Bucharest: July 24 – Final Performance at Cancer Hospital

by Webmaster 24. July 2015 21:26

It was a bittersweet morning as the last day of ministry began. I was tired and a little relieved to only think about one show for my last day in town but sad that the trip went by so quickly.

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There was a bit of a miscommunication so we were not expected and the staff had to quickly locate kids able to move to see the show. However, I think it was better for the kids who came. There was at least a 2 clown to 1 child ratio, which was perfect for these kids. They had their own personal show. We spent the first hour just playing with the kids, waiting for more kids to arrive and delaying the show. During that time, we played Simon Says, played different clapping games, did the macarena, and line danced. The kids loved it. There was a little boy who originally did not want to be in the room because he didn’t see any of his friends but as time went on, he decided to stay because he loved being with the clowns.

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When the show finally began, they would approach the clowns more readily because of all of the time spent beforehand. The clowns were the kids’ friends and entertainers so the kids felt comfortable volunteering to be in magic tricks, tapping on clowns’ shoulders, or tickling clowns anytime a clown would fall or sit down.

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I was extremely proud of the clowns because despite the heat, the clowns made it through the 2 hours – dancing, jumping around, the show, everything. The new clowns went with a nurse and visited kids too sick to come down. They distributed stickers, crayons, and Bible story books. After the show, all of the clowns took their time walking down the stairs. Distributing stickers to anyone we met. I was one of the last to leave so there were few people who passed us who were not already proudly wearing their smiley face stickers. Naumi ensured that one each floor she stopped and distributed stickers to every person waiting between the testing areas. There was one woman I met who didn’t like her stickers and she took it off when she thought no one was looking. However, she stuck it on a doorway of a major area that people pass. So, as you walk through this doorway, you are greeted with “Jesus Loves You” and a clown smiley face. Even those stickers will not be wasted but bring more smiles.


When we piled into the car, I was able to ask our brand new clown how the day went for her. She was able to come because she was older and more mature but it was her first time being a clown. She grinned from ear to ear and said that she enjoyed it.

We arrived back at the church for lunch and to set aside supplies for the clowns. The church loves the clown ministry so much, they want to start using it on Saturdays at local parks and the neighborhood, so they needed to ensure that they had everything readily available. During lunch I was surprised with gifts from the church and the team. The clown team presented me with a coffee mug and at first glance I thought it was because it had a yellow clown smiley face like what we distributed. But as I looked closer it had a personal message from the team and the names written of all of the clowns from the team. I almost began to cry I was so touched by it.



It is always sad to leave Romania but I am always so grateful for the people I meet and the memories we create.


Romania 2015

Bucharest: July 23 – Cancer Hospital & Park Day

by Webmaster 23. July 2015 21:41

We began the day with visiting the local cancer hospital and giving a show in the children’s playroom. We took the elevator to the children’s floor and noticed there were clown smiley face stickers on the doors from last year’s visit. Our guide was so excited to realize it was us who had left the stickers, she had the clowns place an “Isus te Iubeste” sticker on the doors as well.

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The kids loved the clowns, especially David, Vlad, and “Bob” the clown. The guys would all play off of each other and the kids would howl with laughter. It was great because they complement each other well. “Bob” is goofy and quick to improvise, David engages the kids and brings them into the show, and Vlad plays a great straight man to their antics. And Vlad can read the audience and typically tell when it’s time to end their magic tricks. Unfortunately, my camera died before I had the opportunity to capture the moment but I looked out at this room full of children literally sitting on the edges of their seats with mouths open in awe of David and his magic tricks.

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“Bob” also added parts to the serious skits to help ensure that the kids could better understand what was going on. It was a trust exercise for me because I would start the music and he would grab a prop and briefly explain his idea. I often half understood what he was about to do before saying that he could do it but he was amazing. At one point, he grabbed the Bible to try to fit it through the heart (which didn’t fit). I think he was trying to show that religion will not fill you up either but it was a little deep for the kids.


