visit Casa Noua for an activity.  Each group enjoyed activities that were age appropriate and fun. They are pictured below. The weather was cold and mostly rainy, so we were not able to use the soccer field at all this week.  It was "plin de noroi", or full of mud.  However, thanks to the rubber mats covering the concrete base playground, the children were able to use the trampoline and other playground equipment. At Casa Noua there is always an abundance of fresh air, spacious rooms, and a peaceful environment. Thanks once more to the Presbyterian Women for the generous grant that enabled NOROC to build this recreation facility!

The slightly more mature girls from Cocorii 3 made cookies and muffins.

The movable island in the kitchen made a great place for a second cooking station.

Waiting for the finished product seems like forever! Some of the girls made bracelets while the cookies and muffins were cooking, but one in particular kept a close watch.

So David picked up his slingshot, and the rest is history!

Which do I like better, Lego or Doamna Carol's "secret recipe" playdough?

Overheard from one of the girls at Cocorii 2: "Everyone else can leave, but I think I will stay here."

Ship ahoy, matey! We're from Cocorii 1!

Which way shall I go?

How exactly did David defeat Goliath?

Vasile Trandafir...our new NOROC Friend!

The girls at Cocorii 3 had a wonderful opportunity today to meet Vasile Trandafir, a watercolor artist who was visiting Tulcea this week with his exhibition of paintings.  He donated his time and the materials to conduct a watercolor workshop for these 9 girls.  What a wonderful experience this was!  Who knows?  Maybe we will have some future artists!

The final products...

The instruction...

The practice...

The patience...

Transformation Day!

With generous donations from NOROC friends we were able to purchase three brand new sewing machines for Doamna Ana to use with her sewing classes.  She is a real pro at her craft and so patient as she works with the children.  The sewing and painting classes were sharing the same room at the same time, so it was very cramped quarters.  This week we were able to move the classes into separate rooms so they both have more tables to work on, more room to store supplies, more natural light and more air to breathe!  This move took help from Petru, Rich, Carol, Ricky, Mihai, and Vasile (an "artist in residence" visiting from Poland.)  The painting and weaving classes are taught by Doamna Irina, a local professional artist.   Everyone was very excited about the new arrangement!  (Enjoy the photos below.)

Is this the next one?

Wow! This new machine has power!

I think the sky should go here!

This is great!

They even smell new!

Sisters have fun working together.

The Club at Casa Noastra provides the perfect space for learning and fellowshipping together.

Thursday evening Bible studies continue...

For nearly 14 years the NOROC sponsored Thursday evening Bible Study for youth in the institutions has flourished.  With our new leader, Adrian Titorencu, the youth are excited to come each week and be part of the group.  The numbers range from 15-22 young people each Thursday.  After the lesson & discussion a meal of pizza is shared thanks to Niculita, the Bible Study manager.  She keeps track of who is there, the topic of discussion, and orders just the right amount of pizza each week.  Bravo, Niculita!

Hands on activities can help us to understand a Biblical concept.

Spring has sprung at Casa Noua!

In the last few weeks it seems that every fruit tree and many shrubs in Tulcea have come into bloom.  The colors and smells are wonderful, and the anticipation of the fruits to come in a few months add to the hope that comes with Spring.  This is our first Spring in Romania so we are enjoying every minute of it!

Sweet, sour, or visine? We have 3 types of cherries on our property, so time will tell, unless you are a tree expert!

This bush has the most glorious smell!

Plum, cherry, peach, quince, apple and walnut trees surround Casa Noua!

In order to get up close and personal with the birds, we had to get up close and personal with some trees. Look out, here comes another low hanging branch!

Is there anything more beautiful than the Danube Delta in springtime?

We accompanied Dan's photography group again for a trip into the Delta by boat to see, up close and personal, the birds which are beginning to nest.  This was our first Spring boat trip and we were not disappointed!  Several species of birds were nesting and since the leaves on the trees were just emerging it was much easier to see the birds in their nests.  They were also preoccupied with protecting their nests, so we were able to get closer to them than usual. 

A pair of cormorants are perched atop a dead tree branch. Notice the plumage on their heads which is specific to mating season. Every trip to the Delta is a new experience and both Dan and Petru provide a wealth of information about the flora and fauna on every trip!(Photo by Petru Solca)

Trees nested by the cormorants eventually die because of the acidic waste produced by the birds. This makes the colonies of cormorants easier to locate.

A spoonbill stands on one leg, but in an instant will use its long spoon shaped bill to search for food in the water. (Photo by Petru Solca)

Maybe if I fluff up my wings I can scare them away! A male swan uses diversionary tactics to protect his nest.

Petru and Marilena hosted Mario's birthday celebration which included a beatiful cake and a small gift.

Birthday celebrations are important!

Marilena Solca's small group celebrated Mario's birthday this week.  He is 19 and a 12 grade student at the Theological High School.  Birthday celebrations are very important occasions in the Romanian culture in general, but they are especially important for the children and youth in the institutions. It is a time to remind them that they are special, and that others care about them.  The small group setting is perfect for doing so.

Quick, take the photo before the candles burn out! Several of the youth in Marilena's group are of voting age (18 in Romania) or close to it, so she also took this opportunity to have a serious discussion with her group about the political climate in Romania, and their civic responsibility to take part in elections.

Life skills with Aflatoun

This week we visited another Aflatoun group led by Valentina, who is a primary school teacher during the week.  The middle school age girls in her group learned about budgeting a certain amount of money to pay for monthly living expenses.  When they grow up in an institution they don't have the opportunity to learn this skill from their parents, so this Aflatoun activity provides real-life education.

The girls are trying to figure out how much each basic need for the month will cost. After doing that, they arrived at a total amount of money they would need to cover thoses costs, which included rent, food, clothing, utilities, and transportation.

Let's see...this much for rent, this much for food, this much for clothes. Valentina also provided some charts to help the girls conceptualize Public Service jobs that might be available to them and what type of education would be needed, as well as a comparison of food costs in different stores.

