Tag Archives: Romania

Imagining the “Copacavaca”

The Name

Deep in the black forests of Romania there may live a scary animal. The locals have a name for it: Vaca Care Locuieste in Copac. 

I call it: Copacavaca (because the other name is too long).

The Creature

In the early 90’s, shortly after the fall of Nicolae Ceaușescu, I had the privilege to spend about a month in Romania. There I visited many cities, including Bucharest, Alexandria, Timișoara, Arad, Pitești, etc. The people were more than wonderful. The forests, however, were darker than any I had seen before. Literally, they soaked up light like a sponge.

One day, while walking through one of these dark forests, I was made keenly aware of the possibility of some creature in the trees above me. Being mindful of the legends associated with Transylvania, I could not help but imagine myself as one of those hapless tourists pounced upon by some non-mythical monster heretofore thought imaginary.

I thought to myself, “What could be above me, right now, which I might never expect? What kind of creature would be impossible to believe, therefore capable of living in obscurity, except for when it feeds?” It couldn’t be a vampire or werewolf. It had to be something totally off the wall. It had to be something as unthinkably dangerous as Clark Kent was powerful…then it hit me (not literally)… “Vaca.”

Vaca

Just the day before I had learned the word. “What do you call those big animals in the field that go mooooooo?” I asked.

“Vaca” was the reply.

My mind now imagined an animal so dangerous, so heavy, so tired of being milked and eaten between buns, and in the trees right above me – the Vaca din Copac…

the Romanian Tree-Dwelling Vaca… 

the Copacavaca!

The Horror

Should you ever walk through the dark woods of Romania, be very careful. Just because you can’t see them, that doesn’t mean the Copacavaca aren’t there. They could be. If so, you could be in danger.

One thing you should know about the Copacavaca is that they cannot see very well – they hunt by hearing. It is when you walk through the woods and make noises like other animals (especially humans) that the Copacavaca realize you’re potential prey.

They wait for you to walk under the tree they are in, then fall from on high to crush you beneath their massive weight. Therefore, it is critical you sound like them when walking among the pines (or whatever leafy, woody, thingy that is nearby).

I asked a friend who was with me if she had heard of tree-dwelling vaca. When she told me “no,” I demanded, in order to be safe, that she make a sound to imitate the vaca. If not, the camouflaged, nearly invisible Copacavaca may have mistaken us for dinner.

Computer rendering of a Copacavaca attacking prey.

With a puzzled look she responded to my request with a nonplus “Mooo.” 

“Do it again!” I said. “But louder!”

“Moooooooo!”

“LOUDER!”

“MOOOOOOO!”

Finally, with a tone of quizzical frustration, she asked, “Why am I making the sound of a cow?”

“Because that’s what the Copacavaca is – a man-eating, tree-dwelling cow.”

For some reason the Romanian girl didn’t believe me. Later that night, shortly after she invited me to a knock-off discotheque (a one-room joint with a few tables and a mirrored ball hanging from the ceiling),  I was poisoned and nearly died (no joke – I got sick and nearly died).

Coincidence??

Here’s the Point

The imagination can be profitable, just as long as it magnifies truth.

Used properly, as God designed it, the imagination can help us to see God from different perspectives, in different colors, with different expressions. Just think of what C. S. Lewis was able to do with the Narnia series. But replacing the God that is with a god of of our own creation is more than dangerous; it’s idolatry.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. – Rom 1:21 KJV

Some people say, “My god would never judge anyone.” Others say, “My god understands me…he made me this way.”

Still, others are convinced that “God doesn’t care what road you take, just as long as you’re sincere.”

But what kind of god are they thinking up? Maybe a creature that lives in the woods, but certainly not the God of the Bible.

For More Information

If you want to know more about the Copacavaca, I can think of something. Who knows, we may be looking at the next Dracula, only with four legs and udders (quick, somebody contact Chick-fil-A).

However, if you want to know more about the God who really is, I suggest you read the Gospel of John in the Bible.

