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We have lived in Romania for 16 years now. We have 6 kids.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Drew's program

Drew saying his poem at home


This is Drew at the program saying his poem...very blurry.

Drew's program

First I will post pictures and then I will post a video. Here in Romanian nothing is started on time. I mean at the first parents meeting for Drew's class we were told "we start promptly at 8 every morning." So, like a good mom of course we show up at exactly 8 am and there are no kids and no teacher...so we figured out that breakfast is served around 8:45 and as long as we are there by then we are good. Of course having that in mind we figured that the Christmas program that started at 5 would start at 5 and we could just show up a few minutes early and would probably be the first people there...not so...Drew is whisked off into a room and we are told to hurry and we pass through the curtain and whoa...the room is full to the max and we have to squeeze through everyone to the back of the room :(. There was even a camera crew from the local news there. So, I didn't get a chance to wish him luck and tell him to remember to be slow and loud etc.

We did not get a video of him saying his poem at the program since we were in the back, it didn't turn out but I took one of him saying it at home and will post it. I was really suprised he said it at all with all those people. I could see as he entered the room he was looking for us so I tried to peer out over the crowd so he could see me. When he finally saw me he smiled and looked relaxed. I thought the Santa was really scary looking!
I thought it was interesting that in a country that was communist just a little less then 2 decades ago that in the public school program they freely sing about Jesus birth and say poems about his birth. In America, you probably can't even say the word Christmas at a public school now because you might offend someone. People here who aren't religious don't walk around getting offended by those who do celebrate the birth of Jesus...I mean that is why Christmas started right so how can you leave out Jesus of Christmas?

I could see Drew trying to sing the songs with the group but he doesn't know them well enough to sing by himself. Then they sang portions of songs in English which of course he knew all of them...they didn't sing a whole song though just little parts.
The big finale was a little dance to jingle bells...too funny. I wish I could have video taped all the little santas prancing around it was so cute. Then they all got to go see Santa since they performed well and get a sack filled with chocolate.

His teachers are Doamna Ramona (she is the one down next to Drew with her eyes shut) and Doamna Dora (the one standing up). I can tell Doamna Ramona really took a liking to Drew and was so excited that he learned the poem because he never talks at school and they weren't sure he would do it. At the first of the year Doamne Dora was not at all thrilled to be getting a student that spoke no Romanian but once she realized how easy he was and how he learned to follow instructions and many times follows instructions quicker then the Romanian kids she settled down and realized it wasn't so bad to have a foreign student!The videos aren't great but I will post a couple.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Santa came to town!

We went to the white elephant party at the college last night. Baron received an appropriate gift...a Santa mask! We had fun taking pictures! This first one is titled "I saw mama kissin Santa Claus."

It feels like Christmas now...it has turned cold but as far as I can see there is no snow in the forcast. My sister and her husband are coming in next Friday from S.C.

Tonight is our teen Christmas party at church. We will give out shoe boxes full of gifts sent from the states by the organization Samaritans purse. We received them from a friend who had some left over. We will also have enough to give out to the smaller kids at church. Our teen group is a young group ages 11 to 15.

Here is Zach in the Santa mask. Drew didn't want to put on the mask. He will have to put on his santa suit next Wedenseday for his program at gradinita. He is learning a poem in Romanian and is supposed to say it. I am using bribery...we'll see if it works or not!









Here is our little elf...Spencer. He looks more like a little elf then Santa.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nothing Important.

The winking elf.


We are excitedly awaiting Christmas!! Drew is learning a poem in Romanian to say at his Christmas program at school on the 19th of December at 5 pm. He has to dress up in a Santa suit too!


Zach likes to take pictures but rarely poses for a picture. He is almost 9...growing so fast.



He had a good day posing for the camera. He would get up and sit some place else and look at me and smile...I just kept snapping pictures he was so cute!



Here is my smallest elf...his new pose is one eye squinting shut! He loves to pose...but he has to be in the right mood.

Friday, November 30, 2007

An Italian dinner. Gnocchi Di Zucca

We had an Italian man come over and cook us dinner last night. I was a little worried when he described it, it sounded like it would be pumpkin balls (like meatballs). I couldn't imagine how pumpkin would be good with butter and cheese. Angelo is from Italy and is a devout Catholic. We met him through another aquaintance. He has been coming to our church and Bible studies on a regular basis for the past year now. He is searching the Scriptures. Baron is going to start a one on one Bible study with him. He has had some problems with renting out his building...the tenants haven't paid etc. So, Baron has helped him out and he wanted to "pay him back" so he came over to fix us dinner. His girlfriend also came, Marcela. She was orphaned at the age of 3 but somehow even though most orphans in her day were in instituations that were terrible, she was in a girls home and well cared for. She works with handicapped children. Anyway, he starts out by boiling the chunks of pumpkin like you do to make mashed potatoes. Then, when they are soft he mixes them with flour so they are puree. In another pan in the oven he has the herb salvia and a whole cup of butter melting in the oven. Then he took the pumpkin and spooned it out into boiling water and when it is done it floats to the top and he takes it and puts it in a bowl of cold water. Then he takes it from the cold water and mixes it in with the melted butter and salvea. Then he puts grated mozarella and cascaval on top and bakes it just until the cheese melts. He said his mom always made this during the holidays. He had not made it in a long time but says it is a traditional northern Italy meal. I was surprised at how tasty it was. It was called Gnocchi Di Zucca (nioke di zuka).



