Friday, July 29, 2011

Romania 2011 Day 10: The Final Countdown

Romania 2011 Day 10: The Final Countdown

Well here it is the last day in Romania. This was, as expected, an emotional day. It was the sadness of knowing we are leaving dear friends but also anticipation and

excitement of seeing our families and friends in America again. The last few days were tiring days but very rewarding. The only disappointment from VBS was not being able to do the weather balloon trick in Varfuri. And so we rectified that this morning. A small group went back over today and about 20 kids turned up to see Savannah get in the balloon. We were in the same hall that VBS had been in and when the balloon popped it was, by far, the most impressive bang we had had all week. It really did sound like a bomb had gone off. Also the wave from the rush of wind was pretty impressive as well.

After this we returned to Pucioasa and went through the routine of packing and loading vans. Gradually we were edging closer to the goodbyes. All loaded up we went to the church to have pizza with our Romanian friends and as always they would not us leave without providing us with personalized gifts. Again out of the little they have they gave so much. It was great to see the reactions of Oana and Emma as we gave the laptops for college. The tears were plentiful (form the ladies and Don). For the person who gave me a donation to use in Romania I had waited until the last day so I could see where the greatest need was and it came down to Marian needing his car fixed desperately. The money went a long way to allowing him to get his only means of transport back working. He sends his heartfelt thanks.

At about 2:30 p.m. we set off for Bucharest. As always the driving provided for some fun. In Romania the traffic lights are on the side of the road not overhead. In Targoviste Don went through a traffic light and then I saw cars coming across the road and realized it had changed to a red light. I had to break a little firmly. Russ had the 2 second delay and ended up having to put his brakes on rather abruptly. Izzy has recovered from the seat belt bruise but it at least we didn’t crash 2 rental cars. Halfway to Bucharest we came up on a big red truck which Don proceeded

to overtake. As I came up on the truck I saw the blue lights flashing and saw the word “Pomperi” on the side of the truck. I was already committed and so continued to overtake the fire truck. Yes we had just overtaken a fire truck on the way to put out a fire. I am not sure which was more troubling, the policeman on the side of the road who I thought for sure was going to pull us over, or the fact that we had overtaken a fire truck because it was going so slowly. I guess if your house is on fire the firemen go just to tell you how your house burned down to the ground because there is no way they could get there soon enough.

When we got into Bucharest Don, Russ and I decided to have some with everyone and pretend we were lost. Russ had asked Oana to get him to a certain road and when he thought we were there he took over leading. The problem was that we weren’t on that road. I recognized where we were and saw us miss our turn. Russ finally realized we were not in the right place and so

we pulled over. You know when you are asking a toothless street cleaner where to go you are desperate. Surprisingly he got us back on track. It was then that Don took over and then relinquished the lead to me. I recognized where we were but took the wrong exit off a roundabout. Now it was my turn to pull over and ask for directions. I think I picked the most technically armed incapable person in Bucharest. He had every technology gadget including two GP units, phones etc. but somehow failed to get any of them to work. The best he could do was tell me to go left. He did invite me to sit in his car as he spent 20 minutes showing me how he couldn’t use all of these gadgets. I also shared a couple of cigarettes with him. I didn’t smoke one but felt privileged to spend my time with his second hand smoke.

We did go to the end of the road and take a left and then as we got to the end of that road and looked and saw a monument that I recognized and knew where I was. Russ was behind me and also saw the monument and recognized where we were. The problem was that it was two different places and so I went one way and Russ went the other. Don was torn whether to follow me or Russ. Let’s just say that 2 minutes later I was at the hotel and had unpacked and checked in and gone back out on the streets in the car to find the other 2 vans and then returned to the hotel. It was about then 30 minutes later that the two vans turned up behind a taxi

Of course Don, Russ and I had staged the whole thing so everyone thought we were lost. And if you believe that I have a house for you to buy in Jersey City.

This year we stayed at the hotel for dinner and it was definitely the right decision. The food was good and the entertainment was tremendous. This came from the stupidity of the table bolstered by the group singing at the restaurant. It is the same group that has been there every year we have been to Romania and every year the lead singer’s pants seem to get gaudier and

gaudier. I am not sure whether he thinks he looks good but we were not the ones to tell him he didn’t.

We need him to be that way for years to come. He also seemed to speak English with a lisp which really got uncomfortable when he tried to say “I have a special song for you and it came out “I have a special thong for you”. Sue really had a bad visual image of this error. In general the Romanian songs are lively but lively soon becomes outright annoying especially when you play the same thong, I mean song, for 20 minutes. Don ended up paying the singer to pick something else.

Tomorrow we get up at 4:30 a.m. in 4 hours to leave the hotel by 5:30 a.m. The majority of the team will be America in the evening. Savannah and I will stay in London for a few days.

