Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Romania: Day 7

I have decided that tonight I will write the blog a little earlier. For the last two nights I finished the blog at 1:30 a.m. (ish) and after a long day of VBS, building, ministry in the park, dinner, basketball and volleyball and then a late night, I think I need to get a little more sleep. Today I stayed in Pucioasa while the other team went off to Fieni. The builders left earlier in the morning to get a head start on their project. Pucioasa had about 64 kids today which is at the point where we have to start changing things up because we don’t have enough crafts. We omitted the games and instead I did about 30 minutes of tricks for them. As always I have a Christian message behind the trick and for one of them I tell the story of Jonah. When I asked them if they could tell me about Jonah there was not one kid who could tell me anything. It struck me how little bible teaching is done outside of the few bible churches. Another interesting issue was when we did the crafts we asked them to write their name on the craft and there were a few kids who were old enough to do so but could not. (By the way – we have a new guard dog at Pucioasa. See the photo – his name is “Noa” which means 9 but sounds just like the biblical Noah).
After VBS in Pucioasa we headed over to Fieni. They had had 39 kids and had an equally good day. On the first day Dani started the crying during the opening prayer followed quickly by Isabelle. Apparently today they made it through the opening prayer but some time later it was Kathy Murdoch who started the crying followed by Dani followed by Isabelle. If we get Kelli, Sarah and Chrissie in that crowd as well we might have to start building an ark not a building.
When we got to Pucioasa the builders had finished both side walls and were working on the first end wall. If you ever want to believe in the power of prayer know that all afternoon it threatened to rain but it held off until evening which was long enough for a lot to get done. I will be back over in Fieni tomorrow morning and am excited to see how well it has all gone.
After we arrived in Fieni we broke into teams and went out to do some street ministry, handing out books and trying to share the gospel via the Way of the Master approach. In a country where Orthodox is the main Church it is interesting to see how many different views there are out there. A lot of the old people refuse to talk or take a book but see anything but their church as a heresy. For the middle aged adults a lot have rejected the church or believe that it is all about what they have done that determines whether they go to heaven or hell. One man we spoke to knew he was a sinner but as long as he had confessed his sin he was still going to heaven. Nate tried to explain about the difference between confession and repentance but I am not sure he really got it. For a real challenge we approached a group of “men’s men” outside a men’s social club. At the start it was all jokes about how bad they were and how stupid they were. One man started out admitting he was going to hell and said it didn’t really bother him because he didn’t know what hell was really like. As we tagged team back and forth to bring some recognition to the fact that hell was not a place you really wanted to go and that if they wanted there was a way to be forgiven (it was not too late), and that we wanted to share this gospel with them out of love because we were just like them, there were a few men whose facial expressions changed and I pray that tonight as they are away from the other men they think more deeply about what was shared. Overall it was a pretty cool experience.
For dinner we were invited to different people’s houses and Hunter and I headed to big Alex’s house where we met his elder brother, his younger sister, his dad and his mum. His mum cooked up a wonderful meal although I think the cheese ball (corn bread (kind of) stuffed with cheese made from sheep’s milk) was a little too much for Hunter but he did a good job of eating about a third of it before passing. Alex is a wonderful human being who is finishing up seminary and teaches at a church in a nearby town. He wanted to share so much with us about his family, his travels and his coin collection and we shared with our stories. Somehow his whole family had a hard time believing I was 35 years old and that I was a brain surgeon but caught on pretty quick that I like to kid around. Amazingly his mum caught on pretty quick and gave it back to me just as fast. The hospitality of these people is truly amazing. They grow most of their own produce and we got to walk through and see all of the food growing. Alex also has a collection of chickens, rabbits, a pig and a dog. When we first went through his garden Nate, Sarah and Isabelle were with us and the question was asked why he has rabbits and a pig and the answer was “to eat”. We decided to name the rabbits for him and the best we could come up with was “Breakfast”, “Lunch” and “Dinner”. Before we left Alex’s mum gave us a hand-made wooden fork and spoon.
Today was a break through for me as I had two people comment on how good my Romanian was and I continue to add phrases such as “How are you?” to my repertoire. I have found this to be important because it is hard to have a conversation when you only know the numbers. My constant saying of “Da” during conversations seems to be paying off especially with the kids. I am not quite sure what I am agreeing to but they always seemed to be happy with my answer. If a few of the kids turn up at VBS with their bags packed ready to go home with me I might have to do some back tracking. The only slip up so far was at Alex’s house when I wanted to say the name of a fruit we ate and unfortunately by pronunciation was off a little and apparently I said “I go to the toilet” (number 2) in their colloquial language. I did note that down as a fruit not to order at a restaurant in case I get it wrong again. It was said before we came that trying to speak in their own language will make a difference and it definitely does create a closer bond with the Romanians.
Tomorrow is my next venture into fire eating at the VBS in Fieni. Hopefully it will be as painless as the first time I did it. Have a great rest of your day and I will be back tomorrow.
Hebrews 13: 15-16 – “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

