Along with the 86 or so missionaries in Romania, there are also six "senior" couples like us with various mission duties. Three couples serve in Bucharest-- one in the mission office, one heading up the Young Adults and the Institute program, and of course, we are Humanitarian missionaries. Luckily, we have a lot in common and we get together whenever we can to celebrate birthdays, or other events we can think up. This week we celebrated Sora Dummar's birthday by going to an out-of-the-way restaurant that turned out to be a real hit...until the end.
This is the specialty dish Elder Linerud and I ordered, for 2. It had a little bit of everything...German sausage, steak, chicken, grilled vegetables, pickled vegetables, baked potato, cheese balls. It was delicious but we couldn't eat it all so we asked for a "doggy bag". The waiter told us he would pack it up and he took the platter. About 6 steps from our table we heard a tremendous crash and saw our sausage rolling on the floor and the platter upside-down near the door of the kitchen. Two waiters scrambled to clean it up, one even kicking the sausage further into the kitchen. A few minutes later, a take-home box was delivered to our table, complete with the rolling sausage and the scrambled vegetables! Wearing name tags that say we are representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ tempers us in situations such as this. Looking into the box we all broke into wild laughter and said the one word that explains it all: Romania! We left the box balanced on a fence and smiled at the thought of a homeless person thinking he had struck gold!
As we waited for the bill, Elder Dummar had a little problem getting out ONE toothpick. The entire container exploded onto the table and floor. The trick was to try and stuff the toothpicks back before the waiter noticed. This is a new party game you can try at home! (No, we didn't stuff the toothpicks from the floor back in. That would be gross!)
The night before Easter Sunday, throngs of people crowd the streets about 11p.m to walk to their nearby Orthodox church to celebrate the Resurrection. At midnight, after some chanting and some singing, a large flame appears and candles are lit in turn until everyone in the crowd is holding one. The flame signifies the light of the Resurrection of the Savior. It is a nice tradition and Romanians are very earnest. After the lighting, we all walked home and watched the throngs of people from our apartment. The mission president gives the missionaries special permission to attend this celebration, as long as they're in by 1:30a.m.
You buy red candles on the street and bring your own. The sea of red candles is impressive.