Another Running Adventure

Our latest adventure in running was a mountain marathon and semi-marathon (half marathon) in Baile Herculane, which is a small town about an hour away from Severin, where we live now. And it is beautiful. As we drove up on Friday night to pick up our race numbers and join many other runners for a pre-race pasta dinner I was amazed at the beauty of God’s creation all around me.

“Can you believe we live here?” I asked Sam. “We live right next to these mountains. It is so beautiful!” All this was before I even stepped foot on the racecourse.

Friday Afternoon

We spent Friday afternoon walking around and exploring the town before joining some friends for the pasta dinner near the race start location. That night we actually drove back to Severin instead of staying in Herculane overnight, but it ended up being best for us because we were much more comfortable in our own apartment the night before running.

Before the Start

Saturday morning came early and cold. I do not like the cold and I dread having to go outside if it is even slightly chilly, so I was not too excited to go run that morning. However, it was completely worth the cold, and it did warm up nicely that afternoon.

For the first two kilometers of the race marathon and semi-marathon runners ran together. At a little over a mile Sam and I said goodbye and split off into our respective courses. Then the adventure began.

Before this race I had been injured for over a month. A week before the race I began running with no pain, but I only ran 4 miles at a time. I was not planning on running the race because I had not put in the proper training, though I was happy I was over my injury! Thursday night before the race Sam and I were about to go to sleep and I said, “I think I want to run Saturday. Do you think that would be crazy?” My runner husband answered, “No, I think that would be great!”

As soon as I split off from Sam and began running on a narrow trail in the woods I thought I had made a mistake. I was running on a narrow dirt trail covered in leaves on the side of a mountain. Every so often the trail was slanted or covered with rocks and a slight misstep could send you sliding down the mountain. Normally I wear contacts, but recently I have been wearing my glasses much more often because I’ve been having issues with my contacts. This was also a mistake, I thought. Wearing glasses that aren’t even exactly my right prescription made it difficult to be able to look down so I wouldn’t fall and then look ahead to see where I was going. I prayed the whole time I was on the trail that I would make it in one piece! Although I came out with bruised knees, I did make it. Also, that portion of the race was only about a mile and I actually enjoyed most of the rest of the course.

The course was breathtaking. I constantly thought how I wished I could just take pictures of everything, but I also know pictures could not have done it justice. The course was difficult, with steep hills up the mountain that forced all the runners to walk, or perilous downhill trails fraught with rocks and leaves, making slipping or falling a very real possibility.

During the first part of the race I prayed that I would somehow make it through the race, but during the middle I prayed praising God for His magnificent creation. Although the fallen leaves made the trail dangerous, the fall colors on the trees and blanketing the ground added a special beauty to the experience.

The last mile of the race was rough. I was feeling the effects of not having run half as far in over a month and the last portion of the course was almost completely down hill on a rocky trail. I had to stop and walk to keep from falling several times and I was overjoyed to finally see the finish line! I finished in 2 hours and 28 minutes and I was happy to stop running!

My legs were hurting, I was cold, and I just really wanted Sam, but I was finished. After I got some water and something to drink I felt much better and I was able to sit in the sun and wait for Sam to finish. I made a friend who could speak English and we visited for a while, talking about why I was here in Romania, our families, running, and much more.

Sam’s course was much harder than mine, with twice the distance and twice the altitude. It was a tough run for him, but he finished! I was so happy to see him come around the corner for the finish. We were both just so happy to be finished and to be together again.

We were so happy to see each other!

We stayed around until 8:00 that night for the awards ceremony before heading home again.

It was a long day. It was hard and exhausting. But it was beautiful. Our God is an Awesome Creator.

Encouragement and Evangelism

“If you’re discouraged, go pass out some flyers. It is so encouraging to spread the gospel and work for God.” As Sam gave reports to congregations in America this summer he exhorted the brethren to find encouragement by working for God. Although I have not necessarily been discouraged lately, I have recently been encouraged by the spreading of God’s good news and the work done for Him in Romania.

Four evangelists from America made a two-week trip to Romania earlier this month and we were blessed to spend one of the weeks with them. It was a crazy, busy, absolutely full week. By the end of the week we were exhausted, but extremely encouraged.

Monday night the men arrived from Constanta, Romania, to Drobeta-Turnu Severin. We all met that night to share a meal, fellowship, and fold hundreds of flyers about the gospel. It was a wonderful, relaxing way to begin the week.

Folding Flyers for Brasov

The men spent Tuesday morning passing out invitations for the Gospel meeting that evening. I spent Tuesday morning cleaning our apartment and cooking lots of food for everyone to come over for lunch. All the preparation was worth it to have our living room full of people, sitting wherever they could find a seat, eating and enjoying one another’s company together.

The Gospel meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday night was successful, with many visitors, a full church building, and two great lessons each night.

We had a full building each evening!

We have continued to study Acts every Wednesday, and this Wednesday was no different. It was encouraging to have a larger group for the study and discussion!

Acts Study

Thursday morning two evangelists, one translator, and Sam’s parents began the long trip to Brasov where they spent two days passing out flyers, talking to people, and having a Bible study each night. The other two evangelists joined Sam and I in Craiova where we did the same thing.

On the way to Craiova

In preparation Sam and I had made several trips to Craiova, securing a room for the studies, passing out flyers, getting an ad in the newspaper, and putting up several posters.

“Would you like a flyer?”- Eugene and Sorin

The study was set to begin at 6:00 p.m. and at 5:55 we were still all standing outside, waiting for anyone to come. Trying not to be discouraged, we simply said we had done all we could do, and whether or not any visitors came we would still have a study. However, at 5:58 a woman walked up and asked where the study was. Soon after we began the study six more people walked in, and we were able to meet, talk to, and get contact information from most of them.

Taking a Little Break

Evening Study

We spent Friday in a similar manner; walking around the city passing out flyers and talking to people. That night we had five visitors, who were all different from the previous night. Again, we had two great lessons from God’s word and gained new contacts from people interested in the gospel.

Sunday morning all the evangelists split up to preach at different nearby villages and the church in Severin. Sam and I went with one of the men to the village of Lac. I had actually never been to a village before, so it was a neat experience and I’m thankful I got to go. Afterwards we enjoyed an authentic Romanian meal, then returned to Severin for services that evening.

The Congregation at Lac

Romanian Lunch

As I mentioned in the previous post, Sam and I are planning prayerfully to move to Craiova in about two weeks. Last year when Sam was facing some discouragement here in Severin he began doing some work in Craiova. To his knowledge there was not a faithful church in the city of approximately 300,000 people. Slowly the work turned into regular bi-weekly trips to have a Bible study in a local library on the gospel of Luke. Due to various circumstances and the way the work was going in Craiova, when Sam and I first arrived in Romania together we talked about moving to Craiova in the near future. We began advertising more and making more frequent visits, planning to move there in January after we return from visiting the States for Sam’s brother’s wedding. As the work continued to progress in Craiova and our current apartment contract was about to be finished, we made the decision to move next month instead.

These visits and studies have been extremely encouraging to us and we are excited to move and continue the work in Craiova. We understand that it will be difficult to move away from Sam’s parents and the familiarity of Severin, and try to start a new work from scratch, but we will only be two hours away from Severin and able to visit often, probably even once a week. With God’s help and wisdom and advice from others we are ready to begin this next step in our journey.

Casa Noastra (Our Home)

Recently I posted a question on Facebook asking what you all would like to read on our blog. Thank you so much to everyone who answered! We will try to write a post on each suggestion.

I know I posted several weeks ago that we found an apartment and I posted a few pictures, but here is an official “tour” of our home. We were so blessed to find this apartment. We found it quickly, it is bigger than we expected to find for our budget, and our landlord let us sign a contract for only three months.

The first couple of days after we signed our contract and began moving in were a bit overwhelming. We love our apartment, but it is pretty old and when we first moved in it was very dirty and there were several things we did not realize were broken. We went room by room, moved things around and scrubbed every surface, then we moved in our things. Now every time I clean I get things just a little cleaner than before. Also, we have been blessed with a great landlord who has been so prompt in repairing everything for us. Our first week we were almost constantly having repairmen at our house, but now everything works very well and we are thankful!

Our three month contract for this apartment will be up on November 3, and we have decided not to renew it. We have been thinking and praying about it for some time now, and we are going to move to Craiova, a city about two hours away from Severin. Before very long I hope to have another post to share with you about our new home!

Here is a tour of our home.

This is our hallway when you first come in the door. We live on the top floor of our apartment (third floor) in apartment nine.

Here is our living room/dining room/office! Sam uses the desk on one side and I sit at the table. All my things fit in a basket, so when we need to eat at the table I just move it somewhere else. This is where we eat when we have company, and a lot of the time Sam and I will also eat at this table if I’ve been cooking for a while and the kitchen is hot.

Here is our kitchen! I was prepared to have a tiny kitchen, but we were very blessed to find an apartment with a really nice-sized kitchen! I love cooking in it every day.

Here is our kitchen table we also eat at sometimes. When I took this picture a while back (not long after we moved in) Sam had just given me some flowers 🙂

I learned to cook in a nice kitchen with a gas stove, and I remember telling Mama I would have to get used to an electric one because I did not expect to have a gas stove any time soon! However, I am excited that our apartment has a nice gas stove! It does not have an electrical starter, so we keep a lighter in the cabinet above it. There is a big gas tank in the cabinet next to the stove, so whenever I want to cook or heat something I twist on the gas and light the stove. There is also a little door in the bottom of the oven that I open to light the fire in the bottom if I ever want to bake something. There is no temperature settings and I still haven’t gotten an oven thermometer yet, but so far I have been to bake potatoes, muffins, and bread with no problems!

I brought several little things over here that people have given me and they definitely help our apartment feel more homey! The towel on the oven was given to me by a a wonderful couple Sam and I stayed with as we traveled all over the place this summer. The apron (you can see it better in the first picture) was given to me by my best friends Cassie and Bailey, and Bailey also made me the potholders hanging to the left of the stove as a wedding present. Finally, the little embroidery hoop hanging above the sink was given to me by my sister Olivia. She made it for me for being in her wedding. It has little embroidered cacti and it says “Live Simply.”

Here is one last picture of our kitchen. I love the shelf above the sink where we keep everything in canisters, such as rice, beans, oatmeal, mamaliga, and coffee.

Here is our bedroom! My cousin gave us the “Peters” pillow as a wedding gift, so we used that to choose our bedding. Olivia painted us the picture hanging above our bed and gave it to us last year when Sam got to come visit during winter break. It is a tree that looks like it has a heart carved on it with “S+J” in the middle.

This is our home! We have enjoyed it so much, and I know it will always be special to us as our first apartment together.

~ Julie Peters

Running and Identity

I’m a runner.

If you know me, you probably already know that. I have been running for over twelve years, including nine seasons of running competitively on a cross-country team. I love to run. I love to learn about running. I love meeting other runners. I love to talk about running. I do not like resting.

I considered not getting to run a punishment. For the learning schedule I wrote about a couple of weeks ago Sam and I have both a reward and a punishment system. If we complete the week’s schedule we get to go on a date, but if we do not complete it we have to take off two days of running the next week.

But now I’m injured and I haven’t really run in almost a month.

Resting was necessary at first, since I could barely walk, but it was still extremely hard. I had no patience. I was constantly restless and wanting to run, and about four days after I injured myself (at the Brasov marathon) I tried to run, but I only made it half a mile before the pain forced me to stop. I attempted to run a few more times after that, and I even managed to do a couple six mile runs, but not completely without pain. Finally, after I came back from a run and was limping around the house Sam advised for me to take off running until I was completely healed.

At first, as I was resting and struggling with not being able to run I kept asking myself why it was so hard for me. I probably could use a break, as I haven’t taken a real break from running since my sophomore year of high school. But I didn’t want to take a break. One day I just asked Sam what was wrong with me, why it was so hard for me.

“Maybe it is hard for you because running is such a part of your life,” he said. “Maybe when you don’t run you feel a little less ‘Julie’.” I just pondered that, trying to be patient and content with resting.

Even before I was injured I was struggling with my reasons for running. Unlike Sam, I hadn’t pinpointed my reason for running to my satisfaction. Ever since I finished my last season of cross-country I wasn’t sure what to do, what to train for, how to run. After running cross-country for so many years and centering my training around it, once my last season ended I felt a bit lost. I still had the desire to push myself and run competitively, but I also thought I had the desire to run long distance like Sam. But then I wasn’t sure that was for me either. I was having an “identity crisis,” all because I had to take a break from running.

The question of “who am I as a runner?” led me to ponder the bigger question of “who am I?” This is nothing new; I have both pondered and answered this question before, and I even led a study on the topic, but this time it struck me in a different way due to my circumstances and caused me to examine my recent attitude.

I have been studying Galatians with the Peters family on Google Communities (which may deserve its own post someday!) and last week a point was brought up that really stuck with me. The section we were studying was Galatians 3.26-4.7, and the question raised was how much race, gender, and social status must one give up to identify with Christ? We all came to the conclusion that we must give up everything to identify with Christ. We must die to our own identity and let Christ be the identity through which we do everything.

This made me think again about my identity and examine how I really thought of myself. In high school my cross-country coach did a devo for the girls’ team one day and she asked us all, “Who are you?” Were we girls? Were we runners? Were we the “cool” one, or the good student? The first thought that should come to our minds, if it is true, she told us, is that we are Christ’s. That has stuck with me through the years, and my recent injury and this Bible study brought it back to my attention once again and caused me to examine myself.

Is my identity in Christ? Yes. Am I still trying to hold on to some of my own identity? Maybe. So, if my identity is completely in Christ, then it is okay if I never run again. If my identity is in Christ, then I am a Christian, and I happen to be one who likes to run.

I am still a runner. I still can’t wait to run when my injury heals. But I’m okay with waiting a little longer. I pray I will glorify Christ through all that I do, including running. Running is not my identity; Christ is.

~ Julie Peters

Running and Discipline

My wife recommended that I give a first person perspective of my 12-hour race. Allow me to first thank and praise Julie for writing every week. In tears she stresses herself out with learning Romanian, learning academic English, staying calm in another culture, and working with her husband. While blogging can be enjoyable, her persistence is laudable and so I praise her. Thank you Julie for writing every week so other can read about our journey together. Now, for my perspective of the 67 mile, 12 hour run.
Fitness is necessary but not sufficient. Two Saturdays ago I found myself 3 and a half hours into the 12 hour run discouraged and defeated. It was mile 32. Why? I thought I was ready. My training took me up to 42 miles, which is a longer run than most ultra training plans will include. If my body could run this 42-mile long-run, methought, then I could endure just another 6 hours. Then I thought of one issue. I only prepared for this run for a month. While many people train and anticipate this race for 6 months to a year, I only had a month do think about it.
My body was prepared but mentally I fell apart. Two hours into the race I felt great and I was ready for another 10 hours. But I soon realized most of endurance is mental. And soon after I realized this, I realized how much endurance I lacked. This was going to be the longest race of my life. But even beyond this, I had to be prepared to run in a circle, seeing the same thing every 5 minutes. And then I gained some experiential understanding. I gained a deeper understanding that training is more mental preparation than physical preparation. Reading statements like these in articles and books, I thought I knew of its truth. Yet having experienced it now, mental self-discipline is a necessary virtue of a runner, indeed.
Mental self-discipline, and I know of no other kind, is a worthy aspiration. Though self-discipline is what I lacked, my aspiration of it got me through the race. I stopped running and walked with Julie and was asking myself, “why am I running? Not wanting to stop, I told Julie I wanted to run to at least 44 miles. I ate and started running, thinking about the why question. Before I explain what motivates my running, I will say two things. First, many runners have vaguely answered this “why” questions. They give abstract answers, that make me feel uncomfortable. They’ll say things like, I feel “present,” or “I forget about time.” Though there is a certain peace that comes with running, it isn’t what gets me out of bed; I can get a peace from tying my shoe. To me, this reason just doesn’t justify running. I want to find a reason that has enough explanative power to justify the discomfort of running. Secondly, I want to give a few reasons why I do not think I run. First, I do not think I run because I enjoy runners “high.” I have felt euphoria on a run but it doesn’t justify it. Extrinsic motivation, if I can call it that, doesn’t do it for me. When people say, “I run marathons so I can eat whatever I want,” I laugh in confusion. I don’t run because it is healthy. This could be true but running such distances is not that healthy. Some studies have actually shown that distance-running can be harmful to your heart. Finally, I don’t think I am motivated to run because I am oozing with self-discipline. As a matter of feeling, this is want I want to talk about. I believe it is the aspiration which motivates my running.
I want to be disciplined. As I find in myself many inappropriate desires, I want to manage them well and not be controlled by them but by my mind. If I want to be disciplined, is it wrong to run 12 hours to this end? I have always desired this virtue, as I assume does. Thinking through this reason helped me finish the race. If I want discipline, then running in a circle is a good way to cultivate it; running is just my favored mean to this end because of other reasons, such as it being inspirational to others, a challenging pursuit, provides contentment, and it is also a gift from God. So ultimately, I think I run for discipline. It is a virtue which drives me to run when it is uncomfortable, whether I am tired in the morning, hot at high-noon, or lonely on a long-run. Identifying this reason, I thought, “this race is perfect for me.” Discipline awaited me.
Though the race was sort of a failure, it was sort of a success. I learned it takes much more than being fit to run in a circle. And I learned the that discipline is a virtue which justifies running.

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!

s24h.ro

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.

s24h.ro

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.

s24h.ro

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.

s24h.ro

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

Do You Like Romania?

“Îți place România?”

“Do you like Romania?”

I think this is the question I have been asked the most ever since I moved to Romania a little over a month ago. The questions that almost always follow are “Is it different?” and “Is it hard?”

My answer to all three questions, simply, is yes. It is definitely different and it is hard, but I am so happy to be here.

Is it different?

Most of the differences I’ve encountered so far have not been an issue at all. By now most of these differences seem normal, and it is somewhat amusing when sometimes I stop and realize how accustomed I am to something that was once quite strange.

