Many people know that I was in Romania right after the Romanian revolution. Things were changing for everyone in Romania, and they had a lot of growing pains. Under Communism, when a young couple got married, they were automatically given an apartment. One thing that people forget is that many of these apartments that were given out under Communism were parts of houses that were taken away from others when Communism came into power. Other apartments were in huge apartment buildings they called blocks. Under Communism, the government was trying to doze all the houses in Korea to make way for the big blocks of apartments saying they were modern, but they were losing the fairy tale feeling the beautiful houses in Romania give by dozing houses and insisting everyone live in an apartment. When the Communists fell, all the people living in the apartments had to buy their apartments from the government if they wanted to continue living there. Others whose houses were taken away by the Communists were going to court trying to get their houses back. If the people couldn’t pay for their apartments, they were being put out into the street and there was furniture in front of many apartment buildings because the people couldn’t pay, and they were living on the furniture in front of the apartment buildings. I knew a couple who had a different problem.
All of these people’s furniture was put out of the apartments, and they were sleeping on couches in front of the apartment buildings.
This young couple had grown up in an orphanage in Romania. They had met and fell in love in the orphanage and gotten married. However, they were not given an apartment when they got married because it was then Democracy, and not Communism. When they were 18 years old, the orphanage decided that because of their age, they were to be put out. Other young couples who got married in Romania were living with their parents because they didn’t have the money to buy an apartment because the money had been severely devalued because the change from Communism to Democracy. Perhaps the apartment only had two rooms, and the parents had one room, and the young married couple the other, but there was a roof over their heads. My neighbors who lived in a house in the village were finishing off the upstairs of their house to make an apartment for their daughter when she got married. Some people were figuring out how to make it work, but if you didn’t have parents, weren’t taught a skill, didn’t have a job that paid anything, and were put into the street because you turned 18, what would you do? This young couple moved under a bridge. It was the best they could do.
Initially, it wasn’t too bad because the weather is nice in the summer and fall in Romania, but winter was approaching, and on top of all that, the wife had gotten pregnant. The husband knew he had to do something! Winters are cold in Romania. It snows for months on end, and everything is frozen for several months. I hadn’t met them yet, or I might have thought to find them a solution. They wracked their brains trying to come up with a solution. The husband decided he needed to petition to the mayor of the town to give them an apartment like they had done when the government was Communist.
He went to the mayor’s office. He asked to see the mayor and was admitted. He presented his case to the mayor and asked for an apartment, but he was denied and shown out. He went back the next day, but the mayor made him stay outside of his office and wouldn’t see him. He went back day after day trying to see the mayor. The mayor knew what he wanted, and he just wasn’t going to help. Finally, the man told the mayor, “If you don’t give me an apartment, I am going to set myself on fire!” The mayor didn’t believe him, and he still refused to listen. The man came back the next day with gasoline and matches. He told the mayor, “Give an apartment, or I will set myself on fire!” The mayor ignored him again. The man poured gasoline all over himself and lit a match! He went up in flames! Luckily, the people were able to put the fire out, and they rushed him to the hospital and he spent some time in the hospital recovering from his burns.
They wrote a story about him in the newspaper. A man offered them a large room. It was leaky, but at least it wasn’t under a bridge. They were grateful to be out of the snow and took the room. A friend of mine read about them in the newspaper. She wanted to meet them hoping she could help them and began praying to God that she could meet them. It just so happens that my friend was pregnant, and she went to her obstetrician’s appointment, and the wife who had been living under the bridge was there waiting to see the obstetrician too. They began talking and made friends. She invited her to come to church, and the husband and wife both came to church. That is how I met them, at church. By the time I met them, they were fine, but they still wanted to be taught about God, so the missionary taught them, and as usual, I translated. They finally gained both a physical and a spiritual home.