Tag Archives: prayer


Please pray for the country of Moldova, which as many of my readers know I lived in for a couple of months a couple of years ago whilst doing fieldwork for my PhD. On Sunday they had parliamentary and presidential elections, which were overwhelmingly won by the (unpopular) ruling Communist Party, who have already been in power since 2001. Since Monday protests have been held in Piata Marii Adunarii Nationale (PMAN, for those of you following on Twitter), which yesterday became violent with both the Presidential Palace and Parliament building being stormed by protesters. The parliament in particular has been trashed.

I don’t know what is going to happen. The (supposedly outgoing, I’m not too sure) president is accusing Romania of involvement in the protests and has expelled the Romanian Ambassador. Russian news agencies are blaming Western agents. Blog posts I have read are accusing the secret services of attending the protests in civvies and taking pictures of protesters. There are reports of up to 100,000 dead people being included on the electoral roll, and in fact the main demand of the protesters is for a recount (which might be going ahead).

The protests are largely (but not exclusively) by young people 18-25. Deeleea sent me an article about how a lot of them mobilised through Twitter, as mobile phone lines are reported to have been blocked. I am worried that once this is over, nothing will have changed. I have hope for future generations, but I really don’t know what to think about today. Of course I’m also worried about my friends and colleagues, and hope they’re safe.

Here is a link to some photos from PMAN and of the parliament and presidential buildings, that I took in 2007, so you can see what they usually look like. The penultimate photo is the presidential pad, and the last one is the parliament. The rest are of views round PMAN.

And here is a link to some photos from the protests.

Count Your Blessings – Lent Day 13 (9th Mar)

Β£3.50 could buy a garden fork in Burundi to enable someone to cultivate land and grow food to eat and sell.
Give 10p for every garden tool you own.

(and an extra one from me: seeing as this mentions Burundi, please say a prayer for a friend, A, from Kerensa’s and my former church, who has recently moved to Burundi as a missionary).

Count Your Blessings is a great way to support Christian Aid this Lent.

Of mystery ingredients

Today was my last tutorial of the year (hoorays all round, except that this heralds the imminent arrival of the essays, so never fear there’s still plenty to whinge about).

This evening I had a meal with some friends from church, who are lending me a guidebook for when I go away to the conference next week (it seemed a bit pointless buying one when I’ve only got an afternoon or so free to look round, but I wanted a bit of guidance as to what was worth seeing in that short time). I. is an amazing cook and made a stunning vegetable chilli, which afterwards she revealed contained a mystery secret ingredient: chocolate! I’d never have realised it contained chocolate, it certainly didn’t taste of it, but there was definitely something about it that made it a cut above the usual chilli (and several cuts above the chillis I cook). Good job it wasn’t Lent!

In other news it is COLD here! (or, as Smudgie and Smudgelet would have it, it’s chilly chilly chilly chilly chilly). Main roads have been gritted but side roads (including mine) haven’t been so both road and pavement are covered in black ice. Coming home from my friends’ place this evening I was literally clinging onto walls to avoid falling over – without having consumed a single drop of alcohol! It left me very relieved that I’m not elderly – it is really dangerous out there and was really quite scary. [As an aside, if anyone wants to pray for a safe journey for HD, who is driving up here tomorrow evening, I’d be grateful. I have already nagged him to drive slowly (despite the only one of us to ever get a speeding ticket being, er, me) but I won’t stop worrying till he arrives in one piece]

Wiblog entry for 05/08/2008

I have moaned before on this blog about certain eastern European Christian websites, and the hatred they spew out, particularly about homosexuality. Recently I decided that, rather than keep shouting “you horrid little man” (or, er, words to that effect) at the laptop every time another article appears I should commit to praying daily for the main author of the main site I read, as I figured that would probably be more useful for both of us, him and me. Today, as I yelled “you horrid little man” at the laptop for the umptymillionth time, I realised I have not been very good at sticking to my commitment. So I am putting it up here so that I can be held a bit more accountable for it. Hopefully as I pray my teeth will become gradually less clenched. Pray for us both, God knows we both need it.


