I have always enjoyed traveling, even if it meant sleeping in a tent when I was younger. I prefer hotels and cruise cabins now, but the motivation is the same...an adventure waiting to happen. Sometimes you will find me traveling with my husband and/or family. Sometimes I will travel alone, and sometimes I will travel with friends. I hope you find it entertaining to keep up to date with me as I explore the world around me. Warning...I like to take pictures of food so don't read if you're hungry. More adventures await...see ya soon...Amy.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Macedonia: Day Nine

lunch with Belinda's family. Belinda is on the left at the end of the table.

this little sweet kitten slept in my lap during the whole meal

cucumbers in yogurt

Shopska....tomatoes, cucumbers and white cheese

a tomato type relish that was good on just bread but also on the beans and sausage

Tavche Gravche...white beans cooked with sausage that was like a kielbasa

Tulumba...delicious fried dough with a syrup glaze

iced coffee on the porch with some of the cherries we picked earlier at Kire's. these cookies were my favorite!!

this shop in town has the best baklava!!

a couple of pieces to try....delicious!!

Family night with the Kirkpatricks
Today is our last day here in Prilep. This morning we went to the home of Belinda, the German tutor, at 9.  She wanted us to have lunch with her family but we had a hike scheduled for the afternoon so lunch time wouldn't work. Well no problem, we will just have lunch from 9-11! Belinda lives at home with her parents, her brother and her brothers wife. It is the norm in Macedonia and certainly in Prilep for the son(s) to marry and stay with his (their) parent(s). They usually bunk all together or add on another floor to the house. In Belinda's case, her parents are finishing out the bottom floor of their house while the others stay upstairs. When we arrived, we went straight to the table to start our meal. Belinda's mom did the cooking and the food was delicious. Belinda asked her to make us a traditional Macedonian meal. We started with two salads, Shopska which is tomatoes and cucumbers with grated cheese and also cucumbers in yogurt. After that we ate a relish of macerated tomatoes and peppers. The main dish was Tavche Gravche which was white beans cooked with a Kielbasa type sausage. I am not a fan of beans, but this dish was really good. For dessert Belinda's mom made Tulumba. Tulumba is a fried dough soaked in sugar syrup. We were there for a couple of hours and really enjoyed the meal and the visit. They have a tiny black kitten that slept in my lap through the entire meal. We put Belinda in the car with us to go back to the house so she could tutor Daniel and Josh. Danny and Kyle were supposed to go back to town for coffee with Spire to say goodbye but Spire had to take his dad to the doctor and would just come to the house later. Jackie made us iced coffees and we sat out on the front porch listening to the rain. The rain kept us from our hike on the mountain but let us go back to the hotel in the afternoon to do our packing. Spire did show up for coffee and stayed until Danny and Kyle went to town to finish shopping for Tale and a few things for us. After packing and resting this afternoon we went back to the Kirkpatricks for family night! It was an honor for us to be included. When they celebrate, they get out the "good" dishes, use the goblets for koolaid, and light candles to eat by candlelight. Jackie made hamburger bisquik casserole, cabbage salad, and green beans. We toasted each other and for dessert we had delicious cherry cobbler! We watched an episode of the old series of Mcgyver on their netflix after our meal. They have several series that they watch as a family. We were back at the apartment by eleven. We both took showers and Danny napped a bit until Kyle picked us up at 1:30 am to go to the airport. The airport is one and a half hours away and our flight was at 4:30 am. For an international flight you have to be there about two hours early. Soooo that's the wrap up to a wonderful trip visiting family, making new friends and sharing the love of Jesus through fellowship. We have invitations for next year and have already accepted with big smiles.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Macedonia: Day Eight

