Tuesday, May 15, 2012

One Week in Romania

Plane view of my new home for 90 days!

Buna dimineata!

This is how I am greeted each morning by Romanians.
I love it here! The people, the culture, and the city are very new, but very exciting.
I’ve been in Romania for a week now. My flights in were interesting to say the least, but after fifteen hours of flying and four hours of layovers, I finally arrived in Romania. There I was greeted by a smiling man named Ovi Martin, an RCE (Romanian Christian Enterprise) director. He took me to the RCE center where I met his wife Doina and their staff members who work in the center teaching and taking care of the children. That night I met his three daughters, one of them is even my age. The Martins are a welcoming and warm family. They are used to having and looking after missionaries so I felt very accepted and taken care of.

My second day here I got to spend the day at the RCE center where I will be working all summer. I toured the classrooms and met the staff. For the past week I have been working in a classroom with five boys who are between four and seven years old. I LOVE working in this classroom, it has been beyond rewarding. Two of the younger boys have Downs Syndrome, one is Autistic, and the other has severe Muscular Dystrophy. They are all loving, playful, and respond well to the teaching methods used by their two teachers.
Watching the teaching methods of the staff here has been incredible. Everyone is so warm towards the children. They are encouraging and always positive. Something I admire very much is that even when it is not expected that some children may never speak and some never walk, the teachers and staff do not stop believing that it is a possibility. Things that should be impossible for these children are encouraged by the teachers and they act as though in their hearts they believe it is possible. I think that is so important, especially when working with people who have special needs and disabilities. A doctor can diagnose anyone with anything, but only God can give talents, gifts, and recovery to someone.
“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13
When we let Him in, God can give us the strength we need to overcome the obstacles in our life, or the strength we need to accept the circumstances we cannot change.

Apartment View

My apartment is adorable, except for all the stairs I have to take to get to it! People keep telling me that it is on the fourth floor, but yall, I am telling you that there is EIGHT flights of stairs to that “fourth floor”. It’s not entirely a bad thing though; climbing each day is helping me to work off the fresh Romanian bread that they serve with EVERY meal.  My roommate does not speak English. For my first week here she was on vacation, so I was alone in the house, but I met her this week when she came home. At first I was very disappointed that I wouldn’t have someone to talk to like I expected. But then I decided to look at it as an opportunity to learn Romanian and to teach her English. There is always a silver lining, people!

Other than the time change, there are still many things that I struggle with adjusting to. Even at home, the summer has more daylight hours, but here it doesn’t get dark until nearly ten at night! The food is also very different. I have found some of the most delicious meals I have ever experienced here, but there are also other foods that seem to be more of a Romanian acquired taste. They serve soup and bread with every meal. At home, soup IS the meal. It’s a good thing I walk everywhere to burn it all off! Maybe I will bring home some tasty recipes… that doesn’t involve the chicken liver I ate yesterday, or the cold noodles with sugar and poppy seeds I ate today. Some things I just am not a fan of.

Church here is interesting. I recognize the sermons that they preach from and the hymns that they sing. But sitting in a three hour service where I don’t understand a single word is difficult. I woke up Sunday SO ready for worship and was discouraged afterwards when I realized I had let three hours of sitting in God’s house go to waste because I didn’t understand the language. I felt convicted. Next Sunday I will remember that God hears every language. And worship is accepted by Him from every tongue. I should view that time as an opportunity to independently read and study the section being preached from and should sing the hymns in English if I know it. God gives me his love no matter what country I’m in, I should be doing the same for Him in His house.
I am working hard to break this language barrier by learning as many words and phrases as possible. Every time a conversation is being carried on that I feel I am a part of, I ask what is being said and how to respond in Romanian. My goal has been to learn ten words a day, but that has proved to be more easily said than done. So far I know about thirty words and phrases. Most of them are basic words and commands to use with the children that they are used to hearing. I know the kids can’t always understand what I am trying to convey to them, so I thank God that tickling, hugs, and smiles are universal.
My biggest fear being here is experiencing genuine loneliness for the first time. The eight hour time difference between me and the people closest to me is very hard. When I finally get to work where there is internet, it is 12 or 1 am at home and everyone is asleep. When I leave work in the afternoons, everyone is not quite waking up. And when I go to sleep at night, everyone is in the middle of their day and on lunch breaks. I am so used to having 24/7 constant and instant communication. With Facebook, texting, seeing colleagues at work, and family/ friends living so close to me, I am accustomed to picking up a phone or posting a status at any time I want to see or talk to someone. That isn’t the case here. I can’t call frequently and I don’t have internet at home yet to skype with. No texting. And facebook is limited because I am so busy. The socially-needy person in me wants to feel alone and abandoned. But to be honest, I don’t. I definitely miss my close friends and family and I do experience home-sickness at night. But coming here alone was a good decision. I feel empowered knowing that I don’t NEED the constant communication that I WANT to have. God is constantly affirming his love for me.
“I will never leave you, never will I forsake you.” -Hebrews 13:5
Talk about a promise!! I am so comforted by this verse every day and I am reminded that God is my portion and that I don’t need to want for other things and people.
Being in Romania is not just giving me an opportunity to learn from the teachers and children, but to also become solely dependent on God. I am quickly learning that to survive these 90 days, I have to trust that God will provide the people to teach me, that He will supply the food I will try, that He will send me those I need to seek answers from, and that HE will use this time for His glory and will turn my life here into a living example of His love and faithfulness.
People keep asking me “aren’t you so afraid to come here all alone?” I wasn’t particuariluy scared until they kept asking! Then I started wondering “do I have a reason to be nervous? Did I make an unwise decision coming here alone so young?” God is quick to reassure me. Right after the devil put those thoughts in my head, I read this:
The phrase “do not be afraid” is written in the bible 365 times. That is a daily reminder to live every day fearless.

 And I only need 90 of those =)
Until next time,
Chow from Romania!
-Madalyn Payge <3