Romania - 2010
REPORT NUMBER ONE
Click on each photo to enlarge the image.
Braila, in southeast Romania. It is now Thursday. October
21st, 2010 and I have
been here a week, on mission s with Ina Aust and Steve Inklebarger,
husband and wife, of Chehalis. Our flight from Seattle took us
through Amsterdam and then after a four hour layover, on to
Bucharest. From there, Marin Tiripa brought us to the Tiripa
household in Varsatura, a town just outside Braila in Galati
Province of Romania. The journey began at 10 AM in Seattle at the
airport and ended at 8:30 pm in Varsatura, approximately 27 hours
We are staying in the
Tiripa home, a house under construction, where the Tiripas’ moved in
while building, last May. The family consists of Marin and his wife
Christina, their children Michael, 2, Stefan, 4, Elisa, 7, Paula, 8,
Anna, 9, nanny Dana, and now the three American guests. The one restroom
is situated on the second level along with my bedroom (school room
normally), temporary guest room of Ina and Steve, girls bedroom, boys
bedroom, ands clothes room for laundry and sorting. My room has a
The lower level has an
office where Christina & Marin sleep temporarily, living room with
fireplace, the only heat source, kitchen, pantry, and garage. We house
four cats and two geese presently, which you will understand better
Our arrival was timely
in several respects. Brother Paprika (Peter in English) passed away and
his services were underway the evening we arrived. Following a brief
rest, barely 11 hours after arriving in Romania I was conducting funeral
services in Llanca (pronounced Yon-ka) gypsy village. My message came
easy as Paprika, age 44, was a good friend. He was the first gypsy we
baptized in the Danube River, back in 1997. On that occasion some of you
may recall the debate we had with he and his wife the week prior. Pastor
Streghor, Marin and Christina, and I went to Llanca to visit him and his
wife, bearing gifts of loaves of bread, honey and clothes for his two
small children. They had announced their desire to be baptized in
church a few days before but then the gypsy elders threatened them,
assuring that he would be struck with paralysis for defying gypsy life
if he permitted this act. Paprika and his wife were confused and
literally terrified. We spent about four hours that very morning with
him explaining the power of Jesus and how He would not permit such a
tragedy. The debate was passionate and of huge weight as they were the
first in the village to accept Jesus and were the acknowledged leaders
of many there.
I recall the setting
well. It was a rainy Saturday morning. Crossing muddy fields down a long
farm road in the poor village, we arrived at their simple two room white
house. The large room housed a cow to preserve it from theft or injury
in this outlaw area. Separated from the tiny living area by several
boards, the small living space had a cast iron stove used for heat and
cooking, two small cupboards, a built-in platform bed where they all
slept, and some boxes used as cupboards for their clothes. A porch entry
was the only other covered space in the small house.
Leaving after our
visit, I recall the children being handed candypacks by Pastor Streghor
while seated in a broken wooden wagon in a clump of Chrysanthemum
plants, the only vegetation in the yard.
To my thrill, the
following Sunday morning both husband wife showed at the Danube River,
being baptized together, the first testimony now followed by hundreds in
this Braila District!
Brother Paprika died
suddenly of injuries sustained in a farm accident. There were probably
in excess of 250 gathered in the night air for his tribute, mostly
gypsies and many still non-believers. I eulogized my friend and then
spoke of the parable of the ten virgins, encouraging the faithful to
keep vigilant and prayerful in these perilous days. Three Caleb gypsy
pastors and our Romanian senior Pastor Brother Streghor spoke as well as
a brief greeting from Ina Aust.
Saturday brought even
more heaviness to my visit. Vasile (Lester in English), the older
brother of Marin Tiripa, is dying of cancer and effects of alcoholism.
Vasile has been cared for for years by Marin, actually since they and
their sister were rendered homeless when Vasile was 11 and Marin 9 years
old! The severities of their youth were too much for the older boy and
he has always led a difficult and unconventional existence, surviving
most of the time by working as a farm hand and carpenter, but unable to
shake his dependence on alcohol. I recall very fondly the one day he
honored me by bathing, shaving, and coming to hear me preach in a
borrowed blue suit! His attire was so strange to him that his own dog
did not recognize him when he returned to his house, barking
Vasile always felt
unworthy of Jesus love and grace, but he was at the same time respectful
and supportive of our work, helping on doing for others, repairing
widows’ homes without charge, delivering candy pack cases, unloading
Caleb containers, and the like. On Saturday Marin and I found Vasile in
his two room house unable to get us or care for himself. The modest fire
had gone out, only a few slices of orange and a chunk of bread occupied
his dinner table, and he clearly was in severe pain. He wanted to go to
the hospital, even though he knew and expressed that that is where one
goes to die!
Gathering Vasile, we
took him to his mothers’ home where he bathed and borrowed a pair of
pajamas. (The hospital provides nothing and you must have pajamas to be
admitted) He said good bye to his mother and stepfather and we then
drove him to the hospital. Analysis showed his liver and pancreas were
not working and that he has stomach cancer far beyond treatment. We buy
him a cup for drinking water, apples, bread, toothbrush and a bar of
soap, and he is admitted at 3 pm Saturday. This means he gets a bed and
we now must hire doctors to treat him and to buy any indicated medicines
and treatments as they are administered. An Analgesic is suggested for
the pain so we then seek out a Farmacia which has it in stock. A
willing doctor was located through friends in the church and he commands
$500 US for examining and recommending a course of treatment!
