Hi all! This is Elise.

I’m writing this in a hot van, about 4 hours in on our trip back to Craiova. And while I am not physically comfortable right now, my heart is full. Yesterday was our last full day of camp, and we made the most of it, spending a lot of time connecting with the campers. After a morning full of outdoor games, it rained in the afternoon, so we set up crafts and games indoors. I ended up playing a game of Signs. Signs involves passing an “invisible ball” across a circle of people by signaling to others with a motion or sign that they chose at the beginning of the game. One person stands in the middle of the circle and tries to guess who has the “ball” as it is passed around behind their back. This was such an interesting game to play with a mix of Romanian and English speakers because all the nonverbal communication mostly defeated the otherwise challenging language barrier. There was confusion, but plenty of laughter too.

Even with moments like the signs game, the language barrier had been a challenge for me personally. I had found it difficult to connect with certain campers because of conversation limits. By the fourth day of camp, I was worried I wouldn’t even be able to form real relationships with the girls in my small group. But as our last two days continued, I tried to sit by a couple of these girls during a few meals and evening sessions (this may sound simple, but there was a sort of scramble for seats during these times that often left leaders sitting together). I found that even this small (and awkward) action could create a connection. And while I’m not best buds with any of the campers, I did get goodbye hugs from the girls in my small group today! 😊

One last note: We are now back in Craiova! I have been told how much returning to Craiova feels like coming home, and now I truly understand the feeling (don’t worry Mom, I’m still coming back to Madison). It is comforting to be back in a familiar place, and amazing to shower without sharing the shower with other girls’ hair. I think I speak for everyone when I say we’re sad that camp is over, but at the same time, we are all breathing a sigh of relief now that we don’t have to be high-energy all the time.

Thanks for reading! – Elise

Shout outs!

To Owen: Good luck this weekend!

To Mom and Dad: Have fun sitting in the heat for hours. Love you! – Elise

To Owen (still Owen Chester): I miss you! Love, Luke & Leah

To Jake Genyk: I had a dream about my shirt last night… Expecting great things! – Ashton

To Larry: Can’t wait for the Spring Green golf outing! – Kip

To George: George… Georgie… I am so EXCITED FOR YOUR LAST DAY OF VACATION ON THE CRUISE. Make sure to not eat too many deep fried mushroom stew shrimp balls! And um p.s. do not spend too much time in the kiddie pool. Chlorine will ravage your skin!

To Emmett: Love ya, you old codger. Can’t wait to give you some belly rubs! – Matt

To Arthur Immanuel Ernst: Welcome to the world! Love, Auntie Missy


To Nikki: Apparently, I’m y(o)u now.

To Noah Pollard: I was just called Pickles today, so no worries. Also, I did a special chomp with a motion and sound effect in the camp video. Hope you see it. Miss you. – Luke Sweeney Stevens. PS no Tylenol pm was consumed on this trip

To all Memorial swimmers: Good luck at All City (Go RW)! – Matt and Elise

8 thoughts on “Home

  1. To Angie Ipsen…..It feels like you’ve been gone for months! We miss you!! Wanted to remind you that you are being prayed for and we love you ❤

  2. Team! These updates are amazing and always a pleasure to read. I hope you are able to find rest as you transition back to Craiova and the next parts of this trip! There can be so many emotions, some of which you may not even know, so lean on each other as you process all that you have experienced and all God has done. Luke, whoever bunked with you truly missed out, but sanity and no Tylenol pm is probably for the best. Also, I need to find this video.

    That’s all! Everybody give someone else on the team a hug and remember to be open and honest with each other!

    – Noah

  3. I pray that you are able to find some down time while after the camp!

    To Isabel, I don’t know if you are missing us, but suddenly Luna is laying outside your room and not eating much. And I don’t have anyone to go shopping or to Starbucks with and I START MY NEW JOB on the 19th so we don’t have too much time 🙂 (oh I got the job at the dentist office, I’m no longer at GCMS) love you kiddo!

  4. Hi Matt, Dad went in a pool yesterday in honor of All City. As we were packing, he couldn’t find his swimsuit so I almost had him grab your speedo. But that’s just wrong. Emmet will eagerly accept your belly rubs but says he prefers extra dog treats. Yes, I speak dog. Don’t be cranky about your silent retreat time at your debrief, maybe God will have some important words for you. I will pray that my favorite extrovert can embrace the alone time. The first tuition bill for college is posted, so things are getting real around here. I love how God has used Romania to open your eyes to the world He loves and how you might study about it in college. As you know, these short mission trips are usually much more about what God wants to teach YOU than what you do for them. I am so grateful to Daniel and the Romanian team for hosting you, Jeremy and Erik over the years. God is good.

  5. Hey Leah and team,

    Metzger fam here. Elise, thanks for the great post! Praying for you guys as you start your transition back home. We miss you!

    Leah…good news, we finally got that wire that goes across the back yard cut down yesterday. Bad news, turns out that wire provided our internet and tv. 😬 (notice proper use of cringy face emoji) So don’t get too excited about watching Bachelorette just yet. We’re working on it. 🤦‍♀️

    We played ultimate frisbee with Avery, Addy, Rowan, Ali, James, Amelia and Papa tonight at Uncle David & Aunt Nikki’s. You would have loved it! They all can’t wait to see you.

    Oh, and you’d be proud of me (Mom)…I actually went and got your Spartan cards. I even sold one! (to Aunt Nikki) If any Romanians want to buy one let us know…it’s only 80 lei and comes with a free Chick-fil-a sandwich!

    Ok, that’s all the important news here. The 3 of us are going to go back to staring at the walls now, since we don’t know what to do without Netflix. Can’t wait to see you!!😘❤️

    Finish strong!💪


  6. Thanks Elise for the great post! We love that you all can call Craiova (and Daniel and Donna’s house especially) home. What a sweet thing!

    Luke.. we miss you. Dad and I got to take care of Adeline tonight while Z & E were at Randy’s wedding. She sat ion Mac’s bed, played with his bones and learned to ring the bells to go outside. Mac is not amused. 🙂
    Can’t wait to see you!

    Praying for you all as you take steps toward your US home and away from your RO one.

  7. Hi Nikki!
    I’m soaking red beans tonight! Guess what’ll be waiting for your consumption when you get back. 🙂
    I hope your debriefing is going well, and you’re able to process your time there. I miss you and look forward to seeing you soon. Love, Mom

    Dear occasional geiger counter,
    I miss you and can’t wait to see you soon. Love you kiddo; praying for you.

    fyi if you’re me but I’m you first, that means that you’re still you…

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