The finished product.





This is Angelo and Marcela.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Vienna Pictures

Nate ready to go home!



The Christmas market...a really fun place to eat and shop!



Handmade Christmas tree ornaments at the Christmas Market.





A self potrait of Baron and I on Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving

We had a great Thanksgiving in Vienna! We arrived Wedensday evening and had dinner with the family that we were staying with, the Shelton's and their 4 sons, Caleb almost 8, Lukas 5, Micah 3, and James 14 months. Dr. Bob and Beneth also came to dinner at their house that night. They were very down to earth and sincere and real people. I never got that impression when I was at school that they were like that. They were easy to talk to.

Then Thursday, the boys played all morning in the play room and Grace and I made rolls for Thanksgiving dinner. Grace and I were in school the same years but I didn't know her then. We got a long great though. We hope to plan a trip to the Budapest zoo next summer with all our boys. We had dinner at 3 at the Hudson's church and then fellowshipped the rest of the afternoon. We met 2 Romanian families and a Romanian unsaved lady in the course of our 2 days in Vienna. Friday we went to a super fine store called IKEA. Oh my word, I was coveting their furniture and storage solutions! WE found out there is one in Budapest so when it comes time to buying more furniture for more kids we will go to IKEA in Budapest with an empty van so we can bring stuff back. There stuff is very affordable (compared to here), they are like Targe prices. I had fun roaming through the store while the boys played at the free daycare for people who are shopping! Then we found a Toys R Us and the boys loved that! Later in the afternoon Baron and I got to go down to the Christmas Market in downtown Vienna which was great fun. We had a delicious chocolate filled donut and a hotdog. We did a lot of walking so hopefully we walked off most the calories! The lights were so pretty and we bought a snow globe. Snow globes were first made in Vienna. I have always wanted a snow globe. I remember one year when my dad came home with a big snow globe from the Disney Store and I always loved it when he pulled it out every Christmas!
Our trip was home was less then desirable! Spencer woke up at 6 am Saturday throwing up. Fortunately before it was time to leave he got all the food contents out of his stomach so when he had to throw up on the drip home it was pretty much dry heaves. Then when we stopped for gas and lunch in Hungary he was throwing up again and in all the hustle and bustle we locked the keys in the van. We had to pay $200 to get them out...there is no arguing or shopping around when you are in another country and don't know the language...there was nothing we could do but pay the money so we could get back on the road!
We were happy to get home and happy that we went. We really had a great time visiting with some other Americans.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thankful

I am thankful for so many things! Here are some of the more material things I am thankful for: I am thankful for the fresh supply of brown sugar and chocolate chips I received this morning...little things mean a lot when you are far from "home".
I am thankful that the boys got a surprise pack of pop tarts. What fun to hear them screech and hollar this morning when they found out they were going to eat a pop tart for breakfast! I am thankful for the pretty snow that fell this morning...it is so much nicer then a cold rain.
I am thankful for the fun time I have with my family. I enjoy being around my kids (most of the time).

I enjoyed seeing them watch the snow fall from their window this morning. I am thankful that we get to go to Vienna for Thanksgiving. It will be a nice little break.
Now for some of the spiritual things I am thankful for. I am thankful for how God is working in Isabela's heart. She is growing so much in her love for the Lord. I am

thankful that the Lord has put it on Catalin and Nadia's heart to adopt or become foster parents...we have been praying that some people in our church would be burdened for this ministry. I am thankful for the peace that God is giving through the adoption process. I am so thankful to know that He is in charge of the children we are to raise for Him and I don't have to worry about the laws or the children. I can just pray and leave it in His hands and expect Him to show us the way since He gave us this burden. I am thankful to have family coming for Christmas this year. I am so thankful for how much our family has been able to come visit us since we moved over here 6 years ago.
There is so much to be thankful for...the very breath that I breathe is a gift from God. His grace that He pours out on me that is so undeserved. His mercies are new every morning. The strength He gives to live a victorious life. The joy He gives.
So, this holiday season I say, "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Adoption Laws

