Perhaps you’ll enjoy pics of things I’ve seen this week in Romania. I’ll post more in a couple of days.
Perhaps you’ll enjoy pics of things I’ve seen this week in Romania. I’ll post more in a couple of days.
Our camp ended on Monday morning. We kissed and hugged our special kids (many times) and then waved goodbye as two vehicles drove them away. We spent the next hour or so collecting trash from the rooms, picking up water balloon remnants, putting furniture back into the correct place, etc before migrating to our air-conditioned rooms for respite from the heat.
A couple of hours later, we felt re-energized enough to stroll through the village. This led to an extraordinary birthday blessing.
In 2010, on a stroll through the same village, I met a senior lady sitting on a bench outside her home. I admired her handiwork, and she talked about her life. Without a translator, I could understand only a few words, but they were enough to tell me she’d had a hard life.
In 2011, I took a couple small gifts for her and prayed that I’d see her again. God answered! On the last day of camp, our team walked through the village and, lo and behold, there she sat on the same bench. I wasn’t sure whether or not she remembered me, so I pulled out my laptop and showed her the picture from the year prior. She grinned a toothless grin and proceeded to tell me about her life again.
This year, when we rounded the corner leading to her house, I saw only an empty bench. I feared that she’d died since last summer, but suddenly she appeared in her doorway! She struggled up a short, rough walkway to her bench and sat down. I approached her, greeted her in Romanian, and a huge smile crossed her face. “I know you,” she said. “Last year you showed me a picture of you and me together on this bench.” Then she pulled my face close to hers and kissed me over and over.
Again, she launched into a monologue about her life. Tears streamed down her face as she told of hardships she’d endured as a child. She’s 65 now, and her health is failing. She has cataracts, so doing her handiwork is no longer possible.
“What’s your name?” I asked when she stopped to take a breath.
“Anna,” she replied.
“That’s my granddaughter’s name,” I said.
Anna smiled again. “May God bless her very, very much,” she said. She nodded eagerly when I asked permission to pray for her. I asked God to reveal His love and care for her in a special way. Again, tears streamed down her face as she expressed thanks.
Then I pulled out two shawls my mother had sent along to give to “a Romanian granny who needs something warm for winter.” These pictures say it all.
Anna is only 11 years older than me. It’s hard to fathom the hardships that have aged her. Meeting her not once, not twice, but three times is no coincidence. What do I do with this? How should I respond? I believe God’s asking me to pray for her, and so I will. I’ll pray that He’ll protect her, heal her inner wounds, provide for her physical needs, and draw her into a sweet, intimate relationship with Himself. I’m also going to pray for the opportunity to meet her again in 2013.
Meeting Anna, praying for her, and blessing her with gifts to meet her practical needs was a birthday blessing extraordinaire!
Today’s the day I board a 747 and head to Romania. I’d appreciate your prayers for safe travels, for our suitcases to arrive at our destination, and for divine appointments along the way.
Whatever your day holds, I want this blog to bless you with something special. Here’s a lovely video that’s guaranteed to soothe your mind through the power of Scripture set to music. Enjoy!
Photo courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
How must God feel about my perspective on my circumstances? Does He smile because I see them through His eyes? Or does He grieve because I see them through a limited, human lens?
Take today, for instance. I have a gazillion things on my to-do list because we’ve been out of town for 14 days in January. I’ve been waiting all weekend to attack this list, outlining my week’s schedule so I can meet deadlines. Trouble is, I woke this morning doing battle with a bronchial bug of some sort. A couple hours later, a phone call came, telling me about the death of a family friend. A wonderful unplanned Skype call with a missionary friend from Romania followed. Then an unexpected business call sent me down a two-hour detour. And so it goes.
Looking through my human lens, I see I haven’t deleted a single item from my well-organized to-do list. The lack of checkmarks make me feel like I haven’t accomplished anything today. But maybe I’m seeing it all wrong. Maybe I’m fulfilling exactly what God intends for today, and I simply need to adjust my perspective. Can you relate?
Having God’s perspective is so important. I see that in Matthew 16:22,23 where Peter reprimanded Christ for talking about His upcoming death. “Heaven forbid, Lord…this will never happen to you,” he said.
How did Jesus respond? “Jesus turned to Peter and said, ‘Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.’”
Yikes! Those are strong words. It’s obvious that Jesus isn’t impressed when we allow our human perspective to overrule God’s purposes. He’d much rather that we see life through God’s eyes because doing so enables us to fully engage in what He’s doing.
What circumstances are you dealing with right now? As you think about them, ask yourself whose perspective you have. If you’re seeing them from a human point of view, invite God to tweak your sight. As I look at my to-do list with its lack of checkmarks, I think I’d better do that right now.
