[ half of the time we’re gone and we don’t know where ]

Well, I’ve written several entries in my little missions journal that the Rivieres gave me last year, but I decided to just condense into one big summary of what’s happened over the last week and updating any schedule changes.

There’s been a slight change in plans. Apparently one of the teachers at the Christian Kindergarten in Oradea (the one the Morars run, the one I’m staying at) came to work one day and said “I quit, I’m going to work at another kindergarten.” and left just like that. There are 22 children in all, left with one teacher. Claudia comes when she can, but she can never stay for very long. So Sierra and I have been helping out here at the kindergarten and teaching English to the kids from Tuesday – Friday of last week. We’ll be here this week til Thursday, then the school year is finished and they’ll have to present what they’ve learned for their parents in English. So this week, we’re trying to inspire the children and give them confidence. All of them can say their little part pretty well, but they’re afraid to do it on their own. Claudia says they need this – if they don’t have 50 kids enrolled next year, they’ll have to shut it down. They have the only English intensive program and because they’re a Christian program, the government doesn’t give them any funding at all. Pray that God will do something amazing!!

On Friday, we drove to Codru, which is maybe an hour and a half away from Oradea towards Beius. It’s hidden away in the Carpathian Mountains and you have to drive for what seems like forever up this rocky dirt road, dodging chickens, goats, and potholes that would make a yinzer cry. We met up with the team from America at Tabara Orizont (Camp Horizon). Pastor Mihai Balint calls it “the place where heaven touches the earth.” And let me tell you, it’s not much of an exaggeration. It is absolutely GORGEOUS up there. You’re about 10 miles from the next house, about 20 from the nearest telephone, and 25 from the closest thing to what most Americans would call civilization. The McGallas would LOVE it up there.

On Saturday, we had a kids club in a tiny gypsy village called Soimi, while the men built a house for Pastor Mihai and his family in Petid. We had about 80 kids. I was able to lead us using the “Race for Eternal Life” teaching idea the Lord gave me. Although I think we were a bit understaffed (which can’t really be helped), I thought it went very well. I’m so thankful that the Lord has taught me enough about the gypsies to be able to create a safe and fun environment for them that keeps them from fighting or being unkind to each other as much as possible. God really blessed us – because without any men to keep the kids in line, things very easily could have gotten out of hand. They don’t see women as authority figures.. which can be problematic when you’re a woman and trying to be an authority figure.

After the kids went home, we drove back to the camp and put together a nice birthday celebration for one of them Americans and one of the translators. There was enough food to feed an army and enough cake to pacify the French Revolution. It was a lot of fun. A lot of people stayed up and played volleyball, which is probably my favorite sport to play, but it was raining and I was having the allergy attack from Satan himself. So I went to bed early instead.

On Sunday, we went to church in Forau with Pastor Dan and his daughter Sally. I gave my testimony and would have been able to understand the sermon, I think, except Sally was leaning over me to translate for Sierra and I couldn’t concentrate. The smart thing to do would have been to switch seats, but I guess I’m just not that smart. No, actually I don’t have to guess. :)

After church we drove to Beius and spent the afternoon with Cristi and his family. Then we went to church and I’m here to tell you, I don’t think I’ve ever concentrated so hard on listening to a sermon as I did trying to understand Elijah yesterday. He talks SO FAST!!! But God was good. I was surprised at how much I was able to understand. Although I think if I tried any harder to hear him, my nose would’ve started to bleed. Even if there aren’t any Haitians in Romania. ;)

AirFrance lost my luggage after all. I was so excited in Budapest when I saw my teal luggage come around the carousel that I jumped up and down praising God. But the other one never followed it… and then I really wasn’t jumping up and down. Especially since the one they lost was the one with all my clothes and toiletries. Thankfully, the Lord gave me the idea to pack some clothes in my carry-on and teal suitcase. So I wasn’t entirely stuck ala Susan Parker. But I’ve never been so thankful as when I left for Codru. I’m sure everybody else was thankful too. I was starting to smell like I’d been wearing the same stuff for a week. The really amazing part was that I was really very optimistic throughout the whole thing. Once again, I found my trademark die-hard optimism I somehow lost between here and Pittsburgh. And it hit me like a ton of bricks, I feel like myself again. That’s not the first time I’ve had that revelation here. I don’t know how that happens. It’s like a part of my stays here and the rest of me is broken without it.

