-getting lost for two hours because of NO PHONES ANYWHERE
Ro-man-ia! Land that we love!! Today we arrived in our dear Romania, and we could not be more thrilled about it. But getting there, we had a bit of a scare.
We decided to fly from Athens to Bucuresti (Buc from here on out) because we found cheap tickets. So we show up to the airport this morning, totes on time. But as we went to check in and get our boarding passes printed off, they checked our passports. Both are current, but Robbie's expires next month (in September). Apparently, you can't travel with a passport that is within three months of expiring without special permission! What?! What is the point of even having an expiration date then?
So they red-flagged Robbie and said he couldn't travel by plane (mind you, we have had NO problems with his passport so far). We were shocked, like, you have GOT to be kidding! Finally, the lady at the counter said, "I can call the immigration office in Bucuresti and see if they will give you permission to arrive in their country, but if they say no, we have no choice. We can't let you on the plane." Mama Mia!!! So we waited impatiently for about 10 minutes while she left to make the call, seriously praying in our heads that this will work. Well, our beloved country didn't let us down. They welcomed us with open arms. Whew! That was a close call. So we boarded the plane and arrived in Buc just a few hours later.
Buc is the capital of Romania and almost every missionary spends a good deal of their mission serving there. I was one of the few who never did, so it is much less familiar to me than it was to Robbie, who spent literally half of his mission (one full year) there. But it is still a meaningful place to me because it is both where I started and where I ended my mission. (More on that tomorrow.)
Our first stop, naturally, was at a Fornetti stand. If you ever served a mission in Romania, you know what I'm talking about when I say that the golden streets of heaven will be lined with bright orange Fornetti stands offering a free all-you-can-eat buffet. It's just a stand that sells little pastries filled with different things, but they are AMAZING! I probably went here close to every day in the cities that had one when I was a missionary. And yes, we will return as often as is humanly possible as long as we get to be in this country.
Then it was time to find Sora Gorzo's house. She is a member in Buc that we are staying with for a few days and she LOVES Robbie (like, loves him). But more about her in a minute. First, I have to tell you how we wandered around looking for her house for over TWO HOURS in the blazing sun.
We came prepared with her phone number so we could call her when we arrived to figure out how to get to her house, and we even bought a phone card to use the public phones (like we did all the time when we were missionaries). However, times change and guess what? NO ONE uses public phones anymore. So I guess they just decided to break them all...? We found plenty of phone booths, but in every single one, someone had broken off the top of the receiver and stolen parts out if it. It was the weirdest thing. Gotta love Romania :)
Without a phone or address, we had to rely on Robbie's memory of coming to her house on his mission 7 years ago. Did you catch that, "rely on Robbie's memory" part I just said? If you know him at all, you will know that we were in BIG trouble. (For the record, I have a worse memory than he does, so we are perfect for each other! Or terrible for each other, depending on how you look at it.....).
FINALLY, after way longer than either of us were prepared for, we finally found an open wi-fi network outside of a random bloc (communist-style apartment building) and jumped on it. We called Sora Gorzo over Skype on our phones and she helped us find her. And let me tell you, she was just thrilled that her "Row-bee" had returned to his bunica (grandma) at last.
Sora Gorzo is probably the most famous person in the history of the Romania Bucharest Mission. I never even served in Buc and I know her and have heard stories about her over and over. She knows every missionary that's ever served since her baptism and they all know her, because she seriously thinks of every single one of them as her kids/grandkids. It is adorable. She gets attached to them and cries when they leave. She can't wait to hear from them once they go home. She is the sweetest little baba you have ever seen. And man does she have a special spot in her heart for Row-bee. I saw it in her eyes as soon as we saw her on the street. She adores him as if he is really her long-lost grandson. She just stood and held out her arms with a huge smile on her face and they embraced in this big hug, all 6 ft 2 inches of him towering over all 4 ft ? Inches of her. Oh gosh, so sweet.
We arrived at her house and just spent the night enjoying her amazing cooking and chatting about every missionary in the history of Romania. Her memory is seriously AMAZING. She is just the sweetest. We could not have had a better beginning to our Romanian adventure.