Thursday, January 14, 2010

Romania 2009

Romania 2009

Finally, I'm taking some time to write about our Romania trip this past July! The first part of this was written while we were there. I always have high aspirations about journalling while I'm in Romania, but its so hard to keep up with. There's always so much to do and think about, that its difficult to take the time to keep journalling. I'm so tired after the long work days, that I don't want to think any more in the evenings! So, anyways, the first part is from my original journal, and the second part will be written from my current memories and thoughts looking back on the time.

[written in Romania]
Day 1/2 (Thurs 7/16 - Fri 7/17)
This year, we planned to pack and head up to Sterling on Wednesday night to make it easier to get to the flight on time Thursday! It worked well and we had a fun time with my family Wednesday night. We grilled up steaks and had a nice dinner time together. Thursday, I was able to get six hours of work in on my laptop and that was great. So thankful for that! Had lunch and then got to Dulles around 3:30. We saw a few people from our group there and then we go into our United line which was very long. I struggled to be patient with the workers there. We got our tickes, said goodbye to Mom and Dad, and then went back to quickly see the rest of the team over at the Lufthansa check-in. Then, we made it through security and to our gate very quickly, which was a blessing. Had about 20 minutes to spare before the 5:15 boarding call. We had a brief scare in that I realized we didn't have a boarding pass for the first flight, just some ticket management stub thing! The desk guy was nice and said he was about to call for us, and he made us boarding passes. The flight to Zurich was excellent. I think we got put in United Plus, which meant we had about an extra 6" of space or so than is normal. I was quite comfortable and got a lot of sleep on the flight. I probably slept for about 5 of the 8 hours or so. Very thankful for that! Also thankful because the plane was smaller and Liz and I got two seats alone together with a window seat. =) I think that's our first international flight where that happened. God is good! We got to Zurich and had a smooth transfer to our next flight. The Swiss seem so prompt, clean, and precise! It was evident all over the airport. A neat thing was the inter-gate transfer train. It was very quiet and cold and it played sounds from the Alps. It was beautiful! Some sort of tourism thing, I guess. So, we aited an hour or so for our flight to Romania and it went well. It was weird because most of the people on with us were Swiss tourists going to Romania. I felt very out of place! Especially when all the boarding information was read only in German, so we were almost late to board! It rained a lot in Zurich. The plane ride was great. Got an awesome view of the Alps and at one point could look down and see the Riva mountain and the valleys for the two lakes. That was cool! The Swiss Air plane was really small and the flight was smooth. They bribed us with amazing free chocolate! Flight landed in Bucharest around 1:20. We exchanged $100 at the airport for 2.79 lei/$1 and went down to get our bags. All four of our bags made it through just fine, which is a big praise! Liz and I then decided whether we should go out to the arrivals sitting area, which was public, or to sit on one of the few benches near the luggage, which was secured. We were supposed to meet Buddy and Scott before the group, but didn't see them anywhere. I wanted to go out, but Liz wanted to stay. So, we stayed! The rest of the group was coming in three hours, so we settled in. Pretty soon, a security guard came over and I think he tried to get us to leave. He knew like two Engish words- "person" and "exit". We stood up to inquire, and he left. As we were standing, we looked across the large room to see the outer doors open and some people waving frantically! They closed. Then opened again. The people were still waving- perhaps at us! So, we went on over there and saw Don and Joyce, Danny, David, Ovi, Buddy, Scott, Immanuel, and Amelia.
[written back home in December!]
We were so excited to see them, so we headed out into the crowd and met them with lots of hugs. :) I'm so thankful that God worked it out where the security guard would get us looking around just enough to see them in the crack of the door when it opened! Otherwise, we'd be waiting for like 3 more hours there, and they would have been frustrated! It was so good to see our Romanian friends that we hadn't seen in a year. :) So, we took our luggage and we all crammed into Don's green van. I'm not sure how we all got in there, with lugggage, but we did! It was cozy. Since we had a few hours until the rest of the group's plane got there- we set out on the town. First stop was for a light lunch at McDonalds. I was glad to have Romanian McDonalds again- its so good. Royal Cheese of desire. :) After lunch, we headed off to a big store called Metro- very similar to a Price Costco or Sam's Club. We were buying lots of food supplies for the team for the week. It was funny, because we had actually stopped to use the bathroom at this Metro the year before. So, it was a little familiar. This time, we got to go in and shop around. It was an interesting experience that felt so American compared with most of the Romania we see. It was quite overwhelming actually- similar to the feeling I have at Sam's! Regardless, we spent awhile in there shopping around and finding food, which wasn't always the easiest considering the language barrier. I even ran across a girl with free espresso coffee samples, which were quite good. :) Once we finally found all, or most, of what the team needed, we went out to the parking lot. The bus met us there in the lot and we were able to transfer a lot of luggage and supplies onto the bus. And it was sure hot in that parking lot! Once we got everything settled, we headed back to the airport just in time to meet up with the rest of the group flying in from Dulles. It was good to see them too. :) It was a weird feeling not being with them for the flight over, but in some ways it was nice too because I felt free to just relax and sleep or whatever and not feel guilty about trying to get to know new people. Not that I don't want to, but during the flight process, I find it nicer to just zone out. :) We got everyone in the group loaded up on the bus, Wayne shared some introductory thoughts and a prayer and then we started on our drive to the hotel. This year, the hotel wasn't too far from the airport-about 2-3 hours. I guess that was good. I personally don't mind the longer drive for think time, but it was nice to be able to go straight to our hotel right away. We stopped in for more McDonalds for dinner on the way. We got to the hotel right around sunset or so. It was a beautiful drive through the country. The hotel was settled on a mountain in the woods a little, which I thought was neat. That was the first time I've been sort of in the woods in Romania. The hotel was pretty nice for the most part. The one key disadvantage was that there was no a/c in the rooms! Our room was on the 3rd (top) floor and it was still very hot and stuffy from the warm day. We opened up the windows and that helped some. Our room was also on the end of the hotel, which meant we were situated on this courtyard area. There was a dining area down below and another hotel across the way. In the courtyard this Friday night was a rock band playing REALLY loudly! So, between them and the heat, it was impossible to get to sleep for a long time. So, I stayed up and sat on the balcony and enjoyed the band. They were actually quite good. In fact, most of their songs were cover songs of American songs. It was quite funny. They played them very well, but sometimes their grammar wasn't always correct. And the Romania accent was a funny touch on them. :-P I think the show wound down around midnight and we finally were able to get some rest!