Having waxed lyrical about 84 Charing Cross Road and how charming and relaxing and pleasurable it was, I just need to let of a wee bit of steam about a totally different subject. In the Moldovan media this week there has been a flurry of debates due to the fact that there is due to be a Gay Pride march in Chisinau this Sunday. On one website in particular (the website of one of the TV stations) every time they have an article about it there appear hundreds of comments, and it is just desperately depressing to see the intolerance and bigotry and vitriol and hatred being spewed out – much of it from Christians – and it has made me so sad and angry and frustrated. The latest as far as I can gather is that the city mayor has banned the march, citing concerns from NGOs and fears that it could lead to violence, but the group that organised it saying it’s going to go ahead anyway. Please do pray for Chisinau on Sunday – for no violence, for a way to be found for dialogue rather than partisan ranting, for hearts to be softened. I’m trying to pray for the church in particular, but I’m finding it difficult because I’m so angry with the Christian voices I’m hearing. So, as per the prayer from Jeffrey John that Auntie Doris posted on her blog a few days ago, do join me in praying for the church – but start with me, because God knows I’m so angry I’ll be useless if God doesn’t start with me.

”Lord, do something about your Church,
It is so awful, it is hard not to feel ashamed of belonging to it.
Most of the time it seems to be all the things you condemned:
Hierarchical, conventional, moralising, compromising,
Clinging to its privileges and worldy securities,
And when not positively objectionable, merely absurd.
Lord we need your whip of cords.
Judge us and cleanse us,
Challenge us and change us,
Break us and remake us.
Help us to be what you called us to be.
Help us to embody you on earth.
Help us to make you real down here,
And to feed your people bread instead of stones.
And start with me.”


Prayers for comfort for all remembering and mourning this hideous anniversary, and wisdom for the leaders who are supposed to be guiding us in the aftermath. Lord have mercy on us all.


I now officially declare Tractor Girl and Stevie Boy Wonder as the wibsite’s official pray-ers (I initially typed pry-ers, but amusing as that was I did have to correct it). So any needs, great or small, they’re your people πŸ˜€ (no pressure guys!).

The meeting went well. They seem really interested in my research and friendly and enthusiastic and willing to help. I will be doing some participant observation with them as well as some interviews, and so I am currently feeling very positive.

So, that’s today’s scary thing out of the way. Tomorrow is the scary phone call I’ve been putting off for a few days.

[Forgot to add: In other ‘hooray!’-related news, I found zacusca in the supermarket that wasn’t extortionate. This is very fine veggie/tomato-ey stuff which I’ve never found a good recipe for, but which I like very much. I’m very happy about this πŸ˜€ ]

Cowardly Lion

I posted on the SoF Prayer Thread yesterday that I felt like the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz, and requested some prayers for courage. I could really do with a placebo “Badge of Courage” like the one the wizard gives to the Lion at the end of the film! Basically, I was feeling really nervous about having to phone a contact *again* – she’d emailed me to say she’d call on Friday and then hadn’t, and so I thought I’d have to phone her today. At this point in my research, with no data of my own, I need these contacts an awful lot more than they need me, and so I was starting to flap a bit (Shurely not – Ed) and assuming that they would feel nagged and pressured by me, when there’s nothing in it for them. Anyway, around about the very time I posted my prayer request last night the selfsame contact texted me and asked if we could meet today. So my faith in God’s sense of humour remains intact, though sometimes I do wonder if he’s having a bit of a laugh at my expense (and why not, it’s too easy. I’d probably do the same, if I were God). Anyway, if any of the Brits are around in about an hour’s time (3pm your time) and want to say a quick prayer that I make a good impression and good things happen and whatnot, then that probably wouldn’t go amiss.

I do realise that having blogged lots about culture and arty stuff I am giving the impression of being somewhat at leisure. That’s not really the case – it’s just that it’s easier to show photos of interesting things on stage than to keep talking about research and stuff I’m reading which is not particularly bloggable. I’m getting into reading now, it means that I feel much more productive, and also has given me a lot of stuff to think about which will be incorporated into my interview design, so that’s good.

I haven’t abandoned the culture entirely though. Yesterday evening I went to a choral/orchestral concert at the Evangelical Cathedral, it was Bach’s B minor mass. As a music graduate I probably shouldn’t admit this, so don’t tell anyone, but (*whispers*) I’m not actually that mad on Bach. I enjoyed bits of the concert (though I didn’t think the soprano or mezzosoprano soloists were that great, and it did go on a bit), I’m glad I went, and some of the choral singing was really beautiful. But try as I might, Bach just doesn’t do it for me the same way that other *big* composers do. OK, let the flogging commence.

