Sunday, September 19, 2010

A few of my favorite things...

A few things I love about living in Romania. Some are serious "loves" and others are just funny mishaps.

1) Just because an item is pictured a certain way on the box, it does not mean it will look like that on the inside.
*When purchasing, let's say...a floating shelf for your kitchen wall that you found for a really great deal at your local grocery store, do not assume that because it shows 3 shelves in the picture, there will be 3 shelves in the box. In fact, expect one, very large shelf that neither looks good or goes with the decor in your kitchen.

2) Always check your stuff.
*After making sure that what you are going to purchase is actually indeed what you want to purchase (see #1), make sure that all the parts for said purchase are included in the box. Often times, they are magically "missing" from the box. Once I purchased a paper lamp that was missing the metal rods used to hold it up. Can't really have a lamp without the support for the shade, now can I?

3) It's okay to consume massive amounts of food...really, it's good for you!
*Seriously...what is up with the preservative pumped, chemical laden, poor quality of American food? Pretty much everything I've eaten in this country is better than the American counter-part. Even the Romanian version of Pizza Hut kicks some serious butt. And to thank me, my body is about 15 lbs lighter...or 6.8 kg. (And has nothing to do with walking more. We have cars.)

4) Always lock your door.
*Do this ESPECIALLY if your apartment once was a political office, or else the next time you step of the shower might prove to be a little embarrassing for your would-be supporters.

5) Double check the translation, or better yet, the translator.
*When wanting to say, "God Bless You" in Romanian, it's best to go with your instinct and not repeat the said phrase in another language. Be cautious, especially when those around you are snickering in amusement or else you might end up saying, "God Electrocute You."

6) If you think you're being too loud, everyone else probably agrees with you.
*In case you've never traveled outside of the United States...Americans in general, talk WAY louder than everyone else. It's actually quite embarrassing. EEK!

7) Coffee, or cafea, actually does the job it's supposed to and wakes me up in the morning!
*Side note: I've never had a headache like the one I had the morning I went without a cup of coffee. To quote a friend: one Romanian coffee is like 7 American coffees. I'm starting to believe her!

8) Watch where you step.
*While you may enjoy walking in the square to admire the architecture, watch where you step, or else you may run into some "good luck" (a.k.a. dog poop) or break your ankle. Neither of which I've experienced, Praise God!

9) If you see something you want, you better buy it.
*The old saying, "here today, gone tomorrow," is definitely at work here in Romania.

10) Don't take yourself so seriously.
*It's okay to laugh at yourself...and frequently if you must. Chances are, those that are watching in confusion while you make an idiot of yourself are probably just thinking, "there goes that crazy American." And in this case, they're probably right :-)


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Miss Independent...

Alright...I'm writing this update because:
A) It's been a while since I wrote one and
B) it was pointed out by my friend I call, "King Meh!," that I haven't updated it in quite a while. In fact, I think her words were, "why don't you ever update your blog anymore?" Okay, KK...point taken.

All has been quiet on the eastern front for the last two months. We've had a break at the Day Center for August and September. August is vacation month for Europe, so a lot of people take holiday during that time. Wait a sec? Did I just say, "holiday" like a Brit? Something's rotten in Denmark. As if it's not enough that EVERYTHING about me is changing...even my speech has to change. In fact, I spend so much time hearing or even speaking to people in broken English when I can't get my point across in Romanian, that's it's really starting to affect my grammar. I mean, crazy things like adding an apostrophe "s" to words instead of just making them plural. And I spent 3 years in the assessment world? Shameful, I tell you....shameful!

However, there is one area in which I'm glad I'm changing. You see, I've always been quite an independent person. (Here's where my friends interject with sarcasm, "no, really?!") Yes, really. As if being born with an independent trait wasn't enough, stubbornness was added to the mix. And in what seems like God's attempt to add a little humor to the situation, my last name is Williams, which I just recently found out means, "strong-willed, warrior." Sheesh, can I get an "Amen?"

It is in the area of independence that there has been some change. I've been fiercely independent from the time I was a child. A picture from my 4 year-old birthday displays evidence of this. Apparently, I insisted upon fixing my own hair and ended up with a part down the middle and two clips on either side of it...very, very close together. I'm sure my mother is looking forward to the day when I have children and see this same trait reflected in them. Lord, help me!

In some ways, I'm thankful for this independence as it has enabled me to do a great many things without hesitating. However, in my latest adventure, it is nothing but a hindrance. It took listening to the testimony of a pastor and his wife from California for the Lord to get this point across. The wife explained how she was an extremely independent person who liked the fact that she was independent. When she got married, she was excited about the prospect of her and her husband, striking out on their own and forming their own little family. However, her husband came from very close family who were always sharing with each other, spending evenings together, etc. The wife couldn't really understand his attachment to his family. She couldn't understand why they were always "up in their business," as she put it. The wife loved her in-laws, but every time they came over she felt a sinking feeling and a desire to withdraw. She began to pray about this, for it was really causing issues between her and her husband. While praying, the Lord spoke to the wife regarding what seemed to be a "spirit of independence" she had invited in her life. In other words, the wife had allowed walls to build up around her heart in the area of dependence. Because she took so much pride in being independent, she was unable to allow anyone in.

The testimony immediately pierced my heart. I knew I was in the very same situation and sometimes still am. You see, I so pride myself on being independent, that I feel as though I can't be weak and shouldn't be weak in any area. I mean, I'm independent! Why do I need people? I can do this, right? Wrong. My independence, in fact, pushes people away when I really need them. Instead of being real in areas where I'm struggling, I tend to act like I can handle it because "I don't need people." In fact, I stick to this mantra so long, that I find myself drowning in a sea of despair. Now I'm not saying that I don't confide in people, I do. I have close friends that I trust, and I share things with them. However, those friends aren't here with me in Romania. They're thousands of miles away, and really inaccessible most of the time. So, I have to open up to new people. I have to be weak with new people I don't know and risk seeming like I don't have it all together. What's the harm in that? Well, it goes against my nature. That's what's so hard.

So I began to pray about it, because I couldn't really understand how I was supposed to deal with this. Where do I start? Well, the Lord started for me...with the truth. As I prayed, I heard God, through the Holy Spirit, speak to me. He said, "Amy, you're not independent because you can go and do things on your own, or because you're not afraid to be different. You're only independent when you're DEPENDENT upon me." That spoke volumes to my heart. I can only leave everything else behind, when I'm dependent upon my heavenly Father. I can only risk being different in a culture where I don't know the language or the customs, when I know that I am covered by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. That is the defining characteristic for me. So, God gives me independence through dependence upon these things. Such simple wording, but such profound truth.

So I'm trying to give it up. I'm trying to let go of my man-made, prideful independence and am seeking dependence upon the one that knows me better than anyone on this earth. It hasn't been easy so far, but I know that it is well-worth it.