Day 3 (Sat 7/18)
Since we got here a day earlier than usual, they decided to make Saturday a working day too so we could get a good head start on the project. We got up early and had a good breakfast at the hotel. The fair was similar to other places we've been in and it was good. Eggs, cheese, ham, bread, cereal, and Romania coffee. I drank the coffee this year and I really liked it actually. Perhaps it was just this restaurant because usually I don't. I think they were using Illy, so perhaps that's what made it good? Anyways, after a good eat, we drove to the chapel site. When we got there, it didn't look quite ready! It was a similar feeling to the previous year when it didn't seem like the chapel was ready for us to come work on it. This year was a little more finished, but still didn't seem quite ready. But that's okay- we figured it out. We gathered in the chapel together with Pastor Marian there and started out with some thoughts for the week and we had a time of prayer. We didn't go out on prayer walks, but started into work for the day after that. We got the food truck all set up nicely and got all the supplies out and organized, then got to work on the site. We spent a large part of the day getting wood cut, supplies organized and moved, etc. We were also able to get a number of the roof rafters built today, which was an excellent head start on the project. The one thing about this day though, was that it was HOT! It must have been well near or past 100 degrees in the afternoon. Then, working in the open chapel with no roof and concrete walls and floor was basically an oven. I don't want to know how hot it got in there! We were all wearing soaked towels in our hats to try and stay sort of cool. It got really bad though and at least one or two guys in our group got heat sickness. I was actually feeling quite dizzy at one point and had to rest for awhile. In light of this, our group leaders called off work early for the rest of the afternoon. Tired, sweaty, and weary, our group got on the bus to ride back to the hotel. Unfortunately, the bus had been sitting in the hot sun all afternoon, and was really hot!! None of the windows opened either. Not too long into the bus ride, the bus driver pulled off the side of the road and stopped. Apparently, the air conditioner was broken! We all got off and stood on the side of the busy road for a little bit, while he attempted some fixes and made some calls. Eventually, we got back on and had a steamy ride back. Somebody figured that the emergency hatch in the roof would open up, so that helped some, but for the most part, it was miserable. I think the day went well work-wise, but the extreme heat set a fairly bad tone starting off the trip for the team. I think a lot of people were worried! We certainly made the weather a prayer point in following days. That night, we ate dinner at the hotel and it was good. I thought they did a nice job on the food there. We probably had chicken and tomatoes and onions. :P Another thing a little different about this trip was that I brought my laptop. I was intending on creating a video to send back to Laurel Hill for them to show on Sunday during service. So, today I took a bunch of video shots and I put them on my laptop to piece together. I recorded some of the concert from the previous night and was able to pull that out as background music for the film. Also different this trip, the hotel actually had wireless internet access downstairs! So, I was able to write home during the week and keep in touch a little each night. It felt strange to be surfing the internet on my laptop in Romania, but its certainly possible! So, after dinner, we had our devotional time which was okay, but everybody was pretty wiped out, so I don't remember it being too long or spiritual! After that we went back up to our steamy 3rd floor room! And- it was Saturday night, so guess what? The band was back! So, we got another night of American hits done by the Romanian band. I was really tired, but couldn't sleep. Liz somehow passed out in her day clothes. I sat out on the balcony for awhile enjoying the music and shooting some more videos. I think they ended around midnight again and I was able to get a bit of rest.

