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Stepping Forward Ministries brings the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the children of Romania. 

Intern Blog

Not Wrong. Just Different!

steve mather

Like I’ve said in one of my prior blogs…”It’s not wrong, just different.” So this blog will set out to explain some of these differences, quirks, and outright “Huh??”  things we have experienced personally. Some things have become so commonplace they no longer seem weird to us, but I’m reminded by incoming teams of some pretty funny and different things about visiting or living here in Romania.  Now that we have been here for 8 months, we’ve gotten used to most of these things, but thinking about them still makes us laugh!

·         The light switches are outside the bathroom. Why is that funny? Ask any practical jokers why this would be fun for them!

·         When you climb into a bed in Europe and reach for the top sheet – you won’t find one. They actually have duvet covers and don’t use a top sheet.

·         Most of the elevators are very small and have a floor trigger like an old land mine.  In order for them to know you are in them, there is a click sound and slight drop like you’ve just triggered a land mine and expect to blow up any minute. At least in our apartment and several others that are older.

·         Seasonings come in little packets, not large containers. So in order to bake or cook, I sometimes have to buy several small packets just to make one dish.

·         The longest fast food lines are McDonald’s or KFC, particularly in the many malls of Bucharest.  I always ask myself, “WHY??” because the local food here is really good!

·         I like to use washrags in the kitchen and bathroom. They mainly have small hand towels, or bath towels but I finally found a few at a hardware store. Go figure. Never would have thought to look there!

·         If you want to buy a dryer similar to the ones in America, there is only one…ONE!!! The majority of dryers, or uscators, are more of a dehumidifier requiring a water trough be emptied after each load.

·         Sidewalks are dual purpose as walking areas, and parking lots. Bucharest was woefully unprepared for the explosion of car owners after the fall of Communism. So, yes, we often park on the sidewalk.  It was a challenge to learn how to get up on the curb in a stick shift!

·         Heating is a city decision. Hot water is supplied to each building during the winter months.  It’s sort of a floating date depending upon the outside temperatures…and what each sector’s government decides.  We are thankful that heat rises as we wait for our radiators to fill up to provide heat.

·         We live on the 8th floor and it takes the longest to get hot water because it has to fill the other floors pipes first. So, we always tell visitors if they want a hot shower, take one at night because in the morning—there are No guarantees!

·         Most cars here have horns and they use them a lot.  A “beep beep here, a beep beep there!” Probably because it is a little button on the end of the turn signal instead of the middle of the steering wheel. Very convenient for honking! (I’m enjoying using mine ;P)

·         Driving here is like playing a live action of “Mario Cart.” Seriously!

·         Instead of a 4 lane highway, there are one and a half lanes on each side.  This sometimes necessitates playing chicken with oncoming cars as you try to pass in the left lane. Yikes!

·         Sometimes cars pass the crosswalk and traffic light so they have to wait for someone to honk at them to let them know the light turned green. This one is STILL funny!

·         My personal favorite is making a left turn where vehicles will stack up six wide to turn into two lanes.  You gotta be fast, and stay alert at all times. (Phil)

When and if you come to visit, we will be happy to laugh with you as you experience these things yourself!

Not only do we get a giggle out of “different” things here, there are several things we LOVE about Romania!

·         The People.  Once you get to know them and they get to know you, they are very inviting and giving and have a great sense of family.  I love seeing grandmas with their grandchild/children. And when you smile at a stranger, it really seems to make their day!

·         The FOOD!! Not only do several restaurants have amazing local foods, when we are walking home, we want people to invite us over because it smells sooooo Good!

·         The culture here is rich in history and some of the architecture is phenomenal. You can see amazing structures many places where you walk. I’m always stopping to take pictures of new buildings I see and falling behind Phil.  Yah, he loses me occasionally…

·         The parks help provide public spaces, giving an inviting feel for everyone.  In the winter, one of them even has an ice skating rink. And several parks have water displays, playgrounds, ponds, paddle boats, restaurants and lots of other attractions.  Bumper cars is always fun!

·         Traveling around Romania is very inexpensive.  We had the privilege of traveling to Timisoara (it was beautiful by the way!)  for $29 each to visit a friend from our Texas church. And train tickets are anywhere from $5-$20 depending on where you go. Ready, set, GO!

·         Romania has four seasons!  Those of you in Texas or anywhere in the south might have to look up the definition in the dictionary. It’s not just a hotel.

·          Spending time with orphaned and abandoned children has been the Best!  They bless us every time with their hugs and smiles.

·         I love that Romania, especially the huge town of Bucharest, has gotten me out of my comfort zone. (A quick note-I have not Always been thankful but God’s been working on me!)  Yes, I am thankful!  “If you want to walk on water, you’ve gotta get out of the boat!”

So, here is a picture of some things that are just different. Not wrong, just Different!  We could cry over some things that have been challenging, but we choose to laugh and enjoy all that God has blessed us with as we follow His calling.  I bet if some of our friends from here visited the States, they could write a similar blog!  Love to all!

Phil and Ronda Barnes