How Do I Stay?

Whether you’ve been faithfully following every blog or you’ve just skimmed through one, you likely will not be surprised to hear that the team experienced life, heart, and perspective change in Romania. I think I can speak on behalf of the team in saying that we are all aching for Craiova—for the strangers who became our family.

I think I also speak on behalf of the team (though they’re probably sick of that by now… 😉 ) when I say we’re all wrestling with a variation of this question:
In light of where I’ve been, who I’ve met, and what I’ve seen, how do I stayContinue reading


I found home someplace unexpected, someplace foreign, someplace I didn’t think possible. I found home in Romania. Over the course of the past two weeks God revealed his everlasting love and amazing grace to me in new and unpredictable ways. I remember telling the other leaders one night that I felt like an onion and my layers were being peeled away one by one. Walls I had been building for years and lies I had been hiding behind were crashing down and I was finding true joy again. Continue reading

Da Debrief in Budapest

Hey guys its Cabbage aka Ben Cramer here to give you the rundown on debrief! To start it out we had a 12 hour train ride from Romania to Budapest. After a tearful train launch, most people tried getting some sleep, took some time alone, tried putting bread in the mouths of people sleeping, and made bracelets and talked with each other. When we finally made it to Budapest Lief described entering the train station as going into a cocoon from being a butterfly. Once we got off the train and got our tickets for the subway we checked into our hostel. After checking in we walked to this amazing restaurant called Bohemtanya Ettererm where we had a mouth watering goulash with some delicious Hungarian beef & gnocchi. We walked back with full stomachs and had a great nights sleep – our first opportunity to catch up and sleep in. The next day we had breakfast at the hostel that took a tram to one of the most beautiful parks I have ever seen on an island in the Danube River! It was there we had our first debrief session right next to huge flower garden. As it usually starts out one of the leaders asks how we are doing physically, and there are usually a few jokes about our digestion issues, but then we start getting serious when they ask how are our hearts. Continue reading

Budapest Debrief Day 1: Complete

Just a quick check-in to let you know that we had a great day 1 on debrief in Budapest. With a morning and evening debrief sessions in beautiful parks bookmarking our day. In addition to great times of reflection, prayer, and alone time, we had lunch on the Budapest version of “State Street,” visited the beautiful St. Stephen’s Basilica, and dinner on a docked boat on the Danube River. Our day was full. Our hearts are too – but also heavy. We are processing a lot and the teams emotional energy is at times spent. Please pray for this time to be fruitful and for our group to make the most of it. Pray for us as individuals as we all wrestle with our own challenges and experiences – some shared and some unique. Tomorrow we have park time planned for most of our day, including a much needed extended alone time – we pray that God will use this time to meet us each where we are at. We can’t say enough about how effective your role through prayer has been. There is no doubt we are covered  – at all times. Thank you, we love you guys, and we’ll be back with you in about 48 hours… whew… that is coming up.

Hungry In Hungary (a post from the train yesterday)

First of all, sorry for the lack of blogging recently. Things have really been very busy. Even though camp was technically five days, it felt so short – but highlights were many. They started as dozens of campers and leaders dismounted the Curtain Bus Monday afternoon for camp. Before we started unpacking and preparing our small groups and rooms right away we simply stood and admired a gorgeous view of Micesti. We were even more awestruck when the city lit up at night.

Days at camp started off with a leader meeting (for the Romanian leaders and all Americans) and then breakfast and English Classes (which were a hit)! The coolest part about them were that they were also Romanian classes! Each group had a roughly equal amount of American English “teachers” and Romanian “students” (as well as one or two people able to translate). Every word taught in English was taught in Romanian too, and everyone learned subjects like colors, numbers, body parts, and the alphabet. It gave the campers an opportunity to teach (and laugh at) us and that was a really good thing. On the second day, everyone made a collage on their notebook from magazine cutouts. The activity was less about languages and more about group bonding – and was a definite success. Some of them included pictures that carried deeper meaning, such as their want of a home or a family. Through these lessons, I got to know a Romanian named Costi a bit better and a lasting friendship was created. Continue reading

Camp in a Jumble of Paragraphs and Stories

Something I have found insanely awesome is the campers ginormous hearts for serving. My dear friend Mari would warm my hands if they were cold from washing them in the sink, massage my feet when they were hanging off the bunk, inspect me for wounds if I fell while playing games, and she always made sure to ask me, “Ce faci?” It’s a sweet reminder that we are not the only ones coming here to serve and that the campers are working in our hearts as well. 


