Hey guys! I am so sorry that it has been a few days since I’ve been able to post. I had all intentions of posting something Friday night before going to bed and our internet went down. We traveled all day yesterday and I wasn’t able to get to my computer.

 I apologize in advance for the length of this blog, but I’m going to try and summarize our last four days here:

 

Thursday: This was our last full day of the conference. It was my day to come out from behind the scenes and teach two breakout sessions. I co-taught them with my co-worker from Browns Bridge and fellow re:Creaza teammate, Chris Briley. The session we taught was entitled “Scheduling with Purpose” and was about how to plan and organize for Sunday during the work week. The sessions went great and it was nice to spend the day talking and processing with the different church groups. Lots of great questions were asked and I felt like Chris and I were able to provide them with some great and simple suggestions on how to plan with more excellence for Sunday mornings.

Thursday night was life changing for me. It was one of those nights that I will remember for the rest of my life. To even try and put it into words seems to do it an injustice. God did some monumental things in my own heart that night and I’m still overflowing and processing everything that happened. It was our last main session and we decided to change things up a bit. We gathered in a circle in the dining hall and had acoustic worship. Casey and Miriam led with their guitars  – there were no lyrics, no lights, no microphones – it was just simple and beautiful. As they were leading, one of the Romanian girls joined them with a bongo. Then another joined in with her violin… it was seriously one of the beautiful nights of worship I’ve ever had! Chris then led everyone in a prayer exercise that was so powerful. He had everyone hold their hands out with their palms facing down to symbolize letting go of things in our lives that are holding us back from the Lord, things that we try to control. When we were ready to let go, we turned our palms up as a symbol of receiving what the Lord has for us, a symbol of surrender. As soon as Chris opened his mouth to lead us in that, I had to open my eyes and make sure it was him. I’ve worked with Chris for over 2 years, and I have never heard him lead and pray like that. There is no doubt that is was the Holy Spirit. I think I had to look down at one point to make sure my feet were still on the ground. We closed the night by getting into groups of three and praying with each other in our own language. It was quite amazing. Our prayer leading up to this trip and during this trip has been for the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and direct us. We wanted to hold our plans loosely and wanted to move out of the way for God to do His work. He definitely honored those prayers Thursday night.

Afterwards, as a surprise, we took everyone on a walk to McDonald’s and treated them to McFlurries! A great way to end the week. We had a lot of fun together that night – laughing, eating, taking pictures. It’s amazing how fast our hearts have been knit together with these Romanians. We have come to love them in such a short time and it is a real, deep love that is only of the Lord. This is life abundant… this is how the body of Christ should look and feel… this is the meaning of loving God by loving people. Relationships have been made and they are lasting ones.

 

Thursday night worship

Thursday night worship

Casey trying to organize the McDonald's chaos

Casey trying to organize McDonald's chaos

One of my favorite pics

One of my favorite pics

Good times with new friends

Good times with new friends

 

 Friday: We met briefly Friday morning to end the conference. We dismissed everyone after doing a few worship songs and saying some words to challenge them as they headed home. Afterwards, our team finally got to get out and play a little. We took Chris and Kelli back to downtown Timisoara to see the square and all the sights down there since they were not with us last week when we did that. We ate shawarmas again and did some shopping. In the evening, we helped out some of our co-workers who are also here from North Point with the MarriedLife Live event they put on for some families at Vox. Our band played and we helped with production. We then spent the remainder of the evening packing, cleaning, and playing Dutch Blitz and ping pong with some of our Romanian friends. We sadly said goodbye to everyone at Vox and headed to bed.

Another day of sightseeing in Timisoara

Another day of sightseeing in Timisoara

 

 Saturday: The bus came bright and early to pick us up at Vox. We loaded our things, grabbed some breakfast (McDonald’s of course) and begin our drive through the country. We saw the most beautiful scenery on that drive that I’ve ever seen – mountains, fields, little villages with tall cathedrals, horse & buggies, land as far as you could see. It definitely gave me another view of Romanian life. There is a guy named Alex who came with us from the church. They sent him on our road trip with us to help out with interpretations. We have had so much fun with him and are amazed about how much Romanian history he knows. One thing we learned on our road trip is that the cathedral has to be the tallest building in each village or city.

