12 Hours

At 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning an alarm went off for two sleepy people in a very warm bed. We got up, made coffee, packed up a few remaining things we didn’t pack the night before, and by 4:30 we were on the road to Timișoara. It was about a three and a half hour drive to Parcul Copiilor, or the Children’s Park, in which there was a paved one-kilometer track. Sam would run around that track all day.

Getting Ready

Start!

Some time ago Sam signed up to run the S24H race and he has been training for several weeks. Runners could sign up to run 12, 24, or 48 hours around the approximately one-kilometer track! Sam signed up for the 12-hour race, and at 9:00 a.m. he began running his first lap.

Sam’s First Ultra, January 2016

Back in January 2016, right after Sam and I started dating (actually, I’m not even sure we had officially started saying we were dating yet…), Sam ran his first ultra-marathon. An ultra-marathon is any distance longer than a marathon (26.2) and the LongHaul Ultra was 100 kilometers, or 62 miles. Although several people had planned on coming to support him at different times, as the race drew nearer no one else was going to be able to come. The night before I cooked sweet potatoes for Sam to eat during the race and packed my backpack with schoolbooks and bananas. Neither of us really knew what we were doing, as it was Sam’s first ultra and I wasn’t really sure how to help him. We both remember it being a little awkward because we were still getting to know each other. I wasn’t always sure what he needed and he wasn’t sure how to ask me for something. Overall, however, it was a great experience. Sam did an excellent job in his first ultra, finishing first with a time of 10:25, and I enjoyed getting to be around him all day and offer him some type of help.

As we prepared for this race we both thought back to his first ultra and joked that it was going to be “just like old times,” but even better because we’re married now 🙂 Again, I prepared him food the night before and packed by backpack with books and we set off for the race together.

Sam’s Tent

Each runner had a designated place in a tent along the course, so I had a nice place to set up all our bags and a picnic table to sit at while Sam ran around and around. In the morning it was overcast and cold, which was great for the runners, but I was freezing. I am perhaps a little more sensitive to the cold than normal people, because there were people around me wearing short sleeved shirts and my lips were blue and I couldn’t feel my feet! I walked all around the park to try to find a patch of sun and warm up. I actually enjoyed exploring all the neat things in the park though, and I was wishing Leah and Sam (my younger siblings) could be there to see it all as well!

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Sam did great the first few hours. He would give me a thumbs up and a smile every time he went around, and every few laps he would ask me to refill his water bottle or get him some food. Around four hours I was still freezing, so I made sure Sam would be okay for a little while and I went to the car to get out of the wind and try to thaw. When I came back a few minutes later I asked Sam how he was doing and he said he was a little discouraged. He asked me to walk with him, so we began walking around the loop together. He got me some hot coffee at one of the aid stations and we walked a whole lap together. He was not sure why he was running, he felt bad that I was so cold, and he didn’t know if he wanted to finish. I told him not to worry about me being cold, because I really had warmed up and I did not want him to stop his race for me! I told him I didn’t want him to get injured or to do something he didn’t want to, but if he felt like he could finish I would be there for him and support him whatever he decided to do.

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We finished walking the lap and he told me, “I’m just going to try to run a few more laps and then I’ll decide what to do.” And he went off to run some more. A few minutes later he stopped again to change his shoes, but this time he was much more encouraged. He was ready to keep going and finish what he had started.

While Sam ran around and around the track all day I was able to read a lot and write in my journal in between getting things for or helping Sam. I also walked around a lot to different parts of the park and watched Sam run by at different parts of the track. If I ever saw him walking I would just go up to the track and start walking with him. I told him I was his “personal crew and stalker.” 😉

While I read my Bible two people came up to me and asked me what I was reading. One of them just said, “Oh, the Bible,” and walked away. However, another man, who actually shared a tent with Sam, struck up a long conversation with me. He was struggling in his race, so he sat down to rest for a while and we talked about the Bible, the Old Testament and the Sabbath day, “types” of Christians, and also why I was in Romania, where Sam preached, and why I wanted to learn Romanian. I always think it is neat to meet new people with things in common wherever I am, even at a race in Romania. Since the runners went around and around a one-kilometer track I was able to see them all several times and I began to learn their names and which ones were feeling good or struggling. It was interesting to watch everyone’s progress and I enjoyed the whole atmosphere of the race and the attitudes of all the runners.

