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Tuesday March 6th was our second to last day in Romania. That morning we were headed to spend time at a women’s rehab facility. Miheala had asked me earlier in the weekend if I would share my testimony again. Early that morning I went to pray and spend time preparing my heart and I was in a total fog. I can’t explain it – it was really strange. Annetta came upstairs and walked into the room and immediately shared with the others they needed to gather around me and pray – she didn’t know I was experiencing this mental fog but God knew I needed my sisters to rally around me and pray. We sang worship songs on the way and when we arrived I still felt very oddly foggy.
It came time to share my testimony and I prayed under my breath at each translation break. Asking that God would help me focus and share and speak what details He desired for me to share… I learned later that He had allowed me to speak with a clarity that I did not hear within my own mind… Because inside my mind it was muddy…sticky…difficult, like thick tar… I shared some new details and “secrets” I hadn’t previously shared and I also pointed everything back to the redemptive power of Jesus my King. I shared of the restoration and the true joy He gives. I shared of the life His water gives when we turn from our poisonous wells and seek to quench our longing with His “water.” And then Mihaela asked me to sing.
I had only planned to play a song called Clean by Natalie Grant but when Mihaela asked me to sing I knew immediately I was to sing No Longer Slaves by Bethel.
And I knew immediately to go to the back of the room and as I sang I raised my arms and hands high as though singing a proclamation of freedom over that house –
I’M NO LONGER A SLAVE TO FEAR – I AM A CHILD OF GOD!
I AM SURROUNDED, BY THE ARMS OF THE FATHER. I AM SURROUNDED BY SONGS OF DELIVERANCE. WE’VE BEEN LIBERATED FROM OUR BONDAGE WE’RE THE SONS AND THE DAUGHTERS LET US SING OUR FREEDOM!
His Spirit filled that room and touched those women. Tears were falling, hearts were moved. It was beautiful… I took no pictures but their beautiful faces and the echo of their tears are etched within my memory and for that I am so deeply grateful. Billie had a word for one of the women that hit her so deep but in such a precious, Holy Spirit led way. Those beautiful women that Jesus loves so deeply… I pray they embrace the love and freedom He has for them…
That afternoon we had the incredible opportunity to spend time with Anca & Maria at a foster home. They are wonderful women and are showing such love and care to the children that have been placed with them. Out of respect for Anca and the children I will not be posting pictures of them here but I will post a couple that don’t have their faces in them. It was so fun playing with them, praying for them, and being silly with them. They realized quickly we were kind and there to have fun and so they embraced us. One sweet girl held me so tight I almost started crying – but I kept my wits about me since I didn’t want to scare her – ha! We played games with them, they did dance routines for us because that’s something the 2 older girls LOVED doing haha and they built things with legos we brought them also. And I downloaded Snapchat to see if they liked seeing the filters on them and – I kid you not – those kids knew how to use that better than I did! hahaha!! So funny! I have some precious photos and videos (& snaps) from that beautiful day and I will cherish them always.
Next we had more Romanian fast food. I can’t remember the name of the place but it had a very happy smiley on the sign. Here’s my dinner: more mamaliga & sausage! YUM!
Never fear – I gave the gluten away 🙂
One other really special thing happened on Tuesday…While we were at Anca’s, our friends Adi & Elena came to bring us a gift. Elena had brought us each 2 of her grandmother’s handmade doilies!! Her grandmother is the reason she knows Jesus as her Lord and savior – one of our ladies had led her husband in the prayer of salvation just a few days earlier and so she wanted us to have a piece of her heritage by giving us something her grandmother had made by hand. Wow!! The generosity of the people here astounds me. I’m absolutely humbled to know these beautiful people and love them inexplicably. Just a few nights earlier (Sunday night) another sweet friend (Adina) and her husband (Flavius) came to bring us a special gift also. Her parents make pottery for a living and she brought us each 2 pieces of this gorgeous handmade pottery as a gift!! SO kind! We had asked multiple times if we could buy some so she even had extra sent to her via bus so we could buy it too!! We made certain to buy every extra piece so we could bless her family.
