Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Site of the Week : MediaFire

I am going to start a weekly entry about websites and applications that I find helpful, useful, or just great to waste time on (not that I would do that, but some of you might want to). It will also help me catalog all of the various sites that I want to remember.

My first entry is about MediaFire. If you are like me you have been looking for a way to send large files. Well, this site is it. Not only can you send large files but you have unlimited storage for files. So you can save all your photos and other files and let others share them if you want. You can even upload a zip file of all your files to give your friends the option to download all your pictures at once. And like all of the sites I will post, it is free!!

Let me know what you think.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Looking for a way to get the kids out of the house, we decided to go to the new Kika store (think IKEA). So we set out to go to the western edge of Bucharest to find it, but it was closed, even though it was the day after Christmas! But right next door we found a building that looked very out of place for this part of the world. We parked and went inside to find a really nice outlet mall. Now if this was Orlando, Dallas, Atlanta or any other city on the U.S., such a find would really not be that earth-shattering. But this is Bucharest! Inside were cute little storefronts and park benches. There were even stores with things that we actually considered buying. In fact, we did by some shoes. Again, I might sound a little crazy for being so excited, but Chrissy and I generally haven't bought shoes or clothes in Romania in the 5 and a half years that we have lived here, mainly because affordable items are usually of poor quality, such that wouldn't even be sold in the U.S.

Now, the mall wasn't full of fabulous bargains, but the prices really were less than they would have been elsewhere. And the simple attractiveness of the building - inside and out - was a pleasant surprise in itself. It was a nice place to walk around! You can even check it out at Now, if only it had a food court...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Pictures

We hope you had a merry Christmas! Here are some links to pictures we took since starting our break from school:

for photos of our stroll through downtown Bucharest's Piata Unirii all lit up for Christmas

for photos of our church's children's program and Christmas Day

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Craciun Fericit from Romania!

The weather bites our cheeks and we haven't seen the sun in over a week (except through the fog that seems to reach from sky to ground), but our kids are counting down the days to Christmas on the "clips" - a string of clothespins numbered 1-24, hanging on our living room wall, where they find some small treat each morning. Our little Christmas tree is up again (and again and again since Gianna has toppled it a few times), Chrissy is making homemade apple butter, and tomorrow is the annual BCA staff Christmas party, where the gift exchange is usually full of American delicacies like boxed cake mixes, cranberry sauce, and peanut butter.

Christmas in Romania is a bustling time, but not nearly as non-stop as it can be in America. We will finish school this week, decorate cookies at a friend's house next week, and then make our traditional family Christmas meal of lasagna, fried cauliflower, and garlic bread. On Christmas night, we usually visit some Romanian friends, whose traditional meals all involve pork, most often mixed with spices and rice then rolled in pickled cabbage leaves -- the national dish of Romania, sarmale (sar-mall-eh).

We want to thank you for your prayers and financial support throughout this year. We are in our sixth year in Romania, where we have helped educate hundreds of missionary children, which also helps their parents be more effective in reaching Eastern Europe with the gospel. You have helped us do this! And statistically, 30% of missionary kids go on to become missionaries themselves. So just think of the seeds you are helping to sow! We love working with teenagers, and we are constantly amazed that we get to do what we do.

You are a blessing to us, and we pray for all of our supporters and prayer partners every day. This December, it is our prayer that the Lord would guide and prepare you for the year ahead, that you would know His faithfulness and grace in an even greater measure. May your Christmas be full of peace and joy, and may your family be strengthened and your walk with God deepened in the days ahead.

Continually in awe of His faithfulness,
Tony & Chrissy
P.S. As 2008 comes to a close and you make your plans for 2009, prayerfully consider whether the Lord would have you stand with us in a greater way. Perhaps you or your church could help sponsor BCA's building fund or possibly become a monthly partner with us as your missionaries.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The American Way to Beat a Rug

In Romania, rug-beating is a national pastime. I suspect if an American's rug gets as dusty as rugs get here in Bucharest we would just toss them and buy another. Nonetheless, the Barbusca family was ready to give it a shot.

