transylvania diary

a little slice of our daily life as Christian missionaries in North West Romania aka Transylvania

Thursday, March 09, 2006

March on

Dear Friends,
A little update from Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, Romania
I decided to take the 29th of February as a holiday but when the time came all I could do was to March on.
It must be the end of the winter now surely no more frozen pipes all we wait for are the floods from melting snow. Very predictable disasters here.
House repairs , car repairs, building repairs
Life in Romania sometimes seems like chasing a never ending list of repairs, stopping the plumbing from flooding you out, replacing car parts that have shaken off because of the bomb crater roads, sealing gas pipes that leak and making sure the electrics are safe.
When all the maintenance on the inanimate objects is done we can attend to what we came here for -- the people, but sometimes an emergency will get in the way.
Some of you may have heard about the two house fires that happened here and we were directly involved with.. The least serious was our neighbours wooden house catching fire because of an over filled fireplace setting fire to the living room walls. Despite a lot of smoke and water damage the structure of the house is fine due to the prompt arrival of the fire brigade. The fire brigade was called and guided to the house (which does not officially exist) by Trish who saw the smoke coming from the neighbours eaves and sent me to investigate. I did what I could to contain the fire by climbing up a ladder and throwing water in from a broken upstairs window. Not easy when you have to pull the water up from the well first then run up the ladder with the pail, throw it in the window and then run down again and again and again, very tiring.
The other fire happened the same night but was much more serious, a shack at Pata Rat burnt down and two young children were burnt to death, a terrible tragedy, the only small consolation is that the coroner thinks the children were probably overcome by smoke and were unconscious before they were burnt.
The teenage mother is a child herself and is desolate, she had to get an emergency identity card so she could register the births of her dead children. Romeo (4 years old) and Romina (5 months old) could not be buried without a death certificate but you can not have a death certificate if you have no birth certificate.
The father of these children is of limited intelligence and does not seem to comprehend it all, at the funeral he was smiling and shaking hands with everyone as though it was a time of celebration.
He has asked us if we will build him a new house but we are happy that the mother is staying with granny right now and is in a better and safer place with her mother than back with her "husband". There is a strong suspicion that the children were alone when the fire took hold and maybe the door was locked. Some think the father should be behind bars.
I am still prison visiting in the maximum security Gherla penitenciary and despite what I first thought it would be like I am enjoying our Bible classes. The prison administration has asked that the Romanian Orthodox priest who works full time in Gherla prison should sit in on our classes and for the last two weeks he has been part of the class. I don t know why he was there but whatever I am teaching must be ok because he said that he does not need to be in the class next week.
This Bible class go deeply in to the Word and they learn by their own volition impressive lumps of scripture. I do not object to someone knowing the first 37 Psalms by heart and I do not denigrate their dedication but at the same time I do not encourage it much. My aim is to teach the class how to think and how to have the mind of Christ.
Some of these men will die in prison, most of the class are life prisoners, Alexander for example is 69 and has another 18 years of his sentence to serve so to be able to give him the assurance that Jesus loves him is all I can do.
One practical thing I am doing for Alexander is to get him glasses, he had a prescription from the prison hospital but no way to get the reading glasses he needs. I took the prescription to my own optician and have ordered glasses for him. They will cost me 600,000 lei (approx £12).

