We are not the first American/Romanian couple to meet and fall in love, nor are we the first within our church. The third in fact, and not the last. We jokingly call it a tradition and playfully hint to the high school boys that they should go to Cluj after graduation to find a wife, but I don’t think it’s ever actually been a planned pairing.
The first, Jim Foster, went to Romania on a missions trip in the early nineties and was introduced to his wife (of twenty+ years now) by Brian Morgan—the same pastor who was integral in both Vio and my marriage as well as the self-outing of our personal life at church two weeks ago. He now lives in Romania with his wife, Nely, as missionaries for PBC with their two teenage daughters, Rebecca and Rachel.
The second, Johnny Hanneman, met his wife here in the states while she was here for a ‘work & travel’. They have two beautiful boys, Zachary and Joshua, and we are proud to be a part of their lives, not the least because we are Joshua’s godparents. Johnny and Moni are dear friends of ours and often some of the few people we feel that we can really connect with. Vio and Moni are also from the same home town.
We are the third couple, and while we didn’t meet through the church technically, Vio had been to the states multiple times while I was away at college. She met many of the people who knew me growing up and fended off many advances of my peers. Thankfully, she had other ideas about California and spent the time having fun and trying new things. Still, we didn’t meet until I had taken a job offer in Cluj from a family friend wanting to try his hand at coffee roasting. I was his unofficial consultant.
The fourth, and latest couple who have tied the fates of PBC and Cluj closer involve the son of that family friend I had worked for, Eli Brill. He met his wife working for his father’s—Marty Brill—company. He and Otilia (Tia) have been married for just over a year at this point and are still in Cluj, but are planning on coming to live in Silicon Valley. We look forward to growing closer to them as we have to our predecessors, whether in the States or in Cluj.
Needless to say, Transilvania has a special place in ours—and many of our friends’—hearts. We feel at home in Cluj despite it’s radical changes in the past 7 years, and have always known that we would eventually have physical ties to the city.
Our two week trip there in less than a month is when we plan to take that step. Hopefully it will be enough to find and purchase an apartment, and even enjoy it for a couple days, before coming back to the day-to-day grind of Silicon Valley.