Saturday, September 13, 2014

Another Week Goes By: Still Settling In!

It's hard to believe that Paul and I have already been in Romania for about two and a half weeks.  So much of the time has been spent getting settled in and ready for the new school year to begin!  That finally happens Monday, and I know at least I am ready to be on some kind of regular routine!  Paul will be working at the after-school program each afternoon, so it will be good for me to figure out when I will be scheduling my own work time both at home and in the ministry.  I'm looking forward to finding some independence here, although it has been so wonderful getting to spend so much time together before the 'work year' begins!

As Paul wrote last week, I will be working primarily with the children's ministries here and with a new English outreach program we hope to start.  There is already children's work happening in most of the seven areas in which we have church meetings, but Attila's vision is to have them reorganized and revitalized through establishing a structure and a curriculum in a four-year cycle.  From talking with many of the leaders already, I can see how this curriculum plan will really help them know what and how to teach!  My prayer is that I will be able to help and support them and make their jobs easier so they can focus on building relationships with the children in their communities and their families.  We had our first big planning meeting this week.  I was so grateful for the turnout and I think we have established a great plan going forward!  Please pray for our wisdom in this new endeavor.

Besides the children's ministry meeting, this week I did even more settling in to our apartment.  I even did some baking!  I am determined to learn the ins and outs of my little gas oven and the different ingredients they have here.  One big difference is the sugar.  The granulated sugar here is very large, so when I bake according to my standard recipes in the states, the sugar doesn't melt into the pastry/brownie/cookie/whatever I'm making.  You can actually see each individual sugar granule still intact!  So, soon I will be experimenting! :) I may see if I can find some smaller sugar or if I can somehow ground the sugar into a size that will better incorporate when I'm baking :) So far, I've been able to make chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake-marbled brownies, regular brownies, and snickerdoodle bars!  I love to bake, and baking in our little apartment makes me feel even more at home here.  I will have to remember to take photos next time!

As far as the apartment goes, this week we bought a coffee table and a small chair for our living room.  We are determined to hang a gallery wall above our couch, but the cement walls present a big challenge for Paul to figure out how to make holes for nails and screws!  We are about halfway 'hung' and I'll wait to post a picture until we're all done.  For now, here is our newly decorated bookshelf and some of our new furniture!

Alongside the joys of being here and of course still being newlyweds, there have been some difficult moments as well.  Although I've been to Romania many times, I have never before moved here, and I think I've put some added pressure on myself to adjust and be independent right away.  However, that's made it easy to be overwhelmed!  For example, I've got to become familiar in two languages.  I need to be able to speak and understand Hungarian, because most of the people we work with along with all of our friends here are Hungarian and speak Hungarian in all social and church settings.  This is the language I've been studying for the past two years in the states, but I feel like such a beginner still!  I also need to learn Romanian for 'survival' here in our small town.  Reghin is only about 30% Hungarian, and while we've learned what shops and even which clerks around town speak Hungarian, a vast majority of our interactions outside of church - that means shopping, speaking with neighbors, paying bills and getting legal paperwork completed - need to be in Romanian.  In addition to learning these languages, I am struggling to learn to drive again!  Paul's car - and most cars here - is a standard, and I truly hate driving standard because I don't completely understand how it all works.  Since we will be sharing one car and we will frequently need to be in two different places at a time, I need to be comfortable at least driving his car around town and between villages.  We've been having driving lessons here and there, and I hope I'll get the hang of it soon!  Besides the languages and driving, I also need to keep learning to be a good wife, children's minister, English teacher, etc. etc. :)  It gets overwhelming fast!

Paul and I try to read a devotional together each day, and yesterday's was so timely for me.  The devotional's theme for the day was fear.  The devotional said that in each stage of life, the stakes seem to get higher, and life requires more and more courage to move forward in faith.  It spoke of the heros of faith in Hebrews 11 and how "...[they] weren't lauded because they were strong in themselves, but because they trusted God.  They were weak as they considered the tasks ahead of them, but when they trusted God, he turned their weakness into strength."  (The whole devotional can be found here.)  These words helped me to re-frame the challenges I am facing.  Paul and I believe God called us here to serve, and so we must believe He will equip us for the work in His own timing.  I can move forward in faith believing that He already knew my struggles before I arrived and He will take care of them all!  Being patient means more than just being patient with myself; it means being patient with God and watching the details of His plans unfold in the timing of His will.

Thank you for praying for us.  I hope to have more pictures of the apartment soon!

- Katie

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