Hello all, this is Britney and Morgan reporting on the last day of camp.
Thursday morning began early with shared stories from our small groups and a message Dan shared with us about the encouraging words his sister sent referring to the work we are doing in Romania. We finished the leader meeting by praying over our small group and about the final night we have together.
Later that morning before the rain began we played a not so quick game of Wanted where leaders had posters hung up around camp and campers found the posters, or in Noah’s case didn’t find the posters, then tried to bring the leaders to the home base. At the end of the game many were exhausted so we had all worked up an appetite for lunch…
SURPRISE! We had chicken and potatoes for lunch! Mel says that the potatoes are the reason we have all been hitting the gym on a regular basis. Thank God for potatoes! Any who… after lunch we were busy as usual having our American Team Time, where we read all of your wonderful comments, and rehearsal for the Life House Skit (The Everything Skit). Neither of us had ever seen the video and we were very moved by the intensity and emotion it portrayed. For those who have also not seen the skit, it is a mute drama showing God’s unending love for us through temptations and perseverance of faith (you should just watch it, it is far too meaningful to even attempt to summarize). We both agree that being apart of this drama was (there isn’t a word for how amazing the experience was –Britney) (yeah –Morgan)
The rest of the night was made up of English classes, more drama rehearsals and writing many, many “happy fun notes” to campers and leaders. We are unable to remember what we ate for dinner, but it’s pretty safe to assume it was chicken/pork and potatoes. The final evening program featured Ali, Morgan and Emma, Emma claiming that their inabilities to master their various Summer Olympic sports were simply due to the season…they began their training for the upcoming Winter Olympics! After some butt scooting and bare (yes, bare) belly hugs, the whole camp began worship by singing past camp songs and the one from this year. The skit followed worship, and the emotion was evident in the room. As all the messages had been this week, Daniel spoke about the importance of God’s adoption into His kingdom.
Small groups followed Dan’s message and were filled with meaningful discussions, many cookies and lots of tea (as usual). Britney is going to speak about the “all night-er”, as I fell asleep within 15 minutes after small groups ended. Well… my night was filled with tons of “Happy Fun Note” writing, journaling and card games. I especially loved the games of Zurich played, if you haven’t heard of Zurich you should definitely ask Dan, Jesse, and I about it. (If you ask anyone else they will either be just as confused as you or very annoyed). After a few games of Zurich, which seemed to always change, I was taught the game of Macauo (thanks for the spelling Irina) which I will definitely be playing again! And I, Morgan, got a lot of sleep! 😀
As for a quick health and mostly heart update for the two of us, I think that at this time we were down about the fact that it was our last night at camp, but had a lot of great memories to reflect on. We both stayed healthy the whole week, as for majority of the team, and got sufficient (more than sufficient for Mo) amounts of sleep. I, Britney, wasn’t really sure what to think, I was shocked that camp was almost over, but I am also really ready to see my family. As for myself, Morgan, it was a surreal feeling having to realize the fact that our four days with these campers had come to an end. Even now (it’s actually 10:30 on Saturday…whoops) it hasn’t set in that we had said our goodbyes and our week had come to an end. However, it is truly a blessing to look back and realize God’s work over these past two weeks and the time we spent at camp. We all miss Wisconsin, but Romania has become a part of what we call “home”.
That’s all for now folks, Britney and Morgan out.
To recap our meals this past week, here is your daily Joke with Jesse:
Are you a sweet potato, because I yam!
To Sydney: The team was disappointed you didn’t have any boy updates in your comment 😉 also, please stay in Wisconsin until I get home. I miss you a lot and am excited to see you soon. – Mo
To Jake: Hearing that you passed your test made me very happy. I knew you could do it. Here in Romania, new drivers are required to have a yellow exclamation mark sticker on their windshield for their first year of driving…not a bad idea, huh? Can’t wait to see you. – Mo
To whomever: Shoutout from Cabbage
To Britney’s Family: I miss you and love you all so much! All your letters made me so happy and I’m excited to see you all on Tuesday! Rachel your letter definitely made me cry and laugh because you know me so well… I miss arguing with you too, I can’t wait to give you a huge hug when I get home.
Buna dimineata, toata lumea! (AKA Good morning, everyone!)
