Copyright ©1998 by Dan Philgreen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
JOURNAL FROM ROMANIA AND HUNGARY TRIP
FOR CAMPUS CRUSADE FOR CHRIST
ARROWHEAD PRODUCTIONS INTERNATIONAL
MARCH 1990, BY DAN PHILGREEN, all rights reserved
3/4/90, Bucharest, Romania, Athene Palace Hotel (built 1914)
10:00 PM (10 hours ahead of California)
- LAX to Frankfurt on Lufthansa - 11 hours
Frankfurt to Vienna, Vienna to Bucharest on Tarom (the Romanian national airline) Tarom flight on a Russian Tupolev TU-154B (former Aeroflot plane). It's the 727 look-alike.
- (12/17/91 As I'm typing this, I remember an incident that is not in my original journal. When Paul Read and I took our seats in the Tarom plane at Frankfurt, there was a little Romanian man in an ill-fitting suit seated next to us by the window. He started talking and didn't seem to pay any attention when we repeatedly said we only spoke english. We finally understood that he wanted to know where we were going. Paul said "Bucharest," and the man responded very dramatically "Bucharest! Sput!" and made a spitting motion with his head toward the floor. Paul and I looked at each other and I thought, "can't wait to get there." Then one of the pilots walked past us down the aisle from the front. His hair and uniform were disheveled. He looked like he had slept in his clothes and perhaps was coming off an extended drunk. I thought, "this guy is going to fly this thing?" I have almost never been uncomfortable in an airplane, but neither this pilot nor the plane inspired confidence. I must admit I was a bit nervous about this particular flight.)
- They lost our tripod, but customs waved us on through. Didn't even want to see our carnet. "Ceausescu is gone, go on through." Hotel here is all shot up on the outside from fighting 2 months ago. Lobby type area on each floor is pocked from bullets that came inside. I saw pipes and ceiling all ripped up by bullets on floor below us.
- Saw lit up Lenin statue with cranes attached as we rode taxi to hotel from airport. They've been working at taking it down for 2 days with crowds of people watching. Went back there to shoot and saw Ted Koppel of "Night Line." Rode in a Dacia (Dachea), a Renault design built in Romania. Also saw Ladas and Moskovich cars (Russian). "Lenin" is supposed to come down at 9:00 AM tomorrow.
- Changed money with a waiter for 80:1 (Official rate is 20:1) (We were later offered 100:1 and 120:1) Stepped onto elevator and door closed and lights went out. Fortunately I got the door opened back up and I went up the stairs. Trucks arrived here with other TV crews. Had a prayer meeting in a room with 15 Christians. Wow!
- This place is dismal. Lights are dim at night.
- You can have a taxi all day for $15-20US.
- Two armed guards were at the Tarom plane in Frankfurt. They had assault rifles. Lots of guards (army) with machine guns at Bucharest airport. At the parliament building, about 20 armored personnel carriers were in a row around front. About 200 army each with AK-47 surrounded grounds and 3 trucks sat full of soldiers. University library's books burned in the fighting during the revolution. Across and down a bit from Ceacescu's palace.
Lenin's statue came down. Stood on flat bed of a truck and shot it all. Shot Josh speaking at a university (Polytech) to about 80 professors. What an experience. Many are interested in Christ. (78 professors turned in comment cards. 47 indicated decisions to receive Christ.)
- Went to a Baptist church to shoot Josh. Walked in and Ian Paisley got up to preach. Whodathunkit?! Wonder what his good buddy, Dr. Bob Jones Jr., would have thought about Paisley speaking in the same service with Josh McDowell? May have to separate from him for associating so closely with the reprobate evangelicals! Actually, neither probably knew anything of the other as the service had been going on for several hours before we got there. It seems they had preachers lined up to speak one right after another.
- No dinner tonight. Restaurants say "closed 2300," but they turn people away much earlier. I suppose they want to actually go home at closing time. We'll survive on granola bars compliments of Josh's guy helping us. (Michael, AKA: "Maaacal" He's real southern.)
- Drove up to Ceausescu's new palace (unfinished after 10 years). Drove across the huge half circle "square" in front. Awesome place.
- Found out birth control has been illegal. In fact, if you were not married by a certain age, you were fined monthly. If you had no child by a certain age, you were fined monthly. A law went into effect in the 1960's sometime that each family must have at least 5 children. Before that it was 4. This rule was for women up to 45 years old. So, many older women had children at this time. Infant mortality is very high: about 70 per 1,000. Many people died after surgery because of lack of sterilization. One American student here had to have an appendectomy. There was no general anethsesia, only local. Then he discovered that when they changed his bandages, they were washing them and putting them back on.
- Ceausescu's picture was on every corner and his name on every structure before the revolution. Now gone, of course. His new palace - HUGE - has, I think, 6,000 rooms. Surrounding apartment buildings for his friends supposedly spell his name or initials from the air. He was paranoid of being forgotten.
- Women here have no feminine products at all. The American girls said when they have really had a hard day, for a real treat they break out a roll from their stash of American toilet paper! The Romanian TP is a lot like crepe paper streamers, only wider and somewhat stronger, but same texture.
- Ceausescu wore a different, new suit every day and had the one from the previous day burned. He kept a year's supply of suits under lock and key. Seems he thought someone would try to poison him through his clothing.
- Neacsu Corneliu works on a now stalled canal project that was to link Bucharest with the Danube for shipping and irrigation. The budget for this project was 80 million Lei. Entire annual budget for the country was only twice that.
