Sunday May 12, 2019

Isaiah 35:10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.

We had all intentions of going to church this morning, but with our late evening last night and I can only imagine the kids’ late night (they were in bed but still awake when we left), no one was up in time. So I took the opportunity to enjoy my coffee and some breakfast without worrying that we didn’t make it to church. I definitely didn’t want fight today to make an effort at getting everyone ready in time.

After a very lazy morning, Jeff and I headed to the store for the necessary items for Subji (a traditional Indian dish), Chipatis, and Chutney. It was a wonderful walk with my husband and then we got to enjoy a nice meal at the mall before heading into the grocery store. I know that on Mother’s Day I am supposed to be enjoying my children, but it was really nice not to listen to the barrage of requests or bickering/fighting amongst them. I am sure that one day in the future I will miss those things, but for right now I will enjoy the break!

Unfortunately the store didn’t have the necessary ingredients for our subji dinner, so we improvised with tradition Romanian meat to grill (Mici and pork chops). Jeff made a wonderful dinner, complete with mashed potatoes and veggies. The kids were happy when we got home and we all enjoyed a pleasant evening before Jeff headed off to play Ultimate Frisbee.

While the day was extremely relaxing, I also didn’t have any opportunity to dwell on anything, and it was wonderful. I felt so at peace with the unknown. I am sure it will change tomorrow, but I take joy in knowing that today He gave me a whole day of peace and rest. I am so grateful for Jeff’s regular reminder to be patient in God’s timing because His timing is always right. I need that reminder regularly, especially as we are facing our future of unknowns. I have faith that things will fall where God wants them to, I am just impatient.

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Saturday May 11, 2019

Deuteronomy 12:10 “When you cross over the Jordan and live in the land that the Lord your God is allotting to you, and when he gives you rest from your enemies all around so that you live in safety

God blessed us with a beautiful day today and allowed us to enjoy Brasov by seeing some of the historical sights, though we were a man down. Anjali asked to stay home and enjoy some alone time and peace and quiet while the rest of headed out on the town. We made our way to the White and Black Tower, which were part of the original fortress of the city. While we couldn’t go inside the buildings, the views were stunning and it was so refreshing to be doing some light hiking and being out in nature.

Time almost seemed to stand still for me. This was such a peaceful afternoon and I think it was because this was the first day in a while that we haven’t had rain so we actually got to enjoy being outside. While I don’t feel like I have any enemies per se, I think God gave me rest from myself today. None of my regular worries or concerns even crossed my mind, and I was able to spend my afternoon in the moment. It was wonderful.

I seem to be my own worst enemy because I tend to dwell and focus on a certain thing, unable to see beyond the immediate problem. I’ll give you an example…I have committed to acquiring my license to practice Social Work at a Masters Level. This of course requires taking a board exam, to which I have no materials with me to study because they are all boxed up in Madison. I of course got very worried and couldn’t keep my mind focused on the moment. My focus on my lack of resources to prepare for this exam even prevented me from completing my yoga practice today because I was so focused on my lack of resources, I began searching the internet for things to help with this “problem”, instead of completing my practice. Thankfully, Jeff reminds me to be in the moment and to not let these things overwhelm me. I do try, and sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t.

After a nice afternoon outside and then a disrupted yoga practice, Jeff and I put the kids to bed and headed out for our anniversary celebration. As usual, we had a wonderful time. It felt like we were on a date, which we were, and it was great. We had a pre-dinner drink, dinner, and then headed to the local piano bar for some live jazz music. It ended up being a late night, but absolutely worth it. We enjoyed a fabulous anniversary celebration in Braşov , Romania. (I never imagined that sentence would ever come out of my mouth–honestly, I didn’t even know that Braşov existed until we were called on this mission.)

I am so thankful that God has called us on this mission and He has put us here in Braşov. We took the day to enjoy the land that God has allotted to us and I am glad that God gave me some reprieve from myself (my own worst enemy).

Sunday May 5, 2019

John 2:23-25 When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

Today we split up as a family, Jeff took the younger two kids down to the school for Junii, which is another celebration of Easter here in Romania, complete with a horse parade, while Anjali and I headed to church. Here is a snippet of the parade:

We all met up together at the house for lunch and then a quiet evening at home with the hope of having Mexican food and margaritas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but those plans fell through. The kids had something easy for dinner, while Jeff and I had a quick ravioli toss after the kids went to bed.

I was able to do get the process of obtaining my license all figured out and should be able to submit everything on Monday. I even started the readings that I will need to. I am so happy to be doing this because the types of jobs that I will now be qualified will be much more prolific. We also started looking at apartments in the same area where we were before and have at least narrowed our search down to a few.

The peace and calmness I have experience today is so wonderful. God knew that I needed this direction and because He knows me better than I do, knew just how to present it to us so we would understand. What is so funny is that this path has been here all along, we just were not following it.

Saturday May 4, 2019

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

Today was such a wonderful day. We all woke up, had a nice breakfast and then headed into town to see the art fair and to acquire that last few things we needed for the box to India (thankfully we found everything we were looking for).

The kids were tired and wanted to go home, so for the first time ever, we walked them to the street leading up to our apartment and they walked home by themselves while Jeff and I headed into town for some lunch.

We ended up eating at La Ceaun right on the square. This was such a wonderful afternoon of sitting outside, getting rained on, and drinking wine (beer for Jeff). We talked for hours as we sipped our drinks and believe it or not we finally agreed that going back to Madison is the best decision at this moment. God has not led us anywhere else, so why are we stressing about trying to make a new plan? We also agreed that I needed to acquire my Social Work license for Wisconsin because it will open up many more job opportunities. I can’t even begin to tell you how much better we both felt after we made this commitment. We have been waiting on a job to tell us where to go, instead of following what was planned all along. We both sat back and, for the first time in a while, relaxed. We had a plan, a direction, a path and if God wanted to change it He would and we would listen, but for now, this is it! Now comes the leg work of getting my license and the us finding an apartment and a job for Jeff.

The only problem was that when we stood up to leave, the four glasses of wine I had hit me really hard. I realized quickly that I had had too much! I felt so irresponsible. By the time we got home I went straight to bed, while Jeff and Anjali headed out to play ultimate frisbee David helped manage both himself and Lucia. I could not believe that I did that, I guess I let it get away from me because I was so relieved to have a plan for after this year. I still make poor choices as adult, thankfully not as often as I did when I was younger!

Friday May 3, 2019

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another.

We did some school this morning and while I was getting ready for my hospital shift this afternoon Jeff took David to get his haircut and then they were going to run a few errands to pick up the last items for our box to India.

I had the hospital shift this afternoon. It was a very relaxed shift with only a few babies to snuggle, which worked out well for me and Ann. I really just love coming to the hospital and spending time with these children. They blossom and come alive when we are there and it is so heartwarming. I can tell that it is going to be very hard to leave here, but it will help that they have had several new Romanian students come forward to volunteer. This is great for the FFR program because they are building a local group of young adults that are bringing in new friends to help.

It was a bit of a crazy afternoon for Jeff. We had planned for the kids downstairs to come and watch a movie this evening and Anjali was heading off to teen night at the church, but there was some difficulty in the 5 kids selecting a movie (weird, huh!) After several messages back and forth with Jeff, I guess the kids decided to watch the LEGO movie and watch it downstairs. Amy was so sweet and told us to enjoy the hour without kids, so we sat upstairs with some wine and talked about what our plan should be when this year is done. We are not any closer to a decision, but I guess talking about it is a start.

Given what Jeff and I were discussing this evening, I guess we were right on cue with the scripture. Neither one of is ready to make a decision yet, nor do we feel called in one direction or another, but doing this together is much better. This whole journey has been us making decisions together. When we do this one may see something or hear something that the other doesn’t and it opens more doors and opportunities to hearing God’s call.

Sunday April 28, 2019

Isaiah 30:21 And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Happy Orthodox Easter! This is so weird to be celebrating Christ’s resurrection again, but we are embracing it. I guess in reality we need to be celebrating this event every single day, because every day is a celebration of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.

Jeff took the family to church this morning, but I was still feeling pretty tired after the last 2 days. I stayed in bed and rested, which gave me an opportunity to do some more job searches. I am excited to have found several possibilities, but am worried that I will continue to run into the problem that I haven’t worked for the last 12 years, so my job experience is quite out-dated. I know that I have a great work ethic and I will do my very best in any position that I acquire, but I need someone to take a chance on me and give me the opportunity to prove my abilities.