Romania 2009: Night of Day 6 (supplemental)

Apparently Monday night in Pucioasa is "dog wars night". I have never heard such a racket in all my life. You could actually hear dogs chasing each other and there was at least one fight. It all makes for a good night's rest before another busy day!! Waking up this morning it is partly cloudy so please keep praying for a dry day.

Romania 2009: Day 6

I have to make another round of apologies. Apparently Nate is not 40, nor is he 36 but in fact 31. Also I received a comment on the blog from Tiffany Parkins to let me know that Russ is not 40 either. So if you really want a great reason to come on next year’s trip you seem to get younger and younger as the trip goes along. All I know is that Stuart and I are definitely over 40. If I have gotten anyone else’s age wrong I apologize now. (By the way – my wife is older than me).
Over the last couple of days I have also noticed some stray cats. There are definitely not as many as there are dogs and with the number of dogs I am not surprised. Now the cats aren’t as smart as the dogs and don’t come over to you with those big puppy eyes that seem to say “please give me something to eat” but run away from you. As such the cats don’t have people like Isabelle who make sure that there is not a scrap of meat left at the table after a meal so that she can literally take a doggy bag to them. By the way the dogs are much fatter than the cats. We have also had the debate whether Romanian dogs actually understand Americans but Kelli definitely seems to have Romanian puppy language down.
The cultural site of the day behind another cow being taken for a walk was from this morning. As I walked over to VBS an old car pulled up in front of me which had an elderly couple in it, probably somewhere in their 70’s. The man was driving and had pulled up to let his wife out. When she opened the door the music from their radio was fairly loud and some pretty hardcore techno dance music was being played. Either this couple were the coolest 70 year olds around or they had not figured out how to change the channel on their radio.
Today VBS began in Pucioasa and Fieni and the building project began in Fieni. I went to Fieni where we had 34 kids, 15 of whom typically did stuff with the church but the others were new. I was amazed at how fast they all got involved especially with the singing. After some lessons from the bible, some games and a craft the kids went back home and really seemed to have a great time. I did a few tricks for them and set the stage for me to eat fire on Wednesday. It is amazing how many kids think they know the answer to the trick but they rarely do. The cool thing is that every trick I do has some Christian message to it and it seems to keep them entertained while learning something from the bible.
Back when we first introduced ourselves to the churches here I introduced myself as George Bush (well he does have the same initials as me). Ever since then I have been called George Bush. Luckily it does not seem that he had such a bad name down here so I can get away with it. I have also tried David Beckham but I guess he just isn’t as believable and so it looks like it will be George Bush for now.
In Pucioasa they had 54 kids and from what I have heard it went down just as well as Fieni did. I did come back over to hear about some story of how Jessie Matthews had been caught on tap slapping Hunter on the face knocking him over. My guess is by the end of the week the size of these groups will have grown. After VBS we had lunch and a short break before we headed over to the park for an evangelism outreach. We had decided that I could start to draw a crowd by making balloon animals while some of the others handed at tracks and spoke to some of the adults and teenagers. I do not know what happened but within seconds it was like ants to sugar but I had people blowing up balloons while I made the animals (thankfully most of the kids wanted a sword which is the easiest thing to make). With the youths helping in blowing up balloons and Hunter as my back up sword maker I think we probably made about 100 balloon animals. As I soon as I stopped they all seemed to disappear. Any way tomorrow we will try to do something similar in Fieni if we can get past the local government restrictions.
After the outreach I went over with Nate to the building project. It was amazing how fast the wall was completed once I turned up. These guys are working under some pretty tough conditions – the original walls aren’t straight, the wood delivered is all over the place as far as standard size and length. A 4 by 4 can range anywhere from a 3 by 3 to a 5 by 5. I don’t think they have one piece of wood that is not bowed. On top of that they have limited tools and the rain keeps coming in. It truly will be an amazing feat for them to complete the project before we leave.
Basketball and volleyball seem to be the staple activity that is done every day for as many free hours as Nate will let us have. The good news is that we as a group are upholding the honor of America (and England) with our performance on the court. Mark, Steve, Hunter and I split two games of basketball against 4 Romanians. When it comes to this standard you can just call me backpack. I know I have been travelling too long when I finally get to play basketball with my son and he is better than I am. We almost did have a crowd invasion as Stuart tried to provide his vocal refereeing opinions which seemed to favor us more than to be unbiased. He did tell me after that he has had many a run in with referees at sporting events for Mark. Somehow I didn’t have a hard time believing it. Volley ball is a different situation in that I still have the edge on Hunter. Partly because of my amazing standing jump which has been measured at about 2, inches that is, not feet.
After a couple of hours of sport I think I can officially say that my athletic career is over. During basketball I tweaked my thigh muscle again and by the end of volleyball my whole body seemed to ache.
I am now back in the hotel room. Hunter came in shortly after I got back and just like last night stated, “Dad, I am not tired at all.” Within about 20 seconds he was asleep. I also know now that he has been getting involved with VBS. One of the songs the kids sing goes something like “Tica taca, tica taca, tica taca ta, Cu Cu” which is supposed to sound like a Cuckoo clock. Hunter just rolled over and sang “Cu Cu” in his sleep.
Psalm 108:3-5 – “I will praise You, O LORD, among the peoples, And I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your mercy is great above the heavens, And Your truth reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, And Your glory above all the earth;”

