Tag Archives: poverty

You Will Always Have the Poor

The other day, we were taking soup to the homeless when a man approached us.  He told us, “Come with me.  There is a family that is very poor.  Many people visit them and give them clothes.  You can even take pictures of them.”  That really bothered me.  Take pictures of them… like they’re monkeys in a zoo and not people, like all I cared to do was get my “feed the homeless” badge and then be on my way, like their value was about as much as the time it would take for a  couple photos…

When we arrived, we found a house in shambles but all the kids decently-dressed and looking mostly well-fed.  They gladly received hot soup and prayer, but the whole time I felt like they saw me as nothing more than a visitor taking pictures at the zoo.  (We didn’t take any photos, just so you know.  None of us remembered our cameras.)

Before moving to Bucharest, I lived in Spring Green, a fairly well-off small town and tourist location in south-west Wisconsin.  Sure, the median income is lower here than in a big city, but so are the expenses.  A few people had difficulty paying bills each month, and some families were ruined by alcohol, but most people had a place to live and a car even if they didn’t have a job.  And there’s the town food pantry that helps out once every month for anyone in the area or outlying towns that might need it.  (Of course, more than a few times I remember seeing a young, healthy family drive up in their recently-washed sports car to come get some “assistance.”)

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Welcome to Barbuleşti

Barbuleşti is a strange town.  Twenty years ago, it was called the “Gypsy ghetto” of Romania and was home to all sorts of “unsavory” characters.  Over time and through a combination of revival, police action, and simple old age, the most notorious have since left the town.  Now, it’s an odd collection of extremely poor, unemployed people and the recently wealthy, who don’t seem afraid to let everyone know their new status.  We saw old, cement homes with dirt floors right across the street from mansions looking like Asian pagodas or castles.  During our one day in the city, it seemed just as common to see a horse-drawn cart as it was to see a BMW cruising along the dirt roads.

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Prayer Letter – March 2013

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Dancing the Macarena

I wrote earlier about “Children Underground,” a documentary from 2001 about some of the children living in the subways of Bucuresti.  Although much has changed since 10 years ago, much has remained the same.  Instead of living in the subway tunnels, though, they now live in an old, abandoned, underground heating system in the north of the city.  Instead of mostly children, there are now families.  But they’re still hooked on drugs, usually paint or heroine.

One of the characters who most stood out to me from the video was Macarena, a 16-year-old girl hooked on paint and struggling to survive.  Watching her cry over her stolen paint and beg for food, I couldn’t help but feel compassion in my heart.

Well, our friend and co-worker Jason just called us with some crazy news:  he ran into Macarena today!  In a city of 2 million, it’s a crazy, cool, God thing to run into her.  So, Jason ended up talking with her for quite a while about Jesus, bought her some medicine she needed, and invited her to church.  She was very open.

Pray for Macarena and the tens of thousands who are hooked on drugs and wasting away here in Bucuresti.  And for some more information about their life (at least from 10 years ago), check out the video.

Prayer Letter – January 2013

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Prayer Letter – November 2012

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Mircea and Vasilica

Yesterday, Jason and I had a really cool time visiting some gypsy communities here in Bucuresti.

We started the evening off by stopping in to check on the families living along the railroad tracks between the Cora and Plaza Romania.  When we got there, we discovered nearly everyone gone.  The only remaining family was a young woman with her five kids in their lean-to.  She informed us that the police had come by recently to destroy the makeshift homes and kick everyone out.  For some reason, they had left her and the five kids, though they had taken everything of value, which meant the boards in their home and the plastic bottles she had been collecting for money.

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