T-minus 23 hours

Three hours until we head to the airport and I do not want to leave.

They said we’d pull an all-nighter, but when all-nighter only means three hours, it’s not really an all-nighter. It’s just the last three hours of the trip. And then there’s the plane and a layover and another plane and then a bus and then we’re home, only I do not want to be home.

Some people do not like planes or buses. Grace Chen, for instance, does not like planes. Bria, on the other hand, does not like buses. I like both those modes of transportation; in fact, I like all methods of transportation (so far). They say it’s about the journey, not the destination, and I couldn’t agree more. When I’m sitting on a plane or riding a bus, there’s nothing for me to do but look out the window and exist in a state of in-between, neither here nor there, not anywhere really. The journey may be long, but it is a lot easier than actually being somewhere.

It is tomorrow here in Budapest. Julian is playing the Star-Spangled Banner on Romanian flute while Matt is getting a haircut. Andrew is somewhere arranging a six-part harmony of the Doxology and Kira almost convinced me to chug two nalgenes of water, but I gave up halfway through the first one.

Giving up is easy. I like easy things (at least, when my pride isn’t on the line). Planes and buses are easy, as is dribbling a basketball really slowly (Cade), or sleeping (Adia). Going home is not. If I can’t sit in this room listening to Lief, Jimmy, Noah, and Leah sing “You and I” for the rest of eternity, then at least I could settle for sitting on the plane for a very long time.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t think God’s plan is for me to sit on a plane for the rest of my life.

The theme for camp this year was trusting in God. It sounds like a no-brainer, but apparently it’s taken me 18 years to realize exactly what that means (and when I say exactly, I mean I’m just at the beginning). I’ve leaned on my own understanding for far too long in what has possibly been the most presumptuous presumption of my entire life. Never once have I doubted my ability to rationalize what’s happening around me; even if I didn’t understand at the moment, I knew that I’d figure it out eventually. The foolishness was (still is) so real.

There are things I’ll never understand. Another no-brainer—how could I possibly know the plans of the Creator of the universe? Yet in my human folly, the answers seem so near, just out of reach, when in fact I can’t even begin to comprehend the bare beginning of God’s thought. I’m like a kid who spins a globe and figures that it’ll take approximately 20 minutes to walk from California to Florida, and then it also turns out that Florida is actually Austria. I bet God finds humans a hoot.

So I don’t know what life will bring. I mean, I always knew that, but now I know it again. I gotta trust in Him. Things’ll be hard, and I’ll have to trust in Him. The temptation to lean on my own understanding is going to be overwhelming at times, but I’ll trust in Him. I don’t know what lies ahead. I don’t want to go home. But I trust in God.

I’ll enjoy the journey while it lasts, but soon it’ll be time to get off that plane. Because that’s when the real journey continues.



Shoutout to my favorite sister: I love you. Just remember that when the heat gets hot, I’ll be there for you.

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,


It’s hard to explain the feels

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

Buna from Rachel and Adia (Ah-deeyah, as the Romanians call me).

We are writing to you from the van as we head back to Craiova from camp. It is no doubt that everyone has grown from this experience. It’s been a long week, yet one that went by way too fast. We have built many relationships and continued old ones. Yesterday was our last full day. It was jam-packed with fun things like visiting Corvin Castle in Hoanadoara, which was about an hour away from camp. We returned to camp and some of us took naps, some wrote Happy Fun Notes, and others played games. We had baked potatoes and chicken kabob for dinner. Daniel gave the talk for the night session about who God is and why we should accept Him into our life. When Dan was done, Lief read “A Father’s Love Letter.” It’s a letter written from God to us, His children, and is a collection of bible verses. After the letter had the majority of the room crying, the worship team went up and sang Amazing Grace as members of the American & Romanian teams walked out with pieces of cardboard that on one side had a myth that they have believed about themselves and on the other it had the truth of what God believes – and how they’ve been transformed by that truth by trusting God. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. It was so profound and the feeling of the Holy Spirit’s presence was overwhelming. We then had our last small group discussion. All week I felt very proud of the campers in my small group as they had the courage to ask difficult questions and to be vulnerable with us. We finished up our small group time and we had time to write more Happy Fun Notes, watch the movie “I Can Only Imagine,” and go out to the bonfire and make s’mores. Many people stayed up until 3 or 4 in the morning! Thankfully our last morning didn’t start as early and we are able to get some rest on the ride down the mountain. Overall it was a really great last day of camp.

