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Because we had a light schedule planned for Saturday, we did not have to be on the bus until 10 a.m. We were able to sleep late if we wanted to, and still had plenty of time to enjoy our breakfast (which turned out to be one of the lightest meals we ate on the entire trip).

After loading the bus and doing roll call, we embarked on the first leg of our day’s travel – a less-than-an-hour-long jaunt through hills, forests, and curves to Peles Castle. This castle was the summer residence of Romania’s royal family in the pre-communist times when there was a royal family. It is now a tourist trap, and since we were tourists, we stopped in. It is a nice castle. We didn’t go inside since that costs money and takes time, and we didn’t have an overabundance of either resource. We did, however, take a group photo in front of the castle. There were some souvenir shops here, so some of us took the opportunity (our last one) to buy some mementos of our trip.

From the castle, we had another hour to drive before reaching the Elim Baptist Church in Ploiesti. Our hosts here served us a hearty lunch, and then we used the democratic process to determine whether we should rest before practicing or practice before resting; the majority voted for the second option, so we took our stuffed stomachs to the auditorium and spent the first part of the afternoon rehearsing and improving our songs. After practice, we had an hour to spare before we needed to get ready for our evening concert; many of us used this time to sleep in the auditorium.

This concert was slightly unusual for us. It was the only time that we did not have a place to sit in the front of the church, so we filed in in a semi-orderly fashion at the beginning of the service; typically, we have simply found seats on the stage a few minutes before the service begins. We also filed out for intermission, another first. And, instead of the sermon that we have become accustomed to during intermission, there was only a congregational song and then we re-entered and finished our program. This was probably the shortest service that we’ve participated in.

Another interesting note – at the end of “Famine Song”, which begs for rain and finishes with the word “rain” being repeated seven times, it actually started raining.

After the service, our hosts provided us with another delicious meal. We then boarded the bus and traveled another forty-five minutes to Vienna House Hotel near Bucharest, where we had stayed the first two nights that we were in Romania. After spending some time in the lobby discussing deep theological issues, Justin’s cat, and various other pertinent topics, we went to bed to dream happy dreams of the delightful breakfast that we knew we would experience in the morning.

Tim Kauffman