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My Final Entry for GVBeius2014

Hello Landon, Ralph, Brandy, Kyle, Logan, Sarah, Joel, Dennis, Dennis, and Dave,

This is it… my final official blog entry to you all as your team leader for the Habitat for Humanity trip to Beius, Romania in July 2014. It’s hard to believe that our week is actually over. Two weeks ago from today, I arrived in Budapest with a ton of expectations - will my team arrive on time and safely? (Yes) Will there be any injuries? (Minor ones, but we're all okay) Will everyone have a good time? (I think so!!!)

I hope you all have safe travels after the trip and make it to your final destination, your own home. I know the Basners are in Vienna right now and Dennis Squared are in Hellsinki, but they rest of you should be home - even Logan back home to Texas and probably missing her big sister. I arrived back to Connecticut on Wednesday evening and enjoyed sleeping in my own bed finally. Somehow though I still missed the small beds in Europe :)

I hope you all enjoyed our experience in Beius, Romania. I cannot thank you enough for opening your hearts and sharing your sweat and passion with me during my 12th team to Romania. I couldn’t have picked a better group to share it with! I kept thinking throughout the week, “Well something must go wrong today? It can’t go without any troubles? Why is this trip so easy this year?” And nothing did. You all brought so much energy, enthusiasm, and love to our team and our build, I can’t thank you enough! You survived the heat, you survived the shovels and buckets of concrete, you survived the scrapes from moving all the bricks, you survived sleeping in four different hotels, and you all did it without complaints and with such positive energy. I hope you will continue to keep changing the world in your own special way, whether it is through building homes like you did last week or anything else you can think of! You are all amazing people and I am so fortunate that I was able to spend ten days with you all.

Here’s the link to the final video slide show of our adventures in Romania that I posted on Facebook already:

And here's a funny one of bloopers - or really just the silly moments from our trip:


So, now that most of you have returned to your daily life, you are missing your Habitat experience right? For the rookie Habitat folks in our group, this is a common disease we call “Habititus”. It’s okay, you can’t die from this disease, but you will probably have it for the rest of your life! Your friends and family at home might get sick of your stories, might not get your experience, but it's okay - just tell them you have Habititus!

I am sure most of you really miss the triangle eggs and the cucumbers and tomatoes every morning, I'm sure you miss straightening the rebar, hearing the wonderful sounds of the cement mixer, coffee breaks with the amazing chocolate croissants and wafer cookies, you probably miss watching Dennis and Kyle learn how to dance Romanian and the hat tricks at the worksite. You might even miss the tastes of palinka.

So many memories – what do you remember? Feel free to “reply all” to the email I sent to you with some of your favorites from the week. In the end, I guess you miss spending 24/7 with your new friends and you want to stay involved with Habitat, right? Well, lucky you! Some of you are already among the lucky few that are involved with Habitat on a weekly/monthly basis and this will be old news for you. But for the new folks out there - there are a ton of opportunities for you to do just that! Here are just a few to get you started… check out Habitat’s webpage at www.habitat.org] for more!

Future GV Trips… You heard the folks in Beius, I will be back in 2015 and they would love to see you again! Or perhaps think about becoming a Global Village team leader (contact Joe Johnson at Habitat for Humanity International jjohnson@habitat.org to learn more and mention my name). Don’t let our trip be your Global Village experience! There are other trips on the schedule right now to Zambia, Thailand, Jordan, Argentina, Costa Rica, and even Hawaii… the list keeps going. www.habitat.org/gv

Get Involved with your local affiliate like Dave… To find your local affiliate, just go to http://www.habitat.org/cd/local/ and check out what's happening in your area. At many affiliates, you can become a member of the board of directors, join a committee, volunteer on a Saturday, etc etc.

Work for Habitat… there are many volunteer and staff positions available at Habitat for Humanity in the United States and throughout the world. You can volunteer for a short term or long term position (like I did after college in Americus) or apply for a paid position. Check out http://www.habitat.org/hr/ for more information!