Rachel: This trip has really changed my life in many ways. For one, we talk way too much about trains (it’s an inside team joke you’ll have to ask us about when we get home – and if you don’t know what I am talking about consider yourself blessed. J) This trip for me has been both emotionally and physically draining but it has been totally worth it because of the relationships I have made. It is really hard for me to try and build these relationships with the Romanian students because I don’t speak their language and many of them speak only limited English. I want the conversations with each Romanian to go deeper than than “Ce Faci” and “Bine” each way (which means “how are you” and “good,” respectively.) Even though there is that language barrier between us; we still have found ways to show and communicate love to each other. A lot of the campers I have gotten to know have come from tough backgrounds and I realize how much I have to be thankful for. When we were sharing in our groups last night within a one and a half hour period we only made it through one full question, and that’s a good thing. It means that the girls had a lot to say and ask. Last night was the first night that all of the girls opened up about their struggles and hardships. It was so cool to see that they trusted us enough to become vulnerable and tell us their life stories. It is so amazing to see how God is working through all of these campers! Even though some campers don’t believe what we are saying about God, I can see Him working in and through them. This trip has really helped me grow in my relationship with God and even continue to ask hard questions I have. It’s so hard to understand why terrible things happen to good people. This trip has opened my eyes to a lot of new experiences that will stay with me forever.

Adia: Throughout this week, I felt a bit discouraged because I was not able to be as physically active as I had hoped I could be. I was bummed that I couldn’t build community with the Romanians during the games. But as I talked to Karen – another American who serves on the Romania leadership team each sumer, she reminded me that God has a plan and that things don’t always go the way we want them to. It was fitting that the main theme of the week was to trust in the Lord and the verse was Proverbs 3:5-6. There were many talks about trusting God in the face of obstacles, and that rang so true for me the whole week. I realized that God was trying to show me that sometimes we have to make sacrifices in order to live out his purpose for us. This week was a lot of fun, but it was also hard. With late nights and early mornings, full fifteen-hour days, we had to lean on each other and the Lord for strength and encouragement. And when I was discouraged, I was impressed and lifted up when I looked at the rest of my team and saw how they remained positive in the face of exhaustion and chaos. I feel so blessed to be a part of this amazing team of strong and courageous individuals. When one person is down, they come together to make that person feel loved and supported. And even when discouraged and challenged, with God and my teammates right by my side, it makes long days and shorter nights entirely worth it.


To Snyder Fam: Can I get some puppy pics in the comments? J

To Anja Hartmann: Can I get some Cassi pics in the comments? J

To Markhardt Family: Can I get a family pic with Luna in the comments? J

To the familial unit of the sororal (?) variety: Congrats! Both Mel and Larry have called me Nikki

To Matt and Rachel Metz for checking Hannah’s UGA email…don’t forget to buy her football student season tickets

To the Sullivan’s: Is it the PGA championship this week? If so who’s winning?

To Emily Bostrom: for being Luke’s sister. Plz comment. We miss you!

To Merlin, Ed & Eliana: Happy 2 months Eliana!! Ed, no Wanted this year. Merlin, can you just hear your name being called?? Love you guys!

To @irwindoodle we miss you and love you and can’t wait to scratch your chin when we get home.

More than just a hike

Hello Americans! This is Kip here to give you all a quick update. So far we have completed two full days of camp. Yesterday (Tuesday) was the most eventful day thus far. In the morning we rallied the campers and journeyed on a unexpectedly short hike to a nearby waterfall. We were told it would take around an hour just to arrive at the waterfall, but it ended up being an hour for the round trip. The trail we took was narrow and crossed a stream many times, but I couldn’t really see much other than that because we were in a valley surrounded by mountain sides. After reaching the waterfall and capturing some beautiful pictures and selfies, the group headed back to the camp. Such a short lived hike after the legend & lore of Romanian hikes left a lot to be desired for some of us, so about half of the group decided to go on another adventure on a different trail. Even though I was practically running on fumes from lack of sleep and sore knees, I unwillingly decided to go on the second expedition, which is quite possibly one of the best decisions I’ve made on this trip. The trail we trecked was wide and relatively level, contrary to the narrow and steep trail we walked on the first hike. In addition, someone decided to bring a dog along this time. Athough thousands of tall pine trees surrounded us throughout the walk, the visibility was exceptional. Along the way were steep ravines and dropoffs, sunlit mountainsides and gushing streams. The dog actually jumped in one of the streams and enjoyed the refreshing blast of cool water. Seeing some of the best of God’s fantastic creation inspired me and lifted my spirits. Instead of trying half-heartedly to drag my feet along and only focusing on lunch, which had previously dominated my mind, I became upbeat and happy. Even more importantly, I was able to engage in many awesome conversations and experiences with the Romanian campers. Thinking back now, especially on how those relationships became stronger and more intimate on that hike, I can’t help but thank God for using His amazing creativity to transform me from a fatigued, zombie-like figure into an energetic person willing to share God’s love with the campers through conversations. After about a half an hour, Daniel said we had to head back as lunch would be served soon. When we got back, I was extremely grateful that I had gone on that second hike. I’m also pretty sure the dog was too.


