Camp week has been very much the same everyday. We have our rotations that happen between games, story and craft teams and then photography team has their own agenda they teach. We have been here since Saturday and everyday has been pretty much the same. It’s now Monday. The view here is incredible although I am craving some quiet time without the music playing over the loudspeakers or people in every direction that I look. I went out on the mountain for a little time away yesterday and woke up this morning with the smallest tick I have ever seen imbedded in my thigh. Ticks are the grossest thing to me ever. We had a massive run in with them a few years ago when we were camping in Michigan for two weeks. We literally had these nasty bugs everywhere. This one had been in my skin for about 18 hours so I am a bit concerned but so far it’s just red, so telltale red ring around the wound. Unfortunately, I don’t have service to google what kind of ticks they have here and if they carry Lyme disease. One of the girls I came to Romania with actually had Lyme disease and she shared her testimony yesterday. She has a difficult life ahead of her.
I am seeing a few of the kids in the photography team already are interested in it so it’s great that we can encourage them in that. A few boys had brought a camera with them to camp and have put it to good use practicing the lessons we have presented. Today I taught posing with Halie and it was super fun to show the kids how to pose and how to pose men and women differently. I also brought my reflector out, which they called a bouncer. I showed them so many different examples of my work that had different poses and showed them how to work with the river and bright sunlight days to make it work. I walked through the river which was amazingly chilly like the rivers in the Rockies in March. I showed them how to add interest in their work by doing things differently like posing in water and then shooting it in the water as well as the photographer.
We try to dive deeper into the kids’ lives but at the ages we have in this program it’s really hard to get them to get out of their shells and their outward appearance of “cool.” Macey is a missionary’s kid from the US and she did such an amazing job with her project. Their assignment was to take photos of here at camp that tell your story and testimony. Every single Romanian teen that has done it has only taken photos of the things they like, not anything that shows us who they really are. This is the most frustrating part of camp. They are not willing to let down the walls and show us who they are. Aria played a game with them that had them answer innocent questions and the answers to the questions once she explained what they meant, lent a really good insight to who they were. The kids are extremely loving to each other when they are good friends. The girls will hold hands and hang on each other in a very loving way, even as teens. The boys will lean on each other and put their arms around their friends. It’s actually quite refreshing to see that.
It seems like ages and ages ago that I hugged my husband around his neck and let the tears collect in his t-shirt at the airport when in reality it was only thirteen days ago. Which is one day shorter than the longest time I have ever been away from my family. I went to Africa two years ago for two weeks for a photography assignment with Photographers Without Borders. I still have thirteen more days in Romania. I am so thankful for Melanie. I know she’s getting all the notifications and emails and handling everything while I don’t have service. I may get a random text message or notification that will come through in one spot in their balcony but that’s it. I can’t send texts very well and I made one short phone call yesterday to my husband. I am truly missing my children and can’t wait to hear their voices and see their little faces when we get service again. There’s a decent sized town we drive through on the way to camp and I am hoping and praying that we can stop there so we all can call our families.
I had a really good day yesterday and connected a bit more with the teens in my program. It’s really difficult to get them to let you in. Today was pretty fantastic with them when I was teaching posing. I wouldn’t let them walk away to do their own thing or to sit and watch. I made them pose and I made them shoot it. It was actually really amazing and you could see them make the connection with posing and how that really will make or break an image.
Yesterday the kids did the obstacle course and the zip line down the river. We didn’t get a chance to do that with them because there were so many kids at camp. We even had to push our program time back another hour to make time for them all to do camp activities.
We are in Transylvania right now and it’s pretty much the coolest thing I can say that I’ve done. This weekend we tour Bran Castle which is Dracula’s castle in the books and movies. I am so absolutely excited about this and can’t wait for it. I am taking Skylar’s birthday session photos somewhere on the castle tours this weekend but I’m not sure which one yet.
I am still struggling with the camp environment although it is much better than what it was the first few days. I just want to be able to leave to go into town and grab more coke, make a few phone calls and grab more snacks and I can’t. I don’t like the limited freedom and the restricted time to myself. I really struggle without having time to decompress away from people and voices of people. I love the quiet and the mountains. I wake up long before everyone else to do my Bible study down at the river in the stillness and the dewy mornings. It’s my favorite time of the day. Last night I struggled with going to sleep and couldn’t wake up early enough. I tried to take a shower but the water was ice cold. They use a wood burning boiler system and apparently that was down. I found the tick on my leg. And I only have one Coke left. It started out to be a really rough morning. My Bible study was done sitting on my bed in my room instead of next to the river. And breakfasts here are probably the most disappointing time of day for me. It’s usually a strong cheese, fresh tomatoes, and lunch meat with bread, not toast, fake butter and honey. None of which, I really care for, except the honey and bread. I am desperately craving pancakes, eggs, bacon and toast from Snooze. And a big, fast, juicy burger and fries with an ice cold Coke from Stuft. I’ve literally drank my Coke warm for the last three days since we don’t have a fridge. I did manage to find a microwave last night and made two bags of Romanian popcorn. It’s definitely not Orville’s popcorn but we made it work in a pinch.
Lunches in typical Romanian homes are a very light breakfast, soup for lunch with bread no butter, a large meat portion and potatoes. Dinner is a light meal as well served with a fruit tea that they call Chai, but it’s not anything like the cinnamon tea they serve in the States. It’s a weird, hot and delicious, sweet fruit tea. Next week we are staying with another missionary family and the mom learned to cook in Spain. So our food promises to be a bit more varying in flavors than just Romanian foods. My favorite Romanian food is called “sarmale” which is a lot like gumbo in the south or grits in Texas. This region is known for for sarmale and each of the homes within this region has their own recipe they say is the greatest. Its a lot like a meatball with meat and rice but it’s wild boar with rice wrapped in cabbage and then boiled. Its served with the creamiest yogurt I’ve ever had. It’s almost like a mix of Noosa yogurt from Colorado, sour cream and custard. And it was AMAZING. It’s been my favorite food the entire time I’ve been here. The sausage we had on the mountain in Romos was pretty fabulous too but that was German from our Dutch missionaries in Romania. Figure that one out.
Overall, I am very ready for our camp week to be over but I am enjoying seeing the kids get more and more into our lessons. We do devotionals with the kids of all ages every morning and then also have devotions during the day with our class. Skylar is struggling with the kids here because they don’t go out of their way to chat with her and make friends. She has a few but they aren’t always free to go hang out with her. Many times I see her up the mountain by the obstacle course people watching and listening to her headphones. She’s having a hard time and I think she feels like an army of one. She’s so much younger than the team and the kids at camp aren’t nearly as accepting as the kids in the villages. Our team has been really wonderful including her in their activities but I think she just wants to play and be a kid. She’s in a position of responsibility and that gives her a different relationship than just being a kid.
Yesterday I watched her teach and execute a game and a Bible lesson to 25 Romanian kids with a translator. The last time that I saw her in front of other people she wasn’t even talking and she was in tears because she was just standing in front of them. The growth I have seen in her is phenomenal and I am so proud of her. She was confident and taught the lesson to these kids with a passion that was infectious. I don’t know any thirteen year old who has done anything like this ever. To have my daughter who struggles with being the center of attention to actively teaching other kids just blows my mind. I told her how proud I was of her several times and she brushed it off like teenagers do. It’s quite incredible.
My blog posts from camp will be fewer since we are doing pretty much the same thing every single day.