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I traveled to Cluj-Napoca with my choir, on a medical mission in June of 2004. We were told by the representative of New Hope International, who hosted us, that the people of Cluj were broken by the Communists, stripped of all they had and often imprisoned for no stated cause. We were told, and could see, that new freedom was seen as risky and dangerous, for this was now a people devoid of trust. Never did we feel such compassion for such a gifted people wanting so badly to enjoy being free. As an American, bird-free, it was at first difficult to even grasp the concept of fear of freedom. As we came to know these generous people, we understood that what we could give them was assurance that freedom can once again be fathomed, fresh ideas entertained, and hope no longer an extravagance. Your story reinforces the notion that we saw, came to understand, and helped to heal, so that to this day our church has a working relationship with our hosts, wishing that someday we can return. Up from ashes, Romania again stands tall in its faith, hoping for a better economic future. For the faith part, we were so glad to have helped.
Ms. Ayars, I enjoyed reading your wonderful thoughts about my native town and my writings. Thank you again for your kind words. The history of that place breathes from every small crack in the walls, but its inhabitants know it the best. Learning to be free is one of the hardest lessons many people in different parts of the world have to learn.