“We are not home yet”

I truly enjoy EVERY DAY in Romania. This time around God has different plans for me. My time here last September through December was all about being dependent on Him so that He could use me to minister to the children and people here. It wasn’t at all about me although He wanted me to discover Him as my absolute best friend. Although difficult, the three months I spent in Bucharest at the end of last year were life defining moments for me. 

I couldn’t wait to get home and share what God had done in me and what He had and was doing in the lives of the children in Romania in the mist of the challenges, difficulties, and lures from Satan that they faced day to day. I learned to value friends and family more and appreciate different elements of the body of Christ. 

On December 21st I landed at Richmond International Airport in a city I had claimed as home for the past 7 years. I honestly am blessed with incredible friends and family who have been a blessing, encouragement and a HUGE support. My welcoming at the airport was nothing short of PRICELESS!

Today I realized that I was quite fortunate, because the kind of greeting and sign of genuine love and affection I received that day is not typical. I picked up “Highlights,” a news magazine published by the International Baptist Convention that centered my heart. Although I didn’t expect the kind of welcoming I received last year, I was blessed by the creative thought placed behind it. I don’t know exactly when I am coming home this year and how I will be received. Again, I have no expectations. Actually, no expectations has sort of become my new way of life. This is not to say that I don’t care, but it’s more the thought that I expect God to surprise me and show up but I just don’t quite know how.

I am looking forward to one day returning “home” and being with family and friends, but quite honestly I am not counting down the days quite yet. Whatever happens on the day I fly back home and land at whatever airport God leads me to I will bear what Jimmy Martin, International Baptist Convention General Secretary shared in his article “We are not home yet” in the latest issue of “Highlights.”

“A missionary family arrived in their home country after spending many years away. To their surprise, there was a large crowd of well-wishers who had gathered to greet a dignitary on board the large vessel. Banners, balloons, politicians and other VIPs, and a large band – all welcomed the dignitary home. The missionary husband noted that they had served the Lord for a lifetime far away from home, yet no one was there to greet them as they arrived home. It did not seem fair. His wife squeezed his hand and reminded him, “We are not home yet.” Nor are we.”Image 

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God watches over the little ones

There is one little girl who I am especially fond of here in Romania. Maybe it’s because she resembles my oldest niece in someway. I really don’t know. She is only a couple of years old, four or five at the most.

I met Adrianna when she first came to the Tei Day Center around late October of last year. Our team usually visits the Tei Center for a half day of ministry on Tuesday mornings. I focused on encouraging her to complete projects, color within the lines, and cut appropriately by guiding her and encouraging her that she could indeed do it, even when she was so insistent that she couldn’t. Often she would be the last one to finish crafts as she needed much guidance through projects. 

I haven’t seen Adriana for the past month and my heart grew increasingly doubtful that I would ever see her at the center again. The horrible thought that she could be abandoned or presently in an orphanage haunted me and led me to begging that God would be watching over her and protecting her. I am so glad that I have a God that is bigger than I am. Relieved that I can seek Him when I feel hopeless and don’t know what to do. 

I have found a church home here in Romania that I absolutely love. International Baptist Church has such a diverse congregation with literally someone from every continent (well except for Antarctica). I have never heard so many accents in one room and many of them are new to me. Anyhow, IBC only has all English services. 

Today, I walked into church, took a seat and notice some kids pointing at me. It didn’t phase me at first, but when I got settled in I looked over their way. One of the little girls looked familiar and as I start to put things together I saw that it was indeed my little Adrianna at church. I got her attention and motioned her over. She sat with me for a little bit and even colored as we waited for the service to start. My heart was overwhelmed with joy at the sight of this little girl who I could not make out at first because she was in her street clothes. I couldn’t help but continue to hug her and tell her how much I had missed her. I found out that the other kids she was with where her older brother and sister and a neighborhood friend. They quietly sat through the entire English service although they don’t know a lick of English. When communion came around they took the bread and juice like everyone else did thinking it was a snack her older brother and sister went right in to eat the cracker. Adrianna and the girl next to her were motioned to wait, and so they did. My heart broke fully knowing that they didn’t understand the symbolism behind communion. When the kids were dismissed for Children’s Church I motioned them to go when I saw that they had no idea why the kids were getting up and leaving. 