Anyone not liking
United States Medicine should watch the third world carefully! While
waiting in Admissions here I watched an endless parade of people coming
in. The area was dirty, dark, and unkempt. A man arrived with a severed
finger and was told he needed to find an urgent care hospital as this
one was general care. He was sent away holding his bleeding hand. Five
siblings were gathered in a corner counting their money to accumulate
enough to buy pajamas in the market place so their mother would be
admitted. An old man was carrying a basket of basic bread and pork
hoagies (no condiments, just bread and a very thin slice of meat) he was
selling to patients for dinner, should they not have friends or family
to bring meals. One delusional lady was screaming constantly in the
waiting area, obviously facing some demons in her head. The parade of
ambulance patients seemed endless and each conveyor was given a $20 cash
reward for bringing the patient to this hospital. They were each
assembled in the receiving area until family or friend arrived to
It was five hours
before the retained doctor completed his exam and his conclusion was
Vasile was indeed terminal but for an additional $1000.00 they could
treat him giving maybe four or five more days! They moved him to
Oncology and awaited the funds to proceed further. The family concurred
this would be a foolish expenditure, given they simply did not have the
funds having already expended the $500 for doctor and incurring $100 a
day for the hospital stay (To be paid each day by 8 PM).
Marin and I returned
to the Tiripa home and gathered Ina and Steve to take out for Pizza for
lunch. We dined at Bella Pizza but the consequences were severe. I got
sick as we arrived home. It was quick and efficient. That night, Ina and
Steve and all the Tiripa children who ate leftover pizza, became
severely ill. Four days later, Ina and Steve are “rocky” at best! The
culprit is believed to be mushrooms, Danube water, or spoiled meat as we
split a Hawaiian Pizza. Only ones not affected were Marin (system like
an army tank) and Christina and Elisa both of whom did not eat pizza.
Sunday morning service
was at Chiscan Church, a near by village. Ina gave a greeting as did
Steve and I then preached on The Seven Curses Removed by Jesus
Atonement. Pastor Aurel was very excited after the service and invited
us to leave Friday for three days touring the new Pentecostal Churches
in the Danube Delta with him. He is District Director for the
Pentecostal Union in Southeastern Romania and I have worked with him
many times before.
We returned to the
Tiripa home where Steve reported to bed, Ina prepared for an evening
service for ladies in Chiscan. And I prepared for evening service in
Braila. Our programs went well except I had a failure in translation.
Marin backed out at the last minute as he was concentrating on Vasile in
the hospital. I was handed over to Livio, a Romanian sailor with little
English skills, to translate for me. My message did not go well but all
were polite and welcomed me back.
Returning to the house, Ina and the children were severely ill. She ran
a heavy fever most of the night and basically stayed in bed Monday and
Tuesday, alternating with Steven. I ran soup, tea and water trips up and
own the stairs, and did errands with Marin in between.
Monday we visited
Vasile and went to the church elders of two districts trying to arrange
a burial plot. Both refused because Vasile did not reflect a Christian
life and they were therefore uncertain of his fate. This condemnation
was very hard for Marin to accept and I was relieved I was here to be
Monday afternoon we
visited several sick including gypsies and Romanians, as that is
customary the one day we do not have church services. Tuesday we made
the same preparations for my friend Nicoletta, mother of seven, as she
was admitted to the same hospital in terminal condition with cancer. A
prominent member of the Braila Church when I came here in 1990, she
served Caleb Ministries and hosted our visits often because her English
skills are acceptional Her husband abandoned her and the seven children,
running off with another to Spain. She became a recipient of Caleb goods
and clothing and we have sponsored one of her children through college
in Louisiana! Now we are taking meals to bother Vasile and Nicoletta,
among our other activities.
Still weighing on us
is the Aunt of Dana, the nanny in the Tiripa home, passed away last
Thursday and preparations are being made for her service once relatives
from Germany can arrive. You get a very real sense of the temporary
nature of this life in the fall in Romania because life is so basic and
Brother Nic from
Galati brought most of his family of nine children to visit and sing for
us as a surprise greeting Monday night. He lives about 60 miles away and
we promised to visit soon. (He has one Downs son we supply with
Glycobears and does Marin and his brother-in-law Nukutsa). We ended the
evening visit with household prayer, each on our knees on the living
room floor, once I provided a scripture lead. This season of prayer is
traditional in Pentecostal homes for any visit, often at first arrival
and then when leaving.
The power went out in
Braila District, leaving us in the dark most of Monday and Tuesday It
was not that unusual here in the rural area but the water was turned off
as well, giving us a challenge in caring fir our sick. In times of good
mood I was passing Ina and Steve’s room moaning “bring out the dead,
bring out the dead”.
Tuesday after errands,
Christina took me to a daytime prayer meeting with four others in
attendance. It was across town at Sister Muras’ modest home. We had a
good time with songs and prophecy. Then Tuesday evening Ina and Steve
were well enough to go to Chiscan services again where I preached in
Deuteronomy 30:4-16, Loving God with all your heart, mind and soul.
Service was followed by an appreciation dinner in the church basement,
but unfortunately pizza was served. Ina and Steve returned home ill
Christina and her
friends and I discussed at some length what they call “Despair of the
Danube Ladies”. This is the strong belief that many ladies and even men
are driven to suicide in the Danube due to the demands of Romanian and
gypsy customs. They want to establish counseling and awareness programs
to curb this evil. There is no doubt in my mind of the need. The “macho”
men enslave their wives by demanding big families because it is
“customary”, leaving them living in poverty and destroying the health of
the ladies. The man must consent to any medical procedure terminating
the ability to conceive, abortion, or fertility. The medical profession
and the church enforce this principle without waver. To even address
this issue publicly will resort in your being ostracized, yet we are
called to counsel on this with the women frequently, in both gypsy and
I was asked to do the
Wednesday Night service again at Chiscan, but it got replaced at the
last minute due to attending to Vasile. The doctor was assuring us his
time was now very short so Marin asked I put the issue of salvation to
Vasile once and for all. We went to the hospital again, bearing his
supper, about 6 pm. Vasile was awake and even able to walk a little. He
accepted our gift of new pajamas and ate his dinner. Once rested, Marin
translated as we talked. I reviewed our years of friendships and
adventures (16 years I have known Vasile) and I then put it to him that
he may not leave the hospital on his own, that this life was terminal.
