The Journey east was much more difficult than most. Having purchased
tickets at a substantial savings, my trip included two changes of
airplane, one at JFK New York and the other at Paris. The flight from
Seattle was on Delta so at Seattle via internet I was able to print up
my boarding pass for that flight and reserve my seat for all flights.
However, I was advised I would get the Air France boarding passes at JFK
for the remaining flights. Because of the distances at each airport, I
enrolled in passenger transit assistance, generally provided by carts or
wheelchairs. Seattle failed to provide any assistance but at the gate I
again asked for the JFK boarding pass and was told I would have o get it
at JFK in New York. The five hour flight from Seattle was full, very
crowded, and only offered a small pack of pretzels and water. Anything
more, including beverages and ear phones was at a price. The only movie
was “The Land Lost in Time”. It was fine without sound!
At New York, I was greeted with a wheel chair and taken to another
Terminal... At Security they would not let me pass without a boarding
pass so we had to find an Air France Desk. Finding it, they wanted copy
of my E-ticket on Air France but all I had was Delta, of course. After
a long wait they gave me Air France Boarding Pass for JFK to Paris but
refused to give me one for Paris to Bucharest saying I must get it in
Paris. They changed my “reserved seat” to one under the stairs where
you could see nothing. The homeland security attendant dumped out my
carryon bag, breaking a flashlight and totally empting two
weeks-pills-box containers, giving me a great puzzle in resorting each
of 28 days worth of six am pills and seven pm pills, all settled to the
bottom of the carryon. The Ziploc bag I kept them in failed! He did not
apologize but grunted enthusiastically! The movie was “The Land Lost in
Time”. I did not bother buying headphones. It was a very long and
uncomfortable flight and very cramped. Worse I have experienced.
At Paris I was met with wheelchair and man who spoke no English. He
took my itinerary and I said I need boarding pass. He said we would get
it at the gate and had plenty of time. He took me to a doorway and
parked me saying he would be right back. I explained to hi supervisor
about needing Boarding Pass and she said not to worry, it was taken care
of. She became quite irritated and left. After 40 minutes, the man
returned and put me on bus for Terminal 4, saying someone would meet me
there. I and another passenger in a wheelchair got to Terminal 4 but no
one was there and door at bus entrance was locked. Driver called
several times and finally after about 3 minutes a single man arrived
with two wheel chairs. We waited another 10 minutes and another man
arrived. It was now 2:15 and my flight was scheduled to leave at 2:25.
He pushed me up to security and they would not let me enter as I had no
boarding pass! We watched as my plane took off. I had been in Paris four
hours but managed to miss my confirmed flight!
I remained remarkably calm, noting that in all my life, this was the
very first flight I had missed! He never once apologized. He just took
me to the Air France Desk where they issued me a ticket and boarding
pass for the next flight in four hours, took Marin's telephone number in
Romania and promised to call him and advise of the delay. They then
took me to Terminal 2 waiting area and told m to wait there. Three
hours later as I boarded the plane they handed me a voucher good for one
ten minute international phone call from Paris so I could call Marin!
Arriving at Bucharest on Wednesday at 8:45 PM instead of 4:15 PM, I
discovered my luggage was no where to be seen. It arrived Monday
Morning. Marin was waiting for me and of course no one had advised him
of my delay. He was just meeting all Air France Jets until I arrived!
Romanian passport control sports a flyer which states that if you are
from USA or Canada and have swine flu, you cannot enter!
We drove to Braila direct from Bucharest, arriving about 1 AM Thursday.
I slept most of Thursday. Marin has not been able to finish the new
house as yet (no roof) so they moved to a third level apartment a month
ago so I would not have the steps to contend with. That evening visitors
started arriving. Marin’s’ family, Brother Nakutsa, Pastor Streghor
and his wife, Pastor Florin and his wife, Sister Maria, and others.
Friday I attended a prayer meeting with Christina, gave a teaching and
generally filled them in on Caleb events and my family. Friday night
Marin’s ‘family surrounded me and talked for two hours on why I should
move here and live with them! They have several private medical
facilities in the country that are modern and they would pay for my care
and meds and I could travel back to Seattle e for visits three or four
times a year! We have had this discussion before but they keep renewing
it each trip! Indeed, this is my second family.
Late Friday night a lady came to see me about her situation. She said
she had been praying for my journey for a week in hopes she could meet
with me. She has three children, the youngest 14. Her husband left her
for a mistress ten years ago. He lives close but never even visits his
family or supports them. The eldest son now spends all his days in bars
drinking. The state church will not intervene on her behalf as women
have no standing in such matters. We prayed for her situation.
Saturday was meeting with the elders and the Caleb Volunteers. That
evening we had church at the Colony with the gypsies. Sunday was morning
and evening church and a barbecue at Sister Johanna’s House.
Monday at nine my luggage arrived so I could change and pack for travel.
Marin and I then headed north to Iasi to deliver Glycobears to two
orphanages and a family and to visit the jobsite where he is building a
house. We stayed the night at his brother’s house where last year we
stored Christmas Shoeboxes.
Tuesday we drove to Bistritsa to deliver more Glycobears, on to Beclean
and the hospital for their shipment, and then tried to find Kristin
Miller. We never located her. Her number no longer works and the
hospital staff had not seen her. We got a room for the night.
Wednesday, we drove back to Iasi to complete papers for the house and
then back to Braila.
It was 4 below in Iasi and though they built a bonfire at the jobsite to
warm me, I got a bad cold so Thursday I stayed in bed.
Romania held an international conference on swine flu last week,
inviting experts and health workers from 17 countries. Held at the
Sinata Hotel, the conference was abruptly cut short when 40 tourists in
Sinata Hotel were diagnosed. All participants were sent home.
Friday night was “long night” service at Marin’s church in Braila. We
had 5 pastors present, much prayer and much preaching. Pastor Streghor
asked that I share about the Philippines Trip as they were praying for
me for that journey when I last left Romania. We slept most of Saturday
to recover from being up all night Friday. Saturday afternoon we bundled
the 5 Tiripa children and had a picnic at the site of the house
construction. Then Saturday evening several families came to Tiripa
apartment for weekly prayer time.
Sunday morning was church in Braila. I preached on Acts 17 (Paul at Mars
Hill). In the afternoon we took soup and bread and blankets to the sick.
