I don’t know where to begin, so please bear with me as the experiences that have flooded my heart and mind are processed through this post. If you want a voice to put these words to as you read, this is Noah. Yeah, the one that posted about moving walkways and such, but also the one who has watched a chapter of his life seem to come to a close. This year is the end of the four part chapter that has been my time in Romania, and it wasn’t until after camp that I started to understand how I feel about it. I was posed the question: “So, being your senior year, are you embracing this as your last trip, or running from that idea?” Being the indecisive person I am, my response automatically fell to saying, “both.” But as I sat there piecing together my reasoning, it seemed to all fall into place.
Three years ago I entered this trip unsure of, well… everything. Unsure of what we were doing, what the Romanians would be like, how to communicate, and so much more. And when I got to Romania, our team was met by a group of Romanian leaders who were feeling discouraged by the hardships of ministry. The year leading up to camp had been rough on the Romanian team, and throughout camp it seemed to remain that way. We left camp unsure of what the future would hold. The next year came, and a similar result followed. The next year there was more hope, but people still left camp unsure. And then this year happened.
During the final night session, as Lief and Daniel read the love letter from God, I looked around the room and saw almost all the heads down—people were taking in each and every word of the message that God loves them no matter what. As we moved into small groups there were puffy eyes and open hearts. I think it is fair to say the small group time we had was some of the best discussion I have experienced in a long time. At one point doubt was introduced to the conversation. Something I needed to hear. As we entered camp, I struggled with the point of being there. Why was I needed? What’s the point of building relationships with the campers if I’m just going to leave? Even though it’s been awesome to see people grow over the past few years, my time was going to end this year anyway, so what’s the point? Having these doubts weighing on me, the discussion was beneficial in reminding me that there is nothing wrong with having doubts, it’s what you do in response to them that is important. When you experience them, follow up on them. Daniel explained to our small group that we need to search for answers, seek the Lord, and trust in him—a great reminder of the camp verse: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6
As I processed this, my response to the question of embracing or running came together. I feel as though the small group discussion was the perfect cap to my time in Romania. I feel comfortable with it potentially being the last time here, but that doesn’t mean I want it to be. It is hard to explain, and the only way I can think of conveying it now is like playing a game with friends late at night. When the game ends, you understand that it is over, and you should try to get some sleep. This doesn’t mean you don’t want to play again, but you know that in that moment, it is time to put the game away, so you can play it again later. I have loved the highs and lows that have come with being in Romania and being in a community so centered on God and so full of his love. I have never felt so accepted and included as I have in my years in Romania. I understand that I may never pull the board off the shelf and play the game again, but the relationships and reminders of God’s love that I have experienced will always be with me.
As our team shared with each other how we were doing, there was a variety of responses. Some are missing home, some are dreading the return, some haven’t started processing, and none of us know exactly how camp and this trip will affect our lives.
As we start our debrief please pray that we may process what we have experienced. That we may trust what God has done at camp and what he is doing in our lives. We may not recognize now, or even ever, what our purpose on this trip was, but please pray that we can trust that whatever God was/is doing will bring glory to him and show people that he loves them.
Also, please recognize that in these next few days, all the feels inside of us may not be fully processed. Time, patience, and support will be needed as we return home.
Thank you for taking part in this journey, that is coming to a close, but also just beginning. Because as we know, the journey is long.
To everyone who has loved and supported anyone on this team: Thank you, we wouldn’t be who we are without you.
To Psalm 55:22: Thanks for being an encouraging verse