We had just bought a rug from a family who was leaving Bucharest. So our old living room rug was expendable. Or so I thought. Chrissy had other plans.

"Lets take it downstairs and beat it," Chrissy said.

"With what?" I said. " We don't have one of those Romanian rug-beating things."

So what do you beat a rug with if you don't have the proper tool? An undersized aluminum baseball bat! We took turns beating that thing while clouds of toxic dust rose from the rug. The dust just kept coming. The kids had a blast (literally) and at one point, we weren't sure it was an item that we wanted to put back in our apartment.

At last a Romanian neighbor came by laughing and said in his best English, "So that's how Americans beat their rugs!"

I guess so.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Peppers For Sale! Free Dacia (that's a car)

We saw this car on the way home from church last week. Tony stopped the van so Chrissy could take a picture, only to find out that the driver was sitting inside reading a magazine.

Looks like he might be on his way home for his wife or mother-in-law to make zacusca, the pepper-and-eggplant spread everyone in Romania makes this time of year. (See our September newsletter for more on that...)

Soon it will be cabbage season, and we'll see Dacias like this one similarly loaded down with varza. We're just happy that apple season is also starting. Homemade apple pie, apple cake, applesauce, baked apple French toast (thank you, Kathryn Greenley!)...yummmmmmm.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Some Reasons We Love Romania

Chrissy just posted some August/September photos on her Facebook page, but even if you're not on Facebook, you can see the pictures at this link:

But with a title like that, here are a few of the things that we love about Romania (in no particular order):

Reason #1: Romanian Hospitality (and Cooking)
We just spent a wonderful morning and afternoon with our Romanian friends the Gainas, attempting to learn the fine art of making zacusca. More about that in our newsletter, which should be completed this week and out to you by the end of the month. But suffice it to say that it is an admirable task. I guess I am always impressed by true old-fashioned cooking.

Reason #2: Bucharest Christian Academy
This past week was full of late nights for us. As teachers, September is often a blur of lesson-planning, grading, and just finding our groove. But every day at BCA we have the sense that we are part of what God is doing in Romania, whether through supporting their parents' missions or directly by being a part of the students' lives. Last week we chaperoned the secondary retreat, when we take all 7-12th graders into the mountains north of Bucharest for a three-day time of bonding, prayer, worship, and teaching. What a fabulous time we had!

Reason #3: Our Kids' Sense of Adventure
Of course they go with us wherever we go, but Marco, Rocco, and Gianna enjoy so much about our life and adventures in and around Bucharest. You'll have to check out some of the photos to see them enjoying being a part of the secondary retreat into the mountains last week and in various other Romanian (and Bulgarian) locations.

Thank you for continuing to pray for us. Please send us your prayer requests and family updates. We love and miss you!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

BCA Campus Project

BCA is in the process of fundraising for the building of our new school. If you have a site or blog or know someone who does, please pass this along to them. You can post this on any site including Facebook and MySpace.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Overheard over Breakfast

"Be quiet Black Manta, Lex Luthor is speaking!"
I guess the kids are watching to many SuperFriends episodes!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Welcome...Just Don't Steal Our Mat

Back in Bucharest, fresh off our first week of school, we found ourselves browsing a home improvement store today. I caught myself marveling.

When we first came to Romania in 1999, we were working with a team of plumbers who were replacing the lead pipes in an orphanage with copper pipes. Just a few days into the project, we were first stunned and then frustrated to find that the fittings the plumbers needed to connect the pipes simply could not be bought in this country. Nowhere.

Being Americans, we understood "No" to mean "Try another way." We fanned out. In pairs, we scavenged through the few plumbing parts stores we could find - although indeed we barely believed it was possible that an entire European country could keep their toilets flushing with such slim pickings. Surely, something was being lost in the translation. How do you say Home Depot in Romanian?

