Thursday, July 24, 2008
I wish I could put into words how amazing my trip was. However, I can't... But I know many people have been wondering how it went, so here's my trip summed up in a post... First of all, let me say that it was the most life changing experience and that we had a really, really good trip.
As you know, on the 4th of July, our team of 24 left. We had a 9 hour flight, but surprisingly it was not bad. I think its safe to say that maybe 2 or 3 people actually slept, yet it was still a really fun flight, other than a few screaming babies. We landed in Munich on Saturday morning and had a layover before flying to Timisoara. We all played cards and got a bite to eat, so it was a fun layover. I slept the whole flight to Timisoara (2 hours.) We finally got there and went through customs and on to "baggage claim" (if you would call it that.) It was then that we found out that half of our bags were missing! The plane was too small to fit all the luggage, so they just left a bunch of it in Munich and no one knew when it would be there. Supposedly this is a problem that happens all the time. We all had 2 bags... 1 personal and 1 ministry. Some people were missing both, some none, and some one. I was missing my ministry (which didn't come until Friday.) The majority of the suitcases came on Tuesday, when one of the Dad's who was with us offered to bring them with on the way to the camp. The last one didn't arrive until the next Monday! Anyway, that was just a glitch but we made it even if we were missing half of the stuff we needed to run the camp and had to all share clothes so everyone had some! We got to the camp and I was amazed at how beautiful it is! I was not expecting Romania to be so pretty! The camp is in a small farming village about 2 hours from Timisoara. The rest of the weekend, we set up camp, got to walk around the village, and slept. We also got a taste for what we would be eating the next 2.5 weeks. Lets just say I think I had 3 pieces of bread at every meal and that was it. (I promise... I tried everything!) Thankfully everyone had lots of snacks so we all just shared those and made it through :). Camp started Monday and the bus load of kids came pretty early. There were not as many as we were expecting... only about 20. They were a very weird variety of ages... ranging from 5-26! I'm not going to lie, I was scared. Although half of them were between 7-10, all the older ones were between 18-20. When we split up into our small groups, we had 2 girls... a 9 year old whose family owns the camp and a 19 year old, Roxy. Here we have 15, 17, and 18 year old girls leading the small group, plus another 18 year old translating for us. If that doesn't explain awkward enough, I don't know what will. Although we were a little discouraged, we learned to trust God and know that this was His plan. We kept working through it, as this is how all the small groups were. On Wednesday, one of the other leaders, Bethany and I were able to lead Roxy to Christ... which was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. We had an amazing week and 5 people came to Christ (two 10 year olds and three teens!) It was a fun week filled with games, crafts, music, talks, and just really great memories. It is a week I will never forget and always cherish. We all sobbed on Friday when those kids left. I cannot get those people I met that week out of my mind. They have all made a difference in my life and in just 5 days, I had come to love each and every one of them dearly. I worried about what they were going back to at home and I still do. I just have to trust that God continues to work in their lives, as He always does. It was amazing how awkward the first day was with such a variety of ages, but how amazing the end of the week was when everyone bonded and loved eachother with this amazing kind of love that you don't always see.
On Saturday, our team headed to Arad (a city about an hour away from the camp) where one of the translators showed us around (by the way, our translators were AWESOME. They were all our age and very fun to be around. Plus, they were really good at their job and were very passionate for Christ which made it fun to work with them.) I can't post about Arad without mentioning that we picked up a hitchhiker on the way. Our bus driver was very interesting, to say the least. We had an awesome day in Arad. We got to go to an open air market, a few shops on the street, and one really neat store with traditional Romanian hand made gifts. We also got to have lunch at McDonalds. I have never been that excited to see a McDonalds in my life! It was SO good! Later on Saturday, we had to say bye to half out team which was a really hard thing to do. They went back to Timisoara to do work in the city, while we stayed at the camp to run it a 2nd week.