 The drive was interesting and there were many times we feared for our life – you should see how these people drive… makes Atlanta look calm! At one point we slammed on brakes so hard that our luggage came forward… all to keep from hitting a cow!!! Luckily, we were successful. Otherwise, there would have been lots of ground beef on the road :)

 We drove to Sigishoara, a 900 year old city in Romania. We spent a few hours sightseeing in this gorgeous European city. As beautiful as it was, there was a dark presence here and a heavy sadness. Little gypsy children and women begging us for money from the moment we stepped off the bus. It was very sad, but also quite disturbing. We then headed to our hotel in Brasov, a very nice Americanized Ramada. Over dinner, we debriefed from the week. We spent some time talking about how this trip affected us personally and how difficult the transition will be back into American culture. We’re definitely excited to get home, but it will be hard to leave this team and this country and attempt to share everything that has happened in our hearts this past week.

 

Driving across Romania - breathtaking!

Driving across Romania - breathtaking!

April and our tour guide Alex in Sighisoara

April and our tour guide and friend, Alex, in Sighisoara

View in Sighisoara - reminds me of Mary Poppins

View in Sighisoara - reminds me of Mary Poppins

The girls at an old cathedral in Sighisoara

The girls at an old cathedral in Sighisoara

Vlad's summer home (aka Dracula)

Vlad's summer home (aka Dracula)

View from the top of Sighisoara

View from the top of Sighisoara

 

 Sunday: It is now Sunday morning. After a great night’s sleep, we are eating breakfast at the hotel. We will then drive about 45 minutes to visit Bran’s Castle. It’s one of four castles in Romania and apparently just beautiful, like everything else I’ve seen here. We will then head to our hotel in Bucharest for the remainder of our time here. Our flight leaves at 6:15 am Monday morning (most of you guys won’t even be in bed then) so we’ll be getting up early to head to the airport. We should land in Atlanta around 4:00 pm!

 

I just wanted to say thank you all for your love and support for me during this life changing time. Thank you for all the prayers, emails, cards, letters, blog comments, and facebook messages. I’m sorry if I haven’t been able to respond to you personally yet, but just know that it means so much to me to have my friends and family encouraging me in this time. I greatly appreciate you journeying with me. I am forever changed by my 2 weeks here. God has stirred up so many things in me and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 Our last prayer request would be for safe travels back home and that we would adjust somewhat easily to the time change and jet lag.

Oh, and as always, check the team blog for more details of the past few days. April did a great job keeping it up. And Casey wants me to tell you guys to let this count as his blog post for the previous days as well.

 See you back in the states!

Hey everyone!!! Just to let you know, our team is getting pretty tired, which means that we are also getting pretty delirious. Tonight has been filled with so much laughter and we are having such a great time. So, give me grace if this blog doesn’t make any sense.

It’s so great to know everyone attending the conference now. They are getting really comfortable with us and we are finding ourselves in the midst of some great conversations. You wouldn’t believe the stories we hear. We really do take freedom of faith for granted back home. Here in Romania, the idea of a relationship with Christ is still relatively new. People are very religious here, but not many of them know about having a true relationship with Christ… at least that’s the story we are hearing from these people here at the conference. They are definitely among the minority. But because faith is somewhat rare here, these people are so passionate and they are so bold and geniune in their faith. They are hungry for sure and want to know more about how to better reach people for Christ. 

I’m sure we have overwhelmed them, as they have us. Our hearts are pouring over with love for these people and I’m becoming sad at the thought of leaving them in a few days. 

Tonight before the main session, our team was all joking around (which we spend lots of time doing) and Casey made the comment “If this is all God has to use here, He’s in trouble!” Of course we laughed, but then realized the reality of that statement. It HAS to be God in us, because we are nothing without that.

This morning, Elliott taught on vision statements – explaining that each church really needs to know their vision/mission. Knowing that enables you to filter everything you do or don’t do at your church. We compared it to a road map – You have to know where you’re going before you try to get there. After his teaching, each church had some time to talk and work on their vision statements. I think this was really helpful. (Notice Chris, Kelli, & Brad playing on their iPhones… such Americans!)

Facilitating Team Time this morning

Facilitating Team Time this morning

There is a lady here attending the conference. Her name is Rebecca and she is Marta’s older sister (Marta is 1 of 14 siblings… wow!) She has been helping us out this week by interpreting our English into Romanian for those attenders that struggle listening to us. More importantly, she gives manicures!!!! April, Kelli, and I slipped away a little today with Rebecca and look at what happened:

Manicures by Rebecca

Manicures by Rebecca

This evening, I had some fun with new friends. We played Dutch Blitz… so fun! And then got a little silly playing in the sanctuary.