In 1999, the answer was "FedEx." From Germany. Today, there are several possibilities: Brico Store, Practiker, and our friendly (OK, maybe not), local Mr. Bricolage. Which is where, today, I was so easily impressed just to see a selection of welcome mats, and in particular an array of mats that had a plastic fitting for a threshold, to render it theft-proof.

Now, most Romanians in Bucharest live in bloc apartments, built by the communists, with signature communist aesthetics. And if you cross the street from Mr. Bricolage and take a right at the Butane Gas station, you'll pass through a corridor of 8-story blocs until you come to the one where the Barbusca family lives. As my son says, "In Romania, we live on the third floor, but in the elevator you have to push 2 to get there."

Anyway, Bucharest has an abundance of many things - most of which are some variation of brown or gray in color, either because they are canine (still plenty of wild street dogs, though their numbers are declining) or because they are covered in dust in the summer and mud in the winter.

You just don't understand the dirt in Bucharest. It is everywhere. In the summer, the sweltering heat forces your windows open and it floats in clouds, just daring you to dust the bookshelves again. In the winter, when you are truly thankful for the opportunity to shut the windows, it wraps its arms around your family's shoes and smears its lipstick from your front door to the nearest pile of shoes.

Every Romanian family has two things by the front door: a mat and a shoe rack. They don't call them welcome mats, and I don't think I have ever seen one that says "bine ati venit." Instead, if they all said, "Wipe your filthy feet," no one would be offended because it is true.

When we first moved into our apartment three years ago, I found an old bathroom mat that had managed to cross the Atlantic with us, and put it outside our door. Romanian friends took bets on how long it would be before it was stolen.

"Stolen? A dirty rug?" I asked.

"Yes. It is too nice. Ours has been stolen three times. Just use an old towel."

Several months later, with the rug still there, I was feeling full of Christmas spirit and set a live poinsettia outside our door. It must have been too much for whoever was watching. The plant was gone in two days. The rug stuck around a little longer.

So I lingered over the theft-proof welcome mats. I actually imagined myself putting one in front of our door and fixing it in place. But the thought of having to anchor my welcome mat just seemed a little too, well, un-welcoming.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Life in the Moooo S.A. :)

Whew! What a whirlwind our time in the U.S. has been so far! We started with a visit to Tony's parents in South Carolina (with a few touristy days in Tennessee for fun), where Tony shared at Cornerstone Assembly of God. Then we drove south to Orlando, where we made new friends at Orlando Church where Tony was honored by Pastor Dave to have an entire Wednesday night service to introduce ourselves and talk about how God is moving in Romania.

From Orlando we continued to Miami for two weeks with Tony's sister, Chris, and lots of visits with old friends. The Lord blessed Tony with the opportunity to speak to the youth at our home church, Words of Life Fellowship, and He moved in some very special ways on the following Sunday morning at Harvest International Church, with our friends, Pastors Brian and Lena Miltenberger. Before we left Miami, we even got to visit Keys to Life Church in Miramar, where our friend Arthor Jackson is the pastor. (Arthor sang at our wedding, over 12 years ago!) At the end of last week, we left Miami for Bradenton, FL, and just a few days ago, Tony spoke at Bethany Baptist Church, which has supported us faithfully and generously since we returned to Romania in 2005. We were also especially blessed to attend a deacon's dinner at Bethany Baptist and to get to know several of the beautiful people who serve at that church.

In addition to the privilege of sharing our heart for Romania and kids with so many people, God has granted us many many marvelous times with family and friends. Tony's parents took us to a beautiful aquarium where the kids touched horseshoe crabs and saw live sharks. Grandma Dee, Aunt Lorrie, Rhianan, and Nick surprised us with a fun visit in Orlando. In Miami, they chased their cousins everywhere, and we got to experience Wii bowling and tennis with our friends the Caballeros. Chrissy attended a bridal shower tea for our dear friend Patty Garcia, who is getting married next week. And now in Bradenton, we were just blessed with tickets for our whole family to go to Busch Gardens! God has been so good to us!

