Friday May 24th, 2019

Psalm 34:17-20  When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all. He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.

Anjali took her “new” crutches out for a spin today so we could make our way to the support center and make up some baby bundles.  Sara worked the morning shift to help out with passing out bundles while the kids and I worked on making new bundles.  There are a lot of donations in the center but there is an acute need to get them sorted and put into bundles.  The kids and I worked on putting together a dozen or so which quickly flew off the shelves to go to families in need.  While the kids tried, their helpfulness seemed to wane as their level of hunder grew.  After Sara completed her shift we opted to send the kids home with her to get lunch while I finished up some more bundles.

The afternoon was fairly non-eventful as well.  Sara went back to the hospital and did a baby holding shift, I did some schoolwork, and the kids played outside.  We enjoyed a quiet and relaxed evening still anticipating our next step for June.  Sara and I talked at length about what we needed to do and we both finally agreed that we felt a bit like we were chasing our tails.  While we really wanted to do another project in June we did not feel called to any program apart from FFR.  We agreed that we probably were just trying to find something more to fit our plans than to follow God’s and that our inability to find visa solutions or to find another project was His way of telling us to be done.  There is something so peaceful in finally realizing that the stress and frustration you feel is your own plans pushing back against God’s and then letting that ego go.  We both felt a great deal of relief and decided that unless we heard something by first thing Saturday morning we would officially call an end to our volunteer service for this trip and plan to just wrap things up with our visit to Sweden and Germany.  We knew that this would create some challenges as we were planning not to be there until July but we also knew that our family back home would be thrilled to know that we would be done a month sooner.

I am feeling relieved but also a little sad to know that this great adventure is coming to a close.  I am hopeful that we really did do what we were called to do, to be a reflection of God’s love.  I look back on all of our stops and I think of the things I did well and feel regret for the times I could have done more.  I don’t want to dwell on the regrets but rather let them inspire me to do more going forward.  I feel like we always learned at each new place how to be more helpful, how to be more patient, and how to be more thankful.  I am sad to be done because I took such great pleasure in our work, in the people we met, and in the memories we made and I will miss having the opportunity to do more of that.  But that sadness is completely overwhelmed by the gratefulness I feel for that work, those friends, and those memories because I will cherish them forever.  I am far from brokenhearted though I sense that when we board that plan for the flight home I will feel a swell of pain.  But at that time I know God will be with me and will fill my heart with gladness again.

 

Thursday May 23, 2019

2 Samuel 7:29 now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”

Today was quite interesting. I had the hospital shift today and Jeff brought the kids to the support center to work on “baby bundles”. My time at the hospital was quite normal, but even in the normality of what we are doing here, it is still so incredibly powerful. These children are starving for attention and I am so glad we are here to provide it to them.

I think that is why both Jeff and I continue to knock and push on doors to stay here. Unfortunately, none of these doors will open for us. We have tried reaching out for help from various people, but just get varying answers and no solutions. But we are not giving up, as all of us want to finish out our year, here in Romania. Alternatively, we have been given information on different projects in the UK, the Netherlands, and Ireland, but thus far we have heard nothing from them and have no confirmation of opportunity. So we wait…

This has got to be one of the major lessons God wants me to learn, patience. I say this because He is continually testing my ability to be patient and wait for His time, and today is no different. Unfortunately I have not been able to study much today because as soon as I finished my shift I met with Jeff and the kids at the support center and we decided that tit would be best if we take Anjali to see a doctor for her ankle.

I was beyond grateful (and surprised) that when I called the social worker that works alongside FFR, I was told to bring Anjali to her office. I was just asking for some help to navigate the ER and the paperwork, but one of the doctors came right into the office and looked at her ankle and diagnosed her with a sprain.

After leaving the hospital we stopped by the support center to borrow some crutches and then to the pharmacy for a brace. Anjali says that using the crutches helps her ankle no hurt, now the crutches are making her arms and her hands hurt. I don’t think she is too happy about all of this and I feel bad for her because during the next couple of weeks she will find it very difficult to get around and play with her friends.

We were supposed to do dinner with Katie and Calah tonight, as a send off for Katie’s departure on Tuesday, but the trip to the hospital cut into our plans and we had to reschedule. We did a quick and easy dinner for everyone and Jeff and I discussed and evaluated are various options. We have to be out of Romania by next Friday and while we are still trying to figure out a way to stay, we also need to be prepared that we won’t be able to and need to have a plan B.

So long story short, our visa here end in one week and we have no idea where God is leading us.

Wednesday May 22, 2019

2 Samuel 7:29 now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”

Today was a bit stressful. Jeff went to the hospital, while I did some yoga and helped the kids with their “summer school”. Then the 4 of us headed to the support center and then took a taxi to the post office. On our way back from Bucharest we stopped at a one of the roadside bodegaS and purchased sheepskin rugs for the kids and one for us. So we packaged them in a box that I carried to the support center and loaded into a cab to send to our friends in WI to hold for us until we get back. Anjali was so excited to be able to pick up her package from Eleanor; it absolutely made her day!

