This is a continuation of the blog about how Romania was under Communism. They left Communism in 1989, and I went the next year to help. There were American missionaries everywhere. I went to teach at Sibiu University, right in the center of the country and to help with the mission work. I was the head translator for the free medical clinic and translated for all the Bible lessons. I learned so much about what Communism did to Romania. The world needs to learn from Romania to know why we don’t want Communism.
This is a new Renault. The Dacia is one of the first versions of the Renault.
There were two main kinds of cars: the Dacia and the Trabant. Dacia is the ancient name of Romania and the car, Dacia, was made in Romania. The Trabant came from East Germany. The Romanians bought the plans for Renault many years ago from France. They used those plans to make the Dacia, but when the Renault in France was updated and made better, the Dacia was not updated. The technology was old. I have heart the Trabant was also not made very well. The people who bought these cars had saved their whole lives to buy a car and walked until they could afford to buy one. There was no borrowing money from the bank and paying them back. You had to save your money and then pay cash. Only older people close to retirement age could afford a car, and even if they could afford to buy a car, perhaps they couldn’t find gas to put in it at times. Since they walked for so many years, their bodies weren’t adjusted to riding in cars, and many got car sick when they began riding in cars. Usually, when they bought their cars, they weren’t new because they couldn’t afford the new ones. They drove old second hand broken down cars.
If you lived in the village, you just skipped the car. They seemed worthless to you. Buying a horse and a wagon seemed much more practical. Yes, you had transportation to go places if you wanted like a car, but you could also take your horse and cart to the field and haul the hay or whatever was your were with in the field. Horses and carts were more expensive than cars, but much more practical.
When you worked in the field, if there was a tractor, it wasn’t modern, and probably broken. People who worked in the fields did harder work than in other countries because of the lack of modern equipment.
Many people who lived in the country became shepherds. Shepherds spent all their time with the sheep. They lived outside, not in a house. They wore sheep skin for clothing. They slept outside all the time, even when there was snow on the ground because they had to be with the sheep all the time. If they went to town, they smelled like sheep, and people didn’t want to be around them.
Everything was old and broken or not made well. In Sibiu, the 5th largest city, there was a huge department store called Dumbrava Magazin. If you went there to buy shoes, you better not get those shoes wet, but there was lots of rain and snow in Romania, so it was hard. The shoes were not made well. They used cardboard to make the souls of the shoes, and when they got wet, they fell apart. Dumbrava Magazine had imports from Communist China. The clothing they sold in Dumbarava Magazine also was made of very cheap fabric and seemed to be held together with less than a thread. The clothing also fell apart and ripped easily. After the revolution, you had to look for second hand shops of clothing sent from Germany if you wanted clothes that were going to last more than a week or a month. However, before the revolution, you had to find a tailor and commission them to make clothes for you, or learn how to sew without a pattern. If you went to the pig market in Sibiu, there were a lot of second hand clothing and shoes being sold there, and it was a place where you could get something to wear longer than a week. The pig market was outside, muddy, and very cold. If you went in winter, you would be wearing several pairs of socks under your boots, several pairs of trousers, and several layers of shirts and sweaters under your coat. Many women took to knitting sweaters, hats, gloves, and socks. Women in the country used wool from sheep and wove it into blankets. It wasn’t easy.
Shoes were made from car tires but cutting a triangle and putting it on the bottom of your foot and lacing it up around several pairs of socks.
In the country, they came up with an ingenious idea for shoes. You had to wear several pairs of socks under these shoes. However, they took rubber from old tires, and they cut the rubber into a triangle and tied it up around their feet. One way or another, the Romanian people were going to be warmed, clean, and filled, even if Communism was a terrible obstacle. They wouldn’t give in! They would survive!
The conditions they had to live under were terrible, but they were trapped. It was like they were in prison in their own country. They didn’t know how to change things, but many knew things had to change. Some in the city had phones, but very few. In the country, there were no phones. There was no internet. In fact, Ceausescu, the president they killed during the revolution, didn’t like computers, so there were no computers at all.
Several of them were religious people, but most of them were afraid to practice their religion. They believed in God, but if they went to church or let anyone know they believed in God, there was no rising in the Communist party. There were no good jobs if people knew you believed in God or went to church. One lady I met was an English teacher. She had a terrible time understanding things written in English when they referred to God or the Bible, but she wanted to understand. She secured a Bible secretly, went into her closet with a flashlight, and read it in the closet just trying to understand the English literature she had to teach. Her husband didn’t even know what she was doing. She was scared.
Ceausescu began bulldozing the church buildings. He wanted to get rid of Christianity. There were people secretly taking pictures when he began bulldozing the church buildings, and after the revolution, they published their pictures.
The only thing on TV was Ceausescu, Ceausescu riding a horse, Ceausescu going to the store, Ceausescu eating dinner, etc. The only kind of TV people knew was reality TV. Some of the men wanted to watch ball games from other countries, but they couldn’t. However, some of them were smart enough to figure out how. They rigged a battery for electricity, took a TV, took chairs, and took a tent. They went way up into the mountains and set their tent up. They put up a TV antennae and got reception from other countries and watched their ball games.
If one person had something the others didn’t have, the others were jealous and caused trouble. One man wanted to heat his apartment, but he was afraid of people causing trouble who were unable to invent the heater like he had. He kept his heater hidden, but he kept his family warm.
If you got sick and were over a certain age, the doctor may refuse to treat you because you couldn’t be productive in the society. One woman’s father died in her arms because he had a heart attack, and they called the emergency medics to come, but they refused because of his age. She left the country after that as soon as she could.
The reasons to escape or try to throw out Communism just mounted up one after another! Finally, the securitate kidnapped a preacher in Timnisoara. He wasn’t taken to jail, but taken to a house and bound and gagged. I read an article about the spark that caused the revolution, and according to the article, this was the spark. However, when they kidnapped this preacher, it was not the first time anyone had been taken by securitate. The Romanian people had so, so, so many reasons to want out of their country.
I have a friend who was high up in the Communist Party, and even she got out. She loved to tell this story,” We want Communism. We are on this train, and Communism is the train. As we go along, realize we don’t have any food, but we say, ‘That’s alright because we have Communism.’ We keep going on the train. Pretty soon, we figure out that we don’t have any clothes, but we say, ‘That’s alright because we have Communism.’ We continue on the train, and soon we figure out we have no water either, nothing to drink, nothing to bathe in, but we say, ‘That’s alright because we have Communism.’ After a while we figured out that we had nothing except Communism.”
Romania is beautiful. When you ride through the villages in the countryside, you feel like you are riding through a fairy tale it is so pretty. Everyone talks about the beauty of the mountains in Switzerland, but Romania has the Carpathian Mountains that are just as beautiful as the mountains in Switzerland. Romania is full of wonderful castles and astoundingly beautiful church buildings. They have white sand beaches on the Black Sea Coast and intriguing wild life refuges along the Danube Delta. The food is wonderful! The people are friendly. The traditional costumes are beautiful! I could go on and on about the wonderful things you can find in Romania, but still the people wanted out, and there is good reason. They were trapped, and some got out. I have written a book about Romanians trying to escape Communism. I am just waiting on the copywriter, and then I will post it on my blog for you to buy if you want.