This whole first month in Romania, we’re going to do one really short post every day, giving you a quick snippet of the day’s activities and emotions. Today, since we haven’t left yet, is officially “Day O” I guess.
This is our last day in America. We had some awesome goodbyes yesterday and a going-away party/picnic with all our friends from Milwaukee. We were exhausted last night but stayed up long enough to get everything done we needed done and then crashed.
We slept. Really pretty well too.
And at about 6 am this morning, Day O, we woke up and did all the final cleaning, packing, etc. Caleb and Tyler popped over to help us carry some big things down, said goodbye. We’ve got some awesome friends.
Now I’m at the laundromat with the girls doing a final load of laundry and Jessie is at the doctor with Isaac, getting him his final shots. He’s a year old today. Not the greatest birthday present… but he does get to go to Europe tonight too.
Lots of emotions are flying through our heads. We’re excited to follow the call of God. We’re sad because we’ll miss all our friends. We’re nervous because we don’t know exactly what’s gonna happen. We’re focused, really focused.
We’re not stressed at all, which is awesome, and it feels like the grace of God and the peace of God are thickly covering us. We love it. Things are just working out perfectly today. We have just enough dryer sheets to finish our laundry. All our pens but one ran out of ink today (crazy, isn’t it?). All our household cleaners just ran out. All the furniture and big items are sold. Things are just going so well.
Now we’ve got 2 hours to do a few little errands, return our keys, and load up the van, and then we’re off to O’hare.
Pray for the kids. Though the grace and joy and peace of God are on them, they’re still pretty emotional about leaving some of their friends and stuff behind. They already miss all their church friends, the library, the children’s museum… Naomi hugged the toilet goodbye this morning.
A lot of people have been asking us, “Why are you moving to Romania?” They usually follow that up with “Is it because you’re nuts?”
So here is our (well, my) top 10 reasons we’re moving to Romania:
10. A totally selfish reason, but the scenery is beautiful, as you can see above. Not every place looks amazing, and there’s plenty of ugly scenery in the cities, but mountains and seaside beaches exist, and for that, I am happy.
9. Another selfish reason – we’ve always wanted to do long-term missions, and we’re not getting any younger. If we don’t leave now, we may never go.
8. We were growing somewhat comfortable in inner-city Milwaukee, and I want to be in a position where I’m not comfortable, where if God doesn’t move it’s all gonna fall apart. I want to depend on Him and Him alone, and I want to see Him move. Getting up and moving half-way across the planet, to a nation where we don’t speak the language, don’t know the culture, and don’t know very many people, seemed like an effective way to do that.
7. I love mercy ministry. Though things are improving in a lot of areas of Romania, there are still 6000-plus kids living on the streets, there are still some 30,000 orphans, and there are still 1-1.5 million Gypsies living in poverty and squalor. The world may not think much of Gypsies and orphans, but Jesus does.
6. Sex sells in Romania – human trafficking is a problem, prostitution, though technically illegal, is on the rise, especially among college students, sexual immorality and provocative dress are the norm. Unless they find real freedom in Jesus, the younger generation will no doubt continue down a road of increasing addiction and bondage.
5. Though the economic situation is not as bad as it was, especially in Bucharest, the spiritual situation is worsening. Like the rest of Europe, Romania is turning toward materialism, secularism, and post-Christian philosophies to guide their lifestyles instead of looking to God. Missions experts and theologians are calling Europe, “the new dark continent” because of the quickly increasing secularism. While other places are poorer or maybe less Christian in name, the church in Europe is very weak.
4. There are many places of Romania without an evangelical church and many who have not heard the Gospel. Many of the younger generation are practicing agnostics. Though they were probably baptized in an Orthodox church, will do their wedding there, and may even attend services for Christmas and Easter, they don’t read their Bibles, don’t have a relationship with Jesus, and are not born-again. They may have an amount of religiosity, but it’s not a saving faith in Jesus.
3. The city of Bucharest has a population of 3 million people, and only 2100 (0.07%) are estimated to be born-again. The current US average is 100 times that amount. So there are plenty of people in Bucharest who don’t know God yet.
2. The Bible says to take the Gospel to all of creation. Last I checked, Romania is a part of that. So, to be faithful to the Great Commission, we’ve got an opportunity to go, so we’re going. Related to this, and to keep my points at 10, Romania’s geographical location is ideal for sending missionaries out throughout the Eastern Hemisphere. We’re excited to eventually raise up missionaries and church-planters who will go into Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, and beyond.
1. God made it very clear He wants us to go, so we’re just gonna obey. A lot of times, it’s hard thinking of leaving, and there are tons of needs right here in America, but God told us to go, so we’re going, alright?
One of the coolest, and most humbling, things about doing missions work is the fundraising. When people talk about sacrificing their cable TV plans or surrendering their dreams for a big family vacation just so we can reach people in Romania, it really causes you to humble yourself.
We’re working our butts off raising funds, learning the language, packing stuff, selling stuff, building up connections, etc, but other people are working hard in factories or schools or office buildings or used car lots, making money so we can go. Really makes me want to be extra careful with how we spend the money people donate.
Almost two months ago, I was up in the soundbooth at church, getting ready for the worship to begin, when I heard the tell-tale clump, clump clump of a tweener boy bounding up the stairs. Oh man, I thought, here comes the Sunday morning routine, as I got ready to disappoint another mischievous kid and kick him out of the soundbooth.
Instead, though, an 11-year-old boy popped his head around the corner, holding a crisp $10 bill.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“It’s for Romania.” He handed me the $10 bill and ran back down the stairs.
“Thanks,” I told his quickly retreating back.
The next week, he clomped up the steps again right before worship would start and this time handed me three crumpled one-dollar bills. “For Romania,” he proudly told me and, again, ran back downstairs.
The next week, it was $2, then $3 again, another $2, and finally today he handed me two neatly-folded $10 bills. Every time, he jumps up the stairs, I start smiling, he hands me a wad of cash, announces, “For Romania,” I laugh and say, “You’re awesome! Thank you,” and he runs back down the stairs.
Now I know this kid’s family, and they’re not crazy rich or anything, so assuming this 11-year-old isn’t selling drugs, stealing money from his parents, or engaged in the illegal sale of weapons of mass destruction, I’m completely in awe of his generosity. Sure, he doesn’t have bills to pay or kids to feed, but he’s given me $40 total over the past 2 months, which is $40 more than a lot of people I’ve met with to raise funds. Where is he getting this money? And how can he just give it so freely?
Seeing his generosity amazes me.
It also causes me to think very carefully about what I’ll do with his donations. If I don’t use it for Romania, I’ll feel like some high school student stealing candy from middle-schoolers at the homecoming parade.