Our week in a nutshell...

As usual, this past week week was filled with new experiences, but not as many photos as we would like. Sometimes we get so involved in our activities that we forget to take photos! We always begin the week with the NOROC, Tulcea Board meeting on Monday. It continues to be a time for reporting the events of the past week, coordinating events, and brainstorming solutions to problems that may have arisen. 

Ioana Toma is a great help to me in planning events that I want to do with the children on Thursdays, her day to work with NOROC.  Ioana, Rich and I were able to make a trip to the center at Mahmudia to see some of the boys who have a interest in going to high school next year, and to speak to the principal at the school.  

We attend the Bible Study every Thursday which continues to be well attended.  We will be sure to take some photos this week!

We attended our first Pomenirea, a commemoration of the anniversary of the death of a loved one.  We were invited to attend by Victorita, who gives cooking lessons to the kids.  Her husband had died in February.  It included a blessing from the priest and traditional foods. See the photos below.

We also went on a trip with the photography group to photograph and record birds in a special area. There is always something new to learn!  Some photos of the excursion are below.

 

Look! I think that could be a rare bird!!

Birds nesting...birds flying...birds swimming...birds just being birds!

A job for everyone...

Everyone who went on the birdwatching trip was assigned a task by Dan, the leader.  Mine was to hold the bird book and have it ready when it was needed to identify a bird.  Dan also taught us the scientific as well as common names of the birds, and somethings about their habitats and food choices.  The kids who came on the trip were totally engaged and interested in learning.

Pomanirea - A commemoration of death

The death of a loved one is remembered at specific intervals following their death.  These photos show some of the rituals of the pomanirea.

 

A priest from a local church provides a short service of remembrance and blesses food and clothing (pomana), which is then shared with family, friends, and often the poor.

Traditional foods, including a dish called coliva, are present at a Pomenirea.

Packages of bread, fruit, coliva, and sweets are given to participants at the end of the event, or given to the poor.

The Steppes of Dobrogea: a land of rare flora, ancient history, and archeological treasures.

Tulcea County lies within the region of Dobrogea.  In this area there are citadels, villages, and both Greek and Roman ruins as well as many species of plants found only in this region.  The "wind-swept" plains is an accurate term as we have experienced during the last few weeks.  The Dobrogean steppe consisits of both rocky steppe and grasslands, each with it own special beauty.  Today we revisited a medieval citadel located near the village of Enisala, in Tulcea County.  We had not been there for nearly 10 years so it was fun to see the archeological discoveries of recent years and the improvements that make the site more visitor friendly. 

A view of the citadel as we approached it from the bottom of the hill.

From inside the walls you can see some of the reconstruction.

The rocky steppe and terraced hills give way to flat lands and Lake Razim.

The top of a rocky hill is the perfect place to keep watch for invaders!

Ziua de Aflatoun! (International Aflatoun Day)

Today we celebrated International Aflatoun Day with special activities at Casa Noua.  There were presentations by each of the 4 Tulcea Aflatoun groups (30 children & 9 adults), balloons, singing, pizza, a special cake, and some time to play outside. The pictures that follow tell the story much better than words...

Ballons make us smile!

Aflatoun reigned over the festivities!

The Aflatoun group from Speranta presented their ideas in poster form.

Is it my turn yet?

That cake looks really yummy!

Where can you find 22 youth from 3 different centers on Thursday evening?

For the past few months you could find them at Casa Noastra for the weekly Bible study sponsored by NOROC.  NOROC's new Bible study leader, Adrian, has been addressing a large group each week as he tackles some of the hardest issues the young people in the institutions deal with on a daily basis.  Adrian has amazing rapport with them and captures their interest with a variety of topics that impact their lives.  We are happy to have Adrian on team NOROC!  (We will try to remember to take some photos next week to share with you!)

A visit to the Maternal Center...and Granny Elena

Thursday morning we visited the Maternal Center to get to know Granny Elena, NOROC's newest granny.  She has been working for us for only 2 months and is eager to learn "the ropes" of being a granny.  We played some new games with the children as well as Granny Elena!  The Maternal Center is quite full with 4 babies, 1 toddler, 2 kinders, and 5 primary school children.  This program run by the Department of Protection keeps children with their mothers, and our NOROC Granny provides extra nurturing and experiences for the children.

Carol & Ioana help the children sort through a bin of toys to make way for some new materials.

Carol & Ioana taught the children some new games to play with the granny.

Does this one match?

The Granny packs are delivered!

Thanks to our trusty Ford Escort and able bodied driver (Rich), Carol and Rich were able to deliver all 8 Granny "packs" (see previous photos) to 8 smallers centers where our Grannies work with children who are under the care of the Department of Protection for children. These centers house between 8 and 12 children each. Since Petru drove what is now our car for 14 years and the license plate letters are "NRC", everyone knows who we are before we get there! It is somewhat like a calling card.  The 8 centers are scattered all over the city so it took us 2 days to complete the task of distributing the materials. Because we did this without a Romanian translator Carol had to meet the challenge of speaking only Romanian. Many of the grannies had already been introduced to the materials at the workshop on the Saturday before, so this was a good opportunity to visit them again and see them in their workplace.  Our Big-Hearted Grannies love and nurture children from ages 3-18 in the smaller centers of Cocorrii 1, 2, & 3; Pelicanul; Egreta; Dumbraveanca; Pescarusul; and Sf. Maria (the Maternal Center for single mothers or mothers and children in crisis situations). You might notice that most of these names follow a theme:  Roosters 1, 2, & 3; the Pelican; the Egret; the Roller; the Seagull; and St. Mary.  After all, Tulcea is built along the banks of the Danube River as it empties into the Danube Delta, where thousands of birds and a myriad of species live and breed.  Some of the children have special needs, so the job of the Grannies is especially important.  As always, we are thankful to God for the work of our NOROC staff and volunteers.  