Eden and Abby here!! It’s the third day of camp and we’ve been having a blast, even though the weather has not been ideal. Being in the mountains is very refreshing, and a great escape from the dry Craiova heat. It was pretty strange to go from being sweaty all the time to being constantly shivering and wet. Some people appreciate the colder weather, but others are a little bummed about all the rain. It’s rained a bit each day and not a lot of sun, but we’ve been able to do nearly everything we’ve planned.
This morning, we woke up tired (as usual), but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the day! We started off the day with our leader meeting, overlooking the misty mountains with coffee in hand. Many people shared amazing stories of conversations that took place in small group the night before. It has been amazing to hear about the progress that the campers are making even just with each day. After the meeting, we had another breakfast buffet of lots of meats, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggs, and chocolate cereal with warm milk. Then we had a time for morning worship. Being a singer on the worship team (Eden), it was so cool to see how the campers were so much more enthusiastic to worship than when camp first started. Many campers were even singing or humming the songs in their rooms!
We had some free time and then went for a day-hike in the mountains. We began with the sun shining down on us with everyone in a great mood. About halfway up the trail, it began to rain. Despite the rainy weather, the group kept going! We had groups that chose to go various distances based on what experience they wanted. Along the way, we were thrilled to see some incredible views of the stunning Romanian mountains. We even ran into some stray dogs and cows while we were climbing! When we got back, everyone was wet but refreshed. We really enjoyed the adventure! There were a lot of great conversations happening through the rain. It was so much fun bonding with the people on the team! Definitely an experience we will not forget.
Throughout the camp so far, we have formed some amazing friendships with the campers, bonding through bracelet making, hair braiding, and lots and lots and lots of selfies! We have also shared some special moments in our small groups. Despite the language barrier, we are still able to engage in deeper conversations about God. It’s amazing to see the progress that many of the campers have made in their faith journey.
During the evening program, the program team did a very hilarious soda-chugging competition that included supposedly “dirty” socks (???). After another round of great worship, Lief began his message about who God is, how much He loves us, and how He is a father to the fatherless. He used an awesome demonstration to show two ways that people may perceive God in comparison to who God really is. He then told a story that was very similar to the Prodigal Son, except with a daughter in modern day. It was very compelling and brought tears to many eyes. This message opened the door for great discussions in our small groups. It is often difficult for the orphans to understand God’s love, because they haven’t received much love themselves. They are scarred from being left behind and turned away. For this reason, God’s love is a very important theme at camp. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to build these relationships. God’s presence is very obvious in this camp and among the campers.
That’s all for now!! We are looking forward to the next two days of camp before we head back to Craiova.
-Abby & Eden
And now it’s the time we’ve all been waiting for:
Jokes with Jesse!!!
What do you call a pair of socks that follows around another pair of socks?
What’s up people of the interwebs?!?!?! Noah and Ali here, back at it again to bring you the daily scoop from Tuesday! We know it’s late, but just think of it as typical Pollard fashion (read: typical Ali fashion).
Surprisingly however, Ali’s day began at 5am. “5am!?!?” you may ask, and yes. 5am. You see, the biggest, and hardest surprise, for an already grumpy and sleepy Ali when arriving at camp, was that there was only one bathroom for every 10-12 campers. Yes, each bathroom has the necessities: a small shower, sink, and a toilet crammed between the two. This means that when you are in line you never know if you will be waiting five seconds while somebody spits out their toothpaste or if you will be waiting for ten minutes while somebody decides to shower. Each person has come up with a unique way to combat this struggle. Some have decided just not to shower for the duration of camp (looking at you Lief and Franny) while Emma and I have decided to work together and wake each other up in “the middle of the night” (again, 5am) to shower and then go back to bed. (5am really isn’t that bad, Ali – Noah)
After morning wake ups, the leaders (which we are, surprisingly 😉 ) all met to discuss how camp and small groups were going as well as have a small devotional to help start the day off right. From there, we woke up the campers and went to enjoy our “Swiss Breakfast Buffet” (read: deli meat, cheese and cocoa puffs (yeah, the cocoa puffs surprised us too)). Noah: It was quite the experience as it was the first time my cereal was ever melted by my milk, which had been served to us heated.