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Romania 2009: Day 5

Sunday – time for church. Our expectations of having the church service be extremely long, 3-4 hours, in a hot building with no AC, mainly in a foreign language have been set and played on my mind. We all met up for breakfast and for those that know me you will be pleased to know that my messing around with the waiters or waitresses is international and works even when they don’t speak a word of English. Our waitress was a little gruff to start off but after a couple of quick jokes she had a smile on her face. I think her favorite was when I asked if they would cook one of the fish in their fish tank for me. Anyway I am now ready to take on any server, in any restaurant, in any country.
We split into three groups to go to the three churches we support. I was in the group that went to Fieni. This is the church we are going to help build next week and as such is in pretty poor condition. I think with the 15 of us we doubled the congregation. We sang some songs in Romanian and English (at the same time) and then Stuart gave the sermon. Given the need for translation he did a great job of using simple phrases to get a great message across. Then I was able to give my testimony. Half way through a lady ran out. Now this could have been for a few reasons:
1. She was so overcome with emotion with my story it really touched her heart
2. There was a problem outside with the children
3. She thought the building was going to collapse and made a dash for the door.
I’d like to think it was #1, it probably was #2 but I couldn’t risk it be #3 and so I started running after her.
After the service we had a great lunch with them and started to find out more about them as people. The one story that touched me was of an eleven year-old girl called Lavinia. About 4 months ago her father died and she and her 4 siblings live with her mother is suffering from a mental illness. This girl was adorable and I would have no problem adopting. My heart just goes out to her.
The other eye opening story was about Pastor Lance. Marian, the assistant pastor, asked if we had gone to the castle in Sinaia and whether we had the “beer”. We questioned him again to make sure we heard correctly and he said yes the “beer”. We wanted to not be a stumbling block and so obviously said no. But he said that when Pastor Lance had visited and gone up into Sinaia he had the “beer” and they had a picture of it. Now somebody tried to persuade me that it was a “bear” and even showed us the picture of a “bear” but a few of the team are staying with the “beer” part and are going to have the “beer” tonight. (Just kidding).
For evening Church we headed over to Pucioasa and ended up with an overflowing church. The seats in the church were full, the balcony was full and even outside the windows was full. Most people from our group got up to either sing or play an instrument or share a word or just have Happy Birthday sung to them. I have noticed that I am usually skipped over for this. Even this morning as Stuart asked for someone to volunteer to share their testimony and I offered he had a pained look on his face and pleaded with the others for someone else to share. When he started to ask the Romanian children and even dogs and they said no or did not step up to the plate, I realized I was a last resort. After a longish but good service we shared a meal with the Church. This to them is fellowship. They love to share a meal with others and I tend to agree with this philosophy.
Don does have a little issue with barbeque lighter fluid – I am sure you are only supposed to put a few squirts on, not the whole bottle. The flames were quite impressive and seemed to do a great job of taking the paint off of the church’s brand new grill. I think this could be one of the reasons for the “Americans” prayer, i.e. “please deliver us from these Americans”.
As a wind down to the evening we all went to the restaurant where we have breakfast as well. The waitress seemed to remember me for some reason and I spent the whole time refining my almost fluent Romanian. One of the tricks I have learned over the years is to just say “Yes” in the local language (“Da” in Romanian) after they have said something to you. In Romania the people are very demonstrative speakers and what seems to be fun is to say “Da” in a loud voice after they have said something to someone else as though you are agreeing with them. They seem to first look at you totally surprised that you can’t order something simple but suddenly seem to be able to understand a full blown conversation.
As I close down for another day I try to reflect on some of the reasons for being here. The youth from the Church are truly wonderful people. To see how they have welcomed us with open arms, to see them interact with each other and genuinely seem to enjoy spending time together is in stark contrast to the majority of the youth who spend their evenings sitting around town. These teenagers can be the light the other youths need but they are under so much pressure to conform to the world.
Romans 12: 2, 9 – “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God … Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Romania 2009: Day 4

I have made the mistake of going by Day 1, Day 2 etc. So now I have no clue as to what day it is. Luckily there are other adults who seem to have kept better track of what day it is and they tell me what we are doing and where to go. Last night we decided to have a talent show. The Parkin sisters started with a couple of songs and a superb home-made rap about Chick Fil-A. Essentially that was the end of the talent show as no-one else really wanted to step up to claim they were talented after the Parkin sisters sang. Next time we need to start with some other people before the really talented people get up.
The days seem to fall into the same pattern. The Romanian youth want to stay up all night and the Americans at least go to bed at some reasonable time. In the morning the US contingent is up early followed by the Romanians.
After a quick clean up at the house in Sinaia we loaded up onto the coach back down to Pucioasa but even that wasn’t without incident. Before the coach arrived Niku asked everyone to get all of the bags outside the house. Literally as the last bags were coming out it started to rain: “All the bags back in the house”. We finished getting them back in and then the coach turned up: “Load the coach up”. Before we had really begun the day we had shifted about 50 suitcases three times. Unfortunately because of my pulled muscle I had to step up and take the role of foreman.
Nate has taken on the mission of trying to catch everyone on camera as they sleep which makes everyone sleep with one eye open. However, even on this trip people are willing to take the risk of the camera just to catch up on sleep.
The new hotel in Pucioasa is actually quite acceptable. There is no AC which could be problematic but we shall see how the temperature goes. The room is kind of small but the really weird thing is the size of the eating table which is about 2 foot off the floor and the stools are about a foot off the floor (see the photo). If I sat down on that stool it would be demolished. We had lunch at the church which also suffers from small-itus. The youth went up onto the balcony and most had to bend over to get up there.
Pucioasa is a fairly small town. A visit to the local market took all of 2 minutes and they are obviously looking forward to my fire eating here and have posters up all over but I am not sure why they have a picture of a clown!