At Pata Rat we are busy as usual.
The shower unit we built is being well used even when it is very cold outside, many of the older girls are delighted to be clean and the Sunday school class has a much brighter and shiny face now.
Those who choose to accept our help are almost all female but this is fine , if we educate the women then the whole family can learn. My colleagues Mirabella and Vera hold a Bible school and adult reading classes there 3 days a week and we continue with the women's Thursday program which is both a time of fellowship and education.
We are not building houses right now but will start again when the weather gets warmer. For the older single ladies in the camp who have no family we try to make sure they can have a meal most days, a loaf of bread or maybe a little money to buy food.
Daniela (a 10 year old girl from Pata) who needed some small surgery on her eyelid is much happier now. I was with Daniela at the ophthalmic surgeon and we were both glad to see that nature has healed the damage,Daniela can close her eye and can sleep at night now so no operation is needed.
Daniela would maybe sleep better at night if her "house" was a bit better insulated. She lives in a lean -to built on to a caravan and the condensation inside is very very bad. Her mattress needs to be put beside the stove for most of the day because it is so wet from the condensation. If the mattress is not dried out it will freeze before bedtime.
Daniela's shack is one we plan to try to insulate and line with plaster board as soon as we have the necessary resources and we hope it will be sooner rather than later.
Kevin and Mari are full time with us now and are a great help. Kevin is rebuilding the engine of his Dacia, the last rebuild (not by Kevin) lasted for 30kilometres so this time he will do all the work himself. We have visited scrapyards for some of the parts which are sold by weight and this is keeping costs down.
Within the next fortnight Kevin should be on the road.
Mari is getting very impatient to sow things outdoors, we have seedlings started all over the house and we need to get them out so we can have room to move indoors. We pray that our two wells will keep both house and garden watered all year. Part of the garden plan is to give work to someone from Pata and to teach them how to grow things for themselves.
Please pray in agreement with us that the garden will be a success,
& the reading program will help change someones life
& the Pata children will all go to school this year
& we will not be discouraged by things breaking down
& we can be effective in building the Kingdom and showing the Love of Jesus

Thank you all for every prayer and generous support,
Martin & Trish Robertson

-- PS we have a new address (given below) which should be more secure as it is a post box. (C.P.= cutie postal = post box)

Martin & Trish Robertson
C.P. 509

Mobile (0040) (0)788 332560
(0040) (0)788 773203

Saturday, December 03, 2005

transylvania diary

Dear friends,

Thank you for your support, with your generous help and prayers we are sustained in our work .

This summer has been a busy time helping those who cannot help themselves. Part of this help is building wooden cabanas to replace ramshackle shelters and so far this year we have built 7 houses at Pata Rat, and 2 houses at Deus village near Cluj. A good start for this years building was the bulk purchase of wood made at the beginning of the year using the money which the East Church of Scotland in Inverness donated. This single purchase of wood has kept us building for 8 months and has transformed Pata Rat.

We had a boost from Scotland this year, with material help and with willing helpers from Scottish Churches from Saltcoats and from Inverness. It has been a real pleasure to work alongside our ain folk with no language problems and it has also been good to give our visitors a feel for Romania. Without exception we would be glad to welcome back any of this years Scottish volunteers, we hope we did not work you too hard and trust your return is sooner rather than later. Our visiting volunteer workers from Saltcoats were also a great blessing to Romania. This team built and painted a house, led a children's program for the Romi children at Pata and also brought with them a 40 foot container full of help goods. We now have tents and games for our summer camps and for local schools they brought, pens pencils, crayons and notebooks. The container was also filled with medical equipment, heart monitors, syringe pumps, hospital beds, gloves and other disposables. All of these are very sorely needed in the hospitals of Cluj. The container load was organized by Lachie Macleod through his charity "Something For Romania" * Lachie has helped the health service of Romania with lots of medical equipment over the years, in fact as we were being shown the new intensive care unit in Cluj Surgical Hospital we were told by the head nurse that most of the equipment in the new unit had come from Scotland.

Pata Rat Romi community is where we spend much of our time, our Sunday school this week had 52 children. These 2 hours on Sunday are perhaps the only time in the week when many of these children receive some love and attention. We are glad to send them back to their families singing new songs of praise to Jesus. At Pata this month we were also able to celebrate the successful opening of our shower unit. This building with 4 shower cubicles and 2 toilets was built by us with money raised by Rotary Club members from Holland and America in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Cluj-Napoca. This building is the only freely available place to shower for the 700 or so residents of Pata. We heat the water with wood and this keeps our watchman Ioan busy every morning and evening. The unit is being well used and although cleanliness m may not be next to godliness, washing does help prevent the spread of many diseases.

