Wednesday, December 20, 2006

leaving, on a jet plane ..

my usual packing plans look something like beginning the process about 7 or 8 the night before i leave. a large number of unnecessary things get done, as well as most of the necessary ones. i stay up later than usual (much later sometimes), and then get to bed. only to wake up early because usually my plane (or other mode of transportation) leaves early in the morning.

this trip? my plane still leaves early, and i'm not sure just exactly how late i'll get to bed .. but the bulk of my packing was done yesterday evening. what's that, you ask? done early? me? indeed, it's true. and i'm taking it as a sign that i'm particularly ready to go on this particular trip. ready for rest, for family, for english, for being in a culture that is somewhat familiar, for being away from the heaviness and despair that seem so evident and common in this city where i live.

i'm hoping that i do get to rest. and then i'll also be ready to come back. not so sure about this part, but it's possible at least. and i do have some things to return to. slowly growing relationships, language which is beginning to make sense, cold weather and possibly snow! (which for me would be a very good thing, oddly enough), and God's wanting me to be here. maybe not quite as exciting as family and the other reasons above .. but enough to get me back. i think...

Friday, December 15, 2006

dancers in my head

i'm a bit of an artist. well .. maybe i should just call myself an artist. i see the world differently. sometimes..
when i hear music i get pictures in my head of dancers in motion.
when i walk down the street i play with my walk, trying to match my stance, rhythm, movement, emotions with someone else near me.
when i see something particularly beautiful i wonder what medium could best imitate it.
when i touch an old book or teddy bear or bench, i listen for its stories.

on good days, my senses are open for beauty and art and God's voice however He might choose to be present. on other days .. i ignore as much as possible of the world around me because there's just too much pain and despair in the people, advertising, interactions, and atmosphere around me.

but yesterday while i was walking home, i got ideas for dances. two particular places that i pass at least 3 or 4 times a week that are interesting spaces. spaces that give me questions i'd like to dialog about physically. glimpses of motion. couldn't stop myself from grinning (although that is strange behavior here if one's alone .. people wonder what one has to smile about). then i thought about what reactions would be if somehow i did actually have a group of dancers to do something crazy in this park or on this road .. i'm not sure people are ready for something so radical yet. but there must be other venues for dance. i'm still waiting for God to show me. but the simple fact that dance came into my mind .. that gives me hope. the artist eyes and heart i've been given aren't sleeping or gone .. but just need some time and space to breathe.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


part of being a missionary is learning to fit in. if i want to be able to communicate something that my neighbors, friends at church, and others will actually respect and hear -- i need to understand their culture on at least an elementary level. know what things to say and what not to say, know generally how to dress, know what attitudes and actions are acceptable .. (there's a whole lot more, but this is just the basic idea.) which could be classified as "fitting in".

wait a minute ...

i don't even really "fit in" in my own culture. i'm usually an outsider. not that i particularly want to be an insider .. [okay. let me say that i don't think american culture is bad. but there are some aspects of it that are not Christ-like. and if i'm truly seeking to follow Christ, it means not just following culture but following Truth. seeking truth. daring to be different in certain worthwhile cases. daring to push boundaries and ask healthy questions.]

realization: i do know how to be a cultural insider in my own culture. basically. i choose not to. i want to become able to be a cultural insider here too. not that i will suddenly be romanian or forget my own culture -- but to know and accept the culture. then -- i will have freedom to push boundaries and ask questions and wonder about what's cultural and what's Christ-like. once i know how to be 'normal' -- i can help others become 'weird'. if that makes sense.

fitting in. being normal. being weird. asking questions. being accepted. feeling at home. feeling uneasy. any thoughts, readers?

Monday, December 04, 2006

a 'gift' of time ..

so, sunday was an adventure ....
here's how i spent my day.
(all times are approximate.)

08.15 wake up in moldova (another country!) without an alarm. like doing that. wander around the apartment where we (my teammate and i) stayed with friends, find everyone else asleep. read Bible. wash face and hair. dry hair. iron skirt. eat breakfast of tea, bread, butter, and good cheese.

09.30 leave for church. walk about half an hour in a marvelously foggy town.

10.00 2 hour church service. all in romanian with beautiful songs, a choir in robes, women in skirts, and married women wearing scarves. some of the friends we stayed with work with deaf people, and they translate the service. really enjoy observing that. since i know a bit of american sign language, it is fun to notice similarities and get to match romanian words with physical signs. (since i am somewhat of a kinesthetic learner ..)

12.00 deaf service downstairs. able to communicate a little bit with the sign that i know (some who are there understand my asl). enjoy their prayers, music (some with heavy/felt beat and others in silence) - and seeing God worshiped physically. it is cool and encouraging.

13.15 take taxi to the bus station. buses and maxi-taxis (15 passenger vans, sorta) gather here and travel all over the country and to a couple other neighboring countries. including romania.

13.30 discover the bus that leaves at 2 is full and the next bus does not leave until 6.30 pm. purchase tickets for this bus at 6.30. have 5 hours to spend .. we go into a little cafe there which is warm and drink tea and eat pastries. have to leave when we're done because they need the table. go back into the large foyer of the station. mind you - it's foggy and cold outside, probably 25F or so, and there's not much heating inside - although it's much warmer inside, maybe 50 or so, because of the bodies and doors being shut etc. .. we read, listen to my mp3 player, think, talk a bit .. go into a bistro for some more warm tea, have to leave after a long while because of full tables again .. more reading, etc.

18.30 bus leaves the station and we're on it. (not a bus built for comfort or space..) along with one of the friends we stayed with who was surprised we hadn't called them or gone back to their place. didn't know how to get back, and it was just easier to stay, and .. bus drives slowly because of the thick fog. and roads here (and there) don't go straight. they sort of meander around.

22.00 bus arrives at moldova customs. officer comes to take all our passports (all 50 people or so on the bus). everyone gathers all their belongings. we go inside to go through customs. two men are there to question and check our stuff. so this takes a while.. then we're allowed to leave moldova. a kilometer later we arrive in romania. they too take all our passports and stamp them and ask a few people questions..

00.30 bus leaves romania customs. yes it's true. 2.5 hours basically sitting still. this is something abi loves. sitting still. yes....

00.45 bus arrives in iasi. we say goodbye to our friend. get off the bus, and grab a taxi to get home. this happens quickly and as normal. i even remember how to tell the taxi driver where i live. very glad for this - even in my state of tiredness..

01.00 abi arrives at home

so -- an adventure. and now i find it rather funny. and very cultural. because nobody else on the bus seemed particularly worried by it. like this was normal. it's a fairly cheap way to travel and gets you where you need to go. just takes more time than one might like. (i suspect the trip could be made in about 2.5 hours if customs didn't take too long and you were in a car.) but .. i did enjoy having some time to think and wonder and read (probably 250 pages or so) and talk to God. and be glad this isn't something i have to do often. the end.