The Merry Cemetery and the Communism Memorial

This past weekend we went to Sighetu-Marmatiei for a wedding and we had a little bit of time to visit (for lack of a better word) tourist attractions. We celebrated the lives of loved ones lost at a cemetery, and we mourned the lives thrown away without respect at the memorial.

This is Cimitirul Vesele (the Merry Cemetery). The graves stones are carved to depict the activities that the deceased loved doing in his/her life time, how they died, or wishes for those they left behind through a picture and a poem. Some are funny, such as a man who died drinking too much moonshine while riding his tractor and not listening to his momma. Others have a life lesson, like a man who worked hard his whole life for his daughters to earn a living for them and then realizing at the end of his life that he can’t take any of it with him once dead. Then others are tragically sad, like a child who drowned and washed up on the shore.

*click on the photos to see them in a larger preview. 

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The Communism museum in Sighet is located in the center of town in an old prision. The prison was built in 1897  but from 1945-1955 it was a prison for ministers, academics, economists, military officers, historians, journalists, and politicians. The ruined prison was transformed into a museum in 2000.

First, you go through the main entrance room  and see this map. It reads “Then when justice doesn’t manage to be a form of memory,  a single memory can be a form of justice .” Then you go down the hall, where it is lined with pictures of those who were imprisoned here. You come to a huge iron gate and you can see all three stories of cells. Each level has a chain net seperating it from the next and you walk past each cell on old creaky wooden boards.

I felt on edge from the pictures and seeing a video testimony of a former prisoner and a former guard before entering the main area of cells, but the feeling of claustrophobia felt so overwhelming in this space.  Each cell has been set up with a different theme and different information about communism in Romania. This room is where a former prime minister was imprisoned for standing against the communist party and he ultimatley died here.

Once you finish walking through the cells you can go to the courtyard where they have set up a memorial for the almost 8000 people who died in prisons, camps, and deportation places in Romania. The wall leading down to a room where you can light a candle for those who died is lined with names.

The statues in the field are “The convoy of martyrs” by Aurel Vlad. If you are ever in the area of northeast Romania, this is a must-see because we need not forget. I am the age of Romania’s freedom from Communism, … 27 years old.

Viewing 2016 from 2017

This time last year, we had just arrived in the States for our first visit back after living in Romania for 2 years.  We were so excited to share what God had taught us, what He was bringing us through, and our excitement to continue in Romania. We were trying to explain how God had changed our ministry every 6-9 months and yet still vision cast for the future.

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The season before we left Romania, we had been getting a lot of questions about work and faith. People shared their desire to reach out to their co-workers and they struggled with how. So we shared with people about how much of our ministry is relational, meeting with people and desiring to encourage them. We shared about the english ministry we were working with, and we were given materials to bring back and share. And we shared that God seems to be placing work and faith in our path, but we were not sure what we would be doing with it. While in LA, we sat down with our pastor and asked him for books and materials to start with on the subject.

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Then we returned to Romania at the end of April, just in time for another Easter. I won’t lie to you, it was hard, especially for me, to come back. It was hard to leave family again. It was hard to leave english worship and prayer. (and the beach…if I am being honest.) We came back to have just missed the last english ministry meeting and some of the other relationships we were excited about were really busy as we arrived back. It was hard. God felt distant. The purpose we had just shared about for 3 moths felt shaky.

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There were also good things. We felt stronger in our Romanian, even after having 3 months off. The regular summer happened with a Mt. Bethel team coming. Jeff’s parents came to visit.12334557-8eee-420e-aeee-109c1af55855

Jeff got invited to work on an article about work and faith in Romania and how church leaders here could help encourage their church bodies in this pursuit. In August, we had the opportunity to go to London and pray for our church family planting a church there. We were able to meet with friends again in english and see their excitement for the city.

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Sometime between June’s uncertainty to August’s ministry, we noticed our conversations starting to change. June sound track was a lot like, “why are we back here God if we don’t see a ministry to serve in?” August started to have more conversations with, “Romania is home now. And we have a visa for 2.5 more years. Which visa should we get in the future?”

ce332c4a-a138-4db9-b32d-aec948d95a40Then the article that Jeff helped write with 2 other friends was published in English and Romanian in a Global Missiology Journal. (You can check it out here if you want. ) And the guys started to talk about how it only scratched the surface and we needed to do more. So then there was discussion of doing conferences or seminars to help equip people in more practical ways. Fast forward to now, we will be having a beta test for the seminar in Bucharest a month from today and we are in the planning stages for the one in Timisoara.

It is funny to think about a year ago, saying this is something people keep talking about, maybe we should do some research, to now. God is directing our path and we are excited to see where 2017 takes us.

Truth to the Lies

“If we can just keep pushing through this thing, then we can pause.”

“Just one more thing.”