Kyle and Jackie picked us up at 10 to go on the first of many home visits today. Our first visit was to Tale’s family. They had gathered some things for Tale and we were to pick them up to bring back to the United States with us, but that still means a sit down visit with the family over coffee. The morning was lovely today and we sat outside as we visited. After our visit, Danny and Kyle had a visit scheduled with Ruben who works at a bank. They dropped Jackie and me at home so Jackie could make lunch for Daniel, Josh and their German teacher, Belinda. The school has two shifts during the day. Josh attends the early shift and is home around 12:30. Daniel attends the late shift so the German teacher teaches Daniel first, has lunch with Josh (and sometimes Jackie) and then teaches Josh. She is very sweet and has invited us for lunch tomorrow. Jeff joined Danny and Kyle for their visit with the man at the bank and it went longer than they expected but they said the visit was a good one. We had a very delayed lunch because of their long visit and a Skype call that Kyle needed to make. It is very Macedonian to have a lunch around 2-3 so I told them we are just eating in the Macedonian way! After lunch we went back into town to have a visit with Cane (pronounced Sahnneigh) and his wife, Valentina. We had a lively conversation over Turkish coffee and snacks. Valentina also made a wonderful nut cake for us. Our home visits generally last about 2 hours. Kyle said if you try to leave their house before an hour then you are being impolite. Once they have served the coffee, then you know that you can leave soon after. The next visit was with Vlado and Beti and their children Elena and Emanuel (Emo). They had invited their friends, Mila and his wife Veronica and their son Sam who live in New Jersey to come and visit as well. Mila is from Prilep and and brought his family home so that his son could meet his father’s family. Mila and Vlado went to school together way back when. Beti made us a delicious poppyseed cake and Elena and her brother who are accomplished pianists, played their new piano for us. With so many people to talk to, this visit went a little long, but it was a sweet fellowship. From there we went to our last home visit at Aleksandre and his wife Tinchka. Their son Boban is Daniel’s really good friend and their daughter Stefani was also at home. I know it is very tiring and many time inconvenient for Kyle and Jackie to both visit and stop to interpret for us and we have done a lot of visiting on this trip! Even thought it is mentally challenging, we really appreciate the effort they make in keeping us within the conversation and we patiently understand when it’s just not possible. We have one more visit to make in the late morning and a coffee visit with Spire to say goodbye. After that, it is family time with Kyle, Jackie and the boys before we prepare to leave and head back home. It has been a full and heartwarming visit. The Macedonians here in Prilep are very warm and inviting. It has been a joy to be welcomed into their homes to get to know them better. Some of the home visits were a first for Kyle and/or Jackie and we pray that it won’t be the last. We are thankful for all of the contacts we have made on this trip and we hope that it will make an impact on Kyle and Jackie’s ministry here as well as Jeff and Amy’s. Until tomorrow…

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Macedonia: Day Seven

meeting with the Director of the Chamber of Commerce

Manuela's youngest daughter

Picking cherries at Kire's house

I thought it was interesting that Kire grows his tomato plants in the furrow instead of on top of it

