When we came back there were four young mothers with their children (I counted 8) waiting for us and they were ready to make a sale. At one point one of the women ran upstairs and came back with the skirt she had been wearing and one from another sister-in-law. We discovered that about five families, all related were living in this beautiful three story home.
They were lovely and much more fun to work with than their father-in-law. We made a deal and I came away with two beautiful skirts. We were invited to come back anytime. I don't know how the people in this home make a living, but it's probably not from selling their skirts to missionaries!
Sora Cook (on the right) had only been in the country a few days and this was an exciting experience for her. She and Sora Remsberg were even able to talk to the women about the Church. The room we were in looked like it might be a family room. It had lots of beautiful, ornate furniture and a huge flat screen tv. You could smell something delicious cooking somewhere and the children were adorable.
Then it was time to deliver the skirt.
Sora Patton (office missionary) is trying to decide which skirt she wants.
I had a hard time getting the 150 lei out of her!
After doing as much research on the Roma people of Romania as I could, here are some facts - and I use the term loosely because official records do not exist. There are estimates of between 700,000 and 1 million gypsies living in Romania, the largest Roma population of any country in the world. They came from the India/Pakistan area over 1,000 years ago. Many do not go to school because they have no "papers." We have seen them drive anything from BMWs to horse drawn carts. Many sell produce in the piatas. Some sell flowers among the stopped cars at traffic lights. When we ride a tram there is often someone selling 1 leu products like pens, tissue packets and safety pins. Children stand at the entrances to grocery stores and beg. Elderly women sit on the sidewalks and ask for food or money. We can look out our apartment window and see people rummaging through the dumpsters. As we drive through little villages we can see farmland that they are working. They usually live together in close communities. We do not know what the social structure is and why there is such a wide range in the economic status. Many of the clans are run by a "gypsy king." I have been trying for months to take a picture but have been unsuccessful. So this is the best I can do to show you what they look like.
He just needs a leather jacket. Elder Wahlquist is a good sport!
We met this mother, daughter and son on the city square of Sibiu. When they saw our missionary name tags they told us, in Romanian, that they were Adventists. Gypsies have usually adopted the main religion of the countries they live in and I saw a statistic that reported over 80% of the Roma in Romania are Orthodox Christians. Note the girl's beautiful braid with the ribbon woven through it.
Here are some examples of the different kinds of homes they live in.
Usually their homes are not isolated like this one, which looks somewhat like the home where I bought the skirts.
This home is under construction. We have discovered that there are lots of houses "under construction" here. We've been told that people will start a home with the money available and then when that money is gone they wait until they have more to start building again.
I don't know quite what to say about these houses.
If you have been following our blog, than you may remember the gypsy families that received blue school bags made by our YSAs. This is their home.