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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Macedonia: Day Eight

Today was our last day here in Prilep. I woke to overcast skies and there were a few sprinkles as I walked this morning. We joined Kyle and Jackie for breakfast and ate Burke, a meat pie that looked like a panini made with phyllo dough. We had a choice of beef or ham and cheese. Both were delicious! We also ate Strudla which is apple strudel. It was also very good. Danny, Kyle and I then drove out to Krivogashtani, the village where we worked on the playground and checked on it’s progress. We then drove up the mountain to Krusevo where we sat down for a coffee and Salep. It is the highest town in Macedonia, situated at an altitude of over 4,429 feet. Salep is a Turkish drink made with a wild orchid flour that contains the starch glucomannan. It is mixed with milk and has a hot milky, sweet cinnamon taste. We briefly went into the church there to see the Iconostasis. Leaning against the Iconostasis was a picture of a deceased pop star that has developed a cult like status similar to our Elvis. He is from Krusevo and his grave has become a pilgrimage site for many. There is also a museum dedicated to him built near the cemetery. To have his picture lean against the Iconostasis is to lift him up into a Saint like state to be worshipped in the Orthodox church. Kyle said for the Orthodox this would be very offensive and he is surprised to see that it is still remaining in the church. Krusevo is also a ski town in Macedonia. We also went to see the monument Meckin Kamin (Bear’s Stone). It is a monument dedicated to the last defense of Krusevo during the Ilinden Uprise. The legendary detachment leader,Pitu Guli, together with his soldiers, gave their lives in defense of Krusevo. The soldiers of the detachment, held the Ottoman army for hours and after a fierce battle, 45 insurgents were killed, along with Pitu Guli. Ottoman losses were enormous. They were defeated however, and the Ottoman army on August 13, 1903 entered in Krusevo, burning and looting the city. We left Krusevo to go back to Prilep as Kyle and Danny had meetings with some men at Izgrev. Jackie met us there and we went into the city to finish some shopping and get a bite to eat. Jackie introduced me to another Macedonian dish, Piroska which is like a fried, rolled crepe filled with ham and cheese and tartar sauce. It was delicious and I also finally had my baklava! We rejoined the men and then went to little Maggie’s sixth birthday party. She is the daughter of Jeff and Amy who work alongside Kyle and Jackie here in Prilep. After the birthday, we went to dinner at our favorite, Macedonia House. We tried not to eat too much at the birthday, so we would have room for an early dinner. I ate a traditional Macedonian chicken dish and everyone else ate Tava, another traditional dish. Tava is like a pork stew. They ate three different kinds but their favorite was one with lots of garlic. We also had Baklava again, this time next door to the restaurant at the Disneyland bakery. After dinner we went home for the first time of the day but only for about 20 minutes. We then went back out for our last home visit to our dear friends Alexsandre and Tence. We had a nice visit with delicious gigantic cream puffs also from the Disneyland bakery and then back home for packing. Tomorrow we head back to Greece for a couple of nights before heading home. Until tomorrow...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Macedonia: Day Seven

The temperatures are still in the upper 40’s, but I made it a priority to get up and take my walk today even though it was cold. Danny came part of the way with me again. Danny joined Kyle and Jackie for breakfast and I came up a little while later. I went with Kyle and Danny to drop off Kyle’s van to have the tires switched out. While this was taking place, we went to a nearby flower shop to visit with Suzana and her husband, Zoki. Her husband wasn’t there, but Suzana did her best to visit with us in-between trying to serve her customers. Jeff and Amy came and picked me up so that I could go with Amy to have coffee with her friend Biliana. We went to a local coffee shop called Art Cafe and visited for about 1.5 hours. It was a good visit. Each of these visits for coffee draw me closer into the lives of these wonderful people. They are very warm and friendly and for the most part, very open with their lives, or at least the ones that have wanted to have us for coffee. Biliana was no exception. She shared some things with me that I knew were very personal and I will treasure them. After coffee, Jackie picked me up and took me back home for lunch. She had taken Daniel to the doctor for an antibiotic. After lunch we went to visit with another friend of Jackie’s. She is an interesting lady with a beautiful black and white cat. She believes in cooking with natural ingredients, prefers food without preservatives, and has natural remedies for illness and other problems. She enjoy walking on the mountain and collecting plants for natural teas. I thought she was very intriguing to talk to. Before leaving, we stopped for a few minutes to talk to Jule and her daughter Maria because we were close by. Julie is another wonderful cook and shared some special treats with us. We surprised her in the middle of her cleaning so we didn’t stay long. After visiting, Jackie dropped me off at ESL, English as a second language class which takes place at Izgrev. Danny and Kyle had been out having coffee with a variety of people and they met me there. Kyle and Jackie went back home, but we stayed with Jeff and Amy to participate in their classes. Its rather fun to listen to those in the class trying out what they know. Sometimes they answer the questions correctly and sometimes they don’t have a clue what you are asking. We ate a light dinner back at Kyle and Jackie’s. Jackie had just put some homemade sourdough bread into the oven to bake. It was so delicious! Tomorrow is our last day here in Prilep. We have a lot to do tomorrow and many people to see. Until tomorrow…