1 Peter 2:9 - But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Romania 2011 Day 9: VBS Ends

Romania 2011 Day 9

Have you ever just sat down and wondered where the time went? I know it is like that a lot of Sundays at Harvest when Lance preaches. I know it takes a few minutes to wake back up again but the time went really quickly :-) The reality set in today that it was our last full day in Pucioasa and for most of the team in two days they will back at home.

Thursday really started no differently than the last couple - devotion, breakfast, and then off to VBS. This morning we did take some time for us to share some of the highlights of our time in Romania. I think most people echoed very similar or at least connected thoughts. The feeling of family with the Romanians, the embarrassment of complaining while we have so much whereas they praise God and smile through their lack of physical possessions and the hardships they go through. It is a genuine feeling of love we have for each other.

All trip Sue has been making sure we are fed and watered and it is such a blessing to not have to think about it. I am sure it has been a thankless job with its fair share of strife but she has done it with a smile and without fail the meals have been delicious. Tomorrow morning she will have a break from organizing food as we are all fending for ourselves.

For the final day of VBS the number of children was about the same although in Varfuri there were a few new kids and the team ended up giving these kids the T-Shirts off their own backs because they had run out.

After lunch back in Pucioasa we were on the road to Vulcana Bai once again (yet another game of live Frogger). The kids in Vulcana Bai are so polite and respectful and they love to join in. When we got to Sister Avi’s home, where the VBS is held, there were about 20 kids already there sitting calmly on a bench. In Pucioasa it is like herding cats the children are so unruly. I did not see this anywhere else but several of the kids in Vulcana had memorized the VBS verse (Matthew 6:21) and they had only had one afternoon to do so.

Tonight we had probably the most emotional time we have had on the trip. Don and others we crying like babies. Russ almost broke a tear but knew when he should start to wrap up. Thankfully I have the English “stiff upper lip”. It was good to hear others on the team share their thoughts from the trip.

A couple of years ago a tradition was started in that at the mid-week service I did a trick for the church. Today was no different but I was really praying I didn’t have to do any fire-eating. I am constantly burping up gas i.e. Romanian gas for cars, and I did not want to add fuel to the fire.

After the service we spent a couple of hours saying good byes and just discussing the relationships we have between the churches and us. It was hard to stop this time because we know tomorrow will be even tougher on the emotions. Dinner was again provided and then it was off to Vienna for relaxation. I think the waitress there will miss us as well. At one point Don and Damien wanted to try the Way of the Master approach on the waitress. With Nicu translating, the questioning started and almost instantaneously the owner decided to put on some very loud and very annoying Romanian music.

It is now just after 1 a.m. and I still have to start packing. We will leave just after lunch tomorrow and another blog will hit the presses some time tomorrow night.

Matthew 6:21 - for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Romania 2011 Day 8: Fight through the tired (and the food overload)

Romania 2011 Day 8

It is 12:30 at night and I am just settling down to to the blog. This one may be a little shorter than the prior days but I will try to hit the highlights.

The day started out as usual with devotions and breakfast (everyone being present and awake this morning). The teams set off for their VBS locations. Varfuri held steady at about 30 kids. Fieni and Pucioasa continued to add new kids with Fieni hitting 45 and Pucioasa almost 60. The only real issue today was that some additions in Pucioasa were some unruly boys. Tomorrow Russ and I will step in as enforcers. I might finally get to use my blow dart on a live target instead of a balloon.

After lunch we were all invited to different houses for lunch. One of the problems we have is that often the Romanians arrange for us to go to lunch but they don’t tell us how to get there. Russ and the Varfuri team were supposed to come over to Fieni for lunch with Florin but no-one told Russ where Florin lives. I was also having lunch with Florin but I was with him after VBS. I tried to suggest to them that Russ didn’t know where Florin lived but they insisted he did. Russ headed to the church in Fieni, waited 15 minutes and then figuring they had been uninvited

headed back to Pucioasa. Then they got the call asking why they weren’t at Florin’s house. After another journey back to Fieni everything was finally sorted out.

Today and tomorrow we are doing afternoon VBS in Vulcana Bai. Last year when my family and I did Vulcana Bai we were up the hillside in a field. This year when another team are doing it they built a special shelter right by the house. I am not saying anything but this persecution I am going through is really not called for. Today there were about 30 kids in Vulcana Bai.

When we left Vulcana Bai we were transported from this world into the world of video games. Driving out of Vulcana Bai was like playing Frogger. There were kids from VBS, cows, calves, wagons, bikes, dogs, and other cars all over the road. It took some concentration and driving skill to miss all contact and survive in tact (except for the 2 VBS kids but they should get

better). Then it was on to level 2 with a death defying series of potholes. Tomorrow I will try level 3 as I go back. Here I do the same thing but a lot faster.

