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
OFFICIU POSTAL NR.9
STRADA DETUNATA NR.1
COD POSTAL 400343
Mobile (0040) (0)788 332560
(0040) (0)788 773203