Kyle asked us to meet him at Izgrev this morning around 10 as we had a visit to make with the Director of the Chamber of Commerce. We were ready early so we left the apartment a little early and took the long way to the square. We were sitting on a bench watching the morning activity when Spire found us. He was on his way to Izgrev as well because he was taking us to meet with the Director. Earlier in our trip, our attempted meeting didn’t work out. Today was our lucky day and we found the Director in his office. I actually received a squeeze to my cheek today from the secretary as she told me in Macedonian that I was “so cute”! We had a nice visit and Danny talked about the business seminar he conducted last year in Ohrid, Skopje, and Prilep and would like an opportunity to do it again in Prilep. The Director seemed to be interested in the possibility of doing it next year at the business college or hotel and also inviting businessmen in the community. Danny will continue to correspond with him and we will see what happens. From there, we met up with Jackie and went to Manuela’s home to have coffee. Manuela is the young lady that I met last night and worked with in English class. Come to find out, the little grocery on the corner near our apartment is where she works and she waited on us our first night we were here. We remembered the little dark haired young lady with the big smile! Manuela prepared a salad for us with lettuce and a dressing of vinegar, oil, salt, and nettle seeds! It was really yummy. She said nettle seeds are good for the heart. We each had a fork and ate out of a communal bowl. Good thing we love each other! Manuela has two daughters, Kiara who is 2 and Mila who is 8. Mila was on a school outing, but we did get to see her for a few minutes before we left. Kiara was a typical two year old, shy at first, but silly at the end. It was a very interesting visit as there were several visitors that moved in and out while we were there. Manuela’s parents came to meet us, two different neighbors and a cousin! Her husband came in just before we left as he and Manuela work two different shifts at their jobs. Her husband is a taxi driver and recognized Jackie as one of his customers. After our visit we were still a little hungry and stopped for a light lunch. We then went to Kire’s house for a visit. Kire showed us around his yard before we went inside. He grows tomatoes in his backyard and it is interesting that the tomatoes are not planted on top of the row, but in the furrow between. He said it is because the climate is dry and the furrow will hold the water. It is the opposite where we live. We plant on top of the row so that the water will run off. He also has walnut trees and sweet cherry trees. He had walnuts on the table for us to crack and eat and said that cracking walnuts helps with conversation. We did have some deep conversation with him and ended our visit by picking cherries off of his cherry tree. Kyle and Jackie dropped us off at our apartment and we had a few minutes before we were expected at Jeff and Amy’s for dinner. Danny stayed at Jeff and Amy’s home last year when he was here and they were in the United States. Amy made us a yummy meal of pork loin, potatoes, coleslaw salad, cauliflower casserole and rosemary bread (like Macaroni Grill). We had a great dinner and conversation and then their friends, Robert and Rosita came to visit for dessert and coffee as well as their children, Isabela and Isaac. Amy made chocolate cake with chocolate dipped strawberries and Rosita brought apple, walnut, and cranberry cake. Of course we had to have a piece of each. They were both delicious! We had great conversation about raising children. Rosita had read the parenting book we did the seminar on so we had some lively discussion about different points in the book. We have had a full and interesting day and tomorrow looks to be the same with several home visits. So until tomorrow….

Monday, May 26, 2014

Macedonia: Day Six

Josh and Daniel's school

the tree on the lower left was Becca's artwork way back from when she was in school here. Many of the mosaic tiles have fallen off.

these are tobacco planters. They poke a hole with it, put in the seedling and then poke a hole next to the seedling to collapse the dirt into the hole.

the Macedonians cook in these clay pots for many of their dishes

lots of yummies at Yule and Atsa's home. 

English as a second language class with Manuela
We went to the corner market this morning to get a few more things after starting a load of laundry. It takes two hours to wash a load with their washing machine and then everything has to be placed on a rack or hung on a line to dry. This morning, Kyle was hoping to meet with the director of the school that their boys attend and invited us to come along. We met Kyle at the school around 10:15, but the director was not there this morning. Instead, we met up with Josh at his break and took a peek into his Physics class. This is the last year that Josh will have at this school as he will attend boarding school in the fall. We were impressed that the teachers are all dressed very professionally and the school was very clean. We drove from there back to Kyle’s house to have coffee with he and Jackie. Jackie makes the best iced coffee! The skies were threatening rain today so we drove to our next coffee visit, this time with Dime. Dime makes jewelry for a living, selling his jewelry in what we would say were craft fairs or craft booths. His work is truly little pieces of art and he had us sit down and watch him create some earrings. He talked about his craft as if it is an easy thing to do, but the creativity required is more than any of us could imagine. He said he thinks about what to make all day and in his sleep! Like a true artist, he also is always trying to find other things to create like baskets and paintings. He finds tutorials on the internet and gives them a try. He also likes to look for natural stones in the surrounding areas like smoky quartz and rubies and then attempts to polish them himself and makes jewelry from them. He can see the beauty hidden inside of a dirty rock, amazing! I also like rocks and once he knew that, he filled my hand with some of his Macedonian findings. It was a fun visit and another opportunity to share about faith in Christ! We went to lunch with Kyle at a pizza place, but did not have any pizza. Instead we had two traditional dishes usually served as appetizers. Once was melted cheeses over a sauce that tastes a little like lasagna but without noodles. The other was egg, cheese, and ham and tomatoes which was kind of like a casserole. Both were served with sesame pita bread and was delicious and enough to fill us up. After lunch, Kyle took us to our apartment as he had a call to make at home. We hung up the laundry and Danny checked his email before Jackie came to pick us up and take us for another coffee visit. This time we were visiting with Jule and Atsa. They are members of the church and Jule was a great hostess. Atsa shared his testimony of faith in Christ with us. Poor Jackie had to do all of the interpreting for them which is very taxing to the brain! Kyle came in late as he had to finish his phone call. Before we left, their daughter Maria asked Danny to sing 10,000 reasons so we all sang it together after we prayed together. From there we went to English class at Izgrev. This is “English as a second language” class and is a free opportunity for people to practice speaking in English. I worked with one young lady, Manuela, and basically asked questions that she would answer in English. We had to get Jackie to help us some as she didn’t understand all that I said but for the most part it worked out great. I also had her ask me some of the same questions so that I could answer her back. We had such a good time that she asked if Jackie, Amy, and I would come for coffee tomorrow, so that is now on the agenda for tomorrow. I will have to go on a no cookie diet when I get home as I have eaten plenty of wonderful cookies and other snacks at our home visits. Until tomorrow…

