phobias, language barriers, etc.

The past week hasn't really been too exciting, but I guess that depends on your definition of excitement.

Last week we started learning about animals, starting with the story of Noah. About 90% of my 5-year-old class said they'd never heard that story before. I've started being very intentional about teaching them to give God credit. When we learn body parts, God made our bodies; when we talk about animals, God made them, too. We may sing "Rain, rain, go away!" but God makes the sun and rain, and they are both good. With my 6-year-old class I started a good behavior reward system that seems to be working, even with my most challenging student, which is a huge answer to prayer. Friday night after Bible study I continued working on the electric slide with a few of the girls, and they taught me something similar but easier. All in all, it's been pretty typical around here.

Last week I was home alone for a few nights while my roommate was away with her job, and I'll admit I was looking forward to indulging my introversion a little. Well, Wednesday night I was sitting on my bed surfing the internet when I heard that wonk sound of everything electric going off at the same time. Uh oh. Scared of the dark. Home alone. Not good. Once I remembered to start breathing again, I used the light of my laptop screen to find my headlamp, and then used my headlamp to find another flashlight, just in case. I'm ok, I'm ok, I'm ok.

Wednesday happened to be an unusually foggy day, and stepping out onto the front balcony, I saw nothing but fog, fog, and a few creeping headlights on the bridge. Of course my mind first went to the most logical possible causes: war (I've been watching Downton Abbey), vampires (Dracula was from Romania, duh!), natural disaster, planes crashing into power plants, etc. Then I got extra spiritual and started quoting Psalm 56:3 KJV. What time I am afraid, I will trust in You. What time I am afraid, I will trust in You. Then in Romanian. Când mi-e frica, mă încred in tine. Back to the balcony. More fog, no more headlights. There is no way I'm staying here. Which pseudo-family member should I call to come get me? Whose life do I want to risk in this dense, dark fog? Cell phones still work, right? RIGHT?! Where IS my cell phone?

My moment of panic was interrupted by a cry of distress from the street below. "Magda! Magda ești?" No, I'm not Magda, I'm Rebecca! Are you ok? A neighbor on our building's other stairwell was stranded outside -- her electronic entry card obviously didn't work, and she didn't have a phone to call her husband to the door. I thought for a second and remembered that our balcony is connected with my roommate's Grandmother's apartment next door (she was also away), and assured this woman that I would immediately come to her rescue. "Stai, că vin eu! Vin imediat!" Normally I wouldn't open the door for strangers, but it was cold and she was elderly, and I hoped that knowing my roommate's name and balcony was a sign of safety. I gathered my courage and rushed through two dark, empty apartments and into a dark, empty stairwell (praying that they truly were empty) and was just about to let this woman inside when the lights came on.

This has been a 100% true, unexaggerated account of my 30 minutes without electricity. Thursday afternoon I went home to eat dinner with my friend, the other English teacher at the Kindergarten, and after hearing my story her mom insisted that I become their houseguest for the rest of the week. I'm honestly not afraid to stay by myself, but I was grateful for the hospitality and good food I received for the next few days. Still, I'm thankful to be back in my own bed this week with the Grandmother back next door.

In other news, I went to buy paper today. It's funny, a couple of months ago I was worried because I didn't know how to discipline my students in Romanian. Now I'm finding that the opposite is true, and my vocabulary growth has mainly been related to the school day and not much else. Once I found the right store, I had no idea how to ask for card stock, but managed to get the message across. Then I didn't know how many sheets to ask for because in America we buy it by the pack. I'm not saying that's a better way, just that I've never had to think about how many pieces of paper I needed before. I understood when he told me the price per sheet, but something shorted out between there and the quantity I needed compared to the amount of money in my wallet. This is culture shock, folks -- thinking you're all adjusted and then realizing you don't know how to buy black paper. Every new task, no matter how small it would be at home, is a challenge. I will now be a regular at that store because the gentleman was patient and sympathetic toward this linguistically and mathematically challenged blonde American girl. I smiled and gave him my warmest thanks when he said to the other clerk, in Romanian, "Hey, make this young lady a receipt so she can understand." Bless.

God bless him and his paper store, and my electric lights. Happy three month anniversary, Romania!

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