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,