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Macedonia: Day Six

Sunday dawned overcast and cold! A cold front moved in during the night and we woke to highs in the 40’s. I chose to stay snuggled in my bed for awhile this morning and skip a walk in the cold. I went upstairs to join Jackie for breakfast and found that Daniel had been returned to us early this morning because he has started running fever AGAIN and now has sinus pain and pressure! The poor boy has had fever off and on for three weeks. Time to go to the doctor tomorrow. Sundays are usually not a good day for visiting because people are usually visiting with their families. Jackie and I were able to make one coffee visit and walked down the street to visit with Petranka, the mother of their son Joshua’s former schoolmate. She has been diagnosed with cervical cancer and is undergoing treatment for it. She was very tired and Jackie told her we didn’t plan to stay long. We stayed long enough to make sure she was doing okay, to get a status report and to pray with her. Danny and Kyle returned from their overnight stay around 2:30 p.m. I think jet lag finally caught up with me and I took the opportunity before bible study for a quick nap. We had bible study (church) led my Danny in Kyle and Jackie’s home. Danny sang while one of their youth, Elena, played the guitar. She also played for all of us to sing some worship songs. There is also another bible study taking place at the same time with Jeff and Amy at Jule and Atsa’s home. We had wonderful fellowship after church and a very late supper before bed. It was a fairly quiet day today which I suppose it should be on a Sunday. Until tomorrow…

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Macedonia: Day Five

Today is Saturday and this morning started with another walk in the neighborhood. Danny came with me for half of my walk. I am only walking a couple of miles but it wakes me up and gets me ready for the day. We ate a late breakfast with Kyle, Jackie and Daniel and then Kyle and Danny settled the details for the father/son overnight retreat they are planning for this evening. Kyle had something to deliver in town and I wanted to see the Market on a Saturday so we went into town for the morning. Jackie bought cabbage, nuts, oranges, green onions and lettuce in the market. It is like a farmer’s market that we would have back home with many many vendors. It’s quite large and was bustling with people. Jackie and I also did a little shopping while the men were visiting. We really like the Macedonian cookies we get at the grocery store. I looked longingly at the baklava in a local bakery, but today was not the day for that treat. I will definitely be eating some baklava before I leave here. It is delicious! We returned home and Danny, Kyle and Daniel began their preparation to leave. At 3:00, Jackie and I were joined by three young ladies that attend their church so that we could have a bible study aimed at teen girls. These three girls are believers and we considered inviting some others that are not believers but changed our mind at the last minute. We decided it might be best to introduce the topic we were discussing to these girls first and then to see if they would like to continue getting together and invite the other girls. For reference, we used a book about lies that the world tells young women and specifically talked about the worlds view on girl/boy relationships and what God says about them. The girls were very attentive and agreed with all the points about what the world is telling them. They listened and responded when we discussed what the Bible says about the same topic. They also thought it was a good idea to continue meeting and also to involve the other girls. Jackie will work on trying to make that happen later this year when they return from furlough to the United States. Since our men were gone on their retreat, Jackie and I had a light supper and settled in for popcorn and a movie, The Odd Life of Timothy Green. A cold front is moving in tomorrow with highs in the low 40’s so I think I will skip my walk in the morning and give my body a rest. So until tomorrow…

