Day 2: Bucharest
Wow, it’s almost midnight here in Bucharest. We arrived yesterday at just about this time, meaning we’ve spent about 1 full day in Romania.
And what a day it’s been!
We started our time in Bucharest by feeling exhausted and overwhelmed after getting off the airplane. We’re in a new nation where we don’t speak the language, it felt like everyone at the airport was smoking cigarettes, we were all delirious from jetlag and simple exhaustion, we’re tired of carrying piles of luggage everywhere, and we still don’t really know what’s going to happen…
Then Filip and some leaders from Misseo Dei church (Adel and a guy whose name I can’t remember) picked us up, loaded our luggage into a big van, carried it all to our temporary apartment, and made sure we were comfortable and feeling good before leaving at around 2 AM. We felt really, really blessed.
But still sorta’ freaked out, to be honest. I mean, we had emailed Filip and talked with him on Skype, but we didn’t really know if he was real or just some Photoshopped creation. And if he was real, we didn’t know if he’d actually show up at the airport as planned. And if he did show up, we didn’t know if he’d be a nice guy or some sort of con-man who kidnaps missionaries and their blonde-haired kids and sells them to circuses touring Eastern Europe. We sensed God’s hand in everything, but you know the nagging thoughts that you might be sold into a circus, right? Seriously, though we had God’s peace, there were a lot of unknowns.
Even after they found us at the airport, we hugged, and they all seemed to be awesome, when the three Romanian guys huddled together and started speaking Romanian to each other in hushed tones, suddenly Eastern European spy movies started shuttling through my mind.
Driving to our temporary housing, I enjoyed talking with Adel and hearing about all Misseo Dei church has been doing to reach the youth of Bucharest. As we sped past miles and miles of people and apartment complexes and stores and parks, I felt the Spirit of God spoke to me, “There is revolution in the air. What was done in the natural in 1989 will now be done in the spirit.” There’s a feeling of excitement and danger, revolution and freedom in the air of Bucharest.
This morning, we woke up still in a fog from jet lag, and we suddenly felt very alone, trapped in an ugly sea of Communist apartments and people we don’t understand and can’t communicate with.
Later, Filip helped us get new SIM cards (not new phones yet, but soon), we exchanged our money, we found the nearest mall and grocery store, and we met with a real-estate agent (Adi) who will help us find housing tomorrow.
At that point, we were still feeling overwhelmed, but at least we were making progress in getting situated. It didn’t help matters when Filip told us about the packs of wild dogs that will form on the streets and attack people, sometimes killing them. All the wild dogs we met (and there were dozens) seemed sleepy and old, but thoughts of 30 dogs all gathered in a pack and eating people wasn’t so thrilling. Human trafficking, he confirmed, is also still a real issue in Romania. Well, we didn’t sign up for Disney Land.
We did have a funny incident where we almost got locked out of our apartment. None of us could figure out how to unlock it, from the outside or the inside, but eventually Susie somehow got it to work.
So that was all this morning and afternoon. Mostly overwhelmed, confused, tired, and a bit frustrated.
Then this evening we fell in love with Romania. I’ve already written too much, but all the fear and worry vanished when we went to Filip’s apartment for his home group. We met a group of people in their twenties who really love Jesus and each other (and us now!) and are working to bring the Gospel to Romania. We spent four or five hours talking about Jesus, walking through a crowded park, eating amazing pastries and Filip’s rice and vegetables, and riding around on some really fast bumper cars (or “bumpy cars” as Irena calls them). We felt totally at home, welcomed instantly as part of the family. Illiana has attached herself to Filip like a Romanian uncle and some of the young women are planning a pajama party with the girls.
Romania, you have captured our hearts. Thank you, Filip, Emi, Daniel, AndreEa, Christiana, Irena, Laura, and everyone else whose names I can’t remember! You all have made us fall in love with this beautiful country full of beautiful people. Though no one can ever replace our friends and family in the US, you have given us another home and another family here in Romania.