Reflections from the plane

Hello everyone, this is Kip tapping in for probably our final blog post. As I sit here on the final hours of our last flight, looking at the familiar faces of the students and leaders that I’ve spent the past two weeks with, I am reminded of the power of community. Throughout the entire trip, this team has been an unbreakable foundation upon which we can freely share our thoughts, feelings, and worries without judgement. I am truly blessed and lucky to have the opportunity to be surrounded by such an amazing group of God-fearing friends. There are so many stories and jokes that we’ve had a chance to create, from one of Julian’s many ridiculous and hilarious songs to the times spent awake at a ludicrously late hour goofing around. In addition, the relationships I and the team made with the Romanians this year were eye opening and life changing. Before arriving in Craiova, I personally was a bit anxious about being able to open up more and build more relationships this year, especially considering I didn’t feel like I got close with many of the Romanians last year. But there was one guy named David that I had gotten tight with, and he made me feel right at home when I greeted him this time around. We both love cars and rock music, so we spent quite a bit of time discussing whether AC/DC is overrated or not and the differences in the American and Romanian car markets, among many other eye-catching topics. He was an extremely important figure in my journey this year and helped me create many lasting relationships with other Romanians this year. By the end of our time in Romania, I felt like I could be myself around everyone I talked to; there was an indescribable sense of safeness and inclusivity that I’ve never felt before. Although leaving Craiova early on Sunday morning was one of the hardest goodbyes I’ve had to endure, I am inspired by how God showed his grace and kindness to me through amazing people like David and the rest of the Romanians. Returning home will be a tough pill for me to swallow, but I return with the comfort of knowing that as long as I stay committed to surrounding myself with a God-fearing community, my fears and worries about this world with sort themselves out. Thanks so much to all that prayed for us on our journey and to all those still hanging around reading this post, and we will see you all shortly.






To George: Hello George, I hope to see you at school tomorrow and I hope your pet tortoise “walaweegius” enjoys his spa day.


To walaweegius: I love you walaweegius, I hope that you think of me during your spa day, remember to ask for Mcgundus to do your shell wax.

The Final Night

Hello friends and family, this is Cade. As our team was preparing to head to Romania the biggest fear that I had was that I would send a second straight year not making good connections with Romanians. I was nervous for camp because it’s the reason we’re here and I felt like I was bound to waste my time there being awkward. Now that camp is over and we’re on our way out of Romania I can see that God answered my prayers and made those worries seem silly. Thinking back, the final day of camp was predictably the most memorable day. I was a part of the drama team which put together a short skit about the power of faith set to the song “What Faith Can Do”. I had never participated in something like this throughout my whole life and didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I volunteered. I felt like I was in way over my head when practicing for the performance on the final night of camp, watching teammates both American and Romanian who regularly participate in drama made me second guess being a part of that team. But again, God proved that these worries that I was having were unnecessary. Those who had experience and knew what they were doing were patient and quick to help those of us who were knew to this sort of thing. Before long dinner time came and there was still much to do to be prepared for the final evening session of camp. Many of us ate our dinner quickly and rushed back upstairs to continue preparing in our various roles. This short time we had to finish getting ready was one of the most enjoyable times of the whole trip. I think it had something to with the incredible teamwork that took place that could only be achieved by a team that was put together by God and knows and loves each other as much as we do. Every single person had a part to play in the night and I felt that it was easy to see what everyone’s role was and how they were being used.

From motions to worship to the drama to the message every part of the night had its own unique impact on the campers and prepared them for the discussions that night. The atmosphere of our small group on the final night was noticeably different than that of the other nights of camp. Not to say our small group was not productive on other nights, we had incredible conversation throughout the week, but it was easy to see that this night was different. The campers were actually quieter than they had been the whole week but that was not discouraging, it was clear that there was internal processing of the events of the night going on inside of everyone. I can’t think of many times in my life that I’ve been able to so clearly see God working, and even saying that I know he was doing so much more than what was visible to me. Thank you so much for reading and I ask that you pray for our time in debrief and that we can effectively process our time at camp and in Romania while still amongst our teammates.


Hi all! This is Elise.

