Preparing for Stateside Ministry Assignment

We love our job as cross-cultural workers and getting to share about how faith impacts every aspect of our lives, even our work. Another part of our job is also ministering to those in our passport country. We love being able to encourage the Church with stories of God’s transformational work in Romania, and hear stories from those in the States that we can bring back with us.

We usually spend 2-ish years in Romania and 3 months in the States. Some organizations call this time furlough, but that carries a connotation of only rest and purposeful study, and others call it home ministry assignment. We have chosen to call it Stateside ministry assignment. Romania is our home, the US is our childhood home, and it helps to make the distinction for us. Also, it is a ministry assignment; we think of this time as part of our job. Thankfully, we do get to have some vacation time with our families while we are back visiting, but this is not a 3 month vacation. Our visit is so multi-purposed it is hard to explain. Yes, we are visiting family. Yes, we hope to rest some. But we also visit churches, share with small groups, and meet with friends. As well, we try to keep up with those in Romania to continue the work there too through online meetings, and studying and equipping ourselves for future ministry.

As we prepare to make another SMA this summer, I wanted to share some of the thoughts and feelings we experience.

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

We love to share with people how we have seen God at work, but as this A Life Overseas blog shares, we also have to prep to have a presentation for a big church, a small church, one with media and one without, a small group, a get together in a park, and the courtyard/parking lot/elevator presentation. Some will give us 35 minutes, and another time we have exactly 3.5 minutes, so quick, decide what’s important! Also, we really want to remember everyones names! But sometimes, we forget or our brain decides to stop working. Also, big crowds help us share with more people but extrovert-ing is tiring and sometimes we just crave some one on one time. We miss being able to host people ourselves.

It is so hard to share “how’ve you been?” from the last 2 years in 5 minutes. After 2 long years, time to catch up and hear how God has been working in your life is sweet to the soul! Worshiping as a congregation and hearing the Word preached in our first language is so life giving. Not having to think through my prayer fully ahead of time but being able to be led by the Spirit knowing that I’m not excluding others around me by praying in English is something I cherish, but we also miss the worshiping in Romanian and learning something new from a text in a different language.

Time in the states is also hard because you have “emotional whiplash,” a term that this ALO blog shares about. We are happy to be in a familiar culture and language, but it’s unfamiliar as well. We are not the same anymore, and neither are the people we get to meet with every 2 years. We have all changed. Let’s add different pandemic experiences to exacerbate the feeling! We try to keep up with people, with the news, and politics of it all while we are in our Romanian home, but it is hard. And sometimes we see it differently from a distance. It’s also hard when we are told we don’t get a say or just don’t understand because we don’t live in the US. We dread some of the political conversations; we also dread being dismissed.

There is this cultural divide that is hard because nobody knows what to talk about. Often times, we don’t catch the cultural reference, or our life is hard to imagine so people just don’t talk to us and are just around us. It can be hard to know how and where we fit in.

We also feel pressure to spend time with everyone that we can because we know if we miss seeing you, it will be 4 years since seeing each other the next time. We hope people will still want to see us. We never want people to think we are only trying to see them to “ask for money.” We love to share in what God is doing in Romania and that we get to participate in that together with one another, because God is good and faithful! We also want to express our gratitude for coming alongside us in this ministry, for helping to equip and encourage us! And how do we do that? What do we bring that shares all of the thankfulness for being faithful to give, pray, share, and love us?

Thank you for reintroducing yourself, for being patient with us, for accepting us as changed, and wanting to ask us questions about our lives and sharing your lives with us. This Velvet Ashes blog says, “Who are your “I couldn’t do this without you” people? Who are the ones that show up for you? Who are the ones you lean on so you can do what you do? Who has given you their air mattresses, guest beds, and couches? Who has housed you for longer than is socially acceptable?” We have a long list of people who have done all of these things for us and more.

Image made by Karen Huber

Thank you for your sacrifices for us to live in Romania, for hosting us, for making time to visit with us, for listening and praying, and for being the body of Christ to us.

We look forward (with lots of emotions) to seeing you all this summer.

Lasă moale

I have been going to physical therapy close to 2 months for a “frozen shoulder.” First, I’m fine. I have seen some progress but it is slow. And secondly, everyone always asks, “what did you do to it?” I don’t know. It started with pain with certain movements and then progressed to daily pain and loss of movement.

My PT’s most common phrase said to me during our time together is “lasa moale.” This means to leave it soft or stay soft. She says it to me as she sits behind me to support me as she manipulates my arm in a passive movement exercise.  In this passive exercise she means let go, relax, and trust me. I laugh that she continues to have to remind me, you would think she would understand I like my control. But she has to help me do movements that push me and hurt in order for me to gain that freedom and mobility I need back. So she reminds me over and over, lasa moale, stay soft.

Painting by Paola Delfin

This reminds me how often God is calling us to stay soft in His hands. I think we often try to take back control or start to stiffen up because sometimes letting God work in our lives and remove the things that are not like Him hurts. God whispers, lasa moale. “Trust me,” He says. Sometimes God asks me to stay soft and He moves and guides me. Other times, He invites me along with Him to try together or invites me to practice what He has taught me all along. But in my faith walk, it is not a linear path. Just like clay, sometimes it begins to look formed and then suddenly the potter sees something that could be worked out differently and wets the clay to start again. 