[In other news, I learnt today that a low-budget Romanian film about illegal abortion at the end of the 1980s has just won the Cannes Palme d’Or (it’s called, in English, “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”). Amazing that something so relevant to what I’m studying has won, and good as it means that I can probably justify getting the DVD when it comes out and charging it to research expenses πŸ˜€ ]

Romanian adventures – week 2

OK, before I start on Romanian adventures, can I just say – bloody penalties AGAIN!!!!! πŸ™ Mind you, at least I can be grateful I wasn’t in Scotland this past weekend, as the joy at England’s demise would have probably been immense! Oh well, we shall just have to carry on regaling them for another 4 years about how we won in 1966. Mwahaha.

This week’s lesson from the Romanian School of Surreality: don’t go trampolining with wet hair unless “scarecrow chic” is the look you always intended.

So, what’s happened this week?

Lots of PhD-related stuff – as I think I mentioned, that wasn’t supposed to happen until later on in this trip (next week in fact), and the language school was a separate thing, but anyway information, contacts, coincidences (such as another PhD student at the school going to visit a health NGO in the same town I’ll be in next week, hence another new contact) just kept appearing without me asking or looking for them. So I’m very thankful for all that.

I’ve also managed to do quite a bit of touristy stuff. First up, after a couple of failed attempts I finally managed to visit the alarmingly named “Cock Church”, which is actually a beautiful and really interesting Hungarian Reformed church designed by an apparently very famous and noted Transylvanian architect Kos Karoly. The name comes from the fact that the predominant motif throughout (from the railings outside, the top of the tower, through to the light fittings etc) is a rooster, signifying Peter’s threefold denial of Christ before the cock crowed (crew? – my English is starting to desert me after all this intensive Romanian). Apparently it is to serve as a reminder that we should not deny Christ. Inside it was really simple (in contrast to the Orthodox and RC churches here) – the guy who showed me round said that they have no altar, and no saints/icons, and communion only at major festivals such as Easter and Christmas. It’s a very Calvinistic denomination apparently, but I understand that after the Orthodox it is the largest denomination in Cluj (followed by the Roman Catholics).

I also managed to take a look at a few other churches (photos will follow when I’m back home), including the big RC church in the centre (I went to a service there yesterday as the couple I’m staying with are Catholics and go there occasionally – amazing choir, but the most uncomfortable kneelers I’ve ever experienced!) and the Orthodox Cathedral. I also this morning took a look at the Uniate, or Greco-Catholic, church in town, and I’m hoping to get to a service there this coming Sunday as although I leave Cluj tomorrow I’m back for one day as I’m travelling over the weekend. They’re a curious lot – an interesting mixture of Catholic and Orthodox – they’re basically Orthodox, into icons, big beards, no seats etc etc (that’s not meant to be disrespectful, just that I can only remember the superficial things right now!) but also accept the filioque (Holy Spirit flows from the Father and the Son, whereas the Orthodox say the Holy Spirit only flows from the Father) and the authority of the Pope. Plus services are less than 2 hours long! As I understand it, the denomination comes from the Austrian (I think) empire persecuting the Orthodox church in the 17th century and making them accept the authority of the Pope, and this denomination is the remnant of that. During the communist times they were persecuted and forcibly subsumed into the Orthodox church, but since the overthrow of the communists they have re-emerged as a separate denomination and many of the congregations have had their buildings returned (though even today in the paper I saw an article on how a group of Uniate churches are still campaigning to have their buildings restored to them. At least, that’s what I think the article was about!).

I also took a walk up what is known as Cetatuia Hill, which has a huge cross (raised by the Uniate church) at the top, from where you can see the most fantastic views of the city. Hopefully at least some of the 20 million photos I took will do it justice. The day I went first it was absolutely boiling, so although it’s not actually that tough a climb I was absolutely whacked out by the time I got to the top, but a couple of days ago I went up there again at midnight for the night view, which was fantastic. The weather that day though had been quite wet, so the walk up the hill turned into a mammoth snail-squishing session – yeuch! (I don’t do snails).

