Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our first Macedonian b.d. party




We went to our first Macedonian birthday party last night. It was held at "Zvezda" or "Star", which is a party room that can be rented out. The party was for Anastasia, a great friend of Sawyer's from Gradinka. That is Anastasia with Sawyer in the bottom picture. Anastasia had a great birthday party! This was the first children's party where Eric has been offered whiskey or vodka, which he politely declined. :)



Jan. 31, 2009

Today as Emily and I were prayer walking, I had a good heart search and a time of great conviction. Emily was enthusiastic about praying for the Roma community in Dame Gruev this morning; and I honestly just wanted to stay in our warm car and only “prayer ride” the area. As we got out of the car, I felt the cold outside as I gazed at the cloudy, overcast sky.

We turned to walk down an alley, and immediately we were met by a group of about five smiling faced children wearing unmatched clothing with holes. They were so happy to see us! Were we a ray of hope for their day? Were they hoping that we had brought gifts? Maybe. They started running ahead of us screaming, “Some Germans are here! Look, look, here comes some Germans!” (They thought we were German because of my light- colored hair.) I recognized some of the faces of these children from earlier visits to the area. I think this time was the saddest one for me. It being winter, several of the children had colds and their upper lips were covered with dry and fresh mucus, their bodies very dirty all over.

We walked for quite a while. Then, I just thought we were going to turn around and walk back, Emily said, “No let’s go on down this path and see if it leads back to the street.” As I looked down this extremely muddy path, I really didn’t want to go walking on it! I didn’t want to go down this muddy path and get my pink and gray Nike shoes dirty. I really didn’t want to have to clean them when I got home. What an inconvenience to my day!

Then, we came to another even muddier part of the path. I for sure was NOT walking through that mud pile! It smelled like bodily waste mixed in the mud. I keep thinking—“how do people live here? How do people live here? Oh this is so horrible-- how do people live here? ” I wanted to just wait there on Emily and not go any further. Then the Lord pierced my heart once again for the Roma people, yes for their poverty, but also for their lostness without the Savior. These people truly have no hope AT ALL according to worldly standards. I want them to know THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE of Jesus Christ! Only then will they have true hope in this world. I decided to walk that muddy path.

My heart broke for my sinful selfishness. There I was concerned with getting my Nike’s dirty, while the child beside me was wearing no socks and his heels were out of the backs of his shoes. God created these people and I’m no better than they are. I was shown once again that many of my concerns in life are very superficial. Thank you Lord for not giving up on me and thank you Lord that you won’t give up on the Roma.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Vodici - January 19th

Today is a holiday in America and Macedonia, but it's two different occasions. Martin Luther King is observed today in the U.S.A. Today in Macedonia is Vodici, the Orthodox holiday remembering the day when Jesus was baptized. The Macedonian word for water is "voda" so the name of the holiday has "water" in it since Jesus was baptized in the water.


I was so happy to be able to witness a Macedonian custom today at the Vardar River. A contest was being held only about a 10 minute walk away from my home. Pepi, Sawyer, and I walked to this contest. Someone on the top of the bridge threw down a cross and the first person to swim to get the cross is the winner. There was a lady that entered the contest also this year which is not usual. Once the contest started it went really fast because everyone was so cold!! Everything happened so fast that I couldn't see the winner. The contestants were eager to get out of the water as soon as the contest ended! (I sure would be too!!) Pepi says that the winner will receive a big prize like a television or some other electronic.

Yes it is very cold here but several brave Macedonians swam in the Vardar River today. They were all trying to get the cross that was dropped down from the bridge. It is a yearly Orthodox custom for Vodici.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Our visit to Gradsko

Yesterday we went to Gradsko, Macedonia. We were happy to visit with our friends Fikret, Tefek, Emilija, Dragana, and Mucko. In the top picture, Emilija is holding a bag of candies, including a candy cane with the candy cane story. Each child got one of these. Thank you Mill Shoal for sending these candy canes! I was able to give them to these children in Gradkso and to the children caroling on Christmas Eve morning at my house.
You can see that Sawyer made himself very comfortable in this class. He thought he was a big kid. Most of the children are between the ages of 8-10. They are very smart and well behaved children. They are good at memorizing which was a blessing to see!


Old New Years

Not too excited about his spinach pie...

Old New Years is celebrated here in Macedonia in the middle of January. Evka and Blaze (our landlords) made us a spinach and leeks pie and some grafche beans (like what we ate during the Macedonian Christmas). Eric was asked to break the bread because he is the head of our home. The center of the pie was all for Sawyer because he is the "center of our family", according to Evka. :)
It was a delicious lunch!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thessaloniki

Here are just a few pictures from our Christmas vacation to Thessaloniki, Greece.

Picture 1: Here we are attempting to play Scrabble on Christmas Day. We went to Starbucks to drink coffee (in a wonderful smoke-free atmosphere) and to play Scrabble. It was extremely difficult trying to play Scrabble with the Greek alphabet! Wes, mom, and Eric were getting very creative with their spelling!

