Thursday, April 30, 2015

Best of Instagram: FOOD Edition!

Fresh eggs (a gift from some friends)

...Bacon Snacks?  (We haven't tried these...yet!)

How we buy our lettuce... with the dirt still attached! :)

Eating mici and sausage at the weekly market in Reghin

Buying eggs looks like this!

New arrival to Romania: Reese's!! (And we all breathe a collective sigh of relief!)

Buying sour cream looks like this (it's fresh!)

They taste like... chicken!

Classic chocolate treat :)

They've got all kinds of crap at the grocery store! (crap is a type of fish)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Making Connections in 2015

Hi everyone!

This week, I'd like to take a break from posting an update about our work from the past week.  Instead, I hope to give you some insight into what our life here has been like for the last few months.  As you've read and seen here on our blog or through our newsletters, we've had an exciting year already, and we're busy every week with one ministry opportunity after another.  But how are we really doing behind all the photos of packed churches and boxes of donated clothing?  Well, each week is different, and each day is different!  We have ups and downs just like the rest of you.  It's not always easy to share when we're feeling discouraged - and it's certainly not as fun as sharing when everything is great!

Those of you who have been following along with Paul and me since we came to Romania last year remember that the fall of 2014 was full of big changes in our lives.  Of course, being newly married was a big change from our very independent single lives!  Paul was already living overseas, but my joining him here full-time while taking up a place in the ministry was a huge challenge all its own.  Since I'd been visiting Romania for the past 8 years, I (rather foolishly!) underestimated the culture shock and big adjustments I'd experience upon moving here full-time.  Paul had already been living here for almost two years, so even though we were facing the challenges of new marriage together, I felt alone in the other transitions I was facing.  It was a rough few months, and I was grateful for the opportunity to return to the States at Christmastime for our yearly visit.  I desperately needed to regroup and regain perspective on what I'd committed to do.

As a part of my reflection and realignment in the States, I realized that I felt a need to connect with other overseas workers who might be facing similar challenges.  Although I'd stayed in close contact with several key friends and family members throughout my first months in Romania, I knew they couldn't always understand what I was going through.  Before Paul and I departed from the States to return to Romania in early January, I made up my mind to seek connection in 2015 - connection with other women here in Reghin, connection with other Americans living in Romania, and connection with other overseas workers throughout the world.  Setting this goal has turned out to bear more fruit than I ever could have imagined!

First, I started telling people about my desire to connect.  I posted something on Facebook about finding other American missionaries in Romania, and from that I was able to start a small Facebook group.  I got to read about other work going on here, and we shared tips for tasks like finding familiar grocery items!  One day, one of the other Americans in that group posted an article from an online blog collective called A Life Overseas.  Before she posted the article, I had no idea that there was a community like this out there - an online community of overseas workers serving in ministry in all corners of the globe!  And it was a community that loved to write about their experiences!  My eyes were glued to my computer screen for what must have been hours as I poured over article after article of people sharing my questions and pain and doubts and fears and joys!  I soaked in the wisdom, counsel and advice I found.  It was life-giving.  And if that wasn't enough, through A Life Overseas, I was led to Velvet Ashes, another blog collective, but this time just for women serving overseas.  Through Velvet Ashes, I have joined a small group (hosted on Facebook!), participated in an online retreat, and followed along with a book club!  These communities are transforming the way I see myself and our ministry, and they're doing the same thing for so many men and women around the world!

In addition to these incredible online communities, the other missionaries I've connected with have taught me a lot; most of all, they've helped me to feel like I'm not alone!  Isolation, real or imagined, has to be one of our greatest enemies.  Paul and I attended an English worship service in a nearby city (we never before knew the group existed!), and through that opportunity, we learned there are other Americans living even closer to us than we had realized.  As we've already shared, Paul and I met the Kelleys, an American couple who is planning to move to Romania sometime next year.  Sharing a passion for Romania has already begun knitting our hearts together.  Finally, so many of you - our friends and supporters back home - have rallied around us, sending encouraging cards and emails and even making time to Skype with us!  I'm not sure if you'll ever know how much your care means to us.

Because we feel how much you care for us, I want to share a few links to some articles that have really spoken to me and clarified some thoughts and feelings I have about our work overseas.  If you take the time to read through one, some, or all of these articles, I hope you'll be able to understand better what our life is like and what it feels like to be "us."  I'm looking forward to sharing more in the future about what goes on in our lives "behind the scenes."  Anyway, I'll let these articles speak for themselves.  If you get a chance, let us know if one of them stands out to you or teaches you something you didn't know before!

From A Life Overseas - main page
From Velvet Ashes - main page

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Parenting and Pantries

We've had a great week of ministry here!  Paul's parents, along with two friends, Kathy and Wanda, have been here serving us all week, and we're so thankful!

Paul's mom, Cindy, works at the Lowcountry Pregnancy Center in Charleston, SC, and she heads up the education program there.  She teaches parenting classes for new moms, and this week she shared her expertise with the women of our churches!  She taught engaging, thought-provoking and practical classes in Gornesti, Reghin, Apalina and Glodeni!  She was also gracious to answer any and all questions that were thrown her way!  We're thankful for her godly wisdom and loving perspective.  Thanks, Cindy!

