Sunday March 17, 2019

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 

After our long night with David, Jeff decided to stay home with him for some Father/Son bonding at the grocery store while the girls and I headed for church. Anjali found her new friend immediately and Lucia snuggled up with me during the worship time of singing in both English and Romanian. When it was time for the sermon the kids took off and I was able to sit back and enjoy the message, which was the power of love (nothing like a good Back to the Future and Huey Lewis and the News plug). The message today at church fits right in with my scripture lesson for the day (God sure does know how to drive His point home). Love is the path to true happiness in this life and the only permanent and unending love I know is in God. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Paul was telling the Romans that the kingdom of God is found in love, not in the food and drink they consume. Agape love, the unconditional and sacrificial love of God for us, was mentioned during the sermon and it made me think of a previous post about filling the invisible buckets of others. God regularly asks us to be humble in our ways, take care of brothers and sisters, lift them up when they stumble, and to love them as we love ourselves. These are not always easy tasks to do and sometimes they even come at a cost to us, but isn’t it what Christ has asked of us; to love others the way He loves us. God made us in His image so we are able to give love and receive it, just as He does. And He showed us His love for us with the ultimate sacrifice, His son. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.

It was a nice service, though I experienced a bit of tension between the girls on the walk home which no doubt was the direct result of their refusal to go to bed on time last night and their now lack of sleep. Lucia went off the deep end for a bit (I actually had to carry her) and Anjali was happy to just sulk and throw in snide comments here and there. It was such fun. But after we met up with boys back at the house and had some lunch, we headed out for a walk in the beautiful sunshine and everyone seem to be in tolerable moods. It was such a gorgeous day outside and there was no way I could be kept indoors. We explored the Black Church here in Brasov, a church that began back in the mid-1300’s. There was so much history to take in, which was especially difficult to do over our girls finding every way to irritate each other. Afterwards we just walked around the Counsil Square, enjoyed some gelato, did a Facetime with some friends back in Madison, and headed to the playground. I would love to say that the kids had a great time, but I am not sure if they did or not. No one was in a particularly good mood, but besides the girls there wasn’t much fighting either. I enjoyed being in the sunshine and beautiful blue sky, so I will call the day a success.

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Counsel Square
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Lucia playing at the playground
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David and Anjali looking miserable…How could we even think of taking them to a playground?

Lucia didn’t tolerate her tiredness very well and when we got home she went downhill fast, so she was in bed and asleep (after a very long and loud tantrum) by 6:45 tonight and David followed (though with no tantrum) at 7:30. Jeff was invited to play Ultimate Frisbee with one of the dad’s he met yesterday at the birthday party, so he took off at 8:30 and was gone for a couple hours. I missed him a lot and I realized that we haven’t spent much time apart in the evenings and I find that when we do, I really miss his company. We always have so much fun, but I am hopeful he has found an opportunity for some alone time while we are here, a time to make some friends and have some fun!

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Sunday January 6, 2019

Luke 21:29-32 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you this generation will not pass away until all has taken place.”

Thank heavens for the celebration of the Sabbath here on the mission. After all that driving and traveling yesterday, our whole family is exhausted. I did however do laundry, and a lot of it. I ended up having three buckets full of wash and that is no task for the weary, but with Jeff’s help we were done in a little over an hour. We had bought some thermals to wear Friday evening in the mountains, but that also meant that on top of our 2 days’ worth of clothes we had the new ones and all of our sweatshirts. And even though this job is quite exhausting, it is also very rewarding. It feels so good to accomplish this task in a way that I have never done prior to coming here. And while I really do miss our washing machine, I am better able to scrub dirt and stains out of our clothing and I think that the hand-washing is much better for our clothes and probably helping them to last longer. So, for another 3 weeks I will be enjoying the duty of washing clothes in buckets while having a much bigger appreciation for our washing machine at home. And with all that being said, I can definitely see myself doing a bit more hand-washing and scrubbing of some clothes and not relying on our washing machine to get stains and dirt out of them.

There was a bit of excitement on the mission today. Prior to Christmas they had received several boxes of pre-wrapped gifts from a donor in Canada, but not all of her lot had arrived; today it did! The kids here on the mission were all very excited to open another Christmas gift, filled with books, journals, coloring books, activity books, etc. On top of that, another donor had arranged for a snack cart to come to the mission for the children. It was like a mini-Christmas celebration in January.