This scripture is a wonderful reminder of God’s plan for me, as long as I am willing to listen to that voice behind me saying “This is the way; walk in it”. So I have made a decision to apply for all jobs that fall in line with my experience and passions, and trust in the Lord to show me the way; He will guide me. This does make me a bit nervous because some of these jobs are not in Madison and some not even in the States. But I have faith that God will place us where we need to be.

Yesterday at the grocery store we picked up some Romanian seasoned pork to grill. I am not sure what “Romanian seasoned pork” actually is, but I do know it tastes wonderful. We had a great meal together as a family and finished the evening with a game of Exploding Kittens.

Sunday April 21, 2019

Isaiah 25:4 For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat.

Christ Has Risen!!! He Has Risen Indeed!!! Amen!!!

I can’t believe today is Easter Sunday. Our time abroad has just flown by and to be honest it wasn’t until just today at church that I felt “church sick” (this is the version of homesickness I created for missing our church service back home). Our church here is great. It is in English with a very welcoming congregation. I am not sure if it was because today in Romania is not Easter, but rather Palm Sunday or if it is because there is no organ or hymns at our church here, but rather a contemporary style worship filled with praise songs. I do enjoy the services here, so please don’t take me as complaining, I guess I am just sharing how much it hit me that I do miss the worship service back in Madison. I miss the hymns, the organ, the sermons, and the fellowship (though we do get a wonderful fellowship opportunity here).

I’ll backtrack a bit. We got up the morning and had some homemade banana bread that was slightly burnt (our oven doesn’t have any number to indicate the temperature, you just have to guess and I guessed a temperature that was too high). The kids opened their gifts left behind by the Easter Bunny and then searched for the eggs outside. Everyone had a lot of fun and then we headed off to church, realizing that today was only Palm Sunday for our church here in Romania and not Easter Sunday.

Being that it was Easter for us I really like this scripture reading for today. It is a wonderful reminder that God is always looking out for us and always keeping us close to His heart. That He will provide me refuge and protection during the trials and tribulations of my life. I am so grateful for His love and His care for me and my family that it can be overwhelming at times.

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After a quick run to the store for a few things we forgot yesterday we were home for lunch. The kids wanted to play on their tablets, so Jeff and I visited while preparing dinner. I was missing my church music so much that I found a YouTube playlist from King’s College in Cambridge, England. It was wonderful to hear the organ and traditional hymns, even though some were Christmas songs! We had a great dinner of BBQ ribs, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and tomato/cucumber salad.

I love catching my kids hanging out together and seemingly enjoying each other’s company.

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Once dinner was done it was finally late enough to call our families and wish them all a Happy Easter. It was so nice for the kids to see their grandparents and to share about their day and what the Easter Bunny brought to them. The kids were very excited about the things waiting for them this morning. It was a fun 30 minutes of conversation. I am not sure how the grandparents felt about the conversation, but the kids sure had a good time. 

Jeff headed out for Ultimate Frisbee and I hung out on the couch to watch the show Reign while finishing my bottle of wine. I am really enjoying these Sunday nights because the kids are asleep and I am able to watch a show that Jeff would not enjoy watching with me.

Friday April 19, 2019

2 Corinthians 6:2 For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”

I finally got a decent night’s sleep despite going to bed quite late (or early depending on your frame of reference). Jeff headed out at 9:15 and I got up shortly thereafter. The kids were kind enough to let me sleep this morning and we just skipped school. Today was a big day for FFR, their yearly shipment of donations arrived from Germany. The donations arrived by semi, but the truck was too big to come into town, so several cars/vans/trucks were arranged to meet the truck outside the city limits, unload and reload to take to various locations in Brasov for storage. Jeff was part of the crew unloading the semi while the kids and I headed up to the support center for unloading. In total we unloaded approximately 250 boxes and stacked them 10 high in the center. My kids were wonderful helpers and I am so proud of their efforts and hard work today. We left the center at about 3:00 in the afternoon and headed home for a quiet evening.

Here are some pictures of today’s workload:

Tomorrow Jeff will run in the Braşov Half-Marathon where he will run Tampa Mountain a total of 3 times, so we had an early night for everyone. He is really excited for this run because he has been raising money for Mission:University, a new mission of The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission in Banbasa, India to send 10 young adults to university. We both are so grateful for the donations and prayers we received during this fundraiser. We will be able to share a total amount raised next week!

I still don’t feel normal yet, but it will happen soon I am sure. The jet lag this go ’round is nothing like my time in Phoenix. I was tired there, but unable to sleep. Now that I am home I am able to catch up and get some rest. It may take a day or so to finally feel rested, but I can see that I’m getting there.

It is so weird being here during this Easter holiday and Holy Week because here in Romania they observe the Orthodox calendar, in which Easter and Holy Week is next week. For us, today is Good Friday and we didn’t attend services or really get to experience any of Holy Week, which was difficult for me though I am hopeful that we will get to celebrate it next week.

Honestly it didn’t feel like Good Friday at all, until Jeff showed me this picture he took on his walk home from the store. I won’t share what I see here, but rather let you decide what you see. I promise no editing has been done to this photo.

Wednesday April 17, 2019

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.

After a quick 2 hours of sleep, I was up and ready to begin this long journey back to my family in Romania. To be completely honest, I am not sure where today ended and tomorrow begins. I took my first flight from Phoenix to Detroit and after a short layover I was off to Amsterdam. There really was not much to report about today, since it was just traveling, but I was able to finally get some sleep. I am not sure why, but as soon as the planes took off I actually felt tired and was able to sleep. After landing in Amsterdam I headed off for Romania and then took a shuttle to make the 3 hour drive to Brasov. I left my parent’s house in Arizona at 5 am (3:00 pm in Romania) on Wednesday and finally arrived at my apartment in Brasov at 6:00 pm on Thursday. So after 27 hours of travel all I can say is, I am glad to be home. I don’t have any pictures so I will share with you a sunset picture from Phoenix.

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Tuesday April 16, 2019

Ecclesiastes 2:22-25 What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.

There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God; for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

I started today with a hike, after getting the video all set up and ready to go, but as I started my descent down Thunderbird Mountain my ankle decided to completely give out on me when I landed on an unstable rock. I spent a few minutes breathing through the pain of my sprained ankle, but quickly realized that there was too much happening today to sit and wallow in pain. So I continued down the mountain, this time walking, and much to my surprise the pain started to dull and before I knew it was running again. Unfortunately it swelled and bruised pretty quickly, but there was no way this was going to keep me from the day ahead. I have sprained my ankles so many times that I have somehow become accustomed to the pain and discomfort associated with it. I guess this scripture hit the nail on the head in respect to our lives being full of pain, however, this is definitely not vanity–this is the result of years and years of soccer and sprained ankles!

So I powered through the hike. I got home and finished up burning copies of the video for family and then got ready for the service. Once we got to the church I was blessed to see people that I have not seen in years (some more years than I can count) and it was so wonderful to be embraced and loved by people who have supported and followed our journey. It was a wonderful service and a time of shared memories and reflections on the amazing woman who has left this world, leaving us all missing her. I learned so much from my grandmother and cherished every visit I got with her. When we told her about our plans for this year, she was quick to respond that if God was calling us, we needed to follow. I know that she worried and prayed for us, but her faith in God was steady and unwavering. She has always been an example of the saying, “walking by faith” and I loved the conversations we had about God and faith. She never told us we were crazy, but rather assured us that God would always be with us. I learned so much from her and I am so sad that she is gone. I am going to miss her so much; I already do.

It does surprise me though how much comfort you receive by sharing stories and memories, especially those that make you laugh. I am not sure what it is about laughing, but it seems to weaken the hold grief and sadness has on my heart. My grandmother had a beautiful laugh and when she laughed, everyone around her did too. Our world lost a wonderful woman, but she left a legacy with everyone she met and it brought me so much joy to hear about all the people she touched in so many different ways.

After the service we spent the afternoon with family at my parent’s house, but everyone was gone by about 6, which meant that I got to spend this last bit of time I had with my parents and brothers and I loved it. I tried to go to bed early (11 pm), but still couldn’t fall asleep until 2 am. I can just feel how tired I am going to be tomorrow when the alarm goes off at 4:20 am, but all of the exhaustion and jet lag is worth being here with family to celebrate the life of a woman who made such an impact on my life. But I am also so very excited to go home to my family in Romania. I have missed them so very much, and while they are managing without me, there is no place that I’d rather be right now.

A weird snippet of the day: the day started sunny and a beautiful 70 F, but by the time we got to the cemetery at 3:00 pm the winds had picked up and the clouds started to darken. But the sky did not let go until after everyone had left my parents house, which was so amazing to have rain while I was in Arizona. The smell you get from a desert rain is indescribable and the double rainbow left behind was my grandmother’s way of sharing her love with us from heaven.

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