ROMANIA : 26 OCTOBER 2007
I have dreamed of visiting Europe for as long as I can remember but never in one of those dreams did I think of Romania. I have seen very little and met only a few people – all in the comfort and security of an American group – and I awaken early today in anticipation of God’s work.
We traveled by plane from Dallas to Kennedy airport in New York City, then shortly boarded a plane to Venice, Italy, traveling under darkened skies. Several hours out I looked out my window to see the breaking of the dawn and watched as the sky took on the brilliant colors of morning sunrise that have never been so beautiful as when reflecting off a horizon of clouds. Just after the sky fully lightened, I glanced behind my right shoulder to see a nearly full moon perched in the short distance and at nearly eye level. The heavens are truly filled with Your glory, O Lord.
Our approach to Venice took us just to the right of the Old City, yet even through the haze I could see the city blocks perfectly laid out amidst the water surrounding it. At that altitude I could still only dream of what it must be like to walk its streets. But that’s another trip.
The stop in Venice marked the end of our large jet travel; we flew the Romanian airline Carpatair into Timisoara. This was my first experience on a smaller craft, and it fulfilled a dream of mine to board a plane from the tarmac instead of a tunnel. The plane housed approximately 150 seats, had exposed propellers in front of the wings, and the interior was narrow with