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.”