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Christian Wilderness Press  -  this is Missionary Trips 2     Romania

Go on missionary trips several times a year with Jim Durham...email Jim:  ville1960@yahoo.com 

(And you can find Jim on Facebook)


Mon, 28 July 2008

        I arrived home Friday night about midnight after a brief 19-hour trip from Bucharest to Winter Haven.  That is much better than my 31-hour trip last year.  Plus, I got bumped up to First Class on the 10-hour leg from Bucharest to New York.  That made for a much better trip.

        This was my 5th year to go to Romania, and every year has been a wonderful experience.  This year, I extended my stay an additional four and one-half days beyond the normal mission trip. Two of those days I spent with two different families in the Bihor region, where we work.  The last two and one-half were with friends in Bucharest.  These three families treated my like royalty and acted like I was doing them a favor by staying with them.  We had a wonderful time.  They did all that they could possibly do to make me feel welcome.  The President couldn't have been treated better.  They fed me enough for two people.  They insisted on giving me gifts.  Remember, these are people of very modest means.  In the villages, most of the people still only have outhouses for bathrooms.  Most don't have cars.  Many have horse and wagon or ox and wagon.  It is like going back 100 years in time.  There is no such thing as air conditioning.  The people are very intelligent and hard working.  Mixed in with them are Gypsies, some of whom are wonderful people, but many are scoundrels and thieves.  They fit the stereotype image of a Gypsy - in costume and in deeds.  All my host families want me to come back and spend a week with them next year. 
        In my first extended day, I took a 15-KM (9-mile) hike with the younger members of the Popa family. The next day, I spent the day with the Glitia family, walking much of the day in the rain touring the sites of Oradea with the twin daughters who just graduated from college. The third day, we got up at 3:45 a.m. and I flew to Bucharest where Lucian & Ligia met me at the airport. This is the couple who rode non-air conditioned trains for 18 hours last year just so that Lucian could introduce me to Ligia, his fiance at that time. Then, the next morning at 6 a.m., they went back.  When they invited me to visit them in Bucharest, I could not turn them down. Lucian took me all over Bucharest, sightseeing.  One of the things we toured was their Parliament Building. It is the second largest building in the world, after the Pentagon. It was commissioned by Dictator Ceaucescu, but he was executed before it was finished.  He and his wife were executed on Christmas day in 1989. He ruled as a brutal communist dictator from 1965 until then.
 
        NOW BACK TO THE MISSION TRIP:


        We had 31 people from the USA and 13 from Australia on our team.  We divided up into two teams, providing medical and pharmaceutical services, kids clubs, and witnessing teams.  Everyone who came in for medical services was presented with the plan of salvation.  We had more than 500 people treated by the doctors, and 99 of them made professions of faith.  There were about 200, more or less, in the kids clubs. 
        I spent my first three days in Batar, a Gypsy village.  We were there last year.  The Gypsy pastor there is working hard and seeing great success.  Only a few of the Gypsies can read, including many of their children, even though schools are available to them.  They were very polite and very receptive, but many of them would steal from you if they had the opportunity. The rest of my time was spent with another group in two other villages. 
       Possibly my most memorable experience of the trip was on my third day in Batar.  A 14-year-old Gypsy girl was brought to me for counseling.  She was a very sweet girl.  As we talked, I shared the plan of salvation with her.  She eagerly accepted Jesus as her savior.  There was no doubt in my mind about her sincerity.  Later that afternoon, when I was walking to a store to get something to drink, I saw her in the road.  I had my camera with me, and I asked if I could take her photo.  (She didn't speak any English, and I don't speak much Romanian.)  I took some photos of her.  Later I decided that I would get her address off her registration form, send her the photos, and encourage her to live for the Lord via mail.  I forgot about getting the address until our last day.  We were getting ready to leave for church on Sunday morning when I thought of it, and asked the translator beside me if she could help me get it.  At that time, one of the workers handed her a few of the registration forms for the week.  I looked through them and found her address.  When I asked the translator to copy it for me, she looked surprised and asked, "Is that the girl?"  When I told her "yes", she said, "That is the same girl that Dr. Alex just gave me this drawing for."  I looked at the drawing that was of her heart.  The doctor had determined that she had a hole in her heart and that she was in danger of dying at any time.  He said that surgery for her would not be possible in Romania.  Her only hope appears to be getting her to the USA and having the surgery performed here.  Please pray for us as we attempt to get her the medical care she needs.  I will include a photo of her below.  Her name is Ioana Pascarus.

        I had the opportunity to meet with Oana Baidoc, a young college student who accepted Christ after I shared the Gospel with her two years ago in the village of Baleni.  She has just graduated from college and is looking for a job.  She is struggling in her Christian growth.  Please pray for her.  Her father abandoned the family when she was very small.  Her mother then remarried, and then she abandoned them.  This has caused her to struggle with her self worth, and it is difficult for her to relate to a loving father.  Also, pray that she will be able to find a job.  They are scarce in Romania, and many of the people are leaving the country.

        I also had my traditional Sunday afternoon dinner and dessert with the Toma family.  Unfortunately, this year it was only with Ioana (a high school French & English teacher) and her Mom.  I received a call last October from Ioana telling me that her father had died of a heart attack that morning.  He was building a large addition to their house.  Now they are having a difficult time completing the house due to lack of money.  Please pray for them.  Mrs. Toma always outdoes herself fixing me a very special dessert each year, and then "forces" me to have seconds.

        Our translators are among the finest young people you will ever meet.  The ones who were in high school when I first went there are now in college, and the ones in college are now involved in careers, and getting married.  They face the same trials and temptations that our teenagers and young adults face.  Please pray for them.
        Below are some photos that I hope will help tell the story for you:


 
Street in Batar, a Gypsy village.                                                   Gypsy family.



Horse and wagon - a common scene.                                         Woman drawing water from well.


 
Church build by PIMI in Batar April 2008.  Best in town.                  Inside.  Will hold about 150 people. 


   
Ioana, girl with a hole in her heart.                                             Kids club. 


   
Local Romania ladies.                                                                 Part of medical team.


 
Many still must work only with hand tools.                                   Handmade wooden rake.


 
Typical Romanian garden.                                                          Milk cow returning home for the night.


 
Beautiful countryside.                                                           Village of Gurani.


 
Baptist church under construction in Cabesti.                               Haystacks along the river.


   
Stone streets.                                                                           Bridge in need of repair.


   
Orthodox church.                                                              Wildflowers.


 
They do have electricity.                                                      Ioana Toma and Mother in Beius


 
Popa Family in village of Gurani.                                               Glitia twins - Debra & Rebeca in Oradea.


 
Lucian & Ligia Cristian in Bucharest.                                           Bucharest street scene.


 
Parliament building - 2nd largest in the world.                              View from the Parliament building.


   
Bucharest in the evening.                                                         Romanian homemade desserts 

If you can go - go!  If you can't go, help someone else to go.

                                                                                                                                                   Sincerely,   Jim


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