Daniel is Super Tract Man.
He loves to share the gospel, and he’s one of the most faithful, dedicated guys I know, especially when it comes to passing out tracts. Even if he has to go out alone, he heads out at least a few days every week to pass out tracts on the streets of Bucharest. He’s always smiling, and he seriously is anointed. While I may get two or three people to take a piece of literature, Daniel will have a dozen. He loves to stand at the busy subway exits with both hands held out for people to take tracts as they pass by. It’s awesome!
If you’re in Romania during the end of February, you’ll notice stands popping up all over selling little red-and-white pieces of jewelry for 1 leu (35 cents). They’re on the roadsides, in the malls, on the subways… everywhere! And they are most definitely not candy canes.
And, if you’re American, you’re probably asking yourself, “What on earth is going on here?!?!” Because the only thing going on in February in America is the Superbowl and a whole lot of snow. (Okay, so I guess we do have President’s Day and Valentine’s Day as well.)
Say “hello” to Mărțișor, a traditional Romanian celebration that goes all the way back to the ancient Roman or even the Dacian (pre-Roman) people of the Carpathian region. It has its roots as a fertility festival, the rebirth of nature, and a celebration of spring. Celebrants would participate by giving and receiving mărțișoare (the small, red-and-white, pieces of jewelry). In ancient times (and yet today in some rural areas) these trinkets were believed to have magical properties, guaranteeing the wearer of a good, blessed, and fertile future. Today, for most people they’re simply a fun way to show you value someone’s friendship.
Posted in Bucharest
Tagged bucharest, culture, dacia, dacian, fertility, festivals, friendship, history, holidays, jewelry, love, magic, martisoare, martisor, roman, romania, talismans, traditions
A few weeks ago, we were speaking about movies at our English Conversation Club. I mentioned that I haven’t enjoyed most of the Romanian movies I’ve seen, to which the students all responded with eyes wide in horror (not literally, but definitely metaphorically) at my comment.
“Why do you not enjoy Romanian films? I think maybe you cannot understand them.”
“Oh, no, even with subtitles. It’s just…” I dug my hole deeper.
“But we have many good Romanian movies.”
“I honestly haven’t seen too many,” I said, digging myself out a bit. ”Probably I have only seen the bad ones.” I quickly turned the conversation away from trying to explain why I did not like Romanian movies and instead asked for recommendations of Romanian films I should see.
And that’s how I ended up watching one of the funniest and most insightful movies I’ve seen in a long time: Tales from the Golden Age.
The movie is based around a number of short stories, legends of what life was like under Communism. Some would be downright sad and painful in reality but on film are simply hilarious. (The Christmas pig!!!!) I don’t want to spoil too much of the fun, so I won’t tell any more. But if you need more to convince you this movie is worth your time, check out IMDb and the trailer (see below).
Posted in Bucharest
Tagged amintiri din epoca de aur, communism, culture, english conversation club, english language, film, foreign film, foreign language, funny, movie, movies, romania, tales from the golden age
One of the local sex shops (and there are many) periodically plasters the city with its posters, most of which feature scantily-clad or nude women. The posters could be worse, but they’re certainly not what I want visitors to Bucharest, little children, or young men such as myself to be bombarded with while walking along the streets.
The posters are pasted illegally. When the posterers (is that even a word?) get caught, they’re always fined. The sex shop always pays the fine, and then they go right back to breaking the law with another round of posters.
While I’m all for freedom of the press, there are times when censorship has its benefits. I just really don’t think it’s healthy for anything and everything to be out on the streets.
Have you ever asked God, “Why is this so difficult?!?! If you’re really God, and if you really love me, if Jesus really did die to make me holy, why is this all so difficult???”
A few days ago, I finished the book of Joshua. While not every story tells of an amazing victory, the book leaves the reader feeling optimistic. Yes, the job is not complete and difficulties are to come, but God is powerful and faithful, the people are continuing to press forward, and the enemy is being driven out.
And then Judges starts… and we are immediately confronted with the reality of failure.
The failure is a major one, and so the angel of God Himself appears to rebuke Israel because, while He has been faithful to them, they have not been faithful to Him.
As an American, I have many weaknesses that are simply a part of my culture. I love entertainment, probably too much so. I get really bothered when people with titles expect to be recognized for those letters in front of their name. And I feel a constant need to DO THINGS.
Romania–partly because the culture is much more relationship-driven than events-driven and partly because I’m still discovering what purpose I’m supposed to have here–has been helping me to overcome this tendency to be always busy. While I am certainly not advocating laziness, I am very much in favor of recognizing that an over-committed life is not always the best recipe for following Jesus and so intentionally creating space for God to interrupt your day.
In America, I could walk up to a line of cash registers, take a quick glance, and within seconds have picked out the fastest line. I wasn’t right all the time, but more often than not, I would end up with a winner and walk out of there faster than the rest.
Not so in Romania.
Here, I seem to have a nack for picking the slowest line possible.
This “gift” has rarely ever failed me.
While standing in line in America is a fairly routine, boring thing to do–you simply follow along behind the person directly in front of you–waiting in line in Romania is a bit more adventurous. Let me explain.
There seem to be four basic categories into which Romanian lines fall: (1) the Jumbled Mass, (2) the Knotted String, (3) the Secret List, and (4) the Mysterious Complication.
(Before continuing, please note that I love Romania and this is all written in good humor and, while representing my experience, may not be completely factual. In fact, there’s a good chance it’s all completely made up.)