Friday, September 6, 2013

Thursday and Friday Update

Our week has continued to be very encouraging and eye opening to our team.  Thursday morning we traveled with Marian to visit several villages that he oversaw, including a trip to Dr. Alina.  It was great to see how excited she was by the medications and supplies that our church and community generously donated.  As we were organizing everything for her, we had to finish our visit but she was needed by the several women who came to her clinic.



As we finished, we went to visit two villages that Marian is ministering in.  In the first village, we traveled up to a hill that overlooked the entire community, listened to Marian’s heart and vision for those who don’t know Christ and prayed that the Lord would change hearts. Pray for he and his wife, Andrea, as they are working to see their people come to know Christ and that a group of believers would be formed in each village.  They are currently running children’s events and small groups in homes, so pray those would grow and more would be reached.


Thursday and Friday afternoons were very similar.  On Thursday, half of our team went to work in one of the children’s programs while the other half went to bring groceries to widows in the community.  It was heart breaking again to see the conditions in which these women lived, several of which were living alone.  Friday half of our team went to visit a few other widows, while the other half went with Mariana to visit impoverished families.  These ladies who oversee this aspect of the ministry obviously love caring for these families.  At one home, the young mother was so visibly excited as she saw Mariana get our of the car.  She has built great relationships with these families and has a strong platform to share the love of Christ with them.



Thursday and Friday evenings also included a women’s ministry event.  Women from the community gathered at two of the churches and listened as Kathleen, Melissa and Jackie shared their testimony and encouraged them in their faith.  Both nights had a great turnout.  Thursday night the men went with Pastor Alexe to visit and pray for a man in his church who has been struggling in sin.  Our team was able to encourage him to follow Christ and spend time in prayer for him.  



Friday evening was a great time as our men were able to gather with many of the missionary men as the women hosted their event.  It was a nice relaxing time to just talk with one another and build relationships with them.  Although we had dinner before we left for the evening, our host, Pastor George, had prepared a small meal and dessert for us.  What was there to do?  We just had to eat it.  It really is incredible how we can sit with these men we have just meet and enjoy each other’s fellowship.  The bond between fellow believers is an amazing thing, how quickly we come to know and care for one another. 

Please continue to pray for these families who tirelessly live their lives for the sake of the Gospel and pray that we would be a small encouragement for them to stand firm for the Lord.

“13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”
                                                      -2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tuesday and Wednesday in Romania

Over the last two days we have certainly hit the ground running in Romania.  Everyone woke up Tuesday morning glad for a good nights sleep and ready to start the day.  I think most of us still were dragging a little, but the jet lag has gone away by now.  We started our morning with breakfast that the Wepplers prepare for us each day and then went to Hope Church where Pastor Raul hosted an orientation.  We were able to hear about all the work their ministry is doing and learn about those we would be working with during the week.  








After lunch we were able to go visit a great family in a village about an hour away.  There we saw their home, heard about their call to move to this new city, how they are sharing Christ with their community and what their vision is for the coming years.  We then got to go visit another believer who lives close by to encourage him and pray for him, because he is the only believer in his family. 

That evening we made our way back to Draganesti to have dinner with the Wepplers.  I had to quickly eat to go with Kevin to the church for a men’s study.  It was a really encouraging evening where I was asked to lead a discussion and workshop for men in the church on how to prepare sermons.  That evening we worked together on how to preach Christ from the Old Testament.  These men loved the Lord and desire to correctly teach his Word.  Their knowledge and love of the Scriptures was very evident.  One interesting note, I have often heard about translating books that are popular in the US into other languages, but it was great to see those works being used.  As we talked throughout the night, I learned that Raul and myself have many of the same favorite authors.  While I was at the church, the rest of our team began preparations for the men’s and women’s event we will be hosting later in the week.



Wednesday started out very similar to Tuesday.  We got ready and ventured out to a new city where we meet a few more families living their lives as missionaries in their own city.  We heard about how the Lord had changed their lives and how they now desire to use their life for him.  These people were such an encouragement to us in how they love the Lord deeply and totally devote themselves to seeing others come to Christ.  After we spent time with these three families, we went to have lunch in a Romanian restaurant, and finally ventured into a store to buy supplies for our events.  It was probably a very interesting sight for the Romanians watching all of us walk through the store together trying to find out what we needed.  Luckily we had Kevin with us who was very helpful.

Once we were done, we headed home for another great dinner, while three of our team were hosted by another family in the church.  While they were away, the other five of us went to another grocery store to meet Mariana.  She helped us buy groceries for five families in the area and then took us to their homes. There we had the opportunity to meet them, pray for them and provide for their physical needs.  Many of us had been to impoverished places before, but were still surprised to see the conditions in which these people lived. 





