Using Romanian on a Mission Trip
Last September, I went with a group of church members to Romania on a mission trip.
I decided before I went that, although we would have translators with us the entire time, I would learn some Romanian before I went. I found a CD series that taught Romanian and started the lessons.
Everyone told me, "Oh, you're crazy. You're wasting your time. You will have translators with you, so there's no need to learn the language." Fortunately, I didn't listen to them.
I spent hours and hours, listening to those CD's and, bit by bit, learning common phrases in Romanian. The first time that I realized it was a good idea to learn some Romanian was going through Customs in Bucharest.
Our translators weren't with us yet, and the Customs officers had questions for our group. In very, very broken Romanian, and with a language dictionary, I explained why we were there and where we were travelling.
The Customs officer, after learning why we were there, helped us through the process. The most important benefit to my learning Romanian, however, presented itself as we immersed ourselves in a small town about an hour and a half outside of Bucharest.
We found that the people were very reserved with strangers. They were, of course, extremely courteous, but they didn't really open up to strangers very well.
What I learned is that when you show people that you care about them enough, before you even meet them, to try to learn to communicate with them in their language, it speaks to them in a way that no language can.
They realize that you've invested your time and effort to make them feel comfortable, and they respond to that.
My trip to Romania was one of the most rewarding experiences that I've had, and I wouldn't trade the time that I took to learn some basic Romanian for anything.