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Happy fall! We hope you are enjoying the changing of colors from summer to autumn. It is truly breathtaking up here in the hills of Sinteu as the leaves all transform from green to red, orange, and yellow. We are excited to share some of the stories from the past couple of months here in Romania. These stories point to the provision of God in our lives and those around us, and we hope that they encourage your heart as you see His goodness in these stories.
We have established some new rhythms as we have settled into school for the upcoming year. Cristian, Olin, and Keli entered into local village schools this fall and have adjusted really quite well, are learning a lot of language, and are immersed in the culture. Dani is continuing online with an Alberta high school. Now that the kids are established in local school, we spend a lot of time in the village of Simleu. For those of you who were on mission teams this past spring, it is the village where we went to see the ruins of an old castle and a Holocaust museum. It is a bustling village with a beautiful mix of Hungarian, Romanian, and Roma people groups. The Romanian Baptist church and the Hungarian Baptist church in Simleu have a variety of thriving ministries to the Roma population and the community. We have had opportunities to speak at both churches and hopefully encourage them in what they are doing. We will be discerning what ministry partnership looks like for us now in this new context.
During camp season, we have campers who come to the camp who are not connected to a church in the local area. We always hope that after building relationships and connections at camp they will plug in somewhere to continue to experience God and His community. However, this is not always the case. There were a couple of teenagers from camp who were specifically on our hearts, and I was praying that somehow we could be a support for them outside of the camp context. I believe this desire was from the Lord and He made a way. It turns out that although one of these teens is not from the village that our kids go to school in, he also attends school there. During our first week of classes in September, we started to run into him most days after school. It was an opportunity to sit and chat, debrief the day, and hear about life. This led to an invitation to come to his village so that he could give us a tour and go for pizza to celebrate his birthday. We went and spent the day with him as he showed us his elementary school and the corner shop he frequents, and he shared many stories of life growing up in the village. We enjoyed a pizza lunch and had the opportunity for Jason to pray over him. Sometimes these things feel small and insignificant, but we always hope that the time we spend with teens from camp would allow them to feel the tangible love and care that we have for them and ultimately that God has for them. The next day, he texted thanking us for spending the day in his village and said that it was the best day of his life. God takes the small things and makes them big things.
This next story is about God anticipating our needs and being a Provider. During our first week of school, by the end of the week I sat in the park on the bench and thought to myself, this won’t work. We can’t make this work. Keli finishes school at 12:00 p.m., Olin at 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. depending on the day, and Cristian at 3:00 p.m. We were just waiting in the village until they were all done school because it is too far to drive back to Sinteu in-between. The days at that time were sunny and nice, so we spent them doing homework in the park, but it felt long, and I thought about how the weather would eventually change. I prayed for help. The next week I was sitting on one of those benches in the park on a video call with a local friend from the city we recently moved from, and she asked what I was doing. I proceeded to tell her that I was waiting and about my current predicament. She then proceeded to tell me that her husband grew up there and they have inherited his family home in that village, that they would give us the key to the apartment and it is ours to use freely. It is fully furnished. She told us to just plug in the fridge, use the bathroom, and if we ever need to sleep there, no problem. I sat there stunned at God’s provision. He had just given us an apartment walkable from the school to use. I now drop the kids off at school in the morning and go to the apartment to continue to learn Hungarian and do work emails and Bible study, and then Keli comes back to the apartment to do her homework. Olin then joins us, and at 3:00 when Cristian is finished, we all drive back to Sinteu. God is gracious when we ask for help.
We see in the Bible stories of God seeking people out, like the Samaritan woman, and then we see people like Nicodemus come and seek Jesus out. This last story is about someone who God brought to us. Like Nicodemus, he was seeking. We live in a very rural area in Romania, and a British cyclist happened to be biking from the UK to Turkey and was staying in a rental place down the hill from us. At first, he was just seeking some food; however, throughout the conversation he proceeded to tell us of his adamant atheism in his younger years and how he has been slowly opening up to the idea that there is a God, and that recently he even had an experience that has encouraged him to seek deeper. Part of the story makes me laugh because I rarely make a vegetarian supper because Jason isn’t sure a supper without meat is really a supper. However, that evening I had made a vegetarian pasta dish. It turns out that he was a vegetarian! He came up from the rental place, and we were eating on the patio. He shyly asked if he could join us because he did not bring food with him. So, he joined us for dinner and conversation. This British cyclist shared much of his life story and the things about life he was pondering. We spent five hours with him and then invited him back the next morning for breakfast. We were able to pray over the rest of his journey, his life, and some of the grief that he was experiencing before he cycled away towards Turkey. We continue to pray for him and that God would continue to meet him in his questioning and doubts and that He would KNOW that there is a God who desires a relationship with him and who loves him deeply. It was a blessing to meet him. God provides opportunities for us to share the joy and hope that we have in Him. Not that we ourselves have it all together, have all the answers, or are somehow better people but that we have a hope of the future and a joy that we are called children of God!
These are some of the ways that God has been Provider for us and those around us as we live here in Romania. How is God providing for you? We would love to hear your stories, too!
Until next time . . .