Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gypsy Skirts and Houses

Several posts back I told you there were two ways to buy a gypsy skirt.  Well, I was wrong.  There is actually a third way.  You walk right up to the gate of a large lovely home and ask if you can buy some skirts.  Soras Remsberg and Cook were my translators.  We first met with the man of the house and his wife.  After looking at several, I bought one I liked after much haggling over the price.  However, I needed one more so he said to come back in a few hours and there would be more skirts......and scarves, and shoes and blouses.  He is a business man, after all.

When we came back there were four young mothers with their children (I counted 8) waiting for us and they were ready to make a sale.  At one point one of the women ran upstairs and came back with the skirt she had been wearing and one from another sister-in-law.  We discovered that about five families, all related were living in this beautiful three story home.

They were lovely and much more fun to work with than their father-in-law.  We made a deal and I came away with two beautiful skirts.  We were invited to come back anytime.  I don't know how the people in this home make a living, but it's probably not from selling their skirts to missionaries!

Sora Cook (on the right) had only been in the country a few days and this was an exciting experience for her.  She and Sora Remsberg were even able to talk to the women about the Church.  The room we were in looked like it might be a family room.  It had lots of beautiful, ornate furniture and a huge flat screen tv.  You could smell something delicious cooking somewhere and the children were adorable. 
Then it was time to deliver the skirt.
Sora Patton (office missionary) is trying to decide which skirt she wants.

I had a hard time getting the 150 lei out of her!

After doing as much research on the Roma people of Romania as I could, here are some facts - and I use the term loosely because official records do not exist.  There are estimates of between 700,000 and 1 million gypsies living in Romania, the largest Roma population of any country in the world.  They came from the India/Pakistan area over 1,000 years ago.  Many do not go to school because they have no "papers."  We have seen them drive anything from BMWs to horse drawn carts.  Many sell produce in the piatas.  Some sell flowers among the stopped cars at traffic lights.  When we ride a tram there is often someone selling 1 leu products like pens, tissue packets and safety pins.  Children stand at the entrances to grocery stores and beg.  Elderly women sit on the sidewalks and ask for food or money.  We can look out our apartment window and see people rummaging through the dumpsters.  As we drive through little villages we can see farmland that they are working.  They usually live together in close communities. We do not know what the social structure is and why there is such a wide range in the economic status.  Many of the clans are run by a "gypsy king."  I have been trying for months to take a picture but have been unsuccessful.  So this is the best I can do to show you what they look like.
He just needs a leather jacket.  Elder Wahlquist is a good sport!

We met this mother, daughter and son on the city square of Sibiu.  When they saw our missionary name tags they told us, in Romanian, that they were Adventists.  Gypsies have usually adopted the main religion of the countries they live in and I saw a statistic that reported over 80% of the Roma in Romania are Orthodox Christians.  Note the girl's beautiful braid with the ribbon woven through it. 

 Here are some examples of the different kinds of homes they live in.

Usually their homes are not isolated like this one, which looks somewhat like the home where I bought the skirts.

This home is under construction.  We have discovered that there are lots of houses "under construction" here.  We've been told that people will start a home with the money available and then when that money is gone they wait until they have more to start building again.

I don't know quite what to say about these houses.

If you have been following our blog, than you may remember the gypsy families that received blue school bags made by our YSAs.  This is their home.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Picnic in the Woods

The Arad Branch celebrated "Saint Mary's Day" with a picnic in the woods.

"Mici" is the main food item of almost every Romanian activity.  It is a mixture of ground beef and pork.  The ground meat is rolled into the shape of a tube and grilled.  If it isn't pink on the inside it is overcooked......  Then served with ketchup and mustard and lots of bread.

Soras Birau and Sebestyen working the grill.

We also had grilled pork chops.  Eni is learning the art of "tenderizing" before grilling, though it looked like she was just beating it to death.
And, of course, there were vegetables.  I didn't have the heart to tell them how I feel about vegetables that are really fungus!  There was also one egg plant sliced and grilled.
The YSA was in charge of games while the food was cooking.  Eni found some "minute to win it" games that were very entertaining.  Elder Harrison is trying to keep the watermelon upright without getting stabbed by the Uno cards coming at him.

When it became evident that Uno cards weren't going to work, we tried CDs.  Those senior missionary language training CDs finally came in handy!

Then they tried to stack soda cans on a paper plate in a bowl of water. 
Can he do it?

Nope!  But good try.

And we learned a new game - foot tennis.  This is President Banatean giving it his best shot.  However, the ball frequently hit the badmitten net they were kicking over, bringing it to the ground each time.  

Then he went over to see why the meat was taking so long to cook.
Sora Cook with Sora Descy playing Remy with some of the children.
The dessert table with a roll of toilet paper for napkins.  And that's all I have to say about that!

After we ate there was a spiritual thought by Ciprian, the Elder's Quorum President.

And then the missionaries with Edi, the Branch mission leader, entertained us.
The Arad Branch
It was a wonderful afternoon in the woods.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bran Castle is for sissies!

We recently visited Castelul Corvinilor which is a medieval castle built in 1307 by a Hungarian King.  Then it was restored in1453.  They say Vlad the Impaler actually spent 7 years in prison here. 

As we take a little tour, I think you'll be able to see where Vlad learned some of his

The entrance is quite impressive.  You can see the remains of the moat from the bridge.

This gentleman greeted us as we entered the castle.  He was screaming, of course.

Elder Wahlquist still has the scratch on his head from going through this doorway.

I had no trouble with the doorways.

Just in case you weren't clear about the whole Vlad the IMPALER thing.......

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery!  Yikes!

And what self-respecting medieval castle would be without a rack, a guy hanging from the ceiling or someone in a cage?

But far from the unpleasantness of the riff raff is the Knight's Hall.

And it is good to be King......

And then there is the story of the two Turkish men who spent 17 years digging this well with the promise from the king that he would set them free when it was completed.  However, the king died and the queen felt no obligation to honor the promise.  So they are still down there.

And here we have that nice, cozy, high ceiling bedroom I've always wanted.

This is the courtyard where you could hold a barbeque for a few of your closest
But you might not have many.....friends, that is.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Danube Isn't So Blue......

As we were coming home to Arad after some meetings in Bucuresti and then Craiova, the route took us along a stretch of the Danube River. It is the second largest river in Europe and originates in Germany, flows through Vienna and Budapest, and then forms Romania's border with Serbia and Bulgaria. It then turns north across lower Romania before emptying into the Black Sea at Romania's border with the Ukraine.
Our first view of the Danube River.  You can see Serbia on the other side.  

We took a short walk along the river but it was so hot we didn't last long. It was 108 degrees that day.  We stayed in a hotel in Drobeta-Turnu Severin that seems to cater to cruises on the river.  Because of the heat, there were no cruise boats and we were the only people in the hotel. We could not find a postcard anywhere in town with a picture of the river. They should talk to the people at Bran Castle about marketing.   

These are remains associated with a bridge the Romans built across the Danube River in 105 AD.

We were able to drive along the river for several miles.

We have lived near the Mississippi River so we're not easily impressed, but the Danube is pretty amazing.

Now if we could just see the Black Sea, our Romanian "bucket list" will be completed.