Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ode to Elder Wahlquist on His 70th Birthday

I planned to write an ode to Brent on this special day, but then I looked up the meaning of "ode."
      ".....a lyric poem typically of elaborate or irregular metrical form and expressive of exalted or enthusiastic emotion or a poem intended to be sung."  My poetry has always been of the "roses are red, viotlets are blue....."  type and it's hard to hear a song on a blog, so there will be no ode today.  However, I can express exalted and enthusiastic emotion for the man I have been married to for almost 46 years.  He is one of the best people I know.  He is wise.  He is generous.  He is kind.  He is faithful.  He is a great husband and father and grandfather.  He is forgiving.  He is nurturing.  He is encouraging.  Because of him, I have always known that anything is possible.  He is curious and loves to learn.  He is the best mission companion ever!

He is always willing to work in the kitchen and looks great in an apron.

He is very good at hauling things.

He has skills.  Here he is building a shelf in our YSA closet.

Because he is an excellent map reader, we never get lost and only rarely go down a one-way street the wrong way or get on the metro going the wrong way.  I follow along knowing that he will always get us where we need to go.  And it has been that way in our life together as well.

He took us on a mission.  This is a picture  taken at Cismigiu Park where Elder Russell M. Nelson offered a prayer to set apart the country of Romania for missionary work.

He takes me to wonderful places around the world.

Yes, this is the cute little guy before he started to grow tall and thin.  Don't you just love the "play pen?"

The man on the far right is the man I fell in love with over 46 years ago.  He is now 70 years old and even better than he was at 24.  These are his six brothers who are some of the other best men I know.

La Multi Ani, Brent!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

YSA Service - Blue Bags

Being a senior missionary couple in a small center for young single adults has it's challenges as well as blessings.  After we arrived, we discovered that we basically needed to create our own mission. We felt very strongly that there needed to be some kind of service project that would both teach a skill and provide a service for people in need.  As I considered my "skills," quilting seemed to be one that might work here.  Then we started looking for basic quilting supplies like fabric and batting.  There is a big textile industry here in Romania but most of the fabric that we found was the kind you use in upholstery or draperies.  Because quilters are the most generous people I know, a plea for fabric went out to friends and family back home.  Then there was the issue of sewing machines.  The mission has an old Kenmore machine (it has a sticker from a shop in Portland, Oregon) that has a converter.  When I took it for a spin I felt like I was driving a race car.  After 10 minutes the engine started to smoke.  Then a wonderful senior missionary went home leaving me with a European sewing machine.  It worked!  While waiting for fabric to arrive, the Wolseys who are humanitarian aid missionaries here asked if I would like to have the YSAs make 50 school bags.  "Sure", I said.  How hard could it be?  Well, when we put the idea out to them they looked at us like we were crazy.  Sew with a machine?  One of them remembered seeing her grandmother use a treadle machine a long time ago.  Being an optimist, I thought this was great.  Now, we would be able to assess how much training would be needed to get ready for the quilt project. 

George, Cami and Alina
George loved the sewing machine - remember the race car reference!

Cami became quite good at pinning.

We did finally complete 50 bags.  Missionaries filled the first batch of bags with school supplies for children in a Roma village. 

Each child received a backpack and a blue bag with school supplies.

This is the bloc where these children live.

Then at the senior missionary conference in October we completed the project by filling the last of the blue bags with hygiene supplies.

Well done, YSAs!

More to come on the quilt project.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Fever

Yesterday, for the first time in months, we went to church without wearing coats, hats, boots, gloves and scarves. It was wonderful!  We are standing in front of the Center for Young Adults sign that just showed up on the side of our chapel one day last fall.  Notice the pile of snow that still remains in the foreground.  It still may take a while for it all to melt.

Saturday was St. Patrick's Day so we went for a stroll in Old Buc.  I doubt if there are many people of Irish descent in Bucuresti but they were still celebrating like they had some Irish blood.  This is a beautiful old building with a traditional Romanian restaurant called Caru' cu bere.  Even though it was a little chilly people wanted to sit outside to eat.

We chose a little pizza place.  We ordered pepperoni and black olives and got red pepper and black olives.  That's kind of the way it goes here.  But it was good and it was fun to sit outside.  We have found that they always serve ketchup with pizza. 

What can I say?  The store was closed so I don't know what they sell but the name reminded me of New Mexico.

On Wednesday, when the sun was shining and it was above 50 degrees for the first time in months, we went for a walk in Herestrau park.  For the first time since fall, people were sitting on park benches or just strolling in the park, even though it was still a little crisp.  It was a beautiful day and felt so good to be out. 

Of course, there were still signs of the harsh winter.  The shady side of the walk down to the lake had not been shoveled and was still covered with piles of snow.

As you can see, the center of the lake was still frozen but there was a strip of open water around most of the shore line.  It was nice to see waterfowl swimming in the water and walking on the ice.  It was simply lovely to walk through the park and feel like winter might finally be over. There were birds chirping in the trees.

