November 15, 2016

If we were having coffee...

Photo by me. Coffee by Adela.
I haven't been as much of an avid blog follower since moving to Romania, but I still read a few of my favorites from time to time. I came across this blog post idea over at My Life as a Teacup and thought it'd be kind of perfect for my blog...and my current situation. I'd love to be able to have coffee with so many of you, my beloved readers, but distance kind of prevents that. So here's an attempt at a long-distance coffee date with all of you! Grab your favorite coffee mug and let's chat...

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you that I haven't been feeling well since Thursday. It started with a sore throat, but it has since turned into a sinus issue. I accidentally took a four hour nap the other day, which apparently my body needed. I barely slept the other night because I couldn't breathe. And I've been looking pretty dang cool walking around my apartment with tissues stuffed up my nose. Yes, it was necessary to share that with you. I finally left the house today (Tuesday) after not going anywhere since Friday. And I was able to walk out in the SNOW! I woke up to snow on Sunday and literally gasped with joy. It was a very Lorelai Gilmore moment, if I do say so myself!

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you how absolutely, insanely, immensely excited I am for the return of Gilmore Girls on November 25th. TEN DAYS, PEOPLE, TEN DAYS. I will cry. I will laugh. I will hide in my house for the weekend and watch it over and over again. It will be a momentous occasion. I am only sad that I won't be able to snack on pop tarts, mini powdered donuts or Sookie's famous dessert sushi while watching.

@jessaconnolly, "Colossians 3: it starts with me. I have the keys to compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, UNITY. And so do you."
If we were having coffee...I'm sure the topic of the election would come up. I would sigh, get overwhelmed, and not want to talk about it, but there's actually something I would end up saying about it. I would share the encouraging words that I've seen floating around the Internet since election day. Words like, "Peace is not something you wish for; it's something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away." from John Lennon. Words like, "I aspire to be a giver. A giver of love, a giver of good vibes and a giver of strength." Words like, "I believe we can all come together because if you take away the labels, you realize we're far more alike than we are different." from Ellen DeGeneres. And finally, words like, "Ah, kindness. What a simple way to tell another struggling soul that there is love to be found in this world." That's what it's all about. Kindness and love. 

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you how at home I still feel in Romania. I'd tell you that it's still such a surreal feeling to be here, and to know that this is where I'm truly meant to be. I continue to have these moments when another piece of the puzzle comes together...where something from my past connects with something in my present and reaffirms that this is where I'm supposed to be. I spent many, many years being so unsure about various things, specifically about my "place" in the world, and now, I feel soooo in my "place". And I am so grateful for this place.  

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you that I haven't been taking as many photos lately, and that needs to change. I'd tell you this in an effort to motivate me to take more photos. I'm constantly thinking "oh, that'd be a good photo", but then I don't take the photo. Sometimes it's due to the fact that I don't want to look like a tourist or draw attention to myself, but other times it's just because I don't "have time"...which really means I should stop and take the photo. Note to self...make time and take the photo. Anyways, feel free to keep me accountable with this one.

Romanian homework and The Voice
If we were having coffee...I'd tell you that I'm really trying to improve my Romanian language skills. I've been trying to watch more videos, listen to music, text friends in Romanian, etc. I practice conversations in my head and I do pretty well...but there's a disconnect. When I try to actually say things in Romanian, even after practicing in my head, I get blocked. I can't get the message to go from my brain to my mouth. And it's so frustrating. I will say that I'm pretty darn good at understanding, writing and even translating from Romanian to English, but speaking is just such a struggle for me. I'm pretty comfortable speaking in Kids' Club because that's been one of the most consistent areas as far as vocab and interactions...and the kids are so kind and cute when they correct me. Usually, they giggle about how I said something wrong and then gently correct me. It's quite sweet. I'll just keep plugging away in Romanian class...and keep trying very hard to have the courage to speak in Romanian at every opportunity (and obviously, there are lots of opportunities).

Well, time for bed over here in Romania. Hope you enjoyed our coffee date and my random rambling. I know I did. Until next time...

November 4, 2016

Currently: Romanian Edition Part VI

Hello all! I'm writing this to you after an unusually low-key Friday. These Currently posts are my favorite because I like to think that they help give you a sneak peek into my "normal", every day life. Enjoy!

Reading: Sadly, I have not been reading as much as I would like to be these days. However, the book that I'm slowly working my way through is Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. I'm really enjoying the way that Lysa takes her personal stories (specifically, her personal rejections) and turns them into something her readers can learn from. It's quite lovely, and a good example of how powerful our personal stories can be.

I'm also trying to read more in Romanian, which is how I justified buying myself a magazine the other day. It's kind of fun because 1. I love magazines and 2. I'm learning all kinds of new vocabulary that I'll probably rarely use. Either way, it's a fun way to change things up in Romanian!

