Follow our adult mission team in Romania through their reports online. These reports are posted here and to the Facebook group Knox Waterloo.
Fourteen adults from Knox are in Cluj, Romania where they will participate in a Habitat for Humanity build, and visit with members of the Hungarian Reformed Church in Romania as well as connecting with Knox Member and PCC Missionary Brian Johnston. Most of the team will be returning June 12th. Please pray for them during this time. Thank you!
Saturday June 1st – Linda Ashfield
Report from your mission team in Romania…It is 5pm here in Cluj and we are getting ready to head to the concert at the Institute where Brian teaches. We have had a great time so far. We all had breakfast and then we got to together as a group at 10:30 for a walking tour of the area with David who was of Brian’s former students. He was informative and the passion he has for this city and its history was amazing. We did get caught in the rain but after lunch we changed into dry clothes and continued on like nothing happend. We arrived at the institute and Brian assigned a student or two to each of us and we had conversations about our and their passions in our lives. All of us had an interesting time and learned from these 19 or 20 year old students. We were thanked by one of the students because they always heard about the PCC and the support we send them and now they have met some of the actual people. Please pray for the students we met as they are in the middle of their exams and pray for safe travel for us tomorrow to a church outside of town.
The mission team left from Toronto on Thursday May 30th and arrived in Cluj on the 31st. As many of you may know by now I was unable to travel with them because my father suffered a heart attack on Monday. He is still in hospital but doing well. Please pray for our team.
Linda Ashfield, minister at Knox, Waterloo
Sunday, June 2nd – Dave Ogram
Well it is around 11pm Sunday and we are all just winding down from another amazing day. We hit the road around 10am this morning and travelled to a village a little over an hour outside of Cluj where one of Brian’s former students Arpi (spelling is maybe wrong) is the pastor. We worshipped in a 570 year old church with a great congregation. The service was mainly in Hungarian but the children and youth performed some songs in english and a part of the sermon was done in english for our benefit. After the service we walked down the road to the church’s hall and enjoyed some more music and a great lunch with Arpi and his family. To be able to see the benefits that ‘Share the music in Romania’ has helped this congregation was moving. Some of the money is used to pay for music lessons for the organist who is a 17 year old boy who also leads the children’s choir and youth choir. His talent and gifts are truly amazing. As a group we have a wrap up every night and some of the words that were used about today were…laughter, happy tears, history, friendship and connection. Please pray for Arpi and his church as they want to upgrade the church building but have not received approval or funding from the government and for the team from Knox as we start our first day at the Habitat site in the morning.
Monday, June 3rd – Dave Ogram
Romania day three…This was our first day working at the Habitat site. We had to be on the bus at 7:45am this morning for a 20 minute drive to the site. The site is outside of Cluj in a small town, with the four unit house in the middle of a field. We started with training from the four people on site from Habitat and one of the people who will be living in the house. Then it was work time…which was bricking the outer walls…we WORKED! Everyone fell into their jobs and we went all day until 4 only stopping for breaks and lunch. Actually there was one other time we stopped and no it was not when it started raining. No it was not when the wind started blowing fairly hard. We stopped when a herd of sheep appeared on the hill across the road with sheep dogs and a real live shepherd and we needed to grab our cameras. It was a great day that ended with a Welcome dinner with people Habitat and we are excited to go back tomorrow. Tomorrow is a shorter day at the site as we will be going to the current dwellings of the people that will be living in two of the units. Please pray that there are not too many sore (normally unused) muscles and for the staff from Habitat for their great leadership with us.
Tuesday, June 4th – Dave Ogram
Romania Day Four…First I would like to thank everyone who has made comments or liked the posts on Facebook or sent emails about your support for the group. Today we continued with our work on the walls. There was not as much lifting today as the Habitat crew ordered enough bricks to last us till Thursday(they thought) but we had run out by 1pm today. I guess they did not realize the determination and hard workers that people from Knox are. We are told that 10 pallets are to be delivered at 7am tomorrow morning so we will be back on schedule and working hard tomorrow. We wrapped up by 2:30 and went to see two completed Habitat sites in Cluj. We have been working with Geta and she showed us her home that her and her husband live in. She was very proud of her house and the beautiful wood work her husband has done in their home. She has two sons that are now in university, one in Cluj and the second in Britian and her family is a great success story for Habitat on how much it has helped them. We also went to two of the homes of the families that will be living in the houses we are helping build. One family is a family of 4 that live in a space that is two rooms both the size of room 201. It is not only them living there but 4 other extended family members. One daughter was pointing out in the one room and said Mom sleeps there, then Dad, my sister, me, my Aunt,my cousin all in the same area. It was hard comprehend that many people in such a small space. Our second stop was to Consta’s home. He and his brother inlaw have been working with us this week in the site and are great teachers. His family of 4 live in a former laundry room above the 10th floor of an apartment building. The two room home is maybe a little larger than room 201. We were offered food and drinks and had some laughter with the family. It was really powerful to actually meet the people who will be living in the houses. Please pray for the two families that will be moving into the homes this fall and for the continued support our group are giving each other.