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:  “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.”  So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Jeremiah 18: 1- 4

One day, my physical therapist told me to soften and I told her it is hard because everyone else is always reminding you to sit up straight and have good posture. She laughed. “I’m not everyone else, ” she said, “and it won’t work if your muscles are not relaxed, it could actually hurt you more.” I wonder how many times I have pretended to be pliable in the hands of God only to be reminded by my culture and others around to be strong and independent.  I ask God to mold me to His will, and then I try to straighten my back in the process.

Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on

As I first started to go to physical therapy and began to share with others, I quickly received different stories of other peoples’ experiences. I have had people tell me stories of how she helped them so much and stories of how it was not the right person or process for them. I have also had people dismiss my pain, and just remind me to watch my posture because that worked for them when they had a pinched nerve. 

This experience has made me think how we are shaped by each other in an imperfect church. People will have all kinds of experiences to share when it comes to faith too. There have been plenty of times when I have been dismissed, and, I am sure, when I have also dismissed someone else’s pain. We dismiss peoples’ pain with sayings like, just pray more, just read your Bible more, or be strong in the Lord. It’s not that these are incorrect but they are incomplete if we first have not extended empathy and compassion. It doesn’t address my whole need of needing to be listened to, to be believed, and shown the full love and healing in a relationship with God.

Doing PT in another culture means I have had to overcome the language barrier and figure out how to share about pain and what hurts. Thankfully, there is no language barrier to overcome when I communicate with God because I can come with all my pain and He knows it all. 

The potter, He is perfect. He is proven faithful, trustworthy, true, and just.

How great it is that the God that asks us to lasa moale is one that is trustworthy.

Enneagram Learnings

We recently returned from a week-long vacation in Croatia. Croatia is beautiful, and mountainous, and turquoise waters, and rocky beaches. Our first day there, about an hour after we arrived, I sat down at the table on the terrace and thought…

ok, now what? What do I need to do? What is the plan?


In June, we had a friend share more with us about the enneagram. Personally, I love introspection, learning more about myself, placing words to feelings through others’ collective experiences, and learning how to grow personally. I’ve shared how I can be a perfectionist, so fittingly, I seem to be a 1 on the enneagram.


Type 1 – the Reformer/perfectionist

Frustrated with the world around them because they see the potential and desire to things to be better, but better in their opinion.

Often struggle with anger when they are unhealthy and are at their best when they allow themselves to be more spontaneous.

They are in the gut grouping, which means initial reaction is from the gut.

They love to plan because they love to “do.” A lot of who they are is wrapped up in what they do.

*ps. I’m new to the enneagram, so please forgive me if my information/understanding isn’t complete.


My birthday this year signaled that we left California 5 years ago. Crazy, I know! But it also signaled a “small” meltdown for me. Not because we are not in the States or California, but because on paper for the last 5 years, I haven’t “worked.”

Classic 1: how can I prove to anyone that I matter, have purpose, have been doing anything with my life if I don’t have a way to prove it on paper that I have done anything?

(Please don’t read too far into this meltdown of mine. It is emotions wrapped up into other things, and our counselor has already heard it all.)

My husband so kindly listening to me says, in classic 2 (values relationships), “but think about all of the relationships you have built here.”

I just can’t help but laugh at this 2am existential crisis and our opposite reactions to it.

So why do I share this intimate moment with you? Besides how hilarious it all sounds now, it reminds me of who I am. No, I don’t mean who I am according to the enneagram, but who I am in Christ.


When I forget my identity is not found in what I do,

when I forget my identity is not found in what I can show people,

when I forget that I don’t need to do anything to earn the love of Christ,

then I have existential



I am not

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me.”

what I do.

“You know my sitting down and my rising up;”

I am loved

“You understand my thought afar off.”

by a God who gave His son for me.

“You comprehend my path and my lying down,”

I am created in God’s image.

“And are acquainted with all my ways.”  Psalm 139:1-3


“we expect to barrel through life and then sit down for thirty minutes and somehow find focus, though our hearts were racing for the other twenty-three and a half hours of our day. We want to gaze on God’s beauty, we want to look into Jesus’ face, but speed and beauty rarely coexist.”

“Whether or not we are in a hidden season whether or not we are in a busy season, we have to pause long enough to look. This look is not a passive look. Looking at God’s beauty increases our desire for more of Him. It can grow our desire to look again. And again.”

-Unseen by Sara Hagerty


Again and again, I must remember for whom are my actions. Resting in who God is, as my provider, as a God who teaches us to rest, can be an act of worship.

Wind in our sails

nathan-dumlao-557722-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

“Short-term teams can be the wind in your sails or the waves against you.”

We heard the phrase above the last time we were at the Adventures in Missions’ office. As we have had a team in April, a friend visit and serve in May, and 2 more teams coming in July, this idea has been forefront in our minds.

Thankfully, we have, more often that not, encountered teams that are blessings to us. As summer approaches, and your church sends teams out, please think about these things, and how your short term team is just that – short.

Short term teams are hard. They take time away from regular daily tasks or meetings, require things to be set up in advance (in countries that don’t usually function that way), and trying to translate language and culture all the time can be exhausting.

But in the hard, there can be a strengthening of connections with partners for those of us who stay,

or there can be destruction of those relationships.


There can be a better understanding of how to pray and come alongside the national partners and the missionaries,

or there can be false promises and lack of follow-through.

Their energy can be a renewal of vision and excitement for what God is doing,

 or it can be draining and exhausting.

Find ways to build up those who stay, listen to those who live there, and encourage the ways God is already moving there.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


“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.


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.


“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


You know you are in America when…

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


  • 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 …


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.


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.


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.


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.