He concurred and squeezed my hand acknowledging our bond of friendship.
I told him I was indeed a sinner as were we all, and that I needed to
ask forgiveness of my God and to repent of my sins. He agreed he did as
well, and I then read Romans 10:9 and 10. He said he did repent and
regretted having disappointed God and so many others. I asked if he
acknowledged Jesus as his Savior and he did, unequivocally. We cried,
laughed, hugged and loved on each other, Marin, Vasile and myself!
There were seven other patients there observing as we wept together and
I am certain each was impacted by this testimony. Vasile is a humble man
who always felt he was not good enough, living in the shadows of others,
but his belief in Jesus is clear. It is church hypocrisy and
judgmentalism that impeded him on many occasions, a big danger in the
super-spiritual side of Romanian Pentecostalism.
It is now 5 AM
Thursday and I will close as I am very tired. Sorry to take so long in
writing but I have been very busy as you can imagine. The program is
church tonight Thursday in Braila, and then leaving Friday afternoon to
the Delta to preach twice daily in villages, returning Sunday night.
Then Monday going across the country to our various friends, all
depending on durability of Ina and Steve.
Click on each photo to enlarge the image.
was service in the Braila Pentecostal Church. Ina and Marin
accompanied me and Christina came as well to translate. I preached
on the calling of Timothy by Paul and the growth of the first
century church. With Christina translating, it went very well. Ina
gave a greeting and spoke of her family coming from Moldova area of
Romania. Thus was well received by all as she prophesied of the
Romanian Pentecostals being flowers of color to the world for
Friday afternoon was
chores and then around 7 pm we were invited to visit Brother John and
his family in the Gypsy Colony. Marin and I went and Ina accompanied us
but Steve had to stay in. It became clear it was more than a visit,
when we arrived and found about twenty gathered at Johns apartment. A
gypsy service was underway and they expected messages and prayer. With
small children running about and a plate of cookies and orange pop set
on the table for all, Ina spoke again of her Romanian roots and of the
importance of providing all you can spiritually to equip your children.
I followed with a message on The Prodigal Son, drawing much from my
recent reading of”A Tale of Two Sons” by John MacArthur. We followed
this with a talk by Marin and then many questions and inquiries as are
usual in The Colony. Ina and I then prayed with many, receiving words
from The Spirit for five of the adults. One gypsy brother recounted how
his heart pains eased on our last visit when we prayed for him last
November. I recalled how many of them I had had the privilege to baptize
in the Danube! It was a great meeting with much joy as they sang several
songs before we left; including all eight choruses of one in particular
I still cannot get out of my head.
Saturday morning Marin
and I picked up the pastor from Chiscan and his teenage daughter and
with Christina, headed for the Delta area, crossing the Danube on barge.
Pastor Aurel of Chiscan is the District Supervisor of Braila area
(Southeast Romania Pentecostal Churches) and wanted to bring foreign
visitors to the new Delta churches. Actually, I had visited these same
churches last year but it was fun to return to them as they do not get
many visitors. Ina and Steve stayed back in Braila and Christina’s
brother Dan came all the way from Iasi (6 hours!) on the train, along
with three of his children, to look after Steve while we were away.
The first village
church we visited was Hagarda, a Turkish village. I preached the same
message in all four churches, the Seven Curses removed by the blood of
Jesus at the Cross. This village church was quaint and very receptive.
They served homemade cake after the service and then a dinner consisting
of bread, black olives, sheep cheese, salami slices, tomato slices and
Danube caviar. The caviar looks like a yellow pudding having the
appearance of rice pudding. It is not expensive and is treated as a
spread heaped on bread. This is a very common meal here for breakfast,
lunch or dinner as it is across Romania. Because of the caviar, I
elected not to eat anything as there was no way to prevent contamination
as to my allergies.
From there we visited
just outside Tulcea in a small new church. A lady translated for me,
giving Christina a rest. This was a mistake as later when we settling
in for the night, Pastor Aurel asked me if “I truly believed Jesus drank
four cups of wine at the last supper”. He said the Pastor corrected this
impression at the close of service. We had a great laugh over it. I
stayed the night on a hide-a-bed at the home of Pastor Emanuel in Tulcea.
It was three flights up which were a challenge but I made it on these
old tired legs. The others went elsewhere to sleep and we reconnected at
the large Victoria Street Emanuel Church in the morning for the Sunday
morning service. The Pastors wife translated again. Following lunch
Pastor Emanuel and Pastor Aurel and I visited a family on the 6th floor
(no elevator!) of another building to pray for a lady with a tumor. The
entire family was present and sent us a gift of pastries for our lunch
along with the invitation to please come and pray with the wife. The
husband proudly introduced us to his entire family, reciting the year
each received Jesus and was baptized. He told of his twin brother who
lives in Galati, and about visiting a family in Turkey who have 18
children. That family sent a gift of fruit for us as a blessing for the
American Evangelist and he insisted we sit and eat the fruit before
praying or the blessing on the family in Turkey as well as his family
would be lost! We ate fruit (a pear) and then prayed over the lady and
then the entire family.
In the afternoon we
visited a small church in the village of Nikolaie Belaneascu, named for
a Romanian Poet. Pastor Fanika was most gracious as he rarely has
visitors. Christina translated the message. We returned to Braila
about 9 PM to find all was well with Steve, Ina, Brother Dan, and the
eight children. The nanny Dana had was, frustrated by trying to
understand the Americans who were cooking in “her” kitchen. But she got
It is now Tuesday am.
Vasile is being transported by Ambulance to a Bucharest Hospital at
orders of his daughter from whom he has been estranged for many years.
