Friday, August 23, 2013

Romania Part 4: Meeting the Missionaries

I have mentioned in the past few blogs that one of the things we did in Romania was lead little Bible Schools.  We did the first one of these at the church in the little courtyard.  The second and third ones we did at a nearby park.  I liked having it at the park because other people who were just visiting the park came to see what we were doing.  A lot of them came to play the games, listen to the Bible stories, and make crafts.

The crafts were pretty lame, actually.  We had only brought some limited supplies with us--index cards and stickers being the main things.  I had also brought my knitting bag with me, you know, to knit stuff if I got bored, so we had yarn to use.  And my sharpest knitting needles made a pretty good impromptu hole punch. 

Yeah.  Actually it didn't.  But we made do with what we had.  And the lameness of our crafts really didn't matter.  The kids still wanted to make them.  I'm not just talking about 3 year old kids who are impressed by glitter crayons.  Ok.  Honestly.  I'm impressed by glitter crayons, too.  But my point is, kids of ALL ages--teenagers included--wanted to participate in the crafts, in the stories, in the silly songs, in everything that we were doing. 

They wanted to meet the missionaries. 

They wanted to sing our songs and hear us speak.  They wanted to do whatever we were doing.  There was something magical to them about being around people who had come to them from another country.  It really was almost like we were celebrities.

Ashley, a member of our team, signing autographs for the children.

I think I also mentioned in a previous blog that I'm shy and awkward.  I mean, I do better with children because I work with them for a living, and I'm around them all the time.  But meeting and getting along with new people isn't really high up on my skill set. 

The thing is, when I really really try to push myself to talk to people, that's when things go really badly.  I've tried in the past to push myself to talk to strangers, and I even tried on this trip.  It always leads to awkward failure. 

But the thing about being an "American celebrity," a missionary that people wanted to meet, was that I usually didn't have to try too hard to meet people.  Kids wanted to talk to me.  Adults wanted to talk to me.  Young adults wanted to talk to me.

One young woman in particular made a pretty big impact on me.  After our last Bible school, I was putting my knitting needles away and cleaning up some of the scrap yarn and note cards that the kids had scattered all over the park, when a sixteen year old girl called me over to talk to her.  I wasn't making any effort to be social or anything.  She just wanted to talk to me (and she spoke very good English, which made things a bit easier :-D).

So I sat down and talked to her for a few minutes.  And when I'm not forcing the situation, really amazing things tend to happen. 

As I talked to this remarkable young woman, she told me about her heart.  She reminded me a little of myself when I was her age.  She talked about some anxieties she had about starting a new school, but mostly, she talked about wanting to know God's will for her life.  Throughout our brief conversation, she mentioned several times about how she wanted to follow God and know Him better.  She even mentioned that she wanted to be a missionary, and she pointed to me.  I really didn't think about myself as a missionary, even though I was on a "mission trip."  But the thing is, every Christian should be a missionary, no matter where he or she is.  And I think I was able to offer up a little encouragement.  I remember being sixteen, unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling in my bedroom at night, begging God to show me His will for my life.  I wanted to know His will--some big thing that I was meant to do forever. 

But life doesn't work like that and God doesn't work like that.  And I was able to communicate a little of my experiences to her.  If we're faithful in the little things we know we're supposed to be doing, like reading our Bibles and praying, like loving your neighbor, etc., then God would be faithful to lead in the bigger things.  I think that was a little bit of an encouragement to her, and I know her sweet willing spirit was a blessing to me.

She had one more thing she wanted to say that was very encouraging.  She asked me specifically to bring a prayer request back to the Church in America.

If you're a Christian in America, this prayer request was for you.  This young woman asked for the Church in America to pray that there will be more opportunities for adult and young adult Bible studies in Romanian churches.  At the church she attends (the one we were working with), there are no Bible study classes for adults or teenagers.  And she was asking for prayer that more would be available, because she wants herself and others to be closer to God.

I think her request shows that she has a lot of vision for the Romanian church, which was refreshing, because it seems like the vast majority of the young adults in Romania just want out.  They want out of the country.  They want to move away somewhere else.  They don't see that there's much of a future for Romania.  But this young lady seemed to have a different, refreshing perspective.  She seems to see that God isn't done with Romania or the churches in Romania.  And I think that she might very well be one of the future leaders in her church.

In fact, she's already leading.  She and several of the other young adults at the church did an incredible job leading the music on the Sunday night that we were there.  And also on that Sunday night, after the service, she and another young lady ran up excitedly to me and Ashley (another member of our team).  They said that they were about to go to a meeting about an upcoming evangelistic trip across the Danube River into Serbia. 

She said, smiling ear-to-ear, "We're going to be missionaries!"

And, as far as I know, this amazing young leader went off last weekend to tell other people about Jesus.  And, as far as I know, she's going again this upcoming weekend.  I ask that you would keep her and the team from her church in your prayers as they strive to reach others and tell them about Jesus.  And I ask that you would keep her and the churches in Romania in your prayers as she and others strive to know God better. 

It was interesting and fun to see how many people in Romania wanted to meet the American missionaries.  But that was nothing compared to actually being an America, going to Romania, and meeting these young, willing Romanian missionaries.  Please keep them in your prayers.  While God isn't done with Romania, the people are willing, but the resources are small.  They covet our prayers!

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