Following breakfast was a quick worship time and small devotional before having our first-ever English class. In day one of English we like to set sail on the adventure of delving into a new and different language. (Noah, what are you even typing?- Ali) (Is that even the right use of delving? I just thought it sounded good… Dan please save our wretched souls-Noah) To begin the maiden voyage of English class, our groups made modge podge (is that right?) covers for journals, cutting out pictures of things we like from magazines. Though it got messy, the relationships that were being built were worth not being able to separate your fingers (just kidding, it wasn’t that messy). Then came the alphabet, first learning the letters, and then of course, the song! The struggle got real as the campers in our groups taught us the Romanian alphabet (read: how to grunt in multiple different ways to represent the letter A) Personally, though tough to pronounce, I enjoy the A with a roof over it; it is quite aesthetically pleasing. I just took the computer from Noah, I am sorry you all had to read that – Ali. English time is a great chance to connect with campers in a smaller setting other than your small groups for nightly devotions. My group went around and talked about why we picked the pictures that we did for our journals and that was a great way to open up a little more and learn about each other.
English was followed by a rotation of sports (soccer, volleyball, basketball and frisbee) and then lunch. After lunch, we had free time and team time. Noah went and played soccer with a camper and tried learning more Romanian. I, Ali, had to reorganize things for the night’s program before we all met for team time. Team time is the one chance we get to gather as only Americans and talk about how we are doing mentally, physically, and spiritually (Noah, please stop chanting “USA! USA!” that is so rude). This is when we get to read your comments that bring us so much encouragement, thank you!
Afternoon games were held indoors due to rain and then after dinner we began the program. I’M BAAAACK- Noah. If you read my bio, you may remember the prayer request that Ali doesn’t lose her mind… Well, during program Ali was unveiled along with Morgan and Emma… (Just Emma). These three hooligans took center stage in what can only be described as 80s work-out gear, running around with slightly more coordination than a chicken with its head cut off. They for sure got the energy high as all the campers were laughing and joining in with the Professor Trelawney level crazy games.
After the fun was done, worship continued followed by a talk by Justin, a 20 year-old missionary from Iowa who is working in Romania for a year and a half. He talked about how God forgives you of all of your sins, no matter how bad, sharing his own struggles in High School with addiction and how his faith was strengthened through that. In small groups that night, I (Ali again) was frustrated because one of my girls just was not getting it. She agreed that God forgives our sins but is still positive that she is going to hell because of her actions. We explained that God forgives everything and still loves her, but she was not absorbing that. We are praying that as camp continues, she will be more open to sharing with us and also open herself up to God and the idea that she is loved and forgiven. As hard as it is for all of us to accept God’s grace, we see that those who have grown up rejected and abandoned have an even harder time trusting that God could love them and forgive them. They’ve struggled their entire lives with the shame and guilt, thinking that their situation is their own fault, or that God forgot about them – and it takes time (and patience) to help them see that the good news of the Gospel is real! Please pray with us that the walls that have been built up are broken down, even if one piece at a time.
At this point, the challenges of camp and the heaviness of our campers stories have started to take its toll on the team. We feel ourselves running out of energy and stamina and our positive attitudes have moments of wavering. Although the campers aren’t opening up as easily, we can feel the weight of their pasts and we long for them to understand God’s love for them. It can be really hard with some of the mental capacities of the campers, but we just want each camper to understand to the best of their ability that they ARE loved and that they ARE forgiven, no matter what their pasts hold. This is the message that Katrina shared while offering a devotional to the American/Romanian leaders early Wed morning – she talked about when Jesus rebuked the disciples and said “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” It was a powerful reminder that God has made His message of love simple enough for even those who think like children to understand – and while depth is good, we must also believe this truth as a child does.
The campers have also started to share their fears of going back home. They say that at camp they feel safe and close to God, but they know that when they go back to where they live, they can’t be close to God because the people they live with swear and do bad things and they can’t ignore that. Please be praying for them as the transition home starts to become more real.
To lighten the mood… JOKES WITH JESSE
What did the green grape say to the purple grape?
Stop holding your breath!
Thanks to Jesse’s mom for that one!
To everybody reading and DIDN’T ask for a shout out Cough Amy and Kira, this isn’t you Cough : Thank you so much for your support and prayers, we love hearing from you and are continuously encouraged by your words.