After the kids left the camp, our team collected used sheets and towels from each room to help the venue staff, ate lunch and went for a walk through the village. Everyone who lives here is unemployed. Why? Because they all worked at a nearby precious metals mine that closed about five years ago. Nowadays they earn income by fishing on the Danube River and selling their catch to their neighbors and those who pass through the town. Every few feet along the main road through the village, we saw signs indicating fish for sale.
I noticed many large houses along the road. That raised a question: How can the unemployed afford them? I asked one of our staff, and he explained that the owners made their money when the United Nations placed an oil embargo on Serbia during the civil war about 10 years ago. He said they transported gasoline across the Danube to the Serbian coast and sold it there for large profit. The Serbian coastal authorities never tried to stop them because they wanted the gasoline. The money earned from illegal sales provided the funding to build these houses with no debt. Now the owners are unemployed, but at least they won’t lose their houses.
When I’m overseas, watching people interact in the normal course of their day is one of my favorite things to do. (Someday I’d love to have a camera with a zoom lens so I can take facial photos without them noticing). This elderly lady was sitting on a bench in front of her house, creating a table runner. She seemed delighted that we stopped to admire her handiwork. She explained that she was copying a model, as seen in the picture. Then she began talking…and talking…and talking, oblivious to the fact that we couldn’t understand the majority of what she said.
I strained to listen to her story and managed to pick up a few words because they sounded like French. By piecing bits and pieces together, I understood that one of her family members lives in Canada but she hasn’t seen him for a long time. Most of her family is dead and the government gives her little or no pension. From the looks of her house, she probably has no indoor plumbing.
Within a couple of minutes, tears filled the woman’s eyes and spilled down her cheeks. My heart broke for her. What do I do, God? I prayed. The answer came back, Pray for her. And so I did. I placed my hand on her shoulder and began praying aloud in English – that God would comfort her, provide for her needs and draw her to a saving knowledge of Himself.
Despite our language barrier, the woman seemed to understand. She pointed to the sky and repeated the Romanian word for God several times. Finally, when I sensed the time was right to leave, I kissed her on both cheeks according to custom and bid her goodbye. I walked away feeling guilty for my very blessed life and praying that God would show Himself to her in a tangible way.
Each time I minister overseas – especially in a country such as Romania – I struggle with feelings of guilt. My life seems so easy compared to some peoples’ existence. I never worry about having sufficient food or where I’ll lay my head. When I face medical issues, I see my doctor and have them dealt with as quickly as possible. I have family and friends and the freedom to stay in touch with them.
Others cannot imagine such a life. They’re fighting to survive. They have neither clean drinking water nor the luxury of hot showers. The lucky ones glean an education and then leave their homeland to work abroad and send money back to support their loved ones.
Today was my birthday. Meeting this woman and praying with her made my day special. I’ll face the next year with a renewed attitude of gratitude for God’s presence and provisions, and with a deeper burden to pray for the disenfranchised. “Thank You, God, for this special gift.”
For those who regularly follow my blog, it’s time for me to switch it from devotional to travel again…
Look at the picture clues
and guess where I spent Friday! Actually, the majority was on a 747. But having a 7-hour layover at Heathrow airport meant we had time to ride the underground train into London where we saw the sights – Buckingham Palace, Big Ben (we heard it bong at 5:00 P.M.) and the House of Parliament (you can see it, too, if you look on a bottle of HP steak sauce). Then came the return hour-long train ride to Heathrow amidst commuters heading home to the suburbs. Oh my. Imagine standing…in the heat…squished by other passengers…after being awake for nearly 30 hours. Call it an adventure! We ended the day with a 2 ½ hour jaunt to Budapest, Hungary.
We reached our hotel around 1:00 A.M., grateful that the team’s 22 suitcases arrived intact and thankful for a room with air conditioning. It felt soooo good to crawl into bed. Talk about exhausted! And now we’re up and at it again, after about 5 hours of sleep. Today we’ll drive from Budapest to Resita, Romania. That’ll take at least 7 hours, I believe.
You might be wondering what we’re doing this time. My husband and I are leading a team of 9 volunteers to partner with five career missionaries. We’ll host a camp for young adults facing various challenges in life. We’re bringing craft supplies, hygiene items, snacks and Bibles. We’ve planned games galore. And we’ll be sharing insights from God’s Word to encourage the kids and reassure them that they’re loved and not forgotten. I can hardly wait to see the kids we spent time with last summer, and to make new acquaintances.
Re: craft supplies. I was especially blessed a week ago when a little girl named Joanne celebrated her 8th birthday back in B.C. In lieu of gifts, she asked her friends to donate money to buy soap and deodorant for these kids in Romania. The donations topped $180 so she bought candy and elastic thread for beaded bracelets, too. Then she came to our house with her mom, grandma and two sisters and helped assemble the bags of goodies we’ll give to each camper.
