Teofil Schintee and his friend, Jordan Sugar
The year was 1979. The place was Romania. Teofil Schintee made a decision to leave. He did not tell his parents. He did not tell his friends from the University. He did not tell a soul. Secretly he began to practice swimming. After work, on the weekends, any spare moment he had, Teofil would swim in the Danube near his childhood home in Caransebes. Late one evening, Teofil watched from the river bank as the Romanian border patrol boat chugged upstream and out of sight. He dove into the Danube. “As a child I would swim in the Danube and I would always look at the other side and I was curious to see what was on that other side.” More than three hours later Teofil crawled ashore to the former Yugoslavia. He had nothing but the clothes on his back, all of his savings in a plastic bag, and a Bible.
Jordan Sugar, a close friend of the Schintee family, brought Teofil into the WestBooth to record the story of his escape. After many months, and many close calls with the authorities in Yugoslavia, Teofil was able to come to the United States as a refugee. He credits his journey to the grace of God. During the months spent in refugee camps and in those cold moments paddling across the Danube in the dark he never stopped believing. He never lost faith.