Carmen's Corner: It was like stepping back in time...
...when we got off the train in Arad, Romania. Rick and I along with James and Jimmie Walker had spent the night riding a train across Hungary into Western Romania.
We naively thought taking a night train would offer us the opportunity to catch up on some sleep after spending the prior two days in Budapest, Hungary, speaking in all-day meetings.
Mark this down in your travel notes: you do not get to sleep on a night train through Eastern Europe. Every hour or so someone in a military uniform wants to go through your luggage or look at your passport. But, I digress...
It was like stepping back in time. After collecting our luggage, Rick and I were taken to our host family's apartment. On the way we passed horse-drawn wagons taking farmers out to the fields where they tilled and hoed the small plots by hand.
Twenty or more men and women would stand shoulder to shoulder as they worked their way down the rows, breaking the soil (and their backs) coaxing much-needed produce from the rich soil.
Our host's apartment was small and simple, but immaculately kept. Even though the weather was warm and humid, there were no air conditioners and we slept under open windows with no screens. Word soon got out to the local mosquito population that there was exotic Texas blood available and I awoke covered with bites!
What really woke me up was the smell of hot fresh coffee. The kitchen reminded me of pictures I'd seen of my parent's first apartment. The small gas stove was lit with a match and the tiny icebox had only recently been converted to use electricity to keep food cool.
Daily trips to the market assured the family of fresh milk and meat. There was no microwave, no food processor, no Mr. Coffee. Even the canned food was opened with a butcher knife - can openers, even the hand-held variety, are unavailable.
The coffee, boiled in a pan on the burner, was served in a teeny- tiny cup. I thought, "Great, ten or twelve of these and I'll be ready for the day." I took a small sip to test it.
After my eyes stopped vibrating I realized why it was poured in small cups and why one is enough for the whole day. But, I'm off the subject again...
It was like stepping back in time. We arrived at the church for Sunday services and it was packed to overflowing. No, you don't understand - overflowing.
This church was designed to hold 500 - nearly 1,100 people were there. They packed into the pews, they sat in chairs along the aisle, they sat in the choir loft and on the podium around the pastor's feet. Even the elderly stood along the walls for the entire three-hour service.
The doors were opened wide, not only because of the heat, but to allow people to sit on benches set up in the courtyard and to stand on the front steps. A small sound system allowed the people who filled the basement to hear the pastor's words. When the congregation sang There Is Power In The Blood the walls of church nearly shook.
It could be heard for blocks.
The crowding wasn't because there were Americans there to lead the service as this happens every Sunday and Wednesday and any day the church doors are opened! With the fall of the Communist leaders in Romania, churches are filled to overflowing with Christians who relish the sweet freedom of worshipping the Lord unimpeded.
Scores of people were baptized that night and scores more responded to the Gospel with public professions of their faith.
It was like stepping back in time to the time when Christians did not worry about the time, when they were eager to gather together to praise and worship.
"And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:46-47).