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: Two of the street kids, Dragos and Daniel, came to church yesterday. They were so cute. Dragos wanted to "canta la pian" so bad. We had a pretend Easter too, because it was American Easter but we are missing Romanian Easter too. Kristin and Angela made dinner and there were a couple of Easter Bunny appearances.

Kristen and I have been walking around Iasi all day today. We walked to work and back, in Dacia, and then into town to buy and envelope and then down by the church stop to drop off reprints, and then up to Copou, to the special foreign country packages post office, and back to get our pictures and back home and we'll probably walk to work and back again tonight. It's such a nice day. I can hardly believe it snowed last week, for the first time since we first got here. Stupid weather.

Today almost our whole filter was outside and my little inquisitive boy found a humongous worm. And then tried to lick it. We finally threw it over the fence because some of the girls were screaming and crying and trying to kill it, and the boys all wanted to touch it. We found out they brush the kids' teeth. Some Swiss people were there on Friday, talking to the Director (I overheard her bragging about us in French) and then they brought lots of toys and clothes on Saturday. Our filter has two little tricycle things now.

: Today I got a letter from someone who Loves Me Very Much. I also spent 2,600,000 lei on train tickets for myself and four of the other girls, to and from Constanta, on the Black Sea Coast. So I guess we're really going now. Lacra is leaving for America on the 11th. I hope nothing happens while she is gone. We get to have another picture day at the orphanage. I'm going to ask them to fix the girls' hair cute for my pictures. Maybe put them in dresses. They usually look pretty cute every other day or so, but our last picture day wasn't a great one.

It was really hot yesterday but today it is windy and a little cold. We walk to work and home when it's nice. We walk on this bridge over the railyard. I counted 27 tracks, eight of which have dead trains on them. Poor trains. Mommy, there is a caboose I will bring home for you in my suitcase. I register for classes on Monday. I am looking for somewhere to live right now. I might want to live somewhere at some point.

: Last night we went to dinner at the Stoica's. It was really good, some pasta stuff and her pratituri cu mere. We got the recipe for it, finally something Romanian, easy to make, and really yummy. I was getting worried I was going to have to make sarmale anytime anyone wanted to try Romanian food. Sarmale takes hours to make and I don't even like it. Fratele Stoica works for Paste Giani. They gave us some pasta to take home. The neighborhood they live in is kind of scary. I've never been down that way, it's on our street, a couple tram stops the other direction.

: Ahem. Constanta. Sucked. Ok it didn't really, we just had more fun making fun of it than actually being there. Well, we got off the train at 630, having slept little and horribly, spent 2 hours looking for a hotel that noone had heard of, and finally found it. Shut down. On our left was a hotel for 500,000 a night, and on our right, one for 120,000, both exactly what you paid for. We stayed at the sleazy, one-star Hotel Turist. By sleazy I mean, the only other female we saw was the cleaning lady and they didn't provide toilet paper in the community bathroom. Then we tried to find this street in town that looked like it had all the stores on it and walked around a lot. Did I mention it was pouring rain this whole time? Well, we finally found the street at about 1200, we had asked 15 people for directions by this time.

Susie (in Romanian): Do you know the Hotel TiboTours? Stupid Lady: I don't speak English. Susie (still in Romanian): We speak Romanian. Can you tell us where the Hotel is? Stupid Lady: Sorry, I studied French and Russian.

ARGH! OK so we found the street we wanted, looked at lots of stores, took a picture of the Black Sea, ate in a bar. Kristin and I, the only people awake at the table, learned lots about a certain kind of beer from our placemats. "Our story would end here... in tears. But thankfully, in 1967..." Barf. Then we went to a beach out in Mamaia, by our hotel, a totally different town apparently. Then we went to bed.

Then we got up and went back to the first beach. The Black Sea, a brief history: it's green, toxic green. It's really cold (I think I may have poked a finger in at some point). The beach is covered in shells *crunch, crunch*. You have to climb 156 stairs covered in trash and slime to get back out. Now you know. Then we met the Brasov girls and went for a nice walk around town to see a lighthouse (it turned out to be 8m tall... quite disappointing) and walk along the waterfront. That side of the sea was lined in huge cement jacks. Does anyone know what those are for? We discussed many theories while dining at La Dulce Vita, but it was mostly us making stuff up.

We had a sweet old man draw our pictures outside the "dreary aquarium" (we got lots of hilariously honest quotes from our guidebook). We walked back. Went to the other beach (in Mamaia). Discovered it might actually be kind of cool in the summer. There was a huge boardwalk (8km) all fenced off, with empty stores and 27,000 beds (got that from the guidebook). The guidebook had nothing bad to say about Mamaia's beaches with their fine, golden sand. I'm pretty sure we weren't really in Mamaia then. We had a nice 6 inch layer of shells on our sand. I fed a beach dog outcast an entire package of Coconitos. We went to see Moulin Rouge at a theatre which turned out to be a disco that night. Well, we found the theatre it was really at eventually. Typical Romanian movie. The projector and the sound broke halfway through.

