I guess the title of this post would be something along the lines of Random thoughts from Romania. I’ve heard some interesting things the last couple of weeks. I haven’t remembered them all but here are a few that have stuck with me:
Speed bumps are referred to as dead policeman. I don’t get the idea they harbor any animus toward the good people who work in law enforcement, I just think they don’t appreciate anything that keeps them from driving fast.
No one has any trouble with my name here (as opposed to the butchering I do with many of their names). I tell them my name and they say:
Oh, like Bruce Lee
Oh, like Bruce Willis,
or (how about this one)
Oh, like Bruce Almighty.
The marketing people in Hollywood would be proud.
Speaking of which, what we’re doing in Romania is teaching English through using literature that features stories from the Bible. We have six or seven one hour sessions a day. A thirteen-year-old boy named Dennys (Dennis) was reading about how the biblical stories are history and not fairy tales when I stopped and asked him if he understood what a fairy tale was. I was expecting maybe Rapunzel or Rumpelstiltskin—something a little more old world. “Oh yes,” he said, “Shrek!”
Most of the classes are one-on-one, but Dennys comes in with both his mother and his fourteen-year-old cousin. Think that doesn’t make for some interesting moments? They take turns reading aloud while the two who aren’t reading correct the one who is. My wife told me that when her second grade students do that, she stops that by reminding them she is the only teacher in the room. I considered doing that, but in this case the critiquing doesn’t seem mean-spirited, it’s just family interaction. Still, I need to keep my finger on the pulse of this, because one day at the start of class I told them about our graduation ceremony Saturday. Half-way through the lesson, Dennys says he has a question. Teachers love it when their students ask questions—what is it? He wants to know if there will be prizes for first place, second place and third place. Hmm . . . I wonder what he could possibly be thinking about?
Helena served as our translator during church today. I’m not sure exactly how we got on the subject (that happens a good bit here), but she offered this on getting to know someone. She said Romanians have a saying that you don’t really know someone until you’ve gone through a sack of salt with them. Surely that says something to our microwave Facebook approach to relationships where we have hundreds of friendships with most of them being about six inches deep. (You have to be a little leery of anything that has people speaking in the third person).
Speaking of knowing people, there is Anca. We were talking and found out she had been to Cambodia. I know two people in Cambodia and of course, Anca knows them as well. So I travel half-way across the world and meet someone new there who knows the only two people in Cambodia I know—is this what they mean by globalization?
Finally, there is Bogdan. He is an engineer who doesn’t read to me—he rehearses the stories to me with bright-eye enthusiasm. He does not employ grand gestures or dramatic vocal changes, but his eyes reflect his passion for God. He tells of the Lord’s intervention in the lives of women unable to have children: how Abraham and Sarah desired a child and God finally blessed them with Isaac, how Rachel later prayed for a child and had Joseph, and how Isaac prayed and had Esau and Jacob. At this point Bogdan stops. He looks at me and says,
“He prayed for one child and ended up with two—
I think he prayed too hard.”