“We have been wanting to meet with them, I know we are tired but we can do it.”

“We aren’t doing enough, we should be doing more.”

“People around us are doing so much more. Their ministry seems to be going so well.”

“If we just pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, buck up, we can do it.”

“We are so busy, but busy is a good thing.”

“People need us so we can’t rest. They are counting on us.”

“Resting means we are weak.”

These are some of the lies we have been telling ourselves and the devil has been telling us over the last couple of months. Probably if I am to be honest, we have been saying this for the last year.  And then about a month ago our lack of talking with each other and lack of connection with the father, the conversations turned to this:

“I can’t do this [life/busyness/ministry] anymore.”

“I feel like I am at the point of breaking. I keep bending and I feel as though I might snap.”

We have prayer cards that we have and share with supporters, and we always put our marriage as one of the prayer points. We have had people say we shouldn’t do that, because it sounds like there is a problem. The devil lies. He whispers, “asking for prayer is weak, we should be strong.” ” We should have it all together.”

After that conversation a month ago, we knew we would have time in the middle of our next work trip in Bucharest, so we booked a hotel on the seaside and decided to dedicated the time to resting in the Lord and reconnecting.

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We hadn’t realized how much the devil had been feeding each of us lies separately and we were listening and believing them. We were pulling away. We spend all day, every day together, yet we felt isolated from each other. We were functioning with out being.

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Healing began.               Slowly.                  We began by sharing what we had been reading lately. I was reading the book “Being an Aroma of Christ” by Karen Pearce. She use to live in Romania as a missionary with her family. I felt understood and laughed at the funny cultural moments she describes, which I have known all too well.  Then I got to a chapter on Spiritual Warfare and it hit me, we were under attack.

We made our 2 days a phone free space and sat and talked. We started to share the lies that we were feeling and speaking truth to them. Encouraging each other in how much Jesus cares for us and what the Bible has to say. We watched sermons in English. We prayed together. We ate good food and walked on a very cold sea shore.

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We began to shift our thoughts.

Though we may be facing difficult times, it is no less a testament of his love for us.

If we are to be stronger, we MUST rest.

The closer we draw to the Lord, the stronger we will be.

Jesus asks us to be faithful, not perfect.

It is not our strength but God’s strength in which we should be operating out of.

God loves us. He is fighting for us. He has won already!

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I don’t write this to worry friends. We are not done. We are not leaving. I write this to encourage you to check where the devil is lying to you. To ask if you have someone to speak truth into your life.

I write this to ask you to continue to pray for us, our marriage, and ministry. Just because the healing process has begun, we know we continue to be in the midst of the fight. We have reevaluated our self care plan and daily still we are verbally speaking out the lies and speaking truth to them.

When Government Fails


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It has been an interesting month or two in the world. To be honest, I have felt a bit overwhelmed by it all because I have been focusing more on the governments around us. Russia is passing laws against proselytizing outside of the church, Brexit passed and a new prime minister for England, the attacks in France, loss of confidence in the EU, and the circus of an election in the U.S.; it is all a bit overwhelming when I focus on it. I don’t write this to create a discuss about these topics or make it your focus, but rather share with you some things I needed to be reminded of while in London.

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We just got back from 12 days in London. We went to London to join our Reality Church family to pray for the city and for the new church they are starting there in September. It was so good to have time praying corporately in English, and worshiping and fellowshipping with our U.S. church family.

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We had 150ish Americans walking the boroughs of London in groups of about ten, praying to God to do mighty things in the city, for a revival. If I can believe and pray that God change peoples hearts and minds and that the city of London would turn to Him, why then is it so easy to become fearful when I read the news. We had sessions in the mornings and evenings and one was on fear and another on the power and supremacy of the Lord. These themes stuck with me on multiple levels: personally, for Timisoara, Romania, London, the U.S.

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One of the pastors shared a quote ( I wish I had written down who it was), “the modern day idol of the church is the government.” We expected the government to be stable and keep the peace among countries and protect us, these feel like realms the church can’t influence. I resonated with this quote.

Do I think God is not bigger than the world’s problems?

Do I believe God is with me in the good and the bad?

Have I forgotten how he brought down cities and governments in the Old Testament?

Do I believe God is supreme?

These are questions I have had to ask myself. I have to reorient my thinking.

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“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:29-31

Just as Peter shifted his focus to the wind, I have shifted my focus and I cry out, “Lord save us.” He picks me up and says, “have you forgotten… I already have.” I need to re-orient.

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I have to re-examine how I am praying. Am I praying out of fear or out of the power of the name of Jesus? Also, praying for the city of London has had me questioning how I pray for my own city, Timisoara. (I will be doing another blog on this later.)