I checked out Cluj’s Botanic Gardens the end of last week – very nice and relaxing, although having been to Kew of course any other botanic garden is going to struggle to compete. I like though that relatively close to a pretty busy central area is this lovely calm, quiet green space, if I was here any longer I think I’d have spent some more time there.

Both weekends I’ve seen tons of weddings in the park – as I understand it, as well as the church ceremony there has to be a civil ceremony here, and at weekends in the summer they take place in the park (next to the trampolines, conveniently). I couldn’t believe just how many wedding parties I saw, it really was a conveyor belt, but despite that it still felt like an “occasion”. The actual ceremony takes place in what is for all intents and purposes the bandstand, with the mayor with his red, yellow and blue sash (the colours of the Romanian flag). The wedding party enter to a recording of “Here comes the bride”, the mayor says “We’re here to celebrate the wedding of Mr X and Ms Y. Mr X, do you take Ms Y to be your wife?” “Da.” “Ms Y, do you take Mr X to be your husband?” “Da.” “Congratulations, here’s the wedding licence, sign here”, and then they sign while a very militaristic sounding recording plays (I thought it might have been the National Anthem but it turns out to be “La multi ani!” (“Many years!”) which is their equivalent (though obviously less specific) of “Happy Birthday”). Then the guests all leave the bandstand and form an arch with the bouquets of flowers that they all carry for the bride and groom to walk through, then they have their photos taken by the fountain which has just been vacated by the previous wedding party and the next wedding party (which has been waiting nearby) goes into the bandstand. The whole ceremony is over in 5 minutes, and just sitting there for half an hour I lost count of the number of parties I saw, either getting married or waiting to – easily into double figures. And of course, I didn’t stand out at all, sitting on a park bench with all these immaculate people in wedding parties walking past whilst I looked like a scarecrow having just been trampolining.

School finished on Friday, so I meant to spend today (my last day in Cluj) checking out a few museums. However, that plan was slightly (!) scuppered by the fact that most museums are closed on Mondays. So instead I have just mooched round town, and will be going back to a gallery later which opens at 4 as, unlike most of the shops here, it does seem to be selling some half-decent stuff. I’ll need to be careful though, as I have bought a number of books (mostly PhD-related – exciting stuff like the laws relating to the reform of Romania’s health system) and my rucksack which I have to cart round Romania now weighs a ton.

Tomorrow I leave for the mini-holiday bit of this trip. Ian, your homework (tema de casa) is to Google “Painted Monasteries of Southern Bucovina” for some pictures (the ones I’m hoping to get to are called Humor, Voronet, Moldevita and Sucevita) and then tell me you’re not green with envy πŸ™‚ I’ve been wanting to see these monasteries for years, they’re UNESCO World Heritage sites, but I’ve never got round to it before so I’m really excited about this. I’m not looking forward to 5 1/2 hours in a boiling hot train to get there (it’s still really really hot here – the word of the week is “canicula” which means heatwave) but the destination will make the journey worthwhile.

Speaking of the weather, if you have any prayers to spare do pray for Romania. While I’m moaning about the heat, large parts of the country (particularly in the north and east) have been having terrible storms and there’s been horrific flooding with many deaths and people missing – the pictures on the TV are just heart-breaking. Here in Cluj we’re protected by the mountains so we’ve largely escaped the flooding, but in particular the poorer villages, with their less-than-perfect roads and building standards, are being very badly damaged. Lord have mercy.

I’m not sure when I’m next going to have internet access, as the town I’m staying in till the weekend is pretty small. I’ll try to update again next week sometime, but if I don’t (and even if I do!) please could you pray for me the end of next week? (13th-15th July) I’ll be in Bucharest those two days, and I’m a bit nervous about it. I’ve been there before, but don’t really know it, and to be honest it’s not that nice a place and I don’t really feel very safe there (my nervousness is also not helped by the fact that everyone who doesn’t live there, ie everyone I talk to here, hates it and keeps banging on about how horrible and unsafe it is!). So just a few prayers for safety would be appreciated πŸ™‚ Also, the people I want to see in Bucharest haven’t answered my emails so I don’t want the two days to end up being a wild goose chase! The afternoon of the 15th I fly on to Moldova for a few days, so I should be OK then.