Day 4 (Sun 7/19)
Sunday in Romania is always a nice day because we get to rest and worship! We got to sleep in just a little today and enjoyed a nice breakfast. The congregation who we were building the chapel for invited us to their house church to worship with them, so that's what we did. A blessing of the morning was that we had a new bus! The bus driver was able to exchange our bus with the broken a/c for one that worked! :) So, we drove to the town where our church was. The town's name was Piticulea. Now, we must remember that this congregation is a house church that is overgrowing its house. Add 21+ Americans and like 8 interpreters/workers and it was quite crowded inside! I sat outside on the porch with some of the congregation who had given up their seats and some others from our group. It was a pretty nice service, although I admit that I wished we could have been together more. It was very hard to hear outside, especially with the cars and farm trucks going by pretty regularly. It kind of kills the spirit of the service when you can only pick up parts of it! But, I was just thankful and happy to be there, so I didn't mind too much. After service, we went on back to the hotel for lunch which was good. Oh- and another blessing- Don went out and bought all of us fans for our rooms! That was so crucial! The rooms were so hot with no a/c and no fans. That fan made all the difference in the quality of the week for us. we were so grateful to have that simple fan to help us to sleep and cool off each night. After lunch, we were free to do whatever all afternoon. Usually, I cherish this time to get to do a little sightseeing. However, this Sunday, I had to get the video presentation together to upload back for Laurel Hill to see in their service. We were 7 hours ahead, so I figured there was plenty of time to do it. I got with Pastor Bruce and we did some takes of him doing a little message to the congregation and that turned out good. Then, I went back up to my room, sat on the balcony with my laptop, and worked on piecing together the video. It took a couple hours at least to download the video from my camera, convert it, splice it with other ones, then cut out the sound on some of them and overdub the Romanian concert music, then seamlessly put them all together, and compress them to an uploadable size! As time went on, I got more and more stressed because I was afraid I wouldn't have it done in time, and it was eating up my afternoon. I finally got it done, then went downstairs to the wireless to upload it, which took about 45 minutes to do. It got uploaded 11:00-11:15am their time in America, so I was afraid it was too late to be their for the service, but I was still hoping that my contact would check her email and be able to play it at the end of service. I found out later that night that she didn't get it in time, which was totally a bummer. I was really discouraged about that after spending so much time and effort to make it happen. :-/ (they would go on to play the video the next Sunday, which was cool, but I didn't know that for awhile). By the time the video stuff was all done, it was time for dinner and devotions. I think both went well, but I think I was a little out of it because of the video madness. I was nursing a bad attitude and kinda pulled myself out of the group spirit somewhat. That night, I did have a good quiet time, which was encouraging. I used that time to deal with my bad attitude and get over it so it didn't spoil the rest of my trip. I also needed to prepare for giving the lunch time devotional on Monday. We were also encouraged by the fan, and I think we went to bed early. While I'm thinking of it, I should mention that the town we stayed in was really interesting. It was called Sarata Montreau and was some sort of resort town that Romanians go to. It was sort of set back in the mountains a bit and looked like it had lots of hiking and things to do. There was a huge salt water pool near our hotel, complete with sand and all. Looked almost like the beach! It was jammed pack with people every day. It was crazy. And it played loud music (mostly American) all day long too! There was also lots of tennis courts and other touristy things in this town. Not so much for international tourists, but it seemed like a Romanian tourist spot for people who had money and wanted to get away from the city a bit. We saw lots of nice cars at our hotel, so it was clear that the people here were not the typical Romanians that you see everywhere. I would equate it to rich people leaving Northern Virginia and driving down to Charlottesville for a weekend in the country. So, it was a different experience being in this town, compared with others we'd been in.