In another part of the lake, there was an old wooden boat with two men standing in it and rocking it hard from side to side to break up the ice around them.
After they had rocked back and forth for a while, one man would use a pole to push the boat forward while the other would row the boat forward into the ice as far as they could and then stand up and start rocking back and forth again.  At the rate they were going, it was going to be a while to get wherever they were trying to go.
And what kind of park would it be if it didn't have lots of huge heads in it?  We don't know who this guy is because all the plaques are gone.  This is one in a circle of about 10 heads.  We are sure they were really great guys, whoever they were.   

Yes, winter may be over but there are plenty of reminders of what it was like.  Because of all the wonderful flower shops we can look past the remaining piles of dirty snow and see spring just ahead.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Great Men Wear Great Hats

You can't go to Moldova without buying a rabbit fur hat.

Elders Howells, Wahlquist and Heninger
Great men for sure.

Elders Gunter, Patton and Johnson.
Elder Gunter has been in our district since he arrived in Romania.  He is a young man of wisdom.  Elder Patton is our beloved office elder.  Elder Johnson was our zone leader and is now an AP. He will be leaving for home in two weeks and will be missed.

These are the great men in our district.  They were here for breakfast and "hatted up" for us.    From the left are Elder Gunter, Elder Teft, Elder Cooper, Elder Ekins, Elder Pettit and Elder Newey.

And the Women are Pretty Great, Too!

The soras in our district - Sora Atkins and Sora Manole

Soras Howells, Wahlquist and Heninger

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Romania Moldova Mission

We were called to serve in the Romania Bucharest Mission.  Although the mission has always included the country of Moldova, a few months ago the name of the mission was officially changed to the Romania Moldova Mission.  We heard there were cheers of joy when the change was announced in the sacrament meetings of the two branches and one group in Moldova.

This past weekend we had the opportunity to travel to Moldova with President and Sora Howells.  We were very excited as we had not expected to get to Moldova while we were here. The purpose of our trip was to provide training to the branches there.  Moldova was part of the USSR until 1989 and some areas speak Romanian and some speak Russian.  On Sunday we joined with the two senior couples assigned in Moldova and went to church in Balti (pronounced "belts" if you speak Russian and "bults" if you speak Romanian).  In Chisinau branch the meetings are conducted in Russian and translated into Romanian (and hymns are sung in both languages simultaniously), but in Balti only Russian is used.  As they sang the hymns we tried to follow along in the Russian hymnal but the Russian alphabet defeated us.

The McGoverns, Howells, Kitchens and Wahlquists

We have a nephew serving a mission in the Ukraine.  His name is Elder Eric Garlock.  Here is our picture with Elder Garlick who is a Russian speaking missionary in Balti.  As much as we would love to visit the Ukraine which is just north of Romania and borders Moldova, this is probably as close as we will get to Elder Garlock.

Before we left Chisinau we visited a huge piata where everything you can think of was being sold.  The fruits and vegetables were beautiful and there were lots of things we didn't recognize but this was our favorite.  These black radishes are the size of softballs.

Along the streets and throughout the piata there were women who were selling clothing items without needing to pay for a space.  Very efficient - you stand holding something for sale and when the police come along you just slide it into a bag, walk away and blend into the crowd.  We also saw people selling things out of cardboard boxes that hang from cords around their necks. Just another way to beat the tax system.

In Moldova they have lovely concrete blocs much like we have in Bucuresti.

We saw some interesting things on the drive to and from Moldova.  In both countries there are many religious monuments along the roads.  But Moldova's monuments seemed much more elaborate than the ones in Romania.  Often they are in unpopulated areas and we don't quite know what their purpose is.

The little villages have one or more village wells. 
Notice the bucket hanging on the right that is lowered on the chain.

A thatched roof cottage in a vineyard.

We have become accustomed to seeing horse drawn wagons.  We even see them out our apartment window going down our busy street.  But this was something we hadn't seen before.  A horse cart was traveling toward us on the road with no driver.  We saw him several minutes later walking down the road.  He didn't seem concerned that his horse and cart were ahead of him by almost a mile.

We were intrigued by the many tall, leafless trees along the road that had these big green balls in their branches.  They are balls of mistletoe.  At Christmas time we saw lots of mistletoe for sale in big clumps with real berries on them.  At home we only see little tiny plastic bags of mistletoe that have plastic berries.

It was a wonderful experience to meet with the saints in Moldova and get better acquainted with the senior couples that we very seldom see. 

Something to remind me of Moldova!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Put a dish over the "a" and a little squiggly thing under the "t" and "s" and say quickly.
Martisor is an Old Romanian tradition that celebrates the beginning of Spring - March 1st.  Symbolically it correlates to women and this is a day when little gifts and flowers are given.  These are two that I have received from friends.  The red and white string symbolizes fertility and the person who wears it will be strong and healthy for the year to come.  I'll be glad to be strong and healthy but not so sure about the fertility part.  Ironically, we woke up to snow this morning.  We've been told we are survivors of the worst winter in over 60 years.  Aren't we the lucky ones?

Primavara Fericita!