Travel

Thoughts on visiting Romania

... about children, rules and religion

from Lillian Martin

Romania is shaped like a bouquet of flowers. The Danube River comes from Germany, Austria, Hungary and along the Yugoslav/Romanian border to Galati into the Black Sea through the Danube Delta.

Romania was the battlefield for Germany and Russia. They tried to be neutral. They lived under Ceausescu until December 1989. They were under his rule for 45 years. Then in April 2007 Romania became a member of Europe United Community.

Our Flights from the United States:
Austin to Atlanta – 2 hours 18 minutes
Atlanta to Paris  - 8 hours 15 minutes
Paris to Bucharest – 2 hours 50 minutes
Then we traveled about 4 hours to the city of Galati in a van.

Total flight time was 13 hours 23 minutes.

Return Flight
Again taking a van from Galati
Bucharest to Paris – 3 hours 10 minutes
Paris to Atlanta -   9 hours 10 minutes
Atlanta to Boston -  2 hours 42 minutes

Total flight time was 15 hours and 19 minutes.

At 37,000 feet we were going 582 miles an hour and the outside temperature was -49 degrees.

I stayed with Ulia and Marcel Maxim and their one daughter Alex, four years old. They live in an apartment building on the seventh floor, in the city of Galati. Two times while we were there the elevator actually worked, so we got plenty of exercise. She worked at a bank and he worked at the church. Breakfast was a must. We were served a good breakfast everyday we were there – consisting of meat, cheese, yogurt, juices, and fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, along with water and coffee. The coffee is very strong so you don’t need much. Ulia loved to cook, when we arrived one night she had homemade ice cream made of a fruit similar to our cantaloupe, with honey. It was delicious. Another night she made a dessert that had a flaky pie crust top and it was delicious also.



Marcel is Stefanica’s son. Stefanica is an awesome pastor. He takes care of four churches. One is in a village called Nicople – it is a small church with only five members that once had many. However, the population is decreasing because when the young grow up they get married and move to Italy or some place else to make a better living, and the old folks die there.

I laughed at the message on his T-shirt in another language. I asked if that was Romanian; he said, "No it is German." He said it says:

"Shoot me – I married too young." He has been married for 38 years.

He sings praise songs all the time and his favorite he will sing for you anytime you ask – the words are from I Timothy 1:17,
"Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Redui

I was assigned to the village of Redui. The Pastor’s name is Tudorel Gheorghita and his wife Flori is in charge of the children.

Our purpose is to tell them that Jesus had died for their sins and offers them the gift of heaven. We are not trying to get members in this particular church but to make sure they know how to get to Heaven. If you have any questions about our trip or our purpose, please be sure to ask me. I will be happy to talk to you.



I had visited there four years ago. When we first started the church, we had seven children and by Friday we had 60 Children. This time there were only ten children coming because the Orthodox priest in the village told them not to come and that the candy we were giving them had poison in it. The teachers of the school also told them if they came to the church, they would give them bad grades. The time we were there more came because it was not during the school year but they still feared the priest. He told the parents he would not bring communion to them or bury their families if they got involved in the church. The fear is very real.

There are lots of medical needs in the village of Redui. One mother called Tudorel (I won’t try to pronounce the last name – it’s difficult) and wanted prayer for her 17 year old son. When he was 1 and a half years old, the doctor gave him a shot that he had a reaction to and that stunted his growth. When we arrived she was afraid for us to go in because the priest would find out, but since we were from America we were allowed to go in. It is so sad. He just lay there, recognizing his mother and smiling and that’s all he could do. We asked if we could pray, she said yes. I could only cry with the mother, telling her she is a good mother.

David laid hands on the boy and prayed for him. I stroked his forehead and he didn’t flinch but I am not sure he was comfortable so I didn’t do that very long. Tuderol said he had visited before years ago and the boy is the same. The mother has three other children. The two younger ones are small. She also has a 14 year old boy that likes to go to the church. The mother was confronted by the Priest and she simply told him that he is a teenager and he does what he wants to do. He thoroughly enjoys the church and would rather hang out there than with his other friends.

I Mihai Dumitrascu (pastor of the mother church in Galati) made a suggestion that if the Americans could bring a medical team in the future a great number of people could be helped.

We visited an organization called the Heart of a Child where they try to care for the children that have needs. They have emptied the orphanages in Bucharest and provided foster homes for the children in need. They also go into the villages to see if there are any needs there. I gave the information to Tuderol to call to see if there was anything they could do for this boy. The mother would not be as afraid because it wasn’t a church helping him. (I will explain more about the Heart of a Child later in this report)

While walking the village, a little girl was sitting with her mother and grandmother and they were teaching her how to crochet. I asked if that was the first piece she had done and she said yes. I told her I would like to have something she crocheted. The next day as we were walking the village, she came up to me and handed me something wrapped in a piece of gauge. It was an item she crocheted just for me. She had also written a little message to me in English. Her name is Ana Marie. She came to church the next night and I had a bible ready for her and a box of crayons. I told her I was very happy to receive her gift and I hoped she would enjoy mine. She said she liked it very much. Her attitude was that she expected nothing in return. She was very thankful.

We visited an elderly lady who had physical problems and her husband had mental problems. I talked with her through the interpreter and asked her several times if I could pray for her. Each time she said no. She said the priest prayed for her and nothing happened. She paid the priest to pray for her. I told her I would not charge her anything to pray for her. She still said no. Finally, she did agree and I prayed for her. I prayed for not only her physical body but her emotional body and for God to take away the fear.

There are a lot of men that beat their wives in this village. We saw an older lady walking to the police station and a translator told me it was because her husband had beaten her.