She and his ex-wife have obtained doctors in Bucharest and they want his
input so it is beyond Marins or Vasile’s control but the family here is
noticeably upset. Tomorrow morning Marin and I will start our
cross-country visits beginning in Bucharest where we can hopefully see
Vasile. If Steve and Ina can come they are most welcome but if not, we
still must begin our journey to meet some of the schedule. After
Bucharest, we plan to go to Campalung, Petrosani, Jebel, Timosoara, Cluj,
Beclean, Bistritsa, Neamt, and Vaslui, returning to Braila by Saturday.
Then Saturday evening we are scheduled to go to Moldova for three days.
My health remains good and my diabetes well under control although I did
have problems climbing endless stairs or standing for long periods of
time. God is blessing me mightily on this journey, as always. I will
write again probably Saturday.
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
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
Monday morning 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.
REPORT NUMBER THREE
I am sorry to be so late in
writing but we have been very busy. I left off last Wednesday with Marin
and me starting our journey to Bucharest. Wednesday afternoon, Ina and
Steve were able to travel again so the four of us set out for Bucharest.
Marin worked at the construction site in the morning and then we left
after lunch for the central Romania surrounding Bucharest. We took the
northern route above city center as there are street demonstrations in
the city concerning economic cutbacks. These often become riots making
Arriving at the Eastern entrance
to Bucharest we proceeded directly to the Oncological Hospital to visit
Vasile Tiripa, Marin’s brother. He had been removed from Braila by the
daughter and ex-wife to Bucharest so their specialists could perform
tests and examine him. Marin was permitted to visit with Vasile and
reported he was exhausted by the ambulance trip and in great pain. The
tests would be concluded by Friday.
We then went out of Bucharest and
around the city of three million using the circumferential highway,
which they call the “beltway” but which Marin calls the “seatbelt way”
in his broken English. (It took several trips for me to figure out what
he was saying) The Beltway is not elegant or fast. It is a patchwork of
old roads put in along military bases to guard the city from attack. It
is effective for avoiding midtown gridlock but hardly a highway or even
consistent roadway. Used mostly by heavy trucks and freight vehicles, it
is cumbersome, long and bumpy. If you can imagine, this highway has four
way stops, rail crossings and repeated construction zones. Still, it is
best bet for getting to other side of the city from any point.
Once we were on the west end, we
took the Pitesti Highway for about 35 miles to Bolin exit where we found
a hotel for the night. It was around 11 pm and we were exhausted from
the drive, having stopped for dinner inroute at a traditional Romanian
“popas” (traveler’s rest stop).
As Ina and Steve were scheduled
to go to Moldova Friday night or Saturday morning, we needed to devote
this visit to Bucharest to their purposes, postponing my stops to later
on. Thursday morning we had traditional breakfast of sliced pork,
cheese, bread, olives, and tomatoes, plus coffee, at the hotel
restaurant. Then we set out to visit the Inasmuch Ministries facilities
of Ron and Sue Bates. Ina was a
good friend of the Bates, helping establish their ministry in 1990.
Caleb Ministries partnered with the Bates in feeding the street
children, printing the Braille Bible in Romanian, and in sharing offices
for several years. Ron and Sue both passed away last year and their
ministry continues on under the new banner Jubilee Ministries.
Affiliated with a Scottish Patron and a Presbyterian Foundation, they
have concentrated on the home for the older girls, closing the orphanage
for young boys and the street programs. At Bolin, we found the
orphanage/half-way house operating well. Under the supervision of the
Bates’ former employee Nelu, the home presently has 25 girls which they
have enticed away from Bucharest streets. Situated in this small remote
village, the girls range in age from 17 to 28, many with children
presently removed from their care. These girls are housed in units of
two or four, depending in their needs. Some live in 5 trailers designed
as living units, complete with bathroom and shower, kitchen, bedroom,
and living room. Each trailer costs 20,000 Euro or $25,000.00 US so it
is no small in vestment being made in their lives. Others live in pods
of two or four in the main building. They are taught sewing, cleaning,
cooking, work skills and social skills so that they do not become prey
to the streets of the city. Their education and mental skills run the
spectrum. We were very impressed with the facility and the devotion of
staff to rescuing these girls, a pet project of Sue Bates for many
While visiting at Bolin and
enjoying coffee, tea, bread and pate’, we were joined by other visitors.
One was Ben Skagg, an American from Indiana who has been on the mission
field since 1977, presently based in Ethiopia. He is acquainted with our
Caleb projects in Nigeria and Ghana and we exchanged information helpful
to both our ministries. Another is Tim Bale. Tim and his late wife
worked with Ron and Sue Bates in 1990-1993 in Bucharest. He is now back
helping put together Jubilee Ministry. We all had a wonderful visit at
From there I took Ina and Steve
to the gypsy village of Geiseni to see the House of Hope Ministry which
Ani Ortega and her husband Rupert are assembling, showing Ina and Steve
the contrast in Romanian and Gypsy programs. At Geiseni, we found three
of Ani’s sisters and her mother in the house. It is vastly improved with
interior tile work, flooring and better windows and doors. They have no
resident children but continue building and holding church services, day
care, after-school programs and other activities for the village
children. I have seen as many as 60 children there
being served lunch and being
taught bible lessons. We had a great visit with mom and the sisters,
singing songs and sharing cake and coffee through the morning.
Following the two orphanage
visits, Ina wanted very much to meet up with her old friend Ruth
Crijankowski. Ina knew Ruth in the early 90’s and they worked together
in many programs. Ruth’s only son is in Bellevue now and her husband
passed away years ago. Some of you may recall Caleb Ministries provided
a pace maker for him in 1995. Ina had not seen Ruth since 1995 so we set
about hunting her down. We found her living in a large apartment house
where at age 92 she ministers to the few surviving friends she has. We
took Ruth out for lunch at MacDonald’s and had a great visit, Ina
slipping $100 into her pocket to help ease her life.