The next day we walked around the lake (there was a lake there) (two actually), the sun actually appeared. Then we went to church. Then we sat at the train station, got on the train, had to get our tickets changed, ran to the other end of the train, got on again, sat there for eight hours, came home. It's raining here now. Figures.

OK that was our vacation. It was really fun. I got to see the Black Sea.

: Went souvenir shopping today. AGAIN. The traditional Romanian store on Stefan Cel Mare (Steven the Great) was actually open today. I was hoping I was done with souvenir buying, but now I remember I still haven't found a suitable anything for Leonard. Tonight we are going to Doinita's house. She is such a nice lady! We love her so much. We have to plan something to do for our workers and for our kids, as an assignment from Roberta. Great.

I would like everyone to know that it was Rachel who stole Leonard's Weezer CD. I bought my own with Leonard's money.

: Today I got two letters my mom sent me from two missionaries: Elder Whitney in Uruguay and Elder Blockburger in Brazil. My expectations were fulfilled. I am sending them both letters after emailing and acting like a stupid clueless American in an attempt to get a package someone sent to an address I don't have proof I live at. In reality I know I need proof to get the package, and I can explain that to them, but I think the less Romanian they think I know the better.

Last night we Section 2 girls went to Doina's house for dinner. It was so good! She made us this whole four or five course meal, and we sat around talking with her son and his girlfriend and looking at her pictures and stuff. I love going into people's homes. Doina's really matched her. She has a cat. I think I am allergic to it.

Lacra is leaving for America tomorrow. I'll probably never see her again. We are all going to Little Texas tonight. We get to take more kid pictures on Saturday. We have to make scrapbooks for the director and for Lacra. Which means more reprints, yay. I'm reprint-ed out.

: Today was Picture Day at both Sections. We took lots of pictures. I got some of the workers too, only nice workers that were there today. Then the mean worker yelled at us when we came to videotape. Grr. I am the only one whose kids would be good enough that I got pictures of all of them together. I'm excited. I am getting one roll developed and hopefully I'll still have enough money to make it without getting more from the ATM.

I got bit the other day. I have two little teeth marks on my shoulder that Kristen says will probably be there for the rest of my life. Kristin's little blind boy also gave me a good whopping in the eye, and my glasses cut me. I also have potential scars from the same boy today, and an unexplainable but painful bruise on my arm. It was a pretty violent week.

Last night Kristin and I went to see Fratii Inelului (The Fellowship of the Ring). It was very interesting because the Elvish was translated into Romanian so we could see what it said. Although now that I think about it, there may have been English subtitles at that point. I understood it a lot more this time because I read the second book so I know who the people and places are and stuff.

Tomorrow is our last day in the Iasi Branch. I am sad because they have been so nice to us, and the Elders for having to translate all the time. We are supposed to be having a Branch picnic but it's raining outside. Mmm, doesn't McDonald's sound yummy? On my list of things I learned in Romania: Yummy is a relative term.

: Today is my very last day with my kids, and my very last day in Iasi (unless you count crossing the street to the train station at 6AM tomorrow). I started crying twice at work (once playing with my little angel and once making faces at two of my boys through the playroom window) and once reading about all the nice things people are doing for my mommy's birthday. We said goodbye to lots of workers and the Director and the Doctor, with lots of kisses, and we gave them their gifts; the Director and the Doctor loved the scrapbooks we made for them. Jamie isn't coming to work tonight because she doesn't want to see us all bawling, and especially Doinita when she says goodbye to us. However, I convinced Kristen to come for moral support for those of us who are leaving.

Kristin's little girl is in the hospital to get her eye-flicky-into-her-head thingy finally checked out. Unfortunately, that means she has to say goodbye to her in the hospital, which is sad enough because she bawls when we leave anyway. We brought her lots of toys yesterday.

I am so sad to be leaving my kids. How can I leave them?? They need me! Luckily there are more girls coming and Kristen and Jamie will be here in between. I've finally been taking all the pictures I've been meaning to take for the past three months, such as a Communistic building picture in Dacia, a scary railroad bridge picture, a horsecart picture, etc. I still have some more to take, of the city but I'm not going to do it if the sun isn't out when we leave work.

Last night I went with Kristen visit Violeta. It was so awesome. We played with her baby and ate some yummy food, fruit salad because she didn't know if we were on the Post or not (a fast, kind of like Lent). We talked about tons of stuff, I think our entire conversation was repeated in both languages to make sure we all understood everything. She gave us gifts too, a basket and a wedding sash, for each of us. She is such a wonderful person, I'm sad we didn't get to visit longer.

