Paschal Midnight

Christ has risen! Indeed he has!

We walked about three blocks to a small Orthodox Church nearby in the neighborhood. Probably 100 individuals came out for the midnight service at this church as many others went to their churches all over Romania this Sunday midnight. It was cool and cloudy but a nice evening to be out walking. We walked with neighbors and friends from around the neighborhood. Low, quiet conversation was happy and congenial. We each carried with us unlit candles down the fairly dark streets.

Upon arrival at the small church (this is a new church – it’s been in the neighborhood less than a year so this was it’s first Easter service), people were gathering in front of the building. At midnight, two priests came out front on a porch and began to sing, chant, pray, and walk among the people with incense. Everyone said the Lord’s Prayer together. After a few minutes, the priests began lighting the candles of those in front who in turn lighted the candles of those behind them. This continued until the otherwise dark crowd was now lit with new candlelight of the paschal day that began at midnight.

More songs and blessings and, after perhaps twenty minutes, the service was over. Some went inside to partake of the paschal bread. Others spoke to each other outside until family and friends left for their homes. Returning home, however, was different. Each had a glowing candle to take with them. Whereas we walked to church in the dark, we returned home each with lit candles.

Such a nice and meaningful experience.

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Mamaia Beach

Mamaia is considered to be one of the best and most visited beach resorts in Romania. Hardly anyone actually lives in Mamaia – it’s just made up of hotels, clubs, and visitor attractions. Being on the Black Sea, tourists show up in Mamaia in June and stay until Sept. The beach we were on today will literally be filled with tourists in the summer. It was a warm 60 degrees out today though, as you can see and hear, quite breezy. A very pleasant, sunny, and nice day to walk a bit of the long, Black Sea beach.

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Easter Preparation

It’s such a blessing and gift to watch the skilled hands of Luma and Ady prepare and share their preparation time with their family in anticipation of the Easter meal. The chicken is continuing to bake, the eggs have been colored, and the sweet bread is rising. There is much more left to do but the day so far seems to be about conversation, being together, being thankful, and feeling blessed with such bounty. It’s a busy and happy time here in the house this Sat afternoon.

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Dinamo Steaua

If I don’t get this right, Ady will jump in and help. (I hope!)

On Thurs night (last night) Ady, Daniel, David, and I went to an FC Dinamo vs. FC Steaua football game in Bucharest at the National Areana. This was the second leg of a derby between these two teams – their final meeting this season. These teams and fans are rampant, 50-year adversaries here in Romania. Steaua had won the first game of the derby – who would win the second? Well, about 40,000 of us were about to find out.

Ady secured us VIP seats two rows up from the field. After some hot dogs, popcorn, and water, we made our way from the snack area to our seats down front. Stepping out into the loud, crazy, colorful, and highly partisan crowds was unlike anything I had every experienced in professional sports. Amazing is all I can say!

To make the video mean a bit more, here are a few pointers:

1. Dinamo is represented by big, mean-looking red dogs. Fifty years ago in Bucharest, four brothers – all red-headed – put the earliest Dinamo team together. Most of the earliest players and fans were associated with law enforcement. And they all fought like ferocious, never-give-up dogs! Get it? (Dinamo is Ady’s team!) The team’s nickname is the Red Dogs.

2. Steaua is the best team in Romania this season and, according to many, is the most hated because of their success and bullying, rough playing tactics. They are represented by a big, yellow star. Fifty years ago a bunch of military guys – thus, the big star – put the team together. These guys (team and fans) are dressed in black. They remind me of possibly being the Darth Vader of football – all bad boys. And the fans on the Steaua end would not let us forget it!

3. The size and production of the opening programs by both teams last night only happens now and then – maybe three or four times a year. This game was one of them. Good for us.

4. PCH is kind of hard to explain. Dinamo uses the acronym to represent themselves at games like this. The “P” roughly represents the religious, crazy fans that sit and play together at the end of the field each game. The letter is from a Romanian word that is used to call these people whatever it is they call themselves. The “C” and “H” are the initials of a hard-playing Dinamo player from years ago who went out on the field to play and instantly died of a heart attack. Very sad. Anyway, PCH is a proud moniker which Dinamo has assigned themselves. The FCD, of course, is Football Club Dinamo.

5. Dinamo played Bolero by Ravel because – this is kind of hard to explain – it is a powerful piece and the music’s depiction above the Dinamo section suggests that Dinamo is not just a participant or fan of Romanian football – like, it is being suggested, Steaua is – but Dinamo is, in fact, the composer, the author, the creator of football. It is better, see, to be the creator and master of the game instead of simply a participant? (Phew!)

6. The haze and fog is just that – smoke from the flash-bangs going off everywhere. Illegal, of course, and not supposed to be brought in to the stadium but what would a European football match be without flash-bangs. Also, the haze comes from fans’ green, white, and red flares from all over the stadium. Again, illegal but…

This was mind-warping. So enjoyable.

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Soccer Match

Going to the match last evening was one of the most interesting experiences attending a professional sports event ever! We had VIP tickets to see the final leg of play between Steaua vs. Dinamo at Bucharest Arena. The two teams are ferocious, cross-town rivals. And the fans never let us forget!

The hard-core, dressed, chanting, committed fans sat at each end of the field in the designated and police-cordoned areas. Flares, flash bombs, songs, posters, drums, and amazingly huge banners were displayed all evening. It was something to see.

Oh, and there was an excellent 1-1 match, too.

And we were right in the middle of it! So cool.

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Revolution 1989

This is University Square in Bucharest where the students began demonstrating in Dec 1989. There are crosses in the center of the traffic circle in remembrance of those who perished.

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Mr. Fish

This is David. It’s said, “Daw-VEED.” He lets me watch Spongebob with him. He goes to swimming lessons every week, which he also lets me attend. I sometimes call him Mr. Fish or Mr. Shark. We speak different languages so much of our communication is through expressions and gestures. He knows a bit of English but will begin taking it full time next year in 2nd Grade like other students his age. He reads, asks questions, and is always wondering about things. Quite the scary, little genius. In this photo, we are finishing up our chicken pie together.

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Carrefour Shopping

Another day of shopping to keep fresh food in the house. We go through bread, salad, veggies, fruit, and citrus like no one’s business. It’s very good, though, and very much appreciated. The veggie soups are so filling, fresh, and satisfying. With water, herb tea, or coffee.

It was busy tonight shopping (8pm) because everyone is getting ready for the long Easter weekend that begins on Fri.

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Late Evening

After an evening out to a concert (more about that later), we came home to some fresh oil and salad, goat cheese, onions, bread, tomatoes, and water. Perfect ending to a perfect day with friends.

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Sailing Day

Before the rains this afternoon, we took David to swimming lessons and, while waiting, Daniel and I watched a sailboat on Lake Siutghiol, the lake that we live nearby. The sun was out, there was a nice, cool breeze, and it was very pleasant. Shortly after, good-smelling rains came in from the north – it is what it does here in the Spring. What a nice time of year.

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