I’m writing this in a hot van, about 4 hours in on our trip back to Craiova. And while I am not physically comfortable right now, my heart is full. Yesterday was our last full day of camp, and we made the most of it, spending a lot of time connecting with the campers. After a morning full of outdoor games, it rained in the afternoon, so we set up crafts and games indoors. I ended up playing a game of Signs. Signs involves passing an “invisible ball” across a circle of people by signaling to others with a motion or sign that they chose at the beginning of the game. One person stands in the middle of the circle and tries to guess who has the “ball” as it is passed around behind their back. This was such an interesting game to play with a mix of Romanian and English speakers because all the nonverbal communication mostly defeated the otherwise challenging language barrier. There was confusion, but plenty of laughter too.

Even with moments like the signs game, the language barrier had been a challenge for me personally. I had found it difficult to connect with certain campers because of conversation limits. By the fourth day of camp, I was worried I wouldn’t even be able to form real relationships with the girls in my small group. But as our last two days continued, I tried to sit by a couple of these girls during a few meals and evening sessions (this may sound simple, but there was a sort of scramble for seats during these times that often left leaders sitting together). I found that even this small (and awkward) action could create a connection. And while I’m not best buds with any of the campers, I did get goodbye hugs from the girls in my small group today! 😊

One last note: We are now back in Craiova! I have been told how much returning to Craiova feels like coming home, and now I truly understand the feeling (don’t worry Mom, I’m still coming back to Madison). It is comforting to be back in a familiar place, and amazing to shower without sharing the shower with other girls’ hair. I think I speak for everyone when I say we’re sad that camp is over, but at the same time, we are all breathing a sigh of relief now that we don’t have to be high-energy all the time.

Thanks for reading! – Elise

Shout outs!

To Owen: Good luck this weekend!

To Mom and Dad: Have fun sitting in the heat for hours. Love you! – Elise

To Owen (still Owen Chester): I miss you! Love, Luke & Leah

To Jake Genyk: I had a dream about my shirt last night… Expecting great things! – Ashton

To Larry: Can’t wait for the Spring Green golf outing! – Kip

To George: George… Georgie… I am so EXCITED FOR YOUR LAST DAY OF VACATION ON THE CRUISE. Make sure to not eat too many deep fried mushroom stew shrimp balls! And um p.s. do not spend too much time in the kiddie pool. Chlorine will ravage your skin!

To Emmett: Love ya, you old codger. Can’t wait to give you some belly rubs! – Matt

To Arthur Immanuel Ernst: Welcome to the world! Love, Auntie Missy


To Nikki: Apparently, I’m y(o)u now.

To Noah Pollard: I was just called Pickles today, so no worries. Also, I did a special chomp with a motion and sound effect in the camp video. Hope you see it. Miss you. – Luke Sweeney Stevens. PS no Tylenol pm was consumed on this trip

To all Memorial swimmers: Good luck at All City (Go RW)! – Matt and Elise

Amazing Grace

Hey y’all!


This is Ashton here, writing to you on our fourth day at camp. The past couple of days have been filled with competitive outdoor games, laughter, tears, pranks, lots of soup, and many, many smiles. My biggest worry was that I would not connect very easily with the campers because of the language barrier, but God quickly took my worries away when I met Irena, Claudia, Geo, Andrea, and Mariana. We hesitated at first to be completely open and comfortable around each other, but as each night went on, we had deeper and deeper discussions over cookies and tea. I am a part of the program team and have enjoyed (maybe too much) dressing in 80’s workout clothes, wearing leg warmers, sweat bands, and leotards. I surprised myself and am finding it so easy to goof off with the campers and start conversations with them. I can feel all of the amazing things God is putting in front of me, and he is answering my prayers in amazing ways. So, with this, I took a leap and joined prayer team as the second morning of camp. It is an encouraging feeling to hear Pat and Claudia to pray and to lift all our worries to God in such an amazing environment.


Yesterday, we went on a six-hour hike and my faith in God grew even stronger as we looked out at the indescribable view at the top. I know God was with us the entire time, and I felt at that moment that he was giving me strength that I didn’t think I had so that I would be able to experience his wonders in this way. We dipped our feet in a freezing cold glacier lake and then returned home to spend the rest of the night learning pick up lines from the campers who, by the way, say I have an amazing Romanian accent, and then also making friendship bracelets with my roommates until 1:00am. Even the next day, God gave me the energy that I needed, and I did not feel tired or sore from the day before. He is incredible! Even after all of these amazing things He has done for me, I felt as though I came the closest to God that I ever have been tonight. After having some campers drink blended sardines and junk food during program, we spent some time to sing songs and worship. It was extremely encouraging to see all of the kids enjoying themselves during this time, and once the evening session was finished, we went straight into our small group. Right away, we talked about doubts in our faith and shared stories of doubt; leading the way to a very intimate discussion. There were many tears, and to calm us down, Claudia did something I will never forget. She wanted to take a moment to close our eyes, hold hands, and sing Amazing Grace together and just lift our doubts up to God. I felt God intensely in that moment, and I will forever be grateful for Him allowing me to feel his love in this way.


I am excited to see what He has planned for myself and the team as we continue on with the rest of our trip, and I could go on and on about all of the incredible things I have seen in the past 8 days, but I am also writing this past curfew :/ I would just like to end saying a few things.

  1. I have tried every food that has been passed my way on this trip and I have not tasted one that I did not enjoy, and I think Shwarma might just be my new favorite food @Morgan.
  2. Reed family, I hope you are getting ready to have an awesome time in Texas and please say hi to everyone for me when you arrive.
  3. Thanks for reading this blog post, and from everyone on the team, we are having an amazing time and can’t wait to tell you all about it when we return 🙂






To Bria, Hannah, Noah, Dan, Katrina: <3 Thank you for your words of wisdom, they were very timely, Love Pat.


To George again: This is a make up shoutout for my missed shoutout, please tell me how the cruise is and the food. I hope the staff is treating you well and your hacky sack brings you joy. Don’t forget to take your seasick medication if you feel queasy and drink LOTS of water, at least 3 or 4 bucket fulls a day!

To Matt and Rachel Metzger: Thank you for the 17 and 2/3 birthday wishes, I opened it on time but was unable to shoutout until now.

To Carynne: Thanks so much for commenting (and updating us on the Bachelorette 😊) We miss you soooooo much and we can’t wait to tell you about it when we get back!!! Love, Elise and Leah

To Hannah: I miss you a whole lot and I have SO much to tell you! I hope MadMish is going great <3

To the rents: Nooooo! How could you?

To Job: I’m offended I didn’t get a comment from you. You got your own shoutout and everything.



Buna prietenii si familia (hello friends and family),

This blog is being written (by Matt aka Matoots) after a very exciting while hectic first 24 hours of camp. After a 5-hour long bus/van ride from Craiova to the camp there was a unanimous feeling of exhaustion from the all of us camp leaders. The campers on the other hand seemed to have no lack of energy after unloading from the buses and their energy quickly rubbed off on us. Once everyone had found their rooms and put away their luggage, the whole camp split off into their teams that they would meet with for the rest of the week. Our task was to create a team name, flag and small skit/song that we would later present to the rest of the camp. My team, now known as “The Super Strangers”, was drawing blanks on ideas of what to do, but luckily one of the older campers, Marian Asan, brought up superheroes as a potential theme and the whole team agreed on that idea. Our introduction involved each member of the team impersonating a specific superhero and running down the aisle of the meeting area. To give you an idea of what this looked like, for the Incredible Hulk we had the camper Adi wear a large green shirt and we shoved as many small dodge balls into his shirt as we could, and he ran down the row of chairs yelling and flexing his “giant muscles”. Our teams entrance went perfectly to plan, and all the campers were laughing and cheering as these “superheroes” came to the front one by one. Watching my team members slowly opening up to one another through this process and get involved with the activity filled my soul with excitement and joy for what God has planned for us in the coming days.