For the students - both college and high school - get involved! College kids can form a habitat chapter at their school. Even high schools and younger youth can get involved with Habitat. Join the Act! Speak! Build! Week – Act! Speak! Build! is a nationwide day of educating about poverty housing and habitat. It usually takes place in late March or early April. Check out http://www.habitat.org/youthprograms/ for more info about youth involvement with Habitat!

Support Habitat's work in Beius year-round... Donate your money to Habitat, become a HopeBuilder and send it directly to Habitat for Humanity in Beius. It's a monthly donation of any amount taking right off your credit card and send directly to Habitat Beius. Go to http://www.habitat.org/support/hopebuilders.aspx for more information. You can also check out Beius Habitat's webpage at www.habitatbeius.ro or look for them on facebook.

Become an advocate... Learn more about Habitat and its work around the world. There are nearly 2 billion people around the world who live in slum housing and more than 100 million are homeless. Habitat helps by building or renovating simple, decent houses in partnership with those in need. Learn about Habitat's Disaster Response office which has helped with the Haiti Earthquake, devastating tornadoes this spring and Super-storm Sandy last fall, flash floods in the Philippines, earthquakes and tsunamis in Indonesia and other disasters throughout the world. (http://www.habitat.org/disaster/default.aspx) Research habitat's history and work through its website at www.habitat.org.

If you have any questions about getting more involved in Habitat or anything that I mentioned above, please let me know. I can either answer your question immediately or direct you to someone at Habitat International that can help you!

Once again, thank you for joining me on this build where we helped three different families in Beius and a whole community in Oradea get a little bit closer to achieving their dreaming of owning their own home.

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Take care, keep smiling, and keep building! Until next year, I am signing off!
Katie
GV Beius Romania
July 2014

Posted by gooberkn 07.24.2014 12:23 Archived in USA Tagged habitat_for_humanity global_village Comments (1)

Final Night in Budapest

What an incredible two weeks!

I can't believe today is my last full day in Europe. This trip went by way too fast (as it always does). As I walked along the castle district in Budapest, with the beautiful buildings all around me, I can't help but stop and reflect on my experiences thus far.

It's difficult to put into words the experiences my team and I shared this past week in Romania. A group of 11 individuals from all over the USA came together and shared their love, sweat, muscles, and laughter as we helped several families build a new home. The motto of habitat is simple: it's not a hand out but a hand up. We were not building houses FOR people instead we were building houses WITH people. We not only built houses we also built hope for these families.

This past week there were friendships made, houses built, cultures learned, places explored, and lots and lots of laughs. I can't think all my teammates enough for giving up their vacation time to share this experience with me. For most of my team this is the first Habitat experience and I sure hope it won't be the last. Habitat global village trips, while each unique in their own special way, are always amazing.

I am so thankful to Emil Barna, host coordinator, who made sure that my teams (and all teams to Beius) have an incredible experience. He works endlessly to make sure that we have the best possible experience and a ton of fun along the way.

Our week would be possible without our teachers - Mihai and Nelu worked with us each day and kept us laughing as we were carrying heavy bricks around the work site. And Marcel who made sure we had all the supplies we needed - he knew just when to show up with more cement mixture. And to Ionut, Claudiu and Valer who were busy in Oradea all week so that we could stay in Beius. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to work with you on Saturday.

Here's the final summary, and pictures of course, of our incredible week we spent together:

Monday - The Turle Family in Buntesti

Tuesday - The Bunta Family in Soimi

Wednesday - Buntesti and Soimi in morning and the warehouse in the afternoon.

Thursday - The Iancu Family in Beius

Friday - The Iancu Family in Beius

Saturday - The Oradea Project

What an incredible week! Is there still a lot of work to be done? Of course! But if we all do a little bit, then kids like Isiah, Timotei, and Stefania will have a nice place to call home. So my question for you - what little bit will you do today? This month? This year? You certainly don't have to travel all the way to Romania to help - although I highly suggest it!

So tomorrow I leave and my next post will be from the USA. I will certainly miss this view
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And these people!
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Until then, see you soon!!!