Friday, April 17, 2015

Macedonia: Day Four

Today is another sunny day here in Prilep. I went for my walk early this morning. I have identified a peacock call and a cockatiel call on my walk and lots of dogs and a few cats. Of course there are people walking or driving to work or town. There are also children walking to the first shift of school. Kyle cooked us breakfast this morning and then he and Danny left for a Business Ethics lecture that Danny was to give to some businessmen. Jackie and I stayed behind and discussed topics for a “girls only” little get together we will have on Saturday. Danny and Kyle came back from the seminar and Danny and I went to visit our friend Spire in town for lunch. We were joined toward the end of lunch by one of the men that had attended the Business Ethics lecture. We had an hour or so of visiting and then Spire took us to the oldest part of Prilep and up to the Saint Archangel Michael Monastery. In that part of town, it was a religious holiday where the people make a pilgrimage up to the monastery to enter the church and pay homage to the Saints. It was a very long walk from the town center to the base of the mountain and then up the mountain we walked to get to the monastery. Danny and I had never seen active participation of worship in the Macedonian Orthodox church so it was very interesting to us. There was lots of crossing themselves and kissing of the icons as the people filed slowly by them. Eggs, that had been died red, were waiting in a basket to be handed to people as they left if they wanted them. The eggs had been brought there by volunteers as an offering of sorts. We asked several of the nuns if anyone could tell us anything about the church but none seemed to have any information so we bought a pamphlet in English about the monastery. After our visit, we came back home for a little rest and then went out for some home visits. We visited with Moni and her mother first. Moni has been coming to bible study with her father, but her mother has not come. We encouraged her mother to come and told them Danny would be speaking on Sunday so maybe she would be curious to come and hear him. From there, we went to visit our friend, Vale. Her mother and son Nicolas were also there. Vale has interviewed for a new job and is waiting to hear about the result. She is currently employed but would like something better. Jobs are hard to come by here and this job would actually be in another town. We are praying for Vale and her job situation. Our last visit was to our friends, Beti and Vlado, their daughter Elena and son Emo. Beti shared some wonderful homemade chocolates with us that she had made for Easter. They were all different and we had fun trying the different ones. Elena is an accomplished pianist and it is evident that she is passionate about the piano. We begged her to play for us and she obliged with a song she is currently working on. It was beautiful. Of course, if Elena plays then we want to have Emo play as well and he played beautifully too. His style is different from Elena and it’s wonderful to listen to them both. They play on a lovely piano that was made in the USSR. Beti and Elena have always been interested in my twin grand babies and gave us presents for them again this year. They follow me on Facebook and keep up with their growth and accomplishments. It was 10 p.m. when we arrived home and even though we had been snacking at everyone’s homes, we still wanted to eat something for dinner. Vale works at a bakery near her home that makes only bread and she bought a loaf for us warm out of the oven on our way out from our visit with her. It was delicious sliced up with some cheese for a light evening meal. Danny is now packing for his father/son overnight retreat tomorrow. He is going to share Daniel with Kyle, lol. Its been a long day but a fun one so until tomorrow…..

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Macedonia: Day Three

The day started early for Danny and Kyle with another trip out to Krivogastani to work on the playground equipment they are building. This was a project originally intended for an earlier mission team, but travel delays and bad weather affected their ability to work on the project. I got up and walked early this morning and joined Jackie and Daniel for breakfast again. Daniel is still running fever but is getting better. Jackie and I joined Danny and Kyle later in the morning so that we could do touch up painting on the equipment being built. They weren’t as far along as they hoped to be by the time we got there, but we still had plenty to work on. The mayor of the village came with a camera crew for an interview about the project. There are storks everywhere in the little village that nest up high on the power poles. Jackie tells me the mayor would like to encourage tourism to their little village to see the storks. Jackie and I picked up lunch for everyone, chicken steak (chicken breast) sandwiches and Toast (like a ham and cheese panini) and finished our task after lunch. We all came back home in the afternoon because Kyle and Jackie had a meeting in their home. This gave me an opportunity to do laundry and for Danny to work on his lecture that he is giving to a group of businessmen tomorrow. Danny also posted a ministry update and some pictures to facebook. This evening we went to Izgrev, the meeting place that Kyle, Jackie, Jeff, and Amy use for mission outreach activities. They showed a locally produced Macedonian film of young people sharing their Christian testimonies. There were 25 or so in attendance including all of us. The film was in Macedonian without subtitles so Danny and I just watched, but we had an opportunity to fellowship with those in attendance after the film was over. We came back to Kyle and Jackie’s after the fellowship to eat a late supper of our wonderful leftovers and plan tomorrow’s activities. Until tomorrow…