- Neacsu was in the fighting near the TV station. He had no weapon. He was in a group that walked behind 3 APC's carrying food, medical supplies, etc. He was next to a tire of an APC when a bullet hit the tire and it exploded. He was not hurt. He saw many die.
- The American girls said they laughed at first at the Romanians because they would see a line forming outside a store, and jump in it and wait for hours and they wouldn't even know what they were waiting for! But things go fast and if there is a line, it must be worth waiting for. The girls say now they do it too! Things are still very scarce. Some things that used to be available to foreigners in exclusive stores are not anymore. The country is in terrible shape economically. And much of the old system continues on out of sheer momentum. They have done things a certain way for so long and it just goes on. "Everything has changed, yet everything remains the same."
- All planting of crops is done by hand. Plowing, etc., is done by horse. I have seen no cows anywhere. Only a few chickens.
- Beggar boy (gypsy) who had bandage on left hand yesterday had it on right hand today.
- One boy with a fist full of coins came up to Paul Read begging. Paul told the boy he had more money and should give some to Paul instead. The kid looked really confused, but handed a few coins to Paul. We thought that was pretty funny.
- 700 Lei for lunch
3/6/90, Bucharest (Bucuresti)
Breakfast with Paul Negruts, Josh's translator. From town near Hungarian border. He is one of five pastors of the largest baptist church in all of eastern and western Europe. (3 thousand adults, 2 thousand children, and 1 thousand non-members) Paul is a psychologist. His co-pastor is a medical doctor. Paul was the first lay pastor (with the other doctor) in Romania. Incredible stories from this guy. Josh and Ron Ralston joined us. More later.
- Drove outside of Bucharest to site of village of Cornetu. Ceausescu had hundreds, almost a thousand houses bulldozed into holes and burried here to "make fields for agriculture." Actually, it was part of a plan to destroy 8,000 villages so people would be controlled on cooperatives and in apartment buildings. This was part of "Romanization." Ceausescu wanted one Romanian people and wiping out villages was a way to destroy ethnic distinctives. Josh interviewed several who lost their houses. Tragic. Officially on paper, their houses still exist so they can't get another place to live. In fact, officially the property has been "improved" by the changes made. One man had a 10 room house. Lived in it for 70 years. They made him help destroy it. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he told the story. One woman reminded Josh of his mother. He gave her equivalent of $100.00 US in Romanian Lei. (Lay) That would be like about $1,000.00 in US buying power.
- Stopped by a new cemetery full of graves of some killed in the revolution; hundreds. Many very young. Very moving. A woman in Cornetu said her son was given a gun in the city by the government and told to shoot people. He refused and was executed. He would have been 19 tomorrow.
- Stopped at TV building complex. Soldiers and APC's (armored personnel carriers) guarded it.
- The Romanians seem to enjoy Josh very much. He has been sharing his testimony, mainly. But they seem to have great difficulty understanding. As if the whole idea of spiritual things is a foreign language they have never heard. Nelu said Josh was "complex" for Romanians. They have no spiritual syntax. No foundation. It is very abstract for them.
- Paul's stories:
One Christmas, secret police tried to harm him and his family by connecting 220v lines to the drain pipes in his house. For three days his daughters and wife had not touched a pipe. (Usually the girls hung from them all the time in play.) Secret police called him in and said they heard he had had an electrical problem. He told the man he had no problem and that with all his men he would not be able to harm one hair of his head unless God allowed it. Told him that to harm him would be poking the eye of God. Police official left him alone after that.
- Regime controlled churches by requiring graduates from the state seminary to be the pastors. Used prostitutes to compromise pastors. They would attend, then ask for "counseling." One ruined a pastor when she pretended to faint. When pastor tried to help her up, the husband came in with two policemen. He was "caught red handed" and there were two witnesses. Paul said, "It was his end."
- One day a man came to Paul and claimed to be a Hungarian christian who had smuggled Bibles to deliver in a hurry. Something inside told Paul that something was not right. He then saw under the man's coat a pack of Romanian cigarettes. The man then spoke Romanian and tried to talk his way out of it. Later that day, Paul saw him going into the entrance of the secret police station building. If Paul had taken one Bible, which they desperately needed, he would have been put in jail.
- Several times he was taken by police and told "this will be your last day alive." He said "all you can do is thank the Lord, and be happy in the day. If you become afraid with the fear of death, then they have you. They can do whatever they want."
- He said you could never know when someone was a real brother in Christ, or secret police. Yet the church was growing.
- Paul told of people sent to live in the mountains for being "hard to control." To this day they live on one loaf of bread per family per week. The bread is hauled in and the garbage hauled out in the same trucks.
- On the way to the meeting tonight, we had an accident. I saw it coming, tried to warn the driver, but he didn't understand my English. I had the 35 lb. Betacam on my shoulder, but braced for the impact by leaning way back with my foot on the bulkhead. No one in our VW van was hurt. The lady passenger in the other car cut her head and was bleeding, but seemed okay. Van was not damaged badly. Other car was totaled. Oil pan broke. Entire front smashed. I think the other car was Russian. God protected us. The VW only had a small dent and a smashed headlight. Our Romanian friends spirited us into a taxi and got us out of there before police arrived to avoid possible trouble.
- Tonight I talked to Nelu Istrate and his friends Neacsu Corneliu and wife Helen (no children) at their apartment until 1:00 AM. Now I cannot sleep and am writing. What an experience! We had difficulty communicating abstract thought. They were very nervous about our meeting place. Did not want to be seen at the hotel with me. They picked me up and dropped me off around the corner from the entrance. They wanted to go to talk at a "Christian house." I am praying we can help Nelu with his ministry. I got the idea he could become CCC national staff. I hope it works.
- Our last night here. Shot Josh giving away medicine. Also at an orphanage and doing a recap in front of the big new palace. Shot in the street walking around; people in line at a "grocery store." (only jars of jam and fruit available) Paul had money changer in the street try to rip him off, but he caught the guy before handing over dollars. Ate the best meal I had here this afternoon. (And it looks like the last.) All eating places close up before 10:00 PM. Bought souvenirs: pan flutes, carved box, copper tray, dolls, decanter. In all, about $17.00 US. Saw a fabulous rough-woven rug I would have loved for about 3000 Lei (about $30.00 US), but it was too big to carry home. Also, they had lace tablecloths that would be about $100.00 at home for about $30 with a set of matching napkins. But, I had $30 total to spend, so I bought lots of little things.
- Shot Josh again at sports arena. (Sala Polivolenta, largest in Bucharest. These were the first public evangelistic meetings in the country since the revolution. Hundreds of decisions for Christ.) Oh yea, shot in silhouette Kathy Uno, Michael's wife. She was not ready to be seen on camera. Michael is director of CCC Romania. They live in Germany. She shared marvelous stories of raising her family in Hungary. (oldest son is 17, this woman looks 30) They couldn't even look out the window at the countryside when driving in a car in Romania. After years of coming to Romania, this trip was the first time she saw it.
- Tonight after the meeting we were shooting interviews. Got the best one after our "interviewer" (one of Josh's helpers) said he was tired and wanted to quit, but I urged him to keep going. As this was going on, there was a little man, maybe 50, standing near us. Two different pastors warned Paul (Read) that this man was a writer for the paper who wrote many editorials attacking Christians and was one of Ceausescu's main men for persecuting Christians and was a communist party member. He wore a little communist pin on his lapel. He had a little notebook and I saw that he was compiling a list of names of everybody we interviewed. We got people out of the crowd as they left the stadium. We were set up with lights in the lobby. I found out about this guy just as Nelu Istrate, my new friend, started to talk on camera. I had no chance to warn him and it was too late. When Nelu preaches in the arena in less than two weeks, he will be known anyway. I hope this man is a toothless tiger. Apparently he didn't think so with all the notes he was taking. If things go bad again and the communists regain control, that guy and his list could be bad news.
- Early this morning after not being able to sleep all night and singing songs in my head, I saw the sun rising over the dome of the ballet hall and the TV antennas. I laid down and thought about the hunger of Romanians for spiritual things and then about the openness of the hearts of Filipinos to the Gospel and I wept for these people who want to know, but there are so few to tell them. I believe that is the first time I have ever shed tears for lost people in general, not individuals. Jesus wept for lost people who hated Him. I don't know if I'll ever experience compassion approaching that, but I'm deeply touched by lost people who really want to know the truth, but there is no one to tell them and teach them.
- Paul Negrut, the translator, told us today that the hall Josh spoke in at the university used to be used for communist party indoctrination meetings. There will still old slogans high on the wall in front. I thought they were communist sayings, but wasn't sure when I saw them.
- There is so much not available here. This is the first place I've ever been where you cannot buy Coke. They do have Pepsi some places, but it tastes funny. No orange juice. Only saw salt twice in very nice restaurants. Only saw one food vendor on the street (little cakes). I'm hungary. Welcome to Romania!
- Public bathrooms have no toilet paper. The doors on the hotel rooms must be opened with a key from the inside as well as from the outside. Fire escape door is locked shut. There is a spiral staircase all the way, but any fire would make it a smoke chimney if not an inferno. This place is a fire death trap.
3/8/90, 8:45 PM, Timisoara
- I was just shooting a reporter interviewing Josh for a student newspaper after a meeting. Got what I needed and my battery went dead, so I moved away to put away equipment. A few minutes later, Christie from World Wide Challenge magazine walked over to tell me that he had prayed to receive Christ with Josh. I was really moved. After the meeting I stowed some video gear at the apartment of Silviu Rogobete, a young engineer (technical expert) who contracts with factories here for the railroad companies. On the way to his place I saw the building where Ceausescu's 25 henchmen are being tried. They were moving the men to the prison for the night in a big truck. Through a small window in the back I could see a couple of them in the lighted interior. There was a police car in front and an armored vehicle in back. History.
- Got here this morning (barely, our van driver took us to the wrong airport) on an Ilyushin 18, a Soviet 4-engine turboprop. As we ducked through the oval door getting on, Ron Ralston behind me said "I feel like Indiana Jones!" Our airport driver took us to the wrong place, then drove us to another smaller airport. We checked in, passed security (not much) and waited. Then got on buses that took us to the first airport again where we got on the plane!
Got some more Tarom sick-sacs. (They are imprinted: "Tarom, for airsickness" - !!) On the plane, Michael Uno told the story of how he and Kathy and their children (oldest was 7) went to live in Budapest ten years ago. He rented a truck in Vienna and loaded up all their stuff. Kathy drove with the kids in the car he bought. They were separated at the border as trucks and cars were split up. They didn't know if the truck would get across. The superior inspector made his man try to look inside by making him crawl in the space of less than a foot between the top of the cargo and the roof. It was a futile effort. The inspectors shook their heads, but let the truck pass.
Michael only had a tourist visa for 30 days. The first day they moved in, he tried to burn some boxes in the fireplace, but it was fake and had no flu. Some neighbors came to their aid so they got to meet them right away. The landlord helped him get with some official that bounced them around the ministry of education. It didn't look good at first, but someone involved finally convinced the right guy that it would be good for the school and the country to make an exception to the rules and let this American attend school. He ended up with an independent research program in economics. A Christian professor in the US had prepared the whole plan with official looking documents and all. The Hungarians were quite impressed with it all. Mike had one economics class in high school, was a biology major in college! He got a one year student visa which was renewable annually for as long as he wanted.
- During our time in Bucharest, Josh had about 3,000 indicated decisions for Christ. (More accurate figures later.)(Actual was 4,500)
- As we were getting ready to get off the plane at Timisoara, I saw an old Mig on landing roll-out. He popped a drag chute. Then it taxied right past our plane on the ramp. I had no warning for either pass, so I wasn't able to get a picture.
- When the Lenin statue came down, a priest (who had been on a hunger strike trying to get it taken down) jumped up on the pedestal and held up a cross. I shot all this on video. Paul got slides. Later, we interviewed him on video and he was troubled that it took two days to take down the statue, but he had seen churches destroyed in a couple of hours. He talked with Josh last night and told him he prayed the prayer to receive Christ. Said he had never heard before that one could know God personally. He gave the cross he had held up to Josh. Josh brought the cross home but said he intends to return it in the future. Said he thought it belonged in the country.
- Tonight at the meeting there were "modified" Romanian flags. At some point, Ceausescu (or the communists?) added a crest or shield to the middle of their flag. This is the same symbol on the army hat insignia. Now the flags fly with a hole in the middle.
- At the airport, Josh talked about his reasons for working with Petra. (the Christian rock group he has toured with for the "Why Wait" campaign) People tell him Petra looks like the world. He replies that some churches won't let him speak without a coat and tie on - so he looks like a stock-broker or lawyer - like the world. Others say they sound like the world. He replies that Sandi Patti sounds like Barbara Streisand; Dave Boyer sounds like Frank Sinatra, so what does the world sound like? He also points out that Paul quoted pagan local philosophers as an opener to reach people. Bill Bright was really bothered at first. Told Josh he had set the ministry back 20 years. Josh said he'd like to set it back 2,000 years! Josh told him that Petra sings only songs based on scripture and will never sing a secular song while Crusade groups sing a lot of secular music to build bridges. Now Bill backs Josh on it. Josh said he gets lots of flak. Says the only reason Bill Gothard hasn't come out against him is that Josh has really gone to bat for Bill in the past to protect his reputation. Took a week off one time to investigate and help set the record straight.
- Had a great lunch today after not eating since lunch yesterday. Had some great donut-like things called "golush." Also fabulous bottled apple juice.
- Timisoara is more "Europe." Much nicer in every way than Bucharest.
3/9/90, Friday, Timisoara, Romania
- $90.00 for a pair of jeans on the street. No name brand.
- One Christian man we interviewed showed us a handful of Kalishnikov (AK-47) cartridge casings from his garden. He said, "why didn't they come in my house and shoot my family? (as they had others) Why did they leave? I have no gun. Only one weapon: the Sword of the Lord." He gave me one of the casings. (I wrote on it with indelible pen "Romanian Revolution, 12/89.")
- The signs that formerly stood on the rooftops of 4 student dorms said, "Vive Communist Party Romane." Students destroyed them the first day of the revolution and marched past these dorms to the center of town.
- One woman was troubled whether to go to the street or stay at home and pray. She saw what was happening and decided that this revolution must happen. She and some others prayed for hours that God would work a miracle for Romania. While they were praying, they could hear the first shots of the fighting.
- Electric tram repairmen were working on hot wires from a platform on top of a truck.
- Everything about Timisoara is nicer. Entire atmosphere is refreshing after the oppressive feel of Bucharest.
- Took a slide of guys with Silviu on a bridge who have a dream of doing Christian television in the future.
- Yesterday, Josh shared a story in a church about a little grey-haired man in Sydney, Australia named Mr. Jenner. A man named Peter Dixon from Britain was walking down George street one day when this little grey-haired man appeared out of nowhere and said, "excuse me, sir, may I ask you a question? I hope it doesn't embarrass you, but if you were to die tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity? The Bible says you must spend it either in heaven or hell. Think about that. Toodaleeloo!" Mr. Dixon went home and later received Christ and became a pastor. Years later he was traveling to a number of countries speaking. He told the story of the little grey-haired man on George street, the question, and "toodaleeloo!" In Adelaide and Perth he found people who said, "I am another," people who met the little grey-haired man and later received Christ. He found a missionary who had the same story. At a pastors conference in Britain he found a pastor who said, "I'm another." All over the world, Mr. Dixon found people who said, "I am another." Mr. Dixon went to Sydney and tried to find this man. He asked a Christian who said, "oh yes, everyone knows him. That's Mr. Jenner. He did that for years, but is now bedridden and going blind." Pastor Dixon asked to see the man and was taken to his bedside. Mr. Jenner was told of all the people who came to Christ after running into him on George street. The man listened and wept profusely. Pastor Dixon finally stopped and asked what was wrong. Mr. Jenner said he asked his question of people on George street for 23 years. He never once saw a single person come to Christ because of his ministry. This was the first time he had heard of anyone. And there were so many; pastors, missionaries. This man was faithful.
