Monday, February 15, 2010
When in Rome (Or Romania)
February is in the air and the season of Iarna is now in full. Apparently, it snows here most every day in the mountains and it's truly a sight to behold. Skiing, sledding, skating, wondering, gawking, and letting the wet, cold, glistening drops of white prisms kiss your face without regard to catching a sniffle, well, I cannot tell you how much my opinion of the weather has changed since moving to Romania. All is a new adventure and many things(although either difficult or frightening for someone who had long ago abandoned the winter sports arena)are welcomed with open arms and kid-like snowsuits coupled with funny hats and a collection of boots to be proud of. The other day I even walked on the frozen river Trotus---even though a man of the cloth here and truly great friend said, "No, no, I am worried for you. That's dangerous!"---Jesus' trek notwithstanding, as I had once imagined---this was to be the start of a whole new way of life.
Visible to me everywhere now is a show of God's presence and each and every thing that happens here is a blessing as I celebrate the milestone of six months at site here in Romania as an official Peace Corps volunteer. In Brusturoasa and its communities, I have much to remember as evidenced by the thousands of photos and video clips taken here that have gummed up the flash drives and cds for the umpteenth time this year.
Although it seems like only yesterday, these past nine months in country have been chock full of unique experiences. In these experiences, documented by the photos, websites, and other avenues of third goal sharing which I utilize, there are some revelations that have become apparent during my service which I will pass along to you:
Purpose-After yearning for the knowledge of the purpose of my days, the Peace Corps has fulfilled that promise.
Volunteering-It is my middle name.
Money-Or lack thereof. Well, that's always an issue for everyone, but rewards, they are written in the faces of every child and new person that I spend time with.
Comfort-It's relative. Scratchy waffle-weave sheets to sleep on, occasional mice and angry dogs, on and off heat, hot water, and internet service, favorite places to go and things to do that aren't here, usual foods that are unavailable, long treks for short purposes, post office woes, washing laundry in a bucket for sometimes days of line drying, mud up to your shins, being too busy (or too tired) to wash your hair today, pens that never work even though you just bought them (my own personal pet peeve!), and buses that never run on time-are all relatively easy to dismiss when you know that there are other valuable things to consider about the arrangement.
Pushing the envelope-It's okay to do, again and again. These are things that are totally justifiable. Even if others not in "Peace Corpsland" say that is too bold, too crazy, not been done before, or otherwise not in their own vocabulary. Not, not, not...that particular word is NOT in my vocabulary!
Language is universal-After many years of language study, it has become clear that I don't love speaking English as much as I love learning to communicate in other languages as if it were live theater, with words, gestures, and expressions. You had to be there the day I held a dissertation on the supreme difference between spaghetti and macaroni and how I didn't want the spaghetti but as it was wrapped in the facade of the "Macarone" company name, the magazin owner thought otherwise. Consequently, my 3rd and 4th graders this week during the lesson on the value of the food pyramid and its benefits heard all about how to distinguish the distinguished pasta family. Being Italian, I know that my grandma wouldn't have had it any other way.
Patience-Mine, that is, is tested and reaffirmed every day that I must say, "stai liniste, merge pe scaunul immediat, niciodata nu razboi in clasa mea, serios? scrieti in limba Engleza, va rog, or de ce nu fac tema," etc., etc., etc.
Feed your mind-Whether I've wanted to manage a huge assignment or to climb a steep hill (literally) by having a strong mind, a good conscience, and the confidence to move up and accomplish a lot is the only way. And diet...all I can say is skip the slanina with the tuica chasers if you aspire to live to be 100.
Memories-Are those that tug at you and nurture you, take from you and give to you, but all are valuable lessons learned and priceless treasures which sustain the moments here without any familiarity from the old life.
Spirituality-And the wholeness of what it means to be alive sings to me in every moment that I spend in Romania. Having the opportunity to also share in the traditions of the old world either outside in the pastures, inside the walls of a stunning Orthodox biserica, at the table of a neighbor, or travelling with new friends, just makes it that much sweeter.
Disorganization-Better get used to that. Whether someone makes plans for you and changes them yet again, or you just can't finish all the things that you have on the agenda, or you just plain forget things all the time. Like today, when I forgot my camera and so missed out on a huge (at least 1/3 ton) spotted pig escaping his farmyard happily crossing the river over the rickety slat bridge oblivious to my presence, or the convergence of three, yes, three confused horse-drawn carute each loaded up with about an 8 x 10 foot mass rectangle of hay under the train bridge all at the same time as the passenger train went overhead.
Once in a lifetime-
It's kind of funny how easily we all miss the things right under our noses.
TAKE YOUR CAMERA!