As if lunch at a Romanian house wasn't enough to fill any normal human being up for a few days, we then headed off to other people’s houses for dinner. The amount of food they place in front of us is ridiculous. I know I don’t want to be rude and so I eat everything and today I also seemed to be the garbage can as I finished off Savannah and Oana’s leftovers.

Tonight we did our wind down get together at Nicu’s house. Even after the sugar rush of ice cream the team was tired tonight. To the point where personal information was being divulged probably beyond what they would have if they had not been sleep deprived. Someone let us know a nickname that only their father had called them and no-one else knew. The nickname was “Catfish” but I will let this person give the meaning behind it because Don didn’t want it to be blogged :-)

Okay I have to finish now. I have already typed in on two occasions rows of the same letter “k” an “r” because I am falling asleep at the computer.

One final day of VBS to go.

Isaiah 40:31 - Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Romania 2011 Day 7: Romanienglish Has Set In

Romania 2011 Day 7

Day 2 of VBS. With lessons learned from Day One and now with the prospect of good weather the team awoke early for devotion, breakfast and eager to get on the road to VBS. Well that is everyone except for the Ayoubi sisters who slept in a little. I must admit they did a great job of getting ready in about 10 mins flat. But then the panic set in as they couldn’t find the room key. Having ransacked the room they asked me to go and ask Kayla if she accidently picked up the key when she had left the night before. I drove over to the church but Kayla had no clue where it could be when I asked her and so it was back to the hotel to ransack the room once more. Still no key. The only option was to leave the room open but take all valuables with us. When we got to the church, Hannah asked Kayla if she had the key and Kayla proceeded to take it out of her bag. Sometimes having an English accent kills you or maybe Kayla was just enjoying watching me drive back and forth.

Pucioasa grew to 42 kids today and matched the kid count at Fieni. When the team got to Fieni at 9:30 a.m. there were 15 kids already at the church singing songs with Marian. He said they had been there since 8:30 a.m. even though it did not start until 10 a.m.. Both Pucioasa and Fieni had great days except for the minor argument Michelle and Izzy had in the middle of one of the skits because Izzy thought Michelle had gone wrong but Michelle knew she was right. Luckily the kids just thought it was part of the story with an angel and a shepherd arguing. We just explained we were using the Message version of the Bible. In Varfuri they also grew to 30 kids and now armed with the plan of hamming it up got the kids to really interact today and they all had a great time.

The good news for VBS is that Don found a leaf blower and so we were able to do the weather

balloon trick and I got to pick up some gas for the fire eating. Unfortunately the area was out of premium grade gas and so I had to use low grade gas. Apparently my request for gas companies to come out with new flavors did not get taken up and instead of cherry bubblegum I was back to low grade gasoline taste which I have been burping up ever since.

Russ and Don also got started on the building project but when you also have to taxi everyone everywhere, both our team and the Romanians, the work was constantly halted. This is the one area we have significantly under estimated for the last two years. There really is a need for a building team to be solely dedicated to building.

After VBS it was regrouping in Pucioasa for lunch before heading over to an old people’s home to hand out quilts. The ladies and gentlemen in the home absolutely loved the quilts and you could tell thoroughly enjoyed having us visit and sing songs. These are the kind of experiences that make Mission trips so rewarding.

Tomorrow we will be doing an afternoon VBS in Vulcana Bai and so we also went over to Vulcana Bai today to hand out flyers for theVBS. At one house there were two chihuahua-sized dogs in the garden.

Savannah accidentally pushed the gate and it opened and the two dogs ran out. Kayla let out a scream that sounded as if she was being mauled by two dogs that were Pitbull Rottweiler mixes. It was quite a sight to see Kayla running away screaming with two tiny dogs looking at her from their drive way.

Tonight we split up as a team again. One part of the team went to the second and last

night of the women’s conference. The other part of the team went to have a BBQ at the church. The women’s conference had 40 women turn up tonight and was again received so well by the Romanian ladies. The men on the other hand ate a pretty much all meat BBQ and then spent a bunch of time shooting balloons with a blow dart gun. Florin was like a kid a Christmas as he set up different targets including a moving target. The thing was that he was a great shot and was hitting everything.

Now if I give you these two scenarios:

  1. Put on a skirt and go and meet with all women and after, go and look at wedding dresses, or
  2. Have a meat BBQ and shoot balloons with blow darts with all the men.

Which scenario do you think Savannah would choose to go to? Yep - Savannah was at the BBQ arm wrestling the pastors and other Romanian men. That’s my girl!