Spring Clean-up at Casa Noua

Petru, Rich, Petrica and Costel took advantage of a beautiful day to rake leaves and trim bushes at Casa Noua.  Now we are ready for some wonderful Spring rains!

1, 2, 3...pull!

Petru trims the vines along the fence.

"Bunici Inimosi", NOROC's Big Hearted Grannies

In the beginning were the Grannies... and the Grannies were NOROC!  The Grannies were indeed the first group of NOROC workers, beginning in 1997.  Their role was to nurture the infants who were institutionalized and provide stimulation on a daily basis by holding, rocking, cuddling, playing with and talking to the babies.  As the ages of the children in the institutions has changed the job description for the Grannies has changed also, but they are still committed to nurturing the children as a parent would.  Now the Grannies work with mostly elementary school children so they are looking for new ways to meet the needs of the children.  Also, at some centers there is a very wide range of abilities among the children. School work is very demanding and even with NOROC's tutors to help the children with their studies, our Grannies feel a need to modify their approach with the children. They want to expand their areas of expertise and be better equipped to meet the challenges of working with these children.  Today, at their request, Carol led a workshop to introduce the Grannies to new activities and materials.  Go Grannies!  (Some Grannies were not able to attend the workshop,  so Carol will deliver the materials to them at their centers.)

This is interesting...

Lots of new ideas for the kids!

Oh, they will really like this!

How exciting! A new box of materials for each center.

We have new Bibles!

Thanks to several generous donations we now have 10 new large print Bibles in a more contemporary translation to use at our Bible Study and other times they are needed.  We appreciate so much your help with this project!

A windy day and meeting the neighbors

Today, March 10, was an extremely windy day!  The wind gusts have rivaled anything we experience in West Texas.  Shortly after lunch we heard a loud noise outside.  When we went out to investigate, we saw that the trampoline from the playground at the back of Casa Noua had been blown over the fence and into the neighbor's vineyard!  Such an unfortunate incident turned into a chance to meet our wonderful neighbor, Ionut (Johnny.)  He enlisted the help of his father and another neighbor to get the trampoline out of his vineyard and back over the fence to our playground.  The trampoline sustained some damage, but the neighbor's vineyard appears to be unscathed. This is a good reminder that sometimes bad events lead to good things!

Snowdrops, (ghiocheii) the first flowers of Spring, and wine from the neighbor's vineyard! !

Along with the freshly picked snowdrops from the forest our neighbor gave us a box of fresh eggs from his chickens, and a bottle of wine from his vineyard! Romanian generosity is unparalleledd!

Aflatoun activities at the LCLC

On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays 4 groups of children gather take part in Aflatoun activities.  The children come from Cocorii 1, 2, & 3, as we as the younger children from Speranta.  Here they learn financial education and socialization.

We visited the Cocorii 1 & 2 Aflatoun groups on Saturday, led by Adina and Mioara. The children were learning about professions and how their choice of profession would have on their livelihood as adults. After completing their task, the older children in the group took turns presenting their finished product to the rest of the group.

On Sunday, the younger children from Speranta came to do an activitiy with their leader Mirela. They were preparing for the International Aflatoun Day which will be celebrated by NOROC children and staff on March 23.

Today was Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste Day. Our friend and NOROC cooking instructor, Doamna Victorita, offered us pomana to honor her husband who died recently. We were honored to have received it!

What is pomana?

Today, March 9, we learned about another Romanian custom...that of pomana.  Pomana is food given to others (or left at the graveside) to honor loved ones who have died.  Pomana is given on several types of occasions and the foods offered have traditional meaning.

International Women's Day

Today, March 8, is International Women's Day.  This is a day which much of the world celebrates to honor women, their accomplishments, and their contributions to society.  In Romania, this day is also celebrated as Mother's Day.  There were flowers everywhere...flowers being bought, flowers being given, and flowers being received.  Take a moment today to honor the special women in your life!

Birthdays are for celebrating!

Since Carol's birthday (March 5) was the day after the NOROC board meeting, she provided dinner for the Board at the meeting on the 4th.  It is the custom in Romania for the person celebrating the birthday to "make the party" and invite their friends.  We brought a few key ingredients with us from Texas so we could make an authentic enchilada dinner.  Of course, no celebration is complete without traditional Romanian tuica and wine and a gift for the honoree!  

Isn't that too many candles?

Youth from Iulia Ivanov's small group greeted Rich and me as we arrived at the NOROC office for the weekly board meeting. They gave Martisor gifts to all of the ladies in the group to celebrate the coming of Spring. The NOROC staff had sweets and juice for the kids.

Martisor is officially the first of March, but the amulets (small pins) are worn during the entire month of March. Snowdrops are given since they are the first flower to appear in Spring, sometimes even appearing through the snow. Hyacinths are also a favorite flower to give to a lady for Martisor.

Romanian Adventures with Rich and Carol Schempp

This is Rich and Carol Schempp from Tulcea, Romania. We hope you will visit our site often.  Carol is serving as the Mission Co-worker for NOROC (New Opportunities for Romanian Orphaned Children) from September 1 until November 30, 2018.  We will return to the US for 3 months, and then will return to Romania again from March 1 through May 31, 2018.  This is an exciting time for us in our "retirement" years.  Come join the adventure with us!

(We will be adding the new pictures at the top of our blog page so you can see and read about the most recent adventures first.  Just scroll down if you want to view the previous content.)

Our Weekly Schedule: Each week we attend as many activities and events as possible. The children are in school during the week, and most of the activities for children happen on or near the weekend. Our week is the busiest from Thursday - Monday. Tuesdays and Wednesdays have become our "weekends." Please look for most of our new blog posts on Monday or Tuesday.

Back in Lubbock for the winter...