(Don’t worry mom and dad, I made sure I got pictures)

More similar than we are different

Hello this is Ian here. I am just writing to you today to tell you about my experience so far on this trip and at this camp and let me tell you, it’s been amazing. The time spent planning for the camp and meeting Romanian leaders and students was great. When we finally made it to camp we started to hang out and get to know the campers and other leaders better. Yesterday was the first full day of camp and it was filled with laughter, bonding and deep talks in our small groups.

For my group it was very cool when we sat down to have our discussion after the night’s message. We had very deep conversations and it was very cool to see that people all the way across the world from us in Wisconsin have the same questions, doubts, and thoughts as I do. It was also very cool that the guys in my group were willing to open up with those of us they are just starting to know. It was very cool to see the guys in my group open up and be vulnerable and share their deep thoughts and questions/doubts around a bunch of people they don’t know. It is also cool to see the guys able to both laugh and bond, but also be serious and open up. There were several stories that were shared that hit close to home to me and it was cool to be able to connect on a deep level with some of the guys like that and to be able to understand where they are coming from. We’re actually a lot more similar than we are different. Personally the small group time has helped me with my faith and had continued to strengthen and grow my relationship with God. It has helped me to see that other people can get through tough things and still have a strong relationship with the Lord.

Other than the small group time we had a great day filled with fun. We started off the day by having breakfast and a devotional then we broke up into out breakout/English groups. We decorated our notebooks by cutting things that represent us out of magazines. Once we got done with cutting the images and words out of the magazines and put them on the notebooks we shared what they meant to us. It was very fun to see what things represented the others in my group. Then we walked down to the fields where we played some very funny name games and other get to know you activities with all the campers. After that we had lunch and free time and just hung out for a little bit. After all of that we went back to the fields and played different games like Basketball, Soccer (Futbol), Bucketball, and Ultimate Frisbee. We then had an excellent dinner (the food is so good!) and the night talk. The camp theme this year is Mythbusters. We are learning about myths about God and the Bible and finding ways to bust them. It has been a great way to find answers to our own questions and doubts. The myth last night was “Can we trust the Bible to be true or myth?” Tonight is “Was Jesus just a man?” These are great questions that have led to some great discussions so far. Please pray that we continue to see God work through small groups and everything else.

Romanian Camp Flexibility

Andrew and Grace (and Luke’s two cents) here. Since it’s been a day or two, there’s a lot to catch y’all up on. After waking up earlier than we’d normally desire yesterday morning, we loaded up the big bus and several mini-buses and started the long journey to camp. Almost immediately, the campers started sharing their vast number of icebreaking games with us; pretend everybody is ice, and break them. Don’t worry, it’s not quite as ominous as it sounds – no one gets injured in the process. Many of you that have been here before are familiar with the “Who Slapped My Hand?” game, but rest assured there are evidently many other less than imaginative ways to get the entire back of the bus (and beyond) playfully slapping each other. Meanwhile, Luke figured out how to solve a Pyraminx (a Rubik’s cube that isn’t a cube but a pyramid)! We took a rest stop at a park and consumed those famous cheese and salami sandwiches (delicious) while getting to know the campers better. As returners, it was refreshing to have the campers that we’d already created bonds with enthusiastically introduce us to their new friends and make every attempt to involve us. Many new friendships started developing and somehow we got even more excited for camp.

After a relatively slap-free second half of the bus ride (Daniel came back and made sure our new friends & us found more productive ways to connect) we “arrived” at camp and learned that the journey was not quite over… we had to lug our many baggages partway up the mountain (and we are definitely in the mountains!) since the big bus was unable to make it the entire way. The evening was a bit chaotic as we struggled to adjust to the new facilities and catch up with the camp schedule. Many of us had our first dose of “Romanian camp flexibility” as our first evening session responsibilities began right as we arrived and we had to adapt to the ever changing needs of the moment.

In the end, we got done what needed to get done and so began the last part of the evening: small groups. While every small group was different, some members of our team began to feel the full impact of the language barrier as the deeper the conversation got, the translation into English became more sparse. As Americans, one of the hardest transitions on this trip is to learn how to sit back, observe, and pray rather than just sharing our thoughts and opinions. Please pray for us and the campers as the conversations continue to develop throughout the week.

After a little less uninterrupted sleep than some of us had hoped (the guys slept four to a bunk – *double bunk – head to toe!), we awoke to some of the most beautiful fog hugging the tree filled slopes (#mistymountainscold). Our morning was filled with arts and crafts during breakout time (formerly known as English class) where we picked out pictures of things we liked and glued them to the covers of journals. While the rest of the campers headed down to the fields to play more get-to-know-you games, we (Grace and Andrew) hung back to cheer on our small groups as they attempted the obstacle course suspended in the trees. We are about to head out for more large group sports/games right now, but first, some shout-outs:

To Grandma and Grandpa Babler: We are in the mountains at camp in romania, and I bet that it is way prettier than your view! I miss you tons and cant wait to see you soon <3

To Movie Soulmate: Morning babe. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen like a ginger while you’re in San Fran. This morning we sang the Misty Mountains song and I thought about our pool reenactments and that time we went to see Desolation and thought it “wasn’t that bad.” Please inform Nickolas that the Neymar memes have been put to good use. Miss you bae.

To Jo: Hey it’s your birthday! I wish I could be at home with you to celebrate, but don’t worry, I got two bags of Joe this time.

To Ali Mongoose: This is not a shoutout, thanks for the deetz.

To Adeline: You type goodly for a baby.

To America (from David): HELLO DAVID, THIS IS AMERICA.

To Athen-a: there was a dog on the ground eating ice cubes. It was cute and it distracted everyone during team time. THEY DON’T HAVE SPICY CHICKEN.

To David K: We are still waiting for your comments…

To Culvers for having cheese-curds.

~Father Grace and Son Andrew

Stormy & Matiuţ

Hello Friends,

Our fourth day in Romania was yet another great one!

We began our day with another breakfast course of homemade apple juice (from the Ethos Livada/orchard) and different varieties of Romanian corn flakes. After breakfast the American team continued our daily devo and check-ins with leaders. During discussion we decided to share a person, place or event that affected our faith journey, allowing us to connect on a deeper level as a team. We also received letters from home, which helped fight off the homesickness and remind us that there are many people at home praying and watching over our trip. Following our team devo and discussion, Beni, one of the Romanian leaders who works and lives in Ethos, took us to deliver food and introduce us to the families that Ethos supports in Craiova. This experience was challenging for us, as we felt disconnected from the families we were visiting. However; (Rachel Metz; is this the proper use of this semicolon?) because we were with Daniel and Beni who have built daily relationships with these families, we were able to see what Ethos has done and the effects they have had in this community. This experience helped our entire team to better understand what the mission of Ethos is and the problems that face the Craiovan people. We came back and celebrated Lief’s 26th birthday 😉 ;p Lief got an excellent gift in more shoarma, romanian pizza, & souflaki and he graciously shared his pizza with us. We spent the afternoon doing camp prep and tying up any loose ends with our camp teams. This includes the worship team smashing out twelve songs while the “breakout team” was creating some beautiful art and the “program team” organized props (good job to Bria for helping the productivity efficiency). Final preparations for camp while somewhat stressfull, but it also got us excited for the next five days of camp and getting to see it all finally fall into place. After dinner, we ate Lief’s cake and threw a frisbee around. After dinner, we shuffled into vans and went to a concert in Romanescu Park that composed of Romanian worship music and then finished with a surprise treat of vibrant Congolese worship from some Ethos employees from the Congo. Getting to experience Romanian & Congolese worship in the middle of a Romanian public park was unique experience that showed us how vast God is. Then we walked to the park zoo where we watched some storks and geese mingle, a coati and a raccoon fight over a chip, and peacocks chillin on the roof. When we returned to Vieru’s we made 115 salami and cheese sandwiches & were supposed to pack and go to bed, but then we were asked to write this blog hahaha. Go to bed early… yeah right! These next few days will be exciting but challenging for us, so we ask for your thoughts and prayers for us as we start camp.

-Matthew “Garth” Gartland and Luke “Stormy” Stevens


To Megan Smith, Happy Birthday!!!

To Megan Smith – Happy July 28! -Lief

To Paige Gartland and Hannah Metzger, for being the same person.

