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Doing VBS Together

The last week of August, Phyllis and Merri, from Ward Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Northville, Michigan, their suitcases full of craft fixin’s and their hearts full of love for Christ, His kids and His Kingdom, came to Ramnicu Valcea and our church to help us do one more VBS. We had an awesome time and were able to reach even more kids than with the first week. If you watch the video to the end (around the 3.12 mark) you can hear the kids singing songs of praise in Romanian language, as well as practicing their memory verses (2.47). (The song at the beginning is “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us, but in Romanian it is “Bunule Pastor”,  from “Inmuri Vechi din inimi noi” by Continental.)

Dealing with the perceptions that Romanians can have of American missionaries can be frustrating. One example: Waiting for the neighborhood kids to climb into my car so I could take them to church I noticed a little old grandma approaching me. She seemed interested in meeting me so I said hello. Then she told me she wanted to come to our church too. “Really?” I asked, somewhat amazed. “Yes!” she assured me. ” I want to go to your church too. My roof’s leaking!”

Sigh.

It’s not my job

It’s been a long time since I reported on daily life in Valcea…all the little stuff that makes Valcea, Valcea. So, today we were driving out of town taking a visiting short-termer to the airport. As we approached the green light at the intersection a white van barreled across  right in front of us. “What?” We had the normal thoughts along the lines of  “What is he thinking?” and  “Crazy Valcea driver!” But then Tim commented that the same thing had happened the night before at the same intersection. Then he turned and looked at the signal going the other way. It was green  too!

It hit us how incredibly dangerous the situation was. We had escaped but I envisioned twisted metal and broken bodies at any moment. I didn’t know who to report it to, but I couldn’t drive away and do nothing, so I fumbled with my mobile phone and called 112 for the first time in our 15 years in Romania. “Danger at the intersection of Ferdinand and Nicolae Balcescu. Green light both ways,” was the gist of my stammered message.

Operator:  “I’ll see what I can do, but you know, that’s the mayor’s office’s job, not the police’s!”

Post script: Eight hours later we cautiously approached the intersection again. Now the signal was dead both ways. There was a workman nearby. And by God’s grace, there were no bloodstains on the road.

Eggs Anyone?

I wanted to send a big thank you and these photos to all of you who prayed for our 2011 Women’s Day outreach. It went great! OF COURSE, the week before, there were the usual trials and pressures. Of course, Anca, our speaker AND worship leader, got sick around Wednesday and started losing her voice. True to form, she was determined to speak anyway, but figured trying to lead worship would be pushing it.  But we prayed, God heard and He gave her a window of grace on Saturday, where she felt so much better. She not only received strength to teach AND lead worship, but had energy to be right in the thick of things, greeting the ladies and having a great time! God is able to do so much more than we could ask or think!

Another cause for praise was the way God heard our prayers and brought the ladies, extricating them from their busy schedules and/or responsibilities as moms. Without ladies there would be no outreach. But forty-two ladies came!  And though two had an emergency and weren’t able to stay, God had a special message for the rest of us, twenty-five of which were guests from the outside community or friendly evangelical churches.

Speaking of that message, Anca chose her text from Proverbs 31:26, “She opens her mouth with wisdom.” Anca had been so struck by the disastrous way we as women often try to give one another advice or sympathy, while completely overlooking the wisdom of God. So her message was an exhortation to counsel one another with the most powerful and hope-filled truth that exists: the Gospel. May God use that message in all of our hearts.

Personally, every time we host an event like this, all Tim and I can do is thank God for His strength in our weakness. And this event was no different. Among the flying flour and grated zucchini for the muffins and the assembling of egg casseroles, the mountains of dirty dishes and the aching muscles from moving furniture, I am sometimes tempted to wonder, who do I think I am? I’m no chef or decorator! (It was always the other ladies that were comfortable being in charge of events like this back home in California.) And yet, He is there as we trust Him, not letting our strength fail or our hearts fear. He is the One who pulls the helpers together, rearranges work schedules so ladies can attend and it is He who gives them joy in hearing His Word.He is the One who advances His Kingdom! I don’t know why I ever try to depend upon myself! Without His presence, none of our labor has any eternal value, it’s just us spinning our wheels. But with His gracious touch the imperishable seed of the Word of God penetrates the heart of yet one more Romanian lady. It may seem slow. It may be a lot of work. But what a joy to be part of His eternal work!

One Night in February

Sometimes, no matter how busy you are, it’s good to look up from your work and remember Who it’s all about.

January 2011 update

Ha! I bet you are all thinking, “You kind of skipped a few months there, lady!”So true, but thanks to God’s provision, I now have a new laptop and no longer have to play tug-a-war with Tim over his, so I am celebrating my new freedom to write, and the week off I have from teaching Children’s Bible Study, by dusting off my blog and posting for you three videos of our Christmas ministries, one story, two miscellaneous posts and this prayer update! I know, I know: feast or famine, but I hope you will take some time to check out the new posts.

What can I tell you about what God is doing in Valcea these days? Well, He really met us during our Christmas ministries. Tim and I were quite stretched trying to cover all the bases and sometimes went to bed brittle with exhaustion (you know the feeling you get that if someone even touches you, you will crack into a million little pieces), but in spite of our weakness, He was there! Continue Reading »