Rich and I returned to Lubbock very tired and very late on November 30.  I was sad to leave Tulcea since it felt like I had just begun to build relationships.  Three months went really fast!  The NOROC staff will begin preparing Christmas bags for the kids this week and I really want to be there too, right in the middle of everything.  When we return to Tulcea on March I will resume the blog.  Until then, thanks for taking this journey with us! (If you are new to our blog, please keep reading to see what kind of adventures we had this fall.)

The NOROC car (notice the license plate) in front of Casa Noua (the new house), our home here in Tulcea. We live on the edge of town, with the feel of the country side. Our bedroom window is to the right of the balcony, hidden behind the leafy branches of a grand walnut tree.

Getting ready for Christmas

Each year NOROC and other NGOs in the county receive donations of "shoe boxes" to give to the children in the orphanages. They are delivered to a common location and then we pick them up and store them until they are needed.  These boxes help to augment the donations NOROC has already received from supporters like you.

Petrica Adamita helped Petru, Mihai, and Rich unload 400 shoe boxes filled with Christmas gifts for the children in the orphanages last week. These boxes will be delivered by NOROC staff to the children at the centers during the holiday season. (Petrica, who recently celebrated his 40th birthday, grew up in the orphanage system. NOROC impacted his life greatly. He still attends the weekly Bibly Study hosted by NOROC.)

Each large box contains 10 shoe boxes packed specifically by age and gender. NOROC will deliver them to the children along with bags of fruit, candy, knitted items and small toys packed by our NOROC staff. We are able to store them until they are needed in one of the storage sheds at Casa Noua.

Thanksgiving Day (Ziua de Recunostinta) Romanian Style!

Everyone loves a party, especially in Romania.  We invited members of the NOROC Board and friends to enjoy a special Thanksgiving meal of roast turkey, pumpkin pie, green beans, and glazed carrots along with a viariety of traditional Romanian dishes.  With a little wine, music, singing and dancing it was a wonderful evening.  Casa Noua, our home here in Tulcea, was made for parties!

Where else can you seat 17 people at one table?

Celebrating Thanksgiving was never so much fun!

Is that your glass or mine?

Transylvanian charm abounds!

During the week of Thanksgiving, we had the pleasure of a visit from our daughter Anne and her husband, Michael.  We traveled to Transylvania, in the heart of the Romania.  Mountains and valleys abound, as well as Medieval churches, fortresses, walled towns, and villages.  One of Europe's best preserved Medieval cities is located here.  We stayed in the village of Viscri, one of the most picturesque settings in Translyvania.  For that reason, England's Prince Charles purchased a house and property in Viscri for occasional retreats.  Many of the cities were settled by the Saxons centuries ago, and as a result German architecture and language are still evident.

Peles Castle, the summer home of the royal family before Communism, was still wearing a blanket of snow from the last snowfall. The castle is in the town of Sinaia, which was the summer retreat for many of the aristocratic families of Romania.

The women in the village of Viscri, population 415, have formed a cooperative to make and sell wool slippers, mittens, and hats. Although they were closed for the season, a phone call to the head of the cooperative was all that was needed to have the shop opened just for us. It was a paradise of hand felted woolen slippers!

We climbed the bell tower in the Lutheran Church in Sibiu for a magnificent view of the rooftops below. The change from the old city to the new was quite evident.

Changes are coming...

We are beginning to "wind down" our activities here in Tulcea.  In less than 2 weeks we will be back in Lubbock, Texas.  Winter has finally come to southeastern Romania, after a long and unseasonably warm autumn. (Not complaining!) The big walnut tree outside of our bedroom window lost all of its leaves two days ago, just like the fruitless mulberry trees in Lubbock.  Tomorrow we will see our son, Costica, for a few days. Then, our daughter Anne and her husband Michael will come to visit us. We will travel with them to Transylvania, in the center of Romania, to see historic and cultural sights for a few days and then return to Tulcea for a few days.  Look for exciting photos on the blog!  We have a lot planned while they are here, not only in Transylvania but also when we get back home to Tulcea.  Stayed tuned for the continuation of our Romanian Adventures. There will never be an end!

 

 

Petru and Marilena Solca presented a slide show and commentary covering many locations in Romania. They focused on the people, the culture, the land, and the artistic aspects of Romania. This presentation was called "Two Tulceans in Romania", but it is not the first time for such a presentation by the Solcas. They have given 4 other presentations on different countries to which they have traveled, and were instrumental in starting a series of presentations like theirs in Tulcea.

Asociatia Tiberius, an organization from Bucuresti, came to Tulcea to meet with young people from the intitutions here who are interested in learning more about how to transition out of the system. Several youth from Speranta and the apartments attended. The project is called "Erasmus +" and they are funded by the EU.

100 Tulceni (100 Tulceans) honored at a Gala Event.

In concert with the 100th anniversary of the unification of Romania in 1918, Tulcea County honored 100 Tulceans for their contributions to the educational, cultural, artistic, business and sports development of Tulcea County.  Our own Petru Solca, the President of NOROC, Tulcea, was chosen as one of the 100 and received a plaque citing his contributions to the life of Tulcea.  Congratulations, Petru!

Petru receives his award. Bravo!

Extra added attractions to the Gala!

Pan pipe performances were one of the artistic interludes during the presentation of awards. The sound of the pipes is both beautiful and ethereal. Other artistic pauses during the Gala included vocal and ballet performances.

Mirela conducts a speech therapy session with a 5 year old at Cocorii 1. Many of the children in the institutions lack proper speech skills so Mirela helps them improve their speech.

Using materials provided by NOROC, Mirela makes each session fun and game-like to keep the attention of the children

NOROC's staff is devoted to helping children!

One of my biggest pleasures is seeing the amazing NOROC staff in action!  Mirela, our speech therapist, is no exception. She  works with children in Cocorii 1,2 & 3 who have speech delays and dyslexia.  Her full-time job is working with physically and mentally challenged children within the school system.  Like many of NOROC's staff, she works a full week at her "real" job and then works with children from the orphanages on the weekends.

No, they're not trying to break out of jail...they are trying to get into a schoolyard!