Sunday evening was church again and I spoke on Gods preparation for our
work, using Acts chapter 14 and 15. After church we took two loads of
Gypsies back to the Colony so they did not have to walk in the frigid
air as buses stop at 8 pm along with the trolley. I am constantly
surprised and thrilled by the efforts the Gypsies take to get to church
from the Colony, nearly six miles away! It was nearly midnight when we
got home and put the kids down. Marin has five children ranging from 15
months to 11 years of age so it is a handful in the small apartment.
Early Monday morning Marin and I drove to get our friend Jonathan to
take to the hospital. He suffers an inoperable brain tumor and very
painful neurological condition which requires frequent clinic treatment
for the pain. He can barely walk and lives alone so Marin takes him.
Arriving at the clinic for his appointment at 7 AM, he was turned away
as the clinic was full for the day! He has been assigned here so cannot
go elsewhere and he had an appointment but no matter, he was sent home
to try again next Monday! Life is very hard here in so many ways we do
not appreciate in America.
Monday we had errands to run getting groceries at the market, getting
kids to school and music lessons (Ann plays the piano and Paul the
violin). After, Marin and I picked up the approved finished plans from
Braila Provincial Government for his new home he is building in
Versatura (just outside Braila) and took them to Chiscan for approval by
the city hall. There he was admonished to bring the originals plus two
photocopies for their files so we had to return to Braila to find copy
machine! We returned with the copies and left the plans for their study.
Then we went to The Colony (Gypsy slum village) to pray for a man named
Sergio who has lost use of his legs. He is gypsy. The government health
program declared him handicapped and offers him Rehabilitation treatment
for $2,000.00 US with no guarantees and he most travel 600 miles to the
center. He gets only $80.00 per month for him and his wife and two
children so this is hardly feasible. We provided Mannatech Supplements
which might help, prayed with him and visited 90 minutes. He was very
pleased as no one has visited in over a year! I asked why the other
gypsy families did not visit and pray with him but Marin says they never
pray alone or in small groups but only when church meeting as is sign of
weakness in their society to ask anything. The man and his family live
in a room about 10 by 12. It has television set, one light bulb strung
from ceiling, couch, two wood chairs and many stuffed animals. The only
wall decoration is classic painting of traditional Orthodox Jesus, a
lighted candle in sconce, and a Christmas card photograph from another
family. The room has a metal box for fire as heat and cooking source.
There is outhouse outside door for five apartments in the building. It
was clear our visit touched him deeply. His wife was wearing a U of W
Husky Sweater indicating Marin has been giving them Caleb clothing and
supplies. Both boys work for Marin in construction.
Monday evening was church Board Meeting at Braila concerning the 14
churches in their alliance.
Tuesday we took clothes and food to a lady with four children living on
the church land at Unirea, about 30 kilometers from here. Her husband
deserted her and she lives on a small farm with two horses, two cows and
was small church service. We had prayer time from to 8 pm. Process is
elder reads a psalm or scripture point to “the sick”, “the world”, “our
community”, “the church”, “the poor”, etc, gives short teaching and
then everyone gets on knees and prays , usually in tongues here, for
that concern. This process is practiced in most ell Romanian Pentecostal
Churches each Tuesday or Thursday evening and then for the hour before
Sunday morning worship. I love it! It is known as “Appointed Prayer” and
each time different elders or pastors lead it.
many wanted to stay and talk so we got home at midnight! One gentleman
came up and told me I prayed for him seven years ago as he had only
weeks to live because of cancer. I was thrilled to again witness yet
another miracle by Jesus. This has happened countless times but always
gives me a new respect and love for our gracious Lord!
This AM Marin
and I leave for Iasi (pronounced “Yosh”). The route is about 600 miles
we will take, on dirt roads, back streets and wagon ruts’ as we have
many visits to make. Picture me in a Luv- size pickup, crammed in with
clothes, Glycobears vitamins and an overnight bag. I love this life!
Marin and I headed out, first to Camp lung to visit Rebecca and the
House of Hope Orphanage. As we were driving through the hills, I
thought of our visit a week ago to the lady we took clothes and food to
in Unirea. I failed to mention she alone is working the small farm,
tending the two horses and cow, goats pig and garden while caring for
her four young children! How hard life is here for so many. When we
arrived, she was washing clothes in the back yard by drawing well water
and scrubbing the clothes by hand in a metal trough designed to water
the hills west of Bucharest we saw many tending their fields by plowing
with horses, a few by tractors, and a few by mechanized farming. This is
fast becoming a land of contrasts as many young who fled after the
revolution now return to build with money earned abroad, the European
Union and favorable tax breaks bring in mega stores and hypermarkets,
while the elderly and infirm struggle on using old techniques and dated
Campalung de Arges in late afternoon, sadly, we discover Rebecca is in
the United States but we visited the facility and left food, clothes and
Glycobears. The “House of Hope” she has constructed on the hillside
outside Campalung is absolutely beautiful and in every way state of the
art. The grounds are wonderful with farm animals, playfields, orchards
and gardens! To its shame, Romania still refuses permits to open the
300 plus facility for technical reasons in a country still replete with
street children! Rebecca operates the orphanage with severely
handicapped children, about 18 in number, using two cramped apartments
in the city.
again, we traveled through the foothills and mountains up switchbacks
towards the Carpathinians and snow country. The scenery is breathtaking
with autumn colors, small roadside stands of apples, pears, late grapes,
cheese, wines and local specialty foods. Marin and I stop and buy “wild
boar jerky” and a pretzel-like baked “circle” called “Cobrink”. (Very
bland flavor as if a thin bagel) We spend the night at a pensiune for
$45 including coffee for breakfast. The “Bicuz” pass and Bicuz River and
town of Bicuz are as beautiful as ever and the queue roadway takes your
breath away! We journey on back east now as we head towards Neamt and
the small village where my friend Arhile Vasile lives. Marin stopped at
a Farmicia for headache medicine. He returned with the Romanian standard
treatment, a single pill torn from a foil packet. You never get more
than a capsule or two and rarely in a package could you identify. You
just tell the pharmacy your symptom and he sells you a pill, usually cut
from a packet of pills.
