This year I celebrated two Easters. Easter in America was with family members in Ramona and then a week later, I celebrated Easter in Romania with a different sort of family members.
Easter is the largest and most important holiday in Orthodox countries, so it was a big deal in Romania. Romanians celebrate from Good Friday through the Monday after Easter Sunday... and some even through Tuesday. All stores are closed. Lots of food is prepared. Everyone attends church to light candles (if you're Orthodox) and celebrate Christ's resurrection. People passing on the street call out to complete strangers, "Cristos a inviat!" (Christ is risen!) Strangers reply, "Adeverat a inviat!" (truly He is risen!)
For Easter in Romania, we attended church at AlphaOmega church. There was a lot of worship (loud worship), a special drama, an Easter music video, and a simple message. After church we headed to the large youth park in Bucharest for fun outside (it was a beautiful, sunny day). We discovered that many Bucharest residents had the same idea as we had and were lounging around the park, munching on picnics, playing games. We set out blankets and feasted on decorated sugar cookies with the kids from our transition program.
We played volleyball in the grass and cracked hard boiled eggs together.
I loved watching 'our kids' laugh and play together.
I was reminded that not too long ago these same smiling faces were full of despair and fear as they faced a hopeless future on the streets. Many of them had fought and struggled through life, failing over and over again. As I held out my hard boiled egg and listened to the orphaned girl proclaim Christ's resurrection, I remembered that Christ's resurrection was the true saving point for them- and me!
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because He lives!
A couple girls took me on a walk around the park and we ended up at carnival! The whirl of amusement park rides, the scents of sugary food and smoking sausage filled my senses as I enjoyed the sights and sounds of hundreds of Romanians celebrating such a sacred holiday at a wild carnival.
Even amidst blaring music and gypsies selling piles of sunflower seeds, people still called out the Easter greeting.
We headed back to our group just as rain drops began to fall from the sky. The clouds rolled in and we beheld a glorious view of the city through the tree tops of the park.
A beautiful Easter with many reminders of the new life we have in Christ!