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!
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