In my last post, I briefly mentioned that I had awoken from a short, fitful nap in the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. I was on the verge of a mini-tantrum (that I think I managed to completely internalize) because I had so many questions in my head. Why Romania? Why me? What am I doing being completely exhausted in an airport in Germany instead of safely tucked away in my quiet little bedroom in my quiet little apartment in America, sleeping or wasting time on Facebook. That's comfortable and normal. That's safe. I like safe. This doesn't feel safe. What am I doing here? Why Romania? Why me? What reason could there possibly be for me coming to Romania?
The questions continued to float in my head during the next relatively short flight to Bucharest (when I wasn't passed out asleep having more fitful dreams) and on the six hour train ride to Turnu-Severin (which was also full of more fitful dreams). Then we arrived in Turnu-Severin. We ate. We slept. The next morning, we hit the ground running with a Bible School. It's amazing how food and sleep improved my mood. The questions were still there, but as I met the pastor and his family, as I met more of the wonderful people at the church, and as I began to actually work a little bit, the questions began to fade.
But it wasn't until the second day that I really had an AHA! moment. I think I had secretly been waiting for such a moment ever since arriving, and when I had it, everything started to change.
Our first three days in Romania had a format. We did Bible school in the morning with the kids. We would do visitations with church members in the afternoon. Then we would go to a church service--either at the church in town, or in a village church, in the evenings.
Well, the visitations were a little nerve-wrecking for me. I'm shy. I don't talk to strangers. I don't have good conversational skills. I'm crazy awkward. Add to that a language barrier, and well, yeah. Recipe for disaster.
Well, not a disaster really. More of just a really, really painfully awkward silence.
We did go as a group to the visitations. So the pastors talked a lot. And the rest of us just smiled and nodded and tried our best to listen whenever the translators got a chance to get a word in edgewise.
I didn't feel particularly useful on the visitations the first day.
The second day was different.
We went into the home of a lady and her daughter. I don't want to go into too many details, because the internet is very public, and these stories are somewhat private. But the family had some emotional and financial needs, and they could use some encouragement.
I didn't know what to expect when I walked in. The mother didn't know English, but then the daughter started talking to us in unbelievably good English. She started talking about school, about things she was working on. And it was very evident that this girl was extremely intelligent and talented.
The more she talked, the more I felt a connection with this remarkable young lady. The pastors were talking to her, but bless them, for all their training and all their skills, they had never been 14 year old girls. It was obvious she wasn't really all that eager to talk to them. But me? I remember being 14. Sometimes it doesn't feel like it was almost TWO decades ago (ouch). I remember being young and insecure about so many things. I remember having dreams and plans and hopes. I had never experienced a lot of the pains this girl had experienced in her young life, but still, I couldn't help but just think that God had put me there in that time to encourage her.
I couldn't help but be amazed that I, an American lady, was sitting there in the kitchen of this Romanian family, sitting there with this Romanian teenager who, in normal circumstances, I'd never have the chance to meet--or even know she existed. And I realized that this was one of the reasons I had come. She was one of the reasons God had called me out of my own little comfortable world and sent me on a journey. He wanted me to meet her. He wanted me to encourage her. He wanted me to be likewise blessed by her.
I don't even remember what I said to her as I left that day. It was something along the lines of, "God has given you some amazing talents. Don't be afraid to use them for His glory." And, well, that's been a message I've been telling myself A LOT over the past year. And maybe I'd have gotten it a little sooner if someone had told the fourteen year old me the same thing.
Or maybe not.
All I know is that the following Sunday, that young lady came to church. She ended up translating for us as we helped out with the children's Sunday school class. When we had met her before, in her home, she was guarded. But the following Sunday, she was glowing. She was radiant! She was alive! God's presence in her was just so evident.
And I believe God has some amazing plans for that young woman. She is so talented, so intelligent. I think He's got some big things in store for her.
And it was such an honor to get to meet her, to be part of her life for just a little while. I pray we continue to bless and encourage one another even though we're many, many miles apart.
And I thank God so much for the blessing, for the amazing opportunity to meet her. She was the first reason I came to Romania--and I will never forget her.