Friday, September 26, 2014
What observation I could make…
What I have noticed in the few times I have gone beyond the walls of this building where I interact with about twenty others, is that nothing here really matches. For instance, dogs and cats don’t match. No one needs to walk a dog. The streets are full of these unidentifiable creatures. They are dogs but you almost never see what might be a breed you can recognize. Apparently, Costanta, Romania has no spay – neuter program and no one seems compelled to consider this as a good idea. Scrawny, ugly, mangy cats that roam the streets, and howl throughout the night are as plentiful as Mexican cockroaches in Tijuana. Clothes don’t match. People put on what they can afford. BMW’s and Mercedes are parked next to a beat up Lada and horse drawn carts, buildings in ruins set next to luxury high rises, freshly paved boulevards are lined with trash and weeds. This is Romania. Coming from America and Canada you will readily see where a century of Communism and graft will leave a splendid people. Nevertheless, six years after my last visit, I see marked improvement. Just as with Slovenia’s recovery, I expect to see Romania emerge with a positive future. However, I will say this, Slovene’s are remarkably industrious and resourceful. I do not sense the same industry with Romanians. The men seem to do the least they can to improve their lot. In the short time I was here (perhaps this was only in the Turkish district I was exposed to) but the men seemed to do almost nothing. Trash on the sidewalks in front of houses was simply stepped over. Cars with flat tires had been there in the same condition for a year with no one bothering to even repair them. Many sidewalks are displaced or entirely broken up and unwalkable.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Treating the Students
When I have the money, I always try to treat the missionaries and students to a meal or perhaps dessert. Most of these people live on restricted incomes that will not allow for a night out. Since I had about ten to take out I tried to come up with something economical. In Norway, this just could not be done at all but in Romania the prices are very low (about 1/4th of Norwegian prices) so it is possible to do. I took them to a popular pizza restaurant that happens to be known for its famous Romanian Papanashi. Papanashi is something akin to a doughnut but filled with amazing fruit filling. I was told ahead of time that it was unforgettable and they were right. It came to me with two on the plate and almost (I say “almost”) more than I could down.
How lives are touched and the gospel spreads
The American girls, DeeJ and Katelyn
As we walked back down the broken streets, chatting in the dusk, I heard some excitement ahead as some Turkish lady was hugging the two American girls (one from Texas and the other from Georgia). There was a “Priase God” and a “Thank You, Lord” with the Turkish lady pointing toward heaven.
I wanted to know what was going on and finally figured it out in bits and pieces. By now everyone was celebrating. It turns out that the woman’s husband had returned after being incarcerated for eight months in St. Martins. The American girls had translated over the phone to his lawyer in St. Martins providing the information he needed to be released. They had also prayed for the lady and now he was home. This is what we do. We provided the human assistance we can but we also bring the spiritual to bear. For Muslims, this is a rare event that people pray and answers come. So, the girls and the YWAM team have credibility they had not had before. This is often the way it starts as the lady will tell her neighbors and family spreading the good-will and favor. One small thing can open the door to an entire community.
Friday, September 25, 2014
For those of you who imagine me to be on a holiday let me assure that it is no such thing. Often I arrive at an airport, am picked up by my host or catch a bus to an address. Sometimes I arrive in the dark to be met by strangers and taken to a room . Except for an evening out to get pizza or ice cream this is the extent of my visit to many cities. I rarely tour the city or the country side at all. I snap a few pictures for the blog and hustle back to my room. For instance, in the rain, Sarah and I went for coffee where I managed to take this photo of the mosque. This was my photographic high light.
In actuality, this is quite a nice set up here. I have a marvelous bed and surrounded by lovely people. No complaints. After all, “All you really need is love.”
The local fashion statement
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Quite honestly, there are some things that make no sense. Sometimes I don’t get out much but as we went out for a prayer walk around the neighborhood, women were coming out of their houses, bustling down the street, standing in their doorways, shopping in what could only be called night or housecoats. These are the Walmart terry cloth kind and not in the least fashionable, though I did see one lady in a tiger pattern. By comparison, it was quite a turn on. The housecoats might sport Disney cartoon characters or perhaps another that had an outer space theme with a rocket on it way to Mars with planets and stars, all on a dark blue field. I have no idea how anyone would ever think this is attractive.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2014
I tried to make Sarah behave
I TRIED TO MAKE SARAH BEHAVE!
I took several shots but each time she did something to make the group look less than “IBM-ish.” This is YWAM, Costanta, having breakfast. Some of these poor souls I will be teaching during the coming week. YWAM (Youth with a MISSION) always provides me with with an interesting mix of people and I like it. In this group I have Romanians and Americans but also representatives from Brazil, Latvia, South Africa, Norway and other countries. We also have people of all different ages as well – men and women, children and babies. Then on top of all this, we are denominationally mixed, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Episcopal, Baptist, independent and more. This is what heaven will be like except that Sarah will not ruin the photos by sticking her tongue out.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2014
You have seen this sort of photograph many times from me so I won’t bore you with many of the same. I was invited to preach and have a policy that I will go where the door is open. I did not know the pastor at all and I think it takes courage to allow some one you have never met or heard to take the preaching service.