Precious Andreea... Pretty sure I want to bring her home with me

Precious Andreea... Pretty sure I'm going to bring her home with me

Karate w/ Andreea

Karate w/ Andreea

Just fyi, Andreea is Jili’s daughter (not sure if I spelled his name right). He’s one of the pastor’s here at Vox. Kierra (also not sure if I’m spelling that right) was born in America. Her parents are missionaries and they moved here to Romania when she was only 2!

Kierra & Andreea

Kierra & Andreea

After we finished this evening, our team was dying to get out and walk around a little. As much as we love Vox, we’ve been feeling a little cooped up since this is where we are staying as well as hosting the conference. Where else is there to go but McDonald’s? This is probably one of the nicest McDonald’s we’ve ever been too. It’s so nice in the inside. I don’t think the people who work there like us very much. This is the second time we’ve gone and we always get very annoyed looks… kind of unexpected at McDonald’s of all places.

Team Meeting tonight over some good American Mickey D's

Team Meeting tonight - Where else do you go in Romania besides Mickey D's?

That’s all for now. It’s late and I’m winding down. Tomorrow is our last full day of the conference. Oh, and the MarriedLife Live team from North Point will arrive here tomorrow as well to begin their training this weekend when we leave.

As always, we covet your prayers. These Romanians have had a lot to process and I know they are tired. Not only are they processing the content, but they are having to spend a lot of mental energy understanding and speaking English… I can’t imagine how difficult that must be. They amaze me!

Anyway, good night!

(Oh, random Romanian fact… all the girls’ names end in “a.” Neat, huh?)

Hello fellow Americans!! Happy Election Day! Thank goodness for early voting…

Just wanted to let you know that I was “elected” to write the post tonight on the team blog. So, since it’s midnight here and we’ve had a super long day, I’m not going to repeat myself on here. Instead I’ll just send you to the team blog to hear about our day. It was a great one!

www.recreaza.wordpress.com

Love you guys and thanks for your prayers. This has been AMAZING!!!!

Today has been busy gearing up for the conference that starts tonight. The band is rehearsed and ready to go. On the logistics side of things, we’re pretty organized and ready as well. Registration is all set up, lanyards and conference bags ready to distribute, order of worship for the main session laid out, dinner tables set.

Elliott is at the airport now with Liviu picking up Chris & Kelli. We can’t wait for them to get here.

We’re getting excited! Please pray for energy for our team, open hearts for the Romanians that attend, and sensitivity to the Spirit leading and guiding us. Also, please pray for the language barrier and that God will work through all that.

Thanks!

I felt like I heard this song for the first time this morning. Our band led with Marta, the precious young woman who coordinates the worship here at Vox Domini. I sat in the back of the sanctuary awestruck. The words “shine your light and let the WHOLE WORLD see” had new meaning. Most of the service was in Romanian of course, but that didn’t stop God from moving in our hearts. We were all fully aware of the Spirit in this place and it permeated and refreshed us like water to a parched soul. The worship set consisted of 4 songs – Give us Clean Hands and Mighty to Save, which were sang in both English and Romanian, and 2 Romanian songs that I didn’t know.

It was beautiful watching these precious people worship. God is very active here. I can’t even describe how it feels to actually see God transcend time and borders. He truly does reign. I know this well… but haven’t experienced God reigning quite like this before.

I want to include a video from this morning, but it’s taking forever to upload. Maybe I’ll post it later. Here’s some pictures that will have to do for now.

Our team getting ready to lead worship at Vox

Our team getting ready to lead worship at Vox

Worship Service at Vox

Worship Service at Vox

The church, Vox Domini

The church, Vox Domini

After church, the pastors took us to lunch at a place called Camelot. Talk about a feast! It was good for me to get to know some of the Romanians better and begin to form real relationships with them.

The feast served at Camelot

The feast served at Camelot

New friends - Marta, Andreea, & Dona

New friends - Marta, Andreea, & Dona

I even learned some Romanian words:

thank you = mulţumesc

yes = da

no = nu

hello/goodbye = chow

juice = suc

Jesus = Isus

God = Divinitate

That’s all I got for now.

Last night, we ended up having another free night to just hang out. Right now, we’re gearing up for the conference that will begin tomorrow evening. Lots of details and last minute logistics to talk about. We could really use your prayers for guidance from the Spirit these next few days. Also, Chris & Kelli Briley are leaving the states today to join our team. They will be here tomorrow and will have to jump in with both feet when they arrive. Pray for their safety and energy.

Chow!

How else do you describe your first day in Romania? Today was filled with all sorts of things. Last night before we went to bed, some of us walked downtown to the square to look around. I was speechless! I couldn’t take enough pictures and I felt so overwhelmed by the beauty of this country. Today was even more amazing! Adi and his son, Gabe, met our team at the church around 10:30 this morning and we headed back downtown for a day full of adventure and sight seeing.

