When I lived in Romania, there were many people who needed help in many, many ways. I went to Romania to reach out and help however I could. They had just had a revolution, and life was very hard for them. I went through more than anyone should ask another person to go through just to try to help Romanian people. If they wanted English, I taught them English. If they wanted Bible, I taught them Bible. If they wanted medicine, I got them medicine. If the children couldn’t read, I taught them to read. If people were hungry, I fed them. If someone was in trouble, I did what I could to rescue them. I did it all free of charge. No one paid me anything to do anything. I studied and learned their language. I studied and learned their history. I listened to them and learned from them. People were always knocking on my door because they needed something, and I helped in whatever way I could and put up with more than any human being should ever be asked to put up with, but I did it out of love.
The Orthodox priests from Sibiu approved of what we were doing. They said, “There are many atheist Orthodox. Go out and bring them in. Teach them about God.” I am not an Orthodox, but I taught at the Orthodox seminary in Sibiu. I made friends with Orthodox priests and loved to get tours of their church buildings.
However, there was an Orthodox priest in the village where we lived who didn’t want us around. We had bought an apartment in the village. There were Romanians helping us because they believed in what we were doing. We fixed the apartment up. We gave Reading, Bible, Hygiene, and even Business lessons to the poor children in the village all for free. We gave Christmas parties, Easter parties, etc. for the poor children in the village. These children were so poor that one boy came in his mother’s shoes when he first came because he had no shoes. At the parties, we gave gifts. We gave them new clothes. We gave them food. We gave them toys. When they got toys, it was the first toy they had every received. many told us that when they got a gift, it was the first gift they had every received. Everything was free. One Romanian lady among us took money that our group had collected and went around to all the farm laborer’s apartments and took them bags of rice and other kinds of food so they could have a nice Christmas dinner. She collected second hand clothing so we could pass it out to people who came needing clothes. We took new clothing and medicine to the orphanages. We had a free medical clinic where there were doctors from Romania and America both who donated their time for free. The nurses and pharmacists also donated their time for free. I was one of the translators, and all the translators donated their time for free. However, there was an Orthodox priest from the village who wanted to shut us down. He stood outside the apartment we bought and told people if they went up, he would have them arrested.
We had a meeting to try to figure out what to do and whether he could actually have people arrested. We met a lawyer to find out if he could have anyone arrested. The lawyer said there was nothing he could do about it. He didn’t know how to make us legal. Finally, one of the Romanian women in our group figured out how to make us legal. We would become a religious foundation. She took me to Bucharest with her, and we visited many government offices and got their signatures on legal documents to make us into a religious foundation.
The final step was to go back to Sibiu and stand in front of a judge and get him to approve it. We sat in the audience waiting while other people talked to the judge first. The judge was extremely scary! He was screaming and yelling at everyone. He was downright abusive! When it came time for my Romanian friend and I to talk to him, we stood up and went to the front. He was still screaming. When he asked us questions, all his meanness made me completely shut down. I became frozen. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk. If I opened my mouth, no noise would even come out. Psychologically, he had overwhelmed me. I was in shock! My Romanian friend had to take over and talk for me. Some of the Romanians are so harsh with one another that they become so hard and calloused that they don’t understand that people from other countries don’t talk to others that way.
There are some very gracious Romanians, but there are also Romanians who make it their way of life to pick others apart and fight. It is the way of life for some of them like that judge. You can walk down the street and see two of them screaming and yelling at one another, but the next day, they are friends. However, as for those of us who are not Romanians, it is difficult to deal with so much criticism and picking apart. We have a hard time when people yell at us even if they don’t do it trying to do something bad.
When I was taught to teach, I was taught to be very careful about getting too harsh with my criticism of my students because I could shut them down and they wouldn’t be able to learn anything. I am trying to keep a blog, and I understand that the Romanians who have tried to point out every error they think I make are just following their culture, but it is hard on me. Unless I can be assured that the Romanians won’t rip me apart anymore, I won’t write anything else about Romania or the Romanian language.