- The New Testament has 24,644 documented manuscripts. Second closest is the Iliad by Homer at 643. There is more evidence for the validity of the New Testament manuscripts than for any ten works of classical literature.
- Last night we had a great meal with soup, bread, fabulous bottled apple juice, and "golush." (like donuts)
- New Testament manuscripts go back to within 40 years. New Testament writers wrote eyewitness accounts. They appealed to the knowledge of their opponents. "You saw this too!" Eleven of the twelve disciples died martyrs. Many have died for a lie. But if the disciples did, they knew it was a lie. Many have died for a great cause, but the "great cause" of the disciples died on the cross before they did. The disciples signed their testimony in blood.
- Jewish leaders quit teaching the suffering Messiah, only the reigning Messiah. Disciples expected this. When Jesus was killed, so was their dream of reigning with Him. But they were changed in a few days. Because they saw him alive again. Hallucination has no external reference, but 500 people saw the same thing. Jesus ate food. Military historians say there is no comparison in bravery under persecution to the apostles. Once convinced, no one denied it unto death.
- Yugoslavian philosopher: He who would change the world must understand the fundamental problem, and that without error.
- While we were shooting Josh interviewing Silviu Rogobete in front of the cathedral, the candles flared up (there were hundreds laid down) and the cross and wreath caught fire. There were pictures of some of the people killed hanging on the cross. A couple of people reached into the flames and retrieved a couple of the photos.
- Silviu told us how they put the women and children out front thinking they surely wouldn't shoot them. But they opened fire and many women and children died at the steps of the cathedral. About thirty of them. The others fled into the park behind the cathedral. (more below)
- A nere-do-well type was begging in front of the cathedral. He showed me scars all over his abdomen and a gunshot wound on his leg. He had been sitting on a bench and the soldiers started shooting. Shrapnel from the bench tore up his abdomen. He took off running through the park. He showed us a bullet hole in a bench he ran past. Right near the bench he was hit in the leg and fell down. He got up and escaped through the park. He stayed at a friend's house. Said he could not go to the hospital or he would be shot. Silviu told us earlier that the army and secret police were fighting for control of the hospital (which was across a big open field from Silviu's apartment). The secret police were inside shooting the wounded in the head and burning the bodies to destroy the evidence of what they were doing. Anyway, another man thought this guy was shameful for showing the wounds on his body to a foreign cameraman. They started shouting and almost got into a fight. I started feeling very uncomfortable about this point and my "fight or flight" mechanism was rapidly going into flight mode. I wanted to get out of there and that's exactly what I did. They may have hollered after me, I'm not sure, but I was gone.
- Silviu said it was not clear who was who in the fighting. Example: they didn't know who actually shot the women and children because the army and securitate (secret police) wore the same uniforms. The first shooting in the square was before the army turned and joined the revolutionaries.
- A lieutenant colonel who is an MD was at the professor's meeting at the university here today. Another doctor, the "most respected surgeon," said today of Josh's messages here, "the seed is falling on good soil here."
- "Sin" was a greek word used in the Olympics in archery. When the arrow missed the mark, the judge yelled, "sin."
- Shot Josh and Silviu in the square. They had too many candles burning under the cross (in the background of our shot) and they all melted and - oops! - already wrote that. But got great close-ups of Silviu with flames all around him. Great symbolism.
- Had a fabulous time at Silviu's apartment talking and eating. He had a guitar and I sang "Blind Date" and "He Is No Fool" for him. He really liked them. We prayed together a couple of times. I promised I'd write. (I have a few times) He hugged me when we parted. We spoke of the hope of having our families together someday. We prayed for it to happen. I really hope it does. The experience reminded me of a scenario in a Sheldon Vanauken book. A simple but exquisitely delightful experience. By the way, the three Silviu counseled with tonight prayed to receive Christ. Got back to the hotel about 1:00 AM. We're supposed to leave about 3:00 to catch a 4:30 train at Arad to Budapest. What a great last day in Romania. I was ready to leave Bucharest, but I hate to leave here. I will never forget this day.
- I saw a bulletin board type sign in the park. It had pictures of perhaps one hundred faces of the dead. Couldn't take a picture because of the tense situation I mentioned earlier, almost a fight. I felt it prudent to get out of there and didn't get the shot.
- Silviu said that he and his wife and baby had to lay on the floor of the apartment for several days during the fighting. His neighbor had two bullets go past his head and hit the door frame across the room when he lifted his head to look out the window at the fighting at the nearby hospital. A soldier fired from right outside Silviu's door in a different incident.
- Saw Josh waiting for the elevator in the hotel. I gave him an extra sandwich from Silviu's. He was starving. A soldier walked up to us and offered us a couple of military hat insignia medals of the old Ceausescu army uniform for $10.00. I wanted one, but didn't have any money in my pocket. Josh decided to buy them and then turned to me and said, "have you got ten bucks?" He had the guy wait while he went up to his room for some money. I wanted one of those medals really badly, but he should have them. If it wasn't for Josh, I sure wouldn't have gotten to come on this trip
3/10/90, Budapest, Hungary, Buda Penta Hotel
- What a night last night. We left the hotel at 3:00 AM. Just before the bus was about to leave, I found out from Paul that the soldier in the lobby had lots of the hat medallions for sale. He loaned me $10.00 and I ran back, found the soldier, made a deal for an officer's medallion and a "sub-officer's" and ran back out to the bus. They were waiting for me and we took off. It was about an hour's ride to the Arad train station. Bus broke down half-way there. I was looking around waiting for the bandits to come out from behind the trees, thinking it might be a set-up. But the driver got the engine going again after we all prayed.
- The train station at Arad in the middle of the night was like a movie. In fact, the whole trip was like a movie. When the train finally came, we piled in, but most of the more experienced babushka ladies elbowed past us. Not only were our seats and every other seat taken, we couldn't even get near a seat for all the bodies. We barely got on the train. Standing "room" only. I told Paul we weren't exactly like sardines in a can. More like pickles in a jar. It was unbelievable. There wasn't even room to turn around. For the first 10 minutes or so I stood with my nose literally against the wall. The entire trip was five hours. We spent two and a half hours stopped at the border for the Romanian and Hungarian officials to come through and stamp everyone's passports.
The train was European style with seating compartments and a passageway along one side. Virtually our entire group of about 25 people stood the entire trip in the passageway. I did sit on the floor a couple of times with my knees against my chest and slept that way some. But people kept coming by all night long. Very inconvenient and uncomfortable because of the press. Where they were going, I don't know.
The view out the window, especially at the border at night, was like being in a World War II movie. The old trains in the yard and the soldiers walking by with machine guns in the harsh lights was right out of an Indiana Jones movie. Paul and I were getting pretty giddy from lack of sleep. It was a really uncomfortable situation, but an adventure nonetheless. I started in to joking and laughing about just about everything and everybody. As the soldiers walked by I was struck by the likeness to the old "Hogan's Heros" TV show. Every time one would come by I'd hum the song from "Hogan's Heros" automatically. It was really funny at the time, but I got a little too loud once. Paul was afraid I'd make the guard mad.
- We made it, finally. (12/17/91 I'm remembering another scenario I didn't write about originally. Josh seemed to have boundless energy on this trip and I recall feeling like I had to hustle to keep up with him. Well, somehow, he and his daughter, Kelly, and I think Duane Zook or one of his guys got seats in a compartment in the first class section of the train. They had a wonderful, restful trip. When we all piled out of the train, most of us ready to drop dead, Josh was saying something like, "Wasn't that a great trip? Let's go see the city!" After using our best "if looks could kill" glare, most of us looked at each other in disbelief. For most of us it had been the worst transportation experience of our lives. Paul Read had been on the notorious trains in India and told me he had never experienced anything that bad.)
- Got to the hotel Buda Penta. They gave Paul and I the day off. Didn't even have to go to the afternoon meeting. We were exceedingly grateful. Even though we were dog tired, we decided this might be our only chance to ever see Budapest, so we'd better see it. We got a few tips on where to go from Kathy Uno (who lived here for about eight years) and took off in a taxi. Bought some souvenirs (sweatshirt, little boxes, one wood with a copper top and one small embroidered one, leather coasters, ceramic candle holder) Ate venison with game sauce at the "100 year old restaurant." Took pictures of the castle, etc. along the Danube. Had Luciano (a cream cheese (I think) and blackberry pie) and cappucino. Delicious. Really delightful. Shopped more. Took more pictures. Then back to the hotel. We eat again with the group at a seafood place in an hour! This was a great day off! We would have felt guilty about not getting pictures of Budapest while we were here, but Mike and Ron got a lot when they were here last year. Besides, it was overcast and video would have looked pretty bad anyway.
- I must bring Esther to Europe. Even though I have been working hard, I have experienced moments of the lifestyle of leisure and pure delight in simple pleasures like we have read about in Sheldon Vanauken's books. She would love this place. Budapest is bigger and nicer in every way than Romania. It is quite westernized. Paul tells me the feel is just like western Europe. Esther would love to visit here. But just for vacation, not for work. This has been a great trip, but grueling physically. We missed many meals in Romania, for 24 hours one time. Very little sleep. All night standing on the train. Esther literally would not have made it on this trip. Paul and I barely did, though of course, we had a lot of work to do in a short time and we really pushed. In three days in Bucharest and two days in Timisoara (including travel in between) we shot 14.5 hours of tape (29 half-hour cassettes). I got a good flavor of Europe - east and west -on this trip, but this is a place for adults to come and relax, not work! I think little kids would find it pretty dull.
- Had an interesting discussion with Kathy Uno last night. She had expressed a rather strong opinion earlier in the afternoon about Frank Perretti's books (This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, the second of which I read on the trip.) Her experience in Germany was that her friends were displaying a sort of spiritual McCarthyism - seeing demons behind every rock - after reading the books. She decided not to read them because of this. Didn't want to have to work at checking to see if things lined up with scripture all the way through. I thought about that and later shared about being in Papua New Guinea around a lot of demonic activity and contrasted that to the lack of real awareness of spiritual warfare in the US. I suggested that though Perretti goes pretty far to paint a picture of the way angels and demons may possibly function in our world, a picture that is admittedly extra-scriptural, his doing so is perhaps a balancing factor to help swing the pendulum of awareness in this area to a more balanced position and make people see the need to pray and be aware of these things. I shared how my friends who have read one or both books were driven to their knees. She thanked me for the insight.
- Mike and Kathy were talking on the bus about some of their experiences in ministry in Budapest. One time the Christian students were putting up posters supporting a political candidate who favored their views. Just before the election, strong winds blew down all the posters except the ones they had put up. Their man won.
- Another time their new disciples were deep into studying Paul and Silas when several were called in by the police. They were boldly ready to go to jail and did for a short while. The police couldn't agree on what to charge them with. The attitude of the guys was that these police were wimps. They were ready for torture, but weren't even beaten. The kicker was that just before they were released, there was an earthquake! The first recorded earthquake ever in Hungary!
