Today was oober busy, it felt like five days all in one!
We started the morning leaving the house at 8:30 and heading out to the gyspy market, about a 40min drive or so. E was with us because he stayed overnight at R&D’s because he was our translator for today. Once we got there we all piled out of the van to walk through the market. It happens in a parking lot and only on Sunday mornings (not even sure if it’s every Sunday, might be once a month) but everyone brings their wares in their cars: pots, pans, detergents, homemade cheese, meci (“meech” a sausage type thing that has baking soda in it to make it plump apparently. we didn’t try any today, but maybe another day =S), random odds and ends, live animals, etc. So we wandered through the market looking at stuff. Team-leader-R was looking to see if they had a lamb and said he’s wanted to buy a pig, but couldn’t today as we weren’t going home until late tonight. It was pretty chilly and VERY windy today so the not as many sellers came and set up as usual (so we were told), but it was still pretty cool! Like a farmer’s market meets garage sale meets gypsies =D
We were going to be preeeeeetty early for church with the time we were making so we stopped in at the Orthodox Church in the nearby village. They had their service running and it was pretty interesting if not a bit strange (mostly because we couldn’t understand what was going on, E didn’t really know the Orthodox traditions either so he couldn’t really explain). It was beautiful old building, high ceiling on the inside, icons painted on the walls in dark colours, mostly lit be candlelight except for a huge chandelier in the main room the was electric light. The main room was packed so we just stayed in the foyer and watched through the doorway. People would buy candles and light them and put them in candleabras in the foyer (which were apparently candles for the dead) but then some people would go up to this little doorway at the front and suddenly the priest would appear and take the candles and close the door again. We only saw him when he was taking the candles and when he moved this curtain in the middle of the front part to just kinda stand there and then close it again. It was weird. I kind of wish I’d taken a picture there but I felt weird about it with all these little old ladies in their thick dresses and headscarves saying (what I assume to be) their prayers while they watched us, so I didn’t pull a obnoxious-tourist and take a picture. It was mostly tiny old ladies, some younger people, but then again, everyone looks older than they are here, they just seem to physically age faster.
Once we were done listening to a service that none of us really understood we reloaded ourselves into the van and headed into the city where we were having the service today. it took place in a little house that had probably been two rooms but was now just one big open room and there were about 30-50 people there. We had one song, led by one of the ladies in the congregation singing acapella and then the children did a little mini-concert for the mum’s for Mother’s Day/week. It was super cute, about 16 3-15 year old singing away and then punctuating the songs with little recitations. E said at one point “Oh, its a promise!” so I’m thinking they were either singing or reciting a little promise to their mums, very sweet =D After them B, D and I spoke about our mum’s and something they’ve taught us. B talked about the importance of Mother-child relationships, D talked about her mum teaching her selflessness and love, and I talked about MY MUMMY and about the health struggles shes had (*my mum suffers from kidney failure) and her faith and perseverance in prayer. It all seemed to go over well… After us, team-leader-D spoke about what it means to be a Mother and talked a bit about her own kids and being a other herself.
When the service finished everyone crowded up to shake our hands and say hello. They’e great at greeting guests here, everyone basically lines up and you have a receiving line =D after our receiving line we went out for lunch to get Shawarma so basically, I think I’m an Avenger now. (I wasn’t overly fond of it, I mean it was fine, but I probably wouldn’t have it again BUT I AM, LIKE, TOTALLY AN AVENGER NOW)
Theeeeen, then we went to the funeral for the lady whose wake we went to last night. As I said, it was very cold and windy today so we wore lots of layers. Apparently lots isn’t enough because the service was outside. There was a crowd of people in the yard of the house and when everyone had arrived (probably mainly when all the pastors had arrived) they brought out the still-open casket with the body and put it on a table in the yard and then we had a service. They sang a song acapella (we were told that you DO NOT use instruments at a funeral) and then a Pastor got up and spoke for a long long time (like it was probably only about 30-40 minutes but it feels like hours when you’re frozen and can’t understand). E did his best at translating from across the yard from the speaker and listening through the wind but we got a bit of a jumbled version of the message. Another pastor closed in prayer and then the open-casket was moved into a wagon and everyone walked to the cemetery following the horse-drawn wagon. We followed in the car (socially acceptable, rich people’s funerals will have everyone following behind in cars from the home to the cemetery holding down their horns and honking loudly. Yesterday we saw a funeral procession that must have been 40-50 cars long. I never realized how mournful a sound a car horn is). At the graveyard the casket (still open) was placed on wooden supports over the grave which was tucked away int he back corner of the graveyard behind a crypt. The woman was a single lady and I’m sure very poor so they probably couldn’t afford a better spot. One of the other pastors gave a message. E was standing with R&D while we stood a little apart so we didn’t get any translation on this one. It was colder at the graveyard, surrounded by open fields and it was about the graveyard-iest graveyard I’ve ever seen. It was very large, old, traditional tombstones, crypts, bitter wind, grey overcast sky, crows circling cawing loudly overhead. It was kind of creepy. They sang a funeral song and then the family came up to say their goodbyes. The woman’s sister was weeping and she seemed to be accompanied by her husband, daughter and grandchildren. Once the goodbyes were said the sister was led away with the rest of the family and they got into a car and left, then the casket was lowered down into the grave and most people threw a handfull of dirt in. The men who’d lowered the casket then began shovelling dirt in from two large piles on the graves to either side. Everyone left then and it was just the guys left to cover it over.