I have to go back to the dogs. In my earlier blog when I said they are everywhere I was under-exaggerating. They are absolutely every single place possible. If you actually pet them or even worse give them food they seem to have a secret calling system and others just turn up to get a piece of the action. You have to check out the dog searching the trash can. All of the travel sites say to stay clear of the dogs but that is impossible. At camp we had our own dog called Lily who was the smallest dog of the strays but kept them all under control. There was the dog who though he was King of the
Hill and just watched over everything. There has already been talk of bringing one home but I think my wife would kill me.
As we spend more time together as a team we get to bond closer and closer and learn more about each other and our backgrounds. Most people want to know where I got my athletic prowess from and I tell them about my days in high-level sports. My middle school football team was pretty good. Also there is a comfort level between the youth and the adults as well. Today DJ, Don and Chrissie’s eight-year-old son, ran down stairs and the hotel and just ran into Nate and Sarah’s room to say hi, obviously just feeling at home with the Krupke’s. Unfortunately, Sarah was in the bathroom at the time and DJ just blasted his way in. When Nate told him he needed to close the door DJ closed the door but stayed in the room. It wasn’t until Nate told him to leave the room completely that DJ left, somewhat confused about what the issue was.
On another front I did want to make one apology. In one of my earlier blogs I had said that the men were all over 40 and it was pointed out that Nate was only 36. So my apologies to Nate – when a body has aged as badly as that it really is hard to judge a person’s age accurately.

Colossians 2:13-14 – “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

Friday, June 26, 2009

Let me first finish out day 2. After spending 30 mins posting the blog Nate and I returned to “camp”. It seems as though volleyball is the chosen sport. David, one of the Romanian teenagers and I did break off for a game of 1 on 1 basketball. After spotting him a 7-0 lead (the kid doesn’t miss a shot) I cut him a break and called the game when the basketball hoop fell off the board. Little did he know I was just warming up. Truth be known I was already sucking wind and that was just from collecting the ball after he scored and checking the ball back to him.
We did the first devotion with all the youth and the challenges of language translation were there but it is still amazing how God can get through. We have decided to just pray and not translate and we take turns to pray in each language. I am not positive about this but the Romanian prayers all contain the word for “American” and I question whether they are asking God when these Americans are going to leave them alone. “Please deliver us from these Americans, let the bears be abundant when they are outside”. Luckily they have realized I am English and don’t include me in that prayer.
The fire eating went well. The main objective is not to burn myself and I didn’t. The next is not to swallow too much gas/petrol. Now let me explain, in the US I use camping fluid in the fire eating. I didn’t think transporting a highly combustible fluid through airport security was a good idea. I was worried enough that I had two barbecue spits (for the fire eating), a bunch of balloons (for balloon animals) and a rubber chicken (a long story) in my suitcase and I was going to have to explain this to TSA. As such I had to buy a combustible fluid over here and the only option was car gas/petrol. The Romanian gas has definitely got a different vintage than Coleman’s camping fluid but it definitely still burps up the same way. Overall it went down well – at least for me.
Despite the storm that blew through overnight we all seemed to get enough sleep. I was rather worried because of the reputation my wife had set for me through Nate’s blog that I snore rather loudly (which is obviously highly exaggerated – it is my dog). The pastor of the Romanian church, Niku, and I were in the same room on different couches and the last thing he said to me before going to sleep was that he was a very light sleeper and wakes up at the smallest noise. I think all night I only half slept because I didn’t want my purring to keep him awake. He is still talking to me this morning and so it seemed to go well. Apparently I may have been a little louder than I thought as he shared with others about my “noring”. I guess he was just being very polite.
Friday has been a day of devotion and sports. After the devotion time it was time for kickball. I’m not sure who won but I did pull a muscle. One day I am going to learn to stretch before trying to play soccer or any soccer derivative. With the heavy rain a few people did get a little muddy. Isabelle stepped in a decided to put a wash on for us. Now most Americans know the phrase measure twice, cut once, and I think this applies to this. My iPhone has a converter on it and Isabelle asked me how much 106 milli-litres was in teaspoons. The answer is about 0.7 of a teaspoon. When her response was “oops” we had to go and look at the washing machine. Isabelle had pretty much filled the draw up and you actually couldn’t see any clothes because of the soap bubbles. Maybe asking before putting the liquid and turning it on would have been a better path. Thankfully there was no overflowing.
The afternoon was another devotion and then volley ball. It really is interesting to see how this youth struggle with the things the world is telling them is okay. As parents, as friends, as mentors we need to be walking alongside them as they struggle with seemingly simple issues but when asked it really is eating away at them.
Tonight we introduce the Romanian youth to Tacos which should be interesting. Not sure when I will have the chance to post next as we head back to Pucioasa tomorrow.
Ephesians 4: 21-24 – “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Colossians 3:12-14 – “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Romania 2009: Day 2