Dreaming for a family

A big part of camp has been the English classes that we as a team have had the privilege of teaching. To be honest, I was nervous to be in front of the campers with no idea what to teach, but the planning team put together the best lesson plans ever and everybody was fully engaged every class. For me, the most meaningful time was when we were decorating the notebooks we had taken our notes in. I had told them to rip out pictures of things that they liked or represented them and right away they grabbed magazines and flipped through the pages. I got a little anxious when I saw that the magazines were either National Geographic or makeup magazines because I was having a hard time finding pictures that weren’t advertisements or animals attacking each other. As I was working, I saw the well talked about Elvis ripping a nicotine patch advertisement out of the magazine, and to my amazement, pasting the ENTIRE thing on his front cover, with nothing else on top. The ad was a smiling young man raising his baby above his head. Elvis explained to us that he chose that picture because in two or three years he was hoping to be a father. The little of Elvis’s story I knew was this: when Elvis came to his first camp, he was scared out of his mind because he had never been in an environment like that. Now he’s the guy with the biggest smile, giving the biggest hugs and singing with the loudest voice. Pat then also later explained that for the orphans, having a family was the impossible ultimate dream. That dreaming for a family and believing it was possible is amazing. There are a few couples helping lead camp with young children. Both parents were orphans, and they have to learn how to handle a baby because they never had an example in their life. The orphans will tell you how cool it is to watch the little ones learn to talk because in the orphanage a lot of orphans didn’t talk until much later because they had nobody to talk to. It was so inspiring to hear Elvis’s dream and that he was hoping to achieve it.

-Ali Pollard

When the Chicken Dance Brings Joy to All

This is Ben Cramer here and I just wanted you guys to know what some of my highlights from camp are. My top 2 favorite parts are probably being the I.T. guy with one of the Romanian leaders, Lavi. We were in charge of many things but one of my favorite things was being in charge of playing the chicken dance song. We taught them
This song at our coffee house before camp & they loved it! For the people who don’t know when the chicken dance song was played at camp no matter where you were at camp, or what you were doing, you had to do the chicken dance! being the I.T guy I didn’t have to dance and let me tell you watching a lot of people doing the chicken dance all over the camp at once is a funny sight! My other favorite part of camp was listening to the talks/videos that we had each night. Each message dug deeper into the Bible than the night before and made me think of the Bible like I had not thought of it before. All in all it was a truly amazing experience and I will expand further on it when I have more time. Cabbage out!

Ps cabbage is a nickname I’ve picked up from the Romanians.

Questions we’re asking: Why them and not us? Why are we here?

Buna Seara!

Hey everyone, it’s Amy! Here goes my second blog attempt, as my first one was accidently deleted. I am hailing from the beautiful camp just outside the village of Micesti on day three. A lot has happened in the past few days as campers and leaders (Romanian and American alike) packed our bags Monday morning and headed out on the infamous ‘curtained’ bus. We all had a great time on the surprisingly smooth bus ride to camp, getting to know the campers better. After a quick inghetata (ice cream, which is VERY good here) stop, we all arrived at the camp situated on a giant hill above the city Pitesti. The camp is beautiful and includes two full-size soccer/ultimate Frisbee fields, a sand volleyball court, cabin-style dorm rooms, and an amazing large group meeting room/dining hall. After dinner (sorry, I’m not much of a food blogger), the entire camp gathered for evening program consisting of on-stage games, dancing to the camp theme song (Restart by the Newsboys, if you want to dance along), worship, and a talk by one of the Romanian leaders Razvan. We also met two superheroes (Alistair and Betty) and their malfunctioning robot (Cristy). Program ended with us splitting into our small groups and having a discussion over tea and biscuits (cookies). Continue reading

We made it to Tabara (Camp)!!!

A quick note to let you all know we’ve made to camp & had a wonderful first day!! We pushed hard last night & were all ready to go this am. It was all worth it to experience the joy & relationship building riding the bus (3-4 hour drive), arriving at this beautiful camp (the bus didn’t get stuck until after it dropped us off this year!), splitting into our small groups, playing games and having a successful evening session & small groups (it sounds like some were even quite vulnerable, especially for night #1). The team and campers are now all cozied into their cabin rooms, resting for an eventful Day 2 to come. We will have a student blog with more stories from Day 1 available sometime tomorrow! Continue reading