My trip to Romania over Spring Break 2003 was absolutley wonderful! I cannot thank Simona and her family enough for their wonderful hospitality while I stayed there. I truly felt like I was part of the wonderful Gaborean family.
Getting to Romania was the hardest part. My flight from Dallas was late to New York, so I had to stay overnight in New York. That ended up not being too bad because God just opened up amazing doors to share Christ. (I have been on lots of mission trips where travel flexibility was key, but that was by far the most flexible I had to be, and the coolest moments of sharing.) I finally got to Bucharest where a driver drove the 350 Kilometers to Targu-Mures. I tried to stay awake, but I hadn't slept much in New York nor on the airplane, so I was just exhausted. The driver, Daniel, was very nice though, and let me sleep.
Once in Targu-Mures, I tried to speak as much Romanian as possible. Simona was awesome with the translating, though, and she probably taught me more Romanian than she realizes. Her mom was so sweet. She didn't speak English, but she would try very hard to learn. And she loved to help me learn how to speak Romanian. (She also wanted me to learn how to cook. haha!)
While there, I did a lot of shopping, went to Big Blue and the baby orphanage Leaganul, went to high school with Simona, and met many, many new friends. I was also able to see a few of my friends from summer camp- which rocked!
One night, I think the 2nd night I was in Targu-Mures, Simona took me with her to have her pants hemmed. It was a lovely couple, Maria si Marco. They are an older couple who are on fire for Jesus. It was only suppose to be about an hour visit, but we ended up staying until almost midnight! We were sharing Bible verses, listening to praise music and singing together- in both languages, and we were just sharing our stories about what God has been doing in our life. It was here that my favorite "translation blupper" occured. Maria was sharing, in Romanian, about her excitement over the rapture, that she felt it was close, etc. I could tell she was talking about the rapture becuase of her gestures, and the tears in her eyes. Also, she kept saying Raptore, the Romanian word for rapture. When Simona began to translate, she got stuck on a word. She said, "The closest thing I can think of in English is The Great Kidnap!" It took me a minute to figure out what she meant, and then it was sooooo funny! But how very true, too! I've decided to refer to the rapture as the Great Kidnap from now on. LOL.
On Friday, I went back to high school (with Simona of course.) I went to her English class and her History Class. Her English teacher wasn't there that day, so I got to sit and talk with about 20 Romanian girls. I got many of their addresses and emails so I could stay in touch with them. Then, her history teacher came in, and I got to talk with even mor students. I videotaped much of our conversations. One girl even sang for me- an awesome voice! The girls made me promise to bring pictures of cute American boys next time I visited. (The high schools in Romania are specialized, and this was a high school for people who wanted to become teachers. That's why there were mostly girls at this school.) Simona, I found out was the only Christian in her class, so I just keep praying for her witness with those girls. Many of them really, really need Jesus, and the rest need to realize their need for Him. I know Simona will be really blessed for her work with those girls.
On Saturday, I was able to visit Big Blue and Leaganul. Much thanks to Anca for taking the time to drive us around and get me and Simona inside. It truly blessed my heart. I gave about 20 girls candy and clothes that I had brought with me. I got to see where they sleep, and then they sang for me! Without being told, they sang Traveste Duamne Romania. I had to fight back tears it was so precious. After Big Blue, I went to see the babies. One little boy just broke my heart. He was autistic and his careworker made him wear a little helmet and restrained his arms to keep him from hitting himself or others. While I understand that the careworker is overwhelmed by all the other autistic children, it still hurts me to see this child restrained like an animal. However, these children were so happy to sit and play with me and pose for pictures. No one can bless a heart like little children who belong to God, and God alone in this case.
My favorite moments though were, strange as it seems after traveling so far, was to sit on the couch and watch Romanian TV with Simona and her family. We would watch the world news, "The Clone" (a Spanish soap opera), Animal Planet, and half a dozen other things. It gave us many topics of conversation, I learned so much Romanian, and I felt like I was part of the family. Then, after George (Simona's father) went to bed, Mama Romania and I would talk about life, work, and religion. I felt for the first time what true fellowship was, and I miss that with my precious Romanian family. I can't wait to return!
My flight was canceled out of Bucharest on Sunday so I got to stay an extra day. I did not have an enjoyable bus ride from Targu-Mures to Bucharest. Certain people feel I cannot mention this part of my trip, but they can kiss my butt- to be honest. Everywhere I have been in Romania has been wonderful, the roads have been fine. But this one, back mountain road was just awful. I had been awake for over 24 hours and got motion sick. Plus, and probably most of all as I look back, I was so sad to be leaving Simona and her family. Romania is a wonderful country, and the buses have always been wonderful, except for this one trip. I would compare it to a back off road in Arkansas at 3am in the morning on the back of a bus with no sleep. This is not a description of the whole country, It was one experience, that was compounded by exhaustion and anxiety over traveling alone. I hope no one was offended by my earlier comments. The trip home was awful because I was leaving such a wonderful place. 'Nuff said.
To all of those who donated items for the oprhans and for the Romanian friends, they say Multsumesc! (Thank you!) They loved their gifts and would love to meet you someday.