Posted by gooberkn 04:44 Archived in Hungary Tagged habitat_for_humanity global_village Comments (0)

Final Farewell Dinner

Budapest at night by boat

I'm back in Budapest after a long day of traveling yesterday. It was so sad to leave Beius/Oradea and as we pulled out of the town in our van, I had several tears streaming down my face. When I come to Beius in the summer, I feel like I am visiting my family. It's hard to put into words the connection I have with Habitat Beius - you'll just have to come next summer and experience it yourself! It's an emotional day leaving but I know I will be back next summer. I have to beat Emil in bowling next summer!!
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Last night we had our final farewell celebration with the team and it was amazing! We had a private 2.5 hour boat cruise and dinner with live gypsy music. I greeted the team in the lobby with a glass of champagne to celebrate the end of another successful build. After feasting on another incredible dinner, we sat on the deck of the boat and enjoyed the beautiful sites of the city at night.
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As we were all sitting on the deck and enjoying the beautiful sites, I became lost in my own thoughts. It truly is amazing how close you can come to complete strangers after building a house with them for a week. I enjoyed the long one-on-one conversations and the chance to learn about each person's family. In a world filled with such negativity all the time from school shootings to missiles shooting down planes to everyday violence, it is nice to see the good in society. I spent a week with some everyday heroes - people who are trying to make this world a better place one shovel of concrete and one brick at a time. I feel blessed to be a part of this experience. Many folks ask me why I do Habitat every summer and my answer continues to be - Habitat is my refresher course on life - it jump starts me and reminds me about all the good in this world that is happening all around us every single day.

So last night as I said goodbye to the team on the boat, I know that I will see them someday in the future.

As for today, I am enjoying a nice relaxing day in the castle district.
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I'm off to explore! Here's another picture of our adventures from last night:
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Posted by gooberkn 07.21.2014 09:38 Archived in Hungary Tagged global_village Comments (0)

And we're building in Oradea!

Day 6 Update

After a delicious dinner at Time Out in Beius, we headed to the city of Oradea where Habitat is building 30 homes in the next two years. We spent the night at Camunel Felix to work in the morning at the same location I was at last year. I was excited to be reunited with my old friends - the rest of the Habitat Beius staff. They are some of the best Habitat site leaders in the world. Of course I had to stop and take a picture during break with my buddies.

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We had several crews working on Saturday making rebar columns and prepping the foundation for the cement. Once again, the site was so well organized and everyone had a ton of work to do.

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We only worked until 1:00pm and then had lunch with the crew and said our goodbyes. Mihai, Claudiu, and Valer headed back to Beius that afternoon. It was sad to see them go, but it's not goodbye for "Ne vedem vara viitoare!" (See you next summer!).

After work, some of the team members went up the baths while others just relaxed for the afternoon. We all met up at the mall and enjoyed our last dinner with Emil (and his son Edi). We also had the chance to bowl and Emil was victorious in both games - Kyle has promised to come back and beat h next year!

In the morning, we had some breakfast and said our goodbyes. Before we pulled away in the van for Budapest I had to take one last picture with Emil and the team.

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To the amazing staff and crew at Habitat Beius, i leave you with my best thanks in Romanian :) Multumesc pentru rabdare, bunatate si toata buna dispozitie pe care ne-ati oferit-o in aceasta saptamana! Ne vedem vara viitoare!

Posted by gooberkn 07.20.2014 06:01 Archived in Romania Tagged habitat global_village Comments (0)

And tonight I said goodbye to my summer home

Day 4 and 5 update

Thursday and Friday our team worked in town near our hotel in Beius. We worked with Adi and Mirela Iancu. Their habitat house is located behind Adi's father's house and they are expecting a baby this winter.

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We raised all the walls in their new home with the concrete blocks. It was tough work - lots of heavy lifting and mixing the mortar with my favorite cement mixer. It was amazing to see the outcome after each day! The house started with just a foundation and we left it with all the walls up - you could really see the future house! And it was great to work with Adi and Mirela - I felt like they were good friends by the end of the day and definitely plan to visit them next summer in their new home.

Here are some pictures from a busy and hot two days of work:

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At the end of two days we took a picture of the finished tasks and said our official goodbye to our amazing crew - we're working only a half day tomorrow in Oradea and thought it best to say "multumesc" (thank you) in Beius.