How do I try to explain the laws? Where do I begin? Well lets start with what we learned in our class last Monday...how detrimental it is for the first few months of these babies lives to be in an institution...passing their babyhood by in a crib with little stimulation and little love and little touch...how bad this is. Ok we have established the fact that everyone realizes that this is very bad BUT...does the law protect the child from being in an institution and try and make it possible for these babies to go directly into loving homes...NO! In trying to cut down on the selling of babies they have made laws that make it impossible for adoption early in life. A mom, gives a false name and address at the hospital so that when she leaves the baby there no one can find her...to me this is evidance enough that she doesn't want the baby and you put the baby up for adoption but not here...the biological mom might change her mind and come back for her baby so leave it in the crib a while and see what happens....ok several months later no mom...baby still lying in a crib lets try and track down the mom...ok can't track down the mom by this time baby is past a year old and made adoptable but most Romanian couples waiting to adopt of course want a newborn...they have never had children and want a baby. Babies who have no parent listed on their birth certificate b/c mom took off that fast...you have to investigate and try and find mom so by the time he is declared adoptable he is older. The governement here is against teaching moms with unwanted pregnancies about adoption...why change the law in a small way and make the first signiture of a mom the one that says "my baby is up for adoption" many moms sign off on their babies in the hospital but this is not an signature for adoption this only leaves the child in the care of the department of child protection.
Pray with us...we are contemplating the need for a crisis pregnancy center. Teaching mom the option of adoption and giving them the name of the one lady in our county to contact saying they want their baby to be put up for adoption.
I don't know if all this makes sense...it is hard to put into writing the laws that so don't make sense. IN trying to cut back on child trafficking they have just done more to stop innocent children from being put in loving families. Those who want to sell their babies are still succeeding in doing so...it is very easy with the EU now to pass through borders so parents can easily take their baby to another country and sell him if they like.
The country is in denial that their is still an orphan problem...no, it is not like it was 17 years ago when communism fell as far as the horrid institutions...those are fewer in number now but there are still many orphans who are being denied the right to a loving family.
Pray for us as we will probably have to be pro active in picking out our children if we are to ever get them. This I think will be very hard.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Revelations

I am usually kind of afraid to read the book of Revelation. I just have always found it difficult and quite frankly a little scary so I usually skim through it or avoid it all together. My husband brought me a few NT survey books down because of a question I asked him last night (nothing to do with Revelation) and as I was looking at the book I thought maybe this could help me a little with the book of Revelation so I looked at it and it gave several ideas for studying the book. One of the suggestions was to look at the Songs of the Redeemed and I was amazed at all the wonderful songs of Praise that I read. Here are a few of my favorites:

5:12 "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!"

7:10-12 "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" Then everyone around the Throne of God falls on their faces and worships Him saying:
"Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen."

15:3-4 "Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgements have been manifested."

I love beautiful and grand music that worships God. I can't even begin to imagine what singing with a choir of millions upon millions in heaven will be like! Until that day I will continue singing to Him here on earth with my feeble voice but singing with a heart full of love and joy knowing that I am redeemed and have been given something I could never earn!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Friday, November 2, 2007

Fall

My little men....this is the most "fallish" looking spot in my yard :)





A cookie makes everything seem brigher!











Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Adoption Papers.

I will try to explain all this so it makes sense. We went to put our papers in yesterday...everyone kept asking us which child we want...I guess most of the time when Americans put in adoption paperwork it is because there is already a child they want. There are several in placement that we know about but we decided not to give any names because we thought we wanted to take one in who didn't have any options and were in a bad environment. Well, the social worker that we spoke with yesterday said as of right now in our county there are no adoptable children on the list...I'll explain why later. We didn't have all the papers we needed but the ones we need will be easy to get so she let us go ahead and register for the class which starts next Monday and we can just bring our paper work with us then. We will go every Monday in November from 9 until 12. It should be very intresting.
The reason that there are no "adoptable" children right now is this: although there are many many children in foster homes and in "baby hospitals" there is no one in the child protective services that is going out and doing what is necessary to declare children adoptable. The new law states that even if a mom has signed off at birth that she doesn't want to raise her child, if later on in life there is someone that wants to adopt the child, they have to once again track down the parents and bring them to court (even if they are far away) and get them to tell the judge in person that they want their child to be up for adoption. Then they also have to go to the 4th degree family members and see if anyone wants the child...uncles aunts grandparents cousins etc. It is quite a process and most people are content if a child is in a good foster home so they are not going to pursue this course of action b/c it is quite a process. This is b/c of the new law that is supposed to protect children against child trafficking but in many cases it puts a child back in an unwanted home environment. Also, alot of these kids are gypsies and a lot of gypsy kids don't go to school anyway so the government doesn't consider it abuse for a child to be left to roam the streets all day if they have food and a roof over their head they are considered well cared for. We are praying and contemplating what to do. We will take the class in November and then we do have a social worker acquaintance here in our town that says she can tell us of adoptable kids. We do know of several children through an American children's home who are "up for grabs" but we would probably still have to try and track down the parents AGAIN...even though that has already been done once. One of the little boys who is 4 actually doesn't even have parents on his birth certificate, he was given a name by the mayor where he was born. It is really messed up system that doesn't really seem to look out for the best interest of the child. Sometimes a mom leaves her baby at the hospital and the baby is put in an ambulance and driven back to the mom's home...so they are being put in an unwanted situation which could lead to abuse. The baby is returned by an ambulance driver, not a social worker or someone who looks at the environment and is trained just a guy who drives the ambulance.
We really need to pray b/c they are doing a good job of another orphan cover up...it is not nearly as bad as what it was 15 years ago under communism as far as how the orphans are treated but there are still a lot of kids who need loving homes.
We are going to "Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding and in all our ways acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths."
Pray that through the whole process we will not be anxious and not worry and will be a bright light for Christ.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Before and After