We finished the evening session with worship and a talk giving by Justin, a Romanian leader who grew up in Iowa. Justin talked about Gods promise to Abraham of a son even in his old age. The talk focused on Abraham’s faith in God even when asked such a difficult question as to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac. Justin’s talk was not only applicable to the campers lives but all the leaders as well. Hearing about how faith in God can help you conquer even the biggest struggles in life is something we all need to be reminded of and I’m excited to see how this week’s talks and discussions can help me grow in my own faith. The ensuing talks will continue with the theme of faith as the camp’s slogan is “Credinta Muta Muntii” (faith can move mountains). After evening session, the teams split off into separate rooms and discussed the idea of faith from the talk. Many of the campers were not quite ready to dive into this topic on the first night, but after hearing how every teams’ discussions went, I’m excited to see the progress we can make this week. The veteran Romanian leaders have wisely reminded us that the first night our campers will always be a bit quiet. Back home you guys can prayer for progress with our campers in discussion and continued health and safety for the rest of the trip.

As a returning member of the team, I find comfort in the chaos that inevitably happens on the first night of camp. Last year if the computers hadn’t worked right away, or the name games we had planned were cancelled I would’ve been stressed and worried. However, one thing you learn after spending time with the Romanians is that even though things may not be going exactly to plan, everything works out in the end. God has a plan. Some of the first-year team members brought up the stress and worry they were having but they are quickly learning that that is not the Romanian way. God’s influence on camp is becoming more and more evident to me as I remember stories from last year and even stories from this year’s camp already. I have full faith that this year’s camp will be amazing and God’s plan is already being lived out through us. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, they are felt by all of us.



Shout outs:

To George (you know who you are), I hope your vacation is going great and I can’t wait to see you soon. -You know who this is.

To mom and dad hope the house isn’t too quiet with me away. -Matt

To Grandma Penny we are doing a lot of fun things, will show you pictures when I get back.

– Grace

To Jordantas: Jordantas Jordantas 21 he likes hockey and pocky all at once

To mom and dad Stevens: here’s another shoutout since I didn’t give you guys one for the first few days. Hope y’all are back from the dells safely! Love you. -Luke

To Jush: I’m finally missing golf

To momma Reed: I would greatly appreciate some sunflower seeds when I get home 🙂

To the Vogels: I hope you’re all doing well! Give Luna some extra love!!

To Abby B: Thank you for feeding Jonah! I miss youuuu and love you lots <3 😊

To the Metzgers: (I figured you all would get jealous again if I didn’t give you all a shout out too) I love you all!!!


Team is Family

Hello everyone, Isabel here! Today was day 3 in Craiova, and I wish I could say it was as eventful as yesterday, but unfortunately there was not another water war. It was a pretty typical morning after a very late night. We got up, we ate breakfast, and went on with our day. After breakfast we had team time, and then we continued preparing for camp, which is believe it or not, is already tomorrow!

I am on program team which is responsible for coming up with fun games and skits to share with the campers. After hard work planning for camp in previous days, there was less to do today. We got to sit outside in the Vieru’s backyard and listen to the worship team practice. Although most of their songs were in another language (Romanian), I got chills listening to them work together. Nikki playing keyboard, Julian playing violin, Ellie humming along to the melody and many Romanians playing instruments and singing. It was amazing to see it all coming together, even though the songs were in Romanian and us Americans could not understand the words.

After lunch, we had an unusually calm afternoon. People actually used “rest time” to rest! We packed our bags for camp and took power naps. We were told by the leaders to be back in the Vieru’s yard by 3:30p, but one thing I’ve learned since being here is that Plans can often change. Turns out we didn’t actually need to be anywhere until 5:30p, but we didn’t leave until 6:15p. I however, found joy in this. This period of “I don’t really know what we should be doing right now time” was used to make friendship bracelets, changing Julian’s glasses cleaner to an electrolyte spray, playing with dog treats, and learning new Romanian words. We have bonded as a team and are excited to start camp as a team closer than we ever have been.

Tonight, we journeyed out into the center of the city to get some Shawarma for dinner. I wish I would tell you what was inside of it but honestly, I have no clue. Every bite was a surprise. Mayo, ketchup, chicken, french fries and many other delicious ingredients all rolled up in a crispy tortilla-like wrap. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t good. It was just confusing. (Editors’ note: Many believe eating Shawarma is significant and most delicious.)

This being my first time on this trip, I was extremely nervous about having to adjust to the new culture. My mind was filled with worries about not being able to build relationships, staying with a host family to feeling far from home. In just this this short time I’ve been here, Ethos has become like home, where we are a family. Romanians and Americans, all coming together as one. God’s presence these past few days has been overwhelming. From every warm hello and joke that is shared I have been able to see God through all of it.