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After church, I sought her out and when I found her she asked me if I was leaving. After telling her no she asked someone from church for something to drink. I asked her if she wanted something to eat as a table was full of food. While waiting our turn she got caught by one of the Sunday school teachers with a sheet of stickers in her hand that were not hers. Come to find out, Adrianna had taken the stickers from the woman’s bag. After being scolded she returned to me and asked me for a lei (money). I told her I didn’t have any for her. It stunned me that she had asked me for money since she had never done anything like that before. I filled her plate up with food and held it for her as I followed the other kids thinking that they were going to find a place to sit down to eat. When I motioned to a chair her neighbor hurried her because they had to go home. My heart broke even more as I realized that they were taking their plates of food to their families. 

I can only conclude that at this young of an age, Adrianna has been pulled out of the day center to beg and steal for her family. She comes from a very poor family and although her parents were given the opportunity for Adrianna to be taken care of at the day center as long as they worked it is my thought that they didn’t keep up with the terms of the program. 

I praise God that I saw Adrianna again. My heart is so much more burdened for her and I so wish I could steal her away from the life she is living. All I can do now is pray, love on her when I do see her and ask God to protect and watch over her. 

Sometimes ministry can be so heart wrenchingly hard.Image

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Relating to Katie

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“Kisses from Katie” by Katie Davis is a book that I started way before my trip back to Romania. It’s taken me months to read through 10 chapters. It seems like every time I do pick it up to read again, it’s exactly the encouragement I need to keep going. In many ways Katie eloquently captures similar thoughts, feelings and ideas of being caught in between two places you love. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in the way I feel and what I am experiencing and that there is someone else out there like me who desires to be real and raw about what it means to follow God. Although she is in Uganda and I am in Romania, we are both living outside of what we have known for the majority of our lives because God has opened our eyes to His plan. I wish others could be more real and transparent as she is in her book. In fact, that was and is my desire when I first started recording my journey through my journal, Facebook posts and notes, email updates, and now this blog. I am an imperfect person living out God’s perfect plan for me. 

Here are some of the quotes from the couple of chapters I read tonight that were an echo of my heart:

“People tell me they miss me; they think I am so far away. But I’m not. I’m right here, on the same earth as everybody else, doing what I know to do to make it a little bit better.”

“People from my first home say I’m brave. They tell me I’m stron. They pat me on the back and say, ‘Way to go. Good job.’ But the truth is, I’m not really very brave; I am not really very strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him. He said to feed His sheep and He said to care for ‘the least of these,’ so that’s what I’m doing, with the help of people who make it possible and in the company of those who make my life worth living.”

“I realized that I had two perfect lives: a perfect life in America with an amazing family who are my main support system, great friends who encourage and help me…and a future bright and teeming with opportunities. 

I also had a perfect life in Uganda with a home, sparsely furnished but full of love and hard work, eight beautiful children who called me mommy, a stunning view of the Nile and God’s splendor all around me, situations that stretch me in ways no college could, big dreams, and a future bright and teeming with opportunities. And all the time I wrestled with my two lives, wondering when the day would come when I had to choose just one. I looked around at my daughters’ toys littering my room and pictures of loved ones back home posted on my walls, and I realized I had everything I could ever want, it was just in two different places.”