The next worst thing about leaving, second to leaving my kids, is the trip home. We have a 7 hour train ride to Bucharesti and then we have to be at the airport at 4 Monday morning to go to Amsterdam and then my flight to San Francisco is ELEVEN AND A HALF HOURS LONG. Then we have to drive down to Bakersfield, but by that point I'll be having fun. Well, the only non-fun part is AMS-SFO because I am going by myself and I'll probably cry a lot. Lisa pointed out they could show Planet of the Apes 6 times in that amount of time. GAG ME! Maybe I'll get to babysit some cute Indian kids like on the way up. Maybe I'll just sleep the whole time. I can't remember the plane ride home from France.

See you in America! ~Ma duc in America~ as one of our kids sang as we went to play outside.

: We've been sneaking pictures at work all week. I also have been recording my kids' voices- tickling them mostly since they don't talk. And I have some kid at the hospital pointing at me and yelling "Andreea!" My kids have such adorable giggles. Hopefully the pictures will turn out cute too. I like the ones we got to take on Saturday, with permission, but the kids look so posed. It'll be nice to have a couple of us actually playing with the kids, and in different outfits and stuff. And they wear cuter clothes during the week.

: Here I am healthy. I had a lovely vacation in Bucharesti. Ok, actually it was on an equal scale with Constanta except there was no bad weather to blame. Three street kids from Iasi came down with us (legally). We walked around lost, walked around a park with a yucky lake. We went to Palatul Parliamentului, which is the official title, but everyone calls it the House of the People, which is the second largest building in the world for those of you who haven't memorized the Guiness Book of World Records. It's pretty big. The taxi dropped us off on the exact opposite side of where we needed to be, so we got an excellent sense of it's vastness walking around it. It was just like your average palace, except for the ashtrays and Coke machines and the trade show being set up in it. That's the problem with palaces built in the 1980s I guess. We also took some pictures of Arcul de Triomf, quite similar to L'Arc de Triumph in Paris, except not to big and you can't get to it, though I suppsed you could die trying pretty easily.

Then we got up at 3AM and went to the Bucharesti airport (actually in Otopeni) with a rather scary hotel manager and a relatively kind taxi driver; relatively kind as in he accepted 600,000 lei (apx. $18) for both cars, instead of the even-more-ripoffy $50 he asked for and I insisted we didn't have. We barely had the 600,000 lei.

We made it to the airport alive, and the next one actually, and then I had to say goodbye to all the other girls and sit alone for quite a while and then I got on another plane and sat there for quite a while. I made friends with a lovely young woman named Manar, from Egypt, and I helped her get her luggage and with her immigration and customs stuff, and she waited with me while I found Leonard. Then I went to Leonard's and tried to read, but I fell asleep on a big comfy chair after an hour. Leonard's work is very nice. I don't know if it's extraordinary, or if it's just the first building I've been in since Romania and the comparison overwhelmed me.

Security Checks: When we visited the People's Palace, we joked that the security was tighter there than at the airport in Bucharesti. Well it wasn't quite so true. They made me take off my shoes and they searched my bag (Kristin says I should have offered the guard a mint when he opened all my little tins). I think I had my passport checked about four times and my things x-rayed thrice, once for US customs. We had to do every type of security thing in Amsterdam right before boarding although only NorthWest (US bound) flights had to do it. A cute little dog sniffed out my bag at SFO. Did I have any food in it? the officer asked. Aside for the four open packages of biscuiti? It was the orange I made sure to eat on the plane; the dogs can smell them for days afterwards, he said. Manar, however, had to give up her liver sandwich.

: I beat Leonard in Scrabble, 312-309. Today Mom beat him 302-299. I am starting my scrapbook. I have 310 pictures from getting off the plane in Amsterdam on the way in to waiting in line for a security check in Bucharesti on the way home. Good luck to me.

I gave everyone their presents, wrapped in plastic bags. Now our house has a Romanian accent. By far the person I speak to in Romanian most is Gretel. Most of the things I say without thinking are applicable to both naughty dogs and naughty children.

I am very tired. I've woken up at six every day since waking up at 3 on Monday.

: Today was a very successful day. I: got a job, scrapbooked 7 1/2 pages, took the puppy for a walk, got drug-screened, and ate Vietnamese food with my mommy. The more significant part of the Vietnamese food was not that I hadn't ever had it before but that I also ate three shrimp(s?) which were stuck inside my spring rolls. I haven't had any seafood since the occasional tuna sandwich in my early high school years. It didn't taste like anything. I also read Newsweek (I've been reading the entire newspaper everyday also, in an attempt to make up for my complete newlessness in the past four months) and part of The Hobbit.

Maria Strange had her second baby last Monday, Kray Joshua Strange. I am much excited to go and see her and her little boys when I get back to Utah.

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