On Saturday, we’ll go to Batar with John Mihuta. I can’t wait to see Stana Maria and tell her how I’ve prayed for her nearly every day since we left in November. I wonder if I’ll be able to find her. I know Cristi said he remembers where she lives, but I don’t think he’s coming with us. (Grrr – Justin you should be here!!!) Oh I can’t wait to see Danut and Cireasa and the children!!! I can hardly stand it! If you only knew how deeply I’ve wanted this and how it’s felt like forever that I’ve been waiting. Time flies here, I’m sure I’m going to be on my way there before I even know it.

Next week is camp for the children from Maranatha BC in Beius. (Elijah, Cristi, and Alina’s church) Some of the kids from the kindergarten will be going as well. Cristi showed us pictures from last year’s camp – it looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m excited. There’s a team coming up from Texas to plan and run it too. Sierra, Cristi, and I will be counselors. Alina will be too busy with her exams to help. :( The youth camp for the older children has been canceled due to lack of youth! Apparently everyone is either getting married or busy taking exams to graduate high school and/or get into college. I think maybe I’ll try to spend that week with Alina’s family in Beius. I don’t know what Sierra will do. perhaps work in the orphanage in Oradea? I know Alina and I are planning to spend some time at the orphanage in Beius when I stay with her. That will be a nice break, I think. My time management skills have really failed me thus far. I’m so tired… but there’s just so much to do! The allergies aren’t helping. They’ve actually gotten worse since I’ve been here. I have little bumpies all over my hands. The constant coughing and sneezing has improved though since we moved out of the moldy room (with no door on the shower and the doorknob that keeps falling off) and into the smelly room (with the orphanage-style mattresses with the springs digging into my back as I write this). Ahh Romania : Looks pretty, but nothing works. Home sweet home. Well, I came to suffer for Christ and so I am. May He open my mouth to sing His praise and proclaim His truth and shut it when I have nothing to say that honors Him.

“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:19-21

Please pray that the Lord will send a like-minded Christian for me to talk to. There are a couple in Beius, but I’m not in Beius. There’s plenty in Pittsburgh and one in North Carolina, but it doesn’t really help me now when I’m out of phone cards. I don’t feel like there’s anyone here I can really even relate to, and that doesn’t even carry any stipulations on age with it. I want to soak up everything and know and experience and learn as much about Romanian life and culture and language as I possibly can. It has been very quiet in the off-times, for lack of a SINGLE THING to talk about. Oh God, give me humility and grace to extend to my sister.

Alina told me yesterday that Michael W Smith is coming to Timisoara. I’m pretty lukewarm about Michael W Smith, although my mother LOVES him. However, I VERY much want to go to Timisoara, the site of the revolution I’ve read SO much about. And if anyone I know is going, then so am I. Besides, how many people can say they’ve seen Michael W Smith in Romania? And I’ve never been to a Christian concert before and I think it’s free. Why not?

Apparently they’ve recently passed a new law in Romania that does not allow people to talk about religion on the street. Which means I could be arrested for going door to door in these villages, should anyone choose to call the police. Shades of communism… a result of the communists still being in office and calling it something else? Perhaps the Lord has seen my desire to serve in a place where it’s costs everything I have and everything I am to carry the message of hope and His power to save that He has written on my heart. I know that following Christ is supposed to look like that no matter where you are, I guess it’s just a bit more sobering to me when it’s so tangible. I need that. I’m prone to getting carried off into dreamland. It keeps me focused on the task at hand. Maybe I shouldn’t be talking about this on here.

Let’s just pray that I don’t get blacklisted.. or whatever they call it when it’s the other way around.