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Macedonia: Day Five

growing tobacco seedlings

finding our way to our picnic spot

a vineyard along the way

a field of poppies!

looking out over the city of Prilep

a natural spring and water source for many

unpacking the supplies for our picnic

everyone plays CornHole at a picnic right?

this egg and cheese dish that Jackie made was delicious!!

Danny gave the message at the picnic while Kyle interpreted for him

of course we would have coffee at the picnic!

discussion after the message

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these little shrines are everywhere in Macedonia

this sheep dog showed up right at the end of our meal so we threw him a few leftovers

celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary at Macedonia House with the Kirkpatricks

We had a little bit of a lazy start to our day because today was the church picnic. We walked to the corner at 10 for Kyle to pick us up in the car and bring us to meet the rest of the folks who were gathering to walk up the mountain. The church usually has a picnic on May 2, May Day, which is a Veterans holiday, but the weather was too unpredictable then and they rescheduled it to today. Noone really seemed to know exactly where they wanted to go except that they all wanted to eat on the mountain. Eventually a leader popped out of the group and off we went. We walked about one and half miles up the mountain, skirting around vineyards, orchards, vegetable and tobacco fields. We stopped at a beautiful shady area that looked out over all of Prilep and was located near a natural spring. The spring has been directed into a pipe that pours into a stone basin. While we were there, several people came by for a drink of water or to fill containers. Apparently there are springs like this all over the mountain and the locals know where they can find the fresh water while on the mountain.  We set up tables for food and also set up a game called Corn Hole, which we play back home. Everyone nibbled on a delicious egg and cheese dish made by Jackie and played and visited until it was time for Kyle to go and pick up the meat that had been ordered. We had a picnic with hamburgers, grilled chicken breast, fresh bread, tomato and cucumber salad, and cabbage salad. The ladies made the salads on site. It was all delicious! After lunch everyone gathered around to hear the bible message brought by Danny from Philippians 2:1-11. Kyle was his interpreter. Danny says it can be a challenge to speak through an interpreter, but Danny and Kyle are so like minded that they make it look easy. There was dessert after the bible message which was cake and cookies and one of the ladies even made coffee using a tiny single burner camp stove and Nescafe instant coffee! There was more discussion among some of the adults about things relating to the Bible while the kids enjoyed running around and throwing water on each other from the spring. It was a very relaxing afternoon and we packed everything up and headed back down the mountain around 4 p.m. Before we left, a herd of sheep, a sheep dog and a shepherd came near us looking for some grass and probably a cool drink of water from the spring. We showered off back at the apartment and then met the Kirkpatricks at a favorite restaurant, Macedonia House, for dinner. Danny and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary today! We have a full afternoon and evening tomorrow. Until then…