Now we are all about to head to bed to get a good night of sleep before we head to camp tomorrow. Please continue to pray for our team as we transition into the next phase of this trip. I am excited to see what God has planned for the rest of this trip!

Thank you for all the love and support and we continue our journey! We eagerly look forward to what the Lord has in store for us and the campers this coming week.

With love,






To the parental units (of any variety): Guess how many bandaids I’ve used!

To Job: Love ya, man! Thanks for being the bestest little brother ever.

To my friend George: Your vacation seems very fun please send a post card my way.

To Cade’s Mom: I found the ask me shirt thank you very much!

To Katrina Anderson: I miss you! (From Toni K)

To Jake Genyk: My shirt better smell good!

To Jay: I am very glad you got a haircut.

To Grandma Debbie: I am sorry I never napped as a baby, and that I like to take books off the shelf at the library.

To Grace’s mom: There are 29 days in February this year!

To Sarah and Craig Stevens: Here is your shoutout mom and dad. Love you and miss you! See you in a bit.

To Isabel’s mom: I’m glad your interviews went well!

To Kjersten: I miss you and I will send you a letter! (From Ana C.)

To Owen: Don’t forget to feed my fish!

To Mom and Dad: Make sure Owen reads the blog. Love you!

To the cabin crew: Hope you all are having fun! Cade misses you a lot!

To the Metzgers: I miss you all. Hannah, I hope this week of Madison Missions goes well. Mom and dad, have fun with the Moore’s!

Dog with a Blog

Hello Friends and Family, Julian here! I am so excited to share about what we have been doing on this great Hawaiian shirt day! After sleeping through the barkpocalypse (early morning event where every dog in a 10 *kilometer* radius barks for roughly an hour), eating a hearty breakfast, enjoying some productive team time and eating lunch, we had an impromptu water war. It all started when a few of the leaders took Matt from his comfy hammock and threw him in a nearby pool, it did not go by smoothly and Matt almost escaped, but with that action, the war began. Daniel was stationed on the side of the patio with his water cannon (hose) while the infantry began to attack the unsuspecting students. I ran through the battlefield holding my violin with dear life as I could not get it wet. Once I returned it inside, I re-entered no man’s land and quickly became soaked. I decided to change my shirt and once I returned, I found myself being hunted by the other brainwashed students. I ran for dear life, accidentally finding myself in another Romanian’s backyard and a man asking what I was doing, but luckily, they lost my trail. I scuttled back onto the main road and checked my surroundings, making sure I was safe. I was not. I ran away from the soldiers and found a hiding place behind some bushes. At that moment I was scared for my clothes and needed to choose my next move carefully. As I tried to catch my breath, I could hear Lief and Cade approaching my hiding spot, I got up, ready to run and leaped out of the bushes and probably trampled some plants. I sprinted through the grass and pavement and leaped from a hill, not knowing if it was 2 feet tall or 10 I landed and attempted to get back up. Luke, Nikki, and some others attacked me and finally took me down, hungry for blood. I walked back to the Vieru’s backyard, tired, wet, and unknowing of the horror to come. As I went to rest in a chair, the evil leaders grabbed me to send me into the pool. I struggled, tried to get out, sprayed my glasses spray at them, but it was to no avail.

My last words, “Take off my shoes!!!!”.


6 Total Pool Drops,

Multiple Wet Bodies.


Okay, okay, okay… Don’t freak out guys! Everyone is fine, alive, but with a lot of wet clothes. A while after that we went to Auschan, the big Costco-like Romanian mall. People picked up stuff for the games and crafts at camp, some Joseph,

Jkz fgvkllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

(sorry that was from Toby, don’t tell Daniel that we were playing with him)



and other such sweets. Our last event of the day was a time to hangout with some of the Romanian students going to the camp at the school. We had a lot of time to catch up with students from last year and get to meet some of the numerous new faces at the soccer field. We went around in a circle and had everyone introduce themselves, saying their name and a word of something they like and then played energy. Basically, capture the flag with no flags and hard to explain rules of how to put someone in Jail. While were hanging out later a lot of us were working on Romanian phrases like “Crăiciun Fericit” which means “Merry Christmas”, “Mișto”, “Dope” and “Bate Palma”, “High Five”. Altogether, we are so excited for our remaining time in Craiova and what God has in store for us, at camp, with the students, and the leaders.