Arhile Vasiles mid-morning, we are greeted by his second eldest son, a
26 year old who has returned from working 7 years in Italy. His father
is in the forest cutting trees so he invites us into his new house built
with funds he earned in Italy. His bride prepares coffee by drawing
water from the well, carefully getting out a small metal tin from atop
the cupboard and pulling out sufficient coffee beans, crushing them with
a mallet and tying in a cloth and dunking in the water as it heats. They
do not serve coffee often! Finally, Vasile arrives, speechless by our
visit and full of questions. The three eldest sons and daughter are on
their own, the daughter in college! He still has seven at home and he
still works the forest for firewood, pelts, fish and herbs. He has
several questions he has been waiting to ask as on my last three visits
he was gone. Pointing to a passage in Hebrews 6:4-6 he asks if the
unforgivable sin is adultery. Marin and I explain it is not and that sin
is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. He says “yes” and then goes on to
insist it is adultery. Going round in this discussion I finally realize
someone has been committing adultery in this circle and Vasile will not
accept any explanation except that it is unforgivable! I suggest we
leave it at that and let the local Pastor deal with it as we had
discussed it two hours with no resolution! Vasile is proud of his son
and new daughter-in-law. Their house is right next door. The son says it
was terrible working in Italy as he was badly treated as a foreigner and
poorly paid and his health now suffers. He says he will never leave
again . Spending six hours with Vasile was truly wonderful; He is doing
well for which I am very thankful. We leave funds for their Christmas,
medicines and food as there are now 16 plus a baby on the way in this
family, living of the forest!
from Neamt, the drive is challenging at times as Marin listens to soccer
on the radio (in Romanian), answers both his cell phones, and I keep the
windows clear from fogging up as best I can while looking out for horse
carts and drunks on the roadway. We pass cows meandering home,
horse-drawn carts with farmers asleep on the fodder or hay as the wagon
heads home, the horse knowing the way, sheep and shepherds, big trucks
and containers, logging trucks, and every variety of small car you can
At Suceavea we
were to visit a village with our Policeman friend for services but he
was sent out on assignment in Portugal, presumably bring back a
prisoner, so we continue on to Iasi.
We arrived at
Iasi about 10:30 PM, and stayed at Marins’ in-laws for the night, I
slept on a couch and Marin a lawn lounge chair. The house is still under
construction so it is less than ideal but better than sleeping in the
car or up the 13 flights of stairs to his brother-in-laws apartment!
After a light
breakfast of coffee, goat cheese and olives, we head to Nadia House, an
orphanage we support operated by the Cazcaus family from Detroit. They
are Romanians who had a foundry business in the USA when Romania had its
revolution. They adopted a severely burned Romanian girl named Nadia and
after year sold their business and returned to their native Romania and
started this ministry based in Iasi. They provide wonderful services to
children in villages in Moldova and Romania. Christina Cazcau was at a
hospital attending to two girls having surgery but we had good visit
with Ghiorghi Cazcau. He was excited to tell us the latest in their
ministry. They now have 55 missionaries in Moldova and Romania serving
small villages. He is very excited we have bought another box of
Glycobears and much clothing. We shipped containers here previously and
continue to support their work. The 14 Caleb computers here are all
being used in village churches to teach typing and office skills.
Ghiorghi has invited us to take photos of the Glycobears program and
encourage Mannatech to continue to include his ministry in their
distributions. We will pass the word along for him.
a light lunch again of cheese, olives and bread in Iasi, we journeyed
the backloads to Negreste to visit Lydia Rascol. Encountering a most
unreasonable police officer in Negreste, we were ticketed because a
speeding car passed us and a horse-wagon in the center of town. We were
going very slow behind the wagon as we were just two houses up from
Lydia’s and going to park our car. However, the officer was so mad at
the passing car he ticketed us both. We had to go in traffic court
right then, and were fined $10 for being in Negreste with a car from
Braila. ????? The other car was fined $125 ! Its not justice but it is
common here for districts to fine cars fro other areas of the country
for little or no reason.
“courthouse”, we found Lydia was not home, away in Bucharest according
to neighbors.. We visited her two villages where she feeds about 200
gypsies each day, left food and clothes and continued back towards
Braila and visited the first “long night” services at a Gypsy village
about 10 miles north of Braila. This village is birthplace of Gypsy
Peter whom I baptized four years ago. He organized this first “Long
night” in his home village, binging benches in via horse-drawn wagon,
baking bread in the fireplace, buying pop and coffee, cleaning the two
room and inviting many to come. It was attended by about 20, packed into
the room, many not believers yet! We left the services about 4 am and
came home to Braila.
Saturday, I did laundry and
rested as Marin played with the kids!
Public employees refuse to
go on unpaid leave, threaten with protests…it is election time in
Romania and government employees are being difficult! The attitude
towards world financial crisis in Romania and much of Eastern Europe is
“not my problem” as the poor continue to look to the government to
provide everything they require. They simply believe some how they
should not be affected. A few actually understand and are making efforts
but the effects of 40 plus years of communist dictatorship in Romania
still play a role in daily lives.
Sunday morning I preached
on the last chapter of First Corinthians but it did not go well. Marin
was translating but another man who spoke English kept correcting him
from the front roll, making Marin self-conscious and causing him to
doubt the translation.. Thus, he kept asking me to repeat each thought
so he could think through the sentences, making it very jerky and hard
to follow. This has happened on a few occasions and there is not much
you can do about it. So I made the message short to prevent a fist fight
ensuing in the church! This happens rarely but when it does it is best
to simply stop rather than make your translator look bad. It is hard
enough to translate and then to have a third person correct your choice
of words makes it very difficult. If I had realized the man was there I
would have chosen a message Marin has heard before, making it easier on
him. The Braila church is very gracious and accepting as I have preached
there probably a hundred times in twenty years so I was not a problem
but I felt bad for Marin.
Sunday night went much
better as Marin and I spent the day reviewing the sermon and I re-did
the message. Then we dedicated a new baby for Gypsy John, a little boy!
Monday Marin and I visited the colony and prayed for people and had a
long discussion (3 hours plus) about the gypsy leadership lifestyle
slipping. They want their own church but some leaders are not
disciplined so it would be a disaster at this time. Some still smoke,
drink, steal or have mistresses from their old life but we are working
on it. The respected elder very much wants a church there as travel to
Braila is difficult for services 6 days a week but he clings to the old
gypsy life as well.