Access to health services is a major problem for this camp and we help as much as we can. One example of how we try to help is Daniela who is 9 years old. Daniela fell from a horse drawn cart which then ran over her head. She was left with a large wound very close to her eye. This wound was stitched badly leaving her with a damaged eyelid which cannot close. As she cannot blink her eye it becomes irritated and causes her pain all the time. We took Daniella to see a surgeon who told us the eyelid can be and should be repaired. This surgeon referred us to the ophthalmic unit who were less helpful. We believe we will succeed in getting Daniela the treatment she needs but are disappointed to find how many obstacles are put in our path. We promise we will not give up, but please pray for our patience as we stay in line waiting to see yet another functionary whose paper is essential for us to proceed. We could go to the top of the queue if we were prepared to offer bribes but of course we refuse to be part of this continuing corruption.

There are many honest Christian medical staff who need our support and prayers, but they have to work alongside many who have spent a lifetime taking bribes and pretending to work. Please pray for Daniela and for the heath system of Romania.

The rest of our news is that we have a new house. It is a wooden cabana built mainly by ourselves. We have water pumped from a well which we dug, gas heating from a large LPG tank and it is quite cozy now. This house has no address so far we are "Pomet fara numer" that is Pomet no number, but we no longer pay rent only local ground taxes. With 4*4 on our Dacia we expect to be able to transit our dirt road but we will see how winter treats us. Unlike the rest of flooded Romania we are eager for rain to keep our well filled up for winter. When we can find time we will put some pics of our new home on the Internet for you all to see. Some of our Scottish visitors helped us to fit windows and our kitchen and this was a huge help for us. We are using one of the summer camp tents to store our belongings in the garden right now until we get the rooms in the cabana painted and with doors hung.

The other major news is that Kevin our son returns to Romania with his wife Mari to live and work with us. We expect them on the 19th November and will be very glad of their help.

Our work in the prisons is still going on it is now a full day program on Thursdays,. Please pray that the prison service has money to feed all the inmates this winter and also the money to heat the buildings.

We wish everyone a blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with the Love of Jesus,

Martin & Trish

Pomet fara numer

Cluj-Napoca, Romania.


A taste of our ministry can be seen at

Post Script

We returned home on Saturday night from a fellowship meeting for the Pata Rat team team to find our front door kicked in and some of our belongings missing. For Trish the most annoying is the loss of her spectacles, her passport and driving licence and all the medical papers and birth certificate for Daniela. We leave this business in the hands of the police, and would appreciate your prayers. Loss of passport means a 2 day trip to Bucharest to obtain a replacement.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Monday, August 01, 2005

Another family requiring prayer is one with three children living in very bad conditions. The mother has been bitten by rats as she slept and despite having tetanus injections she feels unwell. The mattress on the bed can be seen moving as baby rats move in their nest. The "husband" is a pleasant young man who changes into an aggressive bully when he has been drinking. His doctors have told him that he will not get old if he does not stop drinking but he is still addicted to drink.
We noticed that the children had cuts on their arms and we asked about the marks, they told us they had cut themselves because that was what daddy did. Sometimes the older girls in the family are put out of the shack all night when the father is drunk, sometimes they go out themselves because they are afraid. These children are btween 11 and 7 years of age. Please pray that father will come to realise his problem so we can begin to help him.
We would like to rehouse this family but they need to show willingness to change their situation. The mother is willing but lives in fear of her husband when he is drunk. Please pray for wisdom for all who are involved in trying to help this family and for courage for the mother to take the steps to help her family.

