Day 23 – Autobuz at Rush Hour
After spending a while practicing Romanian today, I got a call from a fellow missionary we met Sunday night at River of Life Church. He wanted to get together and connect with us a little bit, so we hopped on a bus (autobuz in Romanian) and headed to the only place that made sense – McDonald’s. We hadn’t been to a McDonald’s yet, so it seemed OK to us.
On our way out the door, Susie gave us some money with an urgent appeal to “bring back a Big Mac and a Coke.”
Riding the bus went amazingly smooth. We’d heard a lot of people don’t like to take the bus because it can get really packed, but it wasn’t bad. It definitely was cramped during rush hour on our way back. The bus stops, it looks like there’s no possible way to get in, but you step inside anyway and somehow find a way to sneak between two old Romanian women. Any other time and place, you would feel very uncomfortable, but this is Bucharest and these are the buses and it is rush hour after all, so all sense of dignity vanishes in the way more pressing need to get in before the doors close around your leg.
It was crazy packed in there, but no one complains, no one jostles or pushes you, no one breathes awkwardly on your neck, and there were no weird smells. At least not from the Romanians surrounding us. Our bag of McDonald’s didn’t smell quite right compared to all the healthy food we’ve been eating… Maybe this was just a good day, but things were way more quiet and dignified than I’ve experienced on buses in America.
And most people don’t seem to pay. We went through a lot of hassle to get our RATB cards charged with 13 lei, but most people on the bus never put their cards through the reader and just got a free ride. Unless I’m missing something. In all our trips yesterday and today on the tram and bus, as far as I could tell, I saw maybe 3 people besides us pay.
So at McDonald’s, we met with fellow missionary Jason Smith. He’s from Canada eh, and he’s been here 5 years working with Gypsies and refugees. He does a lot of street preaching in Gypsy areas. Recently, he was ministering to a woman who had undergone ten abortions. Her daughter had been through five. They were so hardened and calloused to it that they shared about it proudly, almost joking about it. Romania holds the number 1 position for abortions worldwide – according to some statistics, almost 3/4 of pregnancies end in the murder of the baby. That’s like deleting Mae, Illiana, and Isaac from our family. If you take Romania’s statistics on abortion and apply it to the US, we’d have 20 million murdered babies every year, instead of just over 1 million.
One of these days, I’ll join Jason for some ministry in the Gypsy areas, but tomorrow, we’ll head with him to the Burmese refugees of Romania. They’ve had a rough situation here in Bucharest. The nation isn’t used to foreigners to begin with, Romanian is a difficult language to learn, Bucharest isn’t the nicest place to live, and the politicians have been stealing EU funds meant to help the refugees and using it for their own personal enjoyment. At least that’s the story Jason told, and it rings true of everything else we’ve been reading and hearing about corruption in the government here. So they’ve been dealt a rough blow and are barely surviving here, but I hope to share some encouragement tomorrow night and help them to see that God has a plan for them being here all the same. Pray I’d speak the words God would have me speak, and that they would be encouraged to be lights to this city.
After our meeting, we bought some burgers and fries and McNuggets and headed on home, propped up between our fellow Bucurestians in the city bus, ready to try our first Romanian-style McDonald’s. It was amazing, by the way. It tasted like McDonald’s from America but without all the nastiness.
After dinner, the girls had me videotape them discussing various things like what it means to be a missionary, what preaching the Gospel is all about, how they came to know Jesus, etc. It was entirely their idea.
The funniest segment of the videoing tonight was when they grabbed a bunch of Isaac’s toy dinosaurs. One of them shared the Gospel with another, who ended up getting born-again. Then the two of them went and shared the Gospel with four more dinosaurs who were all fighting and acting dangerous. Those four got born-again two. Then they brought them to church, where they did worship with a dinosaur band, heard some mediocre dinosaur preaching, listened to testimonies, and had some really explosive baptisms. Entirely Naomi’s idea.
I’ll put the Dinosaur Revival videos up tomorrow or something, but here are two others from this evening:
Naomi and Mae explaining what it means to be a missionary:
Noami, Mae, and Illiana giving their testimonies of how they came to know Jesus: