I make bright colors dull yet simultaneously vibrant, who am I? I produce a crisp aroma that many senses are slaves to, who am I? I create nostalgic sounds that every ear falls victim to, who am I? I stir up giddiness and joy among multitudes, who am I?

OCTOBER! Between the sound of crunching of fall leaves echoing in my ears, the glorious scents of fall, and the uncapturable beauty all around, October has always been one of my favorite months. In Missouri, fall is a bragging point. The colors are perfect and the air makes hearts swell. I anticipated homesickness to set in when fall arrived, but to my surprise the fall here resembles Midwestern falls. I expected Romania to skip right past fall due to all the comments that pointed to a harsh and long winter, but after a week of temporary winter, fall came in full force. I have been relishing these fall days with my whole being, soaking in all the nostalgia and sweetness. Unfortunately, now I find myself at the end of October and I believe the fall days are passing and Romania’s winter is creeping in.

Where did October go? Ever since I have gotten into the routine of my long term mission in Romania the months pass so quickly! So, I believe I owe you all an update…

I stepped back onto Romanian soil on September 8th with my whole mission still ahead of me. Now I have six weeks of the long term mission under my belt. I have truly settled in and it is amazing to see how the familiarity of this temporary home has caused me to feel as though I am just living an ordinary life. As routines fill up back home, they have also developed here. Nothing about my life here is the same as it is back home, yet I am so comfortable that I forget how different my daily schedule is. Firstly, here I have little sisters, it occurred to me that I have never spent over two weeks with people younger than me living in close quarters. I have willingly accepted the role of an older sister and I quite like it too. A part of my schedule is taking my youngest “sister” to and from school. It is about a twenty minute walk. Yes, there is often frustration, silent treatments, and let us not forget about the infamous phrase “lasa ma in pace!” (“leave me in peace!”). But I truly treasure those walks, both with the six year old and my walks alone. There is a smile on my face more than frustration on my mind. Smiles are brought by the morning skies ornamented with various church steeples, seeing the same old man with a tiny human clothed in pink clinging onto his hand, and the little six year old skipping with excitement at the fact that her furry friend rubbed against her leg on the walk home.

   
I took this on the way home from school one afternoon.

I also take on the role of a maid. While the little one is at school I aid the Doamnas (Ladies, the ones who help out at the Foundation) with anything and everything. This ranges from cracking walnuts for hours to sweeping and mopping the garage floor. They bring smiles to my face with their playful frustration at my lack of understanding and giving me unending taste tests of the food they prepare.

The afternoon sneaks up and I travel the long journey across the courtyard to the daily care center. I am always greeted with a hug and “hello” uttered with an adorably thick accent. I make my rounds in the classrooms asking children if they need help with English homework, or try to find the children who are done with homework so that I can play with them. I love this time. The second I pass through the door to the center an unshakeable smile sticks to my face. These children fill me to the brim and I cannot express how I love each of them so uniquely. Their hearts are so big even though their problems at home are too. I am constantly struck by their hearts and inexhaustible joy. I have always known children hold a special place in my heart, but these children have managed to have the tightest grip.

This is Anca (12) and I during our girls date a few weeks ago.

After this, I slip upstairs to teach various classes. I give a catechesis lesson on Mondays with just the daily care children. A new item added to the schedule is English Club for teens immediately after Catechesis. On Tuesdays I help with a girls club with just the girls from the daily care center. On Wednesdays we welcome children from everywhere to join us for English Club. The children always bring a smile to my face during these lessons by their chaotic yet lovable energy and attentiveness to what is being said.

The schedule is like this for a week and then I switch shifts with the other two missionaries the following week. The other shift includes helping at the Patisserie run by Sr. Rosalba. I go to the bottom of the daily care center, also known as the laboratory, which is where the goodies of the patisserie are made. I thoroughly enjoy helping in the laboratory. It is always warm and the smell is glorious. A smile is always “caked” on my face while I help out down there due to the ladies who always kindly greet me in the mornings and have endless patience with me as I navigate my way through the new and exciting experience.

Again, nothing about my schedule is the same. A few weeks ago American students from Franciscan University came to volunteer during their study abroad semester. It was such a wonderful week. I made new friends and their excitement and awe of Romania and the

This is one of the many classes we visited and talked to with the American students.

foundation allowed me to see it again through fresh eyes and be truly grateful of what I get to be apart of. While they were here we visited high schools in the morning, which is something I would never want to do. I have no problem speaking to a group of people, but when it is a whole crowd of teenagers my age, I am not too fond of the idea. But I did it and loved it! I got to share my own testimonies, ones I didn’t even know I had, and I got to do it alongside some of the most wonderful people. In the afternoon we led a day camp with special activities in the center. Since the three CMC missionaries were familiar with the way the children react to things and know how things work around here, we got to be the leaders and as Claudia put it “honorary Romanians”.

This was taken on the way to the highest point in the region.

This October has been one for the books. God has revealed Himself in everything. He revealed Himself in nature during a long hike we took a couple of Sundays ago where we walked to the highest place in the region. We walked through the forest where the sun shone through the trees and leaves gracefully fell to the ground making the whole atmosphere enchanting. We walked through a valley that made me feel so small, yet so blessed by the open beauty around me. We walked up a mountain where we could look out over the region and see little villages scattered and framed with valleys and distant mountains. God has revealed Himself in the countless times I have laughed until my stomach was begging for relief. He has revealed Himself in the numerous moments when my mouth has become sore from smiling too big for too long. God revealed Himself in the moments with the twelve year old when we goofed off while doing dishes or when we went on a girls date one afternoon in the old town square or when we spent multiple “ten more minutes!” making up a dance. Even though I forget this is an extraordinary experience due to the familiarity and routine, I am always aware that I am so grateful that I get to be a part of something so wonderful.

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