Q: Why Romania?
A: God has led us to the country of Romania in part because of a mission trip Dave took to Belarus in 2004. During that trip, God opened his eyes to the vast spiritual needs of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe.
Upon Dave's return from Belarus we began to invetigate ministry opportunities and mission agencies. It was during that time we learned that Baptist Mid-Missions had a strong presence in Romania. God allowed us to take a survey trip to Romania in March 2006, which confirmed that God was indeed calling us to the country of Romania.
Q: Who lives in Romania?
A: Romania is home to over 20 million people. There are primarily two groups of people living in Romania, Romanians and the Roma (or Gypsies), as well as Hungarians and Germans. The Romanian people are friendly and hard-working and place great importance on time spent with family. They live a more simple way of life but they make certain that their children receive a thorough education, and they have great hopes for the future. Most are Romanian Orthodox in religion and attend beautiful churches in every village.
There are over 2 million Roma living in Romania. They originally came out of India and spread into many European countries. They have very dark hair, dark eyes, and a little darker skin color, similar to those in India. The Gypsies are usually looked down upon in Romania (and throughout Europe for that matter) and struggle for daily labor and food. Most are extremely poor, which contributes to a much shorter life expectancy than the Romanians or other European citizens. More than half of the adults cannot read or write.
Q: What languages are spoken in Romania?
A: The Romanians primarily speak Romanian. Hungarian is also spoken in our area of the country that was once part of Hungary. As a Romance language, Romanian uses the Latin alphabet and is similar to French, Spanish, and Italian. We spent our first year in Romania studying Romanian in Timisoara, which consisted primarily of one-on-one tutoring.
Most of the Roma in Romania speak Romanian, but many also learn their own language called "Romani." Romani is mainly an oral language, making it more difficult to learn. As a result, only portions of the Bible have been translated. Where we are currently serving, Romanian is the predominant language of the Roma people.
Q: What is the weather like in Romania?
A: Romania is much further north than our hometown in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is along the same latitude as Maine, so one would expect much colder weather. However, the weather of northwest Romania is very similar to that of southwest Ohio. They experience four seasons, with very little temperature extremes. Where we live, we typically have two or three heavy snow "storms" througout the course of the season. In the mountainous regions of Romania the weather is much colder, and they receive significant snowfall each year.
Q: Where do Romanians live?
A: Modern Romanian homes or buildings are built of concrete block or bricks that are plastered over for a smooth finish. The larger towns and cities have many Communist-era apartment buildings called "blocks" that are functional in design but not very attractive. The older homes in the villages and towns are actually built as a cluster of separate buildings which are used for sleeping, cooking, and housing animals. Some of these homes have limited electricity and no running water.
In the past many homes were built from bricks made from mud and straw (like the Israelites in Egypt!). Then they plaster over the straw bricks. Today more modern building materials are used, but brick continues to be the preferred type of construction. Most homes have a wall or a fence with a gate that protects the home as it often sits only a few feet from the road.
The Roma usually live in a separate section of the town. The physical differences between their homes and the Romanians' homes are striking. Some of the Roma live in homes that the Romanians used to live in, but many of them still build their homes out of bricks made from mud and straw. Many Roma homes have only one or two small rooms. Sometimes a family of 5 or more live in a single-room house. They are heated by a small wood-burning stove that is also used for cooking. While most Roma have basic electricity, very few have running water.
Q: What form of government does Romania have?
A: Romania is a democratic republic. Romania was a communist country for over 40 years. That ended in December 1989 during the Romanian Revolution when Romania's dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, and his wife, Elena, were arrested, put on trial, and executed. The country has made many social changes and economic reforms since then, but it still suffers the effects of communist rule and ongoing corruption. In January 2007, Romania joined the European Union.
Q: What are the predominant religions in Romania?
A: Over 86% of Romanians are Romanian Orthodox, 7% are Protestant (including Baptists), and 4% are Catholic. The Romanian Orthodox are very similar to Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox. While they are not the same as Catholics (one difference is that they have no Pope), it is essentially a religion of doing good works and keeping traditions.