Day 5 (Mon 7/20)
After a little bit of sleep, it was time to get working again! I think the bus left promptly at 7am each day, so we had to be up around 6 to have time to get ready and eat breakfast before that. It's hard to get up that early when you're so tired! We had another good breakfast at the hotel. It amazes me that the eggs in Romania are made the same, look the same, and taste the same at every hotel we've been in, in various towns. Yet, they're different than American eggs. Why is that? After breakfast, we got on the bus and drove in to the job site. It was about a 45 minute drive each day. Most of it was highway, so that was nice that it wasn't crazy and bumpy the whole way. The scenery was pretty, but not as amazing as other years. Mostly just fields and fields and fields. Looked a lot like the midwest. Not very many sunflowers this year, compared with where we were last year. We got to the jobsite and gathered around in the chapel to pray over the day. Then, we split up into groups to go on our first prayer walks of the week. I was in a group with Jack, Kathy, Scott, and Anka interpreting. This first morning, I remember we did a lot of walking and praying, but I don't think we encountered very many people to talk to. I think we talked to one older man on a bike for a little bit, who seemed to claim he was a Christian, and then talked to his wife and daughter a little later on down the road for a little bit too. I can't remember anyone else we talked to right now. We were probably out for about 45 minutes or so, then got back to the chapel to work. One sort of disconcerting thing about this morning is that the big Eastern Orthodox church across the street from us with making a racket all morning, starting with while we were praying early on. They kept ringing tons of bells and doing their drum-banging thing that makes a big racket. We all thought it was directed at us, but then found out that it was St. Elijah's Day, so that was the cause of the ruckus. The church, we found out later, was actually not very opposed to us in that town, so that was good. So working, thankfully, God was good and helped the weather to be a bit cooler today. It was still hot, but not as bad as Saturday! I helped again today on putting together the roof rafters inside the chapel. We got that done in the morning, and then started putting them up on the roof after lunch! During lunch, I had been asked by Wayne to give a devotional time. Actually, I was in charge of picking other people for each day also, which was cool. I wish I could remember the exact devotional I gave this year, because I thought it was really neat. I remember that God placed some good thoughts and verses on my heart that were relevant to the trip, but now I don't remember what it was! Oh well. After lunch, it was back to the hard work of getting the roof rafters up. I helped with lifting them and holding the center pole to flip them upright. It was going well for the most part. However, on one of the last ones, I was pushed back towards the front door of the chapel. For some reason, my helpers on the center pole stopped pushing partway up, and for a brief period of time (didn't feel so brief!) all of the weight of the rafter was on me. And my feet the slipped on the concrete rocks on the ground! I almost lost the thing, which would have been REALLY bad, but God helped me hold on until I could yell for help. It was a pretty scary and took my breath away. That's when I quit for a while and did easier things for the rest of the afternoon. That was late in the afternoon anyways, so when others got the last few rafters up, our group wrapped up work for the day. I was sure tired! We got on the bus to head back to the hotel and had a/c this time! yay! Our hotel room was warm again, but we had the fan to help a lot. :) I think dinner this night was pizza. :) The hotel had a brick pizza oven in the back and they made a bunch of varieties of good pizza. It was most enjoyable! After dinner and devotions, there was still a little light outside, so a few of us walked down the street to this open-air place where they were showing old movies an TV shows on a big projector. There were mostly older people there watching some traditional Romanian dancing on the screen, which was interesting. But, the big draw for us was the little stand selling food and drinks- and ice cream! Liz and I got bars of ice cream and they were so good. It was a white chocolate shell on the outside and really soft dark chocolate on the inside. Mmm, so good! After our ice cream time, we got back to the hotel. I spent a little time online down in the lounge, and then we went on to bed.

Day 6 (Tues 7/21)
I was pretty sore and tired when we got up early this morning. Had worked hard the day before. But, there was more to be done, so I put on a good attitude, drank coffee, and it was off for the day! As usual, we got to the jobsite and started the day in prayer. It was awesome to have all the roof rafters up already on Monday! That was very good. :) We then went out in our group for prayer walk- same group as the day before. We encountered a few more people this morning than before. We spent a great deal of time talking with two delivery men near a shop. We shared the gospel with them and answered their questions for awhile. One of them was really listening a lot and very interested- the other one less so. It was neat to share with them though. We gave them both Bibles and they were very thankful for those- especially the one man. That was a neat opportunity. We also talked with a mother and her children who went to one of the 7th-day Adventist churches in this town. She was pleasant, but firm in her convictions. The town was interesting- it was a mixture of 7th-Day Adventists, Orthodox, and Baptist people. There were two Adventist churches in the town- one was "normal" and basically believed what we do, except for the whole Sunday thing. The other was very twisted and changed Scripture around and was very argumentative with us. They were strange and hard to talk to. The other Adventists were very kind and would come to worship with us. The Orthodox people in this town were not very strong Orthodox- they were generally kind and easy to talk to. Other towns have very strong Orthodox holds and people with badmouth us and hide from us. This town was much more accepting, thankfully. After our prayer walk, we got back to the jobsite to work for the day. Most of the hard labor was going to be on top of the roof today, and I'm not comfortable up there, so I decided to help Greg out with staining the windows and doors. This ended up being a big task! There was a small house on the property that we used to store equipment in, so we were able to take the windows and doors and lean them up against the house to work on and be in the shade most of the time. So, I pretty much worked on that all day with Greg. It was fun to get to share talk time with him. :) A couple other people came and helped for small spurts of time throughout the day, but for the most part, it was just him and I. We had 10 windows and 2 doors that needed to be stained twice and then varnished once or twice, I don't remember. Sounds simple enough, but its a lot of work do do well! ou don't want the stain to run or puddle up in one place because the people will be able to see the windows really well. Its important to make them look good! So we worked hard and made progress on them today, but there was a lot left to do. The rest of the group made great progress on the chapel. They started laying the ceiling on the inside of the chapel, which was awesome. Also, the guys on the roof got the whole tin roof placed on and the corner tin finished! I couldn't believe how far along we were! It seems like the red roof isn't totally up until Thursday usually, and today was Tuesday! It was a big encouragement to the whole team. We all went back to the hotel with a good sense of accomplishement and thankfulness for God's help in our great progress. After a nice shower, it was time for dinner. Oh, one other thing- for some reason the phone cards the Danny sold us weren't working in the phones, so that was annoying and we weren't able to call home. :( Thanksfully, we had wireless access this year, so I was able to email home. But, I had dropped my car off at Glenn's to have him work on a number of problem while I was gone, so I really needed to talk with him. So, a couple different evenings before dinner, I would borrow Danny's cell phone to call Glenn. I was relieved and surprised when Glenn told me that the awful noise my car was making was not my transmission, but was the wheel bearings! The repair would be expensive, but not as much as a transmission would be. So, that was a ongoing semi-drama in my mind during the week. Dinner and devotion time was good again. I think everyone was encouraged by the progress, slightly cooler weather, etc. I really enjoyed our team this year. It seemed like everyone genuinely wanted to be there and wanted to be flexible and fit in. It seemed that it was just a well-fit team and we all worked together quite well for the most part. That was a great blessing for sure. :) I also really enjoyed our group of interpreters this year. They were so cool! Tonight, I can't remember if we went out for ice cream or not, but its likely we did. :) After that and emailing home, it was time for bed again.

