Ali We Need A Title don’t forget this

Buna!

We have officially been at camp for over 24 hours, and what a crazy 24 hours it has been! We (Ali and Noah, probably the best sibling pair on the trip, just kidding Hershberger brothers, or are we…) are currently sitting in the back of the gathering room slightly wet and tired listening to the worship team rehearse while we try to stay dry. This is also potentially one of (if not the) quietest places in all of camp. This loud camp has been buzzing of joys of laughter that hasn’t stopped since getting off of the big Mercedes bus yesterday (Don’t let the Mercedes part mislead you) even though we were supposed to get some sleep somewhere in there. Whoops.

Yesterday started just a little earlier than the previous days in Craiova. We finished whatever packing we were supposed to do the day before (whoops again) and lugged it down to where the bus was going to meet us. There was a tad bit of waiting (we are on Romanian time here for sure) and breakfast before we got back on that memory filled Mercedes (again, don’t let “Mercedes” mislead you, really, don’t). We then drove to pick up the campers and filled it to the top of the curtain covered windows. I (Noah) finally had the chance to fully experience the blessed craziness that is “The bus ride to camp.”

As the bus pulled out of Craiova, there was a party happening in the back of the bus (this bus wasn’t a mullet bus, business in the front party in the back, it was just a ‘fro, party everywhere). My adventure started with some rounds of truth or challenge as Stafani (who speaks English pretty well) called it. I enjoyed the “truth” option due to the fact it was almost always, “Do you like pizza,” followed by a definite “YES” and lots of laughter (because I always chose truth I felt like I was playing “Truth or Truth” with Jimmy Fallon….) Our games were constantly interrupted by the one thing that really brought people together, photography. Left and right cameras were bringing Romanians and Americans together, smile after smile after smile. The smiles multiplied as the bus bounced along into camp and those who had managed to get some shut-eye woke up to the sight of camp.

It’s a beautiful space with two main buildings (one to sleep in, and one to eat and worship in), a zip line and a rock climbing wall (which we won’t do, just cheer as the campers go), and a nice sports area (two soccer fields, two beach volleyball courts and a brand new basketball court). It’s a great location that overlooks the city below.

The first night of camp opened with laughter as our small groups creatively acted out skits, songs, and dances on stage to represent their “team.” After the laughter died down, the singing started up, and we got the chance to raise our voices together in worship. The sound of both English and Romanian together isn’t pretty, but the way you can feel God in the room is beautiful. We all have such different experiences and histories, and we are making very different sounds when we sing, but we are all singing to and for the same God. Even though that’s the only air conditioned room at camp, it warms up with love for our savior when we sing.

Daniel talked that night about the camp theme, “Visul Meu,” or my dream. He explained what it means to dream and how we should keep dreaming regardless of our pasts and if old dreams can no longer come true how God can help us find new dreams.

We then moved into our small groups to talk about all that Daniel had preached. I (Ali) was blown away and excited by how different my small group experience was this year the first night compared to last year. Our girls this year were open to answering any questions thrown their way and included us Americans as much as possible. It’s hard to be in small group because when the Romanian leaders really want the campers to open up, they stop translating. It makes sense, but it is hard to stay engaged and look like you are interested when it’s past your bed time and you’ve had a full day of interactions with the campers. It can also be hard to open up because the experiences we’ve had are so different. Although these campers act like little kids, they are 18-40 years old and have led such different lives than we have. When we sit down for small group, they transform from the energetic, elementary-like kids into the adults they are. They share about trials most of us can’t fathom and encourage us like none other. One of the most amazing and reassuring things I have heard in small group so far was that the girls, no, women, in my group agreed that a problem is a problem and we can’t compare and judge who has it worst. I know that if I were in their shoes, and had gone through even only a fourth of what some of them have, I wouldn’t be so understanding of the petty problems the Americans were explaining. I know that I have been scared to share in the past, knowing that my struggles have been nothing compared to theirs, and that they would laugh at my troubles. Hearing them say that they understand that they can’t judge and assume they’ve had it worse, and that a problem is a problem blew my mind.

Our team is having an amazing time, but this is a hard trip and we are all struggling with some physical and emotional weaknesses and a lot of questions spiritually. We love and appreciate each and every comment you give to encourage us.