We will be in Bradenton for another week and a half, then back up to South Carolina to prepare for our return to Romania on Aug. 5. If we haven't connected with you yet, please contact us via email or on our Vonage phone at 941-803-8303, which we forward to our new location each time we move. We will be mailing out a more detailed update within the next week or two, so please watch your mailbox for that. (Or if you don't currently receive our paper newsletter but would like to, please drop us an email!)

Thursday, June 12, 2008


The BCA Class of 2008 has officially graduated! These six kids (yes, they're still kids to us) are all dear to us, and now they are all off in different directions: Kyle (the valedictorian, pictured above with Tony) is heading to Trinity Western in Canada; Lauren (the salutatorian) is going to Minnesota; Kyle is headed to Union in Tennessee; Rachael is going to college in Salem, Oregon; and Sean and Christina are staying in Bucharest one more year to attend a local university that has a degree program in English.

Tony MC'ed the graduation ceremony on May 30, and Chrissy helped with rehearsal and the closing benediction. That last week of school, with the yearbook presentation on Wednesday (Chrissy is the yearbook adviser), Field Day on Thursday (Tony is almost completely recovered from his injury. Whose idea was it to do a relay that requires you to spin around the number of times equal to your age???), and graduation on Friday -- it left us speechless on the way home Friday night: simultaneously proud of the graduates, exhausted from all the late nights, and sad to see so many students and families leaving Bucharest.

It is the nature of our work that relationships develop quickly, run deep, and are faced with frequent separations. But what a blessing to be part of the body of Christ in such a unique, boundary-crossing way!


Well we made it. Three planes, 10 bags (only 9 made it), and a two-hour drive brought us to Anderson, S.C. where Tony's parents live.

It was a pretty smooth trip with all 3 kids and we had nice new planes with plenty of room. And even the missing bag was eventually found. (They even gave us $150 for our inconvenience - thank you American Airlines!)

Our time here will begin in South Carolina where we will speak at Cornerstone Assembly in Anderson. Then a family vacation in the Tennessee mountains with Grandma and Grandpa. Then we head south to Orlando, Miami, and Bradenton, where we will speak at four more churches.

We have been having a great time so far watching the kids play with their grandparents and sliding down the slip and slide. We thank God for this time we have to tell others about Romania and what God is doing there. We still have some time open if you have a group or church you think would be interested in hearing about missions or Romania. We are also looking for people who are willing to host a dessert night in their home as a more informal opportunity for others to learn about our ministries in Romania. If you would be up for hosting a dessert night, please contact us ASAP.

The best thing about being back (besides being with friends and family) is the great gas prices! No joke; we pay about $6.25 back in Bucharest!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Who Needs a Crib?

Big Girl and her New Bed

Our little girl Gianna has moved to her toddler bed! She loves it and spent the first hour of her first night in the dark looking around and trying to figure out this new sleeping contraption. She has adjusted well and it gave us an opportunity to give her crib to a British couple for their new baby girl who is due any day. They are here working with a Christian organization to get a hospice facility built here in Bucharest. It is fantastic to see how God is working in so may ways with so many people to help Romania.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Super Trailer)

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Super Trailer)

This is a trailer for a documentary on how Intelligent Design is being pushed out of the scientific debate.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Palace_Parliament, Bucharest, Romania_500+ badrooms, 55 kitchens,120 sitting rooms

This is the second largest building in the world if you can believe it.  W will be staying there next week.

Palace_Parliament, Bucharest, Romania_500+ badrooms, 55 kitchens,120 sitting rooms

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Our Little Pilots

Here are our boys hard at work flying around the world. Maybe one day they can get us some free flights!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Rocco Sings a Song?

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Click To Play
Watch this video of Rocco . I just learned how to post these at FREEVLOG.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Medieval city of Sibiu-Romania

Medieval city of Sibiu-Romania, originally uploaded by CamilG.

Here is a great picture of Sibiu, Romania, one of Chrissy's favorite places in the country. It was named The European Capital of Culture for 2007.