Wednesday March 8th was our last day in Romania! Wow! I can’t believe it came SO QUICKLY. It started with another fun breakfast at AMEC. This time it was a dill omelet – I could’ve eaten that every day – SO GOOD. Here are some photos of the place we had a lovely breakfast of cucumbers, tomatoes, cold cuts, various eggs, etc. – AMEC:
We had the opportunity to go into the Center that morning and visit Dana, one of our OSCES friends who works at neat coffee shop. I had the opportunity to eat at Super Mamma one more time! (Romanian Fast Food) and get to know Stephanie a little more. While some stayed at the church finishing up the art project in the children’s area the rest of us went to METRO to pick up food for preparing dinner for the homeless shelter that night. We chopped and chopped and prepped and then had the opportunity to feast on the stew Michael had prepared. So good! We also enjoyed some eggplant spread that Mihaela had made that was delicious! We ate so much of it and enjoyed it so much that Adi went and got more from his house for us to eat. HAHA!! Again, their generosity blows me away!
(random, the last 2 pictures were from a public toilet in the center. I found it interesting that she’s behind glass like we were at a bank! And….yes…she measures out your TP for you before you go….Hope you asked for enough) 😉
Okay…okay…back to ministry stuff: upon finishing up the food, we had the opportunity to see the living room area where the church used to meet. Wow!! God has done big things for Michael & Mihaela’s church and greater days are still yet to come! We then went to the homeless shelter and provided dinner, sang Our God as a group, and chatted with folks there. We had brought socks and items to bless the men and women there and had prepared them in bundled packages to give away. They were very grateful for the toiletries, scarves, hats, socks, etc. They were also grateful for the dinner. We had more than enough and it was an honor to share with them.
Something really cool from earlier that day was that Michael explained the variety of stuff that we had been involved in. He explained that everything we had done was connected to a ministry someone in the church was connected to and had their hearts in. So we had the honor and privilege of coming alongside these folks and serving with them and loving those they love and it was awesome!! From the foster home to the homeless shelter to the women’s rehab facility to the radio station and on and on and on. Wow! God is doing big things in Romania through Michael’s church. I pray He continue to rise up people whom are ready to go and be His hands and feet and heart!
Some of us were crazy enough to stay up ALL NIGHT LONG on Wednesday night, haha!! We knew we were leaving at 4 am to fly home and this would help with the transition and fend off jet lag. There was a midnight Romanian pizza delivery, a lot of silliness and laughter, some coffee, and some that dropped like flies but 3 remained strong: Addie, Tinsley, & I made it the whole night. We were deliriously tired but knew that would help us on the planes…
Thursday morning (March 9th) at 5 am we arrived at the airport to head back to the US. Our precious friend Magda had changed her shift at the airport to be able to be there and say goodbye. She helped us get checked in and then gave us hugs as we boarded the plane. I was blessed enough to have accidentally gotten outside before they realized it wasn’t boarding time yet so I was able to spend a few extra moments with Magda and steal a photo:
On the planes I was able to get the gluten free food I had requested and it was actually really good:
Our flights were relatively uneventful – unless you count that last connection where we literally RAN through the MASSIVE airport like that scene from Home Alone where we are about to miss our plane and then thankfully make it and get settled and breathe because we know the next stop is ATL. Phew – I was SO glad I wore layers :).
There were other adventures and fun moments but this is getting longer than I typically allow…better wrap it up. Thank you for following our journey. We are already planning for our trip back and until then I will pray for my new friends and stay connected thanks to the beautiful world of technology. Until then, te iubesc my Romanian friends!
Love in Christ,
PS – If you would like to know how you can partner with the Gravitts and the incredible ministry they are doing in Romania – please let me know and I can get your contact info to them. I can get you added to their newsletters that go out. If you’d like to bless their ministry with a financial gift, please feel free to do that via our church’s website, here:
http://www.thecitychurch.cc/giving-1/ (indicate it’s for the Gravitt’s when the field comes up to select what you are giving to). Blessings!!!
March 5th marked the 6th day in Romania and this trip seemed to really be flying by at that point! I was starting to feel healthier each day (thank Jesus!) but still weak and battling illness. Naturally I was still quite tired and in disbelief that our time was passing so quickly! That morning we had the awesome privilege of worshipping God with brothers and sisters in Christ at Michael’s church. We also had the opportunity to hear several of them share what God was speaking to them that morning. This was especially touching because many of the women boldly stood up and shared what God did in their lives as a result of the conference we had just wrapped up the night before (see Romania – Days 4 & 5.)
I can’t believe it’s been 4 weeks ago. That morning at church was so moving for me. There’s something incredible about worshipping God alongside others with multiple languages lifting high the name of Jesus.