The last few days have left us encouraged and challenged by the way these friends live their lives for the Lord.  Pray with us for their work.  It is hard with very few believers in each community.  And pray for new avenues of ministry to open for them.  Mostly pray that more would come to Christ and then would be sent back out to reach those around them.

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

-Matthew 9:35-38


Monday, September 2, 2013

Our 30 hour journey


Sunday morning our team gathered at 8 am, packed the bus, hugged our friends and family, prayed together and then headed to the Columbia airport.  It was thankfully an uneventful trip, we got our bags checked and waited in the quiet airport.  I think the Sunday of a holiday weekend is not their peak time, in fact, we were checked in at the counter and greeted at the terminal by the same two workers.  But we made it to Atlanta, were able to find some lunch and coffee, then made our way to our gate.  After we boarded around 3 pm, you did just what you want before an 8+ hour flight, we waited on the runway.  There was a storm north of Atlanta, so all flights were headed South, causing a good case of hurry up and wait.  Thankfully the weather did not cause any big issues and we were able to take off close to 3:45 pm.  This is where we had to settle in for the long haul.  I had hopes of relaxing while watching a movie, having a little dinner and then crashing for a 5 hour nap.  The first two happened, but that sleep was hard to find for most of our team.   I kept thinking, if I fall asleep now, I will get maybe 4 hours of sleep.  Well if I fall asleep now, I will get 3 hours of sleep, etc. And of course, this always keeps you awake.  The thing that was able to save our sanity was a good selection of tv shows and movies that we could each choose on our individual mini screens.   




So the flight eventually landed around 5:50 am local time in Amsterdam.  We found a little cafĂ© with good espresso drinks and made to order omelets.  A few of us were a little shocked when we saw the conversion ratio for the coffee which was priced in euros (making Starbucks look cheap).  But we each found a little something for first breakfast, spent our layover talking in the dining area and then made our way to our gate. 


Our flight from Amsterdam to Bucharest was pretty quick, less than 3 hours, but quite a few of us finally got a little sleep.  We landed at 1 pm local time (7 hours ahead of SC), were very relieved that we found all of our bags and meet our driver.  We loaded up in his new bus, and started our 3-3.5 drive to Draganesti-Olt.  We stopped at a restaurant in Alexandria, had a good dinner (nice to not have it packed in some sort of plastic) and then finished our drive to the Wepplers. 

It is now 10:00 pm here, we have been spending some time relaxing together, getting connected to the internet (some a little easier than others), skyped our family, and got in line for a shower.  We are setting down for the night, ready to sleep in a real bed and looking forward to what the Lord has in store for the coming week!


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Romania...Packed and Ready to Go

Our team is all packed up and ready to leave tomorrow morning!  We meet this afternoon to weigh out all of our bags and most importantly, all of the donations that we were able to collect.  We are so thankful to the FBC family and our community for being so generous!  After we filled our four bags of supplies, we starting finding empty spots that we could stuff the rest.

Please pray for our team as we leave tomorrow morning at 8:30.  It will be a long day of travel and we will land in Romania Monday afternoon.  A few things to pray for:

-Our travel will be as smooth as possible
-The people we will meet, that the Lord would prepare their hearts before we arrive
-The missionaries and local believers we will work with, that we would be able to encourage them
-Our team would be encouraged and growth in our love for the nations!

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

-Revelation 7:9-12


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thursday

This morning it seemed like everyone woke up a little slower and probably a little more sore from the hard work on Wednesday.  After everyone got their breakfast and cup(s) of coffee we were ready to head out for the day.  Most were excited to put down the shovel and sanding block and go back to the House of Hope (HOH).  

It was great as we returned to see how good the work we finished on Tuesday had turned out after a full day to dry. The paint we have been using is very thin compared to what we are used to so we left a little unsure on Tuesday about how it would turn out even after multiple coats. But we were very happy with the finished job (except for the section or two we realized we forgot to paint...glad we got an extra day...). And it was encouraging to hear the staff tell us how much better and brighter they thought the new paint made the rooms.

Our job today was to continue to paint a bedroom, bathroom, and porch. It was time to get to work as soon as we arrived in order to fit in time for two coats in one day. But as we were working, we got another assignment: hang out with the kids in the afternoon. This made many on our team very excited. We had the opportunity to interact with them some on previous days, but never wanted to get in the way of the classes/schedule during the day. But after lunch half our group continued to finish painting while the rest had a great time with the eleven girls at HOH.  One thing is for sure, those girls love to play with cameras, to take pictures and to look at themselves afterward. There were probably 3-4 cameras and a couple of phones that they loved to play with. One girl was going through Ashley's phone and scrolled to a  picture of me and her as I walked up, got excited and started pointing at me and the camera back and forth. So for a couple of  hours we were able to watch them have their snack (including a really cool time of listening to the girls all bless their snack in Creole), play with cameras, blow bubbles and just hold them and walk around.