We had to leave Bucharest as it
was getting into the afternoon on Thursday and we had hoped to meet up
with Doru Cirdei, the Director of Moldova Pentecostal Union who was at a
conference somewhere in Cluj. Pastor Doru had invited us to Moldova for
Friday through Monday and we had hoped to find him in Cluj so Ina and
Steve could ride back with him into Moldova. We drove north towards Cluj
but could never get an answer on his cell phone to make the necessary
arrangements. Stopping for a short visit in Campalung to see the
Orphanage of Rebecca Graham, we were disappointed to learn it still has
not opened and Rebecca was in the United States for gall-bladder
surgery! It was scheduled to open last summer but still lacked some
funding and an approval so was postponed once again.
Following lunch at a Hungarian
restaurant, we continued on towards Cluj until 6 pm when we found a
hotel for the night outside Brasov. We passed Bran (the real Count
Dracula’s castle) and Rascov Castles, an enchanting sight for Steve and
Ina. Rascov is second largest castle still complete and a major tourist
attraction here. We enjoyed a very nice meal and restful night. In the
morning I suggested it would be best to turn east to Iasi rather than
continuing to Cluj since we were unable to contact him, had no idea
where his conference was in that large city, and were only guessing he
had room to accommodate two passengers in his car back to Moldova. All
agreed and we turned east, going through Bicaz Pass and across the Bicaz
River into Bucovina area and the Moldovan hills. By nightfall we had
arrived at Iasi at the home of Marin’s in-laws. We contacted Christina
back in Braila by telephone and she contacted Doru Cirdei on the
internet. He said he was now back in Moldova. He had been trying to
reach us on his cell phone as well. It appears the cell phones do not
work between Moldova and Romania! Both using Orange Service, and less
than 100 miles apart, they could not reach each other nor could
Christina reach them on the land line.
Ina and Steve were very tired and
went to bed as Dan, Marin and I explored the options. Ina wanted to
visit Doru and see his orphanage and school and give them $1,000 in
person. They were invited by Doru for Friday evening through Monday but
it was now midnight Friday.
Original plan was Marin and I
would drive Ina and Steve into Moldova Saturday but Marin had not
obtained necessary Moldova entry permit from Romania police station. He
forgot in all the confusion of his brother’s illness, which was
understandable. Next plan was Dan would take Ina and Steve in by train
on Friday and return Monday. Dan told me this on the telephone a week
ago. But now he says he cannot to until Sunday night which is far too
late. Dan says they can just take the train because the customs in
Moldova have not been checking passports (Americans not suppose to take
trains built by Russian funding). I found this very risky proposal with
any number of problems such as Doru not meeting them for any number of
reasons, some inspector deciding to once again check passports, etc.
Because of this, I decide to not have them go unaccompanied into
Moldova. The idea of their walking across the border as proposed is
unacceptable to me. Last time I did this I was held at gunpoint in
Moldova for over an hour by an angry Moldovan soldier who wanted to
“kill American!” And the train idea is just too foolish.
Finally, it was arranged by
internet through Christina back in Braila that Doru Cirdei would drive
into Romania from Moldova and pick up Ina, Steve, and Marins’
brother-in-law Dan, meeting us at 11 am inside the Romanian border. He
would stay with them the entire visit and he would bring them back
Sunday evening unto Iasi in Romania. This was most agreeable as Dan
would accompany Ina and Steve, leaving me free to do other work in Iasi.
Dan was always available to go Saturday and Sunday but had to be back
Sunday night. He confused his English and meant to say he could not go
Monday, and always was available for Saturday and Sunday.
The exchange was successfully
made Saturday morning at the Petrom gas station inside Romania. I then
set out arranging Caleb’s’ annual allotment of Christmas Shoeboxes for
the gypsy villages and other ministries we serve in Romania. Since the
European Union admitted Romania, they declared there were no needy
Romanian children and therefore prohibited the distribution of the
shoeboxes. For the past three years, Caleb and the Braila Church and our
Fundatia Betia foundation have obtained the shoeboxes through Moldova
sources for our ministries here. This year I negotiated 3,200 shoeboxes,
up 500 from last years supply. Marin will pick them up using his van and
trucks in early December.
Later I visited Aurel,
brother-in-law of Christina’s brother. He started the hydroponic garden
program in Iasi Caleb helped fund five years ago. Under the program,
villagers were provided plastic greenhouses and supplies for growing
vegetables. The produce was picked up in our vans and taken to market at
Caleb stalls in big cities and proceeds paid back to farmers less 5% for
expenses. The program worked very well and helped remote farmers sell
their goods at better prices. The project was stopped by European Union
for not using European Union approved seeds or having horticultural
inspection of crops, both prohibitively expensive for small farms. Aurel
reports his ministry is now teaching courses in subsistence farming to
the villagers so they do not turn to growing tobacco for quick money
which ruins their farms.
Saturday afternoon we learned
Marin’s brother Vasile was determined by the Bucharest doctors to indeed
be terminal and he was being returned from Bucharest to Braila by
ambulance now. Marin and I must drive from Iasi to Braila to settle him
in his mothers home as the hospital in Braila refuses to receive him
back. Marin’s mother has dementia and has difficulty comprehending what
is going on. So we must supervise his being settled in her house as his
is unsuitable given five young children.
