The heat. The sweltering heat. It’s everywhere. You can’t escape it. You can’t abate it. You can’t pretend like it doesn’t exist. Combined with the epidemic lack of AC in this country, you have a bit of a problem on your hands. Especially now that the grand days of summer have finally arrived in Romania. It’s morning: it’s hot. It’s night: it’s hot. It’s midday, and you realize that you grew up for most of your youth in a place where you never were able to fully understand what it means to really sweat. It’s unlike anything that I’ve ever known. Summer has different definitions in different parts of the world. It’s a completely different way of life. If your brain doesn’t overheat immediately and your body gets accustomed to temperature, you’ll probably live, but it’ll be a different kind of pleasant than you might be used to. The people here have windows and doors that open two ways by design: one for people and the other for the air to circulate. There are even different positions for the knobs: it’s great. But it’s a beautiful land. I still can’t get over how beautiful Romania is. It just requires the inhabitants to be drenched several times a day, whether by nature or by design. It’s a wonderful thing. I actually have grown to enjoy it. Sometimes it’s unbearable, but if it’s always hot, you get over yourself eventually. It’s a good feeling.
However, what is heat? What people call heat is the jiggling of tiny particles. The more they are moving, the “hotter” something is considered to be. The less they are moving, the “colder” something is considered to be. And what needs to happen for this heat to move from one object to another? Contact, a connection. So what happens when a hot object and a cold object come into contact with each other? The hot object cools off and the cold object warms up until they both reach the same temperature. (I actually used to be the mascot for my middle school at certain events. The rule of thumb was that you have to be at least two times as excited as you want the audience to be. The same rule applies here, because that’s just how energy transfer works.) But if the hot object and the cold object reach the same temperature, then the cold object will not experience another raise in temperature until the other object touching it becomes warm again, at a temperature greater than that of the previously cold object. However, for the temperature change to continue to occur in the cold object, there must be some outside force that continues to heat up the hot object, without which the hot object would soon become useless towards any further temperature change.
Some of you may think that I am weird for making a science metaphor, or a nerd, or just plain goofy, and you may be right on all counts, but I’m ok with that, because this metaphor is literally my life here in Romania and one of the huge things that I am getting to experience. And not just as a description of the lovely weather, though it surely provides an attractive insight into it for those scientifically minded. No, this is one of the great truths that I need to keep in mind to be able to stay in a place where I can continue to pour out into the children, to pour out love, and patience, and forgiveness, and mercy, and kindness, and goodness, and encouragement, and joy, and balance, and wisdom, and helpfulness, and responsibility, and the desire to learn, and the desire to not waste their lives, and respect, and thoughtfulness, and everything else that I can in efforts to help them grow and mature into learned whole mature well-rounded people. I can’t pretend to fill the roles in these people’s lives that they lack, but I can help them, as best I can, continue to grow and develop in spite of the difficulties and struggles that they have experienced in life. Sometimes that means creating a new role in these people’s lives that can help them in a way that none of the others have so far. Sometimes that means working to help the people gain a healthy perspective on life. But the point is having someone that is pouring out into them. However, one of the most important things, which is necessary for this to occur but often forgotten, is that the hot object continue to get heated. In this scenario everyone that does work of a similar nature to mine represents the heated object and the people that we are working with are the cold object. I have made the connection, and now I must give, but also receive. To continue to heat up the cold object, the other object must have a source of energy. I find that in Jesus. Everything that I am comes from that. All of those good characteristics that I am trying to pour out into these kids come from that and that serves as my constant source of love, joy, peace, etc. It’s really great too, because it’s always constant and always refreshing and always invigorating so through that the work that I do is able to be the best that it can be. And I so love the way that the children have responded to the way that I treat them, and relate to them, and express how I love them.
With the Romi (gypsy) children in Tileagd that I am working with, that is made especially clear. Many of them come from environments where love is not really present and there aren’t really a lot of people which make time for them, which care about them, which pour out into them. Oftentimes that is very evident. However, the respect with which they treat me is something that totally caught me off guard. I mean, I knew about the general respect with which students culturally show teachers in Romania, with the usual title Domn Profesor translating to Lord Professor or Sir Professor or Mister Professor, but this was definitely more than that. Sure, they called me the usual titles of respect, which I didn’t really expect, but as early as the first few meetings, I noticed that these kids were oftentimes wearing their best clothes to these meetings, and I knew what their best clothes were, because I saw what the people in the community looked like. But even beyond that, pretty soon, I very rarely had to even say much to keep order in the classroom. The kids kept each other in order and tried to keep each other paying attention and making sure that they weren’t being disrespectful. Some of the children that I am working with that come from way better environments come nowhere near that level of respect. The closest thing that I have ever seen to the way that these children have reacted to me is how, in the movies, children from the ghetto respond to that one teacher that really cares about them and invests in them and changes their life, you’ve seen those, right? But with these kids, it’s even more than that, because not only am I not paid for this, and they have never had anyone take the time to invest in them like this, but I’m also trying to be their friend, to form that weird balance between peer and friend and teacher and help them as best I can. But it’s just so humbling to think that I might be that person in their lives that impacts them in that way. Whew. It’s a little bit overwhelming. And I’m just so thankful for all of it, from this opportunity, to these people, to Charis, of course to Lumos, and just all of it. I’m constantly astounded by it all. My capacity to wonder has definitely grown on this trip. The threshold has gone down, but the capacity has gone up, which I think is the way that it should be.
But yeah, WHOOHOO, awesome kids! Loving my time in Tileagd! We are learning English both indoors and out. Every time I go, we have English lessons inside, teaching them vocabulary, grammar rules, common phrases, and such, then we have music lessons, beginning with teaching them classic simple Romanian songs. Soon, we are going to learn the English versions of them and hopefully soon we will get to songs that are purely in English. It’s really interesting though, because there is such a wide range of ages, so I have to really individualize every child’s education, while trying to keep everyone involved. So, sometimes, the older children are reviewing some English that they have learned in the past, and sometimes they are learning the basic grammar concepts and phrases that they never knew before. It’s also always fun, because you can’t just do boring simple words with the little kids. The boys want to know how to say leopard and tiger and the girls want to know how to say flower and butterfly and lipstick. Sometimes useful, sometimes fun, but you have to combine both to keep the kids interested and involved. But yes! It’s a great time, and then after the music lessons, we oftentimes go outside and I have the children tell me to teach them how to say everything that they want to say. Why? Because those English words that they see or think of when outside are probably the ones that they will tend to use the most. Of course, there is always the one kid who asks how to say universe or math, so the children get a good range of words in. But it’s also a good method because the kids not only get time to remember the word while in the environment, thus sealing the memory better, but they also get to learn the words that they are interested in saying, that they do and will say, thus they learn way more words that end up being used more and thus remembered even better. Also, we do a lot of review together, because repetition is key to remembering the words: whether that be through use, reminding, or making connections because of the environment. But it’s a great time, and I really love my time with them! In fact, I can hardly wait to get back! 🙂
Until the next fantastic time!! 🙂