Following the show, we began to make balloons and I looked up to realize most of my clowns had disappeared. Most of them had decided to visit the rooms upstairs. I asked “Bob” afterwards where he went and how it went upstairs. He said that it went well. He said, “We made balloons, gave out the books, gave out the stickers, and we made the kids laugh. They could understand my jokes and they laughed, so it was good. I really like being a clown. I feel like this is what I was made for.”


When it was time to leave, we took the stairs down and I would hand stickers to anyone not already stickered and blow kisses at the people near the stairwell waiting in chairs between hallways. Suddenly, I realized all of my clowns had gone ahead and I couldn’t remember if the exit was of Floor one, when the stairs stopped, or if there was a difference between the two. About that time, a nurse came up and after I gave her a sticker she asked me where I came from. I replied that I was from the US and she rolled her eyes laughing, “Obviously but where are you from in the US.” I told her I was from Seattle and we chatted about the clowns and the performance as we progressed down the stairs. About Floor 2, I had run out of stickers and sheepishly explained I wasn’t quite sure how to get out of the building. She laughed and took me towards the front entrance and dropped me off with the clown team.

We found Ana excitedly giving stickers to every person anywhere near her in the middle of the entrance. I grabbed a couple of her stickers and helped finish out the roll of stickers. One of those stickers was to an old man trying so hard to look stern but he was watching me carefully as I handed out stickers. I offered him a smiley face sticker and he grinned from ear to ear and excitedly pointed to his chest where he wanted me to place the sticker. It was like he hoped I would give him a sticker but he was guarded so he wouldn’t get his hopes up if I ran out or was only giving the stickers to younger people. You could literally see his entire body shift from weighted and guarded to joyful, like a child who just received a special gift.

After a break, we returned back to the church to get ready to clown again. The original plan was to clown in parks or the local neighborhood on Friday. However, the kids all stated that they would rather go back to the cancer hospital the next day because they really loved cheering the kids up at the hospital.

That evening we performed at three different locations in the area. The first performance was kind of near a park but mostly next to a group of older men sitting in park benches and talking over beers. Pastor Nelu asked us to start the show which made some of the kids a bit nervous as we would be performing for a lot of adults and only a few kids. We began the show and included a couple of the newer and younger clowns into the show. Simona told me that Ana Dinca thought the clowns had finished with one of their magic tricks and had forgotten all of the wands they distributed into the crowd. Thinking she was helping, she collected all of the wands from the kids only to have the clowns laugh and explain that they hadn’t finished their skit yet. I am a little bummed I didn’t get to see it but it made a lot of people laugh. In the end, it was not the best show of the day but I think it was great experience to minister to a different group.

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The second park was a favorite performance of the week for several of the clowns. Not only were there a lot of kids but they were engaged in the show. They weren’t wild but they were loud and involved – which is perfect.

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The show began as it normally did with one of the first skits being the haircut skit. As I tried to run away from the clowns who were about to cut my hair, I jumped onto the slide and got part way up the slide before allowing myself to slide down a bit. I did this for a few more times as if I couldn’t actually climb the slide but was determined to get away from the haircutters. As I slid down the slide the clowns caught me and “cut my hair.” When they took my wig and gave me a mirror at the end of the skit, I looked at Ana Dinca and shouted “You took my wig” which Ana was not expecting and immediately started exclaiming “Nu! Nu!” Her shock at being looped into the show made both her and the audience laugh.

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By this time, most magic tricks were performed by one clown and included “Bob.” It wasn’t long before the kids started cheering and chanting Bob’s name. He was their favorite and following the show, several of the boys would not take any balloons unless they were made by “Bob.”

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The final performance of the day was an abbreviated show as it was coming up on 9 pm. As I quickly explained the show schedule to Vlad, my counterpart for show preparations, I mentioned we would not be doing the haircut skit. He made a puppy dog face and asked if we could do that skit as well. I couldn’t say no and once again, I climbed/ran up the slide and slid down it for the amusement of the kids. It’s one of the few times when I woke up sore the next morning following clowning and I knew why muscles were hurting. Lol.

