Romania - 2011

Romanian orphans receiving clothing
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Food for poor families:
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Village Youth Program:
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Romania Gypsy Service:
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Romania Trip - Summer, 2011

Report Number One

Leaving Seattle on July 4 at 1 PM, I arrived in Bucharest the following aernoon and was met by Caleb European director Marin Tiripa. We drove from Bucharest to Braila where our Romanian headquarters are, arriving about 9 PM.

I was greeted with the sad news that our good friend Mr. Christi had died two days earlier from a sudden heart attack. He was just 42 years of age, leaving behind his wife Johanna and many good friends. Johanna is best friend and former college roommate of Christina Tiripa. A forest engineer who worked for the Romanian National Forests, Mr. Christi was a close friend of Caleb Ministries. We often stayed at his modest apartment for meals, overnights or just to use the internet, and he was always gracious. He and his wife contributed to our purchase of Christmas Shoeboxes for the children, helped distribute Caleb clothes and food to homeless kids in Iasi, and were always ready to help our ministry.

Marin Tiripa was in the process of building a home for this couple when he went to be with Jesus. Because of his passing, the landlord claimed their government apartment, a portion of his wages, and gave the widow 45 days to vacate. This put the burden on Marin to complete the house construction as quickly as possible. The house is being built high atop a hill just outside Iasi in a new development. It was scheduled for completion in September!  Mr. Christi picked out the lot and drew plans for the home to be a place to shepherd young believers. I told him it resembled a shepherds Pasteur and gave him the following passage when we met last December at his lot:

Ps 80:1-7

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth! 2 Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, Stir up Your strength, And come and save us!

3 Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!

4 O Lord God of hosts, How long will You be angry Against the prayer of Your people? 5 You have fed them with the bread of tears, And given them tears to drink in great measure. 6 You have made us a strife to our neighbors, And our enemies laugh among themselves.

7 Restore us, O God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!


He was most pleased with the reference.

Wednesday (my first full day of this journey) we drove north to Iasi  (6 hour journey from Braila) for the memorial service that evening. Marin, Christina and all 5 of their children came with us and we camped out on the floor of Christina’s parents’ home. The service was at Falocalia Evangelism Center with which we are very familiar. Back in 1993-1994 we shipped medical supplies, beds, linens, books to help establish this mission church. We brought in the transmitter from Vienna for the then illegal “bandit Christian radio station”, now operating with licenses 24 hours a day.  The service was dignified and well-attended but uncomfortable as it was over 90 degrees and no air conditioning or even fans!

Christina spent the night and next two days with the widow. Thursday was the funeral at Falocalia and then graveside service which lasted 4 hours in the oppressive heat. Friday I contacted officials about our mannatech glycobears as I learned the shipment never arrived this year. We supply Downs Syndrome Children with this supplement across Romania and I get requests everywhere I go about it.

Friday evening Marin added two more workers to expedite work on the house and ordered supplies to be delivered. (This involves tracking down a supplier, hiring the trucker, and physically leading them up the hills to the site! On top of this, as contractor Marin is responsible for providing hot meals twice a day to all at work. We are constantly cooking chorba soup, stuffed peppers, cabbage salad, and bringing utensils, salt and pepper, coffee, bottled water, and other supplies up the hillside. Note we are also watching 5 kids ranging from 2 to 11 in the process!

Late Friday night we take return drive to Braila. Saturday is rest, laundry, cooking, internet, etc. Sunday morning (6 am) Marin and I pick up Pastor Aurel from Chiscan village, and head to the Danube to cross on a barge and head into the Delta to Tulcea for church service. We arrive at 10 AM sharp. The service is special as we dedicate the local pastor’s son (his 1st child!) and another baby. I speak on the promises of Abraham in planting the Tamarac Tree at Beersheba in Geneses 12, demonstrating his Faith in Gods Promise. A lady from the church them speaks giving testimony of her healing at our service there last November of a heart condition for which she had been scheduled for surgery! Even her doctor came to testify of the miracle. She and her friends provided grand refreshments after the service. Marin and I then are taken with Aurel (District Director here of 14 churches) to a restaurant celebration of the infant dedications. At a pizza house, we are treated to chorba soup, chicken patty, puree potatoes or fries, cabbage salad, and cola or orange beverage. For 25 people this was very expensive (About $250.00 US) but was sponsored by grandparents living in USA. We return to Braila about 1 AM Monday morning, sleep four hours, and then Marin and I head back to Iasi with supplies, an additional carpenter, and much enthusiasm. Brother Metica (a title, not relative) and his wife and two grown children bought the house Marin built behind his in Braila. Nearly each evening they come to Marin’s house to conclude the day in prayer together. They were waiting until Marin and I got back from Tulcea so we could pray together at 1 AM! This nightly vesper service takes about 45 minutes and is done on your knees in living room or my bedroom. It has been going on for years before they moved next door.

