Thursday May 30th, 2019

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”

Every place we have served we have seen a rainbow.  If you believe in signs then you no doubt will recognize this one as the sign God gave to Noah following the end of the great flood.  I always thought rainbows were beautiful but since taking on this journey and being blessed with them at every stop I have appreciated their significance that much more.  It also isn’t so much that we have seen rainbows as much as when.  They have typically come toward the end of our service time and while this may simply be coincidence I have long thrown such notions out the window.  So it was that today, the last day of our service in Romania, we had a late afternoon storm which gave us a brief, not terribly vivid, but evident rainbow.

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The day started out like just about every other we have had here.  I did my last shift at the hospital while Sara did some sorting and baby bundles in the support center.  We left the kids at home to enjoy their last day of playing with the Catos.  My shift was rather uneventful, passing out diapers, snuggling with babies, the usual.  I was particularly grateful though that Ann told me to pick whichever babies I wanted since today was my last day.  It isn’t like you have favorites but it was still a nice gesture on her part.

As it turns out my babies were particularly sleepy apparently because both cuddled up and promptly slept when I had them.  I felt really calm and peaceful about that.  This whole time I have been working I have wanted those babies to know they are loved and cared for even when they have been alone and away from their parents.  I felt like they felt comfortable in my arms and that is why they slept.  We didn’t play but I knew they felt my love for them which is why they were okay to simply let go and get a power nap.

I said my goodbyes to the staff and to Ann and Joyce and then picked up Sara.  We made a quick stop by the store for a few items to get us through our last evening and then headed home to pack up.  I ambitiously thought we could get this knocked out in two hours or fewer.  I was incorrect.  On the positive side it was only four or five hours and we only had to panic slightly when we realized that we underestimated the number of bags we would need.  But in the end we took a deep breath, recognized the challenge and overcame.  We got the house more or less straightened away, made especially difficult after realizing the girls had managed to spill an entire tupperware of chutney on the kitchen floor and then used all of our paper towels to clean it up.  We gave the house a good once over and then enjoyed a quick birthday celebration for Martin, our neighbors’ one year old.  Sara and I had a final meal of Dodo’s pizza and then we headed off to enjoy a relaxing night of sleep, prepping for the next day’s travels.

All in all despite a few hiccups the day was very peaceful, calm, and reassuring.  We knew that God had placed the path before us and we needed only follow it.  We had made the most of our opportunities and we felt made a contribution to the mission of FFR.  The rainbow I think was God’s way of reminding us that His covenant remains and is true.  I hope that it was also His way of showing us that the path we have taken is consistent with His plan.  I look forward to the next rainbow, wherever it may be.

Wednesday May 29, 2019

Hebrews 3:4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

I didn’t sleep well last night because for whatever reason I ended up with a little one in my twin bed with me. I wasn’t too happy with the lack of sleep and how incredibly uncomfortable it is to have her in the bed with me, but when I woke up I couldn’t be angry any longer; she was so adorable and it melted my heart.

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Lucia enjoying the comforts of “moms” bed.

Jeff has made sure that I enjoyed my last few days here in Brasov by reminding me not to start packing. I am a planner and once I knew that we were leaving on Friday, I instinctively went into planning mode. But thankfully I have Jeff to ground me, but it is very difficult for me to look around this apartment and see stuff everywhere. I very quickly get overwhelmed, but know that if I start packing things up now, I will just end up having to pull something out and repack, hence wasting time that could be spent enjoying Brasov.

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Well, I kind of got to enjoy Brasov today. I had the hospital shift this morning and Jeff brought David and Lucia with him to the support center to make some baby bundles. I met back up with everyone at the apartment, grabbed a quick bite to eat and then went into town with Jeff and Lucia on a search for crutches and a thumb drive to back up our computer and pictures. As we got into town, we quickly found the thumb drive and decided that while we waited for the shop to open to get the crutches, we would enjoy some ice cream and cocktails. Lucia was on cloud nine and seemed so happy to be spending time with just mom and dad. We were on a bit of a time crunch because the girls from FFR were meeting us at the house at 4 for some drinks and by this time it was already 2:45. So we finished up our little snack, found some under the arm crutches and headed home. Thankfully we made it back by 3:30, which gave me a few minutes to clean up before everyone arrived.

We had a great time visiting with the FFR girls and I am so grateful that we were finally able to find a time for all of us to get together. This has been a very tricky thing because we have all been busy and our schedules just didn’t seem to connect, but they did today and it was wonderful. We enjoyed good conversation, laughter, stories, etc. and then had to say our final goodbyes.

We had a short turn-around to feed the kids some dinner and get them ready (and in bed) before Jeff and I headed out for some drinks on the square with Jeff’s Ultimate Frisbee team. We had a lot of fun and again had more laughs, stories, and wonderful conversation (and of course an Irish Car Bomb since we were at an Irish Pub). For those of you that don’t know that that is, you have a glass of Guiness with a side shot of Irish Whiskey and Baileys that you drop into the Guiness and drink! They are so tasty!

