Sunday, March 20, 2016

Saints in Romania: Orthodox Basilicas and Lots of Football

*blogging note: My service is currently not strong enough to post photos with each entry. As soon as I get better service or get home, I will add pictures to better explain our experience in Romania!*

Today, being Sunday, meant lots of prayer and a day of rest here in Pro Vita. The prayer came first. After another delicious breakfast we gathered our things and began the 30 minute hike to the nearby town to attend the second half of an Orthodox service. (Second half meaning 2 hours!) When we first walked in we tried to stay in the back, but the priest's wife marched us right up to the front-directly in front of all the icons. We all sat quietly and respectfully as we observed confessions, prayers, communion, and a homily. All, of course, said and chanted in Romanian. The priest was so proud and honored by us all being there until the end and for listening respectfully that he informed the entire congregation who we were, why we were there, and asked everyone to pray for us. It was quite the honor and many at Pro Vita informed us so. Father Miller, Coach Johnson, and myself were so proud of each one of our Saints for getting this recognition.

Libby Davis, who was seated the furthest towards the front during the service, reflected on her time at church.

"On the way to the church, I didn't know what to expect because I haven't been to many services other than school chapel. When we entered the basilica, I was surprised by how many people were there. The service was long and hard to follow since I don't speak Romanian and I was sitting on half a stool! However, I thought it was beautiful as well. It was amazing having the community praying and chanting as one. It was also pretty cool that Father Tanahse gave us a shout-out in his sermon! Overall, it was a pretty cool experience that I would 100% do again."

After the mass ended we hiked back to Pro Vita, this time hiking over the hills to return to our new home. The scenery was beautiful as we had a 360 degree view of the Carpathian Mountains with small villages nestled in each valley. When we finally got back to Pro Vita, it was time for lunch before an afternoon spent playing with the children.

And play we did! Our Saints played soccer, tag, frisbee, jumped rope, played clapping games, hiked, and just hung out with the various ages of children that flocked to the field we were playing in. Girls, boys, Saints, and Pro Vita children were running and smiling and simply enjoying being in each other's company. New friendships were forged without one word shared in the same language. As a teacher, I was so proud of my students for bringing joy to these children and for being a positive influence in their lives.

Sarah Gallahan shared her experience kicking around the football with the kids.

"After church we had lunch which was potato soup, bread, mashed potatoes that were kind of like grits, and fried soy patties. For dessert we had cookies. Then we went to play with the children outside. We played on the hill across from the houses. I mostly played soccer with all the little boys. We also passed the frisbee, played tag, and duck-duck-goose. At the beginning I wasn't really sure what to say or do since they speak Romanian and we speak English, but once Ms. Fusina got us into a game it was much easier to start playing. I loved seeing the little kids running and smiling. I also loved seeing the big kids, who are basically the big brothers, actually be nice to the little ones. I was not expecting that at all.

Everyone was so nice and we all shared so many laughs and smiles together. Some of us even have inside jokes with each other that I will cherish forever. After this we went to another church service for about an hour and then went back to our house for dinner. We had bread, eggs, baked potatoes, a tomato and cucumber salad, and some palled and oranges. We then played card games like Uno and spoons. We listened to music and shared so many more laughs together. I love how everyone is so easy and fun to talk to. I definitely was not expecting any of that."

As Sarah referenced, after playtime our day was still not yet over! It began by having our first Romanian lesson. We learned to ask how old you are, what's your name, and to count to ten. The lesson started to fall apart when everyone started shouting out words they wanted to know! However, our lesson tomorrow should be better since we have someplace to begin.

Before dinner and an evening filled with card games, we went with all the children to the daily prayer at Pro Vita's church. It was a nice way to end the day in reflection. We are all tired from a great day and look forward tomorrow when we switch our soccer cleats for paintbrushes to continue our project of painting the fence.

No comments: