Arrival and Sightseeing in Byblos

6 Jul

Yesterday (Thursday) we arrived in Lebanon after about 21 hours of travel. We are all excited and exhausted to arrive in Beirut, where we we greeted by Jeremy, Sara, and Thad Boucher, a Calvary family who just moved here two weeks ago. We shared a dinner of shawarma, hummus, and pita bread while getting to know Brent (our primary contact here), his mother Becky, his fiancΓ© Ruth, and several of the older boys. Brent and Ruth are getting married on Friday! Tiffany and I are sharing an apartment with Becky, who is in for Brent’s wedding. Thanks be to God, I slept straight through the night, which was much needed rest for the day of sightseeing ahead.

Over a breakfast of bread with cheese or thyme and sesame, we learned more about the weeks ahead and got to meet Fadi, who has worked here since 1991. His heart for and devotion to these kids is inspiring. We checked out the grocery store, which is just below Dar El Awlad (and much nicer than my local grocery store, might I add), then headed out for some sightseeing.

We are blessed to have Tim, the history buff, as our leader. He showed us the Ruins of Nahr El-Kalb along the Dog River, where every group/leader who came through and conquered Lebanon left an inscription or carving, including Napoleon and Ramses. We had a phenomenal view of the Mediterranean from the top.

We journeyed on to Byblos, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, where we toured Phoenician ruins, shopped, swam in the Mediterranean Sea, and ate a phenomenal Lebanese dinner overlooking the sunset across the sea. God is glorious.

(Pictures are slow to upload through the internet connection here, so hop on over to Facebook and check them out:Β https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.3247628839741.2113512.1537530061&type=1&l=06ca2362c6)

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Journey to Lebanon

3 Jul

It’s summer, which means it is time to revive my summer missions blog. I am excited to embark on a journey to a new country and culture, this time as Minister of Missions with Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, TX. On Wednesday, July 4, 2012, we head to Beirut, Lebanon to work with the Dar El Awlad Boys’ Home of Kids Alive International, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Please be in prayer as we fly out tomorrow afternoon. I’ll do my best to chronicle our adventures here. I cannot wait to see God’s mighty hand at work in Lebanon.

Our team will blog throughout the trip as well on www.lebanoninjuly.blogspot.com. Check it out!

Szia…see ya

12 Jun

Saying goodbye is never my favorite thing to do. Fortunately, you never have to say goodbye to other Christians, just see you later. πŸ™‚

Most of my students after our final class

Friday was our last day of class in Gherla. While I was sad to say goodbye to our students and the many new relationships created there, I am excited for the future and the growth that will come from our two weeks there. I was incredibly blessed by the people of this Hungarian Baptist Church and my precious students. I will continue to pray that they learned infinitely more than English, but that they felt God’s love through me. We parted with lots of hugs, kisses, and even some tears. Hugs and “I love you”s from my sweet students is all the reward for the weeks of work I could ask for. They are such jewels of children, and I will always remember the love I received from them. I am excited to continue my relationships with them. Some have already emailed and friended me on facebook. yay technology!

These three weeks, God has given me renewed hope, shown his great provision, and reminded that each moment of my life is an incredible blessing filled with his presence.

The people have invited us to return and teach next year. Everyone I told goodbye in both Somosjuvar and today in Oradea asked when I will return. I have to tell them that I’ll be back if that is God’s will. My blogs from my Romania trip in 2009 end the same way. It’s been an amazing journey! Who knows, maybe God will send me back here one day.

In the mean time, I’m happy to be back home tomorrow and for the adventures that await this summer and throughout my senior year at Baylor.

To Romania, I say “szai” (that’s like hi or bye, and ironically is pronounced “see ya”) πŸ™‚

“Nothing Blog-worthy”

9 Jun

When my dad asked me last night how this week has been, I told him it’s been really good, just nothing blog-worthy. His response caused me to reevaluate that idea.

It’s pretty silly that even in Romania, as I spend my days preparing and my nights teaching, I can even forget the wonder and majesty of what is happening. Of course it is blog-worthy. I’m blessed to have this opportunity. I’m building incredible relationships that will extend into eternity, I’m receiving loads of love from precious children, and I’m cherishing this wonderful time with my Gran. How many granddaughters get to spend three weeks with their grandmother serving the Lord overseas? I was guilty of ignoring my blessings because everything was going smoothly. I am sorry for that. And I know that I am guilty of this all of the time.

This phenomenon of thinking our lives are “nothing blog-worthy,” happens regularly in our Christian lives. Then we met a new Christian, or someone who has experienced a real miracle, and think to ourselves, and notice the difference. We forget to be excited about Jesus! We forgot the glory of his salvation and the very real presence of his spirit. We ignore his majesty in the flowers, the clouds, and in filling our lungs with breath each morning.

So, I take it back. Every moment has been incredibly blog-worthy, filled with God’s love, his provision, refreshing rains, beautiful sunshine, and the majesty of my saviour king.

How has your week been?

God is always working.

6 Jun

And he always provides for our needs.