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

Ephesians 1 :18-23

I write this to remind myself of what I have learned, hopefully to encourage you too, and to remember who reigns supreme. For Jesus has already won! He has already defeated the grave. Do not be afraid.

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“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Colossians 1: 15-20

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You know you are in America when…

Just some funny things we are noticing our first days back in the States.

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  • When you are on the American Airline flight to Chicago and the stewardess asks if you would like ice cream in the middle of winter.  (Of course I do!)
  • When you miss the airport bathrooms in Europe.
  • When you understand everyones’ conversations around. (and you don’t necessarily want to.)
  • When you have free refills at a restaurant.
  • When those in customer service are very attentive.
  • When you automatically get ice in your drink.
  • When you understand everyones’ conversations around.
  • When there are neon signs everywhere fighting for your attention.
  • When you look for the light switch on the outside of the bathroom but it is on the inside.
  • When you can drink water right from the tap.
  • When it is ok to walk through the house with your shoes on.
  • When you understand everyones’ conversations around. ( This is so strange.)

After living outside of the States for 2 years, we know that during our visit here there will be some things we miss from Romania, and some that we don’t. It will be an interesting 3 months. We walked through Wally World the other day and half of us are surprised by all the options and availability and then the other half says this is familiar, maybe from another life.

Here’s to living dual lives!

When an Introvert becomes a missionary

The musings of an introvert …

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As an introvert, life in ministry has been interesting and difficult at times. I have been told by different people throughout my life, especially as we prepared for moving to Romania, that I really need to be an extrovert to be a missionary. I was told that as an introvert I would not be successful.

I know that these people are right, in the sense that it can take more work for me to meet new people (and it helps to have an extroverted husband), but I also know that they are very wrong in their assumptions that God can not use me and my talents in the way that He has made me in ministry.

If you are an introvert, and someone has ever told you this, please trust God made you who you are.

Each person has their own challenges and strengths, extroverts and introverts.

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I love having one-on-one conversations, and sometimes it takes a couple of times to really get to know me, but I love getting to the heart of things. The holiday season is hard for this introvert. Married to an extrovert who is energized by people, the holidays can be a great time to host people, but it is hard to find the balance between supporting my husband’s needs for “people time” and my needs for time alone.

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Let’s not forget that there is also a language barrier that I must cross, which makes deep conversations all the more difficult. Moving to another culture has stretched me. I would even say I have become a little more introverted, but that is the from stress of culture and language and finding my voice here.

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After 2 years, it is getting easier and I do not get tired so quickly.

In university, I took some counseling classes and I was able to audit a Self Care/Member Care class from Fuller, which have become secret passions of mine. I am constantly seeking how to feed myself (mentally, physically, spiritually) so that I can feed into others. We often hear “self care is being selfish,” or “taking time for yourself is weak,” or “if I am don’t do it, then who will.” These are lies that have penetrated the lives of missionaries, pastors, lay leaders, etc for far too long, and it is time that we encourage those in ministry around us to know what fills them up and give them space for it.

We have yet to find the perfect balance in our marriage and ministry, but I do know that I am not unsuccessful for taking time to take care of myself. I know that God gave me talents and placed me in my new home with a purpose. I know that my goal in life is to glorify God, in my own way.

Remembering Two Years Ago

 

I am having a coke to help with jet lag, trying to stay awake on day 1.

I am having a coke to help with jet lag, trying to stay awake on day 1.

As we came upon celebrating 2 years here in Romania (Nov. 20), I was looking through my old journal entries around that time. I specifically remember my mom telling me to write it down so I would remember what I was feeling during that time of transition.  So I found my entry from our first day here pretty funny and I thought I would share it with you.

Day 1 in Timisoara                                                                                      11/21/13

Emotions: Overwhelmed, voiceless because I can’t understand or speak the language yet, excited, anxious, nervous, exhausted, very surreal. Physically, I feel a train has run over my body which Jeff says is jet lag. I am a little worried about money and having enough and being able to get enough out with out a lot of penalties (When we arrived, we discovered the bank we planned on using had closed). I am glad Jeff is with me and I feel less eager to be on my own like I did in December (2010) when I came to meet Jeff. Love, engagement, etc., creates a lot of energy that I didn’t account for. My goal for today: walk the city and get a handle on what needs to be done here. and don’t cry.

Enjoying some tea while working on my Romanian homework. Day 706 in Romania

Enjoying some tea while working on my Romanian homework. Day 706 in Romania

And now,  we have been here for 2 years and it continues to feel more and more like home. If I am completely honest with you, I think I am still trying to figure out if I am ok with that feeling. I never imagined I would live here, but I know this country and its’ people are being sown into my heart. I am so glad and thankful that the Lord has continued to provide for us. We have a wonderful community around us, I can understand more of the language, I can get around the city, and God continues to provide support for us here.

Sincerely,

Another Cultural Learner