To Kira and Amy: Y’all are alright too.
To Brian and Momma P: Yes, I am in Romania. Although, as a team we agreed that if I were to run away I would go to the Hershberger’s, so you got that right Brian. Thanks for all your comments and love, we don’t want to leave here but miss you guys. Come here instead? – Ali (with input from Noah)
To JP: Where the cheesy jokes at man? Kidding, we super appreciated you sharing your heart in the last comment and love hearing from you. LOVE YOUUUUU – Ali and Noah
To Shawntel: Sammy’s selective memory has been at it again. I think the whole team has learned to keep their eyes peeled for his bright orange water bottle that seems to be left EVERYWHERE. On the bright side, he didn’t leave it at the top of the mountain when we went hiking. That being said, Sammy is doing well and wants you to know that the team has been bonding over different pronunciations of your name (Cabbage started it after your first comment and it has really brought us all together ever since)(edit from Sammy – Alissa had just as much hand in it as Cabbage) < I tried deleting that. – Alissa
“Just this: hi to everybody”- Beni (the coolest Romanian around)
“Beni is the SECOND coolest Romanian around” – Iazmin
Shout out to Molly for the best note ever! It had me smiling ALL day! 😀 – Alyssa
To Syd: I think I’m picking up what you’re laying down. Your letters continue to make me laugh and smile. Also, good luck to everyone at orientation today! I’m glad I’m not there! – Mo
Shout out to the twins: I got your letter yesterday, thank you very much it had me laughing for a solid five minutes! Stay out of my custard! – Mo
To Kira: I can only think of you when I sing the “Who I am” song. – Franny
To Kira: I am still singing the Joe song regularly. – Emma (and Ali, but mostly Emma)
*As mentioned in my (Noah’s) bio, references are the best. That is all.
Hello loyal followers! Jesse and Sammy here writing to catch you up to speed on our trip to camp (Monday, August 8)! We got up a little earlier than usual to finish packing up and eat breakfast before loading up the bus. After rearranging a few bags, we were on our way to camp! The six-hour ride was filled with singing, naps, snacks, and games along with some incredible relationship building. We stopped for lunch at a beautiful spot (gas station) in the mountains. It was great to get off the bus and stretch for a little bit, and the view of the river with the peaks in the background made for some incredible photo ops.
After finally arriving, we all found our rooms. We’re all staying in a huge cabin (well, except for some of us), with the boys on the second floor and the girls on the third. The first floor and part of the second are taken up by students from a music camp that’s going on at the same time as ours, so we run into them often.
We got settled in, had some free sport time (futbol!!!) and then played some large group games, like the Romanian version of Duck, Duck, Goose and a game with hula hoops J After, Daniel gave us our small group assignments and we split up to create flags and songs to represent our groups. My (Jesse’s) group got the color blue and decided to name ourselves the Blue Mermaids (Sirenele) and choreographed a dance number to “Under the Sea”. Because little to nothing bonds girls faster than hair styling, we also made ribbons to tie in our hair!
(Sammy had to go to worship practice, so it’s just Jesse from here on out). We ate our first camp meal and then went right into our program time. All of the teams shared their flags and songs and it was really fun to see all of the creativity and how quickly the groups were bonding. Highlights included throwing pretend lei (Romanian money) in the air, and singing to Prince’s “Purple Rain”. After all of the groups had shared, Ali, Emma, and Morgan kicked things off with a crazy awesome game (blowing up a plastic glove using your nose), and introduced us to the theme of the Olympics.
The worship team led us in a time of worship and we taught the campers the camp song. It is so beautiful to hear the different languages mixing together–even though we don’t always understand the Romanian, we can understand the heart and emotions behind the words. Razvan, one of the Romanian leaders, gave a compelling message, reminding us how we are sons and daughters of The King, and that Jesus is a King unlike any earthly ruler.
After the message we split into our small groups. The conversations are mostly in Romanian and can be hard to follow, but we are so grateful for all of our translators who help to connect us to the conversation. All of the girls in my group are new to camp and I’m extremely excited to see them experience it for the first time. We started to discuss what it means to be a daughter of God, and how it makes us act differently. Sometimes it’s hard to participate in small group because I’m not sure how the translation will change what I’m trying to say and I’m not sure if it will even make any sense to them, but I’m working on just speaking up when I feel God calling me to, and trusting that God will help to convey what I mean.