We have a new family member here. His name is Claudio and he is 16. He is nephew of Marin. Marin’s brother Valise died last November. He has a daughter who was present through the events. But Marin never knew his brother also had a son! Last week he got a telephone call from a social worker advising of Claudio and his need to contact blood relatives for medical necessity. Marin agreed to meet Claudio. The medical ploy was just a ruse to find family as Claudio had nowhere to live. His mother and grandmother raised him but kicked him out at 16 which is legal here as they have not enough food or space. Claudio came last Friday and has been with us since. Marin and I got him a room near Braila center and have enrolled him in school, paying fees for one semester, including meals. He seems a very nice boy, eager to please and always helping out. He knows nothing of his dad being an alcoholic. Caleb agreed to sponsor the school for first semester.

Tuesday Claudio went with Marin and me to Iasi. He worked and lived at the building site and the others said he did well.

Wednesday Marin and I left Iasi for Suceavea and the Caleb representative there, Detective Dan. It was severely hot with no air conditioning or fans or even cold beverages so a village church meeting was not feasible. Instead, I gave my testimony in the basement hall of an apartment building where Detective Dan lives. It was good gathering and many had not heard my story before. Back at his apartment I met his son and daughter-in-law. They lived in California where they attended college and started their family. He is a computer genius and lived in USA 20 years. However, he and his wife received a prophecy they believe, that the anti-Christ will appear through the internet. They have sworn off all computers, TVs, media, etc. and left the USA because the youth would not heed their message. They preach in the Suceavea area against computers and internet. Here, they are well received as this area is very fanatical and extreme. As we were discussing his aversion to the internet, I maintaining it is a tool to be used with wisdom and restraint and self-control, I noticed he was receiving e-mails and text messages on his cell phone. I asked him if he knew those were internet based services. The room grew silent and we decided to end in prayer. Marin and I went to a modest motel for the evening (No air conditioning!). Returning to Iasi, we spent the day working on the house along with a team of 10 volunteer men from Falocalia Church who came to help start the yard leveling. My duty became getting food to feed the unexpected crowd!

Friday we came back to Braila with Claudio. Friday night was prayer with Brother Metica family. Saturday I did laundry, continued trying to consult with Mannatech about Glycobears, and visited the police! It appears when I bought gas for the trip to Iasi, the clerk forgot to put it on the charge card. At the end of the night the error was discovered and we received phone call to come to the gas station next day before heading to Iasi. We did and I presented the VISA card. The manager said he could not now take it as required cash! (value 130.00 US but in Romanian Lei)  I had to go to the Raiffensen Bank (German) the next afternoon in Iasi and draw out the funds from my own bank account I maintain here. It took $232.00 because then they had to convert it to Lei (15% fee). Because I could not wait two weeks for approval from US for my withdrawal, it became a cash advance at 20%! I then took the lei to the station Saturday and he gave me a receipt which then was filed at the police station showing I did not steal the gas! Life is not simple here!

Sunday, July 17th, the entire Tiripa family went to church in Braila together. I preached with Cornel translating for me. When I first came to Braila, Livio translated for me on streets. His oldest son, high school, was Lorenzo and he translated in church. He now is in merchant marine and just a week ago I am told evaded capture by Pirates and was given reward by the Japanese company he sails for! His younger brother Michael then became my translator but now he is in medical school. So up comes the youngest brother, Cornel, studying to be airline Pilot!

Sunday evening church was cancelled everywhere due to the heat. It is in 90’s and dangerous for public assembly by order of the mayor.

Monday was whirlwind day! At 6 AM Marin and I loaded 6 doors for the house in Iasi on his VW van and drove to Iasi. We arrived around noon and worked till 4. Then we returned to Braila about 11 pm, napped an hour, and then drove Dana (The Tiripa nanny) to Bucharest to catch a 3:30 AM bus to Germany where she has been offered a job. Marin and I then drove back to Braila, arriving at 7 AM Tuesday. We napped again and were up by 10 but dragging. Marin is working in the garden as I type. Such energy he has!