We bought potatoes and
cabbages and clothes for several families. The filth at The Colony is
nearly unbearable with the garbage piled high and smell of human waste
permeating the walls. Still, many live there in the squalor. I slept
there at Bother Johns as I had promised before I would do some day. They
were most pleased to host me and thrilled I felt that at home. In many
ways they actually trust me over Marin as I am not Romanian! This leads
to some funny pitfalls but I always redirect them to Marin. He is their
pastor and they need to respect his decisions. There are four gypsy
churches operating in Braila area started by Marin but each have leaders
who are following the rules and can read and write. Even though the
Colony is the biggest in numbers, it has no one who reads and it is
farthest behind in improving the lifestyle. So thus the debates. Caleb
started classes in reading at the Colony but adults would not attend. I
enjoy being at The Colony very much as their faith is child-like and
simple in many ways and their prayer is fervent and spiritual. The fruit
is slowly coming as they have trouble sharing with others or dropping
completely the old gypsy “macho” ways.
We went to Chiscan (city
hall for Marins home is in Chiscan District, located above a Disco Bar!)
to pay the $10 fine imposed in Negreste. Any traffic fine can be paid
where the infraction is cited o in your home district, your choice. You
have 3 days to do it either way. Romania is a little lax on traffic
matters. Most Romanians see traffic signs, signal lights and road
barriers as “suggestions “rather than rules. Driving is wild as you mix
horse wagons, sheep, cows, small cars, big trucks, buses and mini-vans
on the roadways.
Tuesday Marin and I
returned to the Colony to pray with the leaders to start the day and
show our continuing support. Several came for anointing prayer including
a lady I had baptized three summers ago. She sought prayer for
Bronchitis and brought with her a young man with epilepsy. I anointed
each and prayed with them as always.
Leaving the Colony, we
received a call of a man waiting to see me at the central Orthodox
Cathedral parking lot. When we arrived he said it was only place he
could easily find to meet us. He led us from there to a small house
where he lives with his mother, his wife and four children. It is one
room home with ceramic fireplace for heat and cooking, two platform beds
(plywood and blankets) that serve as couches, small table for children
to do homework, shaving kit hanging on wall with small mirror, and
buckets of water drawn from faucet half a block away. In drive there is
an outhouse, this being in near center of Braila, a city of 300,000!
The man sought me out to pray for his wife. In 1995 she had a polyp on
her right ear. A surgeon removed it but left instruments inside,
necessitating a second surgery three years later by another doctor. Her
vision was blurred and she had recurring headaches resulting in third
surgery in 2003 to drain infections. Now her vision is very bad,
headaches are unbearable and she is afraid of the doctors. We prayed for
her and we referred her to the free clinic we support in Bucharest,
giving her referral to American Doctors who can evaluate the situation.
We delivered much medical equipment to this facility on a container in
2001 and spent several days helping establish the facility and getting
its credentials. Since, we have shipped many medicines and equipment to
them. They are based out of a ministry in Minnesota and they agreed to
see this lady immediately on our referral.
Tuesday evening Marin
watched the five children while Cristina and I delivered pails of
Chorba soup to sick people and then attended a home prayer meeting.
There were about 20 people at the meeting, held in a small room lined by
a plywood sleeping bench. Only a small table, two wooden chairs, and
several small stools furnished the simple room, with tapestries on the
walls depicting forest scenes. It was clear this group met regularly.
Most were elderly but there were three children including a boy who at
12 has had six years of English in school! The group is very serious
about exercising their spiritual gifts and has found the existing
Pentecostal churches inadequate in serving their needs. They began by
singing three songs and then all kneeling for a season of prayer. The
cries and shouts of Alleluia rang out for probably 20 minutes and then
an elderly woman I had never met started prophesying over me. She
declared the Lord revealed he is restoring feeling in my hands (I had
not told them this was an affliction for a year since my stroke) and was
giving new life to my legs. He was opening doors and windows I never
dreamed of and I was yet less than half finished in his calling for me!
Yipes! It was awesome! They then had another round of songs, and
another season of prayer on our knees. During this praying, yet another
elderly lady , dressed in white gown, aiding her walk by a cane, came
across the room and “thumped me” on the head so there be no doubt of
whom she was talking about! She described attacks by the enemy in my
life where Jesus stood in front to protect me, went before to clear the
way, provided angels to minister and direct my paths. (Those who know me
closely know all of this o be absolutely true) She stated Our Lord is
pleased with the food, clothes, medicines, and teachings but more
importantly is rejoicing in the comfort I have extended in His name.
She then repeated the pledge that my work is less than half complete and
I need to be prepared for the “whirlwind o Elisha”. She said Our Lord
has looked into your soul and has increased your power ten-fold” Wow!
She then sat back down and the praying continued. The leader then made
announcements about the next meeting and everyone went home. I was so
surprised (and elated) as I had expected a prayer meeting for others and
yet was ministered to by these strangers. This is very “Romanian” if you
get my meaning. There were only four there I had met before and none
but Cristina knew I would be coming to the meeting so I must accept what
happened at face value and simply thank Our gracious Lord and proceed s
He has directed.
Wednesday was shopping
day, processing notes and evening church in Chiscan. In Braila as in
most Pentecostal Churches in the Third World Eastern Europe, church has
some type of service every night except Monday, (reserved for visiting
the sick) and twice on Sundays. It is Prayer Time or a full service or a
Fasting Meeting or some other activity literally every night. This is
why we try to equip our pastors as bee keepers so they can support their
family and carry on ministry full time.
Thursday we again visited
homes including a hospital where we prayed for the sick. Thursday
evening is Fasting at Braila so we held Fasting service from 5 to 10 PM.
This is comprised of songs, small teachings, answering questions from
members, reciting favorite verses, and doing projects to keep our minds
off food. We cleaned and painted Caleb warehouse rooms to serve for
Sunday school during winter weather as they cannot meet outdoors which
is their usual program for children.
Friday we visited in the
urgent care hospital and provided medicines for some poor families.
Romania hospitals are very poor n care depends on paying the doctor and
nurse at each visit before they look at you, even in the hospital. The
hospital provides a bed and sheet but you bring pajamas, food and
blanket! I have detailed the conditions in Romania’s hospitals before
so will not go into it again but suffice to say it is very poor care.
One man from our church, Dimetris, is in hospital for breathing
problems. Marin says under communism he was imprisoned several years for
speaking out against the government. He contracted bronchitis which
still acts up in winter. Because he ticked off the government, he gets
only $18 per month pension! He cannot buy medicines or food and barely
subsists. It was my honor to buy his medicines and supplies.
