[ i’m dying to breathe in these abundant skies ]

I have so much I want to say right now, but I simply have no words. However, I don’t want for forget anything. This has been the most amazing week of my life and also the most difficult. So although I don’t know where to begin, what to say, or what not to say – I simply have to try.

From the moment I set foot in the church in Beius and Pastor Florin opened his mouth, I was instantly blessed beyond measure. When I met his lovely and totally amazing, Christ-centered family and the rest of the team from their church, I felt an instant love for them. The only explanation is Christ. I feel like I’ve known them forever. Their heart, passion, and delight in the Lord was such an encouragement. Their worship, their prayers, their awesome attitude on the field, their heart for the Romi (Gypsies) – all of it refreshed my heart in Christ. It was very hard to say goodbye to them. I hope to visit them sometime within the next year in Perth if I can. I have to pray about it.

I have so much to talk with the Lord about. All of the Romanians and Justin want me to come on a short term project in July of next year. I desperately want to go, but I have to pray about it still. I’m not allowed to ask Bethlehem for support until I’ve completed the Nurture Program. I don’t know why I’m even thinking about that when I know full well that if that’s where the Lord wants me, I don’t have to worry – He’ll take care of it. He always has and He always will.

The camp in Batar was absolute chaos. ZERO organization and ZERO preparation – it’s like all those things the Lord taught me about keeping the Gypsy kids under control in a safe, healthy, loving, and Christ-like way that I shared with the team leader just went right out the window on the first day. ZERO communication between counselors/team members, not enough translators, not enough men, not enough men taking the lead when they so clearly needed to, it was one giant disaster. But somehow, it didn’t completely implode. The Lord took a big mess and used it anyway. And somehow miraculously – the kids didn’t riot. All I had to do was correct them once for being violent or stealing and they would just stop. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t do that with anything else I said, but it was so clear that the Lord has His hand on this project. There’s absolutely no other explanation. It should have fallen apart, but it didn’t. I hardly have a voice left and I didn’t spend nearly enough time loving on those kids as I did trying to keep this huge mess from falling apart – but the Lord taught me so much this week. I think that’s why it was my favorite. The Lord taught me so much about submission, in particular. I really can’t express how true it is that most of the time, I just want someone I respect to tell me what to do. If the Lord places me under the authority of someone’s leadership – someone I know really loves Jesus and whose life testifies to His truth, someone who shows signs of spiritual maturity – I will GLADLY submit myself to that authority. But what about when I have to submit to an authority I don’t hold in that esteem? What about when I think my way is better? The fact of the matter is that what I think doesn’t really matter – if the Lord has placed me under the authority of someone else, I need to joyfully submit, so long as that authority never asks anything of me that isn’t in line with the Scriptures. I know that sounds silly – but it was a real struggle for me this week. But praise be to God that He has given me victory in Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I just wanted to make it safe and comfortable and simple, for me and for the rest of the team. But that’s not even why I came here. I really think the Lord wanted to teach me to quit trying to manipulate the situation to what I wanted and submit to HIS way, and trust Him to work out His plan for His glory.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Silly, really. Isn’t that why I wanted to come in the first place? For His glory?

I never did get to find Stana Maria. That makes me sad, but it will just mean more joy if the Lord brings me back next year when I can go looking for her.

I saw Florin, the little boy in the wheelchair. He constantly blesses and breaks my heart. He was so excited to see me. He didn’t remember my name, but I know he remembered my face because he called me to him and asked me to sing him a song about Jesus. Of course he asked me over and over again to pray for and with him and would have kept me there singing to him all day if I’d let him. I was glad to sing to him. What has the Lord given me gifts for if not to use them to make others glad in God? One thing bothered me though. In November, we (and by “we”, I mean “Justin” and I was just along for the ride) were able to bring a real wheelchair perfect for his size and diagnosis from the States. He wasn’t using it. He was right back in the old carpeted wheelbarrow again. When I asked him why, he explained that it was too nice. They only use that when the family goes out somewhere, not rolling around in the mud in Batar. Or so he said. That just about broke my heart. I couldn’t handle it. Here’s this sweet little boy with cerebral palsy and all he wants in the world is to praise God and show love to each person he meets and he’s suffering needlessly. He’s sitting in his own urine in a smelly, filthy, “glorified” wheelbarrow, where someone periodically has to yank him into an upright position instead of using his very gently used wheelchair, exactly his size, with the proper restraints for someone with his condition, and supposedly it’s hiding somewhere in their house cause it’s too nice for Batar and they only use it when they “go out”? Go out where? His family couldn’t possibly afford to go out anywhere that you’d need an unused wheelchair for. And knowing his mother, and most mothers, she probably wouldn’t take him there anyway. I really hope they didn’t do anything stupid or cruel – like sell the nice wheelchair. I have absolutely zero evidence to derive that theory from. I don’t know – something about it just rubs me the wrong way. I was happy to see him in any event and happy to be able to speak with him in his own language and sing to him in both languages. I pray that I’ll have more opportunities to bless that little boy as he has been a very special blessing to me.