Tomorrow we again return to Bucharest, this time to pick up Pastor Dan Johnson!

Click on each photo to enlarge the image.




Jerry Riess
& Caleb Good News Ministries


The adventure continues! I write to you Monday morning. We are safe and comfortable back in Braila at the home of Marin& Cristina Tiripa. Bringing you up to date will be difficult as I have not taken notes as we traveled, being very busy, but will do best I can. First, understand, the passenger window on Marin’s VW Sharon Minivan is broken. This means it is mostly shut but has a top opening of from inch at times to 4 or 5inches when he suddenly hits any bump. The window is scooted up shut completely repeatedly by Marin, his brother-in-law Dan, and others, with paper wedged into hold it, but fails at each new bump, surprising me with the size of opening I must then endure until next stop. Travel is expensive as gas is posted at5.50.9 to 7.99.9 at various stations but that is in lei and is per liter, not gallon. So you multiply by 4 to get a gallon and then divide by 3, to get approximate dollars so gas becomes between $6.00 and $8.00 per gallon. You then add 24% TVA tax! Thus, a fill up is $100 to $140 US. We take one to 2 fill-ups a day or even 3 when we drive late into the night.

Wednesday through various e-mails and phone calls we discovered why no glycobears were sent this year. Two reasons: First, Mannatech replaced them with a powder form that is dispensed by supervising medical or social workers. Second, Romania has forbidden their distribution except by medical personnel. To enforce this, they're taxing Mannatech for imports not accounted for on written reports by medical personnel. This has brought screeching halt to the program as tax is a penalty and very high. The Romanian government requires the doctor to apply for permission to dispense the product and then report results to it. We have advised the medical personnel at Beclean Hospital, Falocalia in Iasi, Open Door Clinic in Bucharest, and Petrosani Philadelphia Medical Clinic to apply directly for the permits from Romanian Government using our foundation identity and then as approved submit product requests to Mannatech directly. This should get the product back for us but we have no medical staff presently in Braila area which is a big need. We are hopeful Mannatech will supply to us direct in USA and we can then ship in direct for Braila needs.

Wednesday, the 20th, Pastor Dan was due in at Bucharest at 1:05 pm. At 10 AM, in 100 degrees heat, Marin and I drove to Bucharest, arriving just at 1:00 to meet Dan. You have no way to see passengers until they deplane, process through passport control, pick up luggage, go through customs, and exit into the lobby through one of 4 sliding doors. We waited 6 hours but no Dan. We waited through the next 3 flights coming from Amsterdam, and still no Dan. At 6 pm was last flight from Amsterdam until midnight so we decided to return to Braila and check for calls, e-mails or information, with time to return for the midnight arrival. (I had asked at “Airportinformation” but they kept saying “We have no information on that passenger!!!”,even though they never asked for passengers name or flight or arrival time. (?)Real helpful! We called Cristina back in Braila to look at my email but she said internet was not working so she could not check for messages. (Turned out she was just not comfortable using my computer and internet worked fine) So we left the airport at 6 pm, chewing a tough chicken schnitzel Marin bought in grocery as we had not eaten since breakfast at 7 AM and that was a small salad!

Driving back to Braila 3 hours, the weather turned to fierce lightning storm and pouring rain! Roadways became flooded, potholes covered in rain so hard to see in the dark, and wood splinters and logs on roadway, presumably from lightning strikes! It was harrowing drive complicated by concern for where Pastor Dan was!

Arriving back at Braila at 10:30 pm, I turned on my computer and on the screen was e-mail from USA advising Dan had arrived at 5 PM at Bucharest Airport where we had been waiting, but he was still in baggage claim trying to sort out what happened to his luggage. His luggage did not arrive with him, and he had to wait for the midnight flight to finally receive his luggage. He bought an "international cell phone” with an international number.