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Macedonia: Day Two

We went to bed early last night and slept very well. Jet lag has a way of doing that to you. This morning, Danny was awake early to eat breakfast with Kyle before they left Prilep to go to a local village, Krivogashtani. They worked until around 5 constructing a playground and aren’t quite finished. I walked this morning in the local neighborhood and then joined Jackie and Daniel for breakfast. Their son, Daniel, is home from school with a fever. We were asked to join Jackie’s neighbors for coffee late this morning and had a wonderful visit with two dear ladies. This is the week following Easter and I have been included in an Easter tradition. At home, we die Easter eggs lovely pale shades and usually we die them with our children. I don’t know if there is actually anything associated with that tradition that is spiritual. Here, they die a bunch of eggs prior to Easter and the main color is red. Sometimes they put them in a pot with a red onion and the color is a brown shade, but there are also always red ones. Jackie and Kyle had asked someone about the tradition of the red eggs and they had an interesting explanation. This person said that the eggs are died red because Mary, the mother of Jesus, had a basket of eggs at the foot of the cross and the blood of Jesus dripped on them. So for the Orthodox, the red color symbolizes the blood of Christ. The person they talked to went on to say that one egg is held out and saved for a year and that is to “keep” the house safe or well. I asked the ladies today about the tradition and neither one really knew why the eggs were to be red except that it had something to do with the blood of Christ or with the color of the wine. So, the tradition of dyeing the eggs red is one that is handed down but not always the explanation for why. We did some research when we got back home and the tradition that was explained to Kyle and Jackie actually comes from Orthodox Christian Romania. According to this tradition, the practice of egg dyeing takes place on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. The tradition holds that one of the eggs is to be taken and blessed by the Priest, but Jackie said that doesn’t always happen in Prilep. In the Serbian tradition, the blessed egg is then the “keeper” and because it was blessed it will remain unspoiled until next Easter. That egg is said to insure family security and health. Also in the Orthodox Christian Romania tradition, after the Thursday mass, some of the died eggs are buried in vineyards to have God’s protection from hailstorms and to ensure a good harvest. Kyle and Jackie had been told the part about the hailstone protection as well. We also read stories of Mary Magdelene and the white eggs turning to red on different occasions when people put her stories of Christ’s resurrection to the test of the truth. I just think they are beautiful and quite a departure from the pastel eggs of home. It is also an Orthodox tradition to give an egg to your visitors so everyone has a basket at home with eggs from all of the people they have visited. So in true Macedonian Orthodox tradition, I have 3 eggs now that I added to Jackie’s overflowing basket. We plan to make egg salad soon….lol. Jackie and I ate lunch at home with Daniel and then we went to a “club” for people with Downs Syndrome or others that have been mentally affected. This is run by the parents of these kids who volunteer three days a week to give an afternoon of their time to have this “club”. When we arrived they were painting walnut shells that later would be made into ladybugs as they learned about insects. It was quite obvious that they were loved and cared for by these parents. This was in stark contrast to what I saw in China, where I worked with tiny children with special needs that were cast off from their family because they weren’t whole or perfect. We stayed at the club until the kids started going home and returned home to prepare supper. Our very tired men came in and showered and we had black eyed peas, cornbread and cabbage slaw for supper. After supper we went to the home of Tinche and Aleksandre’s for a pre-Baptism class. Their son, Boban is a good friend of Daniel and we visited them last year.  Tinche, Aleksandre and their daughter Stefie were attending the class as well as Evgenia. All of these we had met last year and visited with and this year they are new believers and studying about what that means and how it applies to Baptism. Tinche is a gracious hostess and after our class she brought out a vegetable salad (peas, carrots, corn in sour cream and mayonnaise) and some absolutely delicious chocolates and treats she had made. That combined with Evgenia’s homemade cookies made me really glad we had not already eaten dessert because I had to try one of everything! Kyle and Danny are really tired and we had left Daniel for quite awhile so we are back home now getting ready for sleep. Tomorrow is another early day for Danny and Kyle as they head back to work on the playground project. So until tomorrow…

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Macedonia: Arrival Day

Four flights and a three hour drive later, we have finally arrived in Prilep, Macedonia. This is Danny’s third trip here and my second. Our purpose, other than seeing friends and family, is to join alongside our cousins in their missionary work here. This year we are staying in the downstairs one bedroom apartment of their home. Last year we came in late May and it was pretty warm. This year we are earlier and it’s cold here in Prilep and I think unseasonably so. The highs are in the 60’s and lows in the 40’s and they have had an unusual amount of rain. I actually enjoy that temperature range so the cold isn't bothering me at all. Kyle has several projects already on the “schedule” for us as well as home visits to line up. I say schedule loosely because Macedonian time is generally not scheduled time but rather a loose time schedule. Either way, we are really looking forward to our work here and also our fellowship with Kyle, Jackie and Daniel. Jackie made us a delicious chicken gumbo over wheat berries (instead of brown rice) which was wonderful. I’ve never eaten wheat berries before and just might be putting some in my suitcase to bring home. Sitting around the dinner table tonight catching up on life was a great ending to our traveling day(s). Tomorrow, Danny and Kyle start the day with an early morning project. Until tomorrow…