At the same time our team was finishing the painting job and working to clean up and make sure we were not making a big mess to leave them with. As we finished up our final work day, everyone reading should be encouraged about how hard this team has worked and how well they have worked together. It was neat to see that everyone certainly had times they were in their "element", whether that was in painting, shoveling, playing with kids or another thing, but no matter what we were doing everyone was working hard.

As we left I think everyone was sad to say goodbye to the HOH, but hopeful to be able to work with them again. They have a great staff who obviously love the girls there and are soon going to be able to expand and increase their capacity. Pray for them as this project continues, for the workers and their challenging job, the girls who live there and for our group as we think about how to partner with them in the future.

It was another great day, but everyone was very excited to see our pool when we got back this afternoon and relax. After dinner we spent time praying together for our church, each other, HOM and Haiti. It was great to hear the students in particular pray for a heart for these people and the nations.

The rest of our night was similar to the others, finish devotion time, play the couch game  and learning new card games. Again, this group (students and the adults) take their games serious which makes for an eventful night. But by now I think everyone is talking to each other again, ready for bed and excited to spend the day together tomorrow relaxing and seeing more of Haiti.

Wednesday

(Sorry for the delay in this post, we lost all Internet access Wednesday night and just returned from our job site today)

The heavy rain continued for a lot of the night and most everyone had to brave the storm to get back to their rooms. The rain brought in a cooler night and many people talked this morning about how cold they got during the night, not something we thought we would be saying but with nice air conditioning working efficiently and the fact that our beds have only one sheet on them it did get a little chilly. Nothing to complain about for sure!  We awoke to the sound of roosters which is a normal occurrence but the roosters here seem to crow at many times not just in the morning. We seem to have a rooster right outside the compound wall which wants to make his presence known over and over in the early hours of the morning. Nothing that some headphones won't fix though!

We headed out at our usual time this morning at 7:30 after an oatmeal and fruit breakfast to what would end up being a very hard day.

We went back to Re Patriote which was our second stop for church on Sunday. They have a school there and are doing a lot of construction on the grounds. We split the group into guys and girls.

The girls job was to sand a ceiling in a large room which involved us climbing scaffolding all day. On top of the scaffolding were boards that we sat on to sand the ceiling with sanding blocks that they made us.  It was definitely a little nerve wracking although some were braver than others and some were a little nervous..ahem me..cough cough...It was very dirty as the ceiling we sanded was concrete. You can imagine the dust and dirt. We were very thankful that they did have masks available for us to use and most of us had sunglasses we wore to protect our eyes. We would sand as much as we could reach and then move the scaffolding over to the next portion until our girls group split into three teams covered the whole room which took a couple of hours. We were COVERED in dust and dirt from head to toe and we looked like we had gray hair by the end of the day. We did that all morning until we left for lunch at 11:45.

During that time the guys were outside moving rocks and gravel. And by move I mean break it apart with a pick axe, shovel it into a wheel barrow, and take it a couple hundred yards to de dumped put. It was great to see some of the guys really in their element here and how hard everyone worked. The sand its very helpful to hold all the loose rocks together that makes up the ground outside their buildings. It was a definite change from the type of work we had been doing but most thought it was good, but I think everyone was glad we were only scheduled for this worksite for half a day.

We headed back to lunch at the same place we did yesterday at HOM guesthouse and this time we were even able to visit their gift shop and purchase items that they make there which made them extra special. After lunch we headed over to an orphanage for the afternoon to play with the kids.

We knew that the orphanage had a special needs center at it as well but we weren't entirely sure what all we would be doing there. When we got there it was the kids lunchtime. Arnold our interpreter and head of HOM told us that we would be going back to the special needs section and helping to feed the kids lunch. We had no idea what we were walking into or what was needed of us. Many of the children were in wheelchairs although a good bit of them were able to walk. We grabbed bowls of food, picked a child and several of us began spoon feeding the ones that needed help. Let me just tell you the students did awesome and adapted very well, you all should be very proud. There was such a level of maturity that was required as the situation and reality of life for these kids was really really hard stuff to handle. Several of the students played with the kids and blew bubbles while others fed or pushed around the kids in wheelchairs to give them a change of scenery. There were kids with severe cerebral palsy, down syndrome, and malformations to name a few. The reality is that there will likely be very few of these children that will ever be adopted.  I think it was a huge stretch for the students to do something like this and a great opportunity to see and learn to love on the least of these in the worlds eyes but not to our Father who loves and cares for them. I will say for me personally since adoption is near to my heart I considered it such a privilege to feed these kids, look in their eyes and hold their hands even if it was only for a short time and as heartbreaking as it was.  It was a lot to take in and something I think our team will be processing for a while what we saw and did today. Things like that definitely make me long even more for the day when Jesus comes back to restore us and to make all things new.