It was also a very humbling experience because the women shared about how God spoke to them through our conference over the prior 2 days. Each one of the ladies on our team had left lasting impacts on the hearts of the Romanian women for the glory and honor of God – He had done (and I trust continues to do) big things in their lives. We are so humbled to have been used by Him in this way!
Several things were said that touched my heart but at this moment I am thinking about how one sweet young woman shared that after hearing my testimony and all I had been through and having seen me worship so “enthusiastically” that she saw that I was truly joyful because of what God had done in my life and brought me out of. She was challenged to deepen her worship, too. Wow! YES! AMEN! That is it!! I worship from a place of deep gratitude. I think about the words and pray the lyrics as I’m singing and I sing them as if He’s with us in the room (because He is!!) They are not just songs!! We are singing powerful declarations!! And sometimes I cannot contain myself. He’s SO GOOD!!!
“I love God because he listened to me,
listened as I begged for mercy.
He listened so intently
as I laid out my case before him.
Death stared me in the face,
hell was hard on my heels.
Up against it, I didn’t know which way to turn;
then I called out to God for help:
“Please, God!” I cried out.
“Save my life!”
God is gracious—it is he who makes things right,
our most compassionate God.
God takes the side of the helpless;
when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.”
Psalm 116 1-6
Love the song Mercy by Amanda Cook!! I’m SO grateful He delights in showing mercy!!
There were other stories and sharing of how God had touched the hearts of so many women. We were moved to tears and blessed by hearing their kind and courageous words. We also had the opportunity to take pictures with many of them that morning before heading into the center for lunch with the Gravitt’s and then splitting up for ministry assignments that night. Here are some pictures from Sunday morning:
After having an awesome lunch and afternoon with the Gravitt’s we split the team up for ministry. A handful of us went to hang out with the OSCES crew. They are a student ministry at the local college and they wanted to talk to us about school, being missionaries in our jobs back home and on our campuses in our college days if we were believers at that time. Such incredible young men and women! They have an amazing future ahead of each of them. How blessed they are to be serving God so young and with big dreams already! It was such a privilege to sit with them and share our personal journey’s and perspectives on faith-based programs at college and methods for reaching their campuses for Christ. Here’s a group photo!
Monday March 6th was our (mostly) free day and we took a 3+ hour, bumpy, adventurous van ride to Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania! It was a neat day where I got to spend a lot of time with Tinsley & Marcie – SWEET girls!! I enjoyed much fun with my mission sisters and that night we were able to take all of the church volunteers and translators out to a nice dinner when we returned to Sibiu. It was a very late night but very enjoyable – also full of some sad goodbyes :(. Here are a few pictures from Monday:
Just a couple more days to share about… Feel free to check back and/or subscribe. Thanks for reading and sharing in my journey! ❤
Love in Christ,
Friday 3/3 marked our 4th day in Romania. After spending Thursday resting, praying, and preparing I was ready! God had spoken clearly to me and I was excited to get our conference started that night! I just knew big things were coming. Our whole team knew it, we’d been praying for and expecting it for quite a while as we prepared for this trip.
Friday was busy, and began with a delicious breakfast at AMEC:
Addie and Annetta took time to stuff the journals with beautiful bookmarks Addie’s mother had made for the women:
and we planned out the necessary details of the day. Some of us had to go to the grocery store to get supplies for the conference. There’s a deli there with hot (actually cold) food options so we planned to eat lunch there also. It was a neat place and they were playing Love Shack throughout the store when we arrived. haha! 🙂
Later that day it was time for the conference to begin. We got the tables decorated, practiced the music, made sure the schedule was ready and everything else you don’t know you need to do to get a conference going in a foreign country 🙂 – haha!
I was having trouble when we were preparing for worship and I could barely practice. I started pulling back and trying to reserve my voice. Before the conference got started, Addie & I were upstairs in the little kitchen grabbing hot tea because she was struggling, too. We agreed together as we sought the Lord for His strength and ability. We know the powerful things that happen when we rejoice and battle through worship and praise. We asked that He be honored and glorified because we are there in His strength and it is His ability that equips us to carry out His work. After praying we went on down to get started with the conference. It was a beautiful evening!! I began to sing lead on No Longer Slaves and while singing God touched me and I felt a physical change and my full voice return!! He allowed us to sing with power!! I found out later that people were weeping during worship. So honored to serve with Kathy & Addie & our Romanian friends through the worship ministry there. Still so honored to have had this opportunity!
