Romanian Hospitality

Romanians go out of their way to make you feel at home. When you are far from home, hospitality makes you feel as if you are not so far away. In just a few short days Craiva feels like a second home. We had dinner at the Mayor’s house tonight. I could not understand a word that he said but I loved being around him just the same. His business is bread. As a gift he gave us about 12 loaves freshly baked. Shannon loves bread. There could not be a more perfect and unique gift for her.

At the end of the worship service tonight pastor Adrian presented gifts to every member of the team. You could sense that our visit was special to him and to the people of Craiva. The member of our team have been looking all week for gifts that are uniquely Romanian. The problem is that in every market all you can find are gifts that are uniquely American. Tonight our team finally found something Romanian. The Romanians may think that our genuine native artifact was in their gifts. Yet our team has realized over the last few days that the unique Romanian gift is their home and their heart.

I have learned this week how to welcome a stranger. To welcome someone means to make them feel as if they never want to leave. If you welcome someone properly they should feel sad to leave. I feel sad at this very moment.

The village homes in Romania are family dwellings built around a common courtyard. An aunt, grandma and grandpa, a widowed mom, a son, and his new wife may all live around a common courtyard. Just across the street is another branch of the family tree. Dinner is shared in the courtyard, and so are the animals that become dinner. Everything in the village is prepared fresh. I don’t think we ate a single thing that was not grown or killed more than a mile away from the plate from which I ate it. The women of the house worked literally all night and all day to feed us two meals a day. It was their gift. It was uniquely Romanian. I must return to America so I can lose weight.

Being here has made me realize in America we are missing life. We are running right past it. We do not understand commonality and as such we do not understand community. We do not understand how to share bread and receive it day by day. We do not understand how to eat a meal. The food is the meal, but dinner has nothing to do with food. Dinner is the family meeting. Dinner IS the sitcom. I have not laughed as hard as I have laughed here in a long time. I don’t think there is a television within 100 miles of Craiva. They are living a wonderful story, why watch someone else’s.

It is June, people need shade. In afternoon heat people gather under shade. Every courtyard has a metal door. Outside the courtyard, next to the door, almost on the side of the street there is a bench. Everyone has a bench. The generations, young and old, rich and poor come out of the courtyards and gather on benches. This IS the news. There is no need for Nightline, just gather at the bench with Dana and Ionel. They are the reporters.

Another thing I loved about Craiva was the shade. The shade bears fruit. Most of the shade is created by fruit trees. You can literally walk down the street and pick fruit as you walk. In the courtyards of several homes we visited the shade was created by grape vines. The grapes were not in season, but small green clusters of grapes dangled throughout the shade. I would love to be here when the grapes are in season to hear the news, watch the sitcom, and eat grapes. I do not like cherries. Perhaps the problem is that I do not like cherries that were canned last year, injected with preservatives, and shipped from Venezuela to the Piggly Wiggly. Cherries are in season here and the trees are full of them. I have eaten about 40 Kilos of cherries. I think 40 Kilos is just under 900 pounds. I do not like Cucumbers. I am not sure what is different about Romanian cucumbers but it is almost like eating fruit. They are absolutely delicious. I loathe slaw. In the deep south slaw is some sort of grass drowning in mayonnaise. In Romania slaw is fresh cabbage, lightly peppered, with light vinegar and oil. Delicious. I did not know grass could taste so good.

There is no question, I will be back here, Lord willing. I have spoken with Pastor Adrian and the Mayor of Craiva and we have great plans for next summer. I think God has given us a vision for something that will benefit the entire village and in the end many people will come to Christ as a result. God is doing great things here. On the ride home I thought about how humbling it is to be a part of prophecy fulfilled. The Bible repeats often that the nations will one day praise the name of Jesus. It is overwhelming to put my life in perspective and see that by God’s grace He has allowed me to be a part of what He is doing with the gospel around the world. I praise His name for calling me to this and I am thankful that in the process He has given me a family 5,000 miles from home that make me feel so at home. As an added bonus, it just so happens that they can really cook!

Comments

Andrei Popa said…
Hello. My name is Andrei and i am a romanian guy living in Bucharest. I am glad to see such a good and true article about romanian people.

God bless you!

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