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Live from Romania (5)

Let me start with a disclaimer --- this post is not being written in Romania as my other ones were.  We’re back in the states now, getting our body clocks readjusted. I wanted to finish this series with a final post while the memories are still fresh in my mind. Here are some reflections from our trip.

  • We were blessed far more than we blessed (Romans 1:11-12). There’s really no surprise in that because you can’t out give God.
  • 17 days is a long time to be gone anywhere, especially out of the country. I found out that I can live without television, radio, and telephone, if I have internet access. (Speaking of which, although you can go to http://www.hulu.com, downloads are not yet available in Europe.  No wonder some Europeans are resentful of Americans!).
  • Being a novice to international travel, I didn’t realize that east to west travel was so much slower than west to east (it has to do with the jet stream and weather patterns that flow from west to east).  We made it from Atlanta to Frankfurt in about eight hours, but Frankfurt to Atlanta was about nine and a half hours (or three movies, two tv shows, and a fair amount of music. Being 6’ 4" is not conducive to sleeping on a plane!).
Now to the real stuff, some impressions from two weeks in Oradea (I was going to use the word conclusions but let’s be real --- it was my first time there and it was only for a couple of weeks. I’ve tried to be accurate here and not over reach, but please keep in mind these are just the impressions of one person).
  • It was hard not to be impressed with the congregation. They were extremely welcoming, hospitable, and supportive. We were received as family and it didn’t take long to get to know everyone. The congregation is small, but they seemed to be a good cross section of their community. I was especially impressed with the core of young people (late teens to late twenties). I would say there are about a dozen people this age and their enthusiasm and hard work was inspiring.
  • Vasile is doing a great job. He was a wonderful host, a superb coordinator and troubleshooter, and a great anchor in the congregation. One of the things I was most impressed with was his gift for getting everyone involved. He also has an excellent rapport with people of the community. Students came early and stayed late visiting with him and other members. In fact, there was a steady stream of people in the building throughout the day. It was obvious they felt welcome and comfortable there.
  • The mission aspect of the trip was great. We were working with the WEI program (http://www.weiady.org/), which teaches English through the use of biblically based literature. It was personally enriching and rewarding to have the opportunity to teach people the Good News. More than that, it wasn’t a hit-or-miss format --- we were with them for an hour every day for two weeks. That’s a lot of opportunities.
  • Furthermore, the students we had were good people as well as good students. They were self-starters, diligent, and hard working (they put many Americans to shame).  Since English is an an international language, they were eager to learn it since doing so opens up a lot of opportunities for them educationally as well as vocationally.  
  • Most of our students were also quite interested in knowing and doing what was right. They seemed more noble than the average American in the sense that they were more humble and seeking of God. My guess is that they stood out from the average Romanian as well. 
  • When you have the opportunity to teach a group of people like this the Good News for two weeks, it’s difficult not to get attached to them. And then you have to leave and will have only limited contact with them at best.  That's the bittersweet part. 
  • Another thing I liked and saw practiced by the congregation was that no one took a microwave approach to producing disciples. We studied and interacted with our students at a natural pace. Nothing was forced. A few of the students grasped things quickly, made personal applications, and are ready to go deeper. For most students though, they were exposed to many things that haven’t germinated yet. In either case, the good news is that the students have such a good rapport with the Vasile and other members of the congregation that it can provide the perfect place for incubation.
Some closing notes of appreciation:
  • Thanks to the 10th Street congregation for giving us the opportunity to go.  Your support financially and in terms of prayer was absolutely invaluable!
  • Thanks to Coker and Julia Mays for driving us to and from the airport in Atlanta.  Not having to worry about this part of the trip got us off to a good start, and seeing their familiar faces in the airport after our return flight was a sight for sore (or at least weary) eyes!
  • To Cecil and Sue Langston --- there is no better yardman and maid (their words, not mine), to watch over your house. Also Cecil is the man to see if you need to purchase any golf equipment. Janice needed a left handed wedge for our games of yard golf and he purchased a new one for her at Academy Sports for one cent --- the man obviously drives a hard deal!
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