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At some point Sam decided that he just wanted to get to 62 miles (his previous longest distance), then walk the rest of the time. He would run a mile and a half or two, then I would walk a lap with him. He continued to run and walk until he finished 62 miles in ten hours and twenty-four minutes, a minute faster than his time for his first ultra! After that he began walking and I walked several laps with him. However, as the time got closer to twelve hours he was ready to run again and he began running a lap or two in between our walks until the end.

At 9:00 p.m., when the clock hit twelve hours, Sam had run 110 kilometers, or 67.58 miles. He did it! I am so proud of him for finishing. He pushed through discouragement, pain, and exhaustion and finished what he began. Sam is one of the most disciplined and hard working people I know and he inspires me every day the way he always works so hard and never gives up, whether he is running a race, working on a project, studying, or evangelizing. I am so blessed to get to work with him and beside him, and I constantly learn from him to try harder and work harder.

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12 hours. 110 laps. 67.58 miles. 1 very disciplined, inspirational person.

~ Julie Peters

Cozonac

(photo from www.cozonaculdolofan.ro)

Recently Sam made a new learning schedule for us to study the Romanian Language and the book of Acts, and we will probably write about it more in a future post. We wanted to make sure we actually follow the schedule and complete the assignments every week, so we came up with a way to motivate ourselves each week. If we complete the week’s schedule by Saturday night, we get to have a date on Sunday night.

This week we completed our assignments, so our date Sunday night was to bake cozonac together to give to friends and watch part of Mary Poppins, which was dubbed in Romanian!

Cozonac is a traditional Romanian dessert, sometimes called Christmas bread or Easter bread, but it is eaten all year-round. It is sold at many of the pastry shops that are everywhere, and after I had it for the first time I recognized its distinct smell as we passed by the pastry shops.

I found several recipes in Romanian, and this is the one we used. I got it from this blog, and here I have translated it into English and added the standard system measurements as well.

Ingredients:

1 kilogram flour (8 cups)

300 g sugar (1 ½ cups) divided

10 g yeast (1 TBS)

200 ml warm milk (slightly over a cup)

2 tsp salt

100 g butter (7 TBS) melted

5 TBS oil

5 eggs

200 g walnuts (about 2 cups), ground finely

80 g raisins (1/2 cup)

5 TBS cocoa powder

2 tsp rum extract

1 TBS lemon juice

1 tsp orange extract

Steps:

  1. Put all the flour in a large bowl and create a well in the center.
  2. Mix the warm milk, yeast, and about a tablespoon of sugar in the well and let it proof for about 10 minutes, or until it is all thick and bubbly.
  3. While the yeast is proofing separate the five eggs and set the whites aside for now
  4. When the yeast is done proofing, add the egg yolks, melted butter, oil, salt, and half of the sugar and mix very well. You will probably have to add 1-2 more cups of warm water to get everything mixed, but you don’t want soupy dough.
  5. This recipe does not require kneading, but to make sure everything is very well mixed you may have to knead it just a little.
  6. Separate the dough into four parts and cover with a damp towel and let it rest for one hour.
  7. While the dough is resting you can make the filling. Beat the egg whites until they are peaked, then add the ground walnuts, raisins, cocoa powder, flavorings, and the rest of the sugar
  8. After the dough is done resting roll out each piece one at a time into a large rectangle, spread a quarter of the filling on it, and roll it up
  9. After you have done this twice, twist two rolls together and put it in a grased loaf pan. This is one loaf of cozonac!
  10. Repeat this for the second loaf and bake in a preheated oven at 180 C (350 F) for 35-50 minutes (we baked ours much closer to 50 minutes)
  11. Let cool, slice, and enjoy!