Last year we had wireless at the camp venue. I’m hoping the same will be true this week so I can continue posting about our experience. Stay tuned for more!
Proverbs 17:25 says, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” I can attest to that!
When preparations for upcoming speaking engagements, writing deadlines or missions trips overwhelm me, I find huge encouragement if someone says to me, “I’m praying for you.” Those words bring added encouragement if that individual actually prays for/with me via phone, email or in person. The reassurance that someone cares about me lightens my worry-load.
I remember one instance in particular. Last July, I was one hour from leaving for the Vancouver airport enroute to Romania. My husband and I were leading our first volunteer team to a camp for young adults living with HIV/AIDS. The prospect excited me, but I felt a little anxious about details such as how the team would mesh, how travel details would work out once we landed in Budapest, how effective we’d be, etc. Then the phone rang.
The caller was a local pastor – a man with whom I’d attended Bible college in the late 70s. I’d had no contact with him since because our lives had taken different directions. He was calling in response to a magazine article I’d written about dealing with the fear of financial insecurity. “Thank you for addressing this topic,” he said. “Where did you gain your insights?”
“From life experience,” I said. “My husband and I are missionaries, and we deal with it all the time.”
“Really? Tell me about your ministry,” he said. And so I did. I started by telling him that we were headed for Romania later that day. Guess what he said? “Let me pray for you right now.” Those words, spoken at that moment, stripped my worry away. They were like a hug from heaven, a divine reminder of God’s presence and blessing on us.
Perhaps you can relate. If you’ve experienced an encouraging word, please tell us about it. I guarantee – your words will be an encouragement to those who read them.
In the meantime, here’s a word for you today: “There is no one like the God of Israel, He rides across the heaves to help you. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you” (Deuteronomy 33:26,27).
Have a great weekend!
Yesterday the temperatures soared to 32 degrees Celsius. That’s mid-90s Farenheit. We’re very fortunate that our van had air-conditioning for 6-hour ride to Timisoara.
Funny how jet-lag hits mid-afternoon. I think nearly everyone took a nap enroute. My daughter Kim put her head on my shoulder and slept for about an hour; I must have slept, too, for suddenly I woke with my head on hers.
We went out for dinner with two of our four IM missionaries to talk about today’s agenda. Tresha, one of the wives, and her two wee children are home sick right now. They never get ill. Why now? Why am I not surprised?
Tresha’s husband, Andy, encouraged the team simply to love the teens to whom we’ll be ministering. And that’s exactly what we plan to do. Can’t wait to see these kids again – Gene and I have met most at the day center on two occasions already.
After dinner we walked in the city’s main square where the 1989 revolt began that resulted in the downfall of Communism in Romania. At the end of the square is a cathedral marked with memorials to the children who were shot and killed by army soldiers during that revolt. We sat on those steps where about a dozen children died only 20 years ago, for the sake of freedom. What a sobering moment.
Now it’s our turn to bless the children of Romania. Once camp begins tomorrow, we’ll be having two Bible lessons per day with a craft or activity to reinforce the message, crafts, sport activities, games, and boat rides. We brought marshmallows, Hershey bars, and graham crackers to teach them how to make s’mores. We have balloons, streamers, sparklers – to celebrate July 4 for the sake of our American team member, beads and hemp for necklaces, Mary Kay product for a spa afternoon for the girls, a rocket launcher built especially to blow off 2-litre pop bottles, and more. What a privilege to know and love these teens, all of whom have HIV/AIDS.
In the past 56 hours, I’ve had approximately 4 hours of sleep. Gotta do something about that right now! Good night, all.
We’re in Budapest! It’s 7:00 a.m. and I hear dogs barking, traffic, and a car siren that’s been blaring for at least 20 minutes already. Once in a while a train rumbles by and a plane takes off from the international airport a few minutes away.
Had three hours of sleep last night – the brain was too busy to sleep when we finally got to our room. Batted a few mosquitoes during the night, woke up with bites on my arm. “Oh Lord, give me strength for the busy travel day ahead.”
The trip from Vancouver to Budapest was excellent. Flew on a 747 and got seats in the bulkhead! What a treat! Landed in London for a six-hour layover. We decided to make the most of our time in England, so we jumped on a train that took us from Heathrow Airport directly to Hyde Park where we began a 2-hour walkabout. Saw Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, and the Thames River. All this in 90 degree heat and while on sleep deprivation. ‘Way to make a memory!
Back to Heathrow where we caught our connecting flight to Budapest. All our suitcases – personal and camp supplies – arrived. A driver from our hotel came immediately to pick us up. Couldn’t have been smoother. “Thank You, God, for making this so simple!”
We’ll have a staff prayer meeting after breakfast, and then load into two vans and begin our drive to Romania at 10 a.m.