Friday night was prayer
meeting at the apartment and church. Because it is so cold we elected to
stay at the apartment. The church meets in a small storeroom when it is
very cold as it costs a lot to heat the church and takes all day.
The trip to
Tulcea was exciting indeed. For several reasons, it is 10 days later
that I have access to write my notes so I apologize for the delay.
We left Braila Friday Evening in the Van. Pastor Arhil from Chiscan,
Brother John from the Colony, Marin and myself. Crossing the Danube
on the barge “ferry”, a barge holding eight or nine cars and trucks
pushed by a tug boat. It was dense fog along the Danube delta making
driving slow. We arrived at Ciiucomunira on the Delta about ten pm.
The delta is sort of a waste land not good for agriculture or
manufacturing and somewhat distant from development resources so
still a little “backward” economically. The villages are poor
Romanian settlements, gypsy villages, Turkish towns complete with
Minarets, and Russian towns. The Braila church and its 14
affiliated churches are making a concerted effort to evangelize this
At the village
of Ciiucomunira, a wide spot in the road essentially, we dedicated a new
Apostolic Church. The Pastor and his wife served orange soda, cola,
cookies and hot bread to celebrate our dedication.
From there we
went further east to the end of the peninsula-delta to the town of
Tulcea and a long night service in a new Pentecostal church packed with
worshippers. It was an exciting service with each of the delta pastors
participating. Marin was the only available translator so I decided not
to invoke a lot of scripture into my message so I spoke on the
experience I had in the Nigeria prison, citing scripture Isaiah 49:16.
This “experience oriented” preaching is unusual here as most pastors
teach on a specific scripture, repeating their message in several forms.
My sermon was received enthusiastically and several present asked we
visit their churches before leaving the district. About 2 AM the
service ended and we were served rice and bread and tea for dinner and
then led to a loft in the church housing 8 bunks. The trip to the
outhouse was an adventure down the outside staircase….
At 8 we were
up. Pastor Arhil went to a service in a different town from Marin and
John and me. We were asked to preach at the large Victoria Street
Pentecostal Church in Tulcea. The irony is this old well established
church with about 300 parishioners in the center of this big town still
uses an outhouse located in the parking area and has the quaint bucket
of water and a common cup or ladle as the drinking fountain. Back in the
early nineties this was common everywhere but now not so much in cities.
The Pastor at
Tulcea looks amazingly like my son-in-law Scott! We hit it off very well
and he and his wife speak very good English. She has a sister living in
Renton. When it came time for me to preach she said “I understand your
messages are too short….please take as long as you wish as we have until
noon”! It was 10:15. I gave a history of Caleb Ministry in Romania and
then preached on Deuteronomy 30:5-16, ending at 10 minutes to twelve.
The people were very gracious. Many record parts of my messages on cell
phones which seems a little strange in a land where people ride
horse-drawn carts instead of cars. Pastor Bief then invited us to his
apartment where his wife prepared lunch (we had no breakfast) of chicken
noodle soup, pickled peppers, bread, and goulash. We rested there until
4:00 when Marin received a cell phone call from Pastor Arhil saying he
was waiting for “my friend Jerry at the new Apostolic Church of God
outside village Nicolas Balescu (many villages named for this Romanian
literary giant throughout Romania). We found the village and tiny
church. It was packed to the seams when we arrived and they were
clapping as we entered. A visitor here is unusual and one from as far as
America unheard of. I spoke on Malachi 3:1-3 at the request of Arhil as
he likes that message very much.. We finally left the delta area and
returned by barge, arriving home at midnight Sunday night. There was
much conversation on the way about which Pastors to place in the two new
churches to nurture the emerging charismatic congregations and when to
schedule the first baptisms. Arhil and Marin want me to return in June
or July to baptize in this area.
Monday was a
day of rest and catching up on sleep. The delta had been very cold at
night and the meals were not even close to being regular for my blood
sugar. We found very few petrol stations, stores or facilities
available on the delta outside Tulcea and no food service anywhere after
6 pm. From Friday afternoon until Monday AM we had only two meals plus
bread we had in our car.
organizing the warehouse, visiting sick gypsy families in Lacu Sarat
area and The Colony, and the evening prayer service. Tuesday late a
lady came to the apartment complaining of a spirit of suicide. She
wanted assurance she would not loose here salvation if she took her
life. Cristina and I spent three hours praying and counseling her. She
seemed very calm and focused when she left and we gave her a plan of
action for her despondency to concentrate on. She has been here before
and appears to get overwhelmed by simple tasks. Outside the church there
are really no social services available here.
and I packed the van and headed north to Iasi to deliver Glycobears to
Pastor Cazcau and to retrieve the first load of Christmas Shoeboxes. It
was good to get away from the fog of the delta area. We stayed the night
in the ‘warehouse’ where we store clothes, supplies and shoeboxes on a
lot. We then went where Marin is building a house for a lady. She has
stopped paying for the work so two of Marins' carpenters live there in a
shed to protect the property while she gets more money to complete
payment of supplies. We left breakfast of cheese, bread and olives with
the workers, bought them supplies, and then headed west towards
Bistritsa. Our intent was to visit Brother Marius in Botosani and give
him Glycobears but he was in Vienna so we continued on Stopping at
Suceavea, officer Donat gave us information about a gypsy pastor in
great need, living near Turda. He was unable to help because of his work
at the moment. (All police are on duty as it is elections in Romania so
all leaves are cancelled.).
Suceavea I saw two men in wheelchairs begging for food by stopping cars
in the street! I have seen gypsy women and Romanian women holding
babies, even naked children in the snow, begging at intersections but
the wheelchair men was a new experience. So many hospitals and care
facilities have closed here that people are near desperation. We handed
the men our bread loaves, cheese and some money.
At Bistritsa we
again left Glycobears and then headed south to find the gypsy pastor.