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Romania 2015

Bucharest: July 22 – Orphanage & Local Neighborhood

by Webmaster 22. July 2015 21:30

Today, we visited a local orphanage for children with disabilities. We arrived about a half hour late but with being outside in the heat, we still completed the show pretty quickly so it worked out.

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At the beginning of the show, we have been starting with “Chicken Dance” so all of the clowns can get the audience attention and start to make them laugh. I used to hate the long version of the song but I have found it has enabled me to get prepared for the next 3 skits, put on my clown hood of the “Haircut Skit” and for me to give all of the supplies to Vlad for the haircut skit. The last few times we have been doing the “Haircut Skit,” I have been having Vlad (Robert’s son) part of the skit. Originally, because he was amusing at the role. But I realized today that the last time I saw my grandmother do the skit was with Robert in 2003. She “cut” Robert’s hair, so I guess it’s only fitting that Vlad cuts mine. Anyway, today, I had the clowns chase me stating I need a haircut as I screamed “No.” At one point they let go and I made a break for it and ran around the little gazebo the kids were sitting in to watch the show. When I ran back into the center of the gazebo, I slipped. Since I am a clown, I decided to go with it and fall. Which delighted the audience and was just enough time for the other clowns to catch me and place the bag over my head.

Following the show, the clowns handed out candies and made balloons. There were two kids with autism that were sitting in the gazebo with no one else around them. Most of the other children were outside the gazebo asking for balloons so they could pop them. Anyway, I asked a worker if I could make them balloons and they said we could try. I made a simple sword balloon for each and they both lit up as I handed them each “their balloon.”

On the way back from the orphanage, the clown caravan went back to the church. What was so amusing was watching Vlad with a blow up hammer prop use it to hit the ground outside of the car at stoplights and capture the attention of other drivers. Following which they would pass out ready-made balloons to other cars, sometimes while both cars are driving parallel to each other. At one point, they saw a crowd of kids and pulled over to make a bunch of balloons before completing the drive back. I was so proud of them.

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After the afternoon break, we walked around the neighborhood. I don’t know why but I completely misunderstood the purpose of walking around the neighborhood. I thought we were handing out stickers, making balloons, and adults would be handing out Bibles and talking with people in the area. Again, unsure why. We jumped in a van and drove around the neighborhood, occasionally dropping clowns off in various parts of the area to talk with people. Again, I thought we were just talking to people so couldn’t figure out why I was being asked to go back into the van before making balloons for some people.


At the end of a dead end street the clowns were dropped off and Nelutu, the driver, and Bob the Clown drove off. I thought to go talk to people in other areas. We were dropped off in an area where several Roma children live, including Mahaila, who had helped us clown on Tuesday. A small crowd began to form around us and Vlad Dinca stated we should start the show. To which I replied,

“We aren’t doing a show.”
“Pretty sure we are.”
“No, we aren’t. All of the props are at Maranata.”

Turns out we were supposed to do a show so I had to send Abby back to get the props while the clowns continued to make balloons. They were troopers, continuing to hand things out and make balloons while waiting for the props to arrive. As we made balloons, we explained we would be giving a show in a few minutes. One of the boys stated “Wow! This is from a church? What church.” I told him we were from Maranata and he asked where was the church. At that point, I had to have one of the other clowns take over because I couldn’t tell you which direction to go. But it was great to see interest in Maranata and openness to God.

Finally, the props arrived and the show began. One of my highlights was Vlad and David worked as a 2 man team and closed out the magic portion of the show, making a simple magic trick extremely amusing to the kids. I always love seeing something “simple” become something that creates laughter.