The number wouldn't work in Romania though we tried everything we could to call it. Turns out he bought the phone in Amsterdam and had no instructions in English, and, the number given was incomplete, missing a digit and actually is 4479 245 44992 .So all we could do was grab a sandwich and cup of coffee, gas up the van (another $100.00) and return to Bucharest, now in fierce rain storm. (My passenger window was about 2 inches down, making for nice refreshing sprinkle as we drove)

Arriving at12:30 AM back at airport, we found Pastor Dan seated in arrival lobby 4 seats where I had been waiting from 1 pm to 6 pm! Within half an hour his luggage had arrived and been retrieved from the midnight flight and we left to go back to Braila. He said his flight from Seattle was delayed so in Amsterdam he had missed his connecting flight and was put on a later one, arriving in Bucharest about 4:30 pm with his non-functioning international cell phone. He got the one call off to Lori, resulting in my e-mail, but otherwise could not get it to work. Dutch instructions did not help! He said when he arrived and had no luggage he filed the claim information in baggage area and so did not exit customs area until about 6 pm, which is time we gave up and had left for Braila!

So, now with Dan who had waited 8 hours in airport, and his luggage, we drove back to Braila, arriving safely in pouring rain at about 4 AM. We slept as efficiently as we could as we had to return to Iasi that day for Marin to get paid for the work at Mr. Christi’s’ house and to pay the workers! In perspective, Marin and I had driven to Iasi and back (12 hours) Monday, to Bucharest and back for Dana to catch her bus to Germany (6 hours) Monday night-Tuesday morning) , to Bucharest and back TWICE on Wednesday (6 hours) and back to Iasi Thursday 3 hours, with just a 6hour wait at airport. This amounted to $800 in gas charges alone!

The trip to Iasi was first chance for Pastor Dan to see Romanian life in daylight. Streets of gypsy wagons and 18 wheel diesel truck, fast European sports cars and Romanian Dacia cars (like Corvair, sort of), Romanian farmers in horse drawn farm wagons, sheep and goats and cows in the roads, vendors on the way offering a few garden cabbages or apricots or green peppers, etc.

At Iasi we went direct to the job site to feed the workers, update instructions and plans, and figured what was needed to buy in supplies, etc. At a lumber supply I visited with a Moldovan man who had worked in Louisiana seven years. He offered coffee and cold water, sat and visited and explained the village dogs, prominent red tile roofs, Pentecostal conservative life style, and a typical Moldovan (hospitality giving, but cautious and suspicious of strangers). Back at the job site it was decided Marin had some items requiring his personal attention so he took Dan and I to his in-laws modest farmhouse (Turkeys, chickens, garden) to rest, promising to return by 8 pm to fix dinner and settle for the night. We rested, read, and had nice visit with neighbors and friends, and Marin arrived back at9:00 pm, announcing we must go on, finding a motel near the worksite for the night so we could leave from there Friday morning. We obtained a room with three beds crowded in had the traditional gratar dinner (choice of grilled pork, chicken or beef patty, French fries or puree’ {mashed} potatoes, and salad of either bowl of pickles, bowl of cabbage, bowl of sliced tomatoes, or bowl of sliced raw onions), plus bottled water, all served in the room.

Up at 6:30,we found the “restaurant” would not open until 8, so stopped and got tomatoes, bread and cheese for breakfast, to eat at the job site. Marin and Dan worked while I read. About 9:30, Marin’s brother-in-law Daniel arrived and took us to visit Hadimbu Monestary while Marin completed his work. A typical Romanian Orthodox structure, the old church and cloisters’ are enclosed in walls designed to protect against Turk Ottoman invasions. In great condition, the facility still operates as training for monks, has a museum with a bible as old as 1800, and was quite a discovery for Pastor Dan.

Returning to the job site we lunched with the workmen, enjoying chicken chorba, eggplant (think guacamole spread on French bread) and salad of tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. After, we left Iasi, bringing Daniel with us on the journey. His English is even more polished than Marin’s, giving some help in translation for Pastor Dan and me.