Eating: Sunflower seeds!!! Even before coming to Romania, I LOVED sunflower seeds. The David seeds are my favorite, in case you were wondering. I tend to eat sunflower seeds until my mouth is raw from all of the salt. THAT'S how much I love sunflower seeds. Upon arriving in Romania, I quickly learned that they also love sunflower seeds. Romania is one of the world's largest sunflower seed exporters, and sunflower seed oil is used a lot in cooking here. Two fun facts for you. Anyways, after a few failed attempts at finding good seeds, a friend told me which brand to buy (Nutline) and I've never looked back! I thought about posting a photo of the bowl of shells sitting next to me, but I figured that's taking things a bit too far. You're welcome.

Thinking about: I've been thinking a lot about the fact that in March, I will have been living in Romania for 2 years, which completely blows my mind. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but I can't help it. When I first came to Romania, I had no idea how long #CBtakesRomania would last. I always felt that it was not a short term thing, but obviously I didn't know how it would all work out. I also didn't know how it could possibly be a long-term thing, mostly related to the financial side of things. But here I am, marveling at the fact that God has provided for me for 598 days...and counting. Now, let me be real for a second too though. I have difficult days and weeks, and sometimes I wonder how He can possibly continue to provide for me (again, financially), but I have to trust that since I continue to feel called, He will continue to provide. 

Listening: I almost said nothing because I was thinking specifically about music. I've been in a bit of a music funk lately, as I've gotten a bit bored with I'm open to any and all suggestions. 

However, I have to sneak Gilmore Girls into this post somehow so here it is. I tend to have GG playing in the background when I'm at home working on various tasks on my computer. Whether I'm sending emails to social work students who are coming in January through the Romanian Studies Program or looking up ideas for Kids' Club or blogging, GG is always on in the background. Half of the time, I catch myself with the Netflix tab open...sitting and staring at the screen, quoting every word. Even though I've seen each episode over and over (and over) again, I can't help but get sucked into the lives of "those adorable Gilmore girls"!

Watching: I thought I was going to have to give the same answer that I always give, but I am actually (and currently) watching the 2016 Chicago Cubs World Series Parade live feed in Chicago!!!! I am so thankful for the internet during weeks like this one. The day after Game 7, I woke up to post after post after post on Facebook, which I usually HATE! I constantly say that I wish there was a way to hide all sports related posts, BUT on that particular morning, I could not have enjoyed those posts more. 

I love how this win means so much for every Cubs fan. Growing up, I watched games with my dad and/or listened to him hoot and holler at the TV while playing in another room. As I got older, we started going to games at Wrigley each summer. Sappy moment alert...I'm not the biggest sports fan, but I love how sports can bring people together. Whenever I'm at a game, or watching one on TV, I always think about the fact that some of the people would probably not get along under normal circumstances. But there we are, together, putting aside our differences, gathering for one cause, and Hi-5ing each other along the way. It's so lovely.

Loving: Tuesdays and Wednesdays. These are the two days of my week that I still reserve for Kids' Club. I don't lead as many activities as I did in the past, but I'm still very much apart of the program. And while I love the program and being with the staff and ALL of the kids, there is one extra special part of my Tuesdays and Wednesdays. After the lesson/activity of the day, I spend some time with one of the boys in the program. He is 11 years old, and just the sweetest thing ever. For whatever reason, God placed him on my heart very early on and for that, I am so thankful. We do homework together, he teases me when I mispronounce Romanian words, we play games, I show him pictures of my family and friends, we talk about school, etc. I could go on and on about how special this boy is and the fun that we have, but I think you get the point. 

About to get real honest again for a moment, which seems to be my new thing lately. Also, about to cry, which is not a new thing :) Sometimes, I have moments when I feel like I'm not doing enough here in Romania. I feel like you all continue to support and encourage me, and I'm not doing as much as I should be. It's very easy for me to get caught in the comparison trap sometimes. I hear about things that other volunteers or missionary-types are doing, both here in Romania and around the world, and I feel like a failure. 

BUT, then an amazing friend texts me (in a conversation about the 11 year old boy I just mentioned) and says, "You're making such a positive impact on his life...all of the little things add up", which brings me back to reality. She's right! All of the little things do add up, which is something that I've always been a firm believer in, but sometimes forget. The "big things" aren't bad, but they're just not really my style. As an introvert, I've always been more of a behind the scenes kind of person, and I have to remind myself that those people are needed just as much as the front, center stage type of people. 

So while I may not have these riveting, emotion invoking stories to tell you about what I'm doing in Romania, I can tell you about the little things that I am doing and how I've seen positive change because of those little things. Whether it's teaching a lesson on empathy that teenagers continue to talk about almost a year later PLUS seeing a few of them truly implementing empathy in their every day lives...or watching that 11 year old boy develop friendships, which were very rare last year...or seeing a coworker feel and act more empowered after an encouraging conversation...I know that I am making a difference. Even more than that, in those moments, I am humbled by the fact that I'm not really doing anything, but rather, God is doing these things through me. Maybe that was just a little pep talk that I needed to give myself after a challenging week, but I hope you can appreciate it as well. 

All of that to say...Do the little things. They add up.

I first saw the "Currently" feature on Sometimes Sweet, which is one my absolute favorite blogs. Just giving credit where credit is due.