By review, on Wednesday, we drove
380 miles from Braila to Bucharest, around Bucharest and halfway to
Pitesti. Thursday we drove 600 miles on country roads to beyond Brasov
via Campalung. Friday, we went another 800 miles to Iasi. Saturday, we
went 180 miles to Braila after going 80 miles to Moldova border and
back. In Braila, Marin settled his brother at his mothers where he is
being looked after by family members and church members, and Sunday
Marin and I along with Christina and some riders wanting to go to Iasi,
returned to Iasi to pick up Steve and Ina, only to immediately turn
around and drive back to Braila. To help with expenses, another couple
rode with us to Braila to visit their family, sharing gas expense both
As we left Braila, we stopped to
visit Vasile one more time. This was provident because he passed on to
glory about an hour after our visit. We were on the road to Iasi to pick
up Ina and Steve when we got the news. Continuing up to Iasi, we visited
with Pastor Doru Cirdei and retrieved our two guests only to them turn
around and drive back to Braila to prepare for the funeral.
Sunday night and Monday morning
Marin and I negotiated with the local cemeteries, purchased the casket
and burial clothing, arranged for the meal for guests, and sat vigil at
the casket at his mother’s house. Brother Jenney offered me a ride home
so Marin could rest. Caleb Ministries purchased the casket, wooden
cross, food, and flowers at a total cost of $390.00. Monday night was
memorial service at the mother’s house. I preached on forgiveness,
judgmentalism and then recounted Vasiles' confession of faith a week ago
in the Braila hospital. Following the service, we received word the
infant son of one of our gypsy families in Lacu Sarat had died in the
night. It was brother Jenney’s grandson! Ina and Steve, the children and
Christina went back to the house and then Marin and I went to the
village to give our condolences. The family was very impressed we would
come at this time direct from Marin’s brother’s service. I gave a eulogy
for the infant, explained the doctrine of the innocents and that the
child indeed would be received by Jesus into the kingdom. The family was
so grateful for the visit they assured me word would spread among gypsy
clans and I would find safety and shelter in gypsy homes everywhere!
Tuesday we picked up the flowers
and wreaths, and at noon we held the funeral service at his mother’s
house and then held the funeral procession to the cemetery in Chiscan
where his brother was laid to rest. I provided the messages at the
services along with the Pastor from Chiscan, Pastor Aurel. It was a very
long day. When the coffin was lowered Marins’ mother collapsed and we
had to call an ambulance. All of the cars had to be backed out of the
narrow cemetery road so the ambulance could reach her, as the coffin was
being covered. It was chaotic, hectic and somewhat hysterical for many.
Steven and I found ourselves comforting elderly women and assuring them
Aurelia would be okay, while Ina looked after the Tiripa children and
Christina ministered to her mother-in-law. Marin was supervising the
laying of the coffin of his brother.
Once calm was restored and
Aurelia was pronounced okay, we returned with the crowd to the mother’s
home for the traditional meal. At the end of the meal to which all were
invited, Tuesday evening after the funeral for Vasile, Marin and I again
went to Jenney’s to comfort the family and make the arrangements.
It was now Wednesday and we were
preparing the second funeral, this for the one month old infant Solomon
Stan from Lacu Sarat Gypsy Colony. Preparations were undertaken in the
morning and in the afternoon Marin and I took Ina and Steve to Bucharest
to stay the night and then catch their fight early Thursday morning.
Staying again at the Bobe Hotel on the Pitesti highway, we woke at 4:15
to get them to airport by 5:45. We then rushed back to Braila just in
time to conduct the services and burial for Solomon Stan, age 31 days!
The family was very grateful for our work and told me I will always be
“gypsy” to their family and welcome anywhere anytime. We are exhausted.
I fell in the cemetery at the last service when my left leg gave out but
several helped me up and few noticed. One lady yelled for Marin but I
was up before he turned to notice so he did not know. One less thing for
him to worry over! It is now Thursday evening and I rest.
Friday morning and thankfully
time to write my report. I am so sorry it has taken this long. Christina
just visited and told me Marin and I leave for Vaslui in an hour to kill
sixteen turkeys for a lady. In return, we get paid 3 turkeys for winter
food. Then we go on to Iasi to pick up sacks of apples, complete a land
purchase to start a new house construction, and then return to Braila
Click on each photo to enlarge the image.
We left for
Vaslui Saturday Afternoon with Marin’s mother-in-law going with us.
Stopping in the village of Cortesei, about two hours out, we traversed
mud roads suitable for horse carts, finally arriving an a farmhouse. It
is the home of the mother-in-law of Dan, Christina’s brother, who lives
in Iasi. She has EIGHT Turkeys. The deal is we kill one and take it to
Dan and the rest are ours for feeding the gypsies, to be delivered by
Aurel to Braila later. We do in one big Turkey, I performed last rights
and Marin and a neighbor shortened it by six inches. We then packed it
in a plastic tub and took it on to Iasi where it was dressed
appropriately. Marin conducted some business about building another
house in Iasi. We stayed the night and then loaded the van with apples,
pears, potatoes and clothing to bring back to Braila. When I am in town
Caleb buys the das and we bring many goods from our travels back to
Braila for the church and gypsies and missionaries.
breakfast was particularly awful…..brown bread with turkey liver
pate’…..and marinated mushrooms. Try that with very strong coffee some
In route home,
Marin took me to the Castle of King Sturdza, hidden on monastery grounds
about 85 kilometers from Iasi. There are 8 kings of Romania buried
there, the last dying in 1472, King Sturdza. I stood in the amphitheater
and preached to them Sunday AM but no one responded….
afternoon we arrived home at 3 to find we were expected at Brother Nics’’'
home for dinner in Galati at 3! We rushed the 45 miles north with the
family and were treated with a fine mean of Chorba, chicken, mashed
potatoes, and pickles and pickled peppers. The twelve children serenaded
us with several songs and it was a pleasant evening. One of their
children is Downs and has been on Glycobears through Caleb and they
always try to thank me each journey.
