Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Christmas and New Years in Bucurest


Christmas and New Years are now all tucked away in 2012 and we are onward with new goals and resolutions.  However with some interesting and unusual traditions here in Romania for the holidays we will "retro" a little and share a few of them.  First off the lights and festival areas were pretty spectacular; one that caught our attention at Piata Universitate was the massive buildings towering above the tented little stands that had changing holigraphs projected on them.  It was somewhat magical to look up every 5 minutes and see new "scenes" all around configured to the beautiful old European architecture.    The giant Christmas tree, shops of all things good to eat, traditional Romanian wares and even Santa in his red velvet chair tracking his list were impressive.  Live music and dancers on the multi-lighted stage made for a very festive and beautiful atmosphere. 

At home in our bloc we heard repeatedly drums beating and whistles blowing; finally from our 8th story window we spotted the group making all the noise and got a pic, disappointed that we didn't get the leader of the group which was a person with a wolf head and skin  dancing in front of the little "band".  This is a tradition to drive all evil spirits away and if you toss money to them you will have a good year ahead.  Aftr Christmas we heard what we thought was firecrackers going off several times and as we were walking to church saw the "real" firecrackers which was a group of 6 Romanians cracking long bullwhips in the streets between the blocs so as to make echoing sounds.  Didn't have my camera with us, but the next day when we heard the noise we hung out our window and down below they were in action again; this time we caught a glimpse with the camera.  Their goal was to drive all evil spirits out of 2012 so we could start 2013 anew.  
We did get through the Zone Christmas Dinner Party providing dinner, snacks and gift bags for each of the 60 missionaries; and in keeping with family tradition Sora McFadden made 50 gingerbread men to distribute to branch members and friends.  (Thank you, Kelly, for sending cutter and red hots in our awesome package).  Our branch party was Romanian traditional dinner of Saramales along with a choir presentation.  Christmas Eve morning was the best!  We took several Young Adults and our 3 big bags of 50 soft toy animals and delivered them to the children's hospital.  Good times!

We had a big New Year's Eve Party for the YSA members; starting at 6:00 p.m. we had prepared lots of food, played games, watched a movie and played ping pong.  We were so ready  for mignight to come!  Outside the earth was rumbling from all the fireworks and explosions.  There are so many dogs here; they were "on the run" scared to pieces.  Ten different staging areas hosted bands and music throughout the city.  We live close  to two of the venues.  One of them was set up like a massive castle, 39 porta-potties and the party was on!  Buses and trams ran thru the night and after our "party" the YSA's went on to party at the concert.  We chose to head home at 1:30 a.m.


Since then things have been relatively quiet!  Many stores and businesses close (we found that out the hard way) and kids are not back in school until January 19 so many leave the city.  Soooo  we left the city as well to take a short day trip to Romblast where they make the exquisite and famours glass balls.  About 45 min. out of Bucurest it was spectacular to see so many beautiful and unique colorful and designed glass objects.  Too many choices!

We are excited to anticipate the baptism of a family here in Panduri.  Rare indeed but what a nice bunch they are and we are so very happy to have had the Holy Ghost touch their hearts and enlighten their minds to the truthfulness of the gospel.  This triples the size of primary to have 2 more children.

We are beginning to wrap up many projects and assignments in anticipation of a Feb. 8th trip back to home in St. George.  It is a very unusual experience as this has been our home, service and work for almost a year and a half.  We have truly grown in so many ways and felt the hand of the Lord leading our efforts.  Truly an experience we have embraced and will long remember  as a portion of our hearts will be left here in Romania with the wonderful people we have grown to love and cherish.

Until we see you again....... cu drag

Elder and Sora McFadden

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


                                      Flagged Romania

NATIONAL DAY of ROMANIA kicked off on Dec. 1 in a big way in Bucharest celebrating their 22 year of freedom from communism dictatorship.  The  parade route was down Kiseleff Strada and right through the Arch of Triumph with massive military units in full dress marching so pricesly with dignitaries galore.
  Helicopters flying overhead along with fighter jets in formation and on ground modern tanks with flags were almost dwarfed by the gigantic arch they rolled through.  Red, yellow and blue balloons, flags and lapel ribbons were everyshere.  Even the thousands of buses, taxis and metro cars were decked out with Romanian Flags.  What a spectacle!  To top it all off, all the Christmas lights were turned on with fireworks overhead.  Celebration time has begun with all the Romanian Artisans situated in parks and around the city in museum areas selling their crafts wearing their traditional costumes.  The branch here jumped right in with a party beginning with  singing of the national anthem then food, program and dancing.  Many were dressed in traditional costume.

Public Affairs had a big leap forward when Elder McFadden and two missionaries met with Rev. Dr. Michael Tita of the Romanian Patriarchate and invited he and his wife to have dinner at the Mission Home.  He along with Pres. and Sora Hill, District Pres. Doru and his wife and ourselves had an enjoyable evening together.  McFadden Catering, Inc. prepared a 5 course  dinner and had good conversation, pleasant exchanges and ended up with a friend in the heirarchy of the Romanian Orthodox Church.  He invited us to visit him last week at the Orthodox Headquarters here in Bucharest which we did.   It was an insightful meeting ending with  photo opportunities with him and the complex.  There are about 19 million Romanian Orthodox here in the country which is about 87% of the population.  Being at the complex was a touch like being @ Temple Square in Salt Lake City with all the beautiful old buildings that are used by the head of the church.  Different spirit however as everything is so materially oriented.  There are few that even enter the churches except to be baptized and at Easter and Christmas.  However, as we ride on the bus or tram each time we pass a church, passengers cross themselves three times. 