When we arrived back at the church, Ana Dina greeted us. I, quite loudly, said Buna (hello). At that point, she pointed at the door and I realized that Wednesday night service was still going on. I immediately apologized believing that I had accidentally disrupted the service. However, it turns out that the congregation was waiting for us to return and provide a mid-week update about how the week was going. I shared a couple funny stories but mostly how the clowns have grown a lot since the year before, the neighborhood was intrigued by the idea of clowns at a nearby church, and (especially) God’s love and joy was being spread.



Romania 2015

Bucharest: July 21 – Local Park Day

by Webmaster 21. July 2015 21:36

All of the clowns met up at the church this morning to get ready to visit the parks.


Local kids arrived to have their faces painted – which was great to have all of the water based paints that were donated. A couple local kids, who had not clowned before, went with us and I gave them the task of blowing bubbles and inviting people to see the show.


It was fun to watch the clowns as they have grown so much as performers since last year. The kids were responsive, laughing, and at one moment, when we thought we had started losing them, Vlad Dinca started a new magic trick that all of the kids truly enjoyed. Another clown misunderstood when I stated that we were getting ready for the skit “Jesus Fills the Hole in my Heart” and yanked Vlad off the stage. Which still worked because the kids were  still engaged to watch the serious skit.


Several adults went with us as well and came back exclaiming that the handed out more New Testaments than they can usually distribute. Many people’s hearts melted with the clowns and were able and willing to listen with the joy and love of God being shown to them.

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After taking a couple hour break (and a chance for me to take some allergy medicine as all of the grass in the park was killing me), we met at the church and left for “Round Two.”


Our first performance was not a large crowd but the kids were participating more. For instance,  there is a “Haircut Skit” where 2 clowns attempt to help a friend (usually played by me) by cutting my hair. Only they accidentally cut off all of my hair (or pull the wig off) which I am still unable to see because I wear a bag over my head with a hole cut out of the top during the skit. The crowd all gasps, thinking it’s a mistake. Until the clowns all begin to throw the wig around trying to pass blame before handing me a mirror and enabling me to see that I am now bald. Which, again, made all of the kids laugh.


Additionally, this time I had DeMaris play a sillier role in the serious skit. I had typecasted her for more serious parts but she got so into her role that I laughed. I have seen the “Jesus Fills the Hole in my Heart” for over 20 years and few things make me laugh with that skit anymore. She was given some birthday party horns and told that we was supposed to represent partying or distraction. She ran around the crowd, she blew the horn in other clowns’ ears, she was absolutely hilarious. Afterwards, she shyly handed me back the horns and asked me if it was okay. I exclaimed that it was the best I had ever seen and she had made me laugh so much during that skit. So, she had to play that part during the next show as well.

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On the way from the first show to the second, we would call to the kids and families to come to the 2nd clown show. By the time we started there was a huge group of kids to watch the clown show. It was amazing and I think our best show so far this trip.


On the way back to the cars, I noticed 3 adorable women sitting on a bench. One of them excitedly started fiddling with her phone trying to get to the camera. Asked if she would like a picture “Posa?” and she exclaimed “Da!” So, I ran around the bench where they were sitting and took a picture with them. They began to ask what was going on and we explained we had just finished a couple performances. They were sad to have missed it but we explained that we think we will be back again later this week in the evening.



Romania 2015

Bucharest: July 20th – Local Preschool & Clown 201 Class

by Webmaster 20. July 2015 21:43

Today started off visiting the local preschool. I clowned there last year so truly appreciated Abby “Fifi” joining me as a clown.




We were able to not only perform more magic tricks but a couple silly skits, including “Haircut Skit.” The clown event started a little rough as most of the class began to immediately cry when they saw the clowns walk in. Our originally planned program was immediately thrown out the door beginning with the end (stickers) and ending with the beginning (chicken dance). As the program moved on, they all became engaged and excited…so at the end they were all participating in the chicken dance. They were all giggles and grins, unless I tried to take a picture. Then it was immediately look away pouting like they were having the worst day of their life.