After the women’s conference I helped Nicu drop off a lady in Varfuri and on the way home Nicu wanted to show me some different neighborhoods. In one section there were a bunch of kids who were playing in the street that Nicu wanted to come to the VBS. Luckily I had my bag of tricks in the car and so for about 20 minutes we did a bit of street ministry. One of the mothers who was rather stand offish at the start was having a hard time explaining how the tricks were done and even resorted to smiling after one.

The end of the day led us back to Vienna to unwind. It might have been because there was no rain today but the bugs came out tonight with a vengeance. Instead of Whack a Mole we were playing Whack a Bug. After about 30 minutes there were hundreds of dead bugs on our table. I think the waitress was a little embarrassed by all of the bugs and so she came and brushed them all into one pile and then proceeded to just brush them into Damien’s lap. I think she was just trying to clear the table but it was kind of humorous to see her just brush them at Damien and continued to do so even when he stood up. Well it was humorous for all of us except Damien.

One of the common occurrences at about this time in the Missions trip is that you start speaking English like a Romanian. “I go shop now, yes” “How you say ...” etc. Sue already has the traces of her New Jersey accent and now she is adding Romanian English or Romanienglish as we like to call it to her repertoire as the bugs “dovebomb” into her drink. The other thing that happens is that a Romanian will translate a Romanian phrase into English but the translation doesn’t quite work out. Someone from our church had sent a gift for Marian and his wife Simona. When I gave the gift to him he asked me to tell the person that he would pray that this person “would see the face of God”. Now there are two alternatives to this. First, it was a phrase that translated badly or second Marian wasn’t very impressed with the gift and he wanted the person to die and so he prayed that the person would see God’s face which in the Old Testament says would take that person’s life. Let’s just hope it was the first of these options.

Little by little you can see people feeling the affects of tiredness so please pray for continued strength and vitality as we finish up the last two days of VBS.

Matthew 18: 3-4 "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Monday, July 25, 2011

Romania 2011 Day 6: VBS Begins

Romania 2011

Day 6

It is hard to believe we only have 3 more days left in Pucioasa (and it’s hard to believe I have been spelling it wrong all week). This morning we woke up again to rain, however, this morning it wasn’t as welcome as yesterday. Rain meant that fewer children would come to the VBS’s and for Varfuri (also spelled wrong in earlier blogs) having to be outside meant it would be very muddy. Nevertheless I think everyone was excited to start working with the kids.

Prior to the trip Don had prepared a 10 day devotional on Good to Great in God’s Eyes. We began that this morning. I am not saying Don fits too easily into the Romanian way of life but it does seem to be a recurring theme of change. I am beginning to

wonder how much of the change is Nicu and how much is Don. When Don wasn’t here last year I wonder if he was calling Nicu every day to orchestrate the changes. Anyway ... after a time of devotion and breakfast we loaded up the two teams for Fieni and Varfuri and VBS was under way.

Varfuri - despite Hannah and Daniella (one of our translators) being late an immediate blessing was had in Varfuri as the mayor of the town let us use the town hall for VBS. Now if you took a nice hall in America, something like our gym at Harvest and shrunk it down to about a third of the size, smashed some of the windows, chipped the paint (a lot) and added a stray dog you will

have an idea of what the town hall looked like. But we were inside and I do not understand why last year they made us do VBS on the outside of the town hall. They probably they did not trust Hunter with all of his hair. By the time we started we had 21 kids and one Mum. As we went through the skits and games the Mum had more fun than anyone but the kids left with a balloon animal in their hands and a smile on their face. The stray puppy dog did not fair quite so well. In the middle of Dimitri Says (the Romanian version of Simon Says), I was running on the spot and the puppy decided to walk over to me and under my foot. I quickly added “Dimitri says

‘stamp on a puppy and make him yelp’” but I am not sure the fact I was joking translated very well and a couple of the more competitive boys definitely were making a move to come and stamp on the puppy. I am glad to say that 240 lbs coming down on a puppy didn’t seem to have a long-term affect.

Pucioasa - here the rain did have a little more of an affect but still 25 kids came along. Katie did such a good of disguising herself as one of the characters with a hat, mustache and glasses that one of the Romanian youth who walked in a little late was asking who the new person was. Probably the most touching story was one of the Mum’s who sat just outside the room all day and listened. Gretchen and a few others tried to have her come in and listen in the room or talk to her but she just sat,

listened and said nothing. At the end of the VBS she was standing outside and Gretchen asked if she was waiting for her children. With the help of a translator we found she didn’t have any children at VBS but just wanted to listen. She then asked if she could have a book i.e. the Bible. Gretchen told her to read John 4 and come back tomorrow to discuss it.