I think I've got it!

Running after that ball is hard work, and also gives the boys a much needed outlet for their energy and a chance to build strong bodies. Often, the alternative activity for a Saturday afternoon is wandering around the city or just hanging around, neither of which produce positive results.

Ionut, a physical education teacher during the week, works with boys from Speranta on Saturdays to help them learn basic sports skills.

No words are necessary to speak this language!

Our visit to the Somova Center for children was delightful! The children were friendly and well-behaved, and the worker there said they all work very hard at school. Most of them aspire to go to high school in Tulcea, even one boy who, at age 10, is just beginning the preparatory grade before first grade. Now that is a positive attitude! (He just came to the center and had never been in school before.).

As part of our Bible Study we have been teaching the children in every group we work with Psalm 46:10, in song and sign language. Our theme this week has been making good choices. We tell them by being still and listening for God's word is one way we can know what kind of choices God wants us to make.

Visiting the remote centers...

We also made a trip to Isaccea this weekend, but forgot to take pictures.  Sorry!  The centers in Isaccea have a slightly different set-up.  There is a small house where 6 boys stay, and 2 social apartments for boys and 2 social apartments for girls.  The total number of children in all 5 locations is 22.  Although Isaccea is larger than Somova and Simbata Noua there is not much for the children to do on weekends, as is the case for most of the centers.  We are happy that we can visit these centers to give the children some new experiences.  We have now been to all of the centers for children in Tulcea County, 15 in all.

Indoors or out, Casa Noua is a great place for kids!

Casa Noua is a wonderland for children from the institutions.  With several outdoor play areas and large rooms for activities indoors, it gives the children a change in environment that is not only healthy, but also fun.  They come and they don't want to leave!  Thanks to the Birthday Offering grant NOROC received from the Presbyterian Women (PCUSA), Casa Noua has become a calm oasis in the midst of a sometimes chaotic life for those who come to play. This week the primary age students in Tulcea don't have school, so the children from Cocorii 1, Cocorii 2, the youngest children from Speranta, and those at the the Maternal Center all had a special time for creation and recreation at Casa Noua.

Do you remember when you used to climb trees? Ioana helps these children experience the thrill of the climb!

Time to make their own choices helps to develop thinking skills.

This 3 year old is deep in thought about which Lego piece to use next as he practices his fine motor skills.

A little higher is a really big one!

Ioana tries her hand at goalie, but she is up against from pretty tough competition!

Let's see...what shape shall I make next?

The American Ambassador visits Tulcea!

A visit from the American Ambassador to Romania results in an unexpected opportunity for Rich & Carol (and Petru) to share the mission of NOROC.

Rich and Carol meet the American Ambassador to Romania on his recent trip to Tulcea to donate 250 books about the United States to the county library. They made sure to do a little PR work for NOROC!

County and city dignitaries greeted the Ambassador, Hans Klemm, with a warm welcome to Tulcea, the gateway to the Danube Delta..

A Little R & R!

After a very busy month we were able to take a weekend trip to the mountains (there are lots of them in Romania) to see the last of the Fall foliage and enjoy the fresh mountain air.  We traveled with Petru & Marilena Solca, and Dan & Violeta Bandacu, who are not only friends but also part of the NOROC staff.  Both Petru and Dan are avid photographers so they were always on the lookout for interesting landscapes, and they (nor we) were not disappointed.  The sub-Carpathian mountains in Romania are majestic and peaceful, interspersed with valleys, and in every valley there is a least one village.  Rivers and streams abound.  The soil is especially fertile in the valleys so it is perfect for growing potatoes, as well as other fruits and vegetables.  Because of an unusually warm September and October much of the vegetation is still green, and roses are still in full bloom.  This is our first taste of Fall in Romania, and what a pleasant one it has been. 

Our first glimpse of the mountains.

The landscapes in the foothills reminded Carol of her childhood years in western Pennsylvania.

The pensiune where we stayed was picturesque as we caught its reflection in a small lake nearby. Picturesque is an understatement but the best word we can come up with!

There were myriad opportunities for lessons in botany. Here Carol is holding "horse's tail" or "coada calului", which Marilena & Violeta explained has several medicinal properties. Dan, who is a trained agronomist, would teach us the scientific name of each plant and animal we encountered.

A wooden post marks the way for several trails through a stand of birch trees in a nature preserve.

Tucked away in the mountains are beautiful lakes, both natural and manmade. The mountain roads afford magnificent views. Because of the warm, dry Fall, the lake level is lower than usual..

As the craggy mountains approach the treeline, vegetation thins and the rugged character of the mountains is displayed.

Is it an apple? Is it a pear? No...it's a quince!

Today we made quince compote for the first time.  First, we picked the quinces from the trees in our yard.  Then we cut, peeled, and sliced them into water to keep them from turning brown (just like apples). While Rich was cutting and peeling I made a sugar syrup flavored with some lemon peel and vanilla in which to poach them.  After simmering for about 1 hour the quince were tender, fragrant, and beginning to turn a pale rosy pink.  We were not disappointed with their taste!  What a wonderful new experience this was for us both.  And, there are a lot more still on the trees!

New Friends at Sambata Noua

Sambata Noua is another center for children in a small village about a 1 hour drive from Tulcea.  The village is quiet and friendly, and the center is warm and welcoming.

Children listen intently as a friend reads scripture passages about friends helping each other.

By working together we can do more things!

We had some time to visit with the children and learn about each other.

Casa Noua...a children's wonderland!

Casa Noua was designed to be an activity center for children from the orphanages to come for recreation as well as a change in their environment. With an outdoor playground, a trampoline, a soccer field and 2 large meeting rooms it is the perfect place for children to be children.  When purchased, the property had a partially built 2 story house. Since its completion it provides a variety of spaces for activities, and also living quarters upstairs. It is where we stay during our time in Romania.  Whether indoors or out, Casa Noua is a fantastic place.  Summer day camps are held here also.