Yours in Him
Martin and Trish

twin babies

Robertson Prayer Request

We built our latest wooden cabana for a mother from Pata Rat who has twin babies to care for. The babies are blind and we are searching for sponsors for medical intervention for these girls. The doctors report says that surgery may succeed and let the girls see. For the operation the babies will have to go to Bucharest a journey of around 8 hours. The idea of the children going away is difficult for the parents to accept. In a community where many babies are taken into care there is always the fear that the children will not return. Please pray for these little girls. Life is hard in the Pata Rat community and more so without the ability to see.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

july 2005 newsletter

Dear friends, prayer partners and supporters,
Thank you for helping us to give a cup of cold water to the thirsty, for making it possible to show the Love of Jesus. With your support we can proclaim Life and shout out the Christian message of Hope.
Here is our latest news from Cluj-Napoca Transylvania, where the sun shines sometimes but much rain is still falling. As I write this letter lighting is flashing at the window and hailstones are bouncing off the glass. Along with most of the country we have waterlogged fields but many in other counties have lost both their houses and all of this year's crops. A major factor in the level of damage and mess has been caused by poorly maintained dams and river banks and also the fact that many houses were built in the last 15 years in areas liable to flooding. However, corruption is the underlying cause of 80% of the losses as the money for river defence has been stolen by the local officials and the companies charged with doing the work. We pray that the guilty will be brought to account.
The weather has not stopped our house building and so far this year we have erected 3 double room cabins and 2 single cabin houses. The houses we build at Pata Rat are an addition to the housing stock because all our new house tenants have donated their old shacks to others in the camp. This means in practice that the numbers crowded together in each shack will reduce a little. An Austrian work team has also helped us by installing a new public standpipe nearer to the camp, a water supply to our Sunday School building, and a metered supply to our partly built shower block.
Mariana Moldovan and her family were the first we rehoused this year, helped by a Christian Dutch drug rehabilitation group. These work volunteers put up Marianas house in 2 days. We had enough money left over to put electric lights and sockets in this house, and Mariana is absolutely delighted to be able to sleep in a dry room. Mariana has had great changes in her life this year she has been faithful in coming to church with her daughter Petruta walking 8 km in all sorts of weather to get to the service. Mariana has a very good garden this year mainly because she now has faith in herself she believes she can grow food for the winter and she knows with Gods help she will succeed. Mariana has also gone back to work this year, 20 years after her last employment, and is working for the ministry. Our baby house needed to replace a maternal assistant who was leaving so we offered Mariana the job. She is delighted to be working with the children although she was at first scared of the washing machine complications and cooking on a gas stove but she has adapted well and the children love her. Some pictures of Mariana & her house are on the internet at
Something new in my own ministry is with the Prison Service. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I visit Cluj and Gherla prisons as part of an education and social reintegration program. Cluj prison is a remand center so I meet and teach different detainees most weeks whilst Gherla is a maximum security unit for prisoners who will be detained for a very long time. Gherla gives a chance to develop structured Biblical education and make relationships. My aim is to bring Jesus into these dark places and let the Holy Spirit work in these mens hearts.
We have a lot of other news that will have to wait till our next letter, news about visitors from Scotland, about our street evangelism, the "Destiny" conference in Bucharest and all our plans for summer teenager and youth camps and not least our progress in building our own wooden cabana. We hope to be living in this cabana before this winter D.V.
In Romania we are still in touch with the horrors and evil in the rest of the world and we have just heard the latest bad news. We condemn completely the evil bomb attacks in London and pray that the deranged minds who planned this can somehow turn to Christ, turn to Life and away from senseless death and destruction.
Latest National News:- Romania has changed all its banknotes and coins, we have lost 4 zeros so our million lei note is now a hundred Lei. The government has just resigned after an argument with the communist judges in the Constitutiuonal court who refused to pass laws reforming the justice system. We expect a general election in October.
Please join us in prayer for the Church in Romania that we can feed hungry hearts
Pray with us for unity so we can all move forward in Love
Pray that honest men will be elected to the new government
Pray that the Justice system reforms and the new property laws will be implemented.
Pray for the youth of Romania, pray that children will be taught the Word of God
Thank you dear friends with all our love and every blessing.
Martin & Trish
Str Anina Bl AA1Apt 47
Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
A taste of our ministry can be seen at

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

kitchen garden 2005

home sweet home

moving in

fresh air toilet

Sunday, July 10, 2005

mariana & petruta