Fieni - VBS in Fieni was probably the biggest surprise in that the church is facing the greatest persecution from the Orthodox church which has taught the children in the schools that Florin’s church is to be avoided at all costs and they had 40 kids. God is definitely bigger than any problem with think there will be. The disguise in Fieni wasn’t quite so cunning especially as the duct tape holding the mustache on Izzy’s face started to slip down and she had to kind of hold it up to talk through it.

When we all regrouped at lunch I realized that the blog was creating a new phenomenon in that everything little thing was

being judged for its blog worthiness. And I think this phenomenon is creating some exaggeration. By the end of lunch 24 of the 21 kids had given their life to Christ in Varfuri. Fieni had about 100 kids and Pucioasa was ready to plant a new church.

After lunch we split up again. Don and Russ headed to a hardware store, Sue and Gretchen went food shopping and Damien and I took the rest of the team (all females) shoe shopping. Oh what joy. Thankfully it started raining and only one pair of shoes was bought.

Michelle and Damien with Oana translating tried the Way of the Master evangelistic approach with a few people in the market. One couple had had their grandfather die 3 days earlier and it wasn’t the right time for them to talk. One man just got up and walked off. The final lady we decided to bribe and buy one of her watermelons if she would give Michelle and Damien 10 minutes of her time. She ended up talking to them for about 30 mins off and on between customers and proved to be a perfect orthodox. Believed in God and Jesus but believed you had to do good works and go to church to be saved.

Women’s Conference - Evening One

I only heard about the women’s conference because the ladies told me - I was not allowed anywhere near the event. They had started off expecting probably 5-10 women but originally packed for 20. When the weight of the suitcase was still light they just decided to pack all of the journals they had been given which was 31 in number. Shortly after the start the tables that were set up had been filled up and there was one Romanian lady at every spot where there was a journal - exactly 31 Romanian ladies turned up. From all accounts it seemed as though the event was a great success and there was talk of these ladies bringing more friends tomorrow. Having given her testimony in church on Sunday night Gretchen felt more comfortable using a translator and even paused after each sentence instead of completing a whole paragraph before letting the translator speak.

Russ, Savannah and I went to Solomon’s house for dinner. Russ and I were looking forward to this because Solomon’s Mum is a great cook. We were a little more aware that there would be 3 courses for the meal after last year and so were ready to pace ourselves. The appetizer came out first which was a plate of 4 stuffed cabbage leaves, some stewed cabbage and a good serving of corn grits (not sure what you call them). Our assumption was that this was to be split between the four of us eating. Oh no - 3 more of the same size plates came out. Maybe this year we would just go straight for the main course but no. Halfway through the first plate of food and second just as large plate each came out with two pieces of chicken, a pile of diced potatoes and a tomato, cucumber and cheese salad. All three of us almost dropped off our chairs - mind you that could have been from the amount of food we had eaten for the appetizer. We finally rolled out of there probably 20 lbs heavier.

The end of day tradition continued and we all got together at the Vienna restaurant for Papa nosi (donuts and cream) and coffee. Tonight the theme was arm wrestling as Savannah wanted to show her prowess off. Having beaten most of the youth she turned her strength on the adults (except for Russ and I - she knew what we had just eaten and some of the weight must have gone to our arms because I stomachs were definitely not big enough for all the food). Except for Don who beat her while reading his iPad she did show pretty well against Gretchen and Damien before losing. Izzy and Dina both went down to this arm wrestling phenom.

Tomorrow is Day 2 of VBS and the Women’s conference. Please continue to pray for us all.

Psalm 100 - Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Romania 2011 Day 5: Church Day

Romania 2011 Day 5

To get on the internet last night I went back to the restaurant to see if I could sit and use their wireless internet. At first we had the usual language barrier problem as I tried to explain what I needed. Every year the owner of the restaurant asks me if I speak German and every year I offer Spanish as the alternative and so between English, Romanian, German and Spanish we don’t have any common language. To help with the problem he said he would call his “doctor”. I tried to think what I could have said that would make him think I need a “doctor”. After a bit a girl turned up and I realized he had actually said“daughter”. Apparently it wasn’t their internet and so the owner said he would take me upstairs. We actually went up to the hotel rooms above the restaurant where we had stayed in previous years and I was able to connect and I didn’t get an examination from any doctor so it was a blessing on all counts.

We woke up to rain today. The good news was that with the rain would come cooler temperatures and for church that is good. When we go into a church service we tend to help fill it to the brim which means it gets hot and stuffy but the colder air wouldhelp mitigate this. Six of us, Izzy, Hannah, Michelle, Kayla, Savannah and I, were going to head to Fieni and the rest stayed in Puciosa.