And if you’d like, imagine yourself huddled next to a campfire, late at night, as an old, old man shares the amazing story of what he saw take place long, long ago…that you might believe (John 20:31).

I imagine the Truth will blow you away.

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Filed under General Observations, God, Humor, legalism, worship

A Dream Come True, Sadly

A Dream

It has long been a dream of mine to just lay (lie?) in bed all day. All day, all night, just chillin’ there in my Spongebob pants.

Part of the dream is getting phone calls with people asking, “Anthony, where are you?” In response I would say, “Oh, just laying in bed.”

“But it’s 3 in the afternoon!” they would exclaim, thinking I could be shocked back to reality. “Really?” I would say, “I thought it was much later.”

A Nightmare

Well, my dream became reality, only it was a reality far too real to be fun. Saturday morning, about 9 a.m., I began to feel ill. By 10:00 I was in full-blown stomach virus meltdown. I made it to my bedroom and didn’t leave until just before this post.

On Thursday and Friday our oldest daughter, Alicia, came to visit. She stayed in our bed, sick with whatever my wife and I both caught. Friday night my wife became ill, then I followed.

But hey, there I was, over 24 hours in bed (except for the multiple trips to the toilet and the occasional cooling off time on the bathroom floor).

Be Careful…

You know the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for?” Well, be careful what you wish for.

Laying (lying) in bed all day and night is no fun, especially when you can’t do anything. I couldn’t read, watch TV, listen to music, get comfortable, or even enjoy crackers and water.

Important Things

But I can say that spending all that time in bed sick as a dog (although I have never seen a dog so sick) reminded me of what is most important – not being sick.

When one is puking his guts up, along with incurring the revenge of Montezuma, Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, texting, and any other form of modern communication is worthless. Relationships are even worthless if they are as sick as you are. The most important thing is to not be sick, unless you have other family who is willing to treat you like a spoiled baby and meet your every perceived need.

Thankfully, after coming home from a youth outing Saturday night, our other daughters were able to see the humor in two adults in misery. Considering how this stuff is so contagious, I wonder how important they will think it was to make fun of mommy and daddy in a day or two?

They’re just lucky they brought us jello and water when we asked. That was important, too.

Oh, One More Thing…

Years ago, when I was in Romania, I became similarly ill. Well, actually I was much worse, because that illness lasted for nearly a week – I almost died.

Do you know what I was given to make me feel better? Green tea, white rice, and goat cheese. Sorry, but it didn’t help.

What I wanted was Sprite (or something like it) over real, honest-to-goodness ice. You know, H2o that is frozen into little tiny cubes. My host family said, “Nu, Nu, Nu!” I said, “Da, Da, Da!”

Long story short, a U.S. Navy medic who was traveling with us agreed to find a carbonated drink (which ended up being mineral water with fruit syrup) and some bottle caps. We boiled some water, filled the caps, and snuck them into a tiny freezer. That night I had ice in my drink.

American ingenuity – what a wonderful thing!

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Filed under General Observations, Relationships and Family

Republic of Moldova

New, but Old

Back in 1991 I spent about a month in Romania. It was during this time that civil unrest broke out in the little country of Moldova. To say the least, it was a little unnerving to be only 90 miles away from Russian Spetsnaz “peace keepers.”

It was in 1991 that tiny Moldova finally gained its independence from the Soviet Union. But Moldova has been traded back and forth for thousands of years between different tribes and nations. At one point Moldova was actually part of early Romania, but it was also controlled at different times by the Romans, the Huns, the Bulgarians, and the Mongols.

Opposite of Luxembourg

If you remember last week’s country, Luxembourg, you will remember that she is one of the most wealthy countries in the world (per capita). Well, if Luxembourg is top on the money list, Moldova is right at the bottom.

According to the European Parliament (via Wikipedia), Moldova is the poorest country in all of Europe in terms of GDP. And despite their economy growing in the last few years, the per capita GDP is only $2022.! To put that in perspective, the United States’ per capita GDP is $48,400, while Luxembourg’s $115,000! 20% of the population lives at or below the absolute poverty line of $2.15 a day.

Religious

According to one of the only sources I am using today, most of the people in Moldova are Christian (93.3%). The only problem with that number is that most are either Russian or Romanian Eastern Orthodox. It is said that the church is so affected by culture and national interests that professing atheists (0.4%) participate in religious activities simply because it’s the thing to do.

My concern is that there may be the ability to know the truth of Christ within the churches of Moldova, but do they? Is Christianity mostly a cultural institution, or do they really know Jesus?

It is not my intention to belittle the Orthodox Church in Moldova. But it makes me wonder: a country that forces all religious groups to register with the state doesn’t help me to believe that 93% of its citizens are filled with the Spirit.

Grace Awaits

Many times religious people find their hope of salvation in the keeping of tradition, the confessional, or prayers to saints in a candle-lit room. What they don’t understand is that Grace is calling out to them. Jesus wants to set them free from legalism and a cold, unevangelical faith.

I don’t know how many visits I have had to this blog by people in Moldova, but it can’t be more than a few. Yet, there has been at least one, so just pray that this site might spark a revival in such a poor and thirsty land.

And while you are praying, pray for the economic situation in Moldova.

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Filed under Countries, God, legalism, places, Witnessing

Imagining the “Copacavaca”

The Name

Deep in the black forests of Romania there may live a scary animal. The locals have a name for it: Vaca Care Locuieste in Copac. 

I call it: Copacavaca (because the other name is too long).

The Creature

In the early 90’s, shortly after the fall of Nicolae Ceaușescu, I had the privilege to spend about a month in Romania. There I visited many cities, including Bucharest, Alexandria, Timișoara, Arad, Pitești, etc. The people were more than wonderful. The forests, however, were darker than any I had seen before. Literally, they soaked up light like a sponge.

One day, while walking through one of these dark forests, I was made keenly aware of the possibility of some creature in the trees above me. Being mindful of the legends associated with Transylvania, I could not help but imagine myself as one of those hapless tourists pounced upon by some non-mythical monster heretofore thought imaginary.

I thought to myself, “What could be above me, right now, which I might never expect? What kind of creature would be impossible to believe, therefore capable of living in obscurity, except for when it feeds?” It couldn’t be a vampire or werewolf. It had to be something totally off the wall. It had to be something as unthinkably dangerous as Clark Kent was powerful…then it hit me (not literally)… “Vaca.”

Vaca

Just the day before I had learned the word. “What do you call those big animals in the field that go mooooooo?” I asked. “Vaca” was the reply. Vaca. Now, above me in the trees, my mind imagined an animal so dangerous, so heavy, so tired of being milked and eaten between buns – the Vaca din Copac, the Romanian Tree-Dwelling Vaca, the Copacavaca!

The Horror

You see, when you walk through the woods in Romania, I would encourage you to be very careful. Just because you can’t see them, that doesn’t mean the Copacavaca aren’t there. They could be. If so, you could be in danger.

One thing you should know about the Copacavaca is that they cannot see very well – they hunt by hearing. It is when you walk through the woods and make noises like other animals (especially humans) that the Copacavaca realize you’re potential prey. They wait for you to walk under the tree they are in, then fall from on high to crush you beneath their massive weight. So, it is critical that you sound like them when walking among the pines (or oaks, cedars, maples, or whatever leafy, woody thingy is nearby).

I asked a friend who was with me if she had heard of tree-dwelling vaca. When she told me “no,” I demanded, in order to be safe, she make a sound to imitate the vaca. If not, the camouflaged, nearly invisible Copacavaca may mistake us for dinner.

“Mooo!” Do it again! “Moooooooo!” Louder! “MOOOOOOO!”

“Why am I making the sound of a cow?” she asked in frustration.