Day 7 (Wed 7/22)
I think I wasn't quite as tired this morning, as the previous, but was still pretty tired. Breakfast, coffee, and a nice ride to the job site woke me up. We started in prayer in the chapel- under the roof! It was cool. :) The acoustics are so different with the roof up and we took advantage to sing some praise songs together. Then, it was off for prayer walk again. We stuck with the same groups again. Today, we ran into a lot of Adventists, most from the "good" church. They were all so friendly and welcoming. It seemed that in general, this group of people in the town had more money than other people there. I found that interesting. One man invited us into his garden. He had a huge greenhouse full of vegetables of all varieties. It was very neat. He gave us some HUGE hot peppers to take back to the job too. Then, we talked awhile with a younger man who was working on pouring concrete for a new house. He showed us all around what had been built already. It was pretty cool. He was busy though, so we didn't get to talk long. Near the end of our walk, we talked awhile with an older man. I think he said he was 81 and had a lot of health problems. He was missing some teeth. We prayed for his upcoming surgery in Bucharest and he appreciated that. He didn't seem very receptive of the gospel, though. He was one of the ones that likes to talk/complain a lot about himself, but doesn't want to listen to us very much. My heart really went out to him though and I wish we could've done more for him. :-/ That reminds me that this town was also interesting in that it was probably 2-3 hours or less from Bucharest. Most of the people there said that they had some sort of "summer" home in this town where they would garden/farm in the warm weather, and then in the winters they would live in Bucharest. I thought that was interesting, and hadn't heard that in other villages. A number of people mentioned travelling to Bucharest soon (like the old man), and most older people mentioned having sons or daughters in Bucharest. So, it was a different place to be for me. After prayer walk, we got back to the jobsite to work for the day. I went over with Greg again to work on the windows and doors. Greg then went off on evangelism for a lot of the day, so I was left to work on the windows and doors by myself! I actually brought my IPod on this trip and loaded it up with a bunch of Mike Minter RBC sermons. So, I spent the morning listening to a couple good sermons and working on the staining. It went well. I think I got all the staining done in the morning and started varnishing before lunch. We broke for lunch and Andrew did some worship for us which was nice and uplifting. After lunch, I went back to varnishing the windows. It was a little hard because the sun was moving and it was hard to find shade for them so the varnish would dry nicely. Later on, Liz came and helped for awhile and Jack helped some too, so that was nice. :) I think we got the first coat of varnish done on all of the windows by the end of the day Wednesday. It was nice to work all afternoon, but it was a little lonely! I was struggling with wishing I was doing something else, but I decided it would be better to be content and stick with it, since somebody needed to. I was kind of hoping to get to go on evangelism, but didn't get to today. On the chapel, the roof got finished and most of the ceiling was hung! Huge progress for being the end of Wednesday. :) I think we stopped work slightly early today and got on back to the hotel for dinner and devotionals. I also think today was the day I called Glenn before dinner and found out the status of my car. The suprising news, and sort of good, was that my transmission was fine! However, my wheel bearings were shot and it would cost about $750 of work to fix them. So, I was a little distracted during dinner, trying to think of whether I should sink that much into my older car or not. After discussing with Jack, I decided to spend the money, and called Glenn back to have him go forward with the repair. After dinner, a lot of us went to the ice cream place again and had a good time. We brought Wayne and Liz with us, and we got a table with them and Buddy & Scott and enjoyed talking for a bit over ice cream. After that, we hung out with a bunch of the younger people playing the Romanian version of Uno, outside the hotel. It was quite fun. :) During the Uno playing, Ovi and Liz were talking about something and Ovi said something about waving like the Romanian president, and then he did this ridiculous wave that was so funny! Liz just burst out laughing and so did Amelia. They were both histerically laughing together for a while! It was great. :P We all went back inside for curfew around 10 I think. Then, I checked my email for a bit, and we went on to bed.