Woke up at 4:30 a.m. this morning which is 8:30 p.m. in Houston. My first concern was that my body would think it just had a power nap and would want to go to bed in a few hours. After a good breakfast headed out to play soccer. Obviously the imposing presence of Don Owens, Hunter and myself scared the locals away and we didn’t even have our Houston Dynamo shirts on. But I guess when you are an athlete then you don’t have to wear sports clothes to impress people. It was either this or the lack of sleep was playing havoc with my sense of reality.
The drive through Bucharest and then up to Pucioasa and on to Sinaia in the mountains really show the differing cultures and history of Romania. Within the heart of Bucharest there is a lot of business and it is more modern in its architecture. As you get to the outskirts it is definitely more rustic. Along the route there were several small villages like Contesti, Aninoasa, and Doicesti and then another big town called Targoviste. Most of the condition of the housing points to the poverty that exist but at the same time a lot of these houses also have satellite dishes. And then with these towns there is the occasional big house. It points back to the Great Romania where there were a few very wealthy aristocracy and then a lot of poor people.
The most interesting towns were gypsy villages. The first was where the government had stepped and helped build houses. The gypsies moved their horses inside these nice houses and they live outside in tents. I guess with how important horses are to their livelihood it makes sense. All the way on the drive there are horse drawn carts carrying every kind of material. One even had a fridge in the back. Wasn’t sure if they had picked this up or whether they just use it to carry their food back home in it to keep it warm. I’m not sure if they realize it has to be plugged in to keep the .The second village was a town where they basically search the river bed for stones to use for building. This will include smashing bigger stones to get the right size rocks for building. Their houses are surrounded by piles of rocks and the houses are very attractive.
The other humorous sight was a lady who was probably in her 70’s taking a cow (yes a cow) for a walk.
In Pucioasa we picked up the youth from the church to head up to the cabin in Sinaia. Before leaving we managed to fit in a game of volleyball. At first it was the Americans versus the Europeans (I was obviously on the European side) but when we realized that the Americans could score a point we split the sides up. It is amazing how fast these youth can bond. Despite the language barrier the two groups of youth have already bonded. One of the coolest things was on the coach to Sinaia where they sang praise and worship songs in two separate languages. At times simultaneously and it really sounded good. To know that God was being lifted up by groups with the same belief but in a different language was really awesome.
There is probably a lot more I could write but we are limited for time as we are sitting in a hotel lobby borrowing their wireless internet. If I get more time tonight I will share some more thoughts. If we get gas/petrol then tonight I might do my fire eating. So pray that I don’t burn myself or burn the cabin down.

Romania is a dog nation. There are dogs everywhere, mostly stray dogs but they are everywhere. My daughter Savannah would not survive over here or she would have to own a really big house because she would want to take them all in.
"All the earth shall worship You And sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name" – Psalm 66:4

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Romania 2009: Day One (and a half)