Today we started English classes and cheered our friends on as they did the zip line. Our sports time turned into a massive water fight which is why we started out this post saying we were trying to stay dry. Tomorrow is a hike day. We are getting bused to the mountains and are spending the day in the Lord’s creation, furthering relationships with our new friends.

Shoutouts:

To Debbie from Ben and Dan H. : We don’t actually know what they wanted us to say, they just asked that we give a shout out since you leave America today (tear face emoji)

To Sammy and Molly: Guess what I (Ali) found in my Kinder Egg!!!! That’s right, nothing but a DRAGON!!! (mouth wide open with surprised expression emoji). #PrayForOurSafetyFromTheDragons #TheyFoundUs

Pollard Parents: When we found out dad made his own account we thought Mom might finally blog from it! Kidding <3 we love and miss you lots but are so happy to be here!

What would Papa Pollard’s name be if he were a headmaster at Hogwarts?

DumbleDORK !!!
– A very devoted Harry Potter fan on the team is to thank for that masterpiece 😛

Thank you blog addicts for all the support. It means a lot!!

The Pollard Pair (the best of the siblings) 😀

14 thoughts on “Ali We Need A Title don’t forget this

  1. Awesome sauce. Great to read about everything, especially your small group conversations. Continuing in prayer for everything God has for you this week!

  2. A fun post for a fun, yet powerful day. What you guys are experiencing is deep. Very cool. Happy you guys had a chance to write. I especially like hearing about your observations in the group settings. Those are powerful.

    Now, to the clever Harry Potter fan:
    We may not be in Professor Flitwick’s class, but you still are charming.

    🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing in such detail about your experiences. I became so engrossed in the blog last night that I neglected to hear our 5-year old convince our 3-year old to shove a corn kernel up her nostril. All was okay with one farmer blow, but I will have to start reading the blog after bedtime from now on. We continue to pray for the entire team’s strength – physical and mental as your journey continues. Team DeKeyser

  4. Team-

    Wow Ali and Noah you are amazing writers! I read this post aloud to Morgan as we got ready for bed and it still blows my mind that you guys are halfway across the world and that God is using you in such cool and influential ways!

    The stories that you all have shared in these posts have opened my eyes and heart even though I am so many hours apart from you and experiencing it from a computer, not in real life.

    I know how it feels to be experiencing physical and emotional struggles throughout these weeks. In Honduras there were many times my stomach didn’t cooperate with my eagerness to serve or my mind wouldn’t stop racing as it tried to understand and deal with what I was seeing. In this place I urge you to let God into your life and all its struggles. He does crazy things and wants you to be able to help him accomplish them! No lack of sleep, stomach ache, or busy brain will stop him!

    Although I miss my friends and would like you back ASAP I guess I can allow you to stay a little while longer because of the awesome experience you’re having. Love and miss you guys tons 😉

    Madtown (Madison Pincombe)
    [who is still awaiting her shoutout 😋]

  5. Hey guys!

    Catchy title. I can tell you really put some thought into it 😜. It sounds like camp is off to a great start! I especially enjoyed the description of the fro-bus, as party hair is clearly very close to my heart.

    Ali, it’s great to hear that there’s a visible difference this year in how open the Romanians are able to be. I’d imagine it could be harder in some ways to hear more of their stories, but at the same time uplifting to know that they’re not as closed off, even after everything that’s happened.
    On another note, I enjoyed Kira’s description of your mosquito impression (along with the rest of the post, well written all around.) Hopefully you can get enough rest that you won’t be transformed into a bloodsucking insect again, though.

    Noah, it sounds like your first time at camp is pretty awe-inspiring, what with seeing the way that Americans and Romanians and God all interact in one beautiful, hyper-energetic and bilingual mess. Keep building relationships, and enjoy the time there.

    Everyone, you guys are seriously awesome. There’s no doubt the trip is tough, but you can all handle it (especially with the help of the big guy) and you’ll come out of it for the better. For those of you who haven’t blogged yet, try it out! (I’m looking at you, Dakota.) And for those of you who have, go at it again if you get the chance. It’s great on this end to get a small taste of the amazing things you all are experiencing.