We went from a gravesite to a hospital to see a new baby! We went to see one of the pastors’ new grandsons, and his daughter. The baby was very sweet, but before we got to the right area we made a wrong turn down what seemed to be an unused hallway. It was like an asylum ward, no lights in the hall, large fogged glass windows in the doors, weird light coming through. Creeeeeeeepy (*but then when we went to hospital for visits later those ended up unfortunately being very similar to what the in-use rooms look like. Very communist-era)
From the hospital we went to a nice sit down restaurant for supper and then went out to another church, bigger one this time, probably nearer to 100 people. J and either D or friend-J were going to speak and were going to be followed up by team-leader-D, so J spoke and did really well, D spoke, and did really well, and then team-leader-R said that team-leader-D wasn’t feeling very well so they wanted another of us girls to come up instead and then he asked B to go up. She was pretty surprised but gamely grabbed her notebook and went up and spoke, and it was very good too. E was translating for all of us from English to Romanian and then he sat with us as the pastor gave the message to translate Romanian to English. Once the pastor was done we had communion.
Team-leader-R had told us we’d be having communion and I asked him if it’d be real wine (because I know more traditional places, like this, sometimes are) and he said possibly, but not for sure. Soo when we get there I see the communion stuff set out of the table and the drink is in a Fanta bottle so I think, well they’re using Fanta grape juice, that’s all fine then. Now they do communion in one communal cup so thankfully we were up at the front and went first but the pastor held the cup and tipped it for each of us to drink. As the “Fanta” enters my mouth, I realize, nope, not Fanta, definitely not Fanta. As it burns down my throat I find that it’s most certainly communion WINE, no Fanta here! Also the way the do communion is they keep circling the congregation if there’s extra bread or wine till it’s gone. There was extra bread so we had another piece and then we start to worry, what if there’s extra wine and we all have to take a second sip of real wine after everyone in the whole room has had a sip!? (There was no extra wine)
The music at the church was great, it’s a gypsy church so it’s authentic gypsy music, accordion, guitar (kinda spanish sounding), and loud energetic singing and clapping (B was in her element, she had – to quote her – “A clapathon going on with the guy next to [her]”). After church was done every came up and shook our hands, lots of the teenage girls came up to us an asked up our names and we did our best to make conversation with their broken English and our lack of Romanian they were super sweet though! It’s fun trying to find ways to communicate with everyone =D
One the way home we picked up the wife of one of the men at the church to drive her to one of the other towns to stay with a friend overnight because she needed some papers for something to do with the baby (who was probably about one and came with her). The baby and I had fun tapping each others hands and babling at each other until she got hungry and then mum just breastfed her right there in the car without a blanket. It was night and pitch black so we couldn’t see anything but it was a little different nonetheless! Baby’s gotta eat, baby’s gotta eat!
Now, here’s a great story from last night (*which I may get slapped on the wrist for putting up here ;D) B’s funeral taboo story: Yesterday, at the wake, we were all handing out cupcakes and B was asked to go inside to hand some out to the ladies sitting in there. She was giving them out in the room the the body was lying in state in and she went to pass the cupcakes to someone and then realized she was passing them over the body and thought “ack what if she dropped them?” She realized her error too late, the little ladies were all freaking out (not angry, but stopping her from doing it as quickly as possible) and one grabbed her hands and pulled her (and the tray) back and started circling her hands above the feet of the body. B was so confused and embarrassed, it was hilarious! She came back outside totally wide-eyed and shell-shocked. But now you know, don’t pass cupcakes over a dead body, not cool!
Alrighty, have a good day!! Miss you all!