10.08.2014 - 10.11.2014 60 °F
What happens when you are in a large airport and lose your vest that contains your credit cards, debit card, and $1000 in cash?
We figured it was a goner. Here’s what happened: When we passed through Munich on our way to Romania, we needed to claim our luggage because we were overnighting in Munich to visit our former translator. As you might recall, our checked luggage didn’t arrive there with us (both pieces did show up several days later in Romania – Thank You Jesus!).
But I didn’t tell you the rest of the story. The next morning we decided to go to the Munich airport 3 hours prior to our flight, hoping our luggage had arrived on a later flight. With a special pass to go inside the secure area, we hurried, (pulling our too-heavy carry-ons) back to the lost luggage area. It was a long walk, and we were both overheated when we got there. Dave removed his vest and laid it on top of his jacket, on top of his carry-ons - and we waited for staff to come on duty. Considerable time had passed, and after learning there had been no update on the lost luggage, we left the secure area and rushed to our departure gate which was even farther away than the first hike. After the Passport checkpoint we started to unload for the security inspection drill. Dave was white as a sheet when he asked me if I had his vest; it was obvious I didn’t have it ((... I’m usually the one who can’t find something)). We gathered everything together and bailed out of line, telling the guards that we’d lost something. We hastily decided to split up and to meet at our boarding gate: I would backtrack on the outside, and Dave would backtrack on the inside because he still had the special pass to get back in the other gate. I covered the outside area twice in the time he was able to get all the way around on the inside. I wrote notes to the gals in the lost luggage area on the inside - holding up my queries scribbled on my boarding pass as they read through the glass. No vest was there. I went to lost-and-found; the guy just shook his head and gave me a dismal “good luck” look. I checked several kiosks outside the baggage area, and they all said it was probably hopeless if it hadn’t been turned in to lost-and-found. Dave hadn’t shown up after my 2nd circuit, so I went through security again and proceeded to our boarding gate. I was beginning to fret because it was getting close to boarding time and Dave was still out searching. We hadn’t subscribed to international cell or text service, so our phones didn’t work and we had no way to contact each other. And then he appeared, pulling his carry-ons, with his coat over his shoulder, wearing no vest. My heart sank. And then he lowered his coat and revealed the vest. I had a meltdown as Dave related the story: He had retraced his steps twice also and ultimately got lost near the lost-and-found. (No pun intended.) He was looking around, trying to get reoriented while he was walking back where he thought he had come from. Something caught his eye hanging on a door knob. You know the rest of the story . . . someone probably picked it up, didn’t have time to take it to lost-and-found and hung it, like a lost hubcap, on the nearest ‘hook”. We had each walked past that area 2 times and not noticed it! Truly it was the Lord that caught Dave’s eyes and made him look back -- and it absolutely was the Lord that kept his vest intact. Nothing . . . NOTHING was missing! Our hearts still skip a beat when we think back over that panic attack and what a miracle it was that some an honest person found it and hung it up for Dave to find. We’ve showered that unknown person with prayers of blessing. (Replacing the lost credit and debit cards would have been an inconvenience, but it really would have stung to have lost the $1000 which would fund 2 Romanian food programs.) I don’t know why we are still amazed . . . I guess it is because God is amazing!
I left off in the last blog saying we were going to try to find Petre, the 10 yr-old boy our foundation brought to the States for plastic surgery. We were amazed to find the unpaved mountain roads had been paved about 3 years ago (thanks to EU money infused into Romania), and the steep drive up there was still a grind but lovely! We weren’t certain we could find our way without a dependable map or GPS signal - we’ve gotten lost more than once up there - and we ended up picking up a man who was thumbing a ride just as we left the main highway. When we confirmed we were going the route he needed to go, we told him (in our hobbled Romaneste’) who we were looking for. His destination was the next village up the mountain after Petre’s -- and you’ve probably already guessed the rest: When we described the boy’s burned face, the man knew him, recognized the family name, and even showed us where to turn to get to Petre’s house! We parked the car below the house because we were afraid to try the rickety bridge (only to find even the bridge had been fixed). After locking everything in the car, we walked on the cow-trail to Petre’s houses (one house to cook in, one to sleep in, which is quite ethnic there), hollered from the gate, raised no one, then picked our way towards the houses, hoping no surprise dogs would meet us. We were trying to decide which house to knock on when 2 barking dogs came out at us from the other porch. Didn’t take long to decide which house to go to! It turned out no one was home; the dogs appeared well-fed (though lousy guard dogs), so we figured the family was probably working in the mountains somewhere and came occasionally to sleep and eat. Eventually a neighbor came out to see who we were and what we wanted. After he warmed up to us, he told us Petre was a big strong young man (he would be around 22 now), was a shepherd’s assistant somewhere in the mountains, and indicated he could be in any direction with the sheep. Then he wanted us to come have a bite with him: typical Romanian hospitality – and difficult to talk your way out of without offending. Petre’s house and yard were pitiful; the house was never well kept, but now even the yard was untended. Normally all mountain homes have gardens to sustain the family through the year; it was evident no garden had been planted by that family for a long time. We drove on up and around through the next village’s winding streets, found it another charming walk-back-in-time experience, then headed on home. We spotted a herd of sheep on our way down the mountain, but it was so far from the road we only considered it for a moment. We laughed at the muddy mess on the car when we pulled into one of the new department stores --- the wheel areas were plastered with cow manure from the village streets. (Good fertilizer for our host’s yard where Dave rinsed it off.)
Tears were shed as we departed from our good friends/hosts Family Taban. After we turned in our rental car, a former translator met us, took us into town, showed us several interesting improvements, and spent time visiting over a gourmet mint-lemonade and 2 Romanian beers (all for about $5) at an elegant coffee house. The Romanian economy hasn’t recovered from the 2008 worldwide financial crisis, and it is still an economical place for foreigners to visit and invest. Hotels (with breakfast) average around $50. For the average Romanian, it is even harder to survive because prices continue to rise while wages stand still. One young Romanian woman commented that if you have money, you can live very well in Romania. Indeed it is true - but so few fit into that category, while the majority of people live in austerity.
So with that chronicle, I will conclude by saying our too-short 9 days in Romania were outstanding and hugely successful. It was such a blessing to us as we were able, through many of your contributions to our foundation, to bless many others. We have sufficient supplies there for several good projects that take willing volunteers to help – so time will tell what the next trip will be.
Tomorrow we press on to Amsterdam. With bike helmets and gloves in our luggage, free-loan bikes from our hotel, and a favorable weather forecast, the region has the makings of a very interesting stopover.
I hope you can locate the blog photos I’m including: subtitle explanations will expand on various bits I haven’t taken space to include here. This blog entry is already too long . . . !