Finally we arrive in Archita! What a day it has been. This medieval village of 900+ inhabitants is 85% Gypsy and 15% Romanian who all moved into the village after the German’s left. It is arrived at either by train or by an hour drive down a very bumpy dirt road.
We were greeted by beautiful children who were so delighted to see us! Many hugs and hand-holding what a treasure they are. One little boy grabbed my hand and took me off through the deep grass to see the Stork’s nest atop a very pointed steeple on the church. It held baby storks.
The first order of business was visiting the new community building to see the work that has taken place over the past year – including the new roof. It will house a worship center as well as public showers and, perhaps, a bakery in the lower level.
Next we all moved to the cathedral for the Gypsy wedding ceremony. Six couples came forward to be married in the sight of God (religious ceremony) and it was a joyful, tear-ladened experience for all. The weddings were officiated by Rev. Paul Muresan in partnership with the local Orthodox priest, which just added credence to the proceedings.
Among the six couples were the town crier and his wife who also led music, singing for the ceremony and the village sheepherder and his wife (she wept through the whole ceremony – such a moving experience). I predict that the village or Archita will see many weddings in the future. In there tradition (post-Christian) they only had civil ceremonies – never religious blessings on their union.
Next we all marched out to the town square for the dedication of the wells. The sun was so bright and warm that most folks wanted to stand at a distance under the shade of the trees, but they all moved forward when the dedication began.
Trevecca had the privilege of telling the folks of the village about our St. Andrew’s challenge to our children to bring their offerings for the building of wells. She ended by reading the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman by the well (John 4) and reminded them to remember the “living water” that comes only through Jesus Christ is the ultimate source for this well of fresh water . . . and as much as they will enjoy this fresh water in the village square, how much more should they seek the “living water” in their individual lives and in their village life.
After the prayer of dedication and the cutting of the ribbon – everyone walked to the Romanian community center on the other side of town for a wedding reception (how touching that it was mostly the women how had just married that prepared the meal!).
After a tour of the Archita Orthodox church building (on the Romanian side of town) our team quickly headed back to Sighsoara (that is as quickly as we could given the rutted road!) for the youth conference headed by Tasha, Bethany and team (including Andrew Kroeger who was so glad to see us all arrive!).
The Youth conference was titled: “Ter…” (I’ll tell you later when I have a chance to check that word with Tasha or Bethany!) which means “awakening” or “new beginnning” which is the theme of the weekend: the challenge to Romania youth to take seriously their calling to “be” the church in the generations to come. They are the first generation to lead in the ‘new’ post communist rule Romania and the conference stresses their privilege and responsibility.