As soon as the girls arrived in America last July and were able to Skype with those of us back in Beius, we wanted to know everything. And by everything, I mean that I wanted each girl to tell us in as many details they could conjure up what made America America to them. After all, for 15 years they had not veered far from a small, Romanian town surrounded by mountains peppered with questionably bright-painted houses. Beius was Romania to them, and Romania the world.
The first exciting part of their journey was just crossing the border to Hungary. “We’re in Hungary now?!” I guess they were hoping for something drastically different. Like, as soon as you step foot in another country, you step onto another planet. But Hungary looks a lot like Romania—minus the mountains. But with the addition of a more difficult language. The signs could not be read though that didn’t stop the girls from trying desperately to pronounce the towns we were passing through, giggling at the strange sounds they made.
The plane ride wasn’t as much of a mystery because they had flown once before following their visa interview in Bucharest. But this time the plane was going to be bigger, badder, better. The bathroom, however, would remain just as tiny and just as frightening when you flush.
I tried not to ask leading questions, but I couldn’t contain myself. After all, it had finally happened! After years and years of equating America with home where their families waited for them—there they were, Skyping me from America! From Beius, I was chatting with each girl, sitting in her own bedroom, a room that had been prepared for her all these years.
There are many adjustments. The girls are 15 and 16, ages when children typically start to want independence from parents. Yet, this will be the age where each girl will have to learn what it means to be part of a family. They will learn their own role as well as the role of others in the family. This is something they and their families will have to work through. Those of us who have connected with the girls through mission trips or visits to Casa Josef, our role in their lives has changed too. There is no need for Casa Josef for these girls—isn't that the most beautiful thing? Ah, they will always be the Great Eight, but now, they have their own families. Thank God, thank you God!
But for this Skype call, with my three nieces next to me (Delia, Dia, and Dora’s roles have also changed within our family), I could ask the girls in America the superficial questions, the easy questions. Well, after the hysteria that they’re in America. The screaming, the laughing, the almost-crying from joy.
“What’s the most different, craziest thing about America? The houses? Isn’t the grass super green there? Oh yeah, there are a ton of cars and the roads are really wide. Ha ha! Yeah, not as many pot holes as Beius. What else is weird? The lady at the store asked you how you were because she was being nice, not because she knows you? Americans have good customer service. Aren’t the grocery stores crazy big? They have like fifty million different things you can buy! What else? Oh yeah, the toilets are weird. Show us how the toilet flushes. The light switches! Yep, those are in the inside of the bathroom, not the outside so no one can ever turn the light off on you anymore. Girls, look at the outlet, see it’s different too. It has three prongs! Wait, let’s see your kitchen. Woooooow! Don’t open your fridge, it’s gonna make me jealous . . . Waaaaa! Why did you open it?! Your fridge has an ice dispenser. Show us. Nooooo! Oh, you need to put the ice in first, then the water. Daaaaang that’s a big box of cereal. Oh! Right, from Costco. Take us to your living room. Where do you get the air conditioning? From the floor? Oh the ceiling. Wait, wait, wait, go walk on the carpet, isn’t it super soft? The blinds! See girls, the blinds there are different, not rolling shutters like ours where ya gotta put some arm power into it. Okay, open them, see how easy it is?”
“Didi . . . I think you miss America.”