[ when i climb down the mountain and get back to my life, i won’t settle for ordinary things ]

Well my feet are about two steps away from falling off – but it was a great day. We rode up in the back of an old Dacia truck to the top of the mountain range and climbed down into the ice cave of Scarisoara. It is 105m deep and 720m long. Alina forgot to tell us to bring jackets. About halfway down the “steps” everything turns into snow and ice. There are ice stalactites hanging everywhere and there’s a solid block of ice in the entrance that’s 75m deep. The entrance champer is over 3,500 years old. It’s much bigger and deeper than they’ll let the public see and go. The average temperature in the part of the cave we went in is zero degrees Celsius. After coming back down the mountain (about 15 km from where we’re staying), we went hiking about another 4 km around to the other side of the cave. The girls explained that it is the 2nd largest cave in Europe, the biggest is in Scotland.

And while I’m so thankful that everyone has gone to all this trouble and I get to see all these beautiful sights – all I really want to do is hide in a bedroom somewhere by myself and be alone with my thoughts and my bible and my ipod and my Lord. When did I become such an introvert?

The resounding theme the Lord has been teaching me is that I don’t really know myself as well as I think I do. In fact, I don’t really know me at all. I spent so much time being disgusted with Americans, the mindset, culture, and lifestyle only to realize just how American I really am. And this culture bridging thing really isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I understand now how Sierra must have been feeling while she was here. I wish I had the humility to recognize it then, when she was here and it made a difference. I’m ready to come home now – to my home in America. I never thought I’d say that, but the truth is I want to come home so badly that if you offered me a ticket to leave tomorrow and miss out on spending a week with the gypsies in Batar – I would take it in a heartbeat. I spent the whole day today up in the mountains and exploring caves in Romania and all I could think about is : “Why aren’t the McGallas here? They would love this so much. I want to bring them here to see this.”

I find myself reaching for something familiar, something comfortable – Justin, Cristi, Ashley, Evan, ranch dressing, white toilet paper, a shower I actually feel clean after taking, refrigerators, not having to wonder if I’m going to get lice from sleeping in this bed tonight. Am I really going to spend the rest of my life here? Okay – so I think it’s safe to rule out living in a village in rural mountain “nothing but you, me, and the sheep” rocky dirt road and an outhouse with a hole cut in the floor Romania. I could handle life in Oradea easily enough, even in a smaller village like Beius that has running water. But one thing is clear – if I’m going to live in a village like this one, it’s going to have to be a slow transition and I’m going to have to be married.

I was propositioned today as I was at the local “market” with Alina and Dana. A young gypsy man was making kissy noises at me – when I looked to see what was going on, he was flexing his muscles, doing curls with a watermelon and giving me that “how many goats for the one with the black lady hair” look. We hurried in the other direction and I chuckled to myself thinking it would make a good story to write in my journal later. I wonder if that’s how it works here? The guy who can carry the biggest watermelon gets the best wife? In the cities, I think it’s a more modern system. Still, with the exception of Elijah and Clau, I don’t think I’ve seen evidence that fidelity is a requirement in marriage. And the men and women here seem to be much more flirtatious – or at least what I would consider to be flirtatious. But maybe it isn’t for them. In a culture where everybody kisses each other’s cheeks to say hello, maybe that’s just how people interact with each other. I don’t know. One thing I am sure of is that I’m ready to come back to the states, where the symbol for “I want to get to know you better” is going out for a cup of coffee.

Tomorrow we’ll leave for Beius. Eurobus – here we come! Lord willing, we’ll get back with just enough time for me to take a shower before we go to church and meet the team. I’ll finally get to meet Mandy Torpey, who I’ve spent so much time corresponding with. And I’ll be reunited with Bob and Yvonne Ward. I’ve missed them very much. They’ve really adopted me into their big PIMI family. Yvonne was such a blessing to me when I was here for the first time and homesick. I can’t wait to see them again. It will be good to see Elijah, Clau, and the baby too. And Cristi and Sorin and Corina and Iulia and wow my list of Romanian friends I enjoy being with is growing continuously longer. I wonder if that means it’s going to hurt more to be away from them.

I am SO ready to get back to work. Particularly in a field in which I feel equipped to serve. The kids camp is going to be great. Male translators or not – nothing’s too hard for my God and I feel really good about this. We’re as prepared as we can be, let’s leave the rest up to the Lord. Honestly, I can’t wait. All this touristy stuff is nice but it’s making me a little crazy. That’s not why I’m here. I am ready for the Lord to pour out whatever’s left in this worn out wineskin and then head back to the states for a short period of replenishment and hopefully, to ignite a joyful passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ among all the peoples of Pittsburgh and the world – starting at Grace Church. (I love our mission statement!) Lord, please use this broken vessel til there’s nothing left. For Your Name’s sake and for Your glory!