To Matt, for not knowing how to spell his sister’s married name and using her “old one” instead.

To Jay Sullivan, for his big muscles 😉

To the Stevens Fam, for the updates on the family tournaments, did GMA cannonball this year?

To the Ambassador, the cat hath rejected me 🙁

To Angie Shoe, look both ways before crossing the street.

To Pastor Chris, good luck on the sermon tomorrow.

To Matiuţ (matoots), Garth, & Kyle: Do you know what happened to Matt?


Hello friends,

Bria here with what we did yesterday. In the beginning of the day we had good breakfast, and had some productive time in our teams for camp. Later we went to Auchan to gather team supplies for camp (everything from tennis balls, ice cream toppings & nylon stockings to biscuits/cookies, giant jars of pickles, & empty cardboard boxes – and all it has a specific purpose!). The explanation of our annual Auchan trip must be prefaced by explaining the nature of the store. Auchan is essentially the “Big Tasty” version of Costco. Our carts overflowed as we stocked up on Joe and other delicious Romanian snacks for camp and long bus rides. As we returned from our Auchan trip we were suddenly caught in a torrential downpour! We all crammed into the Vieru’s living room as we waited for the rain to pass. Once the skies cleared up we headed up to the Ethos school yard to meet the campers and play some games. We did the “head bop name game” and every one of us had a chance to meet every one of the campers- it was so great to meet all of them. We laughed a lot and had a ton of fun. Then we went outside and played the Romanian game “Energy.” It’s a crazy mix between trenchball & an intense game of tag. The campers loved the game and we look forward to playing it a lot more at camp! We then said goodbye to all the campers for a couple days. We are all looking forward to getting on the bus and up to camp tomorrow am!

Julian and Cade tagging in, after spending time with the Romanian campers and leaders we went down to the city center to enjoy schwarma/”Shoarma” to spend more time with the leader team (American team + Open Roads leaders – over 40 of us!) and was really a great connecting point for all of us. It was great to be able to build relationships. We were both nervous that getting to know Romanians would be a struggle for us, but through our first real conversation with Romanian leaders our fears were diminished. Being in Romania for the first time we were both having a hard time trying to make meaningful connections when there are already so many connections made by the returning team members. I guess that part may just be Cade but either way that worry isn’t as big as it previously was as we are all really connecting and making good connections now.

One of the best parts of the day for both of us was being able to get to know one of the Romanian leaders (David) better. We were able to bond over TV shows, movies, video games, and cars. Especially being first timers, it was a great way for us to get closer to the leaders along and to get to know them better. We look forward to having another friendly face and to get to know him and other leaders better. Later that night after going downtown, another favorite moment for all the guy students and a few Romanian leaders. We spent time at Benny’s house and just sat and talked with the guys and hung out with Lavi as well, we may or may not have woken up Benny’s dad. We went to bed late, but with new friends and experiences.

We ask you guys to pray for us and the team that we make even deeper connections throughout our team, and most especially with the Romanian campers and leaders. And as always, good health, good sleep, and good times.


To Movie Soulmate <3: Stay away from intersections, remember what Nick said about efficiency. Work on those calves up the hills and bring me a rock. Tell Ian I bought him a gift. Stay away from the vegan life, you know what’s good for you. Tom Riddle’s diary is safe. Night babe.

To Kip…wait no

To Craig Gartland: I hope Peter Sagan won/wins a couple more stages of the tour while I’m away.

To Rachel Metzger (from Leah): I’ve decided that I do want to know who wins the Bachelorette when it comes out so let me know J Love you!

To Amy Sullivan: How’s the air conditioning feeling in your car?

To the Snyder Fam: I miss you guys so much!! Love you <3 Give Ruby hugs and kisses for me, and grill her about that Witness Protection thing… XD

To Anja Hartmann: I miss you!! I love you <3 Snuggle Cassi for me

To Angie, Jim, Britney, and James Markhardt: Mom and Dad I miss you guys! Britney: How’s the dullard? I miss you lots!! James: I miss you lots bud, cuddle Luna for me!

To Angie Xu from Brianna: no problem, we’ll take it out of your paycheck. 😉

Shoutout to Angie Ipsen: We hope you are healing and feeling better! We miss you! And this year we really have have kept up the tradition: #prayforAngie J

Shoutout to Ray: It’s true: the journey is long – but goes quick! Jimmy taught us the dance moves. So good. We miss you.

Shoutout to Franny: Igor is looking healthy! -Noah

Special request for Rachel Metzger (❤️, Leah):