Is that Rich playing soccer? The regulation size soccer field at Casa Noua is a great place to work off some excess energy and get some healthy exercise, no matter what your age.

Playing with Carol's homemade playdoh was a rare treat for all of the children!

Does anyone ever really outgrow Lego?

Hopscotch? I think I can do it! Learning a new game is often a challenge, but one that the children from the Maternal Center attacked head on. Whether it is learning to "pump" the swing by yourself, playing a game of hopscotch, or climbing the "rock" wall, the children had a wonderful time trying new things.

Victorita (far right) teaches the girls at the Department Social Apartments how to make sarmale, or stuffed grape leaves. In the oven cooking is "crema de zahar ars", which is the Romanian version of Mexican flan. The smells in the kitchen were tantalizing!

Dinner anyone?

Cooking is a life skill that is normally learned at home with your family.  As with the other life skills offered by NOROC, these are skills which the children are most often lacking when they leave the Department for the Protection of Children at age 18 or so.  One of NOROC's goals is to offer opportunities for the children to learn skills that would normally be learned in a family setting.

Of course, we stayed to taste the fruits of their labor! While we were waiting for the sarmale to cook we learned that Victorita is a retired school cook, so she has lots of experience. She goes to the girl's apartments on one Saturday and then to the boy's apartments the next Saturday, alternating each week. Cooking is a skill that everyone can use!

As we arrive at the Center for Children in Sulina we are greeted by children and adults alike.

If you want to get to Sulina this is the mode of transportation...a speed boat taxi. After a 1 1/2 hour trip down the Sulina branch of the Danube River you arrive in the village of Sulina, the last village before the Black Sea, with a population of slightly over 3,000.

Surprise! As we were walking to the center for children in Sulina we met Felicia (far right), who was on her way to Tulcea. Felicia lives in Sulina where she is an elementary school teacher and also works for NOROC as a group leader for the Aflatoun program. This brings a NOROC program to a center that would be too far away to reach otherwise. We thought we were going to miss seeing her, but there she was!

During our time at the center in Sulina, Ioana reunited with some children who had been at the Maternal Center in Tulcea, where she works for NOROC one day each week.

As part of our planning team Ioana also helps present the lesson by translating for Rich.

How do we communicate with God?

Thursday evening Bible Study continues to be a way to explore our relationship with God.  Our activities include concrete ways of understanding abstract ideas.  Our topic this week was prayer and how we can communicate with God. 

This week we played Charades to illustrate how we communicate with each other.

Even though Petrica left the state system 20 years ago, the Thursday evening Bible Study continues to be an important part of his life. He attended the very first Bible Study 13 years ago and has been a faithful attender ever since. Niculita, our Bible Study assistant, presents Petrica with a cake to celebrate his 40th birthday.

Computer Skills: Important for the 21st Century

Every Wednesday 5-6 boys come to the LCLC to work with Violeta Bandacu to learn computer skills.  Keyboarding is not taught in the schools, so Violeta teaches them how to use a keyboard and introduces them to Word, Powerpoint and other programs.  This week there are 5 boys who have come.  One is working on a Powerpoint presentation about cities in Turkey as a school project. It is homework, he says.  Another is working on a presentation about the culture of Dobreaga, the region surrounding Tulcea.  The others are learning how to use Word by typing a "letter" to their laptop about what they have done in the past week.  Twice a year, with Violeta's guidance, they publish a news magazine about a viariety of topics, poems, and stories. They also learn how to create posters, certificates, and brochures. Since computer skills build on each other, Violeta encourages a committment to attend regularly every week.

Looking to the future...

Today we visited the Center for Children in Mahmudia, a fishing village about a 30 minute drive from Tulcea.  The center is in a rather idyllic setting, literally a stone's throw from the Danube River in the Delta, so it is also fairly isolated from just about everything.  The 19 boys who live there range in age from 9 to 18.  We conducted a Bible Study activity, had some snacks, and gave them each a new t-shirt as well a a new soccer ball for the center.

After the Bible Study activity with the boys at Mahmudia they took us on a tour of their rooms and discussed their hopes and dreams for the future.

Most of the boys are in the 8th grade in the village so if they want to continue with high school will have to do that in Tulcea.

Everyone wrote both postive and negative characteristics about themselves.

Sharing their attributes with others not only helps everyone learn about each each other, but also about themselves.

Positive...or Negative?

Doamna Lili's small group did some introspection today to think about things they are good at, and things they are not so good at.  Afterward everyone had a chance to share what they had written.  A discussion followed about accepting each others faults and learning to live together in spite of the fact that no one is perfect.  Doamna Lili said it is just like a family:  we make mistakes but we still love each other.

Doamna Iulia's small group learns how to be part of the bigger picture.

Small groups provide a chance for the children to get to know each other better and learn to work together, as well as providing a sense of family. Today one of Iulia's small groups began to contruct a mural for the wall of their meeting room.  They made the sun, and next week the other group will make trees to add to the mural, then the next week this group will add clouds, and so on.  This helps the children see the importance of accepting everyones contributions to the whole project.

Everyone works together to create the sun for the mural.

Working cooperatively fosters positive relationships within the small group. It becomes like a family.

Doamna Irina, who is a local artisan, teaches children from Speranta how to weave a design on a simple hand loom. She also provides instruction in painting, especially icons on glass.

Doamna Ana helps children learn how to use a sewing machine and make simple garments.

Painting and Sewing

Every Saturday the children at Speranta have the opportunity to attend special interest groups like sewing and painting.  This gives the children the opportunity to learn some skills that are not taught in the schools, which are very academically oriented even in the first grade.  Activities such as these are normally provided by the family.  Today there were children there from ages 5 to 15.

Which color shall it be? I choose red!

Red, and yellow, and blue, and green!

At Tori's small group meeting today Rich and I had a surprise.  We were invited to join in the t-shirt making activity!  Everyone was supplied with a blank t-shirt, chose a design to trace, and then used fabric paints to create a masterpiece.  Tori's small group of middle school kids worked intently to complete their designs.  You can see from the photo below that the results are quite impressive.  