Heading northwest to Suceavea, our intent was to meet up with Detective Dan, the Caleb Ministry representative in Suceavea district, so we could go to villages with food, clothing and ministry. But at Tergu Frumose’ (Beautiful market place) we learned Detective Dan was on assignment for the police force and would not be available. So we decided to go on to the village of Frumosa to see Mr. Bolohan. Down the dirt drive to his village farm, we arrived to find his wife sitting on the bench outside the fenced yard which held the modest farm house, barn for wagon and horse, well house, chickens and geese, and tiny winter house with root cellar. Mr. Bolohan met Caleb in 1990! He was a peasant farmer or sharecrop farmer, who had been severely injured when a bucket of hot tar fell from a barn roof they were tarring, landing directly on his head. Dressed basically as a mummy to cover his disfigurements, Mr. Bolohan asked for help as he was not entitled to health care from the government as a peasant. Over the years we provided numerous surgeries, plastic surgery reconstruction, and therapy. The doctors rebuilt his eye orbit sockets so he could focus and see, rebuilt the left ear, did numerous skin grafts and basically made his upper torso and head functional. He wore a cap to cover much of the burned scalp, huge glasses, and still kept the nose and central face features covered. But he was again able to farm and keep his family. We continued to bring in pain medicines each journey, provided a car, and enjoyed great fellowship with this beautiful man. We were now to learn he was sadly killed last spring. In a tragic event, his wife told us he had been in Suceavea buying groceries. He noticed the horse attached to the wagon behind his was eating the bread in his wagon. He asked the two boys to stop their horse and they refused. Instead, one boy grabbed a club and struck Mr. Bolohan directly on his head between the eyes. He managed to get onto his wagon and reach his farm, got the horse and wagon inside the fenced yard, and was found by his wife leaning against the horse. He could not talk from that time on. He died about 30 days later! The boy was arrested, tried and sentenced to 5 years in prison. His family was ordered to pay medical expenses and restitution and such but the widow asked no money for herself or family. She lives in the house with the daughter who suffers from a nervous disorder. A grand-daughter lives nearby and looks after them, the grown son living and working overseas. We gave a gift of funds as we visited and comforted Mrs. Bolohan and she served us cherry compote (sour cherries in water with modest sugar). She asked that we keep supplying the pain medicines as she's out and uses them herself, and we agreed.

From Frumosewe journeyed through the mountains northwest to Gura Humorului (Dancing Mouse) where we found a motel for the night, taking two double rooms. Here I was able to get onto internet via Wi-Fi, but America was asleep! We had a good dinner and restful night, journeying west in the morning to Bistritsa where we called upon the Cornel Cornelius family. Close friends since we first met in 1990, I have seen the family grow from three children to thirteen! Cornel family live on the tenth floor walkup apartment, always a challenge when I visit. The good news is they have a summer garden plot just on the outskirts of town and spend their days there in a little collection of sheds and summer house. All thirteen children work the garden and all have jobs from working for neighbors to housekeeping and clerking at a Luk Oil gas station. All of the family gathered at the summer house and gleaned our lunch from the garden, chickens and woods. Everything was prepared as we watched, all the children participating from their area of responsibility. Some picked cucumbers, others tomatoes, others gathered eggs, and others cooked. Constantly they recited miracles the Lord had provided in their lives from the bounty of this unique garden to the healings of two of the children from deafness! They bask and thrive, ministering to others and serving the Lord. Our meal was a feast, from sweet potatoes and fried eggs to sausage and black berry juice or tea and ginger root! We gifted them $100 and they rejoiced, stating they had asked the Lord that very morning to meet the needs of one daughter away in school and short money for rent! The older kids came from various work areas through the afternoon and then as we left town we stopped at a Luk Oil Station to see the eldest daughter Claudia, a clerk working there. She was the oldest of three children at age 7 when I met this family in 1990 and now she is 27 and oldest of 13 children. The parents have over 100 nieces and 100 nephews. They thrive living on Faith!

Reluctantly leaving my friends, we head to Cluj and then south to Alba Julia (White Queen), heading towards Lugos and hoping to visit the Howertons, American missionaries. We called but since it would be 10:30 or 11 pm Saturday by the time we arrived, they said it would be too late for a visit considering the five young children and need to get to church by 9:15 in the morning. So we turned south towards Petrosani to visit the Filadelphia Church now pastored by my friend Gigi and its Caleb dental and medical clinics. However, when we called we learned they were on vacation in Oradea! So we dined at McDonalds in Deva and then sought a motel for the night. Most hotels were hosting weddings, it being Saturday in July, and were booked. By midnight we found a hotel with one room with a double bed for the four of us! Daniel and Marin slept on the floor.

Sunday morning we turned east, heading through the scenic Carpathian Mountains among many roadside stands and vendors. We stopped at one mountain pass and the others had breakfast of plain cheese omelets served with a platter of ham, cheese, and tomatoes from which to enhance the eggs. Pastor Dan finds he likes the Romanian coffee. I had bread and jam and butter plus the coffee.

Heading through the mountains, we arrived at Campalung de Arges. No one was home of Rebecca's orphanage or apartment but we visited the children’s home, still not permitted to open.