3/11/90, Malev flight MA520, Budapest to Frankfurt
- Malev is the Hungarian national airline. This is another Tupolev, but newer than the Tarom planes. This is a model TU 154B-2L. Interior is the same, only newer. Same colors. But this thing inspires a lot more confidence!
- Budapest was marvelous! What a wonderful way to end an unforgettable trip. Last night we rode through misty brick streets up the hill to the cathedral. Went inside and saw it. A king is buried in there. We ate dinner at the Fisherman's Bastion (Halaszbastya). It is in the cellar, probably an old barracks, under a parapet along the ramparts surrounding the cathedral. Outside one could look down from a turret at the lights along the Danube. It was like a storybook. Inside was delightful. A little group played folk music all evening - two fiddles, a string bass, and an instrument like a small piano without keys that the musician played by hitting the strings (groups of 3 or 4 for ea. note) with little mallets. A family was eating there and they all took turns doing folk dances all night. Christie from World Wide Challenge magazine pointed at Rebbeca Chaney and one of the dancers pulled her to her feet and wheeled her around the floor. (a very small space) Everyone clapped along. She was totally embarrassed and held her hand over her mouth. She wouldn't have moved, but the guy kept swinging her around. We all howled with laughter. The locals thought it was really funny too. It was great! The WWC girls joined Paul and I for desert. Had delicious cherry cobbler and espresso. Delish! Afterward, Paul took some time exposures of the cathedral and ramparts outside.
- Back in Bucharest one night a hooker jumped on the elevator with Paul and I. She had been drinking and was quite repulsive actually. She asked us if we would like to invite her up to our room. We said, "no, thank you." Her reply was hilarious. "Oh, you think I am not a good girl?! You think I have not character? I have good character! Well, maybe sometimes not so much." The elevator made a stop and she got off. Paul and I laughed all the way back to our room.
- In Budapest I picked up two little wooden boxes with copper lids beaten over a mold to emboss a scene (gave one of these to my Mom at the airport in Chicago during layover on the way home to CA.) Also a tiny oval box with a flower embroidered on the lid (similar to larger, very expensive ones they are known for), a white "Budapest" sweatshirt, a blue ceramic candle holder that looks somewhat like Dutch blue delft. Also picked up the corkscrew and bottle opener in our hotel room.
- At the meal last night, Paul and I were basking in the pleasure of experiencing real folk culture. It was no pre-packaged tourist show. It was the real thing. Just delightful. I absolutely must get Esther to Europe. I always have had a desire to get over here out of pure curiosity. Now I think I may be falling in love with the place. At least to visit.
3/11/90, Lufthansa flight LH430, Frankfurt to Chicago
- Facts from Bucharest:
Total statistics from all meetings (one with faculty, two nights at sports arena Sala Polivalenta): 6600 turned in response cards. Of these, 4500 indicated decisions to receive Christ. Of the 6600, 1600 were students. 1100 of these students indicated decisions to receive Christ.
- Romanian words:
Teyobesk - I love you
Da, Nu - Yes, No
Plecatz - go away, useful for gypsy beggar kids
Sala - hall
Mutsu Mesk - Thank you
- Tarom = Romanian Natl. Airline = Transport Aeronautical Romaine also known as "Terror Airlines"
- Malev = Hungarian Natl. Airline = Malesh Airline (Arabic for "it doesn't matter")
- Had a great layover in Frankfurt. Had about two hours. Picked up a little blue metal Matchbox jet plane for Nathan. It was something I could have gotten at home, but I really haven't been able to find anything for him on this trip. Just lots of stuff for girls and grown-ups. I know I loved it when my Dad brought me something like a toy plane. I didn't care if it didn't come from the place he visited. I guess the little wooden mug I had gotten for him will go on our shelf now. Since I bought it for him, maybe I'll give it to him after he grows up and will value it. (I gave it to him right away and he still has it on his shelf of really good stuff two years later.) Also bought a ceramic thimble for about $10.00. It says "Democratic Republic of Germany" in German.
- The best part of the stop was getting out onto the observation "terrace" and into the "gallery." One of the guys volunteered to watch our carry-on stuff including the Betacam. Took me a while to find it. I had one hour before the plane was supposed to leave, so I gave myself one half hour. Had to wait in a security line. Then found out I needed 4 marks to get in. I had only dollars and the attendant said I had to go change money. Fortunately, a young German with his girlfriend offered to help me and I gave him $3.00 for a 5 DM coin. So, I ended up with one Duetchmark coin for a souvenir. Photographed an Aeroflot plane close-up. You can walk all around two of the 3 concourses on the observation deck. There are some old planes on display at several locations. Photographed a Heinkel HE111 (similar look to the DeHavilland Mosquito), also a Fiat fighter similar to the Super Sabre, and an old Russian biplane, an AN-2. (like the one I was to fly in Novgorod, Russia two years later.) Inside I shot the little Messerschmidt rocket plane and Mess. and Dornier civilian planes. Had to run a lot to see everything. Got to the gate just as the last of our group was boarding. The guy carrying some of our stuff left our German souvenirs at the X-ray machine. Fortunately we still had 15 minutes left before the plane left. Kevin went back and found them, fortunately.
- Exchange rates on this trip:
Romania - $1.00 = 21 Lei (official), 100 Lei (on the street)
(The Lei is a "soft" currency. You can't buy an airline ticket with it.)
