Monday, July 9, 2012

Sunday Service Comparison

On Sunday morning in Houston we got up early had a cup of coffee drove to church and sat in comfortable chair in an air conditioned hall singing praise and worship songs and listening to great teaching.  In Romania the only difference is that it is a small church and no airconditioning.  Another difference is that in general we dress a little less formally in Houston (unless you are the Pastor's son :-) ).  The other obvious difference is that the songs, prayers and the preaching is in Romanian.  That is except for when the team from Houston either do the music or preach with an interpreter.  For me I always wanted to try singing in Romanian but I am sure if they actually recorded me and played it back I would probably sound like a Romanian speaking gibberish.  I also found that because I had an interpreter I tried to keep the words I used fairly simple but I also found that I started to speak in stilted English.  I am sure that if you recorded my sermon and cut out the interpretation it would sound as though I was a novice in speaking English.

I was excited to see that VBS was now underway.  I always looked forward to seeing the faces that have been there year after year.  In general they are so excited to be there and are great at joining in the activities.  What is even more exciting is to see some of the kids grow older and start to attend church voluntarily and hopefully to stay strong in their faith in a society that frowns upon everyone outside of the orthodox church.

The VBS days are long but every day you are more excited to be there.  The only problem with VBS starting is that it means you are that much closer to coming home (sorry to bring that up for the team out in Romania).

I am waiting to hear about how many kids Don nails with his blow dart gun.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Catching Up - Romania 2012 (from Houston)

After a 4th of July break (which is obviously a big occasion for an English person) and then a short business trip I am getting back in the saddle for writing a complementary blog for the Romanian Missions trip.  I was able to read the blogs over the last few days and it was amazing to have flashbacks of memories from my visits over the last 3 years.


There is something about Romanian hotels.  In general they are acceptable but there always seems to be some kind of quirk that you have to get used to.  We have had rooms where the shower was a hand held shower that squirted everywhere and no shower curtain, no AC in hot temperatures, dodgy lights, mosquitos galore (which also allowed me to create a new design on the walls), keys that opened everything including all of the other rooms, doors that didn't lock, small beds, tiny pillows.  The list goes on.  It seems as though this year is no difference and now we can add doors that wouldn't unlock. 


Every year we have had some kind of construction project but last year it was a little weak with Don and Russ managing to hammer up one board to the roof.  This year Russ has taken it to a new low as he now is just acting as a ladder.

Street Evangelism:

Romanians are not always predictable when it comes to their reaction to street evangelism.  Sometimes they just look on bemused with what is happening. Other times they hustle away not wanting to get trapped by any "repenters" as evangelical christians are called.  This year the street evangelism seemed to take on new look with guitar playing.  I hate to burst the bubble for Daniel and the other newbies to Romania but getting 15 leu may not be everything it seemed to be.  The main reason I say this is you have to compare what other entertainment they have in Romania.  The local TV consists of two kinds of shows.  First there is the music shows where a few men in extremely baggy trousers dance around and sing songs supposedly in tune.  Second there are a slew of soap operas where the acting is so bad that General Hospital over here would be classified as Oscar winning performances from all the cast.  My guess is that the 15 leu was from a couple of people who were on the way to pay their TV licenses and decided that our team was more entertaining and gave the money to them.

On a serious note it is probably one of the most frustrating things to not be able to speak Romanian and just rattle of the Way of the Master but somehow God works through those situations to reach the hearts of the lost.

I am eager to hear how the youth retreat went as usually it is a great time and creates some great bonds between the youth.  Our prayers are with you all.  (BTW - my AC is working fine over here).

Monday, July 2, 2012

I Stand Corrected

Well I guess the blog from Romania finally hit. Obviously another late night in Romania. Mind you it is a long way for the blog to travel. I wasn't going to blog but when I read about shorting out the whole room I was pretty impressed. Most times it only results in the piece of equipment being destroyed. I think first time we lost a fan. I am sure one year Damien broke his plasma screen TV and blue ray disc player (BTW - for those that don't know that is a joke especially as Damien is the only person I know who go on a Missions trip with everything packed in a backpack and without a carry-on). Well another typical day in Romania.

Romania 2012 - Day One No Blog

 I am not sure how many people who follow the official Romania blog will also read this one but today there was no blog from Romania.  This may be for a few reasons.

First, the internet access in Romania can be patchy at best.  There were many a day I was sitting in the street at midnight or walking through a town with my computer on trying to find an open wifi.  It can be done but can be a frustrating proposition.

Second, after a hard day and dinner, there is the time you want to spend with the team to unwind and then writing a blog may be just too much to do.  Every so often I would fall asleep writing the blog or posting it.  There were a couple of days where I really just had to post a blog saying we were all still alive because I was too tired.  Most nights I was completing the blog at about 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. especially when trying to upload photos as well.

Third, oops they forgot.

The good news is that I did get an email from Don and so we know that at least he is alive.  He was able to confirm that they were taking a lot of "scenic" routes. 

Tomorrow they are heading out to teach a bunch of people English laced with the bible.  I am sure this really means they are going to teach them American but that is okay.  Apparently the phrase they are teaching was provided by Lance "I am a wretched sinner" and from there they move on to "I have been predestined".  I did suggest "I want to live My Best Life Now" but that was shot down.

Hopefully we will get an update tomorrow.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Romania 2012 - The Perspective from Houston

This year the tough decision not to go to Romania had to be made due to other commitments throughout the year.  Yesterday the team left for Romania and have begun the blogging.  As they were in London I received an email asking if I could blog while they were there as well.  Now there is one obvious flaw in this theory.  I am not there and cannot see what is going on and so what I thought I could do is provide the interpretation to the official blog.  Now I might not do this every day but will try to provide color commentary when needed.

Romania - An Ordinary Travel Experience?

As the title would imply there is never an ordinary travel experience when going on Missions.  As a large group all travelling in the same color T-Shirts you always draw attention which is great when you can then talk about Jesus but not so great when you are going through security and something goes wrong.  I was convinced Don was going to try an take his blow dart gun in his carry-on so that he could keep the team in line on the plane.  Actually I thought he would put it in DJ's bag so that he could claim innocence. 

The flight is always long and uncomfortable but Russ going to sleep is a constant as well.  Somehow Russ sleeping and the word peaceful never seem to go together in the same sentence.  Unless it is something like "Everything was peaceful until Russ went to sleep".

It is good to learn lessons early in a trip so that you can avoid them later especially when you may be in a hurry.  So following Gretchen was the first mistake and Gretchen following DJ well ... let's say that's why it's a mistake to follow Gretchen.  I think the perfect storm would be Don driving with Gretchen telling Don the way to go from DJ's directions while in a van race with Stuart Holland being egged on by Michelle Ayoubi and Holly Cannon.  OK - that last bit about Stuart, Michelle and Holly cannot happen this year but you get the picture.

At this point the team will be fast asleep in bed.  Either that or lying in bed wondering why they cannot sleep.  Our prayers are with them as they are a couple of hours away from beginning the Missions trip for real.