There are as many churches sprinkled around the cities and villages as there are LDS churches in St. George.  We took a few pictures as we were out and about and came up with quite a variety;  all have one thing in common:  3 towers--one larger in the center flanked by two smaller ones on the sides.  Inside they are painted ornately with much gold work and hundred of "saints" painted extending to the top of the towers.  Have a look..........
The Gala we were invited to attend turned out to be quite an event.  We were to dress formal/business for the evening at the RTV2 Television Romania Center which was recording the Gala to be broadcast Sunday all over the country.  (We were in church and could not watch it!)  It featured those individuals with disabilities who have excelled in the performing arts along with the organizations that give support and encouragement to the disabled.  Many of the participants who were there were recipients of the wheelchairs the  LDS  church provides here in Romania.  There are over 1,000 wheelchairs donated and distributed to recipients each year.  They literally rolled out the red carpet for us to go into this new, modern and immense building where they record TV programs. Cameramen were taking our pictures as we entered and then off to mingling and a few drinks before going into the recording room.  The room had 40 ft. tall pictures of disabled persons playing tennis, wheelchair basketball and other sports, a ramp for participants and beautiful background shields.  One of the outstanding numbers on the program was a violinist whose accompanist was blind.  They had performed in Carnagie Hall NY and what a touch that young man had on the piano!  Fabulous.  Afterward there was plenty of food presented artfully as it is Romanian style.  Beautiful! 
Television Romania TVR2 Studio
Yesterday we delivered 50 soft toy animals that our YSA's have stuffed to the AIDS Hospital along with 8 quilts that have been completed.  What a humbling experience to see such a need and they were so grateful for all of it. 
The weather has turned very cold after a very nice warm day....we have named it "bi-polar" weather!
Plenty of Christmas events and plans coming up with the branch, zone party with Elders and Sisters for 60, YSA party and New Year's Eve party for YSA District from 6 cities.  All to be catered by McFadden Catering, Inc.
Sometimes we think it may be a good idea to come home in February for a little R & R.  What do you think?
Tu iubim si Craciun Fericit,
Sora and Elder McFadden


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What's Up in Romania


                                                             Edith and Mummy



                                                                 "live" mummies!

                                                Cami and Denisa

                                   Pinata time

Stuffing animals for hospital children

Halloween is emerging in Romania, however no one can figure out what it all means!  Frankly when it came down to explaining this holiday it made no sense at all, but nontheless the Young Single Adult group were all about celebrating.  With October being our "Mexican Food Month" Elder McFadden begun the celebration by preparing enchiladas for the "after institute" meal coupled with cupcakes Sora McFadden made with black and orange decos.  Afterward we cut the pumpkins we had picked up at a roadside stand on our way back to Buc from Brasov.  The mummy wrap was a halarious white out to see them trying to find people and pumpkins with apendiges in "wrap".  Apple dunking was a hit before we went outside to break open the pinata Sora McFadden had made and soon there was candy spilling out all around.  This began at 10:00 a.m. and we finished about 4:00 p.m. which is what time our Branch Activity started.  We were in charge of this one as well.  About 8:00 p.m. two tired missionaries had had enough partying and food preparation and clean-up to last----well until Tuesday anyway!

While in Brasov for our Senior Couple Conferenc we visited Rasnov Fortress built in the 1400's.  High on the hillside this fortress presides over villages below and tells so many stories of battles and conquering and protection within the walls.  Armour and weaponrey were to be explored as we ventured throughout this amazing place envisioning the 500+ times this fortress was attacked and only taken 2 times in it's long history.

Along the road to Dracula's Castle we were so taken by the beautiful countryside and the haystacks or in Romanian "căpită de fân" that are so unique and have captured a small spot in Sora McFadden's heart. 

Arriving in Bran we were delighted to see many of the well known Romanian Craftsman working in their crafts and selling them as well.  The shoes are particularly unique and many in the country wear them .  You will not see them in Bucharest, however!

A member of our branch found a few dried gourds from a farmer and Kelly, our daughter, brought a burner over when they visited us.  I found a few free hours and this was the perfect combination to get a couple of the Romanian sisters hooked on gourd art.  They are so excited and are doing very well in creating some art pieces they can sell.

Our meetings with universities have produced several opportunities for lectures from some of our LDS  professors that are in country which is giving us some good exposure.  We also had a TV station that came with crew and shot about 7 hours of coverage for a 16 min. special on the "Mormons in Romania".  This was generated by the U. S. elections and Mitt Romney's association with the church. We will be anxious to see how this one comes out on Nov. 3.  They seemed sincere in wanting to know what we were about. We arranged for a wheelchair distribution to take place at our branch building while the media was there and they were very impressed with the many aspects of service and aid that is provided here in Romania by the church.

Exchange rates posted in Bran!
We have a fantastic group of Elders and Sisters here in Romania and Moldova.  They are around our dinner table often and we in turn go with them for discussions.  The baptisms and numbers may be small, but we know that out of small things proceedeth that which is great. And Romania is starting to "break forth".

Happy Thanksgiving and know that we love you all!

Cu drag,
Elder and Sora McFadden