(Sammy’s back!) (Just kidding, he went to track down his group.) I’m (Jesse) so excited to watch my campers connect with God this week and watch them experience God in a new way. It’s truly an incredible experience, and I’m so blessed to be here! Thank you all for keeping us in your prayers and please keep commenting!
And now….Jokes with Jesse! This one is one of my favorites, so I hope you enjoy J
A sheep, a drum, and a snake fell off a cliff…..BAAA DUMMMM SSSSSS
Jesse: Thank you to everyone for the wonderful birthday wishes! I had an incredible day, and your cards, notes, and comments helped make it even better.
Katrina: To Ben Piascik-My tiedye shirts are safe and sound! Thanks for the concern.
Sammy: Family-I’m really sorry I kind of bailed on blogging-I did have real responsibilities, I didn’t just abandon it! I’ll do my best to blog more soon.
Sunday was our final prep day before camp.
It started out with the normal breakfast consisting of cereal, room temp lapte (or better known in the States as milk), and bread almost as oversized as the amount of Fineti globbed on top. Fineti is like a better and sugarier (didn’t get advice from Dan, sorry) Nutella.
Dressed in our Sunday best, we took a short stroll on the street behind the Ethos community to the church. The congregation warmly welcomed us to worship with them. During a time of open prayer, the magnitude of our Father was evident within the intensity of one soft-spoken woman’s prayer. There was no translating required to comprehend the passion and emotion in her voice. It was a moment that we will surely remember. Witnessing her faith encouraged us further in our own. It seemed as a perfect preface to the wisdom Ray shared during his sermon. He challenged us to encourage others in order to glorify God’s kingdom, no matter what country you are in.
After church ended, we (especially the guys in pants) wanted to change into cooler get-ups but quickly realized we had like none left due to it being laundry day. After changing into whatever wardrobe remained, we enjoyed a few rounds of the game “psychiatrist” and many bottles of water. Lunch followed shortly after our American team time. We had chicken, mashed potatoes, and cucumbers (per uge) that ended with someone, not naming names (*cough cough* Morgan), licking her plate clean. Needless to say, our picky eaters were very happy with this meal. Apparently, (I, Alyssa, just learned this…) everyone but the worship team enjoyed some delicious ice cream on their way up to rehearse the motions for the camp theme songs. Morgan’s got a shout out to Culver’s down below.
After an entertaining run through of motions featuring some epic air guitar and crazy verticals from Ray, we enjoyed some free time before heading to the Youth Sports Park with all of the campers. This was the second time that our team was both reunited and introduced to the campers. With energy sweating from each and every person, we played games like amoeba, partner tag, and some exciting games of ultimate frisbee. Our pal Jesse took a bit of a tumble with a small twist to the ankle, but took it like a champ (and she’s fully recovered!). God is working in this ministry – His work is evident on the faces of the campers as they laugh and compete with one another – and in the way the leaders come alongside them and encourage them. As the night went on, we got more and more excited about continuing this at camp together the next day! After a quick dinner, we spent time finishing all our camp supply packing and preparing the bags and were off to one more nights sleep in Craiova!
Morgan: hey everyone! It makes my day to hear all of your wonderful comments J I miss you all very much and look forward to hearing all of your stories from the twins almost dying (???) to Syd’s routine boy update. Jake I hope football isn’t wearing you out too much. I am very excited for your first game J Iazmin gives everyone hugs question mark? Oh yes, and my shout out to Culver’s for teaching me how to scoop custard (although I used my skills to scoop ice cream) Btw I’m coming home with a new nickname of Morgan Magnifica. Ttyl -Mo
Alyssa: You guys are comin in clutch with the comments. Moll, you have no idea how awkward that hug was… thanks girl. Much love!
Cab: Shout out to the home dawgs reading this! (EDITOR NOTE: as well as all his home dawgs who aren’t).
Jesse and Eden here, reporting on our first full day in Romania. We got some extra sleep after arriving at the Vierus’. We are all staying in the Ethos community, which is awesome because we are all located close together! After getting some much-needed Zzzzs we ate breakfast and played some games to get to know the Romanian team. We also had some American team time where we got to read the blog comments-thank you so much for all of them! They’re so fun, and really made us smile and laugh.