About 4 we realized we had not had anything to eat but there no ‘popas’
or restaurants so we just kept on driving. In the hills south of
Bistritsa we encountered very dense fog alternating with snow and frost
in higher elevations but we were determined to locate the gypsy pastor
for brother Danut. At one point we ended up on the wrong road, having to
double back and then take a mountain logging road to reach our
destination. I was very surprised when we came out of the mountains at a
large town, Ciilampanzi, adjacent to Turda. Proceeding directly to his
house, as it was already 8 pm, we arrived to find Pastor Dan Donti in
tears. He is a gypsy and he wanted to start a church for gypsies so he
built a room on top of his house. The room is reached by climbing steep
stairs inside his house. The room itself is very nice appearing but
leaks, is not stable, and possibly could bring down the entire home. The
authorities found out about the room where he and his 30 parishioners
worship, and ordered it removed as it was built without a permit and is
unstable construction. He fears to remove it will bring down the whole
house, which is probably true. The city fined him $1,500.00 for building
without a permit and ordered the room removed by next week. He is
devastated and probably does not comprehend why what he did is not
acceptable as his education is very weak. But his faith is substantial.
He wife and boy
then explained further that he is diabetic but cannot afford medicine,
and that they have no food, having just had tea and bread all day. He
asked that we pray with him. We agreed and got on our knees with them
and had a time of prayer. Suddenly, the gypsy pastor was standing over
me anointing my head and crying uncontrollably. He prophesied healings
and deliverances as he spoke. Many scriptures flowed and it was clear
his gifts are true. When we finished he said the Spirit had showed him
his ailments are not significant as mine and that his complaints should
be insignificant in view of his blessings. (I felt very awkward as he
detailed my health problems as revealed to him by the Spirit, but kept
We advised him
to work to remove the room he built, Marin showing him how top do it
without damaging his house. Marin said if you complete it by next week,
the fine may be removed. I gave him half my diabetes medicines and took
the family to the Profit Market where Caleb bought $200 worth of
groceries for the family. I gave him an additional cash gift as we left.
Marin and I then started looking for food for ourselves but it was now
11 pm and most everything was closed. By midnight we found a motel but
their kitchen was closed so we went to bed. It was Thanksgiving and we
had had nothing to eat all day except gas station vending machine
Friday we got
breakfast at 7 am as soon as the kitchen opened. I had THREE fried eggs
and two grilled wieners. (Their version of sausage links is tiny hotdog
grilled) Marin had two bowls tripe chorba and bread.
area, we headed towards Timisoara. We received several telephone calls
from Officer Donit in Suceavea and gypsy pastor Dan Donti through the
day, repeatedly thanking us for our help. That thanks goes to Jesus and
all of you who make this possible!
Timisoara at 3 pm, we contacted Daniel Beleascu. I first met him when he
was 14 years old, in Braila in 1990. We have provided assistance to he
and his family (six siblings and parents) through the years. He fled
Romania to Spain in 1996 to find work. I was with his father when he
died in the Braila hospital in 1999 and again visited his mother several
times as she recovered from being hit by a bus while walking to church.
Two weeks ago, I prayed for his sister Silvia and the next night with
his mother in Braila church. Daniel returned from Spain 18 months ago as
anti-illegal aliens movements spread in Spain and west Europe. Daniel
is now married to Daniela, a Romanian girl he met in Spain, and has a
new son a month old, named David. He wanted very much to have me meet
his family. They served Marin and I a traditional Romanian guest dinner
of chorba soup, bread, boiled potatoes, chicken schnitzel and pickled
red peppers. Bottled water and orange soda and fruit followed. It was
very nice. He just got a job that afternoon working as a waiter. His
wife works in consumer affairs for the government. He has a Chevy Spark
car (made in India, larger than a skate board but close!)
we ventured south to Jebel and stayed the night with Pastor Dorin and
his wife. His seven village churches are doing well. The big one in Deta
is growing and he just received a grant from an anonymous source to
construct a church in the neighboring village of Denta. The Banlok
Church is growing and the Serbian border church which we helped start is
still doing much counseling from the war atrocities. Many family lost
one parent and the other deeply impaired by hostile military forces.
Pastor Doru and his wife were packing when we arrived as surprisingly
they leave on Friday to fly to New Zealand to visit their son who
manages a big pig farm. She has never flown before. They fly from
Timisoara to Budapest, Budapest to Paris, Paris to London, London to
Singapore, and Singapore to Wellington! It is huge undertaking. Doru
worked in Australia for two years back in the early nineties so he has
travel experience. They hosted us for dinner and to sleep the night and
we left early before breakfast Thursday to give them peace in travel
preparations. Their three sons are paying for the trip, one living in
Belgian and one in New Zealand and the third in The Netherlands.
Lugos, a city southeast of Timisoara, we locate two Americans who have
settled as missionaries in this bustling city. Baron Howerton is from
Tennessee, a graduate of Bob Jones University, who wanted to serve as a
missionary in Romania. His wife Joyce is from Georgia. They married and
then moved here in 2001, establishing a Baptist Church in Lugos. They
have two children, have adopted two Romanian children and are processing
applications for two more handicapped children. The family of six kids
and parents reside in a large block house in town center Lugos and have
adapted to most Romanian customs, making them very efficient
missionaries. Several days a week they do crafts and projects with their
kids at a state children’s home, having from 30 to 50 kids each time
given to their care and instruction. Their uncle is Earl Harris of the
Bible Foundation situated in Oregon which provides Bibles to Caleb
Ministries. We gave them a supply of Glycobears and promised to send
more supplies now that we know their needs and uses.
Howertons', we journeyed south through snow and ice to Petrosani, up in
the mining district. Here we learned that unemployment is very high
with most mines closed and the youth heading west throughout the
European Union to find their fortunes. It is as if this very
Pentecostal enclave (along with Moldova) is now experimenting with jobs
abroad like the other youth did twenty years ago when the borders
opened. A few return with material things and even some with money for
investment but the price they pay in endangering their spiritual lives
is rarely worth it. We hear it over and over how they are drawn away
from church, become enamored with the fast life and sporty cars, only to
have foreign employers cheat them, hold back wages, and exploit their
illegal status. Now that the European Union gives them access across the
borders, they are victimized by anti-immigration movements, only to
return home disillusioned.
At Petrosani we
stay with Gigi and Daniella Coicheci and their children Bianca, Roxanne,
Sergio, Claudio and Cosmin. Saturday many came to the house for visits.
Sunday is church literally all day because of the winter weather and
difficulty of traveling home between morning and evening services. I
preached in encouraging the young people to go forward in missions and
on Paul’s travels on the First and Second Missionary journeys. A Pastor
from Craiova gave the closing message Sunday night and 29 people came
forward to rededicate their lives! He came to the house after and we
talked for quite a while as he wants Caleb to visit his church district
Marin and I returned to Braila as we had lost one headlight in our
travels, had some engine troubles and needed to rest. It took eleven
hours to drive back across country and we arrived home at 7 pm, making
home-made pizza for the kids as a treat.