Roads grew worse as we headed east and we suffered a blow-out in a heavy rainstorm. Despite the weather conditions, three cars stopped to assist, as we did not have a lug wrench. Getting the tire changed, we then found a vulcan zaire who would work on Sunday, and got the tire replaced and the others serviced. Total tire costs were $100.00 as I replaced two tires for safety sake.

We were back in Braila by nine pm. Marin fixed a salad and fried eggs for dinner. After, brother Metica, his wife, grown daughter and son, and his mother all dropped in for evening prayers. Joining were Pastor Dan, myself, Cristina and Marin, and brother-in-law Daniel. The Lord gave us passages from Jeremiah 16 and we prayed at length, on our knees. There were prophecies and further passages and the discussion went on at length. We concluded in prayer again at midnight, and went to bed. This brings us to Monday. Pastor Dan and I are watching the children as Marin, Cristina and Pastor Dan run errands.

Monday afternoon we loaded the van with clothing sent from Seattle and took it to a local orphanage. The director and staff were very pleased with our gifts as were the children. We have included this orphanage in our Christmas Shoebox distributions and other programs. Pastor Dan had a great time with the children. There are a brother and sister in the orphanage who are sadly physically abused. They hug each other repeatedly and are very withdrawn. Marin and Cristina are seeking permission to bring them into their family for visits, hopefully to perhaps get custody eventually. Today I signed the permits under our Caleb Foundation to oversee the two as foster children as we hold Romanian State licensing for this. Marin and Cristina are very upset over the abused children so we are pushing this application. It will require Caleb post $500 bond and we have the funds here in my Romania account.

We then shopped for treats (cookies, juice) for the Gypsy Colony and after gathering together the entire Tiripa family we went to the Colony for an evening service. The room was packed as the gypsies sang Christian songs and we prayed. Dan delivered a great message after which I spoke on Acts Chapter 12 & 14,calling of Timothy. The leader at the colony thanked us and sent greetings of Psalm 20 verses 1-5 for our home ministries. We then anointed and prayed for many, including the sick and the children. Dan was very moved and said the evening alone was worth the trip! He is exploring ways to potentially build a church for these gypsies.

We rose very early Tuesday in order to drive Daniel back to Iasi in time for his work at 7AM. Leaving Braila about 3:15 in the morning, we stopped briefly for coffee and then pushed on, arriving at the railway terminal where Daniel works about 7:30am. Visiting his work place, we then drove to the house construction, stopping to buy food for our breakfast and the workmen at the Carrefour (a French version of super Wal-Mart). Dan had an attempt at using his Chase Visa card in the store and in bank machine but it was again rejected for pin number. This is becoming ongoing war with Visa as Dan tries the card, it is rejected, and he calls Visa on his cell or his wife to call Visa. It is frustrating here to have credit card that will not be accepted. He has been fighting this battle ever since we arrived. I have had the same problem in the past and sympathize with his frustration.

Arriving at the work site we breakfasted on rotisserie chicken, yogurt, bread and cheese. After Marin worked for a while on the electrical system, we left Iasi and headed for Piatra Neamt region and the town of Negresti where Lidia Rascollives. Lydia lived in the USA many years, retired as clerk for Michigan Court System, and returned to her native Romania and home village of Negresti, in the poorest section of the Country, Vaslui District. In her 80’s, she now volunteers in the hospital cooking lunch and tea and serving the patients, many three to abed! She is raising funds to buy roofs for six homes in poor gypsy villages nearby, she operates our glycobears program in Vaslui County, and she operates a daily feeding program providing hot meals to over 200 gypsy children five days a week! She is my hero. She came to Seattle to visit Caleb Ministries after we shipped her three containers. She worked in our warehouse loading her own containers and in 2001 I had the honor of performing the wedding service for her granddaughter in Detroit at a large Romanian church.

Lydia was not home but we visited the children in their lunch being served by several high school volunteers from Timisoara, college kids volunteering from Greece and from nearby Baptist Youth Camp. This gives you a perspective on the size of influence Lydia has in this community. We gifted $150 to Lydia as we left and Caleb gives monthly to her program through the internet.

Leaving Negresti and Betiste village, we lunched at a roadside hotel, declining the offer to dine with the children as we do not want to eat their supplies.

