Day 28 – Prayer Walking
Well, today was rainy again, but I’ve been antsy to get out and see the city more, meet some people, etc. so I went on a long prayer walk (route pictured above). I did a fundraising event before leaving America, promising to prayer walk 1 km of Bucharest for every person who would support me at $10/month or more. Since 20 people signed up, I have to do a whopping 20 km of prayer walking.
We’ve probably done ten times that much walking, but we weren’t “officially” praying as we did it, so I didn’t count it toward our 20 km of prayer walks we have to do. We were, however, officially walking…
Anyway, today I did almost half my total promised – 9 km. I think we’ll end up doing way more than 20 km of prayer walking, because it went so quickly and it was a lot of fun to get out, try to get lost, and then try to find my way again.
While doing a lot of walking, praying, meeting people, exploring, learning the city’s transportation system, etc, God is giving us a real heart for this city. It’s confusing and difficult to think of how we’ll be able to communicate Jesus to these people who’ve heard it all and been through a lot more than we have, and sometimes it’s frustrating and intimidating when few people want to talk to us or even smile in our direction, or when someone yells something at us and we don’t know what they’re saying, but we’re growing to love this city and these people, and whether people receive us or reject us, hug us or hate us, they can’t take away this love that Jesus has put in our hearts.
It’s strange and disconcerting feeling like we don’t belong anywhere. This is Memorial Day in America, and while holidays have never meant much to me, now that we’re away and nobody here cares about remembering America’s great military-industrial complex, it’s become glaringly obvious that we don’t quite belong. We’re not Romanians, we can’t communicate very well, people keep switching to English so we can do simple things like even buying milk… and we’re not quite Americans either anymore. We’re at the end of the American candy we brought with us (now you know why we had 11 large suitcases!), I got rid of all our American money when we landed, and I’m almost done with our Puffs Plus tissues I brought along.
It’s a really weird feeling, being stuck between two worlds. I wonder if Jesus felt like this, when He gave up heaven and came to earth. America isn’t quite heaven, but I wonder if Jesus felt a sort of odd, constant alienation from the people around him. He could communicate well enough, but they would never really listen to what he said. And while they would get all hung up on politics or religious holidays or impressive buildings, Jesus knew his kingdom wasn’t off this world. Jesus hung out with sinners, invited Pharisees to dinner, invited himself to dinner, and definitely became a part of Jerusalem culture and society, but I wonder if, in the midst of that, he felt like he was still a stranger.
Thankfully, we’ve got some really great friends we’ve met here, people who really care about us (Filip and Missio Dei, the Boldeas, Jason the Canadian, George the Australian), and Susie is an ever-present ally in our home, and that helps us feel like we belong a lot more, but it’s not quite home yet.
I didn’t mean to go on that tangent. We’re really doing very good, but homesickness is hitting a little – I’d like some cheddar cheese, a real, juicy, burger, a Spotted Cow, no wild dogs following me, the rain to stop… Shoot, if just the rain stopped I’d be content. 🙂
Anyway, here’s a quick run-down of some of the more interesting events I encountered while prayer walking:
– I was followed by one wild dog for about a kilometer. At first it freaked me out, but then when I noticed he chased off other dogs who came close, I decided I’d let him stick around.
– I had a group of 5-6 dogs surround me at one point, but I told them that it was bad luck to eat an American and so they left me alone, probably went in search of a Canadian. Seriously, usually the dogs seem to ignore you if you just stay calm and keep walking without paying any attention to them.
– I came across a half-eaten dog carcass on the sidewalk. Needless to say, it was pretty gross. I didn’t take pictures. The only thing I can imagine would have eaten it would have been another dog. Sick cannibals. They’re barely human.
– One road was littered with hundreds of flyers for yet another “masaj erotic.” These guys are aggressive in their advertising – posters, flyers, newspaper and magazine ads… you can’t escape it.
– On a similar note, Gina Pistol is literally everywhere. Don’t Google her or you’ll regret it. When Playboy came to Romania, she was their first cover-girl. Now, she’s advertising underwear on the billboards of the city. Kind of like a pre-Christian Dorcas (Acts 9:36-43).
– So we’ve covered wild dogs and sexually-explicit advertising. Next up would be crazy driving. I can tell I’m getting used to the driving in this city (which, parenthetically speaking, doesn’t mean I’m ready to drive here, but just that I’m getting used to seeing it). Anyway, I thought it was funny today while on my prayer walk because a student driver came down a busy two-lane road in the middle of the lanes. My first thought was, “Whoa, he’s in the middle of the road,” followed quickly by, “just like everyone else does here.”
– To close on a positive note, it surprised me just how many people were out in the rain. No one was really hanging out, but tons of people were out walking around. In Milwaukee, no one goes out in the rain, except maybe students. Here, you’ve got no choice, so you grab an umbrella and a rain coat and you get out there and get wet. I kinda’ like that.
Well, it was a really good time praying for the city and letting God stir my heart to see this nation changed. I got soaked, especially after my umbrella was shredded by a gust of wind, but it was good to get out and pray.
Here’s some rainy photos for ya’ll: