Eastern Europe is plagued with vehicles belching out noxious, blue smoke that fouls the air and chokes your lungs. Romania cannot simply and suddenly ban all cloud-belching vehicles but they can limit one brought into the country. The government is pulling out all stops to qualify in the area of pollution control in order to gain entry into the European Union, and in the process has clamped down tightly on vehicles brought into Romania. Romanian standards for auto entry are much higher than Germany. In the middle of this vice is this lowly missionary with a very practical, nice looking,\ belch-less, VW, Transporter, 8 seater, van. When you get caught behind a blue-cloud-producing bus, coughing on the fumes, it is hard to reckon that my very nice van simply does not qualify by reason of a bureaucratic quagmire. For three weeks we have tried every conceivable solution, contorting the minds of over a dozen Japhethites of above-average intelligence, only to come to the end of the world of time and ideas to solve the problem. Incredibly...the van was returned to Germany last week and is for sale. Any takers? "Though he slay me yet will I trust him."

Having to return to Romania from Germany without a vehicle brought to the surface of my imagination the long dreamed romantic thought of how a sleeper car on a train might be enjoyed. No time to make airplane reservations to Bucharest, busses are out of the question, too complicated to hitchhike and too old to walk the 900 miles from Frankfurt to Brasov. Fine then...I'll take a sleeper car...something I've always fantasized about. So Troy Green and I try, with limited German to make the preliminary reservation with a railroad ticket agent with limited English. When I buy the ticket I am sure, I think, that my reservation is for two (my interpreter Florin and I) in a sleeper car. We board a super nice "ICE" (inner city express) train in Frankfurt and fly low to Vienna, Austria. We then change to a much inferior train and find our sleeper. I am excited at the prospect of fulfilling my long dream of enjoying a clickety-clack night being rocked to sleep while speeding on my way to Romania...what could be more exotic. There was one man already sitting in "our" sleeper, but why were there were six bunks (couchettes, as the ticket referred to them). We did not argue with the man, he seemed to know more about this than we did and very confident that he was in the right place. He was from Brasov and immediately engaged in pleasant conversation with Florin. I quickly assessed that three compatible men in a sleeper with six bunks is very tolerable, and the conversation was enjoyable for Florin. The dimensions of the sleeper were about 7' long and 6' wide…maybe. Florin and I found it hard to imagine what it would be like if we had to endure six persons in this cubicle with all their luggage. We breathed a sigh of relief when the train eased forward...my dream was still intact. Hungry, we chewed through an extremely over-priced salami and cucumber sandwich and washed it down with over-priced water. Well...time to get into my romantic dream. I climb the ladder and make the bed, using the extra bunks to hold our five large bags of luggage, not counting the other man's two bags. I read till about 11 PM enjoying my clickety-clack ride. Lights out...stretch out...woops...my feet are touching the wall and my head is touching my bags...small as I am, I wonder what 6' Florin is doing. BANG! BANG! BANG! Door opens..."Passports" Lights on...grab my jacket...find the passport to satisfy the Austrian border guards...back to sleep at 11:30. BANG! BANG! BANG! Door opens...Lights on..."Passports"...Hungarian border guards...12:15 AM. Oh well, my dream is fading...BANG! BANG! BANG!...Lights on...door opens...my nightmare begins...three more persons (two men and a woman) boarding from Budapest want to enjoy my dream all the way to Brasov...everybody up...move all the bags and put them in...where...I don't know...in your bunk, of course...20 minutes later we all settle down in our very cozy "dream" at 1 AM. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ...BANG! BANG! BANG!...Door opens...lights on..."Passports"...Romanian Border guards...it's 3:30 AM. My dream has vaporized...it is now 7:00 AM...I am going to sneak out of bed, throw water on my face and go to one of the passenger cars and find a seat and read my Bible. I walk through the narrow 30", smoke filled, hallways of four sleeper cars...why are all these people standing in the hallway smoking???...why don't they follow me to a passenger car...woops...end of train...no passenger cars...only one bar/dining car with a low cloud of smoke and plenty of beer. Now, I have two choices...I cannot sit up on my bunk...low ceiling...No one else is awake in my sleeper...I can either stand in the smoke filled hallway or I can crawl back into my bunk...I have four hours to make up my mind. At 8:30 half my sleeper is awake and they fold up the bunks and us-awake-ones sit tightly together on the bottom bunk and stare at the asleep-ones. Finally everyone is up and we all stare at one another or out the window or read a book. At last I found the Lord's purpose in all of this. The man who boarded with his wife in Budapest speaks a little English, and, as I read my Bible he asks me what I am doing living in Brasov. For the final half hour he learned that his Orthodox church was not at all satisfactory for the people of Romania but that idolatry was a clear violation of the second commandment, which I read to him. He learned his responsibility for his sin, the final consequences, and the only way of escape. Although he left the train still in his sin...he knows better now. Praise the Lord. My dashed dream may have worked for the beginning of his long hopes.

We would greatly appreciate your prayers at this time concerning a vehicle…we are walking and taking public transportation, which is fine, but soon the weather will get very rough. It is also difficult to transport the paraphernalia associated with our ministry. Thank you for your prayer and friendship.