    Peace out, my peeps!

  6. SO to Ali and Noah – Oma and Opa decided to not match socks when doing laundry this week, “because Brian said it was trendy to wear non-matching socks.” They’re super stylish!

  7. Awesome post, Ali and Noah! It’s so stinking cool you guys get to experience this together. And the Hersh duo as well…and all of you, because I know you’re all like one big family at this point. 🙂

    Shout out to the amazing leaders on the trip…thanks for loving them all so well. We are praying for you all! 🙂

  8. Thanks for the wonderful post giving insight into the joys and challenges for the team. I’m sure it is hard and you probably have more questions than answers about why the world is as it is. We are limited in our human minds to understand the bigger picture. I love the perspective of your Romanian friends that a problem is a problem and we can’t compare whose is worse. That also holds true for the good things in life. Thought they have had such a hard life and many painful moments, how encouraging to think their joyful moments might be even bigger than yours. And right now, you are the source of their joy! Trust that you have been chosen to be there in this moment to touch lives. You are making a difference. Love does not discriminate – it is meant for all, regardless of circumstances. Right now your Romanian friends might be experiencing a love in a profound way that many of us may have never felt the way they are able to. They have dreamed about it, you are making that a reality. Fill their tanks! And when you have to leave, trust that God will still be there with them
    Praying for strength, perseverance, and cray amounts of love for all!
    Carol

  9. A warm hello to Franny and to all of you. We are simply overwhelmed by what you are doing and we praise the Lord for your work. We miss you in Sunday School Franny and can’t wait for you to return and tell us about this unbelievable trip. God Bless You All.
    Jan and Gary Damaschke

    • I’ll double down on that – it’s been great to catch up on the blog and follow you through the whole trip. I’m sure it’s weird to think that you’re actually in Romania (think other side of the world) doing incredible things with the help of the Holy Spirit and carrying the Word of God – keep up the awesome work and thank you for being there on behalf of so many.
      Shout out to Raymond and Franny – miss you guys even more than usual and really looking forward to hearing about the trip and seeing you peeps in person. Love you both,
      Dad

  10. Heyyy party people! Psyched for you guys to finally be at Camp! From stories I’ve heard Camp is really the place where the magic happens. Sounds like all of your time and hard work is already paying off and I’m sure it will continue to in ways no one could have considered. Great to hear everyone at camp is, as I think Ali says, lovin’ on eachother. Praying for you all to continue to have strength and energy in every way needed. You’re all great. 🙂

    On a more serious note . . . STAY AWAY FROM THE DRAGONS. (Scared face, possibly with hair sticking straight up, emoji) On an even more serious note: after this wonderful blog post my mind wandered to thoughts of afros and somehow landed upon the question… Did Einstein technically have an afro???/!/!2!!,!.!/!.? Unsure. Thought I’d share.

    Love and stuff,
    Molls

  11. Great to hear form you all and how camp is going! Sounds like a full but rich time with God teaching you a ton. I pray for your ears to be attentive to God’s voice in all you are experiencing and that as you tire, he will give your strength, endurance and deep love for the Romanians and each other.

    Still very quiet around here without Taletha. We did enjoy a great family dinner with Erik 🙂 BTW – you seem to be getting the most real mail of anyone this week, Taletha, It will be waiting fo ryou as are we. Can’t wait to hear from you face-to-face.

    Praying!

    Dyann (or Taletha’s Mom)

  12. Wow!

    We are all so proud of this team and what you are doing. I can only imagine the roller coaster of emotions you must be feeling. Listen. Share. Be open to all that God is doing in and through and around you. Amazing.

    Thanks to all who have blogged. You are sharing your experiences in a way that truly makes those of us back here feel connected.

    Alissa and Noah –Tthe house is WAY too quiet with all three of our kids gone! We miss you! (Couldn’t help but LOVE the Dumble Dork comment! 🙂 Kudos to the devoted Harry Potter fan!)

    Team — continued prayers for strength and the openness to hear, feel, and experience just what God wants for each of you.

    Leaders — There really are no words to truly convey how much we appreciate all that you are doing. But for lack of a more adequate expression…THANK YOU!

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