Adi gave us a tour, while explaining the events that took place each day leading up to the revolution back in 1989. Talk about a story! It was fascinating!! This country has only been free from Communism less than 20 years. The revolution that overthrew the communist government all started here in Timisoara on December 15, 1989!! Truly fascinating. Our team wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the fall of communism that took place in this very city. God is all over that story.

We looked around the square, chased some pigeons, and had shawarmas for lunch – a Romanian favorite. I’ve been hearing about this delectable dish for awhile now and it was yummy! It’s like a tortilla shell with french fries, chicken, and some kind of sauce on top. Definitely will go back there before I leave.

After lunch, we did a little shopping. I bought some fun soveniers to take home. We just got back to the church and are resting. The band is downstairs rehearsing. They are leading worship with Marta in the morning for Vox’s two church services. Tonight our team will start preparing for the worship conference that will begin on Monday.

I think what amazes me most about this city is how ancient it is, yet modern at the same time. Beautifully architected buildings older than our country, cobblestone streets, cathedrals, tons of outdoor environments mixed in with trendy clothing stores, commercialized shopping, and American music.

This is definitely good for my soul. My friend Jeremy shared this quote with me and I’m finding it true: “The voyage of discovery is not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

I’ve attached some pics with captions (click on them to enlarge). I was so camera happy today, as you can imagine for someone that has never been outside American borders. It was hard for me to narrow down my 200 pictures, but I tried. Enjoy!

Cathedral in downtown Timisoara

View from the square

View from the square - check out the lit cross in front of the cathedral

Cable Cars

Cable Cars

Overlooking the Bridge

Our tour guide and new friend, Adi

Our pastor, tour guide, and new friend, Adi

Team pic outside the Cathedral

Team pic outside the Cathedral

Miriam caught a pigeon!

Miriam caught a pigeon!

You can see bullet holes at the top of this building from the Revolution

You can see bullet holes at the top of this building from the Revolution

Eating Schwarmas

Eating Shawarmas

Union Square where the globalX concert was last year

Union Square where the globalX concert was last year

We’ve arrived!!! After a long day/night of traveling, pulling out passports, boarding planes, and dragging luggage, we are here! I’m so confused about what day & time it is, being that I lost 6 hours of my life in travel time. We left yesterday at 4:30 pm from Atlanta, made a 9 hour flight to Rome, Italy, took another 2 hour flight to Timisoara, Romania on a very small jet (see picture. . . are you kidding me?) and arrived about 2:30 pm Friday afternoon here (8:30 am eastern time). I slept most of the way due to some very good sleeping pills (thanks Jeremy & Stephanie :)).

 

Some volunteers from the church here in Timisoara, Vox Domini, met us at the airport and drove us into the city, which only took about 30 minutes. We arrived at the church, unloaded, and went to the grocery store to get some things for the week. That was a pretty neat experience. It’s kind of like IKEA in the sense that they don’t give you bags for your groceries. You have to pay for the bags and then bag them yourself. The carts are different too… they swivel easily. As April said, it’s kind of like pushing them on ice. We got some fun snacks and drinks for the week… including a large assortment of chocolate that I’m excited about taste testing later. Oh, and chicken flavored chips… ewww.

After our shopping trip, we were able to settle into our rooms. We’re staying here at the church on the 4th floor. April and I are sharing a cute little room with twin beds that overlooks this amazing cemetery. I’m not sure if Romanians celebrate Halloween, but today does seem to be a day were they give attention to the deceased. The cemetery has been packed and there are all kinds of street vendors selling graveside arrangements. It’s actually not creepy at all, but really beautiful. Behind the cemetery, you can see a cathedral in the distance. That cathedral is located at the square right in the heart of downtown Timisoara. I took these pictures from the window in my room.

So far, we have met a few of the church volunteers & staff – Marta and So who coordinate and lead worship here at Vox and Adi, who is the pastor. AMAZING!!! I’m already in love with these people and can’t wait to get to know them more this week.

Well, we’re about to eat dinner and probably go to bed somewhat early… trying to time adjust. Tomorrow is a free day for us… we get to sight see and spend some time in the coffee shops, cathedrals, stores, and restaurants downtown. I can’t wait to see this place!

Thanks for your prayers for safe travel. And thanks to those of you who gave me all the international traveling advice… I felt like a pro!

Please continue to pray for our week. More to come later…

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