“Because that’s what the Copacavaca is – a man-eating, tree-dwelling cow.” For some reason, she didn’t believe me.

The Point

Imagination is profitable as long as it magnifies truth. Imagining things that don’t exist can be fun, but don’t take it too seriously. An over-active imagination can lead to irrational fears, like that of tree-dwelling cows. The imagination can even help us to see God from different perspectives; in different colors; with different expressions; however, don’t imagine Him to be what He is not. You see, the imagination can be dangerous when it creates a god of one’s own liking, replacing the God that is. That is idolatry.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. – Rom 1:21 KJV

Some people say, “My god would never judge anyone.” Other people say, “My god understands me…he made me this way.” Still, others are convinced that “God doesn’t care what road you take, just as long as you’re sincere.” What kind of god are they imagining? Certainly not the God of the Bible. Maybe he’s a fairy that lives in the woods?

For More Information

If you want to know more about the Copacavaca, then maybe I can think of something else. I certainly have a wild imagination. Who knows, we may be looking at the next Dracula, only with for legs and utters (quick, somebody contact Chik-fil-a).

However, if you want to know more about the true God, read the Gospel of John in the Bible. And while you’re at it, try to imagine yourself huddled next to a campfire, late at night, as an old man shares the amazing story of what he saw – that you might believe (John 20:31).

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Filed under General Observations, God, Humor, legalism, worship

Faith? Just Go to the Store.

Have you ever gone to the refrigerator and said to yourself, “There’s nothing to eat?”

As a child, especially as a teenager, I remember being told to shut the door of the fridge. For five minutes I would just stand there staring. Who needs an air conditioner when you have a picky, hungry, spoiled teenager?

Adults do the same thing.

With my mother-in-law coming over for dinner (that’s a whole ‘nother story), I went to the fridge to see what to make. Upon opening the door, this is what I saw: milk, soft drinks, cheese, sweet pickles, and sour cream. There was literally nothing in there, or in the cabinets, with which to make an evening meal. So, I stared….and whined….didn’t want eggs….or carrots….or yogurt….especially with biscuits….until my wife said…

Just go to the store!

Wow! What a blessing we take for granted! “Just go to the store,” she says. No food? No problem – JUST go to the store. Somewhere a cow had given its life and was waiting for me to come pick out its remains from a cooler.

I go to the store, just like my wife suggested, and found everything we needed to grill some wonderful, 20% fat-filled, high-cholesterol comfort burgers on our Weber grill (cheap little one). On top of that, I picked up an onion, some buns, and a fresh, ripe tomato. Problem solved. No faith required.

“Give us this day our daily bread. … Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink…” – Matthew 6:11, 25a 

“God will provide.” Easy to say – hard to live.

In the early 90’s, when Romania was just beginning its walk with freedom, food was still a scarce commodity. Yet, whenever a guest like me would enter a home, the hosts would bring out the very best they had – ALL of it – and prepare a meal fit for, well, an American.  They really couldn’t afford it. In many cases, there was literally nothing left for the next day. So, in an effort to stop the madness, I tried to talk some sense into these over-hospitable people.

“Look,” I said, “you don’t need to do this…we’re fine…save this food for yourself…we won’t eat it all, so it would be a waste.”

“No problem,” was the reply – from a teenage girl, no less – “God will provide.”

In my smug, self-righteous, experienced-in-the-terminology-of-the-faith kind of way I responded, “But you don’t understand…”

“No, YOU don’t understand” the young girl said with almost a sad look on her face. “Don’t worry about us, because when this food is gone, there will be more.”

She said, “You see, the food you are eating now was not here yesterday, and we didn’t even know where it was coming from. We ate all we had yesterday, but God provided us with food for today. So, there may be nothing left after today for tomorrow, but that is no problem. He brought us food for yesterday and today, and He will take care of tomorrow.”

That’s what I call faith! We just go to the store.

“O [we] of little faith…” – Matt. 6:30

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Filed under America, Food, Future, God, Life Lessons, the future