Jeff and I enjoyed a nice walk back to the apartment and I became acutely aware of all the blessings God has bestowed upon us over the last 10 months. He has placed so many wonderful people in our lives, people that we would have never met without this journey, people that have changed our lives. God is absolutely the builder of all things, and He has built the foundation for these wonderful friendships that will forever remain in my heart, even when we are thousands of miles away!

As I look forward to our next stop in Sweden, I am reminded again of God’s hand in our lives. 17 years ago I left Arizona to participate in an Exchange Program with ASU and headed to Vancouver, BC Canada for six months. Once I arrived in my dorm, I met Hanne and Melissa (she is now living outside of Vancouver with her husband and kids). Hanne was our adopted roommate (she didn’t technically live with us, but may as well had). Hanne (and Melissa) were in our wedding, and though we rarely see each other (this is the 4th time in 17 years), I hold so much love for this person. She will always be a part of my life and I know that God brought us together 17 years ago, just as He is going to bring us together again on Friday in Sweden. I am beyond excited and I think the anticipation of seeing her is helping with the sadness of our year coming to an end.

Tuesday May 28th, 2019

Proverbs 24:3-4  By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

We had a very nice day, and a busy one to boot.  Anjali’s foot was not looking any better since we saw the doctor last week so we decided to see about getting an x-ray done to rule out a break.  Fortunately one of the therapists at the hospital was willing to help us out so Sara and Anjali awoke early and made the long walk to the hospital.  I stayed back with David and Luci to get them somewhat ready for the day as well as myself since I was scheduled to work the morning baby shift. It is a great relief to know that I can leave my 10 and 6 year old at home to fend for themselves.  I knew they would likely be glued to the screen while Sara and I were gone but at least they would be safe.  As I headed out the door I got the text from Sara that Anjali was unbroken and that they would be staying at the support center to do some sorting until Anjali left for Budila for the after school program and Sara left for a massage.

The shift was fairly normal.  We had four volunteers working so we quickly knocked out the diaper run and then moved on to snuggling.  “Unfortunately” we only had three babies on each floor so we had to set up a baby snuggling rotation.  With the volunteer saturation and limited baby resources I volunteered to end my shift a little early as my standing around and not holding a baby was pretty much useless.  I ran into Anjali as she was heading off to Budila, helped move a few boxes, and then made my way home to check on the younger kids.  As expected they had set up shop in our room with a makeshift bed on the floor and their faces pressed to the computer screen watching cartoons.  I let them finish the episode and then kicked them off so they could interact with the real world again.  They did a great job transitioning to lunch and outside play which can be a real feat sometimes.  Sara and I later met up for grocery shopping for our dinner plans with our downstairs neighbors and then it was time to host the meal.

We have really enjoyed our neighbors and both Sara and I wished we could have spent more time with them.  With busy schedules on both sides that always made it tough but we enjoyed the few times we all got together and today was no exception.  The kids played outside after a good meal and the adults got to visit over some wine.  All in all a very relaxing and pleasant evening which was capped off by some very loud and energetic overnight thunderstorms.

 

Monday May 27, 2019

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

It is hard to believe that we will be saying goodbye to Brasov, Romania on Friday. We have loved our time here and today was no different. After our morning shift, Jeff and I headed into town for an afternoon date, bouncing from cafe to cafe enjoying snacks, delicious cocktails, and some beautiful weather. With Anjali on crutches it is just too much for her to walk into town, plus none of the kids actually wanted to go anyway!

The scripture for today is absolutely perfect, as it describes the love between Jeff and I, as well as our relationship with God. Jeff and I have tried very hard to make sure that every decision or action we do was with God at the center. This is not always easy, because sometimes God’s plan doesn’t follow along with what we want (for example, we wanted to stay in Brasov another month, but that was definitely not in God’s plan). I know that we have not been perfect and I am 100% confident that we have made errors this year in hearing God’s path for us, but I do know that by putting Him at the center of all that we are doing, we do eventually get where He wants us to go and it is usually in that moment that we realize He was directing us there all along, we just didn’t see it. But just as He always is, God has been patient with us, He has loved us, and He has never left our side, even when we didn’t listen. God provides us with the perfect example of love. He is patient, caring, and kind with us, He doesn’t get angry with us when we don’t listen the first time (or the second or third time), but rather He keeps trying to help us to understand.

I guess this is my lesson in parenting for today (for me). I do not always give my children this kind of love. I get frustrated and impatient when they don’t get it right the first time. I have the perfect example right in front of me and I still can’t get it right, why am I so baffled when my kids don’t get it on the first, second, or third try? Being away from my children this afternoon really helped to put things in perspective, plus it was a very relaxing afternoon with no kids. Either way, I know that I need to work on being an example of this kind of love to my children, as well as to those I meet every day. God asks all of us to be stewards of love towards others, and since He gives this to us, I think it is only right that we “pay it forward”.

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.