Waves and Ripples

Hello loyal blog-followers, 

After several days of hugs, tears, and talk-to-you-soons, our final goodbyes have come to an end. After waves of goodbyes after camp, during our last hang out with the campers, before getting on the train to Bucharest, and this morning with the Romanian leaders, it’s safe to say we are all feeling pretty emotionally exhausted. It’s hard to say with each of these drawn out goodbyes if giving about three hugs to each person makes it easier or harder. Either way, it sure doesn’t feel like enough. As I said a very teary goodbye to many of my close friends today, I couldn’t help but laugh as we got into a car playing an 80s station with “Cry Me a River.” For me, the feeling of finality in these goodbyes has left me with a pit in my stomach. If anyone so dares as to ask me the question “are you ok?”, it might break the remains of the fragile shell holding me together and release sobs. (Sorry, Kira, for telling you to not ask me how I’m doing 😬) I know it sounds dramatic, but that really does reflect just how meaningful these relationships have become after just my two trips to Romania. 

As I sit on the plane now flying away from the country I have so quickly grown to love, it’s so hard to let the possibility of not returning sink in. Last year, the pain of the goodbyes was well-cushioned with a hope-filled “see you next year.” And with each person who asks me when I’m coming back, my heart breaks a little more. Maybe God will open a door someday for me to return. Or maybe not. The prayer “Your will be done” is a hard one to pray when I so badly want that door to be opened. But for now, in the next few days, I will be trying to focus on praising God for the incredible experiences we’ve had during our time here and figuring out how they will impact my life as I return home and go off to college. While the goodbyes may be final, the ripple effects of our time here are certainly not. 

It feels like the classic missions trip phrase to say “I came expecting to help others, but in reality, they helped me.” But that is exactly what has taken place for me this week. As Daniel might say, “it just blew me up” (blew my mind). The last night of camp was one of the most special evenings I have ever experienced. One of the coolest things we did during the last sessions was a very simple skit. We had eleven people, American and Romanian leaders, make cardboard signs. One side had on it something they felt without God. The other side represented how they were changed in God. Examples included “empty hearted/full hearted, life without purpose/given a purpose in Christ, defined by judgement/worthy of God’s love.” And okay, I can occasionally be an emotional person, I’ll admit to that. But that last night of camp was the first time I’ve ever felt so overwhelmed by the presence of God that I couldn’t hold myself together. As I was singing Amazing Grace on the worship team while these cardboard signs were brought out and turned around, I tried to hold myself together and avoid a major voice crack. But as we moved into our last song and sang “Trust In You” in two languages, I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my face, despite still singing into a microphone. Looking out into the audience and seeing so many other people experiencing the same strong presence of God was one of the most powerful moments I’ve ever been a part of. These moments launch deep discussions all around as we moved into small groups. 

Being here has been challenging. It’s hard to not get distracted by everything that will be waiting for us in “normal life” when we come back home. For me, it’s pretty scary to think about the fact that I’m leaving to go to college in Georgia in four days and I’m still half way around the world. But I’m so encouraged to see the way that God has used these couple weeks to prepare me for the next steps of my life. I’m going to UGA with hopes of becoming a teacher some day. And over the past weeks I have ended up having about four conversations with separate Romanian leaders about their experiences being teachers at Ethos and how God has used their passion for working with kids to shine His light. Needless to say, I’ve been soaking up every ounce of wisdom I can get from these amazing people. 

As we move into debrief, I feel like we are only beginning to unpack everything. This time come with emotions that are hard to put into words. But please pray that God would use these tangible experiences to strengthen our trust in Him and His plan for our lives. He’s doing some big things. 

Thanks for following,


12 thoughts on “Waves and Ripples

  1. Hannah….well said.
    We are praying for you and the team and your re-entry.
    -Praying for God to meet you, the team, Romanian leaders/campers in the transitions of life the way He met you in His strong presence in powerful worship.
    -Praying that ‘normal life’ is forever ‘not normal’ because of the new work that He started in all of you.
    Bring on the ripples!

  2. Hey sweetie…thanks for writing (again!). So much love for you, so many prayers, such big hugs. It’s all going to be ok! A little rough, perhaps, for the next few days/weeks, but you will get through this transition and be stronger for it on the other side. So many more great experiences await. God is not nearly done with you! Have so much fun in Budapest, and we’ll see you in a couple days. And we won’t ask how you’re doing. 😉 Give Leah a hug from us too…can’t wait to see you both! ❤️ xoxo

  3. Sorry, I’m back again in the comments but you people write such great blog posts I can’t help myself. Hannah, coming from someone who is really bad at saying “your will be done” and is always resisting the door as it is closing, I resonate with you so much. The relationships you’ve built with the Romanians, both the leaders and the campers, are so incredible, which makes it that much harder to say goodbye. Who knew people could mean so much to you after just a couple of weeks? I think that is a such a God thing, that he has his hands in these relationships and he put you in the lives of these Romanians for a reason, as well as has brought them into your life for laughs, encouragement and wisdom. I’m praying for you as you process how to move from this trip into the newness and uncertainty of your first year of college. I am so proud of how you have allowed God to use you both this year and last year (happy friendiversary by the way). He’s got some amazing things in store for you! Enjoy these next few days with your peeps, eat some good food, and get some cool souvenirs (maybe stay away from certain world leader nesting dolls)! Love you girl!

  4. Hannah,
    Love you and Leah so much and can’t wait to see you and the rest of the team soon! Y’all have done such a great job keeping us posted with the blog. (I’m trying to use “y’all” more now as we get ready for UGA…) By the way, we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to figure out the UGA football tickets…so we got you UW football tickets instead! Continuing to pray for you, Leah and the whole team during these last days. Much love!!!!

  5. Sugar you took me back to my last goodbyes. I remember the train pulling away from the station and having tears streaming down my face (I really don’t cry THAT often) and then wanting to punch Sam when he asked if I was okay (there were too many witnesses so I held it in). One thing that Anna always reminds me of is that God doesn’t hold back his goodness for us. Even when to us it feels like he’s shutting all the doors we want to go through, the ones that He is leaving open are the best ones for us. He is NOT a God of compromises, so if you keep battling to let His will be done, know that great things wait ahead. And you never know, look at Kira, Jimmy and Brianna, previous students returning as leaders. Or look at 🌲 and myself as we’ve planned numerous trips back only to be squashed each time (I blame her passport issues). God has goodness waiting for ya, you just have to deal with the torture of waiting for it/understanding it.

    I’m not sure if any of that made sense, but y’all just know there are prayer warriors back here stateside wanting the best for you as you process, grieve, and transition back to life at home.

    Hannah, Katrina and I are once again talking about how solid you are. Even though you too did not decide to attend the U (think about all the 3am adventures to Boom Island we could’ve had) I’m excited for your next adventures and can’t wait to hear all about them.


    Noah, I took your lack of shoutouts to me as a sign of annoyance with all the comments. Bummer for you, I’m stubborn and kept doing it anyways 🤷‍♀️

    See you soon

  6. Wow! Thanks for posting, Hannah, and sharing from your heart. What an amazing experience you’ve had. We’ve been following along on the blog and praying for you and Leah and everyone (Americans and Romanians) — and we’ll continue to do that. Can’t wait to see soon! Love you! Nana and Papa xoxo

  7. Hannah you are very rude… You had me crying right after I put on my make up this morning before church. Sheesh….why did you have to be such a great writer? 😉

    Thanks for the honest, vulnerable post that I am betting rights true for many of the team (whether it was their first or maybe last) trip to Romania. It sounds like you all have had a profoundly blessed time together with Open Roads!

    We are grateful you are in Budapest and are praying that you are all taking the deep breaths you all need to. A HUGE THANKS to the leaders for guiding our kids through this mission… loving them, keeping them energized, pointing them to Jesus. Craig and I are abundantly thankful to you all.

    See you SOON!
    Hey Luke! You are missed AND LOVED more than you can imagine.

  8. Oh for the love….. All Y’all went and brought tears to my eyes after I read these last two posts….. I’ve been fixin’ to try and post a comment since y’all left Madison…. but I don’t rhyme or know any of the inside jokes and didn’t want to intrude in this wonderful blogversation… yep, it’s a southern word… I’m sure Hannah will learn it down in UGA country… this trip has been amazing to follow along at home with…. prayers have been answered… you showed up and allowed God to use you in ways you probably didn’t expect. Enjoy debriefing, processing what you’ve experienced and ask God to help you. All of us back here are praying for you!

  9. Welcome back to the USA.
    And welcome back to your regular day to day.
    You’ll absolutely need time to decompress
    Take time to do what you need and do not stress.

    The impact from this trip may come to you in waves
    I hope you have people to listen to all your Romanian raves.
    ‘Cuz you still need support after landing back here.
    To hear all the memories you hold so dear.

    Welcome home!

  10. Wow, you guys are crazy good at putting your feelings into words! My thoughts and prayers are with you as you leave Romania and find some space to begin processing all that has happened in your hearts over the weeks/months/years. From the stories and photos, I have no doubt that God was present during your time in Romania. And only He knows all the ways that both you and the Romanians were changed because your paths crossed! What a blessing to have friends so dear to miss. But that doesn’t make the goodbyes any easier! My hope for you all is that you can find ways to talk or journal or cry or hug (however you can let the feelings flow!) out the thoughts and feelings you’re having after the whirlwind of camp and goodbyes. There isn’t much a good hug can’t help! I am so thankful for this debrief time you have together and for the space it gives you to be amongst people who were right there with you throughout the whole experience. Remember also, however, that enduring changes take longer than a few days to process, so when you come back with lingering stories, questions, and/or doubts, there are ears who would love to listen and hugs ready to be given! I hope debrief brings a great balance of serious conversations and goofy memories (someone has to top Dan’s record for number of times returned to the buffet counter!). Can’t wait to hear more about the ways God has worked during your time overseas.

    Sending big hugs through this blog!

  11. Hannah, this post is so beautiful!!! I’ll be praying for your safe travels home and for a good adjustment back to “normal” life. I think it’s super cool that you’re going to be a teacher, I’m sure you’ll be amazing.

  12. Romanian word of the day (even though you’re out of the country): “tobe” (drums). As in, “hey, Noah – when you get back, we should talk about whether you want to play the tobe for Middle School Ministries this year.” 😁🥁 See you all soon!!

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