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Your prayers will make a difference.

FEBRUARY, 1993. I think it has finally happened, the cold weather is here. We have had almost the whole month of January as a reprieve from the cold, and now it is turning cold. The high today was twenty-two degrees Fahrenheit with a low of six degrees Fahrenheit. The rest of the month it has been in the 30s, 40s and sometimes even the 50s during the day! This month we have been busy living, studying, and practising our language. My shopping highlight for the month was that I found a meat market here that had beef. Yes!, and I can recognize the cuts! The first night we had hamburger and the next day we had a roast! Talk about major excitement! The shop is private and the butcher has spent a year or so in the States and knows the purpose of cleanliness. His whole shop is clean and the staff have on clean clothes. It really is exciting. Two weeks ago we went to a small village about twenty-five minutes from here. We arrived in the afternoon, had a meal and visited friends of the pastor. The pastor that has been working on the electric meter in our house invited us to his village for an afternoon. Finishel has a very small Pentecostal church built by some Christians from Holland. We sang with the accompaniment of an accordion, clarinet, and an electric keyboard. The 'short' evening service turned into three hours, after which we had a fast supper and were home by 11.30 p.m. Before dark a group of us walked up to the top of a high hill with the musical instruments and sang praise songs. Talk about a high! The villagers sing out with gusto! The wind was blowing softly, the praise to God and the beautiful view of this small village was really awesome.

On a more spiritual plane. Jackie and I were able to see 'Tootsie' the movie, last week and it was as funny as it was the first two times I saw it! The Baptist church is showing American movies on Saturday night for the kids or whoever would like to practise their English, or just see a movie. What a treat! We hope to see some more movies occasionally. The longer we are here the more we find to do and the busier we get. We have been invited to attend the Baptist Women Bible study which meets once a month. The women do have a lot of meetings and they really have no idea what to do as 'a group'. It had been prohibited for so long that most women just sit and wait for the leader to speak. They listen politely and then go home.

March, 1993. Language study for me is starting to make sense and I am finally starting to use more than three or four word sentences. I'm not always correct, but most of my sentences can be understood! It's so exciting to get beyond the third grade intellectually. We have been blessed with a very warm winter, for Romania. Only a few days below ten degrees Fahrenheit. Lots of days of twenty degrees Fahrenheit and that is fine. The house stays warm at those temperatures and we can even cook, because we have enough gas. One evening I came home and found our meat loaf cooking in 'soba', a wood-burning stove. The gas stopped halfway through the meat loaf and Jackie had to push the wood out of the way and finish cooking the meal on coals.

The really exciting news is that we have found the area we feel God has led us to work in for the next two years. I will move to a smaller town two-and-a-half hours northeast of Bucharest. The town is Curtea de Arges. When the proposal is accepted by the appropriate agencies involved, I can let you all know what my exact plans will be. For now I can say that I hope to have a two-pronged attack on nursing education. First, I will work on education for current nurses in hospitals, and secondly, I will work with the nursing schools to implement standardization and a higher quality of professionalism into the nursing programmes. Under Communism, ethics and moral values were eliminated and the result is now a system of pay-offs and bribes. One must pay for a bath, for good food, for the prescribed medication, for the appropriate surgery, and so on. Without money one can die or at the very least go unattended. The nurses want to change, but most do not know the cost that change would bring. For some the loss of the extra money will be a decrease in food for the already meagre meals they serve their families. Life is cheap and Communism teaches that we are all only as good as what we can do for the state. The same 'state' walked off with four hundred million dollars and put it in a Swiss bank account somewhere. If the state had put the people's money back into the economy, they would not be where they are today.

I feel very strongly that Christian principles and concepts introduced into the educational system can benefit the nurses and the patients, as well as the country as a whole. I will be working with a group of Romanian nurses that are totally committed to upgrading the nursing standards. The nursing administrator at the hospital is also very open to my help at this point, but all of this will take lots of constant prayer. I will be working in an area that has been Satan's and he will not give up without a fight. Our mail service is pretty good now, so good in fact that they are opening some of our mail to make sure that we are not spies. I know of only one letter that has not got through. April, 1993. Things are happening fast now. I feel I have stepped back into the States. We are still taking language classes and will be for two more months. In June I will move to Curtea de Arges (CDA), and begin work at the hospital with the assistant director setting up in-service education for the nurses. An American doctor did a feasibility study in the emergency room and trained some of the physicians in current emergency room treatment. While the physicians are very eager and excited, they run into problems as they try to implement the procedures -- even the simple ones -- without equipment and medication. Other physicians and departments will be invited to come in to evaluate, train and leave information with me to teach the nurses. In conjunction with this, I will be working with the Romanian Nurses Association to standardize the programmes and education in the current nursing schools. There is now a large discrepancy in what the graduates can do with the knowledge they have. There is no licensing.

Emotionally caring about a patient is a new concept for the Romanians. In the past, caring for a person outside the immediate family was dangerous. If one became involved in any way with a person, it could actually involve interrogations and beatings if that person turned out to be a 'danger' to the State. Our teacher told us of an incident where the authorities came to her class and harassed her about a student. Where was he? Why did he leave? What did he talk to her about, etc.? She didn't even know the person. They didn't bother her long. Because to mess with Alina is like tackling a bear. She is one awesome woman -- big and tough. I feel very strongly that nursing is a calling and a skilled profession. In the past and today, it has not been treated as anything but a job for the semi-skilled Romanian woman in the workplace. Salaries are so bad that nurses ask for bribes to do anything for their patient. That includes fresh water, a bath, dispensing prescribed medication, bed change, and so on. Most registered nurses would not stoop to physical care for their patient, that is for the 'Sora', or less trained medical person. I think we have a long way to go. As with anyone, change is difficult. Since their pride is involved, it is difficult for them to realize they are wrong. The Romanians are a very proud people, and so much has been taken from them that they hang on to their knowledge and education. To admit they are wrong leaves very little for them to base their feelings of self-worth. They need to have some feelings of self-worth; if they feel worthless, they will act worthless. Through the classes I hope to be able to strengthen their knowledge of who they are in Christ. About ninety-nine per cent of the women are Christians. I read a quote from a Romanian nurse recently. She said: 'I get up in the morning, I care for my children, I care for my husband, I care for my husband's parents, I care for my parents, and now you want me to care for a stranger. I don't have the energy'. She is so right. The diet has been, and still is, poor and they lack energy. Add to that the fact that most working mothers in this country are lucky to get six hours sleep a night. They must shop on a daily basis, for the refrigeration is poor and they use no preservatives. The women go to work at six and work till two, stop on the way home and go to three or four stores to find what they need, go home and prepare everything from scratch! Even the mayonnaise, if she is lucky enough to have an egg. Once or twice a week she must wash clothes. Many have washers, but you need to add water, set the spin cycle, and move clothes from one tub to another. No-one has a dryer. All clothes are hung to dry. For some it is a line outside and for others it may be on lines in the kitchen or bathroom. It was not uncommon to go down the street on the colder days and see long icicles hanging from clothes. In the summer months there is canning, mending and tending the garden if you are lucky enough to have a plot of land. It sounds bleak, but the people really are fairly content with what they have.

They obviously would like to have more and for a while things were getting better, but now the government is out of money. In May, we heard that all of the products that are artificially kept low by the government will go to their real cost. Gas prices are supposed to triple and food is supposed to increase greatly. Some hospitals do not have IV solutions and pharmaceutical companies are not being paid. So how long will the country have medication? Some State employees, judges, etc., are not receiving pay cheques any more. People are continuing with their daily tasks, but they have gone through so much it's almost as if they are numb. Everyone thought that freedom was so great and things would be so easy, and no-one wanted to work. Now they are realizing that they must work. Some know where to start and some are waiting for the West to come in and 'do' something. Some people are starting businesses. There is so much more available for the people, if they can afford it. Amid all the rising prices and lack of some products, we have had bananas and kiwi all winter. How strange they are. I do hope the government can reverse the 'negative cash flow' soon, because I see so much progress in some areas. Business is not one of the areas.

May, 1993. This has been a rather busy month and I have so much to say, I hope I can keep this short enough to keep it from being a book. To start with I am fine, 'forty-fine' as the Romanians say. Spring is really here and just beautiful. The nights are in the mid 40s and 50s and the day time temperatures are in the 80s. The breeze is fairly constant and keeps the leaves on the trees constantly rustling -- it's so relaxing. Spring starts here with white flowers on everything. It seems as if the white flowers were painted on everything overnight. All of a sudden the whole world is white and the soft breezes blow the grey pollution away from the town and we have blue sky. I can see the town clearly now from our house and have watched the world go from all white to bright spring green with white. The lilac trees are blooming this week and so we have several shades of purple dotting the landscape. The tulips are blooming everywhere and we can now get all kinds of flowers for less than 100 lei -- less than twenty cents. It's as if nature is trying to cover up all of the dirt and litter on the land. No one has been taught much about pollution here. The main emphasis is on staying alive, and now it's on coping with a four hundred per cent or five hundred per cent inflation. May 1st was another trauma for the Romanians. Most of the 260 state subsidized products became unsubsidized. Things like milk, bread, and meat doubled and tripled in price. This will affect all of the other products that use these products; i.e. the people feed their pigs bread, so the price of pork will go up and the price of gas |petrol~ for transportation. For about a week and a half there was no meat for sale, 'while the price of meat adjusted'. The general population seems fairly relaxed now, but I would be up in arms. Higher prices and no more pay cheques. You can see why the people really don't want to work very hard when they go to their jobs. Work production goes down, the quality becomes poorer and there is more theft from the job. The old Communist mentality is still alive and well. Our language teacher quit teaching in mid-May, so I will be going to Curtea de Arges the week of May 17th. My new flat is quite nice and I will live over a Turkish bakery -- sounds good to me. As I move in and try out the water system, the appliances and the things that we take for granted, I will let you know how everything goes. Last weekend Jackie and I were invited to go on an excursion with the university students to see a cave. Sounds great, we thought. Wrong! When we picture a cave, we think of nice walkways with lights and places to buy postcards and candy bars right? Well, this was not a place to buy postcards, and that is just a start. The walkways were under ice and slush. Since the village where we stayed had no electricity, it would be a fair assumption that the cave had no lights. That assumption is correct. Running water was only springs; we did stop and drink a couple of times. The water was great and so clear. The name of this particular cave was the Ice Cave, and it was well named. We descended down a mountain and I was reminded of Pat Boone descending to the Centre of the Earth. Where was he when I needed him? Our professor's husband, director of the Geology Department at the university, was our guide and director -- an expert at this I should add. Pepi is a tall thin man that is amazingly spry for his sixty-eight years. As we descended the hundreds of small steps, I noticed the temperature dropping, as we neared the huge entrance to the cave we found five or six feet of snow on either side of the steps. Snow even covered the rail at times -- when there was a handrail. By now the nausea was ebbing and flowing. I would have kept my eyes closed except that I felt a need to know where I was going.

Inside the cave was so lovely that I felt all right. The huge cavern had an ice floor, with ice stalagmites and stalactites. Everything was crystalized and reflected the light. It was beautiful. Then real terror came. To get to the rest of the cave we had to descend about fifty metres down a six-inch ladder. Crawling over the edge of the ice on the swinging ladder was all the fun I wanted to have for awhile. When I got to the bottom and found that I could not stand on the slanting ice, I figured it was all over for me. I had used up my quota of fear and said: 'I quit. Beam me up Scottie'. Jackie, another American named Sandy and I just quit. American reputation or not we were not going any further. We knew the bottom of the cave was one hundred and fifty metres, not understanding that much of the talk we did not know what lay ahead. Three of the university boys noticed we did not want to go any further and they started talking to us about the rest of the descent. After a few minutes, Pepi came back and told us that the worst had past and the best was yet to come. They were so insistent that we finally gave up and decided to continue. We were so glad we did. The ice was soon replaced by regular rocks, just like the Superstitions, and the rest was terrific. We went through places where we had to manoeuvre by crawling, but it was great. In one area Pepi played one of Beethoven's melodies on the different sounding stalagmites. The cave was truly awesome, and it was amazing to see some of God's handiwork that I had never seen before, and I doubt that I will ever see it again. I did take some pictures, but I don't know how many I got, for sometimes I was in the dark. We started down the first descent at about 5.00 p.m. and we came out at 11.15 p.m. What a hike. June, 1993. I am alive and well, despite any rumours to the contrary. I am really enjoying my new town and my work. Every day is an adventure. I am learning to make my way around the town and can find the 'Spital', and the main shopping area. Rumour has it that there is brown sugar in town, but so far it has eluded me. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I go to the 'Spital' here in Curtea de Arges (CDA) and so far I am working in OB/GYN (obstetrics and gynaecology), the Nursery, and Family Planning areas. I will probably start with the surgery area next. So far, they are just getting to know me, and I them. We are talking and sharing common work problems. God has really opened some doors for me and I have some real supporters in the hospital. The assistant director is so helpful and kind. He toured the hospital with me and gave me such a nice introduction that they are really co-operating nicely with me! That really is a praise. After I had an opportunity to work and speak with the majority of the nurses, I will know more about what they want and what they need. I will set up a formal class, but most of my time will be working with the nurses, as I keep hearing 'we are too busy to go to the class'. In Bucharest, I will be working at the 'Spital' for Infectious Diseases, but they have all illnesses. When my director heard that I will help teach in the School of Nursing in Bucharest, he was very excited. Everything from Bucharest is one hundred per cent ok. The new school is working closely with the Romanian Nurses Association, the other group I am going to be working with. The Nursing School is currently funded by aid from England, but I'm not sure that the commitment is strong enough to keep it going. It would be a shame to go for three years and then shut down the school due to a lack of funds. The school is really very good and progressive. The students and some hospitals throughout the country are currently making large poster-type sheets with basic information and are putting the posters up in the hospitals. I was at a conference last week and the 'new' information was displayed in this fashion. The Romanians love to see the information sheets and they read and assimilate the information. I brought a couple of the poster boards back to CDA and they wanted to put them up on the walls in the hospital! Each day that I go to the hospital in Bucharest I find more exciting things to do. We are also starting to work on educational information for married women on various types of birth control products available. I am working with World Vision and we hope to have a Family Planning Centre going in a few months. The only way it will work is for someone like World Vision to help with some finances. Currently, the Romanian government is not supplying birth control products to the clinic. I have to gather information for the Pediatric Department and hope to get one of the pediatricians to a two-week conference in September. The information will be basic, yet advanced for the new-born nursery. When the physicians are trained in the newer methods, the nurses will be able to implement the new practices. The physicians will not accept the nurses without training and education. Last week in the hospital I had two new experiences: one was with life, and one with death. My first was that I got to help with a delivery, and I now have a new respect for the child birthing process and the true strength of women. I was on my way to see a minor procedure and we stopped to do an exam on a woman who had come in pre-term labour. The doctor listened for a second and said: 'I don't hear anything'. She did the exam and said: 'breech', and we immediately got the patient up, and walked her down the hall a hundred feet to the delivery room. She hopped up on the table and the doctor realized that the water around the baby was green -- not a good sign, but neither were the other two signs. A nurse started the IV and oxygen and started telling the patient to push with the contractions. With three good contractions, the baby's bottom was out and we saw the problems. The cord was tightly wrapped around the body. One more contraction and we found two more loops of the cord around the body and two loops around the neck. That doctor really was working fast. One more push and the baby was out, and with very little work the baby started to cry. I couldn't believe it! What a miracle!

But then all efforts stopped. They placed the baby on the cold table in a loose wrap and sauntered off to get the nursery staff. The doctor looked somewhat surprised when I wanted to put oxygen on the baby, but she did not allow it. I kept rubbing the baby to make him cry and expand the lungs. I don't think the doctor liked that at all. I think I was usurping the nursery area of authority. We are back to the communist mentality. Everyone does his defined job, and no one steps over the line or makes an exception. There is no reason important enough to make anyone think about changing. Life is expedient, so it can cease to be, but the rules must not be broken. Maybe team building skills should be a topic to be covered in the classroom. We could probably cover flexible and creative thinking, also. I visited the baby over the next several days and he really looks good. I think he is about four-and-a-half pounds, and gaining weight. Thank you Lord. The mom got a few stitches and walked out of the delivery room on her own steam, but barely. The doctors kept telling her to be good when she felt like fainting. We didn't wheel her out because the hospital has no wheelchairs, or if they do, I haven't seen them. The next day I was invited to see a 'preemie' of one kilo! She was about two-and-three-quarter pounds. She was placed in the isolate, without heat and had an oxygen tube placed by her nose. They gave her 10 cc of IV solution and medications at one time (a whole lot more than was good for her), and said that they would probably feed her later. Her biggest problem was that she was a gypsy baby and why care? As I watched her struggle for two days to live, my eyes filled with tears. They were amazed. I can see that with no medication or equipment they got tired of watching babies and adults die. I am sure they are trying to protect themselves from the pain caused by strangers, and yet I know that Christ cares for all of the people -- adults or children.

July-August, 1993. I'm moved in and settled. I now have all of my appliances. Yeah! The hot water heater gives me lots of hot water and the washer washes my clothes, just like home. One needs to stay right by the washer, and I'm glad that I can do something else as I wash. I can't leave though because the spin cycle is rather brutal on the walls and floor. I lay my body across the washer as it spins and hold on till one of us gets tired. Usually the machine wins and I turn it off, but it is better than no spin and wet clothes. My work at the hospital is growing. At least I have had lots of strong coffee with a lot of people! I ask to go into an area and speak with the nurses. We drink coffee -- this happens three or four times and then we can get down to the real talking. I am really learning to like one spoon of instant coffee with one spoon of sugar and two ounces of hot water. It does get your heart to beating. I'm awake! That is especially important in the morning hours. I have one nurse in the Emergency Room that I feel I can trust. In some instances I have heard that the supplies are in the local piata for sale. Sometimes the physician sells the supplies to the patient! Or maybe the nurse will sell them. If I had a family at home that was hungry, and I had a means of making money, I really don't know what I would do. I find it very difficult to be upset with the way things are. I cannot be their judge. The behaviour is wrong but they started doing it for the right reasons -- their family and their lives. I would hate to make the decisions that they face each and every day. So far I am comfortable in the new-born nursery, as well as the family planning area and the operating room. The Director said I could have my own office -- but I haven't seen it yet. The Farmer's Fair is over and I have taken almost five hundred blood pressures. Are my ears a little sore or what? Next year I hope that I can get nurses from the hospital to do this. This is a part of Community Education, and for the most part, the Romanian nurses have no concept of why it is necessary and what it really could do. The fear keeps them from stepping out and taking on a new project. Fear of not being perfect, and the fear of failure are so strong they are immobilized by them. So many years of destructive development to undo and so little time to start the process. It was very strange to see the people's eyes as I gave them the reading, they were so apprehensive until I would tell them it was ok. Just like small children. Everyone wanted the perfect blood pressure 120/80, or 12/8 as they say in Romania. About ninety per cent of the people were lower than that and were so worried! When I would say they are very good with a lower level they really smile and are proud of their blood pressure. They are so frightened by the fact that they might have an abnormal blood pressure that I am sure they elevated it in some instances. I usually gave them a lower reading. I find it is so different from the way we think of ourselves. They have been taught to feel responsible for the rate of their own blood pressure. If it is not exactly one certain number, they are ill and ashamed. To take a blood pressure for free drew a huge crowd and a big surprise for many. Even though my sign said free blood pressure they frequently asked just to make sure. Again, community involvement is such a new idea. What opportunities lie ahead! I have all the booklets aimed at high blood pressure, eating low fat foods, no smoking, the correct food to eat and so on. Well much to my surprise, the majority of the blood pressures were low -- boy did I shift fast! I took about thirty or forty the first hour and started to think about a new speech. Almost all of the pressures are low. They remained very low for the rest of the fair. What a surprise! Most of the men aged sixteen to sixty are 110/70. Very few are higher than normal. I think I found five elevated blood pressures on the last day when I took two hundred and ten blood pressures. It must be the exercise and the slow pace. They have a terrible diet, according to any association we have ever heard of. They smoke and drink far too much tuican (plum brandy). They seldom get enough rest and yet the pressures are below normal. The really different factor is the amount of hard work and the walking. They walk everywhere, and work very hard all of the time. If the TV needs to be repaired, two men put it in a blanket and carry it to the shop -- usually on the bus. The ploughing and harvesting is done with a horse and a pitch fork. Gardens are worked by hand, and grass is cut by hand, with a sickle. Well I must run now. Work is going well and I translated for three days when a visiting physician came to help evaluate the operating room. It was great! In Christ's Service, Kay.
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Title Annotation:part 2; missionary work in Romania
Author:Wagoner, Kay
Publication:Contemporary Review
Date:Jan 1, 1994
Words:5194
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