Every missionary talks about learning new cultural differences that they didn't even know existed. You can't ask questions about a topic you don't know is something you should ask about! For us, one of those major things was the differences in house construction.
In Romania, the houses are built of concrete, have single pane windows, and no air conditioning or ceiling fans. And hardly anyone has dryers so that we hang our clothes out to dry. And Romanians always leave the furniture a few inches from the walls. Being ignorant newbies, we didn't recognize that all of these differences was a recipe for mold growth in the house if we didn't do certain things. The concrete walls meant that the same wall was getting super cold on one side and super warm on the other side. The single pane windows meant that condensation was constantly forming on the windows and dripping down. The lack of air flow with HVAC systems or ceiling fans meant that there wasn't air circulation. Hanging wet clothes to dry inside the house during the cold months added a lot of moisture to the air. And to save space we pushed our furniture up against the wall and stored things in every nook and cranny. Without realizing it, we basically created a jungle ecosystem in our home which was just perfect for mold growth in those dark spaces behind our furniture. Ahhhh! This means that we did all the wrong things ourselves and now know how to make changes!
We have purchased a dryer, a dehumidifier, and two air purifiers to help with the humidity and mold. We've learned that during certain rainy seasons we need to be wiping down our windows on a daily basis. We purchased a few more fans to help with air flow throughout, and we know to open the windows as much as possible when it isn't freezing cold. Our team members even taught us about opening up our kitchen cabinets at night to allow for air circulation in those areas, too. And because the houses are constructed of concrete, we have confirmed that there can't be any mold "hiding" inside the walls like they could be in the States.
We looked at moving into another house, but everywhere we saw had the same issues because this is just a cultural difference that we had to learn about. We don't feel like moving homes is necessarily going to change anything; not to mention that it's very hard to find rental properties in our area anyway. We've spoken at length with our pediatric pulmonologist about the mold, and we did blood allergy testing for both boys that came back negative for mold allergies and didn't show in their blood work that they had mold disease. So while it certainly wasn't helping our situation, we don't think that the mold actually caused any of our kids' issues, though it certainly could have exacerbated the asthma. But given the fact that we've figured out what we need to do to keep the mold at bay, we don't feel like it's going to be a pervasive issue any longer.
We're really looking forward to moving back into our home. We love our neighborhood and neighbors. We love our fenced in yard that is perfect for the dogs and kids. We love some of the "extras" our house has that aren't found in other houses around. We love that the house is right next to the mountain and giant field where the animals go to graze. We love our landlord and how awesome she has been with us and our situation. Truly, this house has been a huge blessing. And now that we can go back and start again with a better understanding, we're really hopeful that we won't see the mold anymore.