Last Tuesday morning found us on an airport shuttle to Larnaka, Cyprus to catch a plane to Bucharest, Romania for our CES Faculty Meeting for all Seminary and Institute Co-ordinators in Eastern Europe. It was exciting to fly to Romania to meet with all our counter-parts in the whole of Eastern Europe. There in Bucharest we joined the group which consisted of Elder and Sister Kitchen (serving in Muldova), Elder and Sister Westergard (serving in Slovenia), Elder and Sister Mower (serving in Greece), Elder and Sister Erb (serving in the Czech Republic), and Elder and Sister Vargas (serving on the Island of Cyprus). The Co-ordinator for S&I (Seminary and Institute)in Eastern Europe and facilitator of our meetings is Marin (pronounced "Marine") Iachamov (formerly of Muldova, and now living in Bucharest, Romania), and "Felice" (we never did learn his surname), co-ordinator for all southern Italy. (Felice has about 100 teachers in his care.)
Marin creates and executes all our travel plans as well as our hotels, etc. He's a genius. I don't care what you need to know - he KNOWS it! From tekky stuff down to every last detail of Gospel Doctrine and S&I. He is currently serving in Bucharest as a Branch President and has a gorgeous, sweet, lovely wife and two beautiful children, a boy and girl. Marin is so good and so smart and so entirely loveable. I wish I could be around him more often. He came to Cyprus the second week we were here and literally saved us from imploding - our job was so overwhelming. After our conference ended he took us and Felice, along with the Westergard's following in their car behind us to Northern Romania to a city named Brasov. It was there we explored the historic Pelisor and Bran Castles.
Pelisor and Peles Castles are still the homes of the Romanian royal family. (Yes, Romania has a royal family. They were restored to their kingdom after the fall of communism.) They are opened certain times of the year to the public. We visited Pelisor Castle the smaller of the two, and only passed by (walking) Peles Castle the large castle. Of course you can read about these two castles on line and view plenty of pictures at your leisure. I will only post a few pictures of them so as not to bore you with a travelogue.
Pelisor Castle you will be interested to know has only 54 rooms. Our former home in Los Angeles, CA (which is an historic monument) had a mere 34 rooms - such slackers! Ha!
Before we began our two-day junket in northern Romania we spent three days in workshops designed to increase our teaching skills. In Eastern Europe teaching S&I is a very tricky ordeal. Our students often have to Skype with us for lessons and they must be created to be precise and to the point in a very short amount of time. Many of our students cannot attend S&I at the branch church buildings, so they have to do home study with our assistance. I am so grateful for our experiences in Los Angeles teaching home study Seminary, we would have been groping in the dark to figure out how to do it otherwise.
It was also very useful for us to meet together because we suffer alone/together certain difficulties unique to our callings, and talking through them helped us find more creative methods of overcoming them.
On Friday we left northern Romania to return to Bucharest and we drove the scenic route so we could visit and view the culture of this beautiful country first-hand. It was an experience we shall never forget. We spent Thursday night in Brasov at a Pensionne - that's like a bed and breakfast, and our room was so pleasant, albeit we had to climb three flights of stairs to get there. Our room was very large, with a balcony facing the city center, taking in the rooftops of the homes in the area where it was located. It was indescribably beautiful, peaceful and restful. It was also very quaint and very European, with wood paneling and marble floors - far better than any hotel in the area. Our bathroom was first class, with all the modern amenities.
We enjoyed the Romanian language very much. It seems to be a combination of Italian and slavic dialect. We understood much of the language because it is a Romance language based on Latin. I'm so glad we brushed up on our Spanish before we left on our mission. Marin assured me I would be speaking it fluently if I only lived there for a couple of months, and I believe he is correct.
Friday afternoon about 3 PM we arrived back in Bucharest at the airport and said our farewells to Marin and Felice. Felice was on his way back to Milan and we were on our way to Cyprus. We boarded our plane to Cyprus at 7 PM and arrived in Larnaka just after 9 PM. It's about a 2 hour and 20 minute flight. We drove home via the shuttle once more and arrived in Nicosia at about 10:15 PM and were back in our flat at about 10:30 PM.
I am following this blog with another one about our travels to the above mentioned castles - and pictures.