Day 8 (Thurs 7/23)
I woke up this morning, feeling pretty good. It was a beautiful morning. I spent some time out on the overhang enjoying the quiet of the morning. I enjoyed watching the hotel lady water all the plants in the courtyard every morning. She was very consistent about it, and they looked quite amazing! Breakfast and coffee were great as usual, and the bus ride in went well. We enjoyed prayer and singing under a finished roof AND finished ceiling! :) Very cool- made for great acoustics. Then, we split up into our same prayer walk groups and spent about an hour or so around the town. We spent a little time talking with a nice family from the "good" Adventist church. I thought it was funny because they were asking if we had any CDs we could sell them. They said they liked listening to the Gaithers and some other common American gospel groups. :P As we walked down that same dirt road, we came across some boys pumping water from a well, then a horse a buggy passed us, followed by a new-looking red car that was clean and shiny. I was suprised because I think it was getting quite dirty on that road! I just thought it was an interesting sequence of events because it kind of defines my Romania experiences so far- very poor circumstances, seemingly from the middle ages, mixed with random occurances of wealth and current stuff. After prayer walk, I went back to working on staining the windows and big door with the second coat of varnish. Greg was back working with me this morning, so that was fun. We got a lot done by lunch time. Wayne worked hard and had all of the ceiling lights done in the chapel by around lunch time. Because we were so far ahead on the chapel, the guys were able to start making a front porch area on the chapel. I thought that was really nice, so people could congregate out there, but stay out of the elements a bit. We worked hard most of the afternoon on varnishing the windows and doors. We got all the windows done, but didn't get the last coat done on the door. We had to wait for the first coat to dry, so it would have to wait until morning. Once we were done with varnishing, I finally had a little time to break in the late afternoon, and spent a little time sitting in a nice shaded area near the chapel, near the old house. It was fun to sit there and chat with various people for a bit. It was an area covered in vines with tiny grapes. It was very pretty! In the late afternoon, the guys on the inside of the chapel started putting up stucco and the final coating for the inside walls. It was amazing- there was one guy there that somebody talked to in the bar across the street, and he came over to volunteer! He did stucco work for a living and didn't have much to do, so he decided to help out on the chapel. Which reminds me- our bus driver was very cool. His name was Claudius and he was really into the project and helped us out a lot. He rested some during the days, but for the most part, he was all over the job site working and helping out. I really appreciated that. :) We cleaned up the job site, and then headed back to the hotel for the evening. I think we had a pizza dinner again, which was great! This was our last dinner at the hotel, so we thanked them publicly for their good service to us, which is was. Devotions were good, from what I can remember. I remember that afterwards, we went out for ice cream, of course! This time, we brought a large group of people with us for ice cream. It was crazy, and fun. :) When we got back, I hung out some more with David, an interpreter. I like him a lot. I bought him a Coke that night for something fun to do. :) After that, we did the typical- back to the hotel, checked email and news, then on off to bed.