With 25 people all wearing Houston Dynamo shirts (bright orange, really bright orange) it is hard not to stand out. As Hunter and I arrived at the airport we just headed towards the glow and found the rest of the team. I have figured out why Houston win so many soccer games – it is nothing to do with their skills but with 11 people running around in these shirts it is blinding. On the team there are 12 men and 15 women. Of the men there are three teenagers, 1 eight year old and the rest of us over 40. As such it amazes me that a few people actually ask us if we are the actual soccer team. I know given my athletic physique it would be believable but really!!
The flight has been longish and not very comfortable especially with the guy in front of me reclining his chair all the way back. So I did ask them to move me up to first. (Hence the picture – actually I only got to tour the plane and “try” first class). I did ask the flight attendant if the pilot could take a quick detour and do a fly by of my Mum’s house so I could wave to her as I hadn’t seen her for over 3 years. And of course they had to make an announcement for “Giles Britton in 36H” to the whole plane that they were swinging by in 15 minutes and the pilot had called my Mum and she would be outside waving.
Landed in Heathrow and was surrounded by a bunch of people who spoke like me. Funnily enough all of the employees spoke English as well. I am going to try and take this concept to Miami Airport when I am next there. Also met a man from Scotland who again asked if we played for the Houston Dynamo. I’m starting to think that I’m not in as bad shape as I thought I was. Mind you he did mention that the only reason he asked was because he knew the Manager of the Dynamo.
On the 3 hour flight to Bucharest I did get some sleep during the first couple of hours and then spoke to the lady next to me and that was it. I got the complete run down of her life – where she was born and raised, her move to America, her two children and their lives, and a blow by blow account of her career. The big take away from this conversation or monologue was her feelings towards Obama. As she lived in NY I assumed she would like him but it was interesting to find that she did not think he is the right person for the job and she believes that a majority of Americans fell for the smooth (yet empty) talk.
First, impressions of Romania is that it is more flat than I thought it would be, the weather is not too bad – a little on the hot side but definitely bearable – the people seem to be nice but for some reason they don’t speak much if any English. So far I have figured out that speaking in Spanish and speaking louder and slower in English do not really help the communication process. I can see that my acting skills are going to pay dividends over here.
Hotel is surprisingly nice and had a good dinner at the hotel. Ordering was a challenge as the menu was mainly in Romanian and again the pesky issue of the people not speaking English complicated things. There were a couple of dishes I was not going to order regardless of the language barrier (see the photo) – I appreciate the honesty but not sure it does much for sales.
Finally back in the room for the night now. Tomorrow we set out for Pucioasa and look to prepare our hearts for the work we have to do there. In Acts 13: 47-48 it says “For so the Lord had commanded us: I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth. Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many had been appointed to eternal life believed.” As Paul set out on his missionary journeys he spoke the gospel boldly despite the suffering he would go through. My prayer tonight is that I would be bold enough to share the gospel even in the difficult situations and as I look to serve others I too would be a light. It ultimately comes down to God’s appointing of the believers and I need to continue to be the light in my words and actions.
God bless

Monday, June 22, 2009

Romania 2009: The Day Before

At some point in your life you sit down and think about all of those things you would like to do (bungee jump, sky dive, walk the Great Wall of China) or places you would like to visit (African safari, Australian outback, the Caribbean). Sometimes you get the opportunity to cross an item off the list (I have now been to the Caribbean) and sometime you get close but not quite there (I did walk into the Great Wall chinese restaurant in NYC).
There are other times when you know you want to do something different but you're not quite sure what it is until it happens. For years I felt God calling me to do more for Him but I just haven't been so good at listening. I enjoy teaching and studying but have not really found the avenue for that path. I have also realized that I have been extremely blessed and I know that there are millions of people who struggle with their every day existence and even worse their hope lies in this world and not in the hope of eternity with Jesus. As I read the bible I am ever more drawn into the example of Jesus as a servant and wonder why I find it so hard to be a servant.
On June 23rd, 2009 my son, Hunter, and I with 25 other people from our church Harvest Bible Church, head to Romania to a small village called Puciosa about 40 miles northwest of Bucharest (as the crow flies). While there we will run a VBS for the church and will also help them build the second story to the church.
I am still not quite sure about internet connectivity but God willing I will get about 30 mins each night to send a blog so that you can join us in our adventure. Please pray for our whole group as we spend 10 days in Romania.
I now get to cross two items off my list - visit Eastern Europe and go on a missions trip. Somehow I think this is not really crossing off anything but adding so many desires for my future and hopefully it will all be in God's will.