My first encounter with Romania was around the year 1997. It was on a trip I made with my father and brother to Hungary, where we wanted to cross the border into Romania for a day. I was about 19 years old back then.
That day I became acquainted with drab, gray blocks of flats, (old) people offering their merchandise by the side of the road, bad roads and bad cars and street robbery. I saw places I didn’t want to live in and, taken as a whole, it made a hugely depressive impression on me.
After that day I went back and celebrated several holidays with friends and that way I got to know various people, both Dutch and local people. I became acquainted with people in the south (Oltenia) and in the northwest (Bihor). People from the Netherlands who took me to projects they had to support the local population in different ways. I absolutely loved going along with this and have visited several places, but the thought did not occur to me to live in Romania.
In the year 2008-2009 I went to Bihor for three months where I stayed with people I had met in the years before. When I went back to NL after 3 months, I realized that Romania had become more than a holiday country in itself: it became a kind of second home and on the way to The Netherlands, I wondered whether I was going home or leaving home.
In the spring of 2009 I was stimulated at a conference and challenged to go to Eastern Europe to do an outreach. Unfortunately that did not work with the organization itself, but in the summer we organized an outreach with a number of people towards Bihor where we had a very special week and I was touched again by the need of the people. I decided I wanted to do an outreach like this more times and decided to come back every year.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way, but in 2010 I had a special meeting that initially seemed like a ‘coincidence meeting’ to me. This meeting, with people from the Netherlands and Romania, was the evening that I experienced God speaking to me to do ‘something’ for Romania. For me, this clearly fitted into the movement I had already made with this country and into the experiences I’ve had over the years in my relationship with God and various people around me. So I took this as a call to me to do something for Romania.
This resulted in my move to Romania in August 2012.
You can read my vision here.