Day 9 (Fri 7/24)
Had another decent night's rest and was able to get up on time and eat some good breakfast. It was a sort of sad drive into the job site, knowing that this morning was the last morning driving into the chapel site. :-/ We started off the morning in prayer and in song. I can't remember if groups went on prayer walks or not. I know, I was put on an early morning evangelism mission along with Pastor Bruce, Jason, and a couple others. We went down to the big marketplace down the road from the chapel, where tons of people would come every day to buy and sell produce. Pastor Marian is a Gideon, so he had boxes of Gideon' Bibles in Romanian. So, we went down to the market to pass out Bibles and witness to people. It was super cool. At first, Jason went with an interpreter and someone else, and then Pastor Bruce, Nathan, myself, and two interpreters were together. It was cool, but then I thought that it was silly to have two interpreters together, so I grabbed Daniel and we went off together on our own. It was really fun! It was definitley out of my comfort zone to go up to random hardworking Romanian people at the market and present the Gospel to them, but after just a few, God gets you flowing and you just keep going with ever-increasing strength. We would introduce ourselves, offer them Bibles, have them open to the back, show them the Gospel message in the back, and maybe explain a bit about it. Most people were really happy for the Bible gift and gladly took it. A number were timid to take it- I think they had been told by the Orthodox church that they're not allowed to have their own. Still others would wave us off and ignore us. But, in general, the response was positive. We spent probably a good hour or so down there with the people and passed out all the Bibles we had. As we walked back to the beginning, many people were still looking at their Bibles, some probably 30 minutes or more later. That was encouraging. :) I was very grateful to finally get to go out on an evangelism mission, after being "cooped up" with the painting for so long! It really lifted my spirits. When we got back to the job site, Greg and I quickly finished that last coat of varnish on the door and got that drying. I was then able to break away and walk down to the house church where they were holding VBS. I got to see some of the kids, take some pictures, and enjoy their closing crafts and stuff. :) On the road back to the chapel, I stopped in at a little store owned by a nice younger woman named Melanie. She spoke really good english and enjoyed having us in our store all week. I think she may have been a "good" adventist church-goer. I found some fun snacks there to bring back with us, and bought Liz and I some ice cream to ruin our lunch appetite! We ate those and then it was time for a quick lunch. After lunch, everyone helped to put the final touches on the chapel. We finished putting the windows in, got the doors in, finished the front porch area, cleaned up all around the chapel, and then cleaned up and took down the food trailer and supplies trailer. The Romanians continued to finish putting up the stucco on the inside and outside of the chapel walls. The leaders decided that it would be better for our team to go back to the hotel and change/shower before the service, since we finished early and had some extra time. So, we scurried to finish up and I think we left the job site by 3 or so. Went back to the hotel, showered, and changed into nicer clothes. Then, we had a quick dinner at the hotel. The previous night was supposed to be our last, and we usually just eat dinner at the job site Friday nights, but this time they changed it, so we had a quick dinner at the hotel. I think it was a really good chicken cordon. :) After dinner, we all got back on the bus and rushed to the chapel. Dinner took longer than planned, and there was no way we would make it to the chapel on time at 7pm. :-/ That was somewhat stressful. I think we got there around 7:20 or so, which was a little awkward for all of us to walk into the service then. I don't think much had happened yet though, so I guess that was good. There was a decent number of people there, but I must admit, I was a little disappointed at the turnout. I was hoping it would be bursting at its seams! I guess a lot of people stayed outside too. It was a VERY hot evening, especially inside the chapel, with very little airflow. Man, it was hot. We got there just in time for the Gypsy band that was playing some songs. They brought their own speakers and pumped it up. It was SO loud! I mean, just unexplainably loud. I think the whole town could hear it. The music was cool and all, but boy, it was loud. The rest of the service went really well. We had a lot of team testimonies, and lots of singing. Pastor Bruce had a good message to share. Most of all, I really enjoyed Pastor Marian's message. He was so clearly touched by our coming and helping build the chapel. He was pretty much on the verge of tears at some point. He told us all about the history of the church body there through the years of hardship and persecutions under the communist government. It was a really special moment. :) All told, I think that the service went about 3 hours long! I enjoyed it, but it was hard to be patient and stick with it, because it was so hot. Even by 10pm, it was still baking hot in there. Most of the people had left or walked outside to stand and listen. When the service was over, Pastor Marian got up and presented each person in our group with a certificate they had made for us and a little present. They had bought lots of little things from Romania for us, and we got to go up and chose an item. I picked a cool cowboy hat. :P I just thought it was so special that they would go to the time and expense to buy gifts and make certificates for us. That's the first time that has happened for us. Then, to top it off, they invited us all to stick around for a party, consisting of food and drinks. They made this huge pot of amazing food. It was some sort of meat and spices wrapped in big cabbage leaves all cooked together. It was so good! I think I had way too many of them. They also had some good bread and sodas. It was a very nice time. It was so nice too, because Wayne gave our group plenty of time to hang out and enjoy the time slowly. It was nice to just wind down and get a few last moments with the chapel and the people, and not have to rush off. We got back onto the bus late, and I just felt so filled with the Spirit. I was just at total peace after that service and time afterwards- it was such a blessing to be there and such a sense of accomplishment. I think I just sat in my seat quietly for awhile just feeling joyful and taking in the moment. :-) Obviously, we got back to the hotel pretty late. Being Friday night, the same cover band was back playing loudly outside! We stayed up for awhile listening to them and getting our stuff packed. I think they quit around 12:30, and we finished up slightly after that and went on to bed!