From Vaslui District we drove back into Piatra Neamt area and on to remote village of Neamt near Petrisan. Down several long dirt and gravel roads, we arrived at the peasant village of my good friend Arhile Vasile. I first met him in 1990 when he had three children and lived in modest 2 room block house with no windows. Now he has 11 children, two who died. I performed their funerals. Vasile’s oldest son went to Greece to work but came back after three years broken physically and spiritually. From his earnings he has built a house in front of his fathers. The family lives by poaching in the State Forest but now the grown children send some support. Three are in Portugal, one in Italy, 2 in Russia, one married and one betrothed. Vasile is very special man. His village has first Caleb Church we paid for and it has been big honor to preach there. He always prays for me and my family, I believe daily! We had good visit and I anointed each family member and we had season of prayer. It was wonderful visit. He tried to give me a “mushroom carving” to bring home but it was bigger than my suitcase!

The drive back to Braila brought us home at 11 PM. Today, Wednesday, Marin is getting tires replaced and fuel injector corrected on his VW for which I gave him $200as both were damaged on our trip. It will be three days until parts arrive but we will limp along until then.

The VW van works fine but has lost some power. It barely made it up the hill to the construction site last trip.

It is now Wednesday afternoon and we will go to Galati this afternoon and evening.

Click on each photo to enlarge the image.




Jerry Riess
& Caleb Good News Ministries


Wednesday evening we went north to the town of Galati about 30 miles north where the Sirus River joins the Danube River. We visited the Family Nic Lefter. I have met them before. A very fine Romanian family with 11 children. The three eldest live in Spain. One boy is Downs Syndrome. The family always invite me over as they are grateful for Caleb gifts including Glycobears and clothing. This evening they sang songs for us and then took us to a house prayer meeting. The home is on site of a 700 member church that once thrived during Ceaucesceau as an underground church but now has gone away by attrition. This group of about30 comes to pray for its return. It was very intense prayer and prophecy. I shared briefly from Jeremiah 3. After several songs, a prophetess had the following message for me:

Prepare…He needs you…and Longs to bring you home, for your soul speaks to Him…but first I still have work for you….your fruit is sweet…when you finally come to me your family and those who love you will yearn to be with you here for eternity. You must prepare and be ready…

It was very comforting message and not alarming. It contradicts the one I received three years ago saying I have 30 years left on earth but either way it is a beautiful prophecy.

Friday morning Marin took me to visit the gravesite of his brother Vasile so we could have a quiet time there, my first visit since his burial in November. We stopped at another construction job site and after returned to his house to pick up Dan.

Going to Billa Store, we bought about $120 in groceries ranging from meats and flour to cookies and cooking oil. We then took them to a lady living in a Caleb Ministry safe house nearby in the village of Unirea. She and her five children have been in our farmhouse three years, hiding from her violent husband. She runs the farm using a horse, cow and pigs we provided. They were very grateful for the gift of food and for the visit. It is about 8 miles into Braila on very poor roads but she manages to get all the kids to school using horse and wagon, farm the land, raise pigs, cow and chickens and ducks! All the kids are doing well in school. We left her $100 to help out.

In the afternoon we visited the old section of the city where Nakutsa now has a small apartment with his Downs Syndrome daughter Estera, now 13 years old. He is rebuilding the place but has to be careful as he has Hepatitis C. They were thrilled for our visit and we again gave him $100. He asked we pray for them and anoint their new home. They had lived with Pastor Streghor where he was handyman the last 17 years but had to move when his ex-wife Rica returned to the family.

From there, we went to Church in Braila for Thursday Evening service. Dan and I both preached and anointed the people in prayer.

Friday we visited the Danube boardwalk with the Tiripa children while Cristina took Elisa(8) for her doctor appointment. Somewhat like the Seattle Center, the boardwalk has slides, pizza, view of Danube, swimming pool and other attractions.

We ventured out to see sister Mura who lives alone outside town. Her husband of many years, Paprika, suffered a stroke and she had cared for him the last 12 years. He went home to the Lord last summer. The apartment she lived in with her husband since1988 was given to their only son under Romanian custom and she now resides in what was a small summer house of two rooms. She was very pleased we took time to visit and as we prayed for her. Widowed just last year, she makes a modest living by doing repairs on clothes with a Caleb sewing machine.

Marin then took us to Lacu Sarat to a park and retirement area where I met our friend the pastor who helped Marin when he lived on the streets. The Pastor is 88 years old and a beautiful person. We had wonderful visit. From there, we went to Johanna's home where she served a big dinner including mixed grill her husband Livio did of pork, chicken and little’s (Sausages). It was a good restful day.

