Monday, March 15, 2010

Prison Ministry in Buzias, Romania

As I said in my last post, if you would have told me that I'd be going to an all boys prison in Romania for a week three months ago, I would have said you were sniffing glue. Who knew that I was going to be meeting up people from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky to hang out/evangelize 65+ teenage boys who have known nothing else in their lives except stealing, gambling, sex, and life on the streets? Who knew that I would be playing "jail rules soccer" with inmates 14-17 years old who are good enough to play professionally? Who knew that one of the guys I met was a professional magician who would be wowing crowds of inmates yelling "Magia!" when he walked into a room?

These are just a few questions that crossed my mind throughout this past week in Buzias. We ate with the prisoners, which was interesting because I hit my gag reflex twice with the soup, and played a ton of football (European) with them. We sang songs with them in their prison dormitories and repeated everything they said because we couldn't understand them (most of them which was vulgar). It seemed all they wanted to do was arm-wrestle with me, which in itself had no rules, so by the end of every day my right arm felt like spaghetti. We would sit and talk with them, asking questions about their family and what happened in their past that brought them here. And when you pulled your camera out, it was complete pandemonium; I've never had to pose for more pictures in my life.

All in all, this was one of the craziest experiences I've ever had. Some of the stories these young men told made me tear up; how could you not when you hear that some of them stole only because their parents live in Spain so they had to support their brothers and sisters? And not only that, but they only get to talk to them on the phone once a month. We asked each group if they could think of one person who loved them, and only four out of 60 raised their hand. Hearing stories like these and making friendships with these guys has opened my eyes to a whole new understanding of the world, and I know that I'll never be the same. Seeing them grabbing you and not wanting to let you leave was hard, and I told them I would be back soon. What they don't know is that while they may have benefitted from me being there, they completely changed my life.

That being said, this week will be a little slower. There are some people here from the Detroit area here, so I imagine I'll do stuff with them at some point. But the big news is that next weekend I'll be going to Budapest with Danny for three days to make sure everything is set for the Pioneer trip. They asked me if going there would be a problem. I told them "I mean, it's WAY out of my way, but I guess I'll fit it into my schedule..."

And a funny story of the week: When I first met these guys from South Carolina, one of them came up to me and said "Hi, my name is Brandon" loud and very slow. I said, "Hi I'm Alex." He says, "Wow, his English is really sharp." I said, "Well, I'm from Texas." And later on in the week, I met a 12 year old boy who came with the Detroit group. He comes up to me and says, "So where do you live?" I told him I live in Lugoj. He said, "Oh okay. Have you ever been to America?" I laughed and said, "Excuse me?" He repeated the question because he was being serious, so I said, "Well, I sort of lived there all my life. I'm from Dallas." Even Americans that come over think I'm Romanian.


  1. Dude, you always be makin me laugh.

    Can you please just go with it and tell them you learned english on Youtube?

  2. Great stories. Thanks for sharing with us. Take care and we'll talk to you soon.

    Mark/Pam/Kelsey/Sweet Angel