~ Julie Peters

Trip to Brașov

“Did you ever imagine you would have so much fun?” Dad asked us at one point on our trip to Brașov. Our trip was a lot of fun, and I never imagined I would be here in Romania to have such an experience!

Ready to go!

We began our trip Thursday morning. Sam recently got a car to make trips such as these, and it was so nice to be able to leave on our own schedule and make stops along the way as opposed to being tied to the train schedule, and it was significantly cheaper to buy gas than to buy four train tickets.

On the way there we passed by Bran Castle, or “Dracula’s Castle,” and decided to make a stop. It was very interesting and enjoyable to walk around and see and read about the castle.

Bran Castle

A secret staircase in the castle

We got into Brașov Thursday night, and we spend all day Friday in the city. The city of Brașov is absolutely beautiful! It is surrounded by mountains and the hilly streets are lined with pretty, quaint houses. There are also a few parks and universities in the city with amazing campuses and gardens. We had a list of tasks to complete by the end of the day, but walking around the city made it very enjoyable.

Brașov

We went to the police department, the newspaper office, the city hall, the library, and many other places as well. That evening we had a study in the city square on “Why Did Jesus Die on the Cross?” There was also a jazz festival going on, so we just said we had three thousand people show up to our study! Although it was only the four of us studying together by a fountain, it was very encouraging.

Study in the Piața Sfantului

Saturday morning we drove about an hour away to Ceia, where Dad, Sam, and I planned to run a race. Sam and I were signed up to do the marathon and Dad signed up that morning to do the semi-marathon (half).

I was nervous before we started because I had no idea what to expect, but I knew it was on trails up a mountain and it would be long and difficult. I was still excited as we began on the beautiful course.

Excited to start

This was by far the most beautiful and adventurous course I’ve ever run. It was also the most difficult. At about mile five I started questioning my decision to run, but I was trying to stay optimistic. At mile nine I hit a low and I told Sam I didn’t know how I could finish. At this point we were running/walking through a creek down in a rocky gorge, having to run through water, sand, and over rocks and logs. I had also started to feel a little pain in my leg, but I dismissed it and kept going.

Running through the rocks and water

After we got out of the creek we began going up almost constantly. We got out of the woods and into an open grassy field up the side of a mountain. It was breathtakingly beautiful! Even though we were basically walking and I was exhausted, I enjoyed the view of this part of the marathon so much.

Trudging up the mountain

Then the trail began going straight up, and we had to use our hands to climb up rocks. My leg had gradually begun to hurt more, and at this point it was painful to lift it, making climbing extremely difficult. I was being stubborn and trying to push through, but Sam had me stop and rest for a bit on the side of the mountain. The longer I rested the more I did not want to continue, and the more I realized I wasn’t sure I could continue. So we decided to stop at mile fifteen.

Due to my stubbornness and pride, deciding not to finish was very difficult. Part of me wanted to finish what I started and not admit that I couldn’t do it, but part of me knew there was almost no way I could finish. It was discouraging, but it is better now. I am taking a few days off for my leg to heal and I hope to try another trail marathon someday! Just not any time soon.

After we decided to stop–almost to the top!

We returned to Severin late that night, exhausted, but happy to be back. This was the first time I left Severin since I arrived here, and coming back it felt like home. I was so excited to get back to our apartment and sleep in our own bed, and as soon as I saw the familiar streets of Severin it felt like coming home.

Our trip was productive, exciting, and crazy, and it was so much fun.

~ Julie Peters

Worshipping in a Different Language

The first time I worshipped with brethren here in Romania was on a Wednesday night, the day after I first arrived. Our plane had landed ten minutes after midnight Tuesday nigh, so Sam and I stayed in Bucharest for a couple of nights before we came here to Severin. The class that night was entirely in Romanian and I struggled to follow the Bible passages, not knowing the Romanian names for Bible books and not being very familiar with Romanian numbers yet. I was also exhausted from traveling and jet lag and I found paying attention to something I could not understand very difficult. At the end of the class one of the brothers prayed, and I realized I had not even thought about not being able to understand and pray with the congregation, but I just prayed myself as the congregation prayed together.

