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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