Sunday December 30, 2018

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

I woke up this morning plagued by a nasty cold, which would normally not effect me much, but combine with my asthma it really was giving me a lot of trouble, so in bed I stayed. I had a really hard time breathing all day today, but I did manage to make it down for meals, though nothing else, not even church. I hate missing church, but there was no way I was going to be able to make it through the service without coughing and disrupting the service.

As Jeff was leaving for church he mentioned that he wanted to take some time to be with God today and that he would be doing that later today. Then when he got back from worship he said that in church today they talked about how it is important to spend time with God every day and it was as though God was speaking directly to him. So almost immediately after church he headed out to the jungle with the Bible and some snacks. He spent a good portion of the afternoon out there, just reading and praying and enjoying God’s gift of this place. He also took some really amazing pictures.

I spent my day with God between my patio and my bed sleeping. Despite being sick, I have been feeling very close to God recently and have especially felt his presence over the last 2 days as He has modified our plans for our last 5 months abroad and we were willing to happily follow.

As I spent a good portion of the afternoon praying and connecting with God, I also spent some of the afternoon fighting and arguing with Anjali. She and I have been struggling. She is trying to spread her wings of independence and therefore is having difficulty respecting the boundaries and rules that I set. I am also running on fumes trying to constantly find new ways to regain her respect (though I don’t know how I lost it in the first place). Things have gotten to the point that even when I ask her to help me with something or ask her to do a chore I am getting a sassy and disrespectful response, and today was no different. I just can’t win and today I felt like a total failure as a parent because she continues to be rude and disrespectful, even to the point of being verbally abusive at times. I started asking myself where I went wrong. I am constantly trying to search for the reasons why she is acting this way to no avail. A big part of me believes that this is just a normal stage in our relationship, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I know this time in her life is quite difficult and confusing (she is 11 1/2 and the hormones have started to peak through the sand), which is why I am trying really hard to find ways to support and encourage her, but when I do this she seems to get even more upset with me. I know this will pass, as most things do, I just pray that I can find a way to express to her that she is loved more than she could ever imagine and that all I do (especially the discipline) is done because I love her and only want the best for her. I also will continue to ask God for guidance, wisdom, and patience as I walk this path. I know He is with me and that He will guid me through this, I just need to trust in His way.

Sunday December 16, 2018

Isaiah 9:3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.

Another day of rest today: breakfast, worship, lunch, and play. It is so quiet around the mission on Sundays; the kids watch movies in their hostels or take naps and the adults just visit, nap, and relax. It is such a nice day and I am so happy that I am learning how to celebrate the Sabbath. I still struggle with this because I find myself feeling lazy and tying to do something and I have to fight the urge so I can allow myself the opportunity to just relax and rest.

It was so fun to watch the children play on the playground, running around playing tag and just being kids. No electronics or phones to get in the way, just engaging with friends and playing the way children are meant to play.

After dinner tonight, our children were able to hand out a special treat sent from my mom, mini candy canes! The kids were so excited and so grateful for the treat. I was able to capture pictures of each table holding their candy canes and the smiles say it all–they were very happy to get this treat! Thank you mom for sending these–the kids all wanted me to make sure to tell you “THANK YOU!”

The smiles on their faces just brighten my day.

Anjali, David, and Lucia also seemed to enjoy sharing these candy canes with all of their new friends. This scripture says it all, when we share with others, we all find more joy in our lives and tonight was no different. Our kids experienced first-hand that when you “divide your plunder” everyone finds more joy.

Sunday December 9, 2018

Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Ah, Sunday. I think that Sundays will very quickly become my favorite day here on the mission. I love seeing all the kids pile into church and then singing praises to God and listening to the message of the week (in celebration of Advent, the lesson this week was Peace). It is so refreshing for my soul and I have very much missed this in my life.

The whole mission just rests on Sundays, no work is done, except cooking very simple and quick meals and cleaning the dishes. We spent the morning praising God and the rest of the day enjoying the Sabbath. We took absolutely no pictures today (sorry). We took naps, the kids watched a movie and played with the other kids, we ate breakfast and lunch together as a big mission family and then had dinner with the adults. This was truly an uneventful day, and it was totally wonderful.

I really believe this is what God had in mind for the Sabbath and in the past I have fallen short. At home, I always find something to do after church, whether it is laundry, cleaning, cooking a fancy meal, grocery shopping, etc. I rarely do what the Lord is asking me to do, rest. Seeing that this is what happens on Sundays here on the mission, I imagine that I will get some good practice over the next 6 weeks!