I cannot be
sure where I left off because the laptop donated by Pastor Allen Pierce
for my travels has crashed and cannot any longer find its hard drive! It
has three works of notes and comments hidden in its dark recesses which
apparently it has decided will remain there forever. I believe I last
wrote on Monday of last week. It is now Tuesday so will try to
reconstruct events using my photos…still intact.
was tired from the drive across country. It was made more difficult
because we were stopped by the Police in Piteste and cited for “driving
in the forest” about three counties before! We did take the forest road
as people in Petrosani said it was open, much quicker and pretty good
road. It was quicker and was pretty good road except for about 28 miles,
but the Police do not believe it I open as yet! So thy cited Marin,
effectively revoking his driving privileges for three months, commencing
Dec 19th. He has appealed it but will probably loose as the police are
refused by the courts. This gave Marin a big headache so he rested. We
went to church Tuesday night but that was about it.
did chores that were set aside during our trip. Thursday we packed the
little van with clothes, Glycobears and supplies for trip north to Iasi
on Friday. Leaving early, we stopped at Barlan and at Brother Cazcacs
to deliver Glycobears, clothes and supplies. We then went to the storage
and got the remaining load of Christmas Shoeboxes for Braila holidays.
We buy 2400 for mostly gypsy children. We are charged $1.00 US for each
box covering delivery charges. We get them from Moldova as Romania
insists there are no needy children anymore since they joined the
European Union, a union requirement on paper! Life in fantasy land
Then we went to
his in-laws to pick out a Turkey for my birthday party. Last year they
had awful time thawing a frozen bird so this year he arranged to buy a
fresh one from his mother-in-law! They finally got it cornered, tied
into an open box and into the van back seat. Then we visited Marins’
construction site and found one worker needing to return to Braila
because his father is sick. The man got in directly behind me in the van
and he reeked of wine, garlic and body odor! Between him and the now
perpetually pooping turkey, it was awful. I lost my breakfast down to my
toenails! The 6 hour drive was test in patience but we made it. We
delivered the worker to his home and then drove to Marins’ mothers here
Marin opened the kitchen door and pushed the live turkey inside. They
were quite surprised but took it well. The turkey was boarded for night
and we returned home.
Saturday was a
big conference here in Chiscan Church (neighboring village to Braila) of
the 14 churches in the Braila alliance of Caleb supported churches. Over
75 showed up, mostly Pastors and wives. Two sermons were given, one on
Samson and the other David, and then a teaching on sexual immorality and
how to counsel those in the church involved. It was excellent
presentation. I then gave a closing sermon on the importance of
addressing these issues and not shoving them under the rug. Because
Romania is so male-dominated, these issues are usually blamed on the
women and not addressed or counseled as they should be. This conference
was great! After, they served a Romanian dinner and I was able to visit
with some Pastors we had not visited. The young man who had his right
arm mangled by farm machinery was there. He is doing very well and has
full use of his arm and hand. Pastor Croiter from Megidea was present
and insisted I come visit before leaving Romania. He promised to try to
get back to Seattle for a visit next summer. Because the conference went
late, the Turkey was spared one more day. Brother Metika and his family
came for prayer Saturday night at Marins’.
Sunday is gift-giving for Romanian children so he placed gifts in their
shoes. I filled his shoes with cough drops as it was all I had. He does
not eat sweets anyway. He was surprised. Then was church and then we
dispatched the Turkey. He was de-feathered and cleaned and then parted
out as they do not roast food. It is boiled or fried or put in soup or
stew. Only bread and a few select pastries are baked in this country.
Most “ovens” are way too small to accommodate a turkey. Marin gave his
mother a wing and other parts as payment for boarding it one night. The
rest was taken back o his apartment for the week. Presumably some will
be served on my birthday Saturday.
washed the car, paid bills and ran errands. With five young children, a
lot of time is spent on errands! It has been difficult because of the
elections and the economy. The state workers refused to work the
requested one day to help the failing economy. As a result, no on go
paid this month. Marins and Cristinas' checks (direct deposit to debit
card accounts) are missing for three weeks! They call each day but are
told they have been sent out but nothing is received and they are using
savings and bartering for goods and food. The election was with 12
candidates two weeks ago. This narrowed it to two, the incumbent and
another. Sunday was the election. The challenger led substantially in
all polls and at close of polls had big lead but by morning he lost by
less than 1 percent. Lots of clams of fraud and such and there is mood
of uncertainty in the country. Because of this, many are going unpaid as
places hoard what they can.
We met with a
gypsy friend from church in the plaza Monday. I asked about his family
and he simply broke down weeping. H has lost his job and his car and
cannot feed his six kids. We prayed with him right there ad it was
impressive as several passersby’s stopped and prayed with us. We gave
him some food and Christmas Boxes for his kids. Going to the Colony we
gave many fathers boxes for their children so they can give them out
themselves. The kids will also get boxes at church on Christmas Day.
The parents get food packets for their families with food for a week and
then another on New Years Eve.
delivered Christmas Shoeboxes to older ladies and men, most windowed or
alone, s that they get Christmas gifts as well. Sister Beleaneau was
very pleased by our visit and gifts and served us Apricot Juice and a
plate of 6 Ritz crackers. She had added sugar to the juice thinking this
would help a diabetic!
visited the family Milano in Sweet Water district. He is gypsy with 7
children and four grandchildren living in home. He is father of the
former possessed boy. All are doing well. He asked our prayers for a
daughter with paralysis of her jaw and for a newborn girl named
Emanuella. It was a good visit. Tuesday night Florin and his wife
returned to visit and pray with us so we missed church service on prayer
were going to visit in a village but the family arrived here at 7 am.
They needed food and clothes which we gave. After feeding them and
loading their car, Marin and I went to his mothers where she had
prepared a food package for a sick lady in Gropeni Village. We took the
boxes to her and prayed with her. She is 78 and very ill. Her husband
was very grateful and called two of the sons to join u. They have four
boys, all policemen. Two were killed while on duty. I told them of the
four officers killed in Lakewood last week and of the big memorial
service. They were very moved as most are not supportive of police here.
