Last week found us in Galati (pronounced Ga-LATZ), a small city situated on the eastern border of Romania where the Danube River flows into the plain called the "Danube Delta". Galati is known for its shipyard and for a gargantuan iron and steel factory built during the communist era and now privatized. When we first noticed it, we thought it was another city on the other side of the river. Our driver told us it is the second largest steel factory in Europe. It makes Geneva in Utah or Kaiser in Spokane look like vegetable stands.
Our trip was planned to meet with four deserving NGO's who are doing what they can to help the underprivileged. It is always a rewarding experience for us to visit with kind and giving people who have organized foundations to deal with desperate needs. They are the cream of humanity.
As we pulled out of town, we snapped this final shot of the Blue Danube. It really isn't that impressive but it is the BLUE DANUBE, for heaven's sake!
This picture was taken in the living room of another senior missionary couple who serve in Galati. Their apartment is new and they have a beautiful view of the water. We pay the same amount in rent but we are not jealous! Why would we trade this boring view for ours? We have the benefit of watching our neighbors shaking rugs n' things and hanging out their colorful laundry!
This is the staff and some of the patrons from a Sports Club for the handicapped. They will be distributing 100 of our wheelchairs.
The handicapped come to this center to learn skills, receive physical therapy and to socialize. This woman is a Para-Olympics world champion power lifter.
Our next appointment was to visit a home for the elderly. They have been limping along with limited funds and need our help to refurbish their deplorable bathrooms. Upon first glance, it doesn't look that bad but then...
On the other side of the wall, there's wet, and mildewed and crumbling plaster. We will step in to help before the government closes this place and sends these people to an institution.
There are 10 women and 10 men who live here. They sleep in these lumpy beds, lined in a row.
Outside, we met them. The guys on one side...
...and the girls on the other side--just like a Stake Dance!
Shoes lined up so orderly.
These shoes were outside for a different reason. They belong to teenagers in a group home and placing the shoes outside helps with "odor abatement" (if you get my drift)!
On to a home where severely mentally disabled children are cared for by 5 compassionate "mothers" who take turns spending night and day doting over the children. The "children" are actually 20-23 years old with the mental age of 3 years.
This girl wanted to hold my hand and was so afraid to touch me that she would not let go of her caregiver's had for mine. Then, she started to cry. After a few minutes, we were friends.
In contrast, this girl came running to us and literally climbed me until her caregivers could un-peel her.
This boy did the same and our driver carried him around like a toddler. All these children have been rescued from institutions where they were neglected and bedridden. Our project is to build a shelter for them in their own backyard (where they cannot climb on people) and where they can sit in the shade during our HOT Romanian summers.
This van was actually a donation from our mission 10 years ago and it is held together with band aids and duct tape! Doors don't close, the driver enters from the passenger side...you get the picture! We were transported in this to the different organizations. (Next time you step into your late-model car, think of us in Romania!)
We noticed this scene from the window of our church building. It is an abandoned open-air theatre where Communist indoctrination took place. It is totally walled off and inaccessible. In fact, it is so tucked away in a neighborhood that, we're sure most residents don't know it exists. Seedlings are growing between the rows. Just being here is amazing. In our imagination, we thought we could hear Russian marching music! There is great history here!
Imagine this place filled with saluting Marxists.
This is the immense steel factory.
And finally, the "This is Romania" picture of the day...
Denny is holding a baggie full of eggs, placed conveniently near the chicken! Everything is tough here...the meat, the people, the missionaries, the egg shells!