Wednesday, June 5th – Dave Ogram
Day Five Romania…this has been the longest full work day on site for us. We started on site around 8:30 and finished at 4:30. It was a beautiful sunny day…or as one of our group stated ‘It is a sunscreen day’ …some of us listened and some are a little red…not burnt just red. The bricks arrived mid morning and we continued to build the walls and put some finishing touches on the trench that a previous group had dug for the sewer drainage system. The soil is heavy wet clay so whoever was working in the trench came out 3 inches taller and a couple pounds heavier. The pipe is supposed to deliver tomorrow and then we can continue with this new project. At lunch someone pointed out that it was hump day and that we are half way through our build time…the days have just all mashed together and it has felt like we have been here alot longer. Our group has grown closer together due to the work time together, the meals and just sitting and talking and sharing what we have experienced not only on this trip but in our lives. We have also made connections with the Romanian people on site who we have been working with side by side each day. At the end of today Consta had to say goodbye to all of us as he also has a full time job and needs to work and actually get some sleep. He gave us all hugs and thanked us for all the help and hopes to keep in touch with us after we leave. What an amazing experience this has been for all of us. The picture is from when we were leaving today…just think there was only one layer of bricks when we started Monday. Please pray for Habitat workers worldwide for all that they do and pray that all of us on this trip will learn and grow from this experience.
Thursday, June 6th – Dave Ogram
Day 6 Romania…We woke up to rain hitting the skylights in our rooms this morning and at breakfast we wondered what we would be doing today if it kept raining as hard as it was. We arrived at the site and within 15 minutes the rain slowed down. The sewage piping did arrive but no work could be done on that project, other then unloading the truck as it was too wet in the trench The outer walls are almost complete and we have now started working on the inner walls. The progress we have done since we arrived is amazing. One of the families we visited on Tuesday, the husband and wife were there helping today. At the end of the day the wife was standing at the end of the house looking through the wall where the cement support will go into the house. She was clearly emotional with the reality that her family should be living there by November. We were told that people in Romania need to volunteer 100 hours even before they can go on to the next round of applications for Habitat. It is amazing what people will do for their family. As we have built relationships with the Habitat staff on site they have shared more information about what they think of us. One: that we work as a team and not individuals. Two: We are hard workers. Three: When they saw the ages on the application from Knox, they had no clue what they going to get us to do? I believe we have represented Knox, the PCC and Canada as best that we could. Tomorrow is our last day on site and none of us want to leave. It has been rewarding and hard work. We will now be starting our next part of the trip which will be some travelling and visiting with more rural churches that have a connection with Brian. Please pray for all people that don’t have a place to call home and for strength and great weather Friday for the Knox team as we finish the Habitat part of our journey.
Friday, June 7th – Dave Ogram
Day 7 Romania…Again it was raining first thing this morning but it stopped by the time we left for the site and by midafternoon the sun came out. We have finished the outer walls and almost completed the inner walls. Another 10 pallets of brinks were delivered just as we run out this morning. We calculated that we moved approximately 1400 bricks this week. When we arrived they were a month behind schedule due to bad weather but now they are only ten days behind. We had a ‘Thank you’ dinner tonight with the people from Habitat and they all said they really enjoyed working with us. Hori the Construction supervisor went as far to say he knows some one who works at the airport and he is going to ‘find a way’ for us to stay on another week. During dinner the Habitat people had some young people come and sing some tradition songs dressed in the authentic dress for Cluj, what a great way to end this chapter of the trip. Tomorrow we head out in the afternoon on a tour with Brian to the countyside and will end up in a village where they will be cooking and serving us authentic goulash cooked over an open fire and then some entertainment. What we will learn only tomorrow will tell. Thank you to all who have been praying with and for us and for the great comments or likes or emails that you have sent. This has been an experience that none of us will ever forget. Please pray for the Habitat staff here in Cluj as they prepare for the groups that will be continuing from where we left off and for us as we now start the next part with meeting with the people from the small villages we will be visiting. The pictures are from when we left today…just think there was only one row when we started! This shows what teamwork can accomplish.
Saturday, June 8th – Dave Ogram
Day 8 Romania…This morning we work up to a beautiful sunny day. The morning was free time and we all headed out in small groups to explore the city and not have a real schedule for the first time in a week. Most walked around and just explored the city. We met Brian a bit after one and headed out as group for the afternoon. We started at a folk museum that which had different traditional clothes and items from the regions of Transylvania. The museum is a personal collection of one man who has been collecting items since the 60’s. It was an interesting tour as every region uses different colours in their clothing and the more beads and patterns used the more wealthy the region or individual was. Some of the clothing even has a German flair some of us thought. One thing of interest about Romania cities is that most have at least two names if not three as the name changed every time they were taken over. Most have a Romanian, Hungarian and some a German name so it can kind of confusing on what the actual name is. It almost as bad we are with King St in KW when you can go East, west, north and south all on the same trip it seems. We then heading to Bontida Banffy Castle. The castle was constructed in 1543 but now is really in need of repair. In the Second World War when the Germans were being pushed out of Romania they destroyed the castle and then during the communist regime it was neglected. Currently they have started to restore the castle but it will take many years to complete. We then headed off to one of Brian’s former students Tibor’s village where he is the pastor. This was a real rural village as it was the last village on the road in a closed valley. We drove on roads that were pretty much a single lane and in very bad repair. We were told that the village dates back to the 12th century and of the four churches in town one is from the 13th century. It was interesting getting a walking tour of the village and hearing about their history and life in the village now. There are only 12 children in town and no school so they have to be bussed into town on Monday and return on Friday from the age of 5 on unless the parents drive back and forth everyday. One great thing is the Vacation bible school which averages around 40 children. Grandchildren and great grandchildren come back every year from as far away as Spain to attend so the ministry of the church is still growing. We had an amazing meal put on by the church members and left with very full bellies. Well this will be my last post as my plane leaves in 7 hours. I hope you have enjoyed the updates. Please pray for Tibor’s ministry in this remote rural village and for the team members continuing to stay and for the three returning tomorrow.