Monday, May 08, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to.... Romania!

Romania - Wikipedia

Romania - World Factbook

Romanian News (Bucharest Daily News)

Centuries ago the Roman Empire granted land to nobles in what came to be known as Romania, a country of Latin people in the middle of the Slavic world. Romanians claim that their language is closer to the Latin of the Empire than any other Romance language spoken today.

Romania is a beautiful, lush, mountainous country. Driving through the Carpathian Mountains or Transylvanian Alps in the summer is breathtaking and affords a wonderful view of quaint Alpine houses resting on a carpet of wildflowers. People living in small mountain villages often own cows that they send out in the morning to graze where they choose. In the evening the sound of cow bells signals that the cows have come home. Romania still maintains a very large rural population and some of the mountain villages are populated by Gypsies.

After World War II, Romania was under the control of the USSR. It became and remained a Communist state until December 1989. The Communist government under Nicolae Ceausescu successfully impoverished the Romanian people and hindered industrialization. It also contributed to a disturbingly large population of orphaned and abandoned children who live in underfunded orphanages or on the streets. The government actively persecuted Christians who did not follow the state-controlled Romanian Orthodox Church. Even within the state church there were many persecuted for dissent. Today over 86% of Romanians officially belong to the Romanian Orthodox Church, which effectively serves as a hindrance to the growth of Evangelical churches. Ceausescu set up an improved system of education, so the Romanian people have a very high literacy rate, but that seems to be one of the only positive contributions made by the regime. Romania is making slow progress, but the poverty rate is still very high and the government is still very bureaucratic and highly susceptible to corruption.

Romania has some very lovely historical buildings for tourists to visit. In Transylvania one can visit Bran Castle, the castle Bram Stoker used as the basis for Dracula's castle. In Sinaia, in northern Wallachia, King Carol I's Peles Castle is open to tourists. Visitors are welcome to use the public restroom - a Turkish toilet - and they will kindly provide you with a very small amount of toilet paper for a fee. Inside the Peles Castle all visitors must wear felt slippers over their shoes to protect the hardwood floors and beautiful rugs. Both castles provide opportunity to purchase lovely handmade table cloths, runners and doilies and other local handicrafts from merchants. They will initially ask for much more than the merchandise is worth, so it also provides a great opportunity for improving one's haggling skills.

Although accustomed to poverty, the Romanian people are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. What little they have is gladly offered to their guests. Romanian food is very good, too. (I was pleased to discover that they sell the same Fanta formula in Romania as they do in the Middle East. The European/Middle Eastern Fanta is far superior to the overly sweet and syrupy stuff bottled under the same name in the United States.) Experts in hospitality, Romanian hosts in Romania or abroad will not hesitate to ask you to kindly take your shoes off at the door, please.

15 comments:

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

That is a great post, Angie. Thanks for taking that on.

Romania certainly sounds an interesting place.

I knew a girl from Romania who was in Worcester as an au pair. She attended my parents' church while she was here. I was rather irritated by the way she gave me spiritual advice at a time that I was backsliding. I really did not want spiritual advice back then.

Last year she visited the church I currently attend, but she did not recognise me.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

The IBEX Scribe said...

It is an interesting place, and a good example of what Communism can do. I probably could have given more information than I did had I not gotten really sick when I was there. I spent a couple of very miserable days and nights there and don't remember much that was not directly related to how I felt at the time.

I have known quite a few Romanians. There are several families in the area I grew up in and my parents' church (where I attended for 24 years minus the time I was away in school) has a Romanian-speaking Sunday School class and has the sermon translated into Romanian for a few of the immigrants who do not speak English well. I used to go to parties on occasion where I was the only non-Romanian present. I've had a lot of contact with the Americanized version of their culture!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Attending immigrant parties must have been weird. I used to hang out with foreign students a lot at one time.

How would you feel about going to Romania as a missionary?

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Redeemed said...

I like Romania, probably because my best friend was Romanian. We only lost touch because her family moved to Boston and they were having some issues in the family.

In elementary school, we had to do an oral presentation on a country that wasn't ours. I did mine on Romania and she did hers on Lebanong. Go figure! :)

When her grandmother would visit in the summer she would always make Romanian food. Some was delicious and some I didn't like.

Job well done over here, Angie. (I got it right this time - it is Angie's post) :)

The IBEX Scribe said...

I would be willing to go there as a missionary. It would be easier for me to learn their language than many others since I already have a foundation in Spanish (but I enjoy learning languages of any kind!) and the Romance languages are all similar. I also know something about the people and culture, which would make the transistion a little bit simpler. Also the number of opportunities to minister to the orphans leaves a lot of possibilities for a woman that might not exist in other places. I think the only place I told God I don't want to go is Egypt (that was after my 8 days backpacking there), but it is such a lost place that they need the light of the gospel desperately, so if He calls me I will go.

The IBEX Scribe said...

Sarah, my best friend in grades 6-12 was Romanian, too! I love her family. They make excellent tiramisu. :) I don't hear from her much now. She got married to the son of a very prominent Romanian Pentecostal pastor back home in September. Since she started dating seriously I didn't hear from her often. I really ought to send her an e-mail!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I suppose looking after orphans is an important ministry in Romania. I cannot see myself looking after children. I do not think that is my caling.

Egypt? There are more Christians in Egypt than any other Arab country. A lot of Brethren there.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

The IBEX Scribe said...

I would much prefer to teach the Bible to adult women than to work much in an orphanange (or any other intense ministry to children), but I think that there are a number of things that someone could do in an orphanage that does not require full time work. Even something like tutoring or teaching English to the kids could be a big ministry.

Redeemed said...

Egypt is not that great, especially for women. I have never been, but my mom has and so she tells me.

I love children's ministires. I could easily work in an oprhanage. When I was 14, I spent the summer visiting my dad in Lebanon. I thought I had "found God" through the catholic church. There was an orphanage 5 minutes away from my house and my cousin and I went knocking on the door wanitng to offer our services. We spoke with nuns (what was I thinking !?) and they said we could not help.

Now I know much better. Our church supports a missionary that has an orphanange in Honduras. I am dying to visit!

Carey said...

Oh! You could take me along as your personal translator, Sarah!

The IBEX Scribe said...

?Que estas diciendo, Carey? ?Hablas espanol? Creo que es muy posible porque vives en Texas y por eso es mas facil porque todo el mundo alli lo hablo. Es el mismo en Los Angeles. Yo estudie espanol en colegio para quatro anos, pero no lo hablo bien ahora porque nunca lo uso. ;)

The IBEX Scribe said...

Okay, a few slight corrections to my previous comment:
"es mas facil a aprenderlo porque todo el mundo alli lo hablan"
"en el colegio"
I think I just proved the last sentence correct!

Redeemed said...

Carey, I would love to!

Redeemed said...

Angie, you could come to as I don't speak Spanish :(

I may have to work on that if I really intent on going to Honduras. You two could help me out!

The IBEX Scribe said...

My Spanish is terrible these days, but I used to tutor Spanish when I was in high school. I can give you a great explanation of the difference between direct object and indirect object pronouns...