Before that, we came together for breakfast at the same place we had dinner. I think the restaurant appreciates us coming to town but obviously needs warning. Last night we had drunk them dry of Mountain Dew except for one bottle and so Russ thought it best to finish that off this morning. After a quick breakfast we made our way to the churches.

When we arrived in Fieni we were amazed at ho much the church had changed. The outside was now pretty much complete. The second floor has one functioning room and another section under development. The third floor has walls and floor but cannot be used for anything. The joy of coming back year after year is to see some of the people who have become so dear to us and we enjoyed spending the morning worshipping together and praying together. During the service I gave a lesson and both Izzy and Michelle gave their testimonies. This is one of the joys of being on a Mission trip. You get to hear others’ testimonies and you get to see a new part of these people’s lives.

After the service we split up and three people went to the house of Marian (the pastor). Three people went to Florin’s house. It was the first time I had seen Florin’s house and just like the church, he had built it from the foundation up. All I could think about was how that every time I try and build anything or fix anything at home Barbara has to call someone in after to re-build it or re-fix it.

Florin is truly a special person whose heart is sold out to Jesus. He seems to have done so much and to do so much. He has been a fireman, a pastor, a builder and his new hobby is as a beekeeper. Lunch at the Romanian’s houses usually consists of food grown in their own gardens and it was the same in Fieni. It is hard to explain how much better something as simple as tomatoes taste when they are grown naturally and picked ripe off the vine.

In Puciosa there was a slightly different pattern to the service. I think this is mainly because Nicu makes up his mind to do something about 2 minutes before it happens. Before the service the going in position was that Sorin was going to give a 45 minute sermon. We would do a few songs and then Don would give a 15 minute lesson. Just before the service Nicu asked Russ if he would give his testimony. The service started at 9:30 with a prayer time and then the fun started. Russ was asked not to give his testimony but to do a lesson. The only thing we are told to do is be prepared to give our testimony and for the men to have lesson ready. This was one of those times Russ was glad he had a lesson ready. Sorin did give his 45 minute sermon and Don did a blend between his testimony and a lesson and 3 hours later the service was over. We are going to suggest that Lance adopt this kind of approach to our service at Harvest - it definitely adds some excitement to the service.

In the evening we were back at church and this time it was again Russ’ and my turn to be surprised to give a lesson. Usually we would like more than 30 mins to prepare for a lesson even if we have one initially prepped. I have to say that it seemed as though Russ had been preparing for weeks as his lesson was so smooth. I think I will spend time tomorrow night preparing in case it is sprung on us at the Wednesday night service.

After the service a few went off to Varfur to hand out flyers about the VBS which starts tomorrow. Nothing like good preparation and advertising. Then it was time back together to share food from the new BBQ grill. They had asked us to get the “sturdy” grill not the one on three legs but that had four legs. I really don’t think the number of legs really mattered. This grill was so shaky that if you put more than 5 hamburgers it would collapse under the weight.

There is one thing not quite right with this trip and that is that Chrissie is speaking to Daniella more than we are arranging dinners. We keep getting told where and what time we are having dinner and this is being arranged by Chrissie in Houston. Chrissie - Don has a message for you - next time you are coming or he is turning your phone off because he cannot afford the phone bill.

The first full day in Puciosa is almost over and we are having our end of day meeting at one of the local restaurants. Not sure this restaurant will be a regular. We sat down and the waiter did not even come over for 15 minutes. Well tomorrow we start VBS and we are all expecting something to change.

John10:10 - I come that you may have life and have it abundantly


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Romania 2011 Day 4: Puciosa bound

Romania 2011 Day 4

The day started at a more normal time today. The body is finally adapting. Outside ofthe house in the mountains there is a cowwith a big cow bell. Several of the team loved the sound of the bell especially as they woke up in the morning. Izzy in fact is buying one to put on one of her cats.

Not sure the cat will be moving much but he will sound good.

Today we were heading back to Puciosa but first it was breakfast and another lesson.

Don taught today on building on the

foundation of Jesus Christ. As christians we are no longer under the law but because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Don then asked the Romanians what would be sacrificed without Jesus’ death. They all started talking about killing Bo. I made a note to let Bo he better not come back to Romania. I have no idea what he did but they are out for his blood. Actually I think Bo means bull in Romanian but if I was Bo I wouldn’t risk it.

After the lesson we headed down to Bran so that some of the new people could go and see Count Dracula’s castle (which really is not his castle at all but they sure make a lot of money from fooling people). Those that did not go in the castle enjoyed an hour or two shopping for junk, I mean mementos. I think the highlight for those who went in the castle was seeing Monica who apparently is the Anna Nicole Smith in Romania. She is a model who has married a very old wealthy man.