Hungary - $1.00 = about 60 Forint
Germany - $1.00 = 1.62 Duetchmarks
- I spent about $100.00 on stuff all together. Only brought $40 to be disciplined with the budget. But, Paul kept loaning me more! Oh, well. I don't think I'll be sorry.
- Just noticed that the seats on this plane were made by Recaro. A lot of class in Europe!
3/12/90, Back home in California
A few thoughts remembered:
- Michael and Kathy Uno. Mike is Japanese American. Kathy, I understand, is Romanian. They lived in the States for quite a while. Kathy was a student activist during the late 60's. These people are dyed-in-the-wool radicals. For the last 10 years they have been radicals for Christ in Eastern Europe. What a pair. This family truely embodies the missionary spirit in my book. They faced many fearful and quite dangerous situations. (smuggling Bibles, etc.) They had sick kids. They thought one of their boys was going to die for about a year. But God provided doctors and medicine through remarkable and unlikely situations. God had really taken care of this family. Kathy said she is almost 40. She looks like 30. Now, they see the doctors and hair dressers in Budapest on trips from their current home in Germany because they like them and they're cheaper.
3/15/90, Back home
I remembered a few more things about the secret police, the "Securitate," that I hadn't written down. Due to Ceausescu's insistance and law that every family have at least 5 children, there were many children born that the parents were unable to feed. Thus, there were "orphanages" that cared for these. We visited one orphanage in Bucharest which had 450 children. They told us that these were not true orphans, but that their parents could not care for them. Ceausescu recruited his secret police from the orphanages. They were raised from babies to be his henchmen. He became a father figure to these men and instilled in them a Svengali-type of fierce loyalty. They kept on fighting for him even after he was dead.
- It had been rumored for years that the Securitate had tunnels beneath the streets of Bucharest because they could appear suddenly out of nowhere. After the revolution started, the army discovered the entrance to a tunnel system under the palace. They didn't go into them at first for fear of ambush. Eventually they found entrances in many more buildings and got an idea of how the whole system was laid out. They finally did go through the tunnels and the last battles with the Securitate were fought down there. They found an entire city in the tunnels with barracks, supply caches, dining areas, offices, etc.
12/17/91, Orlando, Florida (now home)
- As I'm completing a long held goal of getting this journal typed into a computer, I'm remembering another of the remarkable stories I heard in Romania. Silviu Rogobete was and still is, I believe, actually CCC staff, although officially there were none there and I wasn't supposed to talk about it. For this reason I didn't even put it in the journal. With the dismantling of communism in all of eastern Europe now, that sensitivity isn't all that necessary. Anyway, he told me this remarkable story. It seems that Ceausescu was really annoyed at pastor Tokesh's rumblings in Timisoara and he really hated Christians anyway. He blamed all the problems in the country on them. He called his henchmen together and asked them to come up with a plan to eliminate all the Christians in the country. They said that the Christians would be gathering in groups on Christmas and so Ceausescu decided that on Christmas day he would have his Securitate kill as many Christians as they could find. Well, as you know, the revolution blew up in his face, fomented by the Christians in Timisoara, before he could implement this plan. He was executed with his wife by his own army on Christmas day. I was immediately reminded of Haman and his plot to kill the Jews in the book of Esther and how he was hanged on the 75-foot gallows he had ordered built for Mordecai.
EVENTS OF THE 1989 ROMANIAN REVOLUTION
December 14th Christians gathered at Pastor Tokish's home in downtown Timisoara, in the far western part of the country. Ceausescu had made Tokish go there because he was considered trouble in Bucharest. The stirrings in Timisoara caused Ceausescu to order him removed to an even more remote place where hardly anyone lived. The soldiers were sent to take him there when he refused to go. (in same building that housed the church)
15th and 16th People blocked the entrance to the building. Soldiers were so surprised by the unheard-of resistance that they kept leaving and coming back.
17th Two lines of soldiers finally forced their way through and picked up Tokish and his wife. Tokish was taken to the remote town and placed under house arrest, where he waited out the events of the following 10 days. People went out into the city and drew others to the square. Fire truck sprayed water on people, was pushed over (full of water) by crowd and toppled off bridge into the river. Students tore down signs on dorm rooftops at university which said in huge letters, one word perbuilding: "Vive Communist Party Romaine." Christians prayed for the revolution to happen.
18th Sunday afternoon, shooting started in the square.
18th to 20th Crowds kept reassembling in the square after each massacre, 14,000 died. Silviu spent these 3 days lying on the floor of his apartment with his wife and baby. Snipers were in gardens shooting people on the streets. Wounded at the hospital were shot and their bodies burned.
20th Army turned against the Secruitate.
20th to 23rd Quiet in Timisoara, fighting in Bucharest and other places.
23rd Ceausescu fled by helicopter from the downtown palace.
24th He was found in the evening. His helicopter pilot betrayed him.
25th He and his wife were tried and executed by firing squad. Their bodies were shown on television. (I later saw a photo published in a French magazine. They were riddled with hundreds of holes. Capital punishment was then outlawed. All this on Christmas day, the day his plan was to have exterminated all the Christians in the country that could be found. During the trial, it was revealed that the Securitate had been working on a plan to install microphones in every household, 10,000,000 of them. There was rotation planned to listen in on every family at least once every year. My Romanian-American friend, Vasile Guilea, told me that they were able to listen through the phones.
Copyright ©1998 by Dan Philgreen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED