Saturday, October 28, 2006

daunting solitude

new everything. new language. new culture. new people. new transportation. new weather. new food. new .. you name it. to stay sane i've been spending quite a bit of time by myself with God. which can be as intimidating and scary as forging ahead into this newness. because there are all sorts of truths to discover about myself, my habits, my desires, my addictions, my needs -- and what i think are the above, and what they were meant to be. a friend emailed this quote to me and it gives me hope for the journey still ahead of me.

"in solitude we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us. in solitude we can listen to the voice of him who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone. it is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts. in solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared." -- henri nouwen in 'out of solitude'

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

high school?

today we had an english class with some of our kids (ages 12-14) at the association. it's fun to be part of the english classes because i get to learn some romanian vocabulary and grammar 'on the sly'. one of the activities today included putting words into sentences. for example, they had 'goes church she to' which becomes 'she goes to church.' another set of words was 'go school to high they' which should become 'they go to high school.' but -- one boy was in a hurry (and doesn't know english that well yet) and for a few moments his sentence read 'they go high to school'. the other adults and i found that really funny -- but the kids don't yet know what that means, so they didn't get it. still cracks me up. they go high to school. also true sometimes..

Monday, October 23, 2006

things i've enjoyed the past few days --

amazingly colored leaves littering the sidewalks .. and the looks people give me when i stop to pick up said leaves

listening to worship music in english

waiting for my teammate near church (a location i hadn't been to before so needed help to get the last leg of the journey), and having 2 people who passed ask me if i wanted to walk with them. they knew my face and stopped to ask. was somehow very encouraging

seeing the names in my email inbox

the chaos of the weather. dark by 6.30 pm. warm enough this afternoon i would have been comfortable in shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals. humid enough it takes my jeans at least 3 days dry. cold enough in the evenings i sometimes wear wool socks and a couple layers including a sweatshirt. drinking lots of tea to keep warm in the apartment (since they haven't turned on the central heating yet.) seeing my breath most mornings -- even sometimes in the late morning ..

the look on a friend's face when i said i was walking home. an hour at a comfortable pace. seems usual to me, but he thinks i'm a bit crazy.

the lentil soup i made all by myself. found the recipe online. bought the ingredients. chopped the vegetables. cooked everything. and am eating it once a day or so. tastes good, and has the extra flavor of self-accomplishment. or something like that.. -- if anyone wants to share yummy recipes with me, i'd enjoy that (as long as i can find the ingredients here ..)

drinking coffee every morning as i sit in the same chair with my Bible and breakfast. even know how to describe my ritual in romanian! but mostly enjoy the peace and comfort of sitting down with a yummy drink and God's Word.

learning how to read psalm 27 in romanian. so far i'm to verse 8 and can read it without making romanians cringe. that's the goal at least. and perhaps some memorization as well, since i'm repeating it so much (and have it memorized in english).

kathleen norris' book "the cloister walk". makes me think. in a really good way.

Monday, October 16, 2006

a deep breath

taking a breath from life can be life-giving. i don't just mean sitting down at the computer and playing games, or going to bed early. sometimes we need to get away and out of our normal routine. i had the opportunity to do that this past weekend. what a gift! i went with my teammate, our executive director, and another wonderful woman who loves God -- and we got to spend three full days near brasov in central romania. in low mountains/high hills. it was marvelous. it felt like a fairy tale in some ways. this is a picture i took while we were there. doesn't it feel like it should be in a story book? not everything looked like this, but there were plenty of places to rest, to look at the beautiful hills and trees and changing colors around us, to breathe and take in beauty. and -- it looked like it might rain at the beginning of the weekend, but we had beautiful weather. a bit chilly with plenty of sunshine. and plenty of good food!

we didn't have a schedule. some vague ideas, like 'let's go into brasov today and wander around the old town' or 'let's wander into the hills and see what we find'. no task lists. being together, getting to ask for what we needed whether it be a meal, a good laugh, time to just sit still, space to ask questions. the four of us have never been together just by ourselves before, but we got along grandly. and all of us got a retreat. even the two older and wiser women who came to lead (sort of) were able to rest and be refreshed, which was another blessing. (and there was plenty of laughing and being ourselves freely -- even if it meant doing handstands or dancing in the middle of a field of flowers .. !)

and after getting that chance to breathe deeply out in nature with different kinds of noise and space -- it's right back into the city. but with some fresh energy to re-engage language, relationships, challenges of being here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

a bridal shower...

i'm gonna paint a mental picture for you. imagine -- a living room probably 10 feet by 20 feet (if that), with a couple of couches, a computer desk, a bookshelf, and a cabinet. this room is also my room and contains my bed. (foldout couch)
sunday night
15 women
a bridal shower
4 or 5 hours
excited women
telling stories
asking questions
everyone talking at once
- - - -
all in romanian!!

as an introvert, this situation would have been overwhelming for me even if it were all in english with people i knew well. too many people for too long in too small a space. and then adding the extra factor of only understanding every fifteenth word "...boys .. internet (same word in both languages) .. talking .. kitchen .. school .. bus .. seven .. " not a very good story, you know?

and after three or four hours (with a couple of translations periodically), my brain just couldn't take anymore active listening. so i found other things to do. without leaving the room (not really anywhere else to go..). without being too obnoxious. i was wearing seven bracelets around my wrist with little beads. and lets just say .. the average number of beads on one bracelet is about 112.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

traveling by foot

one thing i've been enjoying about my time here is the walking. it's common to walk relatively long distances, like 30 or 45 minutes to get somewhere. you can take public transportation, but sometimes with the wait (and in busy times of the day, the number of people), it is easier to just walk. so probably at least half of the days that i've been here so far, i've walked more than 2 miles a day. and it's not that unusual. it's nice to have some exercise included in regular days. which means -- it's important to have comfortable shoes!

as it gets colder, i will need to stay resolute in my desire to be walk and be outside, but that seems possible at the moment. the temperatures have been fluctuating the last few days -- rainy and cool one day, than hot and sunny the next. but it is fall here! the leaves are turning beautiful colors and falling off trees. reminds me of the four or five friends i've had who are leaf-kleptomaniacs! not that you can really steal leaves, but they pick them up all fall. and i've started doing the same, so there are a couple marking pages in my journal. i'm glad God made color! and that sometimes He reminds me to see the beauty around me, especially colors. when the day is challenging -- just to accomplish simple tasks, i forget to see what is around me and to look at what God is doing and where He is present.