We do not have a car here in Romania, so we walk everywhere. But everyone around us walks everywhere. Luckily we live in the center of the city and everything is within a very reasonable walking distance. Unless it is raining, it is lovely to get out every day, or maybe several times a day, and walk in the fresh air to run whatever errands we need to do. I am not yet at the point where I will go anywhere by myself, so it is also a nice time to have with Sam. Sometimes we will walk together, hand in hand, in silence, thinking to ourselves and enjoying the walk, but many other times we will spend the time in conversation about whatever is on our minds.

Growing up, I was used to one huge grocery trip per week. We had all our meals planned out and each week we would buy a large amount of food to last the whole week. Here we find ourselves going to the market or the grocery store nearly every other day, which is partly due to the fact that we have a very small refrigerator, and partly due to the fact that we have to carry everything we buy back to our apartment. Some things, such as dry rice, oatmeal, or beans, we stock up on and keep in our cabinet, so our shopping trips are usually to buy something particular to cook when we have company for supper, or fresh fruits and vegetables that we tend to go through quite quickly.

There are several little things in our apartment that are different from what I am used to. When I first learned how certain things were done I would sometimes smile in amusement, but nothing has been any great hardship. Now it is all very normal to me, so it amuses me when my family or friends back home first hear about how our washer works or how I cook things in the oven. Our washer is nice, small, and perfect for me to do a small load every day or every other day, and it fits nicely in the corner of our bathroom. Our proprietor (landlord) kindly brought it in for us when we moved in because there was not a washing machine there previously. Since the apartment was not built for a washing machine there was not a drain in our bathroom to hook it up to. Instead we have a plastic tube that I place in the toilet every time I turn it on, and the water drains in there. It is very important to remember to move the tube whenever I start a load, but forgetting it once made it to where I will never forget again, I hope. Although I had an adrenaline rush and a fear of Romanian neighbors with water coming through their ceiling, all ended well and no damage was caused.

I am so excited to have a gas stove in our kitchen, it is just a little different from the one I was used to back home. There is a cabinet right next to the stove with a large propane tank. Every time I want to cook I twist the knob to turn on the gas, then I light the stove with a lighter. Our oven is also gas, so in order to bake something I turn on the gas, lift up a little door in the bottom of the oven and start the fire. I have not attempted much baking so far, but it is good that I am not a perfectionist in the kitchen because our oven has no temperature settings and adjusting the fire is quite interesting.

All these differences took some adjusting initially, but overall, these differences and others seem very normal to me now, and I enjoy living here very much, even with the differences.

Is it hard?

I’m often unsure how to answer this question. Yes, it is hard. But it is okay. I am okay with it being hard, and it is not too hard.

It is difficult to be in another country with a different culture and different language and not know many people. I desire to meet people and have relationships with them, but that can be difficult for me even we speak the same language. Here it is even more difficult because of the language barrier. However, I am slowly learning, and many people speak at least a little English. I have learned enough to understand most of what people say, but responding is still hard. Despite the difficulties, I have still been able to meet several people and begin to form relationships, and I am so thankful for this. I am also so thankful for Sam, for his parents, and for the internet, through which I can call my Mama “anytime I want to talk in southern English!”

It is difficult not knowing the culture very well, especially when we have guests over for a meal. I am constantly trying to listen, observe, and learn the Romanian way to prepare and serve food, how to set the table, and the way and order to present certain things. Every time we have guests over we tell them we are trying to learn Romanian customs, and ask them to help and teach us what we should do differently. Sometimes I get nervous about doing something wrong, but I just think to myself that if I do something terribly wrong or different from Romanian traditions they will just think it is the “interesting American” way of doing things.

It is hard to be away from my family and friends back home and at FC. Last week my family helped Clay move into college (he is attending FC) and it was difficult, because I would love to be in two places at once and be there with him as well.

Although it is sometimes hard to be here, I feel incredibly blessed with this opportunity. Recently on one of our walks through the city Sam and I were reflecting on what a unique opportunity we have been blessed with to be able to get married, and then move to Romania to work, encourage, and evangelize. After being apart for what seemed like so long, we feel blessed to be together, no matter where we are or what difficulties we face. While I definitely miss my family and friends from back home, I am still excited every day to live with my best friend and see him every day, and I am so blessed to have the love and support from my family and so many others back home.

As I go through minor difficulties as I transition to living here in Romania I pray that I will learn from them. I pray that Sam and I will grow closer, we will both grow closer to God, and that others will benefit from our time here.

So overall, yes. Yes, it is different. Yes, it is hard. And yes, I like Romania.

Da, îmi place România