Saturday, February 28, 2009

What a long, strange trip it's been!

From Eric - I'm not one to fully relate to the Grateful Dead, but the title seemed quite relevant to my day, to say the least for the summation of our time in Skopje. As I was waiting for a bus, a group of Roma passed me, with two boys, the tallest only waist high, began asking me for something (What can I say? I'm a foreigner, and I stick out). As the "conversation" ensued, I realized the oldest one was wanting a cigarette, as he pointed to another kid in his group lighting up, with an older woman holding the lighter! In their persistence, they began to grab me and shake me, pleading for me with definite wailing. After a few ne's, I eventually yelled Begai (leave)! They ran down the street to catch up with the group. I don't know if my response was the most appropriate, but then again, sometimes the soft word isn't what communicates the clearest.

After a short bus ride and another bus transfer downtown, I rode on a bus that took me to Shuto Orizani, or Shutka. As the bus passed through a very congested, open market area, the path began to clear . . . but the bus stopped. The bus driver began to yell and whistle in the direction of a local grocer, trying to get any one's attention from the business. Eventually, after much yelling from the driver and honking/screaming from a collective quarter mile of traffic, a teenage boy came up to the bus, and took money from the driver. A hand appeared from the storefront holding a pack of cigarettes, exchanging the money for the smokes, with the teenager finishing the deal with the driver. In any other place, this event might seem strange, but "strange," like "beauty," is in the eye of the beholder. It was a good laugh for me, nonetheless.

Eventually, I made my way through the bit pazar, or open market to the kovachi, or blacksmiths. They modified some horseshoes I had bought from them just this past week for the horseshoe game kit I was assembling. Interestingly, they didn't charge me for the modifications, as I had given them some business earlier. It was amazing to watch this age-old, yet very applicable practice. They agreed to let me come back and take pictures some time. I'm looking forward to it.

On the slow bus ride back, deep in retrospective thought over the past 8 months, it did occur to me, what a long strange trip it's been. Thanks, Mr. Garcia and friends, for the thought.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Still cold

We are hoping to see the last of the winter in these days! It's still so cold but we are hopeful that it will warm up soon! Despite the cold, the snow is very beautiful on all the mountains. Skopje is located in a valley so we are surrounded by big beautiful snow covered mountains. Here are few more winter pictures. The picture of Sawyer was taken on one of the public buses. He really loves to ride the bus and sit in the window seat to look out. That's the Macedonian flag in the bottom picture.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sneg vo Skopje (Snow in Skopje)

I think this year, more than ever, I'm extremely ready for spring! However, I've been trying to enjoy the snow yesterday and today. I've been feeling a little sick and tired with the beginning of my pregnancy and I've taken this opportunity to stay indoors a lot enjoying my warm heat and just enjoying the beautiful snowfall from the window view. Sawyer and I've been watching outside the window every morning to see people shovel snow and walk to school. Eric has been so great to let me rest when I feel sick. Here are some pictures-instead of Frosty the Snowman (that Sawyer and I like to sing) it's Frosty the Daddy:)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Valentine Surprise...

Sawyer is practicing to become a big brother this year! We are super excited to be expecting a baby in October! We praise the Lord for this little blessing!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Operation Christmas Child (Day 2)

Today I went to another Roma school here in Skopje. This school is similar to the one I visited yesterday. The number of children that need help is large so most children can only attend this school on a rotation, about twice a week. The Roma children are picked up and brought to this school to learn, take a bath, have their clothes washed, and eat lunch. The two days out of the week that the children come to this school is probably the only two days they get baths. Also it is the most nutritious meals they eat all week. This school tries to keep these children off the streets begging. And just like the other Roma school I visited yesterday, this school strives to prepare these children to enter public school. It is really a hope of each child to get to go to school. They even sang us a song about their dream of going to school one day.

My heart went out to all these children, but especially Mira. She's the one sitting in my lap (Picture 6) and reading (Picture 1). Mira, like many other little Roma girls, has a very short boys hair cut because her reoccurring head lice discourages her parents from letting her hair grow long.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

Today was a very exciting day as I got to participate in my very first Operation Christmas Child distribution! I loved every minute of it! We went to a Roma school here in Skopje. The staff of this school pick up children from their homes or off the streets to give them baths, treat their heads for lice, feed them, and educate them in preparation for public school. Roma children can attend here if they do not have the needed documents to attend public school. The children at this school are the same ones that can be seen around town begging for money. There are so many Roma children that need help that the children have to attend this school on a rotation because there's not enough room for all of them to come every day. The goal of this staff is to prepare the children to enter public school and to help them succeed. This year there are 12 students in public school that use to attend this Roma school.

The lesson today was teaching the difference between "right" and "left". The ages of the children are from 5-12 and they were all learning the same lesson. Even though this lesson may seem way too elementary for the older students, it really wasn't, because they are just now attending school for the first time.

I was a little disappointed that the teacher didn't allow the students to open their boxes while we were there, but I've taught children before and I know that something this exciting can throw the whole day off. She was asking them to wait until later so they could finish their school time and I completely understand. Things would have been chaos if they had been able to open the gifts right away! Plus-- better for me because I probably would have completely embarrassed myself crying tears of joy if I got to see the children open the gifts. The children were told that the gifts were from Americans that love Jesus and they each received a children's track in the Macedonian language telling them about Jesus Christ, God's Son.

Thank you to everyone that sent shoe boxes through Samaritan's Purse!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Snow Drop Flowers

This flower, called Snow Drops, has been growing in our yard the last two weeks. I really like them! Once all the snow melted they started popping up. They are one of the first bulbs to bloom in spring so hopefully it means that spring is coming!

Guest Apartment

Eric and I manage the guest apartment here. It's a very small, but very cute, little place. It's where mom and Wes stayed when they visited at Christmas. People are allowed to stay here for one night or for an extended stay.