Yesterday was one of the worst days I've had at school. Thankfully I had plans to help celebrate the birthday of (now) 12 year-old Iustina (on the right). I could not have asked for a better way to turn a terrible day wonderful.
Once I left school I went straight to Maria's house. Shortly after I arrived, the Priest (Iustina's father) showed up and invited Maria to their house to celebrate the birthday. Once she finished up her tutoring lessons, we walked through the cemetery in the snow together. The Priest and his wife have 4 children but there is always a plethora of kids visiting and even guest animals.
This is their youngest son, Sergiu. In their backyard they have a pen full of pigeons, doves, and birds that I have no idea what kind they are. Left: Maria, Iustina, and me.
After lunch/dinner we went across the street to visit the church. They still had the decorations from Christmas up and they wanted to show me. Behind the Priest is a wall. When I was in Razeni, we had a tour of the church there and I remember them telling us that females are not allowed behind the wall (but they did let us stand at the doorway and peek in) and I didn't understand why. When I asked my Priest this question, at first he just said, "I don't know. That's just how it is" because he did not want to offend me; a foreigner with possibly different beliefs. But then his conscience got the best of him and he had Maria translate for me (although I understood what he was saying). Apparently this "sin" dates back to the 600's. Before then, women were allowed behind this wall and at baptisms. But after this time, they were forbidden. This is because at this time there were a lot of poor people who could not afford undergarments. Women would wear long skirts and dresses, but there would not be anything underneath them, so when they were having their monthly cycle (or if they had just given birth), they were considered "unclean" and "dirty", so it was preferred if they just stayed home and definitely out of the church as to not make a mess. Then, once they were allowed back into the church, they wanted a place just for the men, which is why now, only men are allowed behind this wall. To this day in Moldova (and possibly other places), women are not allowed in a church or at religious ceremonies if they are on their period, even though there are now products to keep it clean.
Maria has a white cat at home, and this is the son of her cat. If you didn't know, it would be very easy to think this is the same cat by not only the physical appearance but the mannerisms, too, and the way in which it responds to Maria.