It was very hot – over 100 degrees most days. They worked in the fields all day – it is very hard on them. At night they are very tired and just want to try to stay cool in the shade outside their homes. They have to get their water from a well. Most drive their wagons to the well to carry the water back to the house. They raise cows and when it is milking time the cows just walk down the middle of the street toward their homes. All the animals know the way home. Even a flock of ducks were out in a field and as we walked by, they all lined up behind each other and went directly to their home. The first one ducked his head under the fence and the rest did the same.

I was impressed that, when a man needed shoes put on his horse, he went to the man that does that in the village but when he saw that he was drunk, he told him he could not do it right now. There was no anger or harsh words, just simply you cannot do that now because you are drunk.

I have taken pictures of the children mostly because that is such a luxury. I tell them they can pick up the pictures at the church because I will send copies to the Pastor once they are developed. One lady was driving her horse to get water and she had her small child in the wagon, so I took a picture. Then she motioned to me that she would like a picture of me in the wagon next to her so I climbed in the wagon and had someone take our picture. She wanted to give me a ride but the Romanian leader I was with thought it was not best for me to do that.

Hospital Visit

Mihaela had a friend that was in the hospital and asked if I would come with her to visit her. She said she talks like she is a Christian but she wasn’t sure. She had been in a car–motorcycle accident and fractured her ribs. (She was 35 years old). We arrived at the gate and the guards would not let us in because it was not visiting hours but Mihaela knew how to get in, we simply walked through the emergency room into her room. It was a very simple room – clean with 3 beds in the room. When we arrived one lady (85 years old) was reading a Bible. We talked for a while and I asked Mihaela if it was okay to give her friend a Bible and she said yes. As it turns out the lady reading the Bible had borrowed it from Mihaela’s friend so she gave the one I gave her to the older lady. She was so thankful to have a Bible all her own. She was obviously a Christian.

The lady in the 3rd bed began to cry and we asked what was wrong. She said her doctor had told her she might not live until Thursday. We prayed for her. She has a tumor – she pointed to her lung or breast – we were not sure which she meant. I didn’t have anymore Bibles so I gave her a Four Spiritual Laws pamphlet in Romanian to read and she immediately began to read it. We talked to the others while she read it. After a few minutes she was weary and had to put it down but said she would finish it later. (This lady was 60 years old). As we got up to leave, she was again reading the pamphlet. She was so hungry to receive what God had for her. We decided we needed to come back the next day with a Bible for her.



The next day we visited again and she said she had read all of the pamphlet and she liked it very much. We gave her a Bible and she was very thankful also and began reading that right away. We didn’t get a chance to discuss it with her but God’s word does not return void. As we were visiting with the ladies, a nurse came in to tell the older lady she can go home today. (She had fallen in her yard and they were checking her out and she was fine except for some bruises).

Then another patient came in to talk with us and she was so emotionally upset she was really having a hard time while there. She had been in the hospital for 2 weeks and every day the doctor said, “We will do surgery today” and it never happened. She was young and didn’t appear to be in much physical pain but she was certainly aggravated. Her husband had visited some but he had to work and it was very hard for her to be away from her family. We gave her a Bible also. She also was delighted to have one. They took the lady who had the tumor for tests and we had to leave before she got back so I don’t know the outcome but I know she is seeking God and we are promised if we seek we will find.

Heart of a Child

This is an organization started by volunteers and then the government stepped in and they have grants to help children who need parents and care. Four years ago when we arrived in Bucharest we had to be very cautious because the street kids (who lived in the sewers) would pickpocket anything they could get to survive. They even stole a camera from my backpack that year and I didn’t feel them do it. This year there were no kids there and we found out that this organization had taken them off the streets and given them a home with the help of volunteers and the grants from the government.

Four years ago we visited an orphanage in Tecuci and the conditions were not good at all. The orphanage is closed now. We visited one of the foster homes. There were five children in the home with a house mother and father to care for them. They were happy, getting an education and had regular counseling because of the environment they came from still affected them. They had their own individual personalities that were encouraged and they talked about their talents. The children are given several chances to obey the rules and if not they are refused. A few of the children run away in the summer and come back in the winter because they can’t find places to live. Most of them soon learn that it is best to obey the rules. The murals on the walls they painted could have been done by an artist they were so good.

The Heart of a Child organization also goes into the villages to see if they can help the poor families there. This organization is in Galati, a relatively large city, but the children who live in the villages (such as Redui) do not get the opportunity to go to school unless they can live in the city during the school year and this is expensive, so some of them cannot get even a high school education. The organization is now looking for a building to house the very poor HIV kids and disabled. They need more special treatment and it is harder to find foster parents and buildings that could accommodate them. This organization also has summer camps for the kids. They were in need of volleyballs, basketballs, etc. We brought them some for their camp. It was amazing to see the difference in these kids from an orphanage to a foster home.

Roxanna

Roxanna is a special girl of mine. In 1998 she asked me how she could find God. Ever since then she has been very special to me. We have written letters and I have visited her at other times when I was in Romania. I wanted to see her this time but found out that she lives in Bucharest now. We flew into Bucharest and out of there but the times were in the early hours (3 a.m.) so it was not appropriate to see her then. She is now 21 years old. The pastor of the church in Teccui (about 45 minutes from Galati) where she grew up visited her mom and dad on my behalf before I arrived to tell her I would be there and would like to see her. He thought maybe she would come home so I could see her. It turned out that I was not able to see her this time but I gave the pastor a gift to give to her or her parents. The last picture I got from her – looked like she was rebelling a little so I mostly wanted her to know that my love for her has not changed and most importantly that God’s love is unconditional. It doesn’t matter what we do, God is love. That’s who He is and He does not change.

October 5, 2007


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