PRAY for ROMANIA and Michael Boldea ministry there † † † † † † †Then Winter Came
PRAY for ROMANIA and Michael Boldea ministry there
February 2012 † Even those in the twilight of their lives are hard pressed to remember a winter like this. By all accounts, it seemed as though we would have a mild winter season, since as late as the first week of January there was still no snow on the ground. Nature itself seemed to confirm that winter had forgotten to arrive, as trees began to bloom, and the temperature was warm enough wherein a light coat would suffice for the outdoors.
Some who had not prepared for winter were thankful for the lack of snow, while others shrugged their shoulders and began to murmur that perhaps this whole thing about climate change and global warming wasnít really a crock after all.
While distributing blankets and firewood in the rural areas, there were even those who quipped that they would likely leave the blanket in its wrapping, and have enough firewood for an entire year since it did not seem that winter would come, and if something likened to it did arrive, it would be a mild and docile version of winters past. †
Rather than cold or snow the lack of precipitation was foremost on peopleís minds since due to a dry summer and an even dryer autumn, wells throughout the country were running low or drying up altogether. Wells are the primary source of water for those living in rural areas, and when a well in a village dries up itís not merely an inconvenience but an outright tragedy.
Preoccupied with lack of water, believing that if it hadnít snowed by now it likely wouldnít snow at all, most people were caught wholly unaware and wholly unprepared for what descended upon the nation of Romania with a ferocity unseen in the last seventy years.
The suddenness with which the cold descended and snow began to fall was perhaps the most unnerving aspect, at least in the beginning. Within a matter of hours, temperatures went from the low 50ís to below freezing, reaching -22 degrees over the course of the first night of snow storms.
Because the storms came on so suddenly there were countless people stranded on the roads, blizzard conditions making traffic impossible.
The first night, four people froze to death in their cars, entombed in ice and snow, only to be found days later by army and gendarme personnel traveling the closed roads in heavy duty trucks looking for stranded motorists.
The second day of the storm the snows ceased for a brief while only to give way to freezing rain, which encased vehicles in ice, and turned every street into a makeshift ice skating rink. Emergency response units were instantly overwhelmed by calls from individuals suffering from twisted ankles, broken limbs, fractured skulls and scores of other injuries associated with slipping on the ice as they attempted to make their way to work, or the local grocery store.
By the third day, the sheer scope of the storm became clear, and the trepidation among the population only grew upon realizing it blanketed the entire country from north to south and east to west. Those that were able began to stock up on supplies, and since the roads were already closed to any kind of traffic the stores ran out of food within a matter of hours. The breakdown in distribution has already led to price gouging by unscrupulous individuals, a loaf of stale bread selling for ten times what it sold for just a week ago.
Unrelenting snowfall coupled with winds upwards of sixty miles per hour created massive snow banks, covering many homes in rural areas up to their chimneys. Countless individuals were forced to tunnel their way out of their own homes, through windows, to keep from suffocating in their own adobes.
Due to the snow drifts caused by the high winds, many traveling by train were also stuck in the middle of nowhere as the tracks, covered by snow mounds made passage impossible. The stories of those stuck on trains for upwards of fifty hours, having long since run out of water or food are numerous and heartbreaking. Although their location was known, there was no way of getting to them, and all they could do was huddle together, hope, pray and wait for someone to come and save them.
It has been a week since the storms began, and although it has finally, and mercifully stopped snowing many roads are still closed, tens of thousands of people are still without power, and countless souls, especially in the rural areas are still isolated and left to fend for themselves.
This storm has already claimed fifty seven lives in Romania, and a staggering five hundred lives throughout Europe. As officials begin to make their way into the villages however, this number is expected to rise exponentially.
As I write these lines, it is noon, and the temperature is still well below freezing. The stores in many regions of the country are yet to be resupplied, the snows have yet to be cleared from many of the roads, and meteorologists are warning that a new wave of snowfall and plummeting temperatures are on the horizon.
Thankfully as yet, the Hand of Help Orphanage has not lost power, we have enough food on hand to keep the children fed for at least three weeks, and our heating system is faring well even under the strain of the unprecedented cold.
I ask that you remember us in your prayers as we continue to do what we can, from distributing what food we can spare from our own reserves, delivering clothes, blankets and firewood to those homes that are still accessible, and offering shelter from the storm to those who have no place to go.
It is in times such as these that the children of God must shine all the more, reaching out to the hurting, being the heart and hands of Christ, and tirelessly being about the work they have been called to do. Thank you for standing with us.
With love in Christ, Michael Boldea