Well, right now I should be helping Elijah and Sierra work on the kindergarten – patching up holes and cracks in the walls and other pre-painting preparations. But I’m sick in bed and in a lot of pain. I’m not sure if it was something I ate or drank. I had ice cubes and a sip of someone’s water that wasn’t mine. It’s possible that both of them consisted of tap water – which I’m told contains a kind of bacteria we don’t have in the states that will make me extremely sick. I hope that’s not it. We have so much work to do and I don’t know what one has to do if you drink the water here, but I’m certain that a Romanian hospital is not something I want to experience. Clau refuses to have a baby here. She went to the states to have Chris and intends to do the same for any other children the Lord may bless them with. I’ve heard horror stories from plenty of others as well. I’m sure it’s not that serious, but I’m still praying that I never have to see what the inside of the hospitals look like here for ANY reason.
So in an attempt to redeem the time, I thought I’d try to catch up on my journaling. I could write profound notes and letters to the people I love at home and on the field here ala Amy Carmichael and the apostle Paul, but I wouldn’t know where to begin and the competition is a bit out of my league. ;)
I have decided that even here, Sundays are still my favorite days. Usually on Sundays we go to church in Beius, where my two favorite Romanians are. I get to worship in Romanian! They usually project the words to the songs on the wall, like we do at Grace. And since I can read Romanian (or at least pronounce the text phonetically) – I get to sing too! That’s my favorite thing to do here, worship in Romanian. Actually, that isn’t true. My absolute favorite is when there’s an American team here and they sing worship songs in English while the Romanians and/or Gypsies sing in their language. It is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard in my entire life. I can’t imagine how much more beautiful it will be when people from EVERY tribe, tongue, and nation are worshipping our awesome sovereign God together. I tried to record a video of this when the first team was here from North Carolina, but it didn’t work. Casting Crowns has a hidden track on their new CD where there’s a man and a woman singing the same song, one in English and one in Korean. I cried SO hard the first time I listened to it. Even though it wasn’t the right language, it made me so homesick. Elijah asked me to join the worship team at his church a few weeks ago and I said yes!
So back to reasons why Sundays are my favorite. Elijah preaches – and I’m getting a LOT better at understanding him. He speaks very quickly, but he enunciates every syllable. So if I’m paying attention closely, I can understand him without too much trouble. Then we go to someone’s house for lunch! Some family from the church (it’s always someone different) invites the Morars and the two of us and makes this AMAZING two course meal with bread and dessert (all the meals are like that here) and it’s traditional Romanian food and just delicious. Usually even Sierra can find something she likes at lunch on Sundays. She’s doing much better at trying new foods… still, she never branches out very far from fried chicken and potatoes. Then, we usually get to spend the afternoon with Cristi and his family, if we stay in Beius. Though sometimes we have somewhere we need to be, either because of a team from America or Elijah has work to do with one of his other churches that he Pastors or there’s some kind of ecumenical activity going on. That’s one thing I’ve noticed here that I don’t see much of in the States. Pastors here of the baptist churches are close friends, like family – and they’re always bringing their churches together for things. Youth meetings, service projects, worship, outreach, or even just pastors visiting each other’s churches to preach – just because! That would never happen in America – our churches are so segregated in their various denominations and with their theological and doctrinal differences and their bible translations. Don’t get me wrong, I think those things are very important and I don’t pretend to know how important it is for me to speak out about my position on the doctrines of Grace and the ESV, rather than holding fast to the Truth in my heart. I suppose it differs in every situation. There’s a time for everything. What I’m trying to say is that I think in this regard, the Romanian churches look more like what heaven is going to be like. Nobody’s going to be squabbling about premillennialism, but we’re all going to stand together and worship our glorious God and Father.
The more I think about these things, the more questions I have. It’s important to not compromise the Truth, it’s important to not water down the Gospel for people to make it more pallatable, it’s important to take a stand for Christ and stand firm on my convictions. But is there a point when, in the interest of reaching lost souls for Christ and proclaiming the message of salvation to a lost world filled with broken people, when I need to just keep my opinions to myself and talk about Christ? I think this is what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 2 :
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” – 1 Corinthians 2:1-7
I don’t have any answers. If you do, I’d love to hear them. I hope people don’t think that this whole blog idea is just for me to be able to vent and talk about my life. When I’m asking these questions, they’re generally not meant to be rhetorical. That is to say, responses to questions are more than welcome and would be greatly appreciated.