Thanks for reading peep!


To Hannah: Here’s your shoutout so feed my fish and I love you!

To Hannah: I miss my backpack buddy!

To Noah Pollard (from Aisha and Toni K): We miss you!

To George: I miss you buddy, I hope your vacation is going well. How is Stuart? Also, have you fed my fish?

To Sam: I like your new glasses?

To Nicky (from Kipp): How’s the craftin’?

To Morgan: Toni says that Ashton is his favorite Reed.

To Larry: Minimize the shanks and hit ‘em far!


Day 1: The Classic

Hello Friends and Family,


It’s Luke again! I never know what I should put in these.  Last year I wrote one with Matt and I was exhausted. This year I am all alone and still exhausted. Since I’m exhausted and words are hard, this will not look pretty from an English perspective.

Today was amazing. It is truly amazing to see the stretch of God’s hands and works the moment we arrived. We heard about what OpenRoads has done in orphan and youth ministry and it is nuts how God is clearly here. I am just so excited to be back in the Vieru’s yard and in Ethos! They put lights in their yard. It was beautiful and relieving to see the yard lit up when we arrived after a long day of travel.

Some of us woke up way too early for a breakfast that had been rescheduled for 30 minutes later. Classic Romania. Personally, I am super jetlagged but will get over it. We ate at the school for lunch. Then we all split up into the different groups; Crafts, Worship, Drama, and Sports. I am on Crafts and we were inside. That said the worship team started practicing and the other two were outside laughing and I just smiled. I just couldn’t help but smile during these meetings because this is why I came back. I think the relationship side of this trip is what fills my heart so much. Just knowing that we, a group of random high school Wisconsinites, have friends on the other side of the world is amazing.

In between lunch and dinner we played Psychiatrist and Mafia. In true mafia fashion, I was killed off for being too smart. I accidentally told a mafia that I knew who one of the mafias was. Whoops. That means that my adapted version of the Megan Smith (talk all the time) strategy didn’t work out. After dinner we went to one of the largest natural parks in the world and saw Traditional Romanian dancing. Interesting is the word I’d use to describe it. We only were there for a short bit and walked throughout the park, skipping the racoon zoo, while the sun set on our first full day in Craiova.

As I write this, there are games of Euchre and other games and conversations happening. People are starting to talk about heading to bed I think. I guess it’s more of a hope. I’m going to join in now! Talk to y’all later.

With love,

Luke Stevens


PS here are the shout outs:


To my people: Feed Gus.

To UK: I met a cat! It was cute but it didn’t.

To Jay and his Muscles: hello

To Jenna and Dan Hershberger: Hellos from the Romanians!

To my dad: hello dad

To my brother Nicky: Hi my gamer brother

To Hannah: I didn’t remember everyone on my list, but I did my best.

To Isabel’s parents: Feed Jeff and I love you!

To Noah Stevens: I hope you are well. -Leah

To George: how is the cruise

To the Stevens sibs: I hope that you all had a blast at Noah’s Ark without me again. I miss you all so much and wish I could be in two places at once.

Little Things

Hi everyone, it’s Leah! Sorry we haven’t been able to give you an update yet, but just trust that we have been busy with lots of great things! Our 24+ hour travel day was exhausting, but we made it to Craiova safely and surrounded by old friends, new friends, and lots of laughter. The important thing to get out of this post is that we all made it to our destination safely, but I’ll tell you more about our experience.

