Haranglab Pilgrimage
August 14, 2004
-- A Very Busy Day!
Photos by James Hayes-Bohanan, unless otherwise noted

Our Haranglab Arrival is shown at the bottom of this page.

We spent the morning of the 14th exploring the Saxon city of Segesvar. Paloma was eager to make friends with whatever cats we saw.
Here, kitty! ... kitty, kitty

Segesvar was a predominantly Saxon (Germanic) city until World War II, and many of Romania's few remaining German speakers can be found here. Most have left, however, because of the discrimination against them, though the German government had to pay a premium to the Romanian government in many cases. The architecture and gardens of the city are quite beautiful.

Gardens Saxons

The Lutheran church in Segesvar is quite heavily fortified, with arrow slits and very thick walls. We were not able to take photos in this church, which included a rather dark and spooky crypt below the altar. Near the entrance, I found this charming corner near the caretaker's quarter.

Fortress church Bike

Segesvar is a heavily fortified, walled city, complete with a great old clock tower. The yellow house to the right of the tower in this photo was the boyhood home of the historic Dracul, Vlad the Impaler. The clock keeps time and chimes on the hour, and the elaborite figurines actually work! The last thing we expected in this tower was a small museum exhibit about Skylab. Apparently a native of the area was among the Cosmonauts involved with that mission.
The tower Clockworks Skylab!

Of course, a kitchy photo with our girls was required!
Dracula Dracul

From the tower we could see the other major foritifications and the old city itself.
The view Tower

Segesvar is one of several cities in Transylvania in which we saw statues of the mythical Romulus and Remus nursing at a wolf. This is one of several not-so-subtle ways in which the Romanian government seeks to assert Roman roots in Transylvania.
Romulus Remus

Because it is a fortified city, Segesvar is built on a hill. The church and school are accessible via a rather long staircase, which was covered to ensure that winter weather would be no excuse for absences. Our girls correctly counted the 176 stairs!
Stairs Stairs

After leaving Segesvar, we took a brief side-trip to Biertan, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to another fortress church. The village is quite lovely, and includes not only a heavily fortified and beautiful church, but also another covered staircase. On the way to Biertan, I made a brief recording of a typical highway scene .
Biertan Biertan pulpit Stairs
This view from the Biertan fortress church could be much as it appeared centuries ago.
  Biertan village

Haranglab Arrival

Of course, the main purpose of the pilgrimage was for First Parish Bridgewater Unitarian Universalist and the Unitarian Church in Haranglab -- which had been partner congregations for about two years -- to have their first face-to-face visit.  Thus our arrival in Haranglab on the evening of August 15 was the most keenly anticipated part of the trip. We were greeted with a truly profound attitude of welcoming, which overcame our substantial differences of language, culture, theology, and life experience.

Turn your head and click below for a brief exampleAs we walked into the village, the church bells were rung vigorously. The word Haranglab means "church bell tower" in Hungarian, and it was sadly ironic that the our partner congregation had been without the use of its bell tower until just recently. In the photo to the right, our translator Csilla helps us to exchange greetings with Haranglab's minister (left, with beard), church president (center), our driver (right), and other parishioners. The church president is a very friendly and funny fellow, who uses hand motions to great effect if a translator is not handy! He is also an amazingly enthusiastic bell ringer!
Haranglab's haranglab!
CLICK (and turn head)

After some preliminary greetings, we met briefly in the (unoccupied) parsonage at Haranglab, where we were matched with our host families. Sandor was in the difficult position of assigning guests to hosts, because there was an abundance of eager hosts! We then walked out with our new friends, toward our new homes in town.
Parish house
Click to animate!
Click to hear the welcoming sounds


While most of our group stayed with parishioners in the village of Haranglab, Pam, Paloma, and I stayed with Rev. Sandor and his family in nearby Desfalva. Rev. Sandor is mainly employed as the minister of the Unitarian church in Desfalva (partnered with the UUs in Belmont, Massachusetts), but he also serves the Haranglab church on a part-time basis. In addition to serving both churches, he works very hard in his garden, and is particularly proud of his peppers (left). Almost everything we ate -- and drank -- during our stay came from the villages themselves. Like most people in Transylvania, Rev. Sandor and his wife Tunde also maintain impressive flower gardens around their home. I had constantly to resist the urge to bring plants home with me!
Peppers Garden view Garden

Paloma had chosen a hair band as a gift for Sandor's daughter Tundeka (the children of Sandor and Tunde go by diminuitives of their parents' names). For the rest of our stay, we rarely saw her without it. We were overwhelmed by our immediate welcome into this most gracious, industrious, and lovely family.
Princesses The kids

The Partner Church concept is sometimes seen as a form of international aid, but it is much more a matter of building relationships and friendships. What we have in common is greater than differences in language and culture -- caring for each other's children just one example. Pam reads to our daughters at Tunde & Sandor's house; Sandor "preaches" with both girls in during a tour of his Desfalva church building.
Buddies Preach!

Ilona & Sandor We stayed with Sandor and Tunde both because they had room for three guests together and because we had some business to conduct, for both the Desfalva/ Belmont and the Haranglab/ Bridgewater partnerships. To facilitate this, Ilona, Desfalva's part-time English teacher, also stayed with us. It was a great pleasure to meet her after exchanging many e-mail messages over the past couple of years. The stories she shared about her life were sobering. She is a tireless and careful translator; shown here reading our Bridgewater church newsletter and other materials to Rev. Sandor.