Greetings in the Lord!
I would like to share with you some events that took place at the end of 2009. I ask for your forgiveness for not updating you sooner, and ask your continued prayers that do indeed help me in many situations.
First Annual Romanian Benefit Dinner for the St. Dimitrie Program and the Protection of the Theotokos Family Center
A little piece of history was made for both programs in December. That event was a benefit dinner, which was held at a local Romanian restaurant in Cluj-Napoca. We were expecting sixty-five people to attend but because of the wintery weather that day about forty showed up. Since many Romanians have not been to such an event, it was compared to attending a Romanian wedding, with entertainment during the dinner provided by a group of talented young men singing Christmas carols. Staff members from each program were the two presenters of the night, using PowerPoint presentations to show pictures of both programs’ services.
We enjoyed a Lenten fish dinner, where I sat next to a husband and wife who were visiting Romania. They also spoke English, and I was able to talk with them during the dinner about the programs.
By the end of the night, I felt that members of both staffs were happy with the outcome of their first benefit dinner. There were many positive things that happened, and there were some things that we look forward to improving. If God blesses it, we hope to continue and, next year, plan the Second Annual Dinner.
Romanian Colinda (Christmas Caroling)
On Christmas Eve, many Romanians go Christmas caroling to family, friends, neighbors, hospitals and businesses. My language teacher told me to be ready because many people would say, “Christina, come caroling!” She said I would have a list of people to carol to, but I didn’t take her too seriously because I thought I did not know that many people. Her advice was helpful, as this did come true.
The woman I live with and I were home for Christmas Eve, and she said that she wanted me to experience a Romanian Christmas and not be alone. That was very thoughtful of her, and as we spoke, I thought of giving something to my neighbors who are nice people; they make me feel like I belong to the community, and we talk to each other as we pass one another in the stairways and on the sidewalk. I thought banana bread would be a nice gift, and after baking eight loaves, we went Christmas caroling to the neighbors.
This opportunity to offer a little something made my heart and soul fill with joy. It is easy to feel isolated when you don’t have many friends or family nearby. But I thank God that He gave me the strength to give to others, and to develop friendships here.
Later that evening after we got back from caroling in our apartment building, we had Christmas carolers at our door who were a part of the St. Dimitrie Program staff. We offered them juice and desserts and talked for a little while. Then they asked us if we wanted to join them in caroling to the other staff members to continue the caroling. And when we went to each apartment, the others decided to also come caroling. On every table were sodas, fruit juices, sweets, and some prepared food to share with the guests. It was half past midnight when I got back home, and on the streets were many other people still Christmas caroling.
I had another experience and opportunity to go Christmas caroling to several hospitals located in downtown Cluj with the parish of St. John the Theologian, where I regularly attend services. Our group was big, around 12-18 people. Most of the hospitals looked the same in the interior and exterior. In each, we entered a long hallway and sang three Romanian Christmas carols. I hummed along as the others sang, and little by little, the patients who could get out of their beds came to the hallway to listen. And while we were singing, our priest and two others went into all the patients’ rooms to give a little gift, an icon and fruit, before we quickly would go to the next level and do the same thing over again. On one hospital floor, a man expressed through words and tears the joy he felt by others coming to rejoice with them the birth of Jesus Christ.
Nativity 2009 Clothing Drive Boxes Arrived
On Saturday January 2, 2010, I received a phone call from the driver of a large van who let me know that our boxes would arrive the next day. It was a nice gift for the New Year, and my heart leaped for joy. For two months I told myself that the shipment is in God’s hands and He will take care of what should happen with them. So, at 6:30 in the morning, I was helping unload the van. The total number of boxes was forty-six!
On Monday morning, we put our heads together to come up with a plan to organize the boxes. We worked as a team, opening one box at a time, making sure to write down where each box was from as we sorted the items into piles. Now we have all items sorted and put into big plastic bags to keep them organized and to easily move them around. And, they are now also ready to be distributed for use by children and their mothers to help keep them warm.
I wish everyone a blessed Lent, and hope to write again about what Great Lent looks like to a missionary in Romania.