On Monday, Anjali hurt her foot and has been babying it since then, but the pain seems to come and go, which makes it really difficult to assess whether she is really hurt or just seeking attention. Either way, the walk home became unbearable for her, so we took a cab home and she iced her foot and rested the remainder of the day.

I walked up to the grocery store with Lucia to grab a few things for dinner. I am not sure if you read Jeff’s blog a week or so ago, but my experience was just the same. We left the gate to our apartment and she was bounding down the hill and her mouth was going non-stop. I can’t remember exactly what she was saying, but she was so excited. I am so glad I got to have this time with just her; it was so refreshing to experience and feel her energy. We made our way through the store and then home for dinner and then my interview.

Unfortunately, the kids were less than helpful and were actually extremely hyper and unable to control themselves long enough for me to concentrate and mentally prepare for the interview. Jeff’s patience was finally drained and he laid into the kids for their behavior. This seemed to get them back on track long enough for all four of them to be out of the house just in time for the interview. While they were outside Jeff was able to snap a picture of David scaling a pole–this kids is like Spider-Man.

I think the interview went very well and after speaking with the panel I am even more excited about this opportunity. I know that God will put me where I am needed, so I am putting my faith and trust in Him. I feel confident that I did my part, which was to provide the panel with my true self, including how my skills and abilities can benefit this position, and then I will leave the rest up to God.

Tuesday May 21, 2019

Philippians 4:19 And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Today was the day we went to the police station to find out if we could stay. Jeff went to the hospital and I met with a new friend, Jason, to speak with the immigration office about whether we would be able to get permission to stay in Romania another 25 days. Unfortunately, everyone we spoke with said that it was not possible to extend our Visitor Pass and the only other option we would have would be to apply for a Volunteer Visa which lasts for one year, but takes 4-6 weeks to process.

When I talked with Mary she advised me to talk with Caty, the person who helps the FFR volunteers with acquiring their Volunteer Visas. Mary seems to think that she may be able to help us work with the system and find a way to get us permission to stay. I reached out to her and we are hoping that she may be able to find us a way to stay here for another month.

Anjali was very excited today because she got a notice informing her that she has a package for her to pick up at the post office from her friend back in Madison. She wanted to go today, but there was just too much happening, though I told her that tomorrow would be a viable option.

Speaking of packages, we also got a message from our friends in Banbasa, India that they received the package we sent to them. We sent birthday gifts to Raymond and then filled the box with things for the kids on the mission and the Shipway family. I am so glad the box arrived because you can never be sure with the Indian post (or so I have been told because we never had a problem with it). It was so fun to get the message and see some pictures of everyone happy to get a small gift. We so badly miss this wonderful place and I think that we all left a piece of ourselves there when we left. I am just glad that we were able to send them a little something to let them know how much they all mean to us. Here are some of the picture we were sent.

Hopefully this frisbee will last more than an hour

Tonight added a bit of excitement to the day, as I received an email requesting an interview for a position about which I am very excited. The kids went to bed and Jeff really helped me prepare for the interview so I could be sure to be my very best tomorrow.

I am so grateful for these daily scriptures because it provides me an opportunity to hear God’s word every day and it reminds me that He will all take care of my needs. Today’s scripture is no different, it is yet another reminder that as we go through this time of uncertainty He will provide for our needs and make sure that we are fulfilled with His grace.

Monday May 20, 2019

2 Corinthians 5:1-5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

Today was a busy day. We still had our rental car that needed be returned, so I dropped Jeff off at the hospital and made a quick detour to the store. I will say it was so nice to have a car and be able to get a fair amount of groceries at one time and then not have to carry them back to the apartment. I hope I never take that for granted again! I had enough time to drop the groceries off and the kids agreed to put them all away for me, so I headed back out to drop the car back to the rental agency. All was good and now I got to enjoy a long walk home (about 50 minutes).

I really enjoyed this time alone, walking through Brasov, surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains. It was so peaceful and relaxing, such a nice change from the busy and fast-pace of Bucharest. I found so much peace walking home, listening to my music and just enjoying where God has placed me today.

I got home and found the kids running around having a wonderful time outside. Jeff ended up staying at the support center for some donations to arrive, so he didn’t get home until about 2 pm. There wasn’t much to the afternoon, I had ambitions of doing yoga, but that didn’t happen. Instead I got caught up on laundry and getting everything settled after being gone for the weekend. Then I went straight into studying.

Preparing for this licensing exam is a lot, but it feels so good to be refreshing myself on what I put so much time and energy into so many years ago. Thankfully it is all coming back to me pretty quickly, though I would say the theories are the ones I have forgotten. What I find interesting is that I do remember the application of the theories, I just mix up the names. But with some practice and studying I am sure things will be fresh in my mind again. My goal is spend the month of June preparing for the exam so I will be ready to take it before we head to Germany to visit with our friends. I am hopeful that I can be done with it and truly relax and enjoy a last vacation before we head back to reality in the States.