Sunday was very busy as we left at 6:30 to pick up Pastor Streghor (Marin’s stepfather) and Brother Aurel, the District Supervisor of the 11 churches in the Delta region and 14 in Braila region, mostly all Caleb churches. With Cristina as our translator, we took the two children hardest to manage, Stephen and Elisa, and went across the Danube River on the barge-ferry to Macin. There, Marin bought bread, cheese, Salami, Ham, and bottled water, and we enjoyed breakfast sandwiches as we went further east in the Delta Region to the small village of Nicolaie Balesacu, named for a Romanian Poet. This gave Pastor Dan and me opportunity to preach in the typical village setting. It was a wonderful service on a sunny morning. I was grateful Pastor Streghor and Brother Aurel arranged it for us. As we started back we received a cell phone call from a neighboring village church that they had encountered problems and requested our help. Driving there, it was the newest Caleb Church structure, one I dedicated just last November. The pastor and elders were upset because they reserved the village center for an evangelism service that evening, including baptisms in the public square. They had just been informed by the authorities (a policeman from the village) that the Orthodox objected to the public event including any preaching! They would be allowed to sing and baptize but not to give a message in the town square. The Pastor asked that we stop at his church and pray with them for this problem, which we did. I suggested he have those being baptized give their testimonies which can serve as a preaching or message just as suitably and he said he would. The Orthodox still is a major governmental force in Romania and controls lots of what goes on in that area of the world!

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant and then ventured back across the Danube to Braila where we shopped for dinner. Marin asked my preference and I chose his home-made pizza as I know it is his kid’s favorite and it was our last evening with them. They rarely have it as ingredients are expensive but since we were buying it posed no difficulty. The groceries ran $53.00 US but provided dinner for 12!

At 5 pm it was time to go to Chiscan Church for our last service. Marin stayed back to prepare the pizza with the kids so Cristina drove Pastor Dan and Brother Aurel with myself to the neighboring church. It was a great service and Dan gave a good message, now getting the hang of using a translator very well. After the service at about 8 pm, Brother Aurel insisted we dine with his wife and three Presbyters at the church before leaving. Romanian custom is the church hosts visiting pastors after the service. They served home-made pizza, coke or orange pop or water, and pastries. By the time we returned to the house, we were full and Marin's pizza was served as breakfast Monday! In the evening Pastor Streghor and his wife came to say their goodbyes, bringing us gifts of honey from their farm. It was their first visit ever to Marin’s new home and he and Cristina and the children were very pleased as was I.

Packing and giving our goodbyes to the family, Marin drove us to Bucharest Monday afternoon. We visited Geisen, the gypsy village of Ani, and her orphanage project. Her sister was most pleased to see us but the house is in disarray as much is being done to change it even though it was never really finished. They have enclosed second and third levels with windows and walls, added a room at the back and front, and are installing a large bathroom on the main floor, having removed the previous one. We declined offers to stay as everyone seemed busy and we didn’t want to disturb the work. I spoke with Ani who was in Bucharest. She said the authorities required they redo all the plumbing in the house. I mentioned her husband had called for information on our shipping a container for them 4 weeks before and she said yes but they have no money for shipping at all. They still have no orphans in the house but are doing programs with children in the village when they can. We encouraged their work and then left, finding a modest motel for the night. Tuesday it was off to the Ontepi Airport and flight to Amsterdam and then Seattle. On the way to the Airport we stopped to visit Ruth Crisjankowski and gift her $100.00 for her needs. She is in her 90s, lives in shared housing and is in ill health. In 1992-93 she hosted Ina Aust and other missionaries in Bucharest. She was a force against the dictatorship and for Christ, having been imprisoned by Ceaucesceau for her faith. WE always try to visit with her hen we can.

In Amsterdam they had bumped me from the flight which was overbooked, but eventually I was permitted on as the second standby passenger of three who got on. My luggage did not.

I believe Pastor Dan enjoyed the mission trip very much and hopes to go again. We compressed much into the twelve days, showing about one-third of the country to Dan Johnson and introducing him to a variety of Caleb projects I am certain give him a better understanding of our Romania work. He wants to return and expressed a desire to go to the Philippines as well!

Click on each photo to enlarge the image.


 Jerry Riess
& Caleb Good News Ministries


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