Monday was work
day for Marin. I read and did chores. Monday evening Brother Metika
asked to come and visit with me. Marin and Christina graciously agreed
and translated for me. Brother Metika always likes to come and visit and
pray with me but has been on the outs with this family as he owes $6,000
and refuses to pay it though asked repeatedly. Marin needed the funds
for his brother care but Metika just avoided his calls the last two
weeks. I felt it was most gracious to be cordial in his visit with me.
He came to ask questions about several subjects, bringing two friends
1. Does one have to be baptized
to enter Heaven?
2. Why did Paul speak of winning
the race so much?
3. What are the heavenly rewards
and how do we earn them?
4. Should people be allowed to
prophecies in church services?
5. Why are some churches not
6. Is circumcision necessary to
be a Christian?
7. What are the qualifications
for a pastor?
8. Are death bed conversions
real and are they “fair”?
You can see it
was a long evening. Brother Metika left the organized church years ago
and struggles with his home church because he is very bothered by
hypocrisy. Years ago he use to be part of Marins church and Caleb. He
started a second hand store with Caleb supplies. (Romania permits
ministries to sell up to 10% of donated goods to cover their expenses so
brother Metika did without consulting anyone. He had a key to our
warehouse and just “did it”! When asked about it he refused to say how
much he sold or what became of the money, saying “You don’t trust me”.
His key was taken away and he left the church but remains a friend!
We closed in
prayer about 1 AM. It was a good evening!
Tuesday did not
go as planned. We took Marins’ Peugeot Truck to Greci, across the Danube
River, with plans to bring back firewood for the winter for several
homes. We left early, having breakfast before leaving about 6 AM.
Marin’s father went with us. The truck started running poorly while we
were on the barge crossing the Danube. It lost power and we had to be
pushed to start it to get off at the other side. Once we reached the
church at Greci brother Nelu was there to help look at the engine
problem. He recommended the battery be charged and went home and
retrieved a charger. While waiting, we noticed a letter nailed to the
door of the house. The church in Greci is the first one built from
ground up by Caleb. It is located on a large lot with an old farm house
and large gardens. We drilled a well, the first in Greci, several years
ago and opened it and the gardens to everyone in need. A month ago,
Greci suffered severe flooding, destroying the barn and farm house
completely. The church was and is unharmed.
The note was
from the mayor of Greci, advising that since we are a Pentecostal
Church, we are not entitled to relief supplies to rebuild the farm
house. All others got building supplies, including a Seventh Day
Adventist Church and the Orthodox Church, but we were denied. Marin’s
father and I marched up to the mayor’s house to register our protest.
The mayor said the house was unoccupied but we pointed out we have a new
pastor coming with family to stay and they require the house for living
space. He said the house was vacant presently and then I surmised aloud
that the property is listed agricultural (for the gardens of 2 acres) so
actually as fenced and unusable as a home I could just move in about 40
pigs and raise them there instead. (The mayor lives across the street)
Without hinting he understood my comments, her suddenly agreed to supply
goods sufficient to reconstruct the house. We were then given two hours
to collect our supplies from the city storehouse. We drove the van,
limping all the way, to the city warehouse where it was loaded with bags
of concrete, cables, sheetrock, insulation, tin roofing and other
supplies sufficient to build a 2 room house. (The former one was four
plus stables but we were not going to quibble) We decided it best to
take the suppliers back to Braila so they would not be stolen from the
lot until we can rebuild in the spring. (A new pastor has not been found
yet and Nelu is operating the church with Marin preaching Sunday morning
and Wednesday Evenings.
We then drove
the van back to the barge to cross the Danube back to Braila. Inasmuch
as we were loaded with heavy supplies, we were not permitted on the car
barge and had to cross on a heavy barge operated by the Romanian Navy,
reserved for trucks. This was quite a treat. The trucks are lined up
according to weight and size and then carefully placed on the barge in
key positions. We were second, being very small in comparison, and
because we now had to be pushed to start and our lights were not
working! (The navy was kind to even let us on!) The loading technician
then called out the next truck he wanted, assembling the candidates in a
parking area. He called for a heavy but short truck. Placing it on the
river side, he called for the next, a long truck. He placed the small
truck on the river side and as the big truck got its front wheels on
the deck, he had the small one cross back to the river bank as the big
truck finished getting on, to keep the barge from tipping over! This
process was continued over and over until the last truck got on. It was
very heavy, requiring TWO small trucks to cross from river side to bank
side as he entered the barge. The barge dropped TWO FEET below the
loading ramp as his back tires arrived on the deck! The Tech then
maneuvered each to his desired location and we set off across the
Danube. It was now dark of night. On the Braila side we were pushed
again to start and made it up the hill from the barge onto the roadway.
There, we were stopped by the police for having no lights. Duh….what
lights? After examining all of our documents and accepting a “gratuity”
of 200 Ron ($65 US) the policeman left. All this while we kept the
engine running on the hillside in the outside lane of a four lane road.
As soon as he left, the truck coughed and stopped dead! Help arrived
about 20 minutes later and the truck towed by tractor to the house. It
was now 9:30 PM and my breakfast had worn very thin. Marin made me a
salad and we all went to bed very tired!
holiday (Saint Michael Gabriel Day!) so Marin worked in the truck. I
showed video of the “Exodus from Egypt and through the Deserts” from
THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW series to about 25 folks from the church with
Christina and Livio and Cornell providing some translating after each
sequence. It was very well received.
As you can
imagine, a trip of 35 days where I must slip into the busy schedule of a
family of 5 children, a nanny, the two parents, and operating of a farm
and a construction business presently building five houses on two
cities, involves a lot of necessary “down time” when I must simply wait
patiently. Even the 28 hour journey from Seattle to Braila provides
considerable “dead time”. To full these hours, I have brought a number
of books. (I am seriously considering buying a Kindle or Nook or Ipad to
download books for these trips, lightening my suitcases considerable.
Because some have asked, this is what I read so far on this trip:
1. Secret of The Stairs (Study
of Song of Solomon) by Wade Taylor
2. The Polish Officer by Alan
3. The Book Thief by Marcus
4. The Christian in Complete
Armour by William Gurnall
5. What Is the What by Dave
6. A Tale of Two Sons by John
7. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth
8. The Lost Painting by Jonathan
9. Unschackled & Growing by Dr.
Nabeel T. Jabbour
Add to this the
viewing of 20 episodes of That The World May Know DVD series and three
audio teachings by Stan Smith and you can see I have filled the time
nicely. It is very important to “entertain” yourself so the family does
not feel guilty about not doing things with you. It is a good devise
for making them comfortable about my visit and it allows me to catch up
on good reading and prepare my bible study classes for the next few
left for Iasi again but this time with detour. Marin agreed to build a
new house in Iasi and had to start the project Friday. He needed to take
a worker, Nelu, from Braila to Iasi to start the work. A lady from
Braila needed to appear in Court in Piteste on Friday for a child
custody hearing involving her ex husband but she had no funds to get
there. Naturally, Marin agreed to take her and the baby to Piteste. So
at 10 am on Thursday, Marin, Nelu, the lady and her baby set out to
drive to Piteste to leave her for the Friday hearing. From there, we
drove to Campalung, Brasov, Bicaz, Roman and Iasi, arriving at Iasi at
1 am on Friday! Yes, Marin drove 800 miles in 15 hours! We were
exhausted, funding a modest motel with 3 single beds and nothing more in
the room. Truly, a one star motel! At 8 we got up and went to the work
site where we met the owner, a bulldozer and operator, and another
carpenter who works for Marin. We set them to work, got supplies
ordered, had breakfast at MacDonald’s, picked up potatoes and cabbages
for the gypsies, and drive back to Braila, arriving about 11 pm.
Saturday we slept in until 9. Then we went to Big Island, one of two
major islands in the Danube outside Braila. Big Island is famous as it
was a prison where nonconformists were exiled by Ceaucesceau for not
abiding by communism. The monument at the Island states over 300,000
perished on the Island during internment, from malnutrition, disease or
poisonous snakes! The island is 80 kilometers by 60 kilometers and now
has been cleared of forest and is used for farming. Another client
wanted to meet us there to consider building a house. We took three
workmen, ventured across the Danube on ferry, and took the 59 kilometer
drive on very poor farm roads to the site. After the meeting the workers
were situated and left as Marin and I returned by another route we were
told was shorter. It turned out to be wagon roads, very bad, and
arriving at the Danube at a tiny ferry only capable of holding one car
or horse and wagon! What an adventure. We got home at 6 pm, Marins
father and mother hosted a good-bye dinner followed by desert at
Johanna’s house, another friend.
Now Marin is
free to take me across Romania before I leave for home Tuesday so this
will be last report from the field for this trip.
Number 5 - Romania 2010
Click on each photo to enlarge the image.
I am now back
in Seattle, having successfully completed the Romania trip for 2010.
Events following the fourth Report went very quickly. Marin Tiripa and I
left Braila early the next morning, heading for Bucharest to visit the
India Consulate concerning their not granting my visa request earlier in
2010. However, when we arrived near Bucharest we were advised civil
unrest was hampering travel in much of the city and we were cautioned to
stay away from the consulate area. We decided instead to visit our
friends in Petrosani, and heading west. Arriving in the mountain mining
area, we learned Pastor Coicheci Gheorghe was away in Spain on vacation.
So we journeyed on but found our vehicle being stopped by the police in
nearly every town and village along the way. Excuses were given of
“warning against picking up hitchhikers”, “safety check for
identifications”, and “inspecting licensing documents”. By midnight, we
were exhausted and found a cheap motel for the night. There, we learned
there was a murder in Piatra Neamt (central-east Romania) the night
before and a nation-wide manhunt was under way, explaining our being
stopped so often. The perpetrator was apprehended Monday morning hiding
in the house adjacent to the shooting. It turned out to be a revenge
killing between reputed gangsters. The event showed how serious law
enforcement takes incidences of civilians with handguns in Romania!
morning we visited the Howerton Family in Lugoj, recipients of about 15
boxes of Caleb Supplies since the beginning of the year. We had an
excellent visit as we discussed ways to better meet their needs and our
expectations. They are volunteers in two psychiatric hospitals for
children and find the clothing, games and medicines we are providing
From Lugoj, we
barely had time to return to Bucharest to rest before my flight out the
next morning. As always, it was very difficult saying goodbye and
expressing my appreciation for all the Caleb Volunteers do within
Romania keeping our ministry in the forefront!
SeaTac Airport from Amsterdam, I misplaced my carryon bag at the airport
garage. It contained my laptop, the photos from the trip, my new digital
camera, eyeglasses, medicines, and glucose monitor. The 17 hours of
travel time makes one less aware and it was not until Wednesday morning
at home that I realized the computer bag was even missing. I contacted
SeaTac Airport lost and found as many friends undertook prayer for
recovery of the bag. The most critical item was my camera had the family
photos requested of Vasile Tiripas' funeral. The following morning I
telephoned SeaTac Airport and was advised the bag had been found and was
fully intact, having been found by a Port of Seattle Police Officer and
turned in. It was awesome that Our Lord looked after the bag and held it
secure. I feel so blessed.
This trip was
memorable for several reasons but among those which standout are being
present to help my close friend Marin as his brother went home to glory,
the witnessing to the gypsy community of our care and concern for their
lost infant, the memorial for brother Paprika who was the first gypsy
who permitted me to baptize him back in the early 90’s, and Gods
provision in food and supplies for our friends for the coming winter.
God Bless you
all for your support!
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