Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And finally....

I forgot to mention that in this neck of the woods we did not celebrate Easter this past weekend. Because most of the country is orthodox, we celebrate the orthodox calendar. So, Easter is at the end of April this year. However, Christ is Risen...Indeed!

I told you so...

Yes, Jason Bauernfiend...you were right about the ATM. Feel free to say I Told You So.

so my hair wasn't so greasy

I've had many comments that my hair did not appear too greasy in my last post. This is true. I could not take a picture that adequately showed the greasiness. Since that day I've gone even longer between shampoos and have discovered that if I don't use conditioner my hair will be less greasy between washings.

In other news, I'm doing well. Experiencing a tremendous amount of peace, the kind that I wish I knew how to explain. It's the kind I've never known before. It's a sort of being...and a kindness and I'm so grateful.

Language learning is progressing...so slowly. It is difficult. Right when I think I know how to say something and need to say it, the words won't come. Wrapping my mind and mouth around new sounds (diphthongs and triphthongs for you linguists)is a challenge, as well as grammar, etc. Continue to pray. I try to study for a few hours each day, but even that can be hard. Before I left the states, I remember Malaney was learning how to count and recognize her colors. I feel right about at that stage. It's humbling, but it's okay. I'm ready to learn, ready to be humbled. My neice Gracie used to call every color green-purple. I totally get it now.

I'm also learning my way around the city and getting to know people. If you remember, a couple of my prayer requests were to not get lost and to make friends. Things take time, but it's going well. I watched Lost at Joel and Monica's over the weekend. They have a 5 year old named Simeon who always says to me, "April, you are going to live here for 3 years, until I'm 8!" It's super cute...I also watched Guns, Germs, and Steel, the first installment, with Josh and Robin on Friday night. We watched and sipped wine, which was very nice.

Things are going well with my host-mom. On Sunday she kept trying to feed me food and patting her bottom as if to say, "We will give you a bit bottom!" (Guess she's never heard of broad-bottomed Dutch girls...) Mostly I cook for myself, which is good. She's very accomodating, sharing her food and her home. Last night she cut a piece of cake in half to share, but I didn't want any. Today she lent me an umbrella and I walked to the center in the rain. Slowly we are beginning to understand one another.

Posted here you'll find a picture of the view out my window. A lace curtain and gangly tree under a gray sky with the neighboring building my eye's view. I've also posted another picture of a cat, this one can be found in my host-mom's kitchen. (actually, I tried uploading the picture just now and it isn't working. I'll try again another day and hopefully have some other pictures of the town and the center to show as well).

And so, I find myself in awe that I am knowing such a peace in a tiny post-communist apartment room. Who would have thought? In chapel this morning we were reading from Mark 6 and Jesus tells his disciples to bring nothing for the journey but a staff and one robe. And it says that many were healed. In many ways I feel as if I'm bringing nothing but me to this journey and in return am knowing such healing, such joy. May you know the same this day, my friends.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Week 1

From my last entry you may remember a painting that came to my mind while I was on a walk on my last day in the states. It was of 2 children in a dangerous situation being protected by an angel. The night I moved into my host-family’s home I found this picture hanging in my room. It’s not exactly the same as the one I remember from my childhood, but it is close. I was and am reminded that I am not alone and that I am where I am supposed to be.
The picture of the kittens in a basket of yarn also hangs in my room. It’s actually in 3-D, so from various angles their little faces stick out. A few steps outside the drop-in center a dead cat has been laying for several days. I don’t think there is any coincidence in these two images, just thought I’d mention them; and the fact that my love of cats has not deepened even when homage is being paid to them in an ornate gold frame hanging in my room. If anything it makes me chuckle when I’m by myself in my room, where a picture of an angel protecting children also hangs reminding me that I am not alone, and so maybe Somebody chuckles with me at the silly ornate framed picture of 3-D kittens sitting in a basket of yarn.
My first few days in Galati have gone well. When I rolled into town with David at 2.30am Thursday morning, I slept at Rachel and Ana’s place, which used to be Ron and Audra’s, where I stayed when I visited in October. I woke late in the morning and successfully navigated my way to the drop-in center from memory. I stayed a few hours and watched the kids recite Psalm 23, which was really precious. I ate a little soup and then went back to the apartment where I slept for several hours. In the evening Robin and Josh accompanied me to my host-mom’s apartment.
The apartment has 2 rooms, one is my bedroom, and the other is a living/bedroom for the host mom. Her name is Irina (sp?) and she has made it her goal to teach me Romanian, which is really sweet. However, mostly it is when I’m in the fog of jet-lag, early morning sleepiness, so I have a hard time deciphering what she is saying, whereupon I stand stupidly trying to understand what she has said and she demands that I repeat a response such as: Beine, again I’m unsure of the spelling, but it means well or good. On the whole, the living situation is going well and I’m certain I’ll learn much from Irina.
On Friday I tried to withdraw funds from an ATM when the machine decided to eat my card. Robin was with me and we went into the bank in order to retrieve the card. They were able to get the card out of the machine, but would not give it back to me as they discovered a hold had been placed on my card. We spent the rest of the day trying to get in touch with my bank via Skype. In the end they released the hold on my card (it seems that the time I had spent in discussion with my bank about going out of the country and making note of this on my account did not actually make it onto my account, and therefore a block had been placed on my card). They also said that the Romanian bank should give me my card back the next day. So, on Saturday Robin, Josh, and I went back to the bank where we were told that the card would not be released unless my bank sent an official paper authorizing the release. Voices were raised (mainly the woman working at the bank) and we left determined to figure this thing out. I did, however, have a small feeling that I would not be getting my card back. Which turned out to be the case. When I spoke to my bank they said that it was not their policy to distribute such documents, but they would expedite a new card to me. I’ll see that card in 1-2 days. Ugh. On the whole, though, I wasn’t stressed or scared, just annoyed and knew that it would work itself out. And it did. I was grateful for Josh and Robin’s generous presence, as well as for their Skype account and calling card, spaghetti dinner and potato soup lunch. And for Rachel’s prayers, dreams of cookie shaped ATM cards, and ability to cover my rent for a few days.
After these events, I went grocery shopping with Josh and Robin to the piazza where I purchased pasta, a lot of salami, cream for my tea, and homemade honey. It’s good.
I slept until noon on Sunday (which is the day I write this) and anticipate a week of language lessons. I start these on Monday with Lau, who is also on staff with Word Made Flesh. Life is already decidedly different as I spent Sunday mostly reading and dreaming of a much needed shower on Monday morning (I didn’t think my hair could get quite so greasy…see attached photo).
I may be over the hump with jetlag, but we’ll see. I discovered that the surge protector I purchased for my laptop doesn’t in fact fit my laptop, which is a bummer. And then I accidentally dropped the converter and broke it, so I’m unable to recharge anything. I have another one, though, in a bag I need to get from the Chronics. Ahhh…the troubles. (I’m smiling). I also need to get an alarm clock as the watch I brought that has an alarm also has a dead battery, which I didn’t check before leaving, along with the surge protector I didn’t check. And I’ve been using the alarm on my cell phone, but didn’t bring its charger as I didn’t think I would need it. However, I’m well supplied with underwear, socks, and t-shirts. I wonder, though, if the shampoo I brought is what is making my hair extraordinarily greasy.
Anyway, enough of my rambling. I’m doing well, and I’m not alone.

Monday, March 10, 2008

going away

This time tomorrow I will be on a plane bound for Romania. I've had a lovely last few days in Southern California. It's 80 degrees and clear today, tall straight palms poke an azure sky. A ring of snowcapped mountains and rolling green hills draw me into this place I call my hometown. Gorgeous clumps of orange and yellow California wildflowers pepper the landscape. One could not ask for a better send off.

On Saturday my friend Rebecca came from Seattle to spend the day with me and then that night we went to a going away party hosted by my sister JoAnna and her husband John. Jamie and her kids came, too, and while many I love were missing, the one I missed the most was my sister Elisabeth and her family. Still, it was such a sweet party as you can see by the photos.

And so, tomorrow I am going away. I dread the security lines now, which I've written about before. They've become the place where I most feel my alone-ness, the separation from those I love. This morning while I took one last walk in the sunshine, I was thinking the security line at the airport, and remembered this painting from my childhood. It was of these 2 little children who are crossing a bridge that is falling apart, and below it are jagged rocks and a temptestuous creek and all around it is windy and raining and stormy. But there's also this giant angel with his wings and arms surrounding them, causing them to cross in safety.

I'm hoping to carry that image as I cross my bridge tomorrow. I'm hoping to feel the presence of angels and a cloud of witnesses and the very spirit of my King so that I can rest in the knowledge that I do not go alone, holding that along with the ache of the danger in saying good-bye. Knowing that in the midst of it all is life.

Friday, March 07, 2008

favorite quote of the week

Ava wrote this in the birthday card to her mom:

I love you,
but I've always wanted a cat.

oh to be 5 again!

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