Majority of the magic tricks involved colors so we could get the colors wrong and the kids would “teach” us the correct color in English & Romanian. However, as with any show, there is a risk of things going wrong. I did manage to lose my nose within the first couple minutes of the show and had to spend the rest of the day “noseless.”

Abby’s favorite part were the skits “Haircut” and “Mindreader” because the kids seemed to enjoy both of them. My favorite part was a new rose we implemented. When I would attempt to sniff Abby’s rose, it would jump out of her hands and into my face. I would make all kinds of facial expressions and noises and the more times I was “injured,” the more the kids would roar with laughter. One of my favorite things to do as a clown is to see kids or people who are afraid and want nothing to do with me, decide that not only am I okay but truly humorous.



For the clown class, we weren’t sure if it would be level 101 or 201 class or how many clowns to expect. Simona has explained to me that 3 churches have been using their supplies and Maranata made an announcement as well. We had some new faces and everyone was from Maranata  but with at least 4 churches using the materials, it’s not going to waste. Because I wanted to honor the time of the older kids we started off with magic tricks, new skits, more complicated balloons, and ended with face painting the new clowns.


We had several successful tigers but little time to explain the butterfly so several of the butterflies were improvised (which still looked amazing). For the face painting, we were able to use all of the donated washable make-up.




Romania 2015

Returning to Romania: July 18 and 19th

by Webmaster 19. July 2015 21:50

Overslept past when I wanted to leave the hotel in London and was absolutely convinced that I had missed my plane. Fortunately, London security going into the airport was relatively simple and I did not have to panic as much as I initially determined. Upon finally boarding my plane, I found out that I was seated between a Welsh actor and an English actress. They explained they were both traveling to Romania for work and we began to chat about clowns (turns out the Welsh actor had a background and still does “clown”), music, dancing, and Romania. We attempted to leaf through my Romanian phrase book, more than likely to the irritation of the nearby passengers. The ones that gave us the funniest looks, I asked if they would like to be our teacher, to which they promptly (yet politely) declined. It made the 3 hour flight go by significantly faster. After landing, It took about an hour for all of my bags to be unloaded but finally I was out of the airport and we were on our way and getting luggage situated for the upcoming week.

Sunday was spent visiting a couple local churches to announce the clown class, ask for volunteers, and to ask for prayer through the week.  I loved attending the local churches as they allow more of the congregants to participate in the service using their various gifts. Poems, songs, music – all ages and all genders. It is really moving. There was a man who sang a beautiful song about the Prodigal Son which was written by two Romanian men imprisoned during Communism. Even if you can’t understand the words, the beauty and power in the name of Jesus and the beautiful story of faith in trial could be felt. Additionally, a group sang “It is Well” acapella and in Romanian.


I about started to cry as that is the last song that I sang with Grandpa T before he passed away. It was a reminder that the God of the man who profoundly influenced my life and taught me to clown, is also here with me on this trip.



Finally, I was able to hear some of the girls who clowned with me last year sing their songs they had prepared. They have such a pure love for God, it’s truly a great sight to see.

Upon arriving at home, we prepared for the first day of ministry – a local preschool and clown training class. As we were looking through supplies that I brought and supplies from previous years, we found a couple rolls of “Isus Te Iubeste” stickers. After everyone went to bed, I had to take a picture of the stickers. Again, it was a reminder of Grandma Kay and Grandpa T – Grandma Kay who is unable to return to Romania and Grandpa T who is in Heaven. Both of them had the stickers custom made and I have been unable to make them so far. And here they were, ready for this year. Ready for this time.


Oh, and we are very excited because we have permission to visit the parks this year. :-) Overall, it looks like an exciting year ahead.


Romania 2015

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Why Clowns?

Whether it is in a hospital, memory care facility, at a charity event, or walking down the street, that moment when most individuals see a clown they smile, regardless of age or culture. Clowns almost universally help create smiles. There is something about the gift of a smile and laughter that helps improve our spirits, relieve tension, and can inspire us to hope.

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