Day 10 (Sat 7/25)
We got to sleep in just a little this morning, thankfully! I was pretty tired! I was glad that we had packed the night before, because we got to enjoy our last delicious breakfast slowly. :) We then got everything packed onto the bus and then had to say our sad goodbyes to some of the interpreters. Danny took David, Immanuel, Anca, and Amelia away with him. We were sorry to see them go! The rest of us got on the bus and drove towards Bucharest for the day. We first stopped in Ploesti, which is a little north of Bucharest. I was pretty dissapointed because we had been in Ploesti the last two years also. I was really hoping to go to Bucharest. But, we got an hour to walk around, so we went to the same shopping area that we always go to. Liz and I went to a grocery store and enjoyed looking at some of the stuff in there. We got some fun chocolates. It was cool to be back and feel familiar in the area there. After everyone shopped a bit, we got back on the bus and then dropped off the interpreters Daniel and his cousin, because they lived in Ploesti. Then we drove to McDonald's for lunch, which was across the street from the hotel. The hotel was really close to the airport. It seemed like a pretty nice hotel...however- our room was SO HOT! It was on the third floor and I don't think the air conditioning had been run in that room for a long time. The room was about 98 degrees- I did the calculations. I plugged the refridgerator in and tried to revive our chocolate which had been melting pretty badly. We had an hour to do whatever before our group was to go out to Bucharest. I just felt like dying. The air conditioner would try to work and then it would just give and error code and stop. I tried opening the sliding window to get some air flow, but it did no good at all. It was just so amazingly hot. We worked on rearranging our luggage in preparation for Switzerland, but it was hard to do anything in that room. We finally got to get on the bus and leave. I was excited, because we did get to go to Bucharest for the first time! :) We got on a big road and headed for the city...pretty soon getting stuck in a bunch of bumper-to-bumper traffic. When we finally got into the city, it was neat. It was definitley much larger than anywhere we'd been in Romania. There were a lot of newer stores, like IKEA, but also, a lot of delapidated buildings mixed in. Tons of old apartments too. I did notice a lot more "Romanian" architecture. I don't know what you call it- maybe Transylvanian? It has its own look, and I hadn't seen much of it before, but Bucharest had quite a lot of old buildings with it. I enjoyed seeing that. One thing I found amazing was their wiring system. They had poles that were just overloaded with electric, cable, telephone, etc wires in huge jumbled messes. I couldn't believe it! Totally nuts! So, we were given two choices- go shopping in the big shopping area, or go see the People's Palace and adventure around. We were told that you can't tour the Palace and that anyone shopping would get to see it briefly at the very end. So, of course, I chose the adventure over the shopping. Everyone else chose the shopping! Liz came with me and so did Jack and the three of us stayed on the bus and then got off at the Palace. We walked around the side of it and it was just amazing. So large! As we walked further, we saw that there was actually an enterance, so we walked up to it and found that they were giving tours today!! I was so excited. We went in and found that there was actually an English tour starting in like 20 minutes for 15lei ($5). The tours were estimated at about 45 minutes and we were supposed to meet back at the bus by 4. With the tour starting at 3, that didn't give us much time! But, we went for it anyways...chance of a lifetime. I bought some stuff in the gift shop while we waited for the tour and then we got in line. They took our passports from us and put them in an area with lots of others...sort of organized. I found it rather disconcerting. There were also many signs around quoting Romanian law and forbidding people to go anywhere they're not supposed to. A little scary! The tour was great though. I admit that I knew nothing about the Palace beforehand and I don't think the tour guide gave an introduction- I think she assummed we knew the basics. So, for at least the first half of the tour, I was thinking the building was really old, like 1500s or something. Then, it dawned on me that this whole thing had been built by Ceausescu mostly during the 1980's! When it dawned on me that all this had been built basically by slave labor under his regime and by unwilling people, it shed a whole new light on the experience. I went from being in awe, to being in awe, but sickened! We saw like 0.5% of the building, and it was incredible. It goes beyond words, and even beyond pictures. The tour guide was great too. She was really fun and had good stuff to share with us. It got really stressful though because it went over 45 minutes. Basically, we were standing up on a balcony overlooking the big city square and could see our bus way down below that we were supposed to be at in 5 minutes...yeah, not happening. We finished the tour, then rushed ahead of the line to get our passports, then walked quickly and jogged back to the bus, getting there about 10 after 4. We were fully expecting some sort of backlash, but everyone was just milling around, taking pictures leisurely! Nobody had missed us and we were plently on time. So much for the stress! We took some group pictures in front of the Palace and then said goodbye to our last interpreter- Ovi. After that fun experience, we headed on back to the super hot hotel. Before going to our rooms, a small group of us went down the street to the Nike and Adidas outlet stores. It was an interesting experience, seeing the different Euro style of shoes there. Pretty pricey though! I think I mostly enjoyed watching, along with employees, a stray dog get into a guard booth next door and work on eating the guard's lunch when he wasn't looking. It was hilarious! When the guard found out, he was not too excited! After all that, we got back to the hotel. During our time out, I came up with a theory. I think we were setting the a/c too low and it couldn't do it. So, I thought if we cranked it down one degree at a time, it might keep up. So, we tried that, and it did!! It was thrilling. :) Of course, our chocolate was totally melted when we got back, since the electric goes off when you leave the room...argh. So, by the time dinner was ready, we had the room down to a nice 83 or so! We had a nice celebration dinner down in the hotel dinner room. We had some decent chicken and then some amazing ice cream wrapped up in crepes. It was cool! The celebration dinner went on for a long time as we all shared thoughts together about the week. I enjoyed listening to everyone. Its always a bittersweet dinner, because its a joyful time, but also its the last moments in Romania, so its sad to see it slipping to and end. After dinner, we finished packing and rearranging for Switzerland and then got on to bed.

Day 11 (Sat 7/26)
Because the rest of the group was leaving to get on a very early flight, we got up to see them off around 4am! That was a struggle. We said our goodbyes, and then blissfully went back to be for a few more hours. We woke up around 7:30 and then enjoyed a nice breakfast buffet at the hotel. It was good! Then, I determined that the previous day I had definitley left my nice new hat at the McDonald's across the street. So, Liz and I, feeling like Frogger, crossed the big road of traffic to rescue my hat from McDonald's. Only, they didn't have it! :( I was bummed. We stopped in at the gas station to get a road map, and then Froggered back to the hotel. We grabbed our luggage and had a hotel person take us to the airport. I thought it would be like a taxi, but I'm pretty sure it was his personal car. He drove FAST! He had some techno on and was just blazing through cars on the road. He whipped around one car and then slammed on the breaks, almost hitting an old lady that was just about done crossing the street. It was quite the ride. He was nice though and I struck up a sort of spiritual talk wth him in the 5-10 minutes we had together. We made it to the airport quite early. I think our flight was at 11, and we were there around 9 or so. We actually had to wait a while until our check-in was open. We got checked in nicely and then went to the familiar airport area where we shopped for awhile getting some souveniers and gifts for people. Then, boarded our lovely Swiss Air flight and said our goodbyes to Romania for the year.

Next up...Switzerland blog...maybe.

No comments: