Romania is different than it was after the revolution. I was there after the revolution and had to deal with a lot of nonsense, but from what I understand, things have improved in Romania. There were lots of countries in eastern Europe that used to be Communist, but they aren’t any more. Most of the old Communist thinking people are gone. The ones in charge now are too young to really realize what happened back then. They have been raised under a government trying to have Democracy, but there are still some Communist ideas because I have seen them in the news because of the Coronavirus. They have required everyone in Romania leaving their home to have special papers on them or get in trouble with the police. However, there are some states in the U. S., from what I understand that have been almost that bad. Thankfully, where I live, there is still a lot of freedom. Romania has improved since the revolution.
If you want to see a place that is beautiful, like a fairy tale, drive through Romanian villages and go to Romanian castles. Romanians believe in beauty. They are always giving out flowers, making marble steps, putting gold plated door handles, and beautifully carved doors. The people can be extremely hospitable, and they are some of the best cooks in the world. If you want to go to a place just to look, Romania is a good place just to look now a days. They have lots and lots of beautiful church building you can tour. When I taught at the Orthodox seminary, their chapel was completely hold plated. They had a mercy seat in the middle of the room, and it made you think of Heaven when you saw it. In the village where I lived, just a few doors from my house, there was an old church building that was made into a Unesco World Heritage site. Part of it was built before Martin Luther, and the other half was buit after Martin Luther, and you could see the actual differences in the architecture in the same auditorium. Music has always been a hobby of mine, and they used to let me go down there and play their organ. It was a beautiful church building, and there are many throughout Romania.
I was a little shocked after the revolution when they had killed Ceausescu, and Iliescu, his right hand man, just moved in and took over. I thought surely when they had an election, they wouldn’t keep Iliescu, but they voted him in. I talked to some of them about it, and the response was, “No one in Romania really knows what a Democratic government looks like. We just have to have someone in the spot that knows how to run a government right now.”
After that, they voted a university president in to office. They have a lot of respect for education. Currently, their president, Mr. Klaus Johannis, doesn’t even have a Romanian sounding name. Romanian is probably not his first language. With a name like that, he is part of the minority German population in Romania. Many of the people claiming Germany ancestry in Romania took off after the revolution. They weren’t really German, but Austrian from the Austro/Hungarian empire. They were sent there as lords over the Romanian people. After the revolution, they left by the hoards because they could finally get out. Many went to Germany, and Germany accepted them and even gave them a kind of social security that they hadn’t paid into, but they weren’t really of German descent, but Austrian. If this man remained or his family remained in Romania when the others were all leaving, he really loves Romania. People who stayed during the bad time even though they could have left really love the country.
I haven’t had a chance to go back since I left. However, I keep up on things. I have seen pictures of the street in the village where I lived. It is hardly the same place. There was a coop farm with apartments for the migrant farm workers to live in. The farm workers at the coop farm were like modern day serfs from old England. They might live in two room with two parents and four kids. They heated and cooked with wood. If they lived on the second floor, water couldn’t get up there, and they had to carry all their water up those stairs. They barely had enough food to eat. Many became alcoholics because they had been discouraged from seeking God and they were extremely discouraged with their lives. Needless to say, there were no telephones, and some women couldn’t even leave the house because they had no shoes. I knew a seventeen year old boy who came to listen to Bible stories in his mother’s shoes because he had no shoes. His mother was a widow. Needless to say, the church did whatever they could to help that boy as well as many others.
While we were there, they were installing gas in the village for the people to heat and cook. They were also putting in fiber optics to upgrade the telephone system in the village. We were one of the lucky ones with a phone, and that phone was on a switchboard with a party line. You could pick up the phone and hear other people speaking. When they put fiber optics in, we were able to get a computer from America and use email. We lived in a big old German style farm house that we also heated with wood, but I had a gas stove, an we could afford to put gas in as soon as they brought it to the village. We had one hot water heater that was heated with wood, but we had gone to Hungary and found an electric hot water heater.
Now a days, that street is completely different. All the coop farm apartments are gone. There is a nice big fancy hotel in the place of the apartments. There are computers. There are hot waters heaters they call yonkers. A yonker is a small hot water heater that the water heats as it goes through it, so you don’t have the problem of ever running out of hot water. I don’t know how many people in the village have those things. I know there is still a lot of poverty. However, they were all having gas installed while we were there so they wouldn’t have to cook and heat with wood anymore.
When I was talking about the Communist thinking people, there were people among them that had learned a lot of bad habits under Communism. The people in the Communist party were accustomed to stealing from the people. We met one man, the one who tried to intimidate me while I was pregnant, who tried to rent us a house with rooms that were full of golden furniture and crystal chandeliers. The house looked like a palace. We didn’t rent it, but he was still trying to get whatever he could get from us. He had another house that was not so expensive and didn’t have all those things in it, and we rented it before we bought our house. The place had no hot water, so we asked if we could install our hot water heater, and he let us, but he did everything he could to keep that hot water heater when we left. I would have just let him have it because he was so mean but my husband got just as mean as he did and took him to court to get our hot water heater. I stayed away from all of it as much as I could. As a Christian, I wanted to just back off, but my husband refused. He wanted to teach the man a lesson. I didn’t fight with the mean people, but he did. We each have to manage our own lives.
The people who would have been high up in the Communist party are the ones who knew the Communist ways. They were the older generation. Many of them are dead now. Romania is now part of the European Union. They are doing better than they did financially when we were there, but many are still poor. Romania has one of the fastest growing economies in the world now, behind S. Korea. However, from what I understand, they are still one of the poorest countries in Europe.
The people leave the country to work rather than staying and building like the South Koreans do. Many Romanians work six months out of the country, and can go home and live the rest of the year on the money they made outside of the country. They are migrant farm laborers and care takers in other countries in Europe. In South Korea, they don’t leave the country to work. They would rather stay in S. Korea and work for nothing than work in another economy. However, many S. Koreans go to school in America, and many try for dual citizenship with S. Korea and America because the S. Koreans truly love America as well as S. Korea. If Romanians go to America, they become Americans and don’t go back to Romania.
However, many of their professional medical people have made money outside of Romania and bring it back to set up new, modern medical clinics. Romania needed that badly. When I was there, the hospitals had no modern equipment and were in bad need of repair. Some Americans came and took a tour of the hospital coming back tells me they saw mold on the walls of the operating room. You may have read the story I wrote about the man who went to the dentist, and they used gasoline to wash his mouth out because they didn’t have another disinfectant. These doctors that go back to Romania and set up new clinics when they could stay in other countries could only be called heroes.
Communism, and then a double dose, trying to leave Communism almost destroyed Romania, but they are coming out of it slowly. I have often wanted to go back and see how things are going first hand instead of having to depend on what people tell me or on pictures on the internet, but unfortunately, the only traveling I have ever been able to do is because of my job. Money remains an obstacle in many ways for me because I made people more of a priority than money. I guess in many ways I would be just the opposite of that greedy, jealous, mean Communist who tried to terrorize me while I was pregnant whose houses glittered with gold. I can only hope he didn’t have kids who learned his ways.