It was a baby dedication day so many were there for this special occasion. When I say “many.” I mean perhaps fifty or so. In this part of the world a BIG church might be one hundred people. The word “MEGA” takes on a fresh significance where there are only a handful of believers. In situations of this nature, I almost always preach the gospel.
After having lunch at the amazing Marco Polo where they lost our order for an hour until I asked, I returned to ready myself for a week of DTS, teaching “Communicating Christian Thought in a Post Christian / Post Modern World” or “Contemporary Evangelism Methods.” I did this every morning for three hours mixed with several devotions for the entire staff of nearly thirty.
One of those times outside of the building.
I have just become aware that I am certainly not a tourist. Oh , sure, I see my share of interesting things but for the most part, I go to a building – a building that has no address. It has an address but I don’t really need it. I go into a room and for most of the week I do not leave the building – that same building – except for a walk around the block. I may, once or twice be taken by car through the city streets as landmarks are pointed out to me. We might get out and stroll a few blocks to a restaurant then after eating taken back to the building and my room in the dark. It occurs, to me that except for the long flight to get here, unfamiliar language that surrounds me, and interesting but unfamiliar architecture out of my window, I might just as easily be in Topeka, Kansas or Kingston, Ontario. My point is this, there is little glamorous about what I do. Still, I make no complaint. Within these walls and others like them, I have met some of the nicest people on the planet. Christians with all of their flaws are the best people that exist. Here in Romania there are so few of them. To me, they shine like stars in the dark sky.
“THIS IS THE FAST THAT I HAVE CHOSEN…”
Yesterday, I had lunch with a thirty-something single female missionary who would love to be married, have a home and a family. This is the ultimate desire of her heart. I know many like this. I also know many couples who live in sub-standard housing, only get electric and water at certain hours of the day or the week. They choose to live in uncomfortable environments – in cultures that are hard to navigate and where bureaucracies are designed to make a missionaries life miserable. Others reside in dangerous and threatening places for the glory of His name.
Note: Joel Osteen will bring in an estimated sixty and 72,000,000 dollars this year. We are sick from the head to the toes.
When I am asked by our pastor to fast by giving up food for a day or coffee for a week, I find it an imposition but when I visit here and other parts of the world I find Christians who have shoe latches that I am not worthy to unloosen. They live a perpetual fast from everything, foods, holidays, and relatives. These people do not walk on water and do not want or expect special recognition yet, in my view, they are the Lord’s portion in the world and in so doing, fill up the sufferings of Christ.
I Got Picked Up by Four Girls!
SARAH and the girls were returning from an outreach week in Transylvania and came around through Bucharest in their crammed station wagon to pick me up. As I came out the EXIT door there they were with a hand scrawled “Welcome Tony to Romania” sign. As soon as they saw me they took out the ukulele and began to sing and I soon added my voice as the crowd happily smiled and entered in. Loaded into the car we pulled out for the three hour drive to Costanta. I was an hour and half late after I had just read in Swiss Air in advertising that they had a 100% on time rating. Don’t ever believe an airline.
“Make the most of every opportunity.”
I have never been to Switzerland and I doubt if two hours in the Zurich airport and a stamp in my passport will qualify as a visit.
I had about three hours before my flight to Bucharest. I walked what seemed like a mile to my gate and sat down an hour early with people on their way to Berlin and London. In a short time and thin well-dressed lady bopped up to where I was seated, smiled, greeted me in English and sat one seat away. I said, “You speak English, where are you from?” Get this, she is half Jewish, half Italian, holds Italian and Swiss citizenship but lives with her Yogoslavian / English husband in London. This is global stuff. No one is anything particular anymore.
We engaged in conversation and right away became friendly. I finally got around to what I was doing in Europe. Most people are curious since I seem to be quite acclimatized to travel. I flat out told her which took us into her views which were a mix of Judaism, Catholicism and New Age. We agreed on some things but where we didn’t I think I she saw the difference, She was no dummy and held a Ph.D. in Agronomy but works in Italy in her own company as a consultant for “database solutions.” For obvious reasons, I stayed clear from anything to do with Agronomy and Technology. I stuck to apologetics and reasonable arguments for the Christian faith. It went super well and she suggested that when in Milano we meet and talk more. Pray for Marta.
A scary moment at Passport Control
Now a new development of interest. I come to Swiss Passport Control and the lady here thumbs my pages and says, “Where will you go from here?” I proudly listed off the countries. She went on, “There is no place to stamp. I cannot allow you to enter.” I pulled out the Canadian passport that was clean as a whistle. “Oh!” She said, “That will do.” CLICK. Away I went.