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.
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.
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.
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!