One Week Old Romanian

I’m a week-old Romanian!! I will have officially been in Romania for a week at somewhere around 1 o’clock tomorrow morning your time. I am practically immersed in the language, and I am learning quickly. I thank God every time I think about it because the people here see it as an effort to relate to them and they appreciate it and listen to what I have to say. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “They don’t care what you say until they see that you care.” I know numbers, foods, days of the week, important phrases, colors, some church words, a few other everyday nouns, and the alphabet. I think this week I’m going to tackle some verbs and conjugation. They are harder than the hard parts of both French and Spanish combined. The little bit I know of French and Spanish have been a gift as well. Because I know words from those languages (and because some body language is universal) I can often guess correctly the topic, and sometimes the content, of a conversation. I have learned the song  “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes” in Romanian, and I am starting to learn others. God has blessed me in so many ways that I am overwhelmed. He is helping me to learn the language, He has blessed me with a wonderful Romanian family (Gaby and Gigi repeatedly tell me that I am their American daughter and they are my Romanian parents), the people I work with are wonderful Christians, and He has given me a burning love for the children here that spurs me to teach and play and sing and laugh with them. Thank you all for the prayers; I am blessed too with friends and family back home who are praying earnestly for me and for the people I bring God’s love to.

I had my first week of ministry, and everything went well. I loved working with the Norwegians. Half of them speak English just like you guys, and some of them speak with British accents, and only a few have a Norwegian accent when they talk. Thursday evening after one of our afternoon camps some of their group was wrapping up and playing with some children on a soccer field when one of the Norwegian boys got run over by a car. The car was going over 100 kilometers per hour (I have yet to figure that out in miles, but when Gigi drives me somewhere at 120 I feel like my eyeballs are coming out the back of my head). He was responsive immediately afterwards, but soon after he got to the hospital he went into a coma. He had a head injury and shattered bones in one of his arms, and the skin was all ripped up on that arm and his side. He was moved to the capital the next day, and his parents are there now with him. It was a huge shock to the team, but God has been faithful in providing the strength and motivation to continue to work. Please pray for them as they seek healing and deal with this event. The boy (Vagard) is still in a coma, and we don’t know how things will turn out.

Please pray for the team as they continue to deal with the accident and formulate understandings of God’s character. I was able to go to the church and talk and pray with a few of them the night of the accident. Most importantly I was able to listen when they needed to talk and didn’t want to talk to a team member or when their leaders were busy. I pray that I was a blessing to some of them – they certainly were to me.

Anyway, ministry went well this week. I was at Pestera for two of the mornings and Golgota every evening, and Thursday and Saturday (today) I was able to go to the Turkish church (mostly Turkish Gypsies who were, at least marginally, Muslim) and work with the kids. The Norway team had Bible lessons for all of the sites, but one evening they didn’t go to Golgota and one afternoon Fratele Cornel Dema and the Farm team and Florin and I went into the slums to have a lesson with the kids there. Those two times I did the Bible story and had a great time. We sang “Singing in the Rain” with the kids at Golgota and in the slums, and they love it (that’s the one where you end up looking like an epileptic duck at the end of the song after all the motions). The schedule was crazy this week, but my days were filled with the most beautiful children and teaching and serving and my gibberish Romanian. Next week things will be a little more solid, and I’ll be responsible for a lot more. Please pray for energy and sensitivity to God’s leading. I’m exhausted after this week, so next week I pray for extra focus of my mind and heart on things above. Perspective is very important when working with these children.

Alright… One more highlight of the week and I’ll close with a little humor. Andrea and Roxy left on Thursday (that’s not the highlight – that made me terribly sad), but before they left they taught me the alphabet and some pronunciation rules. Romanian pronunciation is not that hard once you get used to it. Anyhow, when we had the camp in the slums we made salvation bracelets with the kids. Florin was busy with some other group of kids and I had the little ones and those who couldn’t read. There was a note inside their bags of beads and twine that explained the meaning of each color and the knots in Romanian as well as English. I knew my colors by that time, but I because of the alphabet lessons I was able to read the Romanian words that explain the colors’ meanings to the kids. It was a blast. The only problem is that some of them still somehow think I can understand Romanian (after I shook my head and said “Nu inteleg” a thousand times).

Romanian Food Rules: (Preparation for anyone with a possibility of visiting Romania soon)

  1. “You try… This pepper not very hot” means “This pepper is very hot – so hot you’ll get second-degree burns inside your mouth if you try it. Oh, and I won’t tell you until you’ve already taken a (small) bite, but it’s too hot for us too, so we only nibble on it. ”
  2. When eating sunflower seeds like a real Romanian (anywhere you please, shelling them with your fingernails, and dropping the shells anywhere on the ground where you are standing or walking), do not wear closed-toe shoes with open holes in the top. You’ll be too embarrassed to dig it out of your shoe in front of everyone, so you’ll be stabbed in the toe with every consequent movement.
  3. (This is not a rule, but worthy of note, all the same.) If you didn’t like carbonated water before you came to Romania, don’t expect anything different once you get here.