Saturday, February 28, 2015

Where Did The Watermelon Come From?

Food prices in the Republic of Moldova have gone up 40% in the last year. Salaries and wages have not. So I was surprised to see this bright red watermelon on my friend Nadejda's counter. Where did she get a watermelon this time of year?
Take a moment to make three guesses. In fact, you can share your guesses in the comment section below. Go ahead. Take at least one wild guess.
Now check if your guess was correct:  she had her husband haul it in from the enclosed balcony of their apartment in Chisinau. No, they weren't practicing hydroponic or green house gardening. No, he hadn't stored it, fresh, in a cool place since harvesting it from their garden plot this past summer. Nor had they frozen it in a deep freeze. They have a big vat of salt brine on the balcony. The watermelon had been pickled in it. Other things, like green apples, had been preserved in the same vat of brine. It's a natural fermentation process that's supposedly good for the digestion. Want to try some? I did.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Do you have fun at work? I do sometimes. And so do these ladies. They work at the Naomi Center in Bucharest, Romania. I joined them twice last week. The atmosphere was gezellig (a Dutch word that doesn't translate well; a good cup of coffee with friends in a cozy setting would be gezellig). The ladies came in throughout the course of the morning and picked up whatever orders they were filling. Some made make-up bags. Others were busy with infinity scarves. In between times they chatted in languages I didn't understand. They are paid per item, not per hour, so they work for themselves at whatever pace suits them.
I'm not sure why these two were cutting such large pieces of fabric, but they were sure enjoying themselves while they did it. And I enjoyed my day at work, too!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sharing the Story (2)

Sinti Celebration
   How did you come to faith? Did it have anything to do with a dinner invitation?
   During the same Sinti Romany worship service in which "Monique" shared her testimony, her husband (let's call him "Claude") told of his own search for truth. He grew up in Belgium, in a Sinti family. As a youth, he looked into different religions. He even read philosophy books. None of these gave him the answers he was looking for. In his disappointment, he started to use and abuse drugs beginning with legal ones (alcohol) and continuing on from there. He stole to support his habits. As a husband he was, by his own admission, "a monster."
   One day friends invited him to eat with them. Afterwards, they were going to a Christian meeting. Did he want to come, too? He hadn't planned to, but he ended up going anyway. There he heard the message he had searched for all those years earlier. If he would repent, Jesus would wash away his old life. He could be freed to really, truly live. Claude knelt and gave his life to God. With Jesus' help, he made a new start. At home, he had a lot of occult-related things. These went out. Drugs went out. A new love for his wife came in.
   Claude and his wife Monique now serve as church leaders. They encourage other Sinti to follow Jesus. Since his walk with the Lord began with an invitation to eat, it was perhaps fitting that we concluded that worship service with a celebration meal. Come, for all things are now ready.