It is with gratitude I say “Thanks” to family, friends and Jesus to the Nations for making my trip to Romania possible. My pastors and I, through GEM (Greater Europe Mission), went to the Draganesti-Olt area in south west Romania. The men were building a concrete wall at an elementary school while the girls worked with Florina Darvell, who had opened a shop to help provide income for the local ladies.
This is a desperately poor area of the country with unemployment at 60%. Many, both men and women go to other countries to work, sending home their meager earnings to help care for their children. Transportation is by car, 50%, horse or donkey cart, 30% and bicycle 20%. Cell phones are prevalent and cheap. I tried to capture a picture of young men using their cell phones on a donkey cart but could not catch them. You know how young men can be with a car – the same there, with horse or donkey carts!!The horses and donkeys stand outside their walled owners homes. Hens, geese and turkeys wander about their yards, inside and out. They have wonderful gardens with peppers, tomatoes, egg plants, carrots and cabbage, etc.; some have vineyards and bee hives. Our host, Tavi, warned us to stay away from his hives, “They are mean!” But he told us mean bees produce the best honey! They have a wonderful Saturday market.
We visited several out-lying areas where the main church in Draganest has planted churches. There we gave words of welcome from Canada, sang or gave a message. One couple, pastors, after visiting some of their parishioners, we just took grocery shopping. Two shopping carts packed and rounded up with the total cost around CDN $100. Lei is the Romanian money worth about three to our CDN dollar. Another area we looked at, the Darvell’s were trying to purchase the property to establish a church. That property became theirs just as we were leaving!
We helped refurbish a play ground where Nicoletta (Tavi) has a children’s program. It is here in Maruntei they are planting a church and have Bible studies at Tante Sonda’s home. It was also here we delivered bags of groceries to many of their people. Our pastor used a loaf of bread in each bag to tell them Jesus IS the bread of life! An old age pension is approximately CDN $60 per month.
An eye glass clinic proved well received. Fortunately a group had passed through just previously, leaving the prescriptions for those who required glasses! Then we came along with hundreds of glasses, mostly used prescription glasses and some reading glasses. The Vice-Mayor was very helpful, leading people to the scripture verses taped to the walls. If they could not read them, he took them back to try other pairs!! I registered over eighty people but others were there in support of those registered and found glasses for themselves! The mayor who lives across the river has asked us to go back to his side of town!!
The same Community Center was host to our Canada’s Got Talent night. The Canadians were pitted against the Romanian children and young people. Want to guess who won?
All in all, it was a great experience. I had every intention of going back in April but my hosts have to be in England that month, so we will see what the future holds! Again, many thanks.