Picture 2: Here we are at Paul's Gate with mom & Wes. What an honor to walk where Paul walked!!

Picture 3: I was grossed out when what I thought to be strawberry congealed salad ended up being fish sauce! :(




Sunday, January 11, 2009

Maya

Here are some pictures of us with our dear friend Maya, and her boyfriend, Alek. Maya was our language teacher and she has become a good friend to us.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

More snow today





The snow started falling again today. Here are some pictures (from my new camera!) of Sawyer playing in the snow in our yard. Notice his little steam roller. He also likes to play with his little cars and pretend they are crashing in the snow.

The other picture shows two Roma guys collecting plastic items to be recycled for money. I was impressed by the many people I saw outside today, hard at work in the cold snow.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hristos Se Rodi! Christ is Born!

Today is Christmas here in Macedonia. The Orthodox Christian calendar has Christmas on Jan. 7th. Today there was a nice service at church. There was beautiful music as we worshipped together "Hristos se rodi! (Christ is born!)" I enjoyed singing traditional Christmas songs in the Macedonian language (at least trying to). :) Many times during the service the congregation would say out loud in unison, "Hristos se rodi!".

Yesterday for Christmas Eve (Jan. 6th) we were invited to our landlords home for a traditional Christmas meal. This was really an honor for us. Our family was given a small baked loaf of bread. Eric, being the head of our home, broke the bread into small pieces and handed Sawyer and I our pieces. There was a coin in the bread and whoever got that piece, according to tradition, will have a lucky year. Well, Sawyer was the lucky recipient of the coin in our family and Blaze, our landlord, got the coin in the loaf for his family. His wife, Evka, was very happy for him and gave him a big kiss.
Next, we ate some cabbage pie. Evka used a pastry dough to form rings on the outside of the pie. Each ring represented the males present at the dinner. So there was a ring for Blaze, Eric, and Sawyer. In the middle of each ring was cabbage, except for the center, which was full of minced meat. We also had cabbage rolls. Do you see a pattern of cabbage here?? Yes cabbage is eaten in abundance here, and I'm trying to adjust to that (Eric has even been offered cabbage juice here in Macedonia. He drank 4 glasses! He did like it, but kept having his glass filled with a little protest). The cabbage rolls are filled with cooked rice and leeks. We also had grafche (white beans with peppers) and a delicious spread of desserts, of which Sawyer helped himself.

There is also another interesting tradition here for Christmas Eve. Children go around early on Christmas Eve morning and sing carols at homes for houses. It was fun for me to hear three sweet Roma children sing outside my home. I fixed baggies of candy to hand out to the children, which included chocolates and a candycane with the story of the candycane, which Pepi had graciously translated into Macedonian for me.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Differences between Greece and Georgia

Mom and Wes went down to Greece with us for Christmas. Greece is only about 3 hours from Skopje, Macedonia. With our train ride it took about 6 hours because there were multiple stops. Greece was an amazing trip that we will never forget! We visited Thessaloniki, Kavala (ancient port of Neapolis from Acts 20), and Philippi, which are all Biblical cities where Paul walked. It's interesting to see Biblical sites so close to modern architecture. I want to share some of the things I observed while in Greece. Just for fun I am going to compare Greece with my home state of Georgia, U.S.A. These are just a few of my initial observations.

Here are ways Greece and Georgia are similar:
They both are very modern with advanced public transportation.
They both have port cities.
Greece has restaurants like T.G.I. Fridays, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and most importantly...Starbucks Coffee!
Food is very delicious in both places!

Here are ways Greece and Georgia are different:
In Greece toilet paper is not allowed to be flushed. It must be put in the trashcan.
Greece has amazing sites from Biblical times.
Greece has better desserts (except for my Nana Mattox's desserts).
A lot more people smoke cigarettes in Greece .
In order to get electricity in your hotel room you must put your room key card into a slot inside your room.
Women enjoy pinching cheeks of children more so than in Georgia.
Food is delicious in both places, but different. I'll have to warn you that if you see a delicious looking strawberry congealed salad, beware...it may actually be fish sauce! Don't take a big bite of it like I did! Oh and shrimp will come with the heads on.

Everything's White

Well, the snow has stopped falling. I want to post pictures of the snow but my camera is lost (or stolen):( I've enjoyed the snow but a part of me is relieved that it stopped snowing because I (being a Georgia girl) don't really know what to do with a lot of snow. Actually it's pretty scary for me since I was in the wreck during the snowstorm of 2005 in Wake Forest, NC. Now when it snows I just like to stay home where it's warm. Being able to stay warm reminds me that there are many people here in Macedonia that are not warm and comfortable. I'm very blessed and I don't want to take that for granted.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lots of snow!

Sawyer, mom, and I all got out and played in the snow this morning. It's SO beautiful! Now mom and Wes are at the airport waiting on their flight to leave. It's also suppose to snow again tomorrow...that will make three days in a row!