Sunday, February 22, 2015

Our first Valentine's Day...and other news!

Happy weekend everyone!  Can you believe it's already the last week of February?  We can't!  And yet, the snow is melting, the temperature's rising, and we are daring to imagine that Spring is coming!

We have had a packed week!  It was so packed that I can't even fit it all into one post!  You'll have to stay tuned for more details... :)

Last weekend, on Valentine's Day, we began a bi-weekly meeting for women in Apalina.  We have many ideas like this one, but our issue is always finding a time to make them happen.  Since there are leadership trainings every other weekend in Apalina, we decided to use the alternate Saturdays for a meeting with the women.  Our first meeting brought somewhere between 40-50 women!  We began the afternoon in prayer, and then Adel shared a message about the love of God and what it gives us power to do.  We served snacks, and then we split into two discussion groups.  One discussion group was in Romanian, and the other group was in Hungarian.  The women are so open and ask incredibly honest questions, and I'm inspired by their vulnerability.  We're looking forward to next weekend's installment!

Hungarian group led by Adél T.

Romanian group led by Adél N.

Paul and I finally celebrated our very first Valentine's Day together!  We spent it quietly at home.  Paul grilled steaks in the dark on our balcony in 20-degree temperatures (true love!), we pulled the couch out into a giant bed, and we caught up on Scandal and Project Runway All-Stars.  Our parents sent us Valentine's Day cards that arrived before Valentine's Day (Thank you, Romanian postal service!), and Paul's parents even bought us a Carrabba's gift card that will be waiting for us in South Carolina in December for a never-too-late Valentine's Day date :)

Sorry for the shadows, but here's my grilled steak with gorgonzola steak butter, grilled squash, and Greek macaroni and cheese!  I praise God daily that my husband can cook (and he's not allergic to a sink full of dirty dishes, either!  Hallelujah.)

On Thursday, we had a wonderful opportunity to meet with a young couple from the States who are planning to move to Romania sometime in the next year and a half.  Zac and Aleece live in Searcy, Arkansas, and they feel called to relocate to Sfântu Gheorghe, a larger town than Reghin about 3.5 hours away.  Not only was their company a total breath of fresh air, Paul and I were encouraged and excited about their enthusiasm and vision for the future.  We're thrilled at the idea that in the future we might have each other to support and encourage, just a few hours apart.  As we talked, Paul and I shared some of what we've learned about living overseas, raising support, budgeting, and generally surviving Romania.  This was great for us, and we hope it was helpful for them, too!  Even though Paul and I have already been in some difficult circumstances and have learned some hard lessons, we have the chance to pass on our new knowledge, and that's a big blessing for us.  We can see how those difficulties had a purpose, thanks to our constant, ever-vigilant, doesn't-waste-anything Redeemer God.  Zac and Aleece also helped us receive free Bibles and materials from Eastern European Missions (EEM), but that's a story for another post!

This next part is big.  Really big!!

Last week, I posted our need for 10 scholarships for the AMEC Children's Ministry Conference.  I am so happy and overwhelmed with gratitude for your response!  We are now fully funded to be able to take all 10 children's workers to the conference!  THANK YOU!!!!!!  I can't wait to share about our trip to Sibiu on March 13-14.  You have encouraged me and increased my faith.  Thank you for your love for us, for your faithfulness to the One who calls us, and for your generosity to His children.  May you be blessed, big time!!!

And now, for something completely different:

As this new week begins, we're praying for an extra dose of strength and energy.  The past week was packed to the brim, and this weekend it's been one event after another.  We've been reading and researching a lot about overseas living, especially serving overseas in ministry, and we're doing better at understanding why we feel so tired sometimes.  Paul calls it "cultural stress."  It's not stress like we normally think of it: the adrenaline rush that comes from an overbooked schedule or an impossible-but-nonnegotiable deadline at work.  It's more like an underlying current, a silent leak, a constant flow of sometimes barely-noticeable extra pressure; extra expectations; extra explanations, misunderstandings, and re-explanations; extra demands and disappointments.  We're learning to be extra nice to ourselves and to give ourselves time and space to rest and receive.  But when the schedule just doesn't allow that for the foreseeable next (x)-number-of-days, we need extra grace and extra prayers.  (And extra chocolate?  Does it work that way?)  Thank You, Lord, for caring for us and for carrying us.  Amen.

- Katie

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