Honestly, the whole day went pretty smoothly and I don’t have that many interesting details to share. Personally, the trip started out a bit rough when I had to check my carry-on bag for being too big. It really ended up being fine and not negatively affecting me in any way, but in the moment it was frustrating. We went through security check after that and I was about to walk through the metal detectors when the conveyor belt with our bags on it came to a stop. A man held up my gallon bag full of homemade trail mix and asked “Whose food is this?” I raised my hand in an irritated manner, expecting to lose my only snack I brought for the trip. But instead the man said “This looks goooooood. I’m gonna need the recipe for this!” I laughed and sighed with relief as I realized that my tendency to assume the worst may not be very constructive. Once we got on our plane, we watched movies, ate mediocre food, and did our best to sleep. After 8 hours, we arrived in Zurich where we had a short, uneventful layover and got on our second, luckily shorter flight. As we got off of that flight, many emotions were being felt: fear, excitement, joy, and lots of exhaustion. My biggest fear coming off the flight was losing bags. Now that both of my bags were checked, I felt like I had a lot to lose. But guess what… WE DIDN’T LOSE ANY BAGS!!! With a sigh of relief we got ready to go meet the Romanians.

As some of you know, Lief’s arrival was a surprise for the Romanians, so he stayed by baggage claim while the rest of us went to find the Romanian team. Seeing the team for the first time was easily the highlight of my day. The smiles and laughter we shared were a great reminder of why the long travels are entirely worth it. We chatted and walked together to the bus and loaded everything up and got ready to leave. The driver turned the bus on and began driving away, but we still didn’t have Lief. I looked at the other Americans, confused and slightly concerned that we were leaving Lief behind, but the concerns were eased when Mel suddenly yelled, “WAIT we forgot something”. The doors to the bus opened and there was Lief. The Romanians were ecstatic to see him and he was greeted with many hugs of surprise and excitement. Dan especially was blown away and struggled to speak for the next couple minutes because he was so shocked.  After the excitement died down and we ate with the Romanians at the mall, we got back on the bus and fought sleep for what seemed like forever, but since staying awake is a feat of strength, we did our best to not doze off (but not everyone succeeded @most of the leaders). Our methods to stay up included friendship bracelet making, eating snacks, and telling stories that didn’t really make sense because we hadn’t slept much in 24 hours. When we finally rolled up to Ethos, I felt at home and also very ready for bed. The day was finally over and we went to our host homes and I reflected on the day I had just experienced.

Something that really stuck with me while getting prayed over during our sendoff was said by Elder Lerdahl. He prayed for “the big things and the little things”. I know that it is easy for me to miss seeing the ways that God is working because I get distracted looking for the big things, but I challenged myself during our day of travel to look for the little ways that God might be showing himself to us. And I saw Him all over the place. I saw Him in the man that made me smile in security. I saw Him in the smoothness of our flights and travels. I saw Him when we got all of our bags. I saw Him in the joy that I felt with my Romanian friends and the comfort I felt at Dan and Donnax’s. I learned that God is constantly working in little ways and showing himself to us. All we have to do is keep our eyes open. So I pray that you would help us to keep a lookout for both the big and little ways God is working.


Shout outs:

To Jeffrey: Cen I havv 1 macdOnldz brugger plece?

To Videogamedunkey: Umm sup

To Jonah: Just keep swimming. Love you bud <3

To Metzger family: don’t forget to feed Jonah ^^^

To a mom: You are appreciated

To bread: for always being there to fill matt up

To Brock and Hunter: not my siblings lol ~Luke

To Owen: Thanks for coming to the send off :/

To Saffron: We hope you passed your drivers test! ~Ellie and Isabel

To Amy: Hope you’re enjoying your job!

To Christy: No Susan, these are braids

To George: I hope your vacation is going well.

To David: How much time have you spent in the real world since I left? ~Andrew

To Kipp: We are having lots of fun with your brother Jay on this trip

To Bethany: “Shout out to my beautiful gf” ~Brad


Meet the Team: Elise

Hi there! I’m Elise and this is my first time on the Romania trip. I’m writing this a little late so I’ll get straight to the facts:

 – I am going into my senior year at Memorial high school
– this summer I’ve been doing lots of lifeguarding and swim lesson teaching at Ridgewood Pool
– I love any and all breakfast food
– Some other things I enjoy include swimming, ultimate frisbee, Kipp, hiking, listening to music, and my cats, Carl and Ruby.
In these next two weeks, I am really looking forward to meeting new people, growing my relationships with the awesome students and leaders on the team, and seeing how God is working through Open Roads ministry. I would appreciate prayers for my experience as I grow in my faith and get out of my comfort zone.