After a big lunch, we broke into teams for camp planning. The plans are really coming along, and we’re getting super excited for camp! The theme is “Fii si Fiice de Rege” which means Sons and Daughters of the King. Our camp verse is Jeremiah 29:13, and we’re using the theme of the Olympics to build energy!
Soon after we all gathered together again, we experienced our first Romanian water fight! It was very unexpected, but felt good after the hot day. The Romanians got control of the hose, but everyone ended up soaked. There is some debate as to who won….Iazmin says he did for sure but some people might disagree. Katrina, who was fighting for the hose, definitely lost (she got the most wet) – it’s a good thing she went shopping for some clothes as her bag has not yet been located/delivered. While she is set up with enough clothes to make it through the week, please continue to pray that her bag arrives soon.
After changing into dry clothes, we headed to the city center for shaorma! We could write a whole other food blog about it, but Dan and Cabbage wrote one last year, so you can go read about it there J We enjoyed getting to see more of the city and the beautiful architecture. It was recently renovated, so it was fun for everyone to see. We also got some ice cream, which we found room for even after being stuffed with shaorma.
That was it on our first full day in Romania! We are all doing well, and enjoy reading your comments everyday. Getting to know the Romanian leadership team has been great, and we are looking forward to meeting the campers tonight! The weather has been great also—not too hot thankfully!
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for….JOKES WITH JESSE!!!
What did the earth say to the earthquake?
You crack me up!!
Shoutout to Charlie from Real Friendz + Jesse +Lil P: Thanks for commenting all the way from Iceland!!
Shoutout to Kelsey from Eden:
Thanks for the prayers, Romania is totally exceeding my expectations. I’m feling fantastic!
Buna! It’s Sammy and Morgan featuring Iazman (pronounced Yaz meen, or Yaz man if you want to make him a super hero). After a long (long long long -Iazman) day and night, we’re munching on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a bus to Craiova. Our first flight to Zurich was filled with food, drinks and traffic jams through the aisles of the plane. Throughout the eight hour flight, it is hard to say we achieved a solid 40 winks (probably more like 20). We landed and caught our next flight to Bucharest at nearly 5am Madison time. We learned quickly that the Swiss airport was a lot more laid back than ORD, and heard a lot of French and German. Morgan says boarding that second flight was awkward because we were the last ones on and had to walk past many staring eyes.
When we finally landed in Bucharest it was cool and cloudy. We were met at the airport with smiles all around, and tons of friendly new faces for us first-timers. The returning folks were tired, but excited to see their friends again and introduce us to them. After the introductions we all piled onto the bus and are attempting to make up those last 20 winks while getting to know our new (old for some) friends.
The general consensus we have from the newcomers is that the first time in Romania has been “pretty good” (awesome – Iazman) so far, based on a quick survey of the exhausted passengers. To my flatlander family back home (this is Morgan), a geographical comparison of Switzerland to Romania would be comparing a hilly and “mountainous” Wisconsin to a far-as-the-eye-can see Illinois. In the upcoming weeks we will be traveling further into the country for a more “altudinous” (thanks Dan for the new word?) view. The returners say its shaping up nicely, and are rightfully excited about the fact that this bus has some air conditioning. In our opinion, the weather has been perfect, the people fantastic, and the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches superb.
We’re looking forward to the next couple weeks and the accompanying blog posts, but now it’s time for Jesse to shine:
Jokes with Jesse: Wanna know what’s great about Switzerland? Well, the flag is a big plus 😉
To the Piascik family: I’m alive and well! The jet-lag isn’t too bad if you get lucky and time things right, and I’m looking forward to telling you all about the trip when I get back (once more stuff has actually happened.). Love you guys! – Sammy
To Jesse’s mom/aunt Sherry and Dan’s mom/aunt Linda: There are still two Hershbergers and they’re both alive, happy, healthy, and telling jokes!
To the family and friends of Mo(rgan): I apologize for my lack closure and goodbye texts. I was given access to free wifi on the plane that I quickly learned didn’t exist. However, I am (suhhh) excited to return with many stories, pictures and videos to show you all. Don’t eat my custard and try not to miss me too much. I love you all! -Mo