Yesterday, I woke up feeling pretty crummy, and actually fainted from dehydration. We worked and played hard in Lapus on Saturday, and there just wasn’t any noncarbonated water around. After giving Gran a pretty bad scare πŸ™‚ we decided to rest upstairs during church and just do church ourselves. Who would’ve thought that I’d be the one sick and not the seventy-four-year-old. πŸ˜‰ After the service, Annamaria came up to check on me. Gran and I had been researching dehydration online, and it says that when you faint from dehydration, you should go to the emergency room. Obviously, that wasn’t really an option we wanted to pursue here. We knew that I needed something other than water to replenish the electrolytes my body desperately needed, but how? Annamaria had the answer and again, we didn’t even have to ask. God provides. Annamaria told us she had some electrolyte strips for dehydration from America. I’m still not sure how she had them, but thanks be to God that she did.

When Annamaria returned with the electrolyte strips, juice, and crackers, she expressed that she never knew why she had those electrolyte strips. She had never needed them. Now she knew why. God planned the whole thing. He knew I would be here at this exact time and need them. Those strips made the journey all the way from a Walgreens in the US to Romania to bring me back to good health yesterday, and after my day of rest, I am happy to say that I am in great health and had a wonderful Monday, with all praise to God. He is always working, and he always provides for our needs.

Hope

3 Jun

Two years ago, I spent one month in Romania working with Romanian orphans. I loved on young girls in an orphanage where the older girls started prostituting them out as soon as age eleven. I felt so hopeless leaving those precious 4, 5, 6-year-old girls there, knowing that my time there made very little impact on their bleak future. The system needs to change. This experience is part of what is driving to pursue macro social work.

Yesterday, I learned that my darling Krisztina, the six-year-old who brought me the ice cream, is adopted. My heart swelled when I received this news. She is just the age of some of the children I loved on two years ago. Hugging her here, now, knowing that she is in a home with parents who love her and are involving her in activities in a church, makes me cry joyful tears. There is no doubt in my mind that this opportunity to love on her now is a gift of hope from God. She is a reminder that God provides and his plans are so much bigger than I can see. He sets the fatherless in families. He never forgets a one of his children, no matter how oppressed and isolated. I don’t even know how to adequately express the deep emotions I’m feeling. It’s like God just dropped her in my lap to deliver daily hugs, smiles, and genuine happy eyes to me from his father heart. I have renewed hope.

On another note, I have a proud mama moment for you all. In class yesterday, my students wrote in complete sentences in English using the vocabulary we’ve learned this week. That’s right! Sentences! They didn’t know any of these words or how to say anything more than “My name is…” five days ago. πŸ™‚ I’m so proud of them! They’re really learning! I love these darling ones!

This morning, Gran and I traveled with Pastor Vilmos and his family into the mountains to visit a 600-year-old orthodox church, monastery, and a lake. The view from the church is phenomenal! Yet the people worshipping there are so lost. 40,000-50,000 people journey here every August seeking forgiveness of their sins at the festival of the Virgin Mary. There is a statue of Mary in the church said to have once had tears in her eyes, making the place “miraculous.” Some walk for weeks to reach the festival and be cleansed. It breaks my heart thatΒ even from a place so beautiful, where all you have to do is look around to see the one true God, people can be so lost. He is all around in his creation.

Unexpected Blessings

1 Jun

The most wonderful parts of today came without any effort on my part at all. I think it probably always happens that way. When I stop working so hard to do things my way and just give up my will for God’s will, everything turns out infinitely better than I could have hoped.

Class starts at 5, but students start arriving around 4:40, so I just hang out in the classroom and visit with them (as well as we can, silly language barrier). I was enjoying chatting with Kata and Priszcilla when precious little Krisztina came in with an ice cream cone for me. πŸ™‚ She is my darling six-year-old who can’t follow 90% of what we’re doing in class, but I love her anyways. That sweet gift started the class off on a great note.

4 of my boys were out on a school field trip and a couple others were missing today because it was raining outside and almost everyone walks here, but it was a great class none the less, a bit rowdy, but still good. πŸ™‚ Here are some of my sweet students from today.

After all of my students had left the classroom, sweet little Krisztina came running back in with a big smile on her face, gave me a huge hug, and then ran back out. What a blessing she is to me!

Gran and I ate dinner with Melea in her apartment down the hall from us tonight because Lihel was off at one of his 9 churches. Another woman in the church brought the dinner. These church women are so kind to us. Gran and I both were praying today for God to provide an opportunity for us to become better friends with Melea, especially me since we are less than two years apart. Well tonight, God provided that opportunity and it required no work on our part. God did the whole thing. After dinner, Gran and I noticed a basket with some balls of yarn in the corner and asked Melea about them. She brought over some knitting work, and when I expressed that I didn’t know how to knit, she handed it over and taught me. πŸ™‚ The student became the teacher, and the teacher became the student. She was a good teacher, too. I knitted a whole row. πŸ™‚ That opportunity to humble myself and need to learn from her and empower her to use her strengths to teach me was exactly what was needed to take us another step towards friendship and boost her confidence.

Thanks be to God for these simple, wonderful blessings.