Once more we made our way to Sighetu Marmatiei, in the Maramures region of north west Romania. For me this was my third time visit and I was once again excited to see how God would work through this trip.
Friday 08th January , after a long delay waiting for the vans to arrive, we started to pack the vans in the snow. We were all a little worried about how the weather would hold, if it was going to be possible to drive the 1,533 miles until we reached Sighetu Marmatiei.
Saturday 09th January Today was our day to leave. We left Merthyr Tydfil with our destination on Idstein , Germany for our first nights stop-over. 6,25 miles.
We left Merthyr Tydfil at 3am, the snow had stopped although the roads were still full of snow. We drove slowly until Dover to catch the choppy Ferry crossing to Calais . The journey took longer then normal but we were able to arrive safety in Idstein later that evening.
Sunday 10 th January We woke early once more for another full day of driving. This time would be from Idstein , Germany to Gyor , Hungary (885km)
It had snowed over night and continued to snow until Wein , Austria , but the roads were kept clear and after Wein we didn't see any snow at all.
Monday11 th January - This was our final day of travelling to arrive at Sighetu Marmatiei. (another 509km) It was also the day we were most worried about at these are the worst roads to drive and could be impossible because of the snow. Thankfully we didn't see any snow at all. This must be an answer to prayer. We made it to Sighetu Marmatiei in good time and were able to enjoy a meal before catching up to some sleep.
Tuesday 12 th January We woke up to our first day in Romania . Now the real work would begin. We were all excited about what God had in store and thankful of how he made our journey here trouble free.
During our morning time of prayer, we asked that we would be able to unload the vans today. Sometimes it can take the 3 days to get permission to unload. We wanted to unload the vans a.s.a.p. so that we could meet new people and get a better understanding of the city's current situation.
Our first stop was the orphanage, there we were greeted with joy and excitement and were able to unload most of our things for the orphanage and children's homes. Thank to everyone who donated things for us to give. They were received with much need and thankfulness.
Our next stop was the hospital and again God heard and answered our prayers. We were able to unload out vans straight away. Hospital machinery, medication, cleaning equipment, clothes, blankets and much more was given. 10s of thousands of pound worth of equipment.
After the hospital we visit a family which we have been helping for the past few years. This family live in a one room flat, with no bathroom. The situation was again grim, with the room being full of damp and two of the children just returning from hospital with illnesses caused by the living conditions. This family (like many of they neighbours) spend much of the year without enough food to eat, so we were able to help them with food and clothing.
It is always hard to visit this family, because there are so many others like them in the same flats and our resources are limited. This year however we handed out soft toys to all the children, this was a really nice time.
The evening was really exciting, because it was our first contact with a local church in Sighetu Marmatiei . The church was called Betel Pentecostal church'. We had a really nice and blessed time there and Udo spoke to the church for 15min. The Video will be online soon.
Wednesday 13 th January It was our second day in Romania . After eating breakfast we had a meeting in the hospital and talked about how things are changing, what the current needs are and discussed ways we could help in the future.
We then took a trip with one of the hospital staff members to the old prision in Sighetu Marmatiei.
In August 1948, once communist power had been consolidated in Romania , Sighet prison was reserved for political opponents of the regime. At first, it held a group of students, pupils and peasants from the Maramures region. Many of the surviving prisoners are still living in Sighet to this very day and situated at the mental health ward of the hospital which we visit every year.
On May 5 and 6, 1950, over one hundred former dignitaries from the whole country were brought to the Sighet penitentiary (former ministers and other politicians, as well as academics, economists, military officers, historians, and journalists), some of them sentenced to heavy punishments, and others held without any form of trial. The majority were over 60 years old. Many important figures of inter-war Romania died in custody, including the leader of the National Peasants' Party and former Prime Minister of Romania, Iuliu Manie.
This was a very interesting visit, because each year we visit people at the Mental Health Ward at the hospital and this allowed us to understand the history of many of them and the legacy which is still left from communism.
Yesterday at the Pentecostal church we visited we met a surgeon from the hospital called Toma. He invited us to look around the surgical department of the hospital, so we spend the first part of our afternoon with him. He is really a great guy.
In the later afternoon, we visited the children's homes which we have been visiting for many years. It is really cool to see the children growing and the condition they are living in getting better. It was great fun to be able to play with them a little and give them some toys and chocolates.
We rushed from the children's homes back to our hotel to meet the pastor from Betel Pentecostal church, he took us to a new infant school which they are building and we could help them with some things, but also spend a time of prayer together.
Thursday 14 th January Our last day in Sighet and again we leave with joy of how we could help but also sadness and we can still see the need. Today we would just visit the mental health department before returning to Gyor , Hungary .
They are really trying to improve the mental health wards at the hospital, but in some ways the situation is much worst then before. This is due to lack of funds for the hospital. They currently have 160 men and only 70 beds. The situation is indescribable with words. Please pray for them.
On leaving our hotel, we worked out that they didn't charge us as much as they should have, so we returned to pay the rest of our bill (100euro). Within 1 hour of paying our bill, I received a phone call from someone in Germany who could help us with surgical equipment. This was amazing because the day before while visiting Toma, we was telling us about some things which they needed. It really shows that God rewards honesty. We could easily have left without paying the extra 100euros but honouring God was a much better thing to do.
Friday 15 th Saturday 16 th January We had a great trip back, again without any problems and were able to make the detour to pick up the surgical equipment from Germany . We arrived back in Merthyr Tydfil at 11pm, tired but thankful for the trip.