So we arrived in Bucharest, Romania late on the 9th. Andrea and Ryan, our hosts could not have been more gracious.
In the first several days we got to taste Bucharest, literally and figuratively. Let me assure the reader; any dish that I don’t even take the time to photograph must’ve seduced me completely with the smell alone. Most of the time I’m that person at the table, the one trying to take pictures of everyone’s food, while the rest of everyone is trying to do the usual thing people do when food comes, which is eat. Perhaps because of the great company and conversation or that we’re so engrossed in everything there is to see and learn that for days now we have forgetten about everything but the brown, warm coffee and the world here until dinner time. By the time our steaming mamaliga and clatite arrive, the camera is next to me, the shutter lies quiet and closed like tired eyes. There will be a next time to take pictures. Nothing is certain, but I’d put money on this not being the last chance in my lifetime to photograph mici.
Our first full night we took a bus-top tour, warm, blue-gold air, sunset and Spring time all around us. I can’t help but feel that Bucharest wears the cost of the revolution on her beautiful face like a woman who ages well. Its not that you don’t see the lines, but it’s that she owns them with grace and pride. Lines of wisdom and grief, loss and joy, passion and pride lie there in her timeless loveliness. I don’t know her, not really, but I feel a kinship all the same.
Ryan and Andrea took us to one of the older parts of town, to wander. It was beautiful. We had dinner here.
We worshiped with their church and were received with a generosity of spirit and hospitality.
On our third night we got to have dinner with a new friend and his wife in the home he built himself. Aaron is lit up with questions and admiration for the incredible work they have done. We share an amazing meal, discussions about systems, books and the state of the world. We speak about the differences and similarities of a shared faith here and also at home.We eat a cake with strawberries that I will never be done dreaming about. It is with no shame that I admit to a second piece.You would’ve done the same.
We drove 3 hours to Constanta which sits with its feet in the Black Sea. We met Tim and Caroline who serve with YWAM and are pioneering aquaponics systems here in Romania. It rained, but Tim stood on the roof to explain it to us.
They have established a permanent presence with some children at what is referred to as a foster unit just outside of the city. We had the privilege of going out to the boys home with them, under the auspices of planting some tomatoes and basil.
Whether by clever mechanism or innocent process we left with far more than dirt on our hands. We left with full and happy hearts, as though we had more family upon leaving than what we came with. When we arrived, the boys greeted us with hugs and enthusiastic cries for us to “come here”. No hesitation or reserve, just friendship and joy. The boys followed us around the gardens, singing with us, telling jokes, teaching us Romanian, comparing dirty hands and proudly showing off puppies and giant yellow buckets of spiders.
We watched the littlest boys follow Tim around, as he patiently teaches them.
On his face the face there is a certain settled-ness. I recognize that this must be look of sureness of purpose, the look someone wears when there is nowhere else they could imagine going or being. I see in this what Aaron and I have been looking for.
Caroline plants, too, followed by a flock of boys who chatter with her and light up when their tricks earn a laugh from her. She listens carefully to them, at once a mother and a sister.
Everyone here is beautiful to me, I see Jesus in this. They invited us to share their meal and by the time we left, Aaron was “brother” and I was trying to hold back my heart. Lord God, if it’s like this after 4 hours…
Then on to Medgedia. A pastor who has courageously taken on the task of spreading a ministry of discipleship and unveiling truth in an otherwise unreached area. Small churches are spreading like a fire, reaching those no one else will. They are diving in, rescuing, loving. A ministry to the children of the Rom (gypsy) and the community at large.
They share their lunch with us and I talk to a writer. She is charismatic, intelligent and kind. One of those, with the unmistakable magnetism. I listen as she answers questions I never had to ask and also a few that I did. We talk and laugh over perfect potatoes and coffee. She tells me “If you want to do something, you do it. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to take pictures in unusual places, take pictures. Don’t step on your own feet.”.
We join the kids for their school day. They turn their beautiful faces to us as we walk in the room.
They are full of smiles, frustration about the confounding quality of their math, proud celebration at problems solved, long-suffering sighs and the laying down of heads as attentions wane and then renewed focus as their teachers, with eternal patience win them back with the way they invest gifts of steadfastness, faithful for these small ones to remain, like Jesus remains. My camera, awake and alive, hungrily snaps away. With each click it says; “I will never forget your face, I will never forget your face, I will never forget your face, I will never forget this moment, you and me. I will never forget you.” This promise of not forgetting, this is the promise of family.
On the ride home from Medgedia today, we are all so tired, Aaron and I and our friends who have run themselves ragged to give us these days, but all the same, our friends wrestle with us, with faith, with the things that matter, in the blue-gold air, as we drive through the countryside.
It is now, in these moments of thorough exhaustion, of stretching emotionally beyond what I am able to contain, where I can’t float anymore, but must sink like a stone instead that I realize that I am utterly immersed in the love and blessings of God.
Tomorrow there will be more. I should sleep soon so that I have attention to give to our time, but I have found myself alone for the first time in many days and am enjoying the chance to sort my thoughts in the quiet.
Before we left the States, we had some snap-shot ideas of what our puzzle pieces might be. So as not to be vague, here they were, in no particular order;
Rescue and healing for the broken-hearted
Family for orphans
Human trafficking prevention
As we’ve said, we haven’t necessarily known how any of these things fit together or how that applied to our lives. But I suppose it makes sense that you could only have new, fresh perspective on a challenge by changing positions and so we have. By 4,000-some-odd miles. What has seemed so odd, so difficult to give and place at home has been as natural as breathing here. Where at home we have struggled to find anyone desiring what we felt we had to offer, here it was welcomed by everyone we’ve met. Not to say that we’ve had the time to think or pray about where specifically. Just that we are encouraged to know that there are places and that we are not holding a handful of pieces for which there is no application or use anywhere in this great big world, but rather, there are people who see these things and light up, saying “Oh! That could go here!”
My tired, happy heart is ready to sleep for tonight.