As I continue to prepare for my trip to Romania (54 days!!), I am doing what I can to understand their country, their culture, and what it will take to relate to these people. Since YOU, dear reader, are “going” with me, through prayer and support, I think it’s only fair that I share with you where we are headed. Fasten your seat belt.
Romania is located in southeastern Europe and borders the Black Sea, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Moldova. It’s size is slightly smaller than Oregon and has a population of about 22 million people. The weather in Romania is similar to NY and PA–cold snowy winters and warm summers. 91% of people speak Romanian which is the official language.
Major holidays in Romania are Christmas and Easter, New Years Day, and Romanian Day (when all the Provinces were united in 1918). Much of their economy is driven by agriculture, and industries such as textiles, mining, machinery and auto assembly, food processing, etc. Romania has many sports including everything from soccer to oină, which is a traditional Romanian sport similar to baseball. Food in Romania has influences from France, Greece, Russia and Turkey. Pork is favored, and different types of soup are specialties in Romania. Art in Romania is displayed in the wooden architecture (churches and homes), paintings, woodcarvings, pottery, textiles, etc. In the major cities they have theaters, opera houses, and museums.
Romanian culture often involves judging people based on where they are from. There is generational resentment toward Hungarians, Jews, and Gypsy minorities. Russians are feared. The gypsies that we will be serving in the city of Târnăveni are not considered a part of Romanian society. They are the lowest of the low, and not much is expected of them.
25% of Romania lives below the poverty line. (15% do in the US.) Over 80,000 children live in institutions or with temporary families with little parental care. More than 1,000 children live on the streets of the capital–Bucharest. Romanian children have the highest rate of HIV/AIDS than in any other country in Europe. Half of the Romanian population suffers with with anemia. The education system is understaffed and lacks resources. Clean water is not available in many areas and causes disease and other harm.
I look at all these stats and in some ways we are the same: cold winters, warm summers. (I wonder if Spring has come there yet!) We celebrate Christmas and New Years, and Easter. We are loved outrageously by the same God. And yet, my heart breaks because there is so much tangible need as well as spiritual need. To be honest, it’s a little overwhelming and intimidating but at the same time it motivates me to do what I can. And because of the generous support I have received through prayer and finances, I can do something. Thank YOU for standing behind me on this journey, and in many ways, for going with me!