After this we all jumped in the vans for the drive back to Puciosa. We stopped at a gas station to load up on candy and drinks and even found a magazine on which Monica was the cover story. I finally broke down and had my first Mountain Dew of the trip. The ride back to Puciosa is not too long but the road is extremely windy (not as in the wind but with lots of bends). Having spent about an hour snaking through the mountains Hannah was suffering terribly from motion sickness and was asking Izzy just to drown her or break her neck. We had to remind Hannah that this remedy was only used by Izzy for dogs on their last legs. By the time we got to Puciosa Hannah, Michelle and Damien were all feeling a little worse for wear. I think the Mountain Dew protected me. In Puciosa we were reunited with Gretchen and Sue who had spent the last two days partying in Puciosa. They said they were preparing the food menu, the women’s conference and finding a hotel for us but I think that was just a front. Mind you we did have hotel rooms at a brand new hotel so maybe I am wrong.

This next part of the blog can not be seen by the Orthodox church otherwise Katie might not make it back home. As we came down the mountains today their were lots, and I mean lots and lots, of families pulled over on the sides of the roads having picnics and playing in the rivers. It seemed to be a constant occurrence to see someone relieving themselves, men women and children. Katie then asked why they didn’t use the outhouse that she saw on the side of the road. It was then pointed out that this was actually a shrine. Not sure the Orthodox church would be too happy about using the shrines as toilets.

I couldn’t wait too long to mention the dogs. The same rules apply as in all years which

is not to touch the dogs. Savannah doesn’t really touch them, she pets them, hugs them, plays with them. I have to keep checking the vans and her room to make sure she is not harboring any stray dogs. Izzy is a little more discerning and really only has a hard time seeing little puppies all abandoned. Don and I had seen one on the side of the road and although difficult to do we drove on by. Don made the mistake of telling Izzy and she was determined to go and find him. When we drove past the same spot on the way home the puppy wasn’t there and so I tried comforting Izzy by saying that he had found home. She seemed to think his home would have been in a ditch somewhere. Russ did try to comfort her by telling her that this was still a home but it didn’t seem to ease the pain.

Walking through Puciosa brought back memories and even one of the waitresses in one of the restaurants recognized me. Being rather shy I am not sure why she would remember me. You can ask my family how quiet I am when we are in restaurants. It is good to be back in Puciosa and all of us are looking forward to the next week of VBS and the fellowship with churches in Puciosa, Fieni, Vulcana Bai and Varfur.

1 John 1:3 - what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ

Friday, July 22, 2011

Romania 2011 Day 3: Bible lessons and fun

Day 3 started early. A few of us woke up a little earlier than normal at 5 a.m. ish but it was just our body clocks being off. The one thing you notice is how clean and fresh the air feels up here in the mountains. It probably was in the mid-50’s when we woke up and has not been above 75 all day. I know you are all thinking that we are suffering for the cause but don’t worry we will hold strong.

At breakfast we had all of the Romanians and Americans (minus Sue and Gretchen) together. The wives of the pastors and their children also came up into the mountains. All of the children are growing up way too quickly. Alexia, Nicu’s daughter, is still a little card but I think maybe a little confused. She ran up to Damien and recognized him from last year but was calling him Emily. Obviously she knew something before they even did. Once we had wiped the “missing you” tears from Damien’s face we got back into the swing of things.

In the morning we had two lessons with the youth from Russ and I. It took a while for the mind to get back into the swing of using a translator but it was great to sing songs in both Romanian and English and study God’s word together. If you want to study along with us we are mainly using

Matthew 7 for our study.

After lunch it was a time for volleyball, basketball, soccer and tennis. The Americans clearly dominated at volleyball. Emily, I mean Damien, showed the way on the basketball court. When it came to soccer the Romanians ran circles around us. Obviously it was the altitude that affected us. Also the Romanians brought in recruits from Sorin’s church in Brasov.

Some of our team went for a walk clearly enjoying being in God’s beautiful creation. Don and I headed down to Bran to find a Wifi connection. In the middle of Bran there was a connection although you had to stand in one spot on side of the street to get it. A group of taxi drivers were very bemused as to why a man was standing on the side of the road typing on a bright, hot pink laptop. I just about had time to connect and send the last blog.

During volleyball we have come up with one problem. When we have Kayla, Michaila and Dina player we have some confusion because when we call Michaila Dina thinks we are calling “My Kayla” and she says “No, she is my Kayla” so now we have Michaila, My Kayla and My Mom.

Today we also had our first injury. Surprisingly it was Don who is always accident free in Romania. Today he decided to close the tail door of the van on his head. I know most people pull their head out of the door but Don thought differently. Tonight we had our third lesson with the youth taught by Don. It was about healing (well it should have been). After dinner we headed out to the back of the house for a fire where we made smores.

