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.”