Carefully tracing the design was the first step.

The finished projects...we can't wait to wear them!

We visited the Maternal Center with NOROC staff worker, Iona Toma, to share the story of Noah using flannel board materials donated by First Presbyerian Church, Lubbock, TX. Iona told the story and Carol put the figures on the board at the correct time. Afterwards, the children were excited to retell the story using the flannel board figures.

What happened to Noah?

The Maternal Center is run by the Department of Child Protection and enables single mothers to live there with their babies so they can keep them, instead of abandoning them to an orphanage. It is a wonderful program, and NOROC helps by employing a Granny to work with the children for 4 hours each weekday.  Mothers and children in crisis situations can also stay there for a certain amount of time. 

Carol and two children at the Maternal Center share some books. Granny Lucretia (not pictured) is using the new materials in the "Granny Pack" a few weeks ago to help these 5 year olds learn colors, shapes, and numbers while their mothers are at work.

I think I've got it!

Sharing the burden...

This week at the Thursday evening Bible Study we experienced how two people can help each other in both good times and bad times.  Scripture passages from Galatians and Matthew helped us understand God's vision for us to share each others burdens.  We had to figure out how to pass a pile of "stuff" down the line, with the help of one other person.  Discussion about loving and helping our friends and neighbors followed, as well as food and fellowship. 

Working together makes us stronger than we can be ourselves, and smarter!

Sharing walnuts with our friends on the NOROC Board is a joyous time: from left to right are Carol, Rich, Lili, Mioara, and Niculita. We made sure to share with the others who were there, also!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Every Monday the NOROC Board in Tulcea meets to discuss their activities during the past week.  We celebrate their successes and problem solve their struggles.  I am always impressed at how dedicated they are to helping the children.  This week was no exception.  I learn something new each time we meet.  I have now graduated to giving my weekly report in Romanian.  Everyone is very patient with me!  This week Rich and I were able to share the fruits of the 4 walnut trees on the Casa Noua property, and the nuts just keep falling.  This reminds us that God is showering us with His blessings, and we are tasked to share those blessings with others.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The weekends are very busy for the NOROC staff during the school year.  Most activities are held on the weekend because the kids are in school during the week.  This weekend is no exception.  There are back to back activities at the LCLC (Lousie Covington Learning Center) on Saturdays and Sundays, in both the morning and afternoon.  And, there are small groups that meet in other locations at the same time.  There are many activity choices for the children, especially the older ones.   Below are two of the activities we attended today.

The children from Cocorii 1 and Cocorii 2 listen intently as Adina reads the introductory story about Aflatoun, a make-believe character with a special story to tell.

Aflatoun begins today!

Aflatoun International offers social & financial education to children and young people worldwide empowering them to contribute to a more equitable future. The children come every Saturday for 2 hours to learn about ways they can help make the world and their lives better. Here is the address for the website if you are interested in learning more!  www.aflatoun.org

 

Today the children made thier own Aflatoun characters by tracing around their hand, adding features, and coloring Aflatoun yellow. They also sang the Aflatoun song and learned that children all over the world participate in these activities.

Friday, October 5, 2018

We can hardly believe that we have already been in Tulcea for 5 weeks. Time flies when you are in Romania!  Fall has come to Tulcea and the leaves on the trees are starting to change colors. This was a week for solving problems, re-thinking strategies, and adapting to changing circumstances.  As always, it was a week for learning new things. 

    First,  we learned all about "must".  No, this is not the word that means you need to do something.  It is the word that means "new wine".   Must (spelled the same as in English but pronounced "moost" in Romanian) is the first product that comes from pressing grapes.  It contains the skin and seeds of the grapes and is very sweet and tasty, somewhat like the very best grape juice you have ever tasted. We were cautioned not to keep the lid screwed tightly on the bottle but to keep the lid very loose to let the must breathe.  Otherwise, it would explode as it ferments and create a big mess.  (The story from the New Testament about putting new wine into old wine skins came to mind.)  We are told the previous 2 NOROC Mission Co-Workers did not heed that warning and although they did live to tell the story, they also had to clean up a big, sticky mess. We decided to break that tradition and kept the lid totally off of the bottle. 😀

     Next, we learned all about the quince.  It is a fall fruit which is not normally eaten raw, but one that makes good jam and compote. You can see from the photos that they look a bit like a cross between and apple and a pear. They should be ripe in about 2 weeks, when they are yellow and have lost their fuzz.  We are excited to try them.

     Then, we learned that Romanian walnut trees produce a great product...walnuts, or "nuci".  They are sweet and tender.  Rich has appointed himself the official walnut "picker-upper" here at Casa Noua and we have a large bowl of nuts as a result.  I am eating them as fast as I can.

     Last, we learned that if you pile too much heavy dirt on top of an old sewer pipe it collapses.  Unfortunately, part of the pipe from the house to the septic system collapsed and had to be replaced.  Most unfortunately, the pipe was buried under the concrete pad that is the foundation for the outdoor playground equipment.  The plumbers had to jack hammer through the concrete and then dig through solid packed clay to get to the collapsed pipe and install a new one. Tnis is where adaptation came into play: we, of course, adapted to the situation quickly.  It reminded me a little of past camping experiences when our children were young, because for a few days we washed our dishes in a basin and brushed our teeth in a cup of water.  This also reminded us that there are many places worldwide where this is the norm. Thanks to the hard work of the plumbers, the system is now working very well.

     We prepared materials for some of the small centers as well as the Bible Study, and did some brainstorming and planning for the next 2 weeks.  We are trying to find opportunties to best use our skills. 

     We hope you enjoy the photos!

    

    

From green, to yellow, to...?

Do you think they are ripe?

Now all we need is a nutcracker!

In the beginning...

I think we can stop digging!

And finally, they rested.

