First of all, sorry for the lack of blogging recently. Things have really been very busy. Even though camp was technically five days, it felt so short – but highlights were many. They started as dozens of campers and leaders dismounted the Curtain Bus Monday afternoon for camp. Before we started unpacking and preparing our small groups and rooms right away we simply stood and admired a gorgeous view of Micesti. We were even more awestruck when the city lit up at night.
Days at camp started off with a leader meeting (for the Romanian leaders and all Americans) and then breakfast and English Classes (which were a hit)! The coolest part about them were that they were also Romanian classes! Each group had a roughly equal amount of American English “teachers” and Romanian “students” (as well as one or two people able to translate). Every word taught in English was taught in Romanian too, and everyone learned subjects like colors, numbers, body parts, and the alphabet. It gave the campers an opportunity to teach (and laugh at) us and that was a really good thing. On the second day, everyone made a collage on their notebook from magazine cutouts. The activity was less about languages and more about group bonding – and was a definite success. Some of them included pictures that carried deeper meaning, such as their want of a home or a family. Through these lessons, I got to know a Romanian named Costi a bit better and a lasting friendship was created.
Okay, so apparently my last blog post was unintentionally a little bit food-bloggy? Well, it wasn’t intended to be like that – it’s just that one of biggest parts of that day was the food (and its deliciousness!). The general consensus on camp food, though, was “less than inspiring” (according to Amy). Alistair shared that “each meal was a surprise, and the method of cooking was alternative. We appreciated the artistic choices of the cook’s taste.” Lunches were served with soup and sometimes ice cream desserts. I especially enjoyed the jam/preserves served at breakfast and ate a questionable amount of jam-slathered bread each morning.
Daily afternoon activities included free time (which was used by many as worship practice time, naptime, or time for some ping pong and soccer) and large group games like camp’s famous relay races on Wednesday and Thursday’s “Water Day”. The fun began with water balloon tossing (and a victory by dad-daughter pair, Dan and Mada Vieru!) and ended in rain, hail, a crazy (and very wet) soccer game, and eventually inside games including Shuffle Your Buns and Musical Chairs.
The session Thursday night was moving (for many, to the point of tears and life change) with brilliant talks by Vali and Dan accompanied by a short movie that served as a metaphor for God’s love for his one and only son, Jesus, and His sacrifice and love for us. The small group discussions following the talk were deeper than most had gone before. One of the girls in my group had been struggling with the idea that someone could love her so much to forgive and forget all of her sins. During the last small group talk, through a lot of Romanian and English translation, she accepted the Good News into her heart and finally understood how deeply loved she was. It was amazing and humbling to be a part of that and to see the Holy Spirit work inside her.
Leaving the camp Friday morning was tough and sad for all. It was both fun and emotional singing the camp song, “Restart” by the Newsboys, all together for the last time and sharing memorable moments from throughout the week on stage. On the drive back to Craiova (on the Curtain Bus!), while some got some much needed sleep, others shared fun stories, some continued the spiritually deep conversations from small group, others listened to music together, or took pictures of their sleeping friends’ mouths hanging wide open (Lief!). We were very tired but decided to carpe diem (seize the day) and take advantage of these hours with the campers, challenging each other to instead #sleeponthetrain (when we were no longer with the Romanians!). After dropping off the most of the campers, many found solace from their sadness in the knowledge that the camp’s reunion would be the next day.
On Saturday, we toured what the local and prevalent organization, Ethos, has been doing in Craiova and its surrounding communities. Most of us were hosted by families who lived in the “Ethos neighborhood.” Hans showed us around Ethos’ retirement home, apple orchard, vegetable farms, and a house that could potentially be used by Open Roads and Ethos to host a family of adopted orphans together. Hans explained that Ethos started as the idea for a Christian publication for the whole family, but soon the organization expanded to care for Craiovans’ physical and social needs too. Since a few years ago, Ethos has built a school, church, retirement community, apartments, a Meals-On-Wheels type sector (or as Dan called it, Food On The Tire), an orchard, farm, and others. Their intent is to meet the physical and social, as well as spiritual needs of many.
That evening, we met up with the orphans at Craiova’s central park (the same one we were at before camp started). The difference between before camp and after was undoubtedly noticeable. It was impossible to find a clump of people that didn’t have both nationalities represented in its people. We rented boats and rowed our way on the pond and did a lot of walking and talking on the many park paths. It was a simple way to relax and have more deep conversation with those that we had gotten to know so well at camp.
Most of the Romanians came to see us off this morning as we left on the train for Budapest. Final pictures were taken and tears were shed as Romanians and Americans embraced one another – some for the last time. Too soon, the train arrived and we quickly boarded, as the train was only in the station for a couple minutes.
We are going to arrive in Budapest at around 8 o’clock Hungarian time. Even though our train car was packed when we got on in Craiova, during the course of our journey through the Romanian mountains, the wagon has slowly emptied. For a good hour, it was only us and this one guy who sat in the front. We used that time to spread out and sleep, and get some alone time..
Now it is full again.
Lief “burned” his back on some leaky sunscreen in the backpack he was laying on (ironic, right?) and his shirt smelled like nail polish remover for some while. Trent and David were both rocking on the acoustic guitar earlier, and Katelyn pulled out her worship binder – so we had an impromptu worship jam sesh (when there was no one else in the train, of course). Dinner isn’t until after we get off the train, so I can say we are all pretty hungry in Hungary (wow, you can’t say that everyday!).
I think we’re all excited for debrief, but the sadness of this morning hasn’t quite worn off yet. I don’t know if it ever will. It seemed like we shared so little time with the Romanians and yet, we’ve had so many fun and special moments. I was telling the rest of the team a couple days ago, we’ve been working towards these days for so long – since months ago! And now we’re here but tomorrow it’ll be over. How is that fair for us, or ever more so, for the Romanians? Many of us have been struggling with questions like these throughout the trip. Hopefully Debrief Time will help us answer them.
It’s really beautiful here in Hungary, the train windows are so big. We’ve all been hastily trying to capture the most gorgeous scenery with our cameras – before it passes us by. I’m trying to hastily capture this entire trip before it passes me by. And from what I hear, that’s what debrief is all about.
Signing off for now,