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.