There were a lot of people I never got a chance to say goodbye to. Danut and Cireasa, Alina, Sorin, Sanda, Cristi, Razvan, Mrs. Tica, Mr. and Mrs. Ilinca, Bob Ward. A part of me is glad I didn’t have to – it would have been too painful, I think. I was a mess this morning when I had to say goodbye to Corina and Iulia… Paula too. All my relationships are changing. I feel like I’m not as close as I was before with Alina and Paula, I don’t have a clue where I am with Cristi, and I feel a stronger bond with Cori and Iulia than anyone else, I think. All I know is saying goodbye to Cristi is one emotional meltdown I’m thankful the Lord spared me. I think he was expecting me to be in Beius for church on Sunday night – I had hoped for it, but I had a pretty strong feeling it wasn’t going to happen. I was sad to miss it. I’ve grown quite attached to Maranatha. It’s been my church home in Romania. I’ve really come to love it there. Anyway, he sent a gift for me with Elijah and Clau after church, I guess for some reason he couldn’t come back to Oradea with them. It’s a pretty porcelain box that’s shaped like a book with a PINK! flower on it – clearly Romanian. I think he painted it himself. But the best part was that inside the box was his green bandana from camp in Budureasa. That’s really only funny if you were there. But it was sweet and creative and very special and I cried about it later, of course. Biiiiiiig surprise. I’ve done a lot of crying in the last 48 hours. I cried the whole way through our end of project celebration and the entire time I was supposed to be loading my stuff and getting on the bus. Danny Morar actually gave up on waiting for me and just took my luggage out to the bus. I cried about halfway to Budapest. I cried a little saying goodbye to Iasmina and Filip – although I had to try really hard not to cry then. I knew if I got started I wouldn’t be able to stop. And from the minute I set foot in that hotel until we made it to the Hungarian border, I was inconsolable. However, I had to stop there because I’m pretty much convinced that Hungarians don’t emote, or at least they don’t like to or like others to. Or maybe you just have to be scary and dictator-like with a serious power trip to work border patrol. Kind of like I’m convinced you have to be disgruntled to work at the DMV.

I miss everyone right now. Everyone in Romania, everyone in America, everyone in Australia – or maybe I should say everyone from Australia, as they don’t go back for another two weeks. I wish I wasn’t alone right now. My phone card doesn’t work outside of Romania apparently and I really want to talk to somebody.

There’s so much I don’t want to forget that I don’t want to say. Too foolish to put on paper. Silliness amongst friends, those famous “Katie moments” when I say or do something without even remotely using my brain and reveal to everyone in the process just how stupid I really am. I think those moments are pretty funny, personally. But then again, I’ve recently discovered I have a rather odd sense of humor.

I’ve asked for prayer regarding this transitional period. Every time I go to Romania, I have a really hard time leaving and re-adjusting to this American life. (Gee, catchy title…) I must admit, I’m not looking forward to it, but I still need to face it. Mom and I are going to Ohio this weekend to see Puppa and spend some time with our family. We’ll come back early Sunday morning. I have to confess my concern though. While it will be nice to vegetate and do nothing in particular, have some time to get my thoughts all sorted out, I’m concerned about not being in fellowship when just beginning that transition. I know my mom will be there, which is great, but she doesn’t really understand my heart in these things. She tries, Lord bless her, but I don’t really think many people do understand it unless the Lord has given them a heart for missions too. I’m reminded of Kasey Nowalk and her friend Catherine in Minneapolis who we stayed with in April. Anyway, all my old friends from Ohio don’t know or understand the “new” Katie. Only BC Katie. And the Lord has really convicted my heart about some things. What was once okay (having one beer in the company of friends) is now a potential obstacle to the Gospel and/or compromising my witness. How can I tell them about my new life in Christ and how he’s changed me forever and made me a new creation if I don’t look any differently than they do? Whether or not it is in and of itself a sin is irrelevant in my book. My faith and testimony are too important to compromise for such foolishness. In all honesty, as much as I love some of them, I don’t really want to see any of them. I’d rather hide out in my room and try to make sense of what I’ve been doing and what God has been teaching me during my time in Romania. I’m going to look at it as my own personal retreat with the Lord.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16