The good news is that we finally got an Wifi to work at the house we are at and so I am able to post a new blog tonight. However each photo takes about 20 minutes to load - so before you complain Nate I will get more photos included when we get back to reliable internet. Tomorrow we head back to Puciosa via Bran.

Colossians 3:16 - Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Romania 2011 Day Two: What Day is it?

Romania Day 2: What Day Is It?

First, let me apologize for not sending a blog last night. The place we are staying for the youth retreat does not have Wifi and when you see the schedule we went through I hope there is some mercy in understanding why.

The flight from London to Bucharest was on time and I think everyone tried their best to get a little sleep. At the end of the flight I was brought back into the realm of different culture = different norms. A few of us we were sitting towards the back of the plane and once we had landed the usual mad rush to stand up and get your bags pursued. I think this is a worldwide norm. What was a little different was the older lady who was sitting at the back of the plane who decided she needed to get to the front. I assume she thought the rest of us we were just stretching our legs and really wanted to stay on the plane to enjoy another gourmet meal. She proceeded to push her way past every single person the young and the old alike. I wondered how long that would have lasted if she had done that on a flight in America.

Having collected the 29 checked bags we loaded up trolleys and rolled trolleys and bags out to the rental car. Damien, who somehow managed to not even have a carry-on in his hands, did a great job of making sure that the rest of us including the ladies, both young and less young, didn’t drop any of the bags.

One of the Romanian teenagers, Solomon, is attending a Christian music college in Romania and the day that we arrived it was his birthday. To be able to complete the college three-year course he has to have a classical guitar which he does not have nor can afford. Don had a classical guitar at home that he no longer needed and so he brought that over to give to Solomon. It wasn’t until we were in the Romanian airport that Izzy asked why Don and brought a guitar case without a guitar all this way. Apparently the case and guitar was so light she didn’t think there was a guitar in the bag. I informed her that it was an air guitar which seemed to answer the question.

From the airport we split into two groups Don, Russ, Izzy and Dina took our youth straight to Bran where the retreat was. Sue and Gretchen had to go to Puciosa to prepare for next week. Having seen the fear on Sue’s face when Don informed her that she was driving a van to Puciosa I thought I had better offer to drive to Puciosa, drop them off and then head to Bran. When we got into Bucharest on the way to Puciosa we realized that this was probably the first good decision we had made. Driving in Bucharest is an art unto itself on the best of days. Trying to cope with traffic while following someone is close to a death trap. Last year we had several near crashes as Stuart led us through Bucharest making right exits off a roundabout from the left lane across three lanes of traffic. Well apparently Romanians do this as well and yesterday we even learned how to do it during rush hour. Then there is the “make your own lane” rule that you have to get used to. At some turns where you cross traffic you pull up behind the car in front to make the turn. As you wait more and more cars join the turn line but over here the turn line isn’t one behind the other but all lined up next to each other. When the other way is clear about 15 cars all make a dash for the turn which is only 2 lanes wide. I think Sue and Gretchen are breathing again and we did make it safe and sound to Puciosa.

From here I jumped in the car with Marius and his wife and baby son and we headed to pick up Marian (the wife of Florin, the pastor in Fieni) and their daughter Demarius and head to Bran. At this point it was about 8p.m., I had not slept properly for 30 hours and was suffering a little from motion sickness. Ahead of me was a 3 hour drive to Bran. Half way there we had winded our way over the first set of mountains and I couldn’t stay awake any longer. I apologized to my fellow passengers for needing to sleep and for the likelihood that I would snore and proceeded to fall asleep. When I awoke we were nearly in Bran and they were all quiet. I think my snoring must have scared them too much.

When we arrived at the retreat house it was about 11 p.m. a few people were still up but most were in bed. I realized I had missed a meal that night but I wasn’t quite sure which meal I had missed. I did have 2 breakfasts and a lunch I think so I guess it must have been dinner. I said a few hellos and then headed to my room. Apparently Marius and Marian had called ahead to Nicu and asked if he would put me in the same room as Russ who is notorious for his snoring to pay me back for my snoring. Little did they know I have been in training for snoring roommates by having my English bulldog sleep next to me. The training seemed to work and I fell right to sleep.

Anyway there is no internet here and I was so tired I couldn’t drive into town to find Wifi. As soon as I have the chance I will find a Wifi and post.

In Ephesians 5:20 it tells us to give “thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. This is one of the results of being filled with the Holy Spirit. After our safe travel all the way to Bran and the joy of seeing our brothers and sisters in Christ from Romania all that we can do is give thanks.

OK - I found internet but I am not sure for how long. Here is the latest post. Because I am in a hurry there are no pictures. I will try again later if possible.