We have no pictures from today, so I am going to say that we just enjoyed the moment and didn’t have an opportunity to snap any photos!

Sunday May 19, 2019

Ecclesiastes 5:19 Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil—this is the gift of God.

We all got up early this morning and made our way to breakfast and then the field for another game. Today’s games were double elimination (though we thought they were single elimination). Their team was the newest team in the tournament and while they held their own, they did not win any games yesterday. This morning, however, they won! Which meant they had one more game to play. Since we were never going to make our check-out time, the kids and I piled into the car and headed back to the hotel so we could check-out and then stop by the store for baby wipes (Jeff wasn’t going to have access to a shower) and some gatorades for the team. We got back to the field just as they were finishing up their game, but Lucia has time to trip and fall, which landed her in the first aid tent. (OK let’s be honest here…this was definitely not a serious injury, but in the mind of a 6 year old, she was desperately needed this attention for the first aid crew and boy did she soak it all in!)

It took a while to leave the field, between Lucia requiring first aid and Jeff requiring a baby wipe bath! But we did manage to gather everything up and make our way to the Circus Pub where we had an amazing lunch. Jeff said that this was the best burger ever. Once we finished lunch it was almost 4 pm, so we decided that our best bet would be to drive by the Palace of Parliament. We realized that our time for sightseeing was over for the weekend and really did do much. So during lunch we discussed the possibility of coming back to Bucharest on our way out of the country, but after seeing the parliament building (which was beautiful and huge), both Jeff and I agreed that we didn’t feel the need to come back. The city was beautiful, but it was still just a city. We agreed that there was more to see and experience in Brasov and the surrounding areas, rather than come to a congested and crowded city. I guess this year has really shown us the kind of traveling we prefer doing, and I can say with absolute certainty that I do not enjoy traveling in the big cities!

Saturday May 18, 2019

Psalm 12:5 “Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan, I will now rise up,” says the Lord; “I will place them in the safety for which they long.”

This morning was wonderful and peaceful in so many ways. Jeff and I got up and had breakfast just the two of us since he had to be at the field for the tournament early. I dropped him off at the field and then headed back to the hotel to take the kids to their breakfast and then to the pool (they swam and I did yoga). The kids really were awesome this morning and it was the first time I felt that I was able to relax since we left Brasov. We had a less than peaceful drive to Bucharest and then trying to navigate this new place with fast and aggressive drivers, relaxation was not the feeling that comes to mind. But this morning, the kids played and got along with each other, they were even aware and respectful of the gentleman swimming laps in the pool without my intervention; it was beautiful. I enjoyed my yoga vitality practice. Unfortunately, the peace was fleeting, but here are some pictures of the blissful parts.

I finished my yoga and the kids were done swimming at almost the exact same time, which I thought was perfect. I didn’t even have to drag them out of the pool. We got upstairs and I shooed two of the kids into the showers so we could go and watch Jeff’s final game. But our lack of conditioner caused a bit of drama, so I hurried to the store for some better hair products and all was well. Everyone got cleaned and fed with the leftovers from last night (only a mild tantrum about not wanting their leftovers, but that was side-stepped nicely with the help of Lucia). I felt like at any moment a bomb was going to go off right next to me, but it didn’t. We got to enjoy one of Jeff’s games and then learned that he still had one more. The kids were never going to make it, so I drove them back to the hotel to watch TV while I went back to the field to watch the final game (3 total round trips from the hotel to the field).

All this driving back and forth is like a double-edged sword. I am reminded of my dislike for big cities with lots of traffic but I am loving driving a manual transmission. I drove a stick for so long and it makes driving so much more enjoyable. I made it back to the field in time for his last game of the day. I will admit I was not 100% present in the moment. As I was waiting for the game to start and the teams to warm-up I decided to get a bit of studying/reading done, but I had a hard time putting it down when the game did start. I would go back and forth between reading and watching the game, but it was very relaxing to do this without any kids around interrupting me. After the game, we headed home and then out to dinner.

We ate at Hanu’ lui Manuc, which served traditional Romanian food in an open-air courtyard. The ambiance was so fun, but the company of my children was not the greatest. They were tired and it was getting late (we didn’t get there until 7:00 and by the time we finally were able to pay and leave it was close to 9:30).

I really have no idea how to relate this scripture to today, so I am not going to try. What I will say is that Bucharest is a really beautiful city, rich in history, plentiful parks and green space, and lots to see and do, but I realized today that this is not what I love about traveling. I love meeting the people and living amongst them. I also know, with absolute certainty, that I am not relaxed in a big city. We have only been gone for 24 hours and I am already missing Brasov; it is so quite and calm in comparison to Bucharest. I don’t like feeling this stressed and overwhelmed with the sheer number of people crammed into such a confined space. So again, God has provided me with a wonderful lesson, I don’t need to see the beautiful touristy sights around the world, actually I am rarely happy and relaxed in these environments, but rather the best part about our travels is living and becoming part of these communities; it is the people not the places that I want to experience.