I looked at the dish. It was a serving bowl, and that meant I didn’t have to eat the whole thing.
People who knew us, Romanians and tasted our cuisine, may liked our stuffed cabbage rolls and “mici”, the national signature for our unique sausages made of ground beef, pork and mutton, and then grilled on the BBQ.
They may also know that we enjoy eating fried pork/chicken/beef brains, liver, kidney, and pork skin. We make special dishes for Easter, for example, as “drob” from ground baked lamb liver, garlic and bitter herbs.
Now was the moment for me to step out and expand my food range in order to earn our hosts’ respect. One of my friends whispered to me, “You don’t need to do this.” But I had already promised I would do it.
“How many do you want me to eat?” I asked the governor whose face was red from the alcohol.
He showed me grace. “One.”
I wasn’t an expert in using the chopsticks, but I wanted to deliver my best in a Chinese way. I picked up the chopsticks, made sure my fingers held them properly and I looked into the bowl. The worms were deep fried and got a nice brown crust. I could see their hair-like crispy legs. I picked one, and placed it in my mouth. My skin crawled and I could feel my stomach in my mouth. I had to do that. Used all my stubbornness to go through the whole ordeal without throwing up. There was no way I could swallow the thing without crushing it in my mouth. My teeth listened and the worm shattered in my mouth in many fried pieces. Then the inner soft part splashed on my palate spreading a bitter taste. I swallowed and fought the vomit, keeping my face impassive as much as I could. I swallowed again and the thing went down in my stomach. It was good to see the Chinese applauding and nodding their heads.
As weird as it was, our team gained more respect.
I didn’t remember eating any dessert after that. I was thankful I continued enjoying the conversation and didn’t get sick.
We departed in good relationships with the governor and were taken back to our hotel.
Next day, with the back of the car full of boxes again, we drove to a village where, because of the heat, we were invited to sit on logs outside in the shade. People from different areas were waiting for us to bring the Bibles. There were quite a few elderly male pastors who had rode their bike for many miles to get there. The precious books went in a wooden or plastic box in the back of their bicycle and carefully tided up with a string.
We sat in a circle and other people showed up, some of them who were non-believers. I remembered I saw a young family, husband and wife, who came to us to pray for them. Their presence was a precious surprise. There were not many young couples to come to church together, since it was mandatory for men to work wherever the communist party sent them on the vast China’s land.
We were encouraged by this little church’s faith in Jesus, and our faith encouraged them. We ate cucumbers again and gave our testimony. They wept. We wept and after a couple of hours, we had to say goodbye.
For every church where we went we had little personal gifts we gave to our sisters alongside with the Bibles. Pencils, notepads, pens, thank you cards, and other little items we carried from home.
That afternoon we were told we would attend a special service in a special place.
-to be continued-
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