“I wanted to ask her, ‘Where is home?’ I have come to the realization that I am somewhat of a nomad on this earth. I am learning to be okay with that. Human beings long for a place to call home, a nest, a sanctuary of their own. I have many and none…. My heart lives in so many places. WIth so many people. But God whispers to me that I really have only one home, and that is with Him. I will never be content on this earth. I will always be a nomad. It was meant to be that way. My heart was created with a desire for a home, a nest, a sanctuary, and that can be found only with Him in Heaven. And I will continue bouncing from one home to another, loving with everything I have in whatever location I currently reside, excitedly awaiting the day when I am called heavenward and He says to me, ‘Welcome home.”

 

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Easter in Romania

May 2, 2013

From the pages of my journal

Old Town Bucharest is lined with night club after night club, bar after bar. Throw in some tattoo parlors, strip clubs, “massage” parlors, and fancy restaurants and you start to get a glimpse of what this place looks like. 

 

It’s crazy, but awesome all at the same time that this was the site chosen to hold a reenactment of Jesus’ crucifixion. The reenactment started at the “square” in front of a bank. All ages, shapes and sizes were there. “Roman guards” managed the crowds backed by police. As we waited for it to begin, we saw Barabas and the guards messing with one another. One of the guards approached the small children in the audience and explained to them what they were about to see (what a precious sight). I witnessed another guard in the corner pause and close his eyes. His lips barely moved but I knew that he was praying. A person in the crowd tried to break into the scene wearing some crazy get up and the police had to escort him away. After waiting what seemed like forever, Jesus’ broke through the crowd and the scene began with Him being brought before Pilate.

 

The journey of the cross which I have read, heard, and seen in plays and movies countless times before began to unfold in front of my eyes in the most real way it ever has before. 

 

The girls and I got spat on as they spat on Jesus, dust & rocks were thrown our way as they beat and tortured Him. As the soldiers shouted “to death with him” laughs, shouts, murmurs and cries came from the crowd of non-actors. In many ways I felt like this may be what it felt like to be in the crowd on the day Jesus was crucified. The kids and I ran through the streets to keep up with Jesus and the cross and at times even got separated. There was a moment when Jesus looked at my eyes as he laid on the floor. My heart got tight, and a knot in my throat started to form along with the tears that began to fill my eyes. The way he looked at me was so peaceful and full of compassion. Although an actor, I thought of all the eyes Jesus looked at on His way to the cross and the compassion that he spoke through His gaze. I believe that with every look into the crowds eyes, it gave Him strength to continue on and accomplish what God had called Him to do. 

 

There was a point when the crowd came to a stop and this big gypsy woman was behind me, pushing me, and commenting in some inappropriate ways. One of the guards even caught her attention. Even though I was getting mad because she would not let up on me, I remembered the compassion in Jesus’ eyes and remembered that this was for her as much as it was for me. 

 

Tonight is a night that I doubt I will ever forget. No translation was needed. I pray that the kids that accompanied us tonight would begin to understand who this Jesus who they saw depicted really is and how He so much desires to be connected with them

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Staying Connected

Seems like “staying connected” with family, friends, supporters, prayer warriors and home in general can be quite a difficult task when God puts so many people behind you, supporting your obedience to Him. Some have Facebook accounts while others don’t, some prefer e-mail blasts, while others believe e-mail is solely for business. And others still, prefer the warmth behind an addressed envelope or post card that’s traveled thousands of miles.

My desire behind creating a blog is another means of reaching, and connecting with yet another group of people that are passionate about reading the in depth thoughts of my time in Romania. While some of you follow my journey on Facebook (www.facebook.com/journey2romania), are on my email blast, or follow me on instagram, each are just a bit different. Each offer a glimpse into my life here in Bucharest. The common thread though, is the desire to be real and honest before the eyes that scroll through every word published.

My disclaimer is this…these are my words, I own them. As a result, they have nothing to do with the values, beliefs and the ministry of Children to Love. This is my journey with God, it’s unique to Him and I. I am not perfect, as you’ll soon find out. The bottom line is that God has allowed me the opportunity to be used by Him and I desire for others to see my heart for obedience.

May He be glorified through this blog! Let the blogging begin 🙂

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