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A Romanian Adventure, Part 1

Many people know that I spent 8 years in Romania right after the Romanian revolution. I went as a university professor/missionary.  This is the story of one of the trips we took occasionally as missionaries.  I wrote part 1 in the title because a lot happened, and I am sure it will take more than one blog to finish this story.  In our village outside of Sibiu, there were several people working for the farm co-op. They were migrant farm workers.  Several of the migrant farm workers decided to study the Bible and come to church.  The mother and sister of one of the migrant farm workers came to visit.  The mother was sick and they couldn’t get medicine. the daughter who lived in our village and was coming o church suggested that we might have medicine she needed because we were working with a group from America called Partners in Progress that sent and took medicine all over the world.  They had sent us a lot of medicine to give to people who might need it in Romania.  The woman brought her mother and sister to visit us.

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The daughter was right. We had exactly the kind of medicine her mother was looking for. We didn’t give out prescription drugs. That waited for the doctors who came when we had a free clinic, but there was a supply of non prescription drugs, and this woman got the medicine she had been unable to find. Many things were hard to find in Romania right after the revolution.  The mother took the medicine.  She and her daughter came to church with the daughter who lived in our village the next time.  They liked it so much!  The came back to our house to visit us.  They told us they were on their way home, but they wondered if we would consider coming to their village in the countryside to teach.  One of the unique things about the ministry that we did was that most missionaries only go to the cities, but we were willing to go to the country to teach people.  We agreed to go and teach a Bible class for the adults and for the children out in the country occasionally.

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The time came for us to go and teach the Bible classes we had promised for these ladies.  I was always the key to things in Romania because I was the translator. On top of that, I had to go because I was supposed to teach the children’s Bible class.  We headed out to these ladies’ village in the country.  We went on the road that everyone seems to pass picture of around on Facebook that is probably the most winding road in the world.  We went north of Sibiu toward Cluj.

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In Cluj, we decided we need to stop and get something to eat.  We found a shop and I went in to get the food because I was the one who could speak Romanian.  No one could tell I wasn’t Romanian because I have dark hair and eyes like a Romanian and white yellow looking skin like a Romanian, and I speak Romanian with a Sibiu accent since that is where I learned Romanian.  There were big long lines in the store waiting to get to the front of the line.  In Romania, you couldn’t just walk down the aisles of the grocery store and get what you wanted. You had to talk to the person behind the counter, and they got the food for you and brought it to you.  The line was long, and I had stood there a long, long time.  I finally made it to the front!  I opened my mouth and began to speak, and of course, I was speaking Romanian.  All of a sudden, a woman pushed her way in from behind me.  She was speaking Hungarian.  The store clerk’s attention completely focused. I was ignored, and the woman speaking Hungarian was waited on!  I was in disbelief!  Cluj is a Hungarian town in side of Romania. The clerk had thought I was Romanian, and she must have been Hungarian because she prattled on happily to the woman who pushed her way to the front in Hungarian as she waited on her.  I finally got the food after the Hungarian woman was waited on.

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After that, we went on outside of Cluj.  Cluj was a larger city.  We headed for a village outside of Cluj, and then for a smaller village in the country outside of that village. In the first village, we stopped because we saw a restaurant, and we needed to use the restroom.  The only bathroom was an outhouse, and that was very normal in the village in Romania.

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We headed out into the country toward the very small village we were supposed to go to. We were going so far out that even the Orthodox priest refused to go out there and teach the people about God. That is one of the reasons they took the chance at asking us to go out there and teach, and of course, we had accepted.  The roads were dirt for many miles.  We saw women walking along the road in traditional Romanian clothing, head scarfs, and very interesting looking homemade shoes.  The shoes were normal in the country.  They were big rubber triangles cut from tires.  The people would wear big thick socks and wrap white rags around their feet, and then put their foot on this rubber triangle and tie the rubber triangle around their foot.

assorted wine bottles
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We passed a lot of hay fields with hay that had been baled sitting in the field.  We passed a tuika factory. The tuika factory was the only business out here.  Tuika is Romanian plum brandy. It is a very popular and very strong drink in Romania.  We just kept driving farther and farther out into the country.

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We went so far that just the past year they had just received electricity out there, and there was no running water or gas.  We went into the mountains to the very end of the dirt road.  Before we got to the end of the road, we arrived at the house of the woman who was the sister of the woman from our village.  When we got out of the car, there was mud everywhere!  The woman came out of her house and yard across a small bridge on a stream to greet us.  She was wearing a dress, a headscarf, and rubber boots. Everyone here was wearing rubber boots. The mud was just too much not to wear rubber boots. I understood Romania and was wearing boots too.

bridge in the forest
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We crossed the small foot bridge and went to her yard.  There was an unpainted, crude wooden fence all the way around her yard.  There was no grass in her yard, only thick mud.  On one side of the yard, you could see a small wooden building where they were raising a pig, and on the other side, you could see their outhouse.  We went into the front door, and everyone had to take their boots off not to track mud into the house.

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When we enter the house, we went into one large room.  If there were more rooms, I don’t know. The floors were bare unpainted wood, but there were handmade rugs here and there on the floor.  On one side of the room, there was a primitive kitchen where she cooked on a wood stove and had several buckets for carrying water.  The other side of the room had several handmade unpainted wooden benches and a handmade unpainted wooden table.  The children were beginning to gather because they had come to a children’s Bible class I was supposed to teach for them.  There was not even a school out here for these children, and they were thrilled that someone had come to teach them.  There were bright faces of country children all around the large table. I had translated several songs for children from English into Romanian, and the children truly enjoyed singing the songs!  I had brought pictures to show them as I told the Bible story, and they all listened attentively.  There was no discipline problem. They were just thrilled to have an opportunity to go to a Bible class!  I had made coloring pictures for them about the Bible lesson and brought crayons, and the children were thrilled again because they didn’t normally even get coloring books and crayons.  This was a real, wonderful adventure for these kids, like going to Disney Land.

 

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When the class was over, it was time to go on to the next house where we would have a Bible lesson for the adults in the area.  I was the translator there. The parents from this house were going to be at the Bible study for the adults.  We got back in the car and continued to the end of the dirt road.  The road stopped, and we couldn’t take the car all the way. We had to get out and walk the rest of the way. It had begun raining. We had to climb a mountain on foot to get to the next Bible study.  The adventure will continue, but I think it is time for the next blog not to make this one too long.

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