Our neighbor's quince trees are so heavy with fruit they hang down to touch the ground.

We awake most mornings to the sounds of roosters crowing and dogs barking, and we are often greeted by a hen from the neighbor's side of the fence who has come to scratch in our yard for breakfast or lunch.

Cool nights and pleasant days are the order of the day.

Rules help us learn to care for each other!

A poster of the expectations and responsibities of each participant is displayed in every NOROC meeting space. This helps the groups function more smoothly and also helps the children and youth learn about working together as a community. 

A lazy Sunday afternoon...

Fall is an especially pleasant time of year in Romania.  On this day we had some time to explore a little of the countryside.

The air is cool and this branch of the Danube River (one of the 3 main branches) is calm as fall weather comes to southern Romania. There would have been more photos if Carol hadn't accidentally deleted them from the camera!

One of the many villages located in the Danube Delta, Mahmudia is a touristy resort town with a huge, modern hotel combined with a traditional Delta fishing village. Thatched roofs are common, as seen in this photo.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Anca Dinca, one of our NOROC staff here in Tulcea, is supervising the distribution of "Granny Packs" to the smaller centers of 8-12 children. These materials include books, games, educational materials, and consumable supplies for the Grannies to use as they work with the children at the centers.  After a month or two the materials will be rotated to a different center, so each center will get a chance to experience a larger variety of materials.  Anca invited us to accompany her to the centers today as she delivered the packs.  It was a busy day!  We visited 7 centers and met the Grannies and children.  We will visit one more center soon, making 8 in all.  Everyone was excited to receive the new materials.  We felt a little bit like Santa Claus! 

There are smiles all around when new materials arrive!

Anca demonstrates to Granny Lucretia at the Maternal Center how to use one of the new soft books for the very young.

Granny Olguta at Cocorii 3 works with girls ages 9-18. These girls are enjoying the new books in the granny pack.

Doamna Constanta, one of the teachers employed by NOROC, was on duty at Cocorii 2 where she explained to us how she helps the students with their homework.

What could be in there for me?

Fall Festival in the Piata Civica

Today we enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Tulcea's Fall Harvest Festival in the Civic Plaza. There were food vendors cooking traditional Romanian foods and farmers from the surrounding country side selling beautifully arranged fruits and vegetables.  It is grape season, and that means it is wine season, too. 

Of course, it wouldn't be a festival without some music and dancing. Here, the cycle of the 4 seasons are portrayed by these lovely young girls.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

We accompanied Anca Dinca, one of our NOROC staff members to Cocorii 1 (one of the smaller centers) to visit and do an activity today.  The small centers have 8-10 children and an family like feel to them. The kids there wanted to make some felt figures like the big kids had made.  Rich pre-cut the figures and added faces; Carol traced dresses, pants, and shirts in a variety of colors for the kids to cut out. They were so excited about the finished projects they told us we can come back and bring anything we want with us!

What should I choose...red or blue or yellow?

Carol helped one of the children cut out the clothes for his person.  He is in kindergarten at school, so she felt right at home.  Rich, on the other hand, was exhausted.  He said this is why he wasn't a kindergarten teacher.  

Look what we made!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Every Monday the NOROC Board in Tulcea meets to share their activities from the past week.  This allows them to compare notes and collaborate to meet the needs of the children in the best possible way.  They take their responsibilities very seriously so it is a joy to see them at work.  No photo this week!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Today we visited the LCLC (Louise Covington Learning Center) to participate in activities with children from 2 different centers: Pescarusul and Dumbraveanca.  Miora Tivris is the coordinator of activities at the LCLC with Adina Canareica as her assistant.  They talked about the signs and colors of Fall, completed Fall color sheets, had computer time, and, if they wanted they could play with Lego or make a bracelet. There are 3 rooms at the LCLC so the children can rotate from one activity to another.

Hmm...which color shall I choose?

At the LCLC children from the smaller centers engage in a viariety of activities.  They really like to talk and sing songs as they work.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

There are 7 small groups that each meet on a bi-weekly basis around topics of interest.  These groups give the children a chance to get to know each other better and in a different way than they would in the institutions.  Each small group is like a family unit and they learn to care for one another. The groups are divided according to age level and residence.  Everyone in high school and middle school who wants to be in a small group has to opportunity to do so.  Today, Marilena Solca's small group of high school boys and girls came to Casa Noua for an activity.  After the activity and a snack, they had some time to play outside on the soccer field or other outdoor equipment.

Marilena's small group works to make flannel board figures for the flannel boards the Mission Work group made in June.

Everyone chose a figure to dress according to their own imagination.  They were very creative!

Here are the finished products! The flannel boards and figures will be used with the younger children.

Thursday night Bible Study, September 20

The second meeting of the Thursday night Bible study (September 20) had 19 students in attendance.  The group was so large we could not get them all in one photo. 😀 Rich and Petru each contributed a group building activity, we sang some songs, read scripture, and watched a presentation about many of the places Jesus did His ministry in the Holy Land.  We ended with a time for prayers of thanksgiving and the Lord's prayer.  We (Rich and Carol) will need to work on learning the Lord's prayer in Romanian!  After the lesson and activities, the group gathered around the table to enjoy pizza and continue in fellowship.  Teenagers are always hungry no matter where they are in the world!

We were all tied up in knots at Bible Study this week!

Fellowship around the table after the Thursday night Bible study.

The boys at the Thursday night Bible Study were excited to successfully solve the task of "unknotting" their group.  However, the girls untangled their knot faster!

First meeting of the Thursday night Bible study group for the new school year. 18 students attended the event to learn about the programs NOROC will be offering this year.

First day of school for children from Cocorii 1. The excitement of the first day is universal!

Friday evening there was the opening of a special art exhibition at the Art Museum in Tulcea. The exhibition includes various examples of multi-ethnic art from Romania. Above is a choral group from Odessa, Ukraine, who also provided some wonderful musical entertainment.

Choral group from Odessa, Ukraine