On March 25th, 2016, I sat in a Starbucks in Bucharest and wrote in my journal. Among other things, I wrote:
I sure will miss this place. I thought about adjusting to life at home once I get back, but I didn't give much thought to the actual leaving, the pain of it....And I love this place, not in the naïve way that I think I loved it before, but in the way you love someone you've actually gotten to know...And I will go home, and will love the people and the place God has given me there, and maybe I will come back again.
And today, after a year of loving the people and place God has given me here in Arizona, I am getting ready to go back again indeed. Last year, I was able to blog quite a bit on my trip, and had such fun doing it. This year's trip will be a bit different, and I'm not sure yet if daily blogging will be a part of it, but I figured that at least I could use this blog today to fill people in on what my plans are. I know there are many who just see little facebook snippets and realize I'm going back but know little more. So here's the plan:
Just like last year, I'm starting my trip) (this Wednesday) by chaperoning a group of high school students on a mission trip for a week. Their teacher, Derek, is a friend of mine from church, and I'm still blown away by the kindness of God in providing this very easy and natural way to return (again!) to the country that I love. We'll be partnering with the same local church that we partnered with last year, Biserica Speranta (Hope Church) in Draganesti-Olt. We'll do whatever they're doing, which I think will include things like ministry to the Roma (gypsy) population there, home visits in the community, and passing out New Testaments in different neighborhoods.
This year, when the students leave, I'm planning to stay on with the church for an extra weekend. This will allow me a little more time to connect with the missionaries there and to partner with what they are doing in a different context than I'm able to do with the students.
After the weekend, I'll travel to Timisoara. I visited (and adored) this city last year, and was able to meet up with an American missionary who has lived there for many years and works with children with disabilities. What was a quick dinner out last year will, this year, be a chance to stay with this sweet woman for a few days and work alongside her in her ministry. I may even buy a guitar when I get there and do some music therapy with the kids!
The simple (and more expensive) plan after that would be to fly directly out of Timisoara to get home, but I decided to add a little extra adventure to the end of my trip. So I will hop onto a northwest-bound train that will cross into Hungary, and will stay in an Airbnb in Budapest for my last 2 nights before flying to London and onward toward home on the 25th. I've been to Budapest en route to and from Romania before, but this will be my first time spending more than 1 night there and my first time exploring on my own. Today, I met my goal of learning 10 Hungarian words...and firmly established that it is not an easy language to learn. In Romania, I can read pretty fluently, speak enough to make basic requests and polite (if brief) conversation, and understand people decently if they speak slowly. In Hungary, I haven't even learned their alphabet...so will have to rely more on the kindness and multilingualism of others in order to get around. This will be humbling!
I would appreciate prayers during my trip for safety (my own and for the team), for a calm heart, and for the building of sweet relationships while I'm away. Last year became sort of a whirlwind tour of Romania. I loved it, but was a little lonely and a little exhausted by the end of it. I'm hoping this year will be a little less of a whirlwind and a little more of being a part of people's lives during my brief visit.
Thanks for reading this far and for caring about my adventures! My next post will probably be written from across the Atlantic!