Well whatever made me sick is gone now. I took some anti-bacterial, anti-nausea medication that Sierra had in her little pharmacy and after about an hour felt fine and went back to work. I think I worked harder today than I ever have before. Though Sierra and Elijah worked way harder than I did. Today, we ripped up the floor boards in Corina’s classroom. Then we had to sweep up about five years of dust from underneath them. Then Sierra and Clau carried buckets of bricks upstairs from the scrap pile in the backyard and I assisted Elijah as best I could while he built an extension of one of the walls to make it the right size to fit a new door. All in all, I felt pretty useless. I’m more than happy to help in any way I can – I just wish there was more I could do. I remember last year John was trying to convince me to come on the church construction project in Batar. He said, “You will get the drinks and make the sandwiches.” I thought it was funny – and maybe just a little cro-magnon. (*Grunt* Woman make fire and bring drink) but a remarkably accurate comment on my usefulness in such a project. I could tell that Sierra Warrior Princess was irritated with me for not being able to use a crowbar or reach the ceiling on the scaffolding or lift more than one small bucket of bricks at a time.. even making a comment later about how I had no idea how hard she worked, but I’m okay with that. We can’t all be hands in work gloves in the body of Christ – some of us have to be feet.
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:7-11
Speaking of my own functions in the body, God continues to bless me with understanding of the Romanian language. So many different people have said (upon hearing me speak their language) “Your accent is excellent!” or “You sound like a Romanian when you speak”. Elijah and I had an encouraging (and confusing) conversation on the drive home from Beius on Saturday night after bible study. He said he doesn’t think the Nurture Program is going to be able to teach me what I need to learn. He said it’s experience on the field that counts, not what you learn in a classroom. He said it looks to him like God’s calling me to the mission field here in Romania, behind the Iron Curtain, and that He thinks I need to come live here and study the language and culture under Clau’s teaching. He thought I could learn what I needed to in a couple months. To that I say amen, however I think I need that in addition to what Nurture has to offer. Still, I have to spend some more time in prayer about it. After all, what he suggested was what I was hoping to do with my time here this summer – though my formal language and cultural studies have been few and far between. I need to be more intentional about making time to meet with the Morars to ask these questions. The 40 Weeks of Language and Culture Studies from Bethlehem is a great place to start, but it is exhaustive for my teachers and much of it will be more relevant (and vastly different) when I’m in a Gypsy village.
In other news, Claudia has offered me a job – whenever I’m free to take it – as a teacher in the kindergarten! Of course, it is much more of a ministry position than a paying job. I don’t think they can afford to pay me. They can barely support it enough to keep it open. Pray that God provides 50 children to enroll for next year. They won’t be able to stay open otherwise. They are remodeling to make it more marketable. Since the government funded kindergartens are tuition free and AMROM is not, they have to make it look more attractive to match the level of services they provide. People aren’t willing to invest in a quality education here and while it is a Christian program, that doesn’t seem to be bringing in enough people either. Although all the kids from the kindergarten who went to the camp accepted Christ that week – praise God! Clau and Corina were able to lead one little girl to Christ a while ago through their ministry in the kindergarten. She was five at the time. And at some point, that little girl went home and led her mother to Christ! Slava Domnului! Anyway, I have to pray about this opporunity too. It’s right up my alley and right in line with what I think I want to do at first, but we’ll see what the Lord has to say.
And now Justin’s asked me to start praying about coming back with him at this time next year with some others from his church on a short term project in Batar, I believe. Of course I want to, but I don’t know what the Lord has for me at this point. There’s still so much that’s up in the air – with all these opportunities. I tend to be a bit on the spontaneous – let’s take a big leap out on faith and trust God to work out the details – severely impractical side. It wouldn’t be even remotely out of character for me to just jump right on this train for fear of missing it. I find it much harder to just be still before the Lord and wait for Him to make clear what He wants me to do next. I don’t think that willingness to go, regardless of what’s practical, is necessarily a bad thing – but it sure can be … so easily. Oh Lord, grant me the grace to be still and wait for you and give me the wisdom to know when to move and how to do so according to Your desire.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” – Psalm 46:10
I have more pictures online from the camp in Budureasa and new pictures from Batar and Beius. I didn’t get a chance to flip the vertical ones yet. Eventually when I get home I’ll delete all the duplicates and filler and sort out the random candids of friends (and all the ones Sierra INSISTED on me taking because she doesn’t have a memory card for her camera). Then I’ll put together a good slide show or something. I don’t know how to do that, but I bet one of the McGallas do – or somebody from Grace.
Batar : Pictures from English lessons / Sunday School in Batar at the new church building!
Beius : Pictures from church, free time, and all other endeavors with camp counselors and friends in Beius
Budureasa : LOTS of new pictures from the kids camp in Budureasa and landscapes from the Carpathian Mountains