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I am sure that what I am going to share is a tension that most of you wrestle with too. How do we balance work, family life, and ministry? How do we do all the things that we need to do and do it in a way that does not just check off our to-do lists but truly is done with loving others as first in our minds? How can we remember the idea that everything we do, we can do for the glory of God. All the mundane tasks that we need to do daily can be done with love and intentionality. This is what we have been learning as we live in this place. With our kids at their ages and stages, they have many complexities in how they process things, grieve things, and hope for things. Their school is becoming more demanding, as Dani will be entering high school, Cristian will be halfway through middle school, Olin is entering junior high, and Keli is in the upper elementary stage. Jason and I’s understanding that the time goes by fast and there are still so many things that we want to teach our kids is very real. There are also our work responsibilities, and we just recently moved into a new house that still needs some finishing. Camp season just ended, and it was an amazing time of seeing God at work and a whirlwind of a July. And so, as I was reflecting on all of this and asking myself, “How do we do all these things and do them well,” a scripture came to mind: “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). This is a way I believe God has been at work in our family’s life and something He is encouraging us to continue in. To do all the things we are called to do while sharing our lives with those around us. To do it in love and in community. My prayer is that we would love well where God has planted us and truly share our lives with those who have become so dear to us. Not as an extra thing on our to-do list but as a way of life. You might be wondering why we share this when we just came off the camp season and have so many things that we could share, but it is because it is the background to one of the two stories that are most precious to us about this year’s summer camps. We would love to share these special stories with you.
Our first story involves one of our own kids. This child was not a camper at the first week of camp but was helping out with a lot of the setup for games and activities. On the last night of camp, this child was sitting with our translator, and the pastor spoke a powerful message, asking the question, “After we die, where will we spend eternity?” The pastor had a long rope representing eternity, and he invited each camper that wanted to come up and receive a smaller rope representing our temporary lives here on Earth to “tie” our lives to eternity with Jesus. Many of the campers went up to tie their rope, and there were many tears. I went up to hug and stand with a group of them, and a couple of minutes later while the pastor was praying, I felt another child come up with tears and hug me from behind. It was one of my own children, ready to commit to following Jesus now and into eternity. What a joy to see those God has entrusted to you come to faith in Him!
But God had more . . . Just before camp, we had moved away from the city of Zalau, and although we can already see the amazing blessing that it will be living up near the camp in the beautiful rolling hills of Sinteu, Romania, we will deeply miss our neighbors. They had become so dear to us, and as I processed this transition, I realized just what a blessing it has been to share life with many of them these past two years. They have taught us so much about the art of togetherness and generosity. We have had so many times of fun and laughter, tears of sadness, and the joy of supporting one another through life’s ups and downs. We will always have very fond memories of our time in that community. One of the families in our neighborhood has a 14-year-old boy, and his parents had asked me to teach him English this past year. So once a week he would come over on Wednesday afternoons and we would do an English class together. He is a lot of fun, and through our classes and English conversation, I learned a lot about him. I was also able to have conversations about why we are living in Romania and share about our family values. He would then stay after class and spend time with our kids for a couple of hours. Our boys loved to go biking or skateboarding and play basketball with him. He became very dear to us. When he heard about our summer camps, he really wanted to come. The problem was that our program does include some English but it is primarily in Hungarian and he is a Romanian-speaking Romanian and doesn’t speak any Hungarian. He insisted that it didn’t matter and that he still wanted to come.
So our neighbor, we will call him “D,” came to camp the third week of July. We were able to have many of our counsellors speak with him in Romanian, and we translated the Hungarian messages into English for him through radios (as we do it also for our team and our kids). He seemed to be having fun throughout the week and was very attentive during our times of teaching and cabin discussions. Most of what he heard was new to him, but as leaders we noticed his interest. On the final night of camp, there was an opportunity to pray a prayer of admitting our own brokenness and sinfulness and receiving the forgiveness that God longs to offer those who would come to Him. D recognized his need to do this and prayed the prayer. The next morning, he stood up in front of the campers and shared at testimony time that “he was forgiven and redeemed.” Praise God for putting those around us in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, and the common places that we visit to not only share the gospel but our very lives, so that there would be saving grace that comes to those who would receive it. What a glorious day it will be to see those who we lived among on this Earth in eternity with Him! Praise be to God for what He has done. Amen!
Thankful for all of you! Thanks for listening . . . Much love,