Friday night was amazing! We planned a mixed worship set so that the Romanian team would lead some and we would lead some. I loved getting to hear Marcel & Demisa lead worship for the with Stefan on the cajone (I’m sure I spelled that wrong…) They are SO talented!!
Saturday was also incredible. I witnessed God do big things in the hearts and minds of the women. He really reached into their hearts and encouraged them and ministered to them. They would share with us some tough but incredibly humbling stories of how our stories connected with them and how God had encouraged them through us! I’m so grateful to have been a part of this.
Something that was really incredible that I want to point out is that God took 10 VERY different women and spoke to each of us what He wanted us to share and though we didn’t know what each one was going to share – it fit PERFECTLY together. It was beautiful!! Like an intricate puzzle that only He could create, this conference flowed so well. He was at work in every tiny detail. Right down to the worship songs that had been placed throughout. It was amazing to see how each one connected somehow with the other. There’s so much I loved about this conference but there are a couple of things that I want to share about here: Sisterhood and our stories are worth telling…
Sisterhood. These women need each other. They need to know it’s okay that life gets messy and it’s okay to let someone in to “see” your “mess” so that you can encourage, challenge, and pray for one another. It’s healthy to have that friend that you can share anything with that will tell you to your face when you’re wrong or need correction but will hold you and cry with you when you’re breaking and the world and everything in it doesn’t make sense. The one that will pray bold and heartfelt prayers with you because their heart is intertwined with yours. These are what we call sister-friends back home, and this is what we call a sisterhood. We need each other. And we all have stories worth telling. My beautiful friend Melodie began the discussion about the importance of this when she taught on Sisterhood Friday night.
You have a story worth telling. Unbeknownst to me, my talk would compliment this too when I shared that Saturday afternoon. My message was more of a testimony… I shared some VERY difficult things from my past. I shared of pain, abuse, shame, and brokenness. I shared about a broken girl on a broken way whom had lost all hope at one point. I also shared though about how God knew in advance what I would need…and who I would need. He sent me a treasure in the form of my best friend from back home (her name just so happens to be Amy too!) She would say the tough things I didn’t want to hear but desperately needed. She also would speak life into me and pray harder with me and for me than I knew how to pray myself. I am who I am today because of the gift that is her friendship. I needed a sister-friend, we all need a sister-friend. We were never meant to do life alone. Never.
As I shared about the hard moments and the miracles and the blessings, I was moved and humbled at the tears that these beautiful women shed alongside me. Even my precious translator was wiping her tears as she communicated my story. As I exposed my very naked soul before these strangers I found such encouragement and freedom. I shared because I wanted them to see that no matter how dark life can seem, no matter how difficult things can be, and no matter what you’ve been through or has been done to you – NOTHING is beyond the redemption and grace and restoration of Jesus. He can take those ashes and give you beauty. He can restore joy that is so true and so pure that no one and no thing can take it away. Some of that was understood and some was spoken but our hearts connected that day in a way that I cannot fully explain with words.
I have a story worth telling. You have a story worth telling. Don’t hide and don’t do life alone. Allow others in so they can pray with you, laugh with you, cry with you, rejoice with you, and love you. And as you share your story, don’t forget to give glory to the One Who gives you life and every good thing.
Love in Christ,
Pictures from the conference:
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them SING joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with JOY.”Psalms 5:11 NLT
To sing praises when you’re shackled to prison walls (Paul & Silas) after enduring undeserved suffering as a result of doing ministry – you have to believe that the God you serve truly is working all things for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28.) How did the early followers of Jesus do it? How could Paul and Silas sing praise when they should feel broken-down? (Acts 16:16-40)
Paul had seen Jesus. Walked with Him and spent time with Him. Silas was a teacher and leader in the church but that isn’t what made him strong. He had spent time getting to know the true character of the God we serve – His strength came from God. He had a belief and faith that was deeply rooted so when he accompanied Paul on a mission trip to Philippi he was not shaken by the difficult circumstances they encountered.
Why do we allow things to fill the empty spaces in our day that have no eternal value? What if we made God a priority instead of a convenience or afterthought? What if we spent more time consuming His Word and filling our hearts and minds with songs that proclaim the fame of His great name? What would we be able to accomplish for Him as a result of the fear that would fall off and the faith that would rise up?
