Monday, November 10, 2008

Presenting Romania

Last night I had the privilege of giving a presentation to more than 50 0f my faithful supporters; giving a glimpse into the work that God accomplished through all of you in Romania. For those of you who were unable to attend, here is what I said.

Scripture tells us, "What is impossible with man is possible with God." I believe that our recent efforts to minister to the people of Romania give us a crystal clear example of this timeless Biblical truth.

As I look out among you this evening, I am amazed, and humbled at the faith and dedication that you have in serving our Lord. I am honored to have been your ambassador to the people of Romania.

As many of you know, this marks the third time that I have had the privilege of traveling to serve the Romanian people. Being that it was my third trip, you might think that this would have been an easy trip for me to take. I was returning to a familiar country, so the language, the food, and much of the culture would all be relatively familiar to me.

While it is true that I do know some of the most commonly used Romanian words and phrases, and I know that meals largely consist of cabbage and potatoes; that pizza is made using a European form of Catsup as the sauce, and that you will seldom find a cold beverage in Romania, this trip consisted of many unknowns as well. In fact, the unknowns began to unfold long before I ever set foot in Romania.

I am a planner by nature, so when I made the decision back in June to return to Romania I had a very well-laid plan as to how I would go about raising the needed funds, collecting supplies, and tying up all the essential loose ends before leaving. Shortly after my application was accepted however, I discovered that my well-laid plan was not going to meet my needs in the time frame that I had been give by the mission organization.

According to their materials they needed 50% of the total funds 60 days prior to departure. That left me with only 17 days to raise $1500. At that point I know that apart from God’s Devine intervention this trip was not going happen.

There was nothing I could do, but turn this over to God and wait on Him for results. It was then that it became clear that this ministry was going to be partnership between God, myself, and a zealous team of people that only God could organize. It was through your obedience, and the giving of your time and resources, both monetary and material, that God used to bring His plans to fruition.

It was everybody doing their part. It was somebody with the gift of organization creating bulletin inserts. It was another person following God’s lead and putting a check in the mail that arrived in my mailbox the morning it was needed. It was someone else enhancing my luggage tags, so that in the event that the airport personal neglected to do their job correctly, I would have my essentials shortly after arriving in Romania. It was another person giving of their luggage, and offering me the use of their cell phone.

It was your monetary gifts that not only covered the cost of the trip itself, and met my needs, but the needs of others as well. Not only in Romania, but as I traveled. It was you who bought lunch for someone in need at the airport in Chicago. You made it possible for a woman in distress to make a needed phone call to Kurdistan. You brought smiles to the faces two little Austrian girls as they munched on cookies while waiting for a flight to Vienna. You gave a group of Romanian children something new and exciting to look forward to everyday after school. It was your prayers that sustained me though difficult moments when I was in need of wisdom and strength to make it through the day.

Upon landing in Romania my time was divided between a number of things, but my focus was on the mothers and children residing at the River of Life Care Home in the small village Cornesti. A home established to give refuge women and children in crisis situations. Currently there are four mothers and seven children residing in the home.

Many of these women either grew up in the government orphanage system, or they have mental challenges that affect their ability to interact with people. As such they do not know how to interact with, and treat their children in a loving manor. By interacting with these women one on one, and by providing constructive activities for the children, both in play, and in practical skills, I was able to show them by example how to have positive relationships with each other.

While I did enjoy many of my interactions with these women and their children there were some difficult moments. Perhaps nothing was more difficult than watching a mother mistreat her daughter and ignore all words of correction form me; leaving the room, and leaving her sick little girl look looking up at me with sad, tired eyes. There was little that I could do other than to hold the child and give her the assurance that someone cares. Within minutes she was sleeping peacefully on my shoulder.

While ministering in Cornesti I had a couple of opportunities to walk through the village and get a glimpse into the conditions that these people endure on a daily basis. In many places throughout the village the sidewalks are broken up, and livestock was either tide to a stake by the side of the road, or left to roam at will. At one point I had a goat cross the road right in front of me.

While many of the village houses look to be stucco they are constructed of mud and manure bricks and covered in about an inch thick layer of concrete to keep them from crumbling.

Being that this village was a formerly a communist communal farm many of the current residents are retired farmers who live only on the meager pension that they receive form the government. As such, many of these people don’t have enough money to afford to put a window in their home. The holes for the windows have been cut, but many remain vacant.

In addition to spending time with the women and children at the home in Cornesti, I also had the opportunity to take part in ministry to the elderly from the village as they were brought to the Care Home Church on Wednesday afternoons for a hot meal, fellowship, and a short bible based activity in which we created Sunflowers out of paper plates, and construction paper, and discussed the fruits of the spirit.

I was also able to take part in an English club and encourage students of all ages as they sought to expand their knowledge of the English language. It was noted very early on in that evening that I spoke English like an American. Some of the students were quite surprised to learn that I am one. With my dark hair and green eyes I may look like a Romanian, but had they asked me to speak their language there would have been no question about my nationality, or my primary language.

I was also given the rare opportunity to offer a brief word of encouragement to some new mothers at a crisis pregnancy center. In the course of my answering their questions about living with physical limitations one woman commented to me, "You seem so happy." Her statement gave me the opportunity to give her the perspective that true happiness can not be based on the temporal things of this would. True happiness lies in an eternal hope that can only be found in Christ.

Giving this message to a people who’s country that was held in the vice grip of communism for 24 years, and is still struggling in many ways was an unforgettable experience. These people really don’t have much in the way of worldly goods to be happy about. With only 2% of the countries total population being Christian, it is likely that this perspective new to at least one person in the room.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to return to Romania and to put my hands to work on your behalf. Thank you again for your support!

For those of you who are faithful in prayer, I would appreciate your payers as I consider further ministry to the Romanian people. A couple of amazing opportunities have been brought before me and I am in need of wisdom and direction as I consider them. Thank you.For those of you who are faithful in prayer, I would appreciate your payers as I consider further ministry to the Romanian people. A couple of amazing opportunities have been brought before me and I am in need of wisdom and direction as I consider them. Thank you.

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