I am so thankful for my house! This is Baron and my bathroom before and after. I don't know what happened to all my before pictures but it was pre digital and so they are lost. This is the only one I have found.
The people we bought our house from were a lawyer and a teacher...yet their house was run down. This bathroom didn't even have running water in it. I am so thankful for the money that God supplied so we could get the bathrooms and kitchen done within 2 months after moving in!

The hat!

That hat...I acutally used this hat :) We were visiting a very cold part of Romania when we had just 2 boys and it was sooo cold and windy and this hat looked soo warm and so I bought it and was so glad I did! The boys located the hat this year and have had fun taking turns playing with it...everytime I see it sitting in the kitchen I first think it is our cat Sally and wonder how she got in the house and then I realize, it is just my fuzzy hat :).







Funny Nate!

I love this little game that Nate likes to play. He sits in his high chair with his cheerios and pacifier and instead of eating the cheerios he likes to stick them in his pacifier. So, they sit there squooshed between his mouth and his paci. Sometimes he eventually eats them, other times he forgets they are there and the cheerio remains there until it falls out on the floor and then is attacked by a herd of ants (do ants travel in herds...they seem to). He is so cute. I tried to get on video this morning Nate trying to get his big bottom and feet into a very small box. He tried for quite sometime before he realized it just wasn't going to happen...then he threw himself onto the floor and pitched a fit (my first fit pitcher...he takes after his aunt...my sister :) ). He was so distraught that he couldn't fit into the tiny box...I caught it on video but due to my techicnal failures...it was erased...sorry grandmas...I"ll try to do better next time.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The aging process.

I decided that it would be interesting to see the "aging process" in Baron and myself. So, here we start with our very first picture together in the summer of 92 in Colorado.




.







Next, we have 5 months before our wedding in Kansas City, MO






Then there is the wedding, May 11, 1996







Here is pre kids...I looked at this picture and realized I was eating a bit too much of my baking goods and went on a diet before I would get pregnant and gain more weight!








This was taken the evening of December 23, Zach was born at 5 am December 24th.






Waiting for son #2 to come.







The Howerton family in the year 2000 in Chicago.







On our way to the airport...moving to Romania, July 2001






Then there were 3!








I am a bit outnumbered! It's great to be queen!







11 years of marriage!








Then there were 4! God has blessed us with 4 sons...my how the years have flown...will there ever be a little Howerton girl...only God knows!

Monday, October 15, 2007

update on our ministry to orphans!

We found out that there is one big orphanage (I don't know the proper terms, they no longer call them orphanages) in our town with teens ages 14 to 18. We are guessing though that there are probably some younger than 14. Then there is also an orphanage in a smaller village about 10 minutes from us. So, today we went to Timisoara as we were told to do, to talk with the Doamna Directoara of Timis county. We went with another American couple. They have a church in Timisoara and are also interested in ministering to orphans. We did not talk to the head lady but someone helped us. We found out we have to type out a "cerere" or a request form and it has to be very specific, where we want to go, what we want to do, who will be helping, how often, etc. It has to be official and have an association stamp. Fortunately God moved Baron to form an association and we are in the process of doing that now and it should be done in 3 more weeks. We have been told there simply aren't many orphans left and there aren't many children's homes run by the state. They have called them other things besides orphanages in hopes to hide the problem. We are determined to minister to these kids though and the best way to find out about other kids is to get into the places we know about and then you find out by word of mouth about the other places. She did mention the "baby hospital" for the children under 5 which we have been interested in but until now have not found anyone willing to talk about it. So, please pray that when we put in our request that we will be granted access. We will put in our request in 3 more weeks. We are also working on our paperwork for adoption this week (I hope) and hope to get it turned in next week.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

This is what the word sweetness looks like!







Oh if only they were always this sweet! I don't think anything is sweeter then pictures of babies asleep, snuggling with their blanket and teddy bear!