I was overwhelmed that night for many reasons, but I remember being particularly overwhelmed because I had not really realized what worshipping with brethren in a different language would be like, or how difficult it would be. Of course I knew everything would be in Romanian, but I had not thought about it much; I was thinking about so many other things instead.

Thankfully, it is much better now, and I hope it will continue to only get easier. It helps a lot that I understand more and more Romanian every day. At first I could recognize a handful of words and there was a chance I could figure out what was being said, but now I can almost always pick up enough to figure out what people are talking about, even if I don’t know every exact word they say. Worshipping in a language that I don’t really know is definitely a challenge, but I never fail to be encouraged by my brothers and sisters every time we meet, and I pray God is glorified.

Singing

The first time I tried to sing Romanian hymns was a challenge. Romanian is a pretty phonetic language, so reading and pronouncing it is not too difficult once you know the alphabet and pronunciations. I found it hard, however, to focus on correctly pronouncing everything, singing the right tune, and trying to figure out what I was singing all at the same time! It may have been better for me not to sing and instead figure out what the song was saying and focus on that, but I thought it would be more encouraging to others for me to sing. I just hope they didn’t mind my attempts at pronouncing all the Romanian words. Now I can usually recognize enough words to think about what I’m singing, and I have also started to translate some of the hymns we sing often. This way I can know for sure what I’m singing about and focus on that instead of trying to figure out what to focus on.

Listening and Learning

As we walked home on the first Sunday I told Sam that my next goal was to learn the books of the Bible in Romanian and make sure I knew all my numbers. That night I made a Quizlet of the New Testament books and reviewed my numbers. I was so excited the next Wednesday night when I turned to all the song numbers by myself! I am also slowly getting used to the Romanian names for the books in the Bible, so I am able to follow along during lessons, even if they are completely in Romanian. I have a bilingual Bible with Romanian and English, so I also try to follow along in Romanian to hopefully learn a little more. Whenever Sam preaches he has a translator, so I have the benefit both of hearing his sermon and hearing it in Romanian, which also helps me learn. Dad is starting to preach more in Romanian, but he always emails us his notes in English and Romanian so we can understand what he is saying. I am so thankful for the several opportunities I have to go to several studies throughout the week, both for the chance to study the Bible and learn with others, and to have another chance to hear everything being translated into Romanian.

Teaching

A couple of weeks ago Sam and I attempted to have a VBS–type event for kids. We wrote the material, gathered supplied, and advertised our Bible Week on Facebook, with posters all over Severin, and by passing out about 800 fliers. Unfortunately no one from the city came, but we learned a lot during the process. A friend of ours who is a member of the church in Severin came every day to translate if anyone came for us to teach. Rebecca, Sorin’s daughter (Sorin is a member of the Severin congregation and the translator) came on two days. On the first day I taught her the days of creation, and the second day a visiting Christian from America taught her about Moses. One of the many benefits from our Bible Week experience was that I felt a lot more comfortable with teaching here with a translator.

Last Sunday I began teaching Bible class for Rebecca, only this time it was a little different because I did not have a translator. However, with the help of Google Translate, a Romanian Bible storybook, and lots of pictures, we were able to make it work. Since Rebecca is only three I decided to continue to review the days of creation for a few more weeks, then we will move on to something else, although she is already pretty good at knowing what God did on each day!

Overall, worship in a different language is difficult, but it is getting better. I am learning more and more of the language every day and I pray I will continue to learn. Again, I am always encouraged when I worship with my brothers and sisters in Romania, and I am constantly reminded of the great blessing we have in God’s family. Even in another country with a different language I am connected to so many people through God’s amazing family.

~ Julie Peters