The 2nd week was equally as amazing as the first, although it took a lot longer for me to realize that. There were around 60 kids all between 5-15 but most of them were 9 or 10. They were better off then the first week of kids, so they were not striving for love like the 1st week. The kids from the first week would literally hit us just so we would pay attention to them. They finally realized that we were there to pay attention to them and that they didn't need to hit to get that love. By the end of the week, they would hug and kiss us instead of hitting and pushing. Anyway, the first two days were extremely discouraging. Our small groups were much bigger, having about 8 girls in them. I felt like we had a lot of 1 on 1/personal time with everyone the first week, and we definitely did not have that. We were all discouraged and I definitely did not think there would be much of an outcome at the weeks end. However, God definitely proved us all wrong AGAIN when 5 kids (all in the same group) gave their lives to Christ on Wednesday. Wednesday was the funnest night of the week both weeks (although Thursday was fun, too, because we went on a hike up the mountain and had a huge campfire both weeks!), because we had a lalau! There was yummy food, lots of funny skits, and just a fun time of fellowship with all the campers. Now added to this Wednesday was another celebration, this one of 5 more kids entering Jesus' family. I think this really encouraged all of us, as Wednesday night was amazing and went even better than the first week's lalau! Thursday was incredible. We had really fun water games, good talks, a blast doing dishes for the entire camp (not... it took over 2 hours!) The most incredible part of Thursday was no doubt small groups. Bethany and I had felt led to do "1 on 1" time with all our girls. I think the whole talking about spiritual stuff in front of all their friends really intimidated them, so no one had REALLY talked yet. One by one, we talked to each girl. 3 girls decided on that day to give their lives to Christ. One of the girls informed us that she had asked Jesus into her heart the night before. It was incredible. That is the only way I can describe it. The amazingness of witnessing people make the most important decision of their life is overwhelming. After small groups, we went to snacks and most of the other team members/ small group leaders were sitting talking. Everyone was smiling so big and we all just started sharing out stories. 16 more people came to Christ that day. It was truly an amazing day. We capped the day off with a hike up the mountain, where we did our talk. As we walked down, there was a gorgeous sunset. I just couldn't stop thinking how great our God is. We had a huge bonfire afterwards and we all just sang together. Looking around and seeing close to 100 people all sitting around this huge bonfire, singing and praising God in Romanian was such a beautiful thing. Not just in Romanian, though. One of the most beautiful things we experienced the whole trip was on night when we were singing "Prince of Peace." We sang it in Romanian first and the second time through, we sang it in English. Then we ended it in Romanian. How beautiful to hear 2 languages singing the same song, lifting up praises. No one was ready for Friday to come (other than the fact that it meant our team being reunited). Saying goodbye was once again really difficult. As I hugged each kid, whispering te iubesc (I love you) in their ears, I could not help but thing of how amazing, how life changing this trip had been.. not only for those kids, but also for me.
We ended the trip with a trip to Budapest. It was really fun and gorgeous. We were probably quite the site... 24 Americans dressed in Church clothes, all carrying cameras, walking down the streets of Budapest. It was a really fun way to end the trip, and what a beautiful place Budapest is!
On Monday, we headed to the airport. We were all ready to see our families, but we all wanted to stay. (by the way, what an amazing team we had! No drama, just fun and fellowship. We truly had an awesome time and have already planned a reunion!) The flight was really fun on the way home. Horribly turbulent (which made quite a few of us, including me, feel very sick) but really fun. We got off the plane, went through customs, got all (yes ALL) of our luggage, and went down to the main airport part where signs and tons of families were waiting. AnnaClaire RAN up the ramp, yelling "SISSY! SISSY!" when she saw me. I was so glad to see my sweet girl! It was so weird when she spoke English and understood me, though. I was not used to that!
It was a really good trip. Life-changing and amazing. I missed everyone at home, but I really did have the best time. We are already talking about next year and are hopeful that our Church will be able to bring a team back :)
Lastly, I want to thank everyone for all the prayers. I definitely felt them. Thank you so very much!
Posted by Emily at 2:18 PM