The father related many incidents of Marin when he was young and living
on the streets. It was fun to hear the details from the police side. A
very good visit and they were most grateful for the meals Marins’ mother
journeyed to Bucharest to take two ladies t the hospital for a stay. One
is Marins’ mother and the other a lady from the village. They go each
inter for treatment that lasts 9 days. To be sure they get a bed, even
though they have reservations, we leave at 4 am to arrive by 9 m. They
must pack their own bed linens, pillow, night wear, toilet paper and
issues and arrange for someone to bring them meals as hospitals provide
no such amenities here. We got there in time and had them checked in
with beds before we left.
12th was set aside for my birthday celebration. Cristina prepared the
grocery list and Marin and I went shopping. His pay has not been paid
for four weeks now, as with many others. Each day we go finance minister
and ask and the lady says she deposited it yesterday. But it I not
there. Main asked why she lies to him and she says “it is my job”. It
may be the government has no money left. We know of many others not
getting paid as well. So we shopped sparingly for birthday dinner. The
Turkey obtained from mother-in-law was cremated into a sort of hash.
This was served with salad and Turkey Chorba and bread.
Nakutsa and his Downs Syndrome daughter Estera came for dinner. Cristina
was too tired so it was Marin, Elisa, Michael and Nakutsa at the table
for dinner. I was presented flowers from Cristina and Nakutsa. The cake
was very good. It was molded lemon with orange slices and no sugar but
several came for prayer meeting. It was quite crowded. Thus, I turned 70
church, Sister Johanna had a birthday dinner but my now measles were
full blown on the Tiripa children so only Marin and I attended. It was
very traditional Romanian foods beautifully prepared.
and I made a visit to Brother Fannie, a gypsy Pastor who serves in the
Braila Church. He is special friend I had the privilege of baptizing in
1998. He lives with his wife, baby and mother-in-law in a tenement near
the port. The building is a disaster but his apartment is immaculate!
Many came for prayer in the home and it was a good time.
It is now
Tuesday and the two older Tiripa children are returning to school. Our
trip to Bucharest is in jeopardy as Marins’ license is up tomorrow and
Cristina will not drive in snow. We must drive to Bucharest to bring
home the two ladies we took last week. We started out at 8 AM with heavy
snow, icy roads and a temperature around 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Traveling at a maximum of 30 mph and in complete gridlock throughout
Bucharest, we saw seven overturned vehicles off the roadways and one car
driving from an obvious crash. These were 7 separate accidents across
the country! We retrieved the ladies and returned, getting home at 10
pm! It was snow, sleet and ice the entire route.
Today’s front page Editorial from
Romanian newspaper Nine O’clock:
Romania will enter a new age
starting on Monday once the Presidential elections are validated. An age
that is unknown for the time being, an age whose start is as gloomy as
it could be: a society more divided as ever, with an economy on the
brink of bankruptcy, with a pauperized population tired by tomorrow’s
uncertainty, with an apparently unstoppable unemployment, with an
outdated infrastructure that endangers the public’s safety, with a
health system on the verge of collapse and a demographic situation that
points to a massive exodus of young generations.
The generalized corruption, ranging from the highest levels – whose
consequence is the undermining of the credibility of the fundamental
institutions of the rule of law – to the door keeper to which one gives
RON 5 to enter a public institution for example, gives the final touches
to Romania’s depressing picture at this moment.
For two years Romania has been immobilized by the fierce struggle for
power because of last year’s Parliamentary elections, of the European
elections in May and of the Presidential elections that have just ended.
The institutional deadlock caused by the permanent conflict between the
Presidential and Parliamentary powers against the backdrop of Traian
Basescu’s personal interpretation of the Constitution, a President that
has constantly tried to extend his prerogatives into the executive area,
has led to an over-politicization of the administration at the expense
of decisional and financial transparency. Until last year however the
booming economy was on auto-pilot, with the state having the capacity to
ensure the proper functioning of the public sector. That is the
explanation as to why the Romanians were less preoccupied with the
side-slipping of the rule of law and with the institutional dissolution.
Today things have radically changed along with the unprecedented
deterioration of the economic situation, with Romania becoming dependent
on international financial aid like a terminal patient is dependent on
the oxygen mask. The Romanians have short-term, pressing demands from
those that they voted as their representatives within Parliament and the
were literally snowbound. The car was buried in snowdrift so we could
not get out. We stayed in and cleaned, etc. Thursday we were getting
frustrated with the closeness so bundled up the kids, dug the car out
and went to Versatura to visit the grandparents and then to grocery and
plaza to buy vegetables and fruits. It was an ordeal but worth our
effort. Friday was indoors again. We watched the Jesus Video, Star of
Bethlehem, and The Passion of Christ. Roads are open outside Braila but
getting to them is the problem. As always, they are saying it is worse
storm in hundred years, closing the entire country except Bucharest. We
must make preparations tomorrow to get to Bucharest as I leave Monday.
We have possibility of train, the VW van with Cristina driving, or Livio
has a 4 wheel drive. Maxi Taxi is closed for the storm. Three of the
five Tiripa children had measles by now, the three youngest!
planned to leave following snowplow out of Braila to state road about 20
miles west. It got cancelled and we determined to go Sunday. It was
eleven below zero! (This is coincidentally the same in Celsius and
Fahrenheit! Sunday the snowplow left but we had to postpone again as
two pigs were “down” due to the cold and had to be killed and butchered
immediately or would lose their meat value. One belonged to Marins’
mother and the other to Sister Johanna. Marin is best qualified so
Sunday morning we hiked to Versatura, about 5 kilometers, and he
butchered the big pigs. It took literally everyone to process the meat
and packing and cleaning. It was very difficult to breath with the
bitter cold air. Inhaling was very difficult as it burned your lungs. We
took turns running from house to barn to pig shed to house! By Sunday
night we were exhausted and knew we had to leave Monday am to catch my
airplane in Bucharest Monday evening.
At 5 am we
departed following the snowplow until we reached Lauralie. From there on
the roads were plowed but ice kept impacting in the wheel wells. Each
hour, we would stop and Marin would chop away the ice from the
undercarriage with an ax so as to not impede the wheels! By 12:30 we
reached the airport. Most flights were cancelled but my 8:20 flight took
off at midnight.
The trip to
Romania was wonderful and fulfilling. Travel was very difficulty the
last 9 days but before that we made it through the country four times in
six weeks, accomplishing most of our goals. Thank you all for your
support, prayers and concern. God Bless!