Teaching in Gornesti

Teaching in Apalina

Wanda and Kathy are two more women with a heart for women's ministry, and they have unique perspectives on issues many women face.  They also taught sessions in four churches this week about anger, bitterness, God's forgiveness and forgiving ourselves.  They also spoke into the hearts of post-abortive women and women who have suffered the pain of miscarriage.  Thank you both for your love and service this week!

Cindy, Kathy and Wanda

While the women have been busy with meetings and prayer times, Paul's dad, Joe, has been hard at work on construction projects in Apalina and in our apartment, too!  At the church in Apalina, he built a small closet and helped to enclose an open staircase with safety railings.  In our apartment, he redesigned our "garage" and "pantry" storage spaces with custom shelving!  We are so lucky!  (We call the small closet near our front door the "garage" because that's where we put all the "garage"-y stuff like tools, brooms, suitcases, the Christmas tree, etc.)

"Garage" BEFORE

"Garage" AFTER!  (Can't even fit all the organization in one photo!)



Pantry AFTER (New shelves along the wall!  And look at all the cake mixes and peanut butter our guests brought for us!!!!)

Pantry AFTER (I still need to work on rearranging the pre-existing shelves!  But I couldn't wait to show off my father-in-law's handiwork!)

We've shared so many fun meals and new memories during our time together this week!  Next week, school is back in session and so are all of our other responsibilities!  I'm looking forward to a mid-year review of the children's ministry curriculum, some spring cleaning in our ministry storage spaces, dinner guests, and beginning our May e-newsletter!  We've also got some summer camps to plan!  Thanks for your prayers, and thanks for following along!


Friday, April 17, 2015

New E-mail Subscription Service

Did you know you can now subscribe to receive our blog updates right in your email inbox?!  No more checking Facebook or googling our names each weekend!  On the right-hand sidebar, just enter your email address in the box under the words, "Follow Us By Email."  On the days we update the blog, you'll receive an email in your inbox with the newest post!  Enjoy the convenience! And thanks for following along with us!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Happy Easter... times two!

Happy Spring and Happy Easter!  We have been loving some much warmer weather, and I've gotten to celebrate my very first Easter here in Romania!  The state church of Romania is the Eastern Orthodox church, so they celebrated their Easter weekend last weekend.  The weekend before, the Hungarian Catholic and Hungarian Protestant churches celebrated their Easter, so we've gotten to enjoy lots of festivities both in our churches and out in the community!

One Easter tradition here is the making of floral wreaths to adorn the gates of village homes.  On the Monday after Easter, Hungarian boys will visit the homes of girls and recite poems while sprinkling the girls with perfume.  They'll also deliver handmade floral wreaths.  In return, the girls give the boys decorated Easter eggs.  It's a colorful tradition!  Here are some beautiful Easter wreaths that we found on the gates of homes in Gornesti!

This week, we've got some special visitors in town!  Paul's parents are here, along with two of their friends.  Paul's dad is doing some construction work on the church in Apalina and in our apartment, and Paul's mom is teaching some classes on parenting!  The other ladies are also teaching some classes for women regarding post-abortive issues, anger and forgiveness.  We're so thankful to have them here serving us and serving the people in our area.  We'll share some more pictures next week, but here's a taste of what we've done so far!

Paul's parents and their friends arrived to Cluj

Sunday morning church in Gornesti

Paul's parents teaching about being role models to the kids in our families

I drove the minibus for my very first time to transport a group of ladies to Gornesti!

Dinner in the Kalanyos home


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dealing with disappointment

Being a missionary in another culture brings many challenges.  Some may be physical (learning to adjust to new foods), others spiritual (people not responding, questioning calling).  One of the biggest challenges for me has been dealing with disappointment in my relationships with people.  I always want to believe the best about people.  I don't think this is a bad thing.  I think it helps me to be open to people in ways that others might not be.  It also opens me up to a lot of hurt when I am disappointed.  

Last week was the perfect example of this.  One of the people who I have been working with for many years did something to totally destroy any trust that had been built up between us.  At first I was sad and hurt at the betrayal.  Someone who I had truly started to think of as a friend had now thrown that friendship away.  Then I became angry.  How could I have spent so much of my time and energy on this relationship?  Why didn't I believe others when they said this person was hopeless?  What was God thinking in putting this person in my life?  Can I still be effective here?  The questions kept coming.  The more I thought about it, the angrier I got.

At the same time, I started asking myself if I would ever be able to trust someone in that community again.  I don't want to be that way.  I don't think that's the right reaction, nor is it the appropriate example as I serve here.  But where do I draw the line?  How do I know who to trust...where to invest time in relationships?  

Now that it's been almost a week since this happened, my anger has subsided.  I have hope again that I can continue developing deeper, closer relationships with those I work with.  I wish I could say I have it all figured out, that I know exactly where to draw the line of trust.  I'm still working on this as I ask God to direct me in these relationships.  Our relationships with people here are so important to the work that we do.  Please pray for us as we seek to understand this lesson while honoring God in our relationships with others.