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Of course we didn't just work these two days - our evenings were filled with learning about Beius and it's surrounding areas. On Thursday we enjoyed market day in the morning, traditional night with dancers and singers and my favorite soup of all time (stuffed pepper soup). And then Landon from Alaska was invited by Mihai to play futbol at night and we all went and cheered him on! What a day!

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Friday evening we packed our bags and had one last meal in Beius at Time Out. Valer and Ionut from the Habitat team came (they were working in Oradea all week) as well as Emil, Mihai, and Adi and Mirela. We them drove to Oradea and checked into our new place at Caminul Felix. We arrived at night and the stars were amazing.

Tomorrow is another day and another site for us with new tasks... I can't believe this trip is almost over and I have to say goodbye to this beautiful country on Sunday - but I'll be back for team #13. :)

Nopte buna!!!

Posted by gooberkn 07.18.2014 14:35 Archived in Romania Tagged habitat_for_humanity global_village Comments (0)

Day 3 in Beius

3 worksites, bear caves, birthdays, and more!

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I started off the day with a beautiful early morning run. It was so quiet and peaceful and gave me a chance to reflect a bit on this experience. And take some more pictures of this beautiful town!

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Day 3 on the worksite was as Kyle from Texas said "a hot productive day". Our team was split into two locations. A group of four folks went to the first site in Buntesti with Emil and the Turle family. The rest of my group went back to our second site with Mihai and Nelu and finished pouring concrete into the columns for Cristi's house. I finally got to mix concrete with Nelu! We then all went back to Beius for lunch and worked the remainder of the day in the warehouse making the rebar structures.

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At lunch Dennis H from Chicago had a birthday surprise - Emil and I got a cake made at the coffee shop and we all sang him happy birthday. Dennis said his birthday was superb and wished that every birthday was this good.

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After work we went up to the bear caves, had some dinner, and stopped by the museum and an old beautiful church along the way home. I thank Mihai and Emil for spending the evening with us as our "tour guides".
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Today, Thursday, is market day and then we are working on the new house in Beius. Tonight is out last night and this beautiful town before we head to Oradea the morning to help out with the project there.

I am going to miss spending time in my summer home. I can't thank enough the people of Beius for being so kind and welcoming to my group.

Posted by gooberkn 07.16.2014 22:42 Archived in Romania Tagged hfh Comments (1)

Another Amazing Day!!!

Day 2 with the Bunta Family

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Today - what an amazing day! We travelled about 30 minutes to the town of Soimi where we met the Bunta family. You can check out their story in a previous blog entry.
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We split into our tasks again - some were cutting wood, others were going around town picking up supplies and my group was adding more concrete blocks to the house and the tiles on the ceiling of the kitchen.

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I spent the day working with Cristi, the 35 yr old father of three adorable children. Cristi is a teacher just like me so we got along immediately. His English is amazing. Christi works in the primary school while his wife is a social worker. They are involved in serving in the Baptist Church which houses a large community of Roma and Romanians. Once their house is finished, they plan on offering their home for meetings and teaching the children in the area how to read and write. Such an amazing family! Cristi previously worked with the Good Samaritan organization which helps with the integration of teenage orphans giving them job skills. They partnered with Habitat before and I am pretty sure that Cristi and I worked together back in 2003.

During lunch, Cristi's wife and children came by the worksite with an amazing dessert of blueberry bread. We played with the kids, took lots of pictures, and then Cristi gave us a tour of his new home. He hopes to have it all finished by Christmas.

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My team has been great this year - they are so flexible and willing to help out with any task. It got quite warm on site today and it didn't slow them down at all. I love taking a step back on worksite and seeing all the new habitat volunteers catch the infectious disease of "habititus". It is such a great organization and they are hooked!!!

Dave Tirsell from Macomb County Habitat affiliate in Mount Clemens, Michigan added:
"What stuck we me was the homeowners comment that after all these years he felt that god was smiling on his family and it was so gratifying to work along side with them to work on their dream together. And they will put good use to their large yard with their daughter and sons."

Here are some more pictures from a busy day :)

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Posted by gooberkn 07.15.2014 08:30 Archived in Romania Tagged humanity hfh global_village Comments (0)

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