#fearlessworship #relentlessworship #fearintofaith #preachingtomyself #jesusiseverything
Thursday, March 2nd marked our 3rd day in Romania. As mentioned in my Day 2 post I was VERY sick. Like sicker than I had been in years, so much so that I posted my first ever please-pray-for-me-I-think-I’m-dying-middle-of-the-night-post (ha! Well…it’s funny now…wasn’t so much then.) My team had encouraged me to rest today and as mentioned in the middle-of-the-night-post (linked above) I had spent time in prayer and had peace that it was exactly what I was supposed to do. Plus…I was SO weak.
I spent time sleeping, reading the word, listening to music, and praying. Billie was resting too because she was beginning to not feel well. I have prayed hard each night that she would not get sick :(. Poor roomie! That girl can sleep though! I guess anyone could after they’d been kept up each night by their coughing roomie 😐 . I slipped out of the room to go to the common area with my blanket and pillow because the guys in the courtyard were sawing wood for building picnic tables and bookshelves – SO LOUD. Plus..I wanted to study for a bit and since I was awake I was coughing more and didn’t want to wake Billie with my paper rattling and lung-hacking…
There was a point during the day where we were both awake though and I somehow got around to sharing my testimony. She read my notes for my talk I was to share at the conference on Saturday and I shared a lot of detail about my testimony – things I hadn’t planned to share at the conference. Billie affirmed that I definitely needed to share those things. She explained that it would really resonate with some of the people there and not to leave it out – this was clearly one of the reasons we were at AMEC today. I fully believe God wanted to use this time for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28) and while He had me slowed down and had my attention He clarified what I needed to share on Saturday. He also allowed me time to pray for my team as they ministered in Boiu village. Our schedule here was so packed that I would not have had the time to slow my mind and spirit for this conversation and contemplation otherwise. Man – He truly uses all circumstances when we let Him!
During my time in the Word I had spent time reviewing Isaiah 40:21-31 and I was reminded by the Lord that I was there in His strength – not my own. I didn’t have to fear or stress over what was ahead of me and if I would be ready because He is able to sustain me, equip me, and guide me. I just need to be willing and show up. Even if I’m afraid, I just need to show up and have more faith than fear.
Something else I realized is that yet again, God had given me provision for this journey! In the middle of February I had gone to the clinic at work and was diagnosed with mild bronchitis and given meds. I was on the mend however the Wednesday before I was to leave for Romania, I was at work and realizing I was having chronic allergy symptoms again. (TMI warning) I have a deviated septum, a cyst (benign) in my sinus cavity, and I’m allergic to something year round – so…I get sinus infections quickly that can become bacterial and require antibiotic (ugh! I hate taking them.) I have a clinic at work and almost went back to to see them however I really felt strongly I should contact my PCP and see if she would prefer to see me. She wanted me to come in the Friday before I left so she could see how I was and determine if my bronchitis had healed. I was actually doing really well, much better but as a precaution she sent me with a Rx for an antibiotic and steroid pack. God provided me with the medicines I would need before I realized I would need them! And this was great because the 2 pharmacies I had been to in Romania did not even have the OTC medicines I use when my allergies ramp up like diphenhydramine.
Billie and I also took time to organize all of the supplies for upcoming ministry in Romania. We sorted out all of the conference give-a-way items, bagged up the goodies for the men and women at the homeless shelter, prepared items for the women at the rehab facility, etc. With two of us tackling it, we were able to knock it out pretty quick and enjoy each other’s company in the process while the rest of our team was away doing ministry in the village.
Speaking of the team, they were at Boiu village most of the day. When they came home late that night they brought Billie & I some dinner from Super Mamma (kabob pui! yum 🙂 ). We ate our meal and listened to their stories. It was a very different experience, they shared. My friend Marcie shared how she was coloring with some sweet boys and one young one looked so sleepy. He let her pick him up and she was rocking him and the big brother came over and got him and they left. I imagine they are not super trusting of adults, or strangers. It was clear this boy was caring for his little brother. I think they said he was no more than 8…maybe even 6, and his younger brother was around 2/3. I can’t imagine what they experience as Roma children in a village in Romania. I’m so thankful for after-school programs like what Stelli and Christina provide! My team also told me about how Stelli and Christina are translating the bible into the Roma languages! Wow! How incredible is that! Here’s a video about the after-school program (click here.)
Here are some pictures from Boiu courtesy of my super talented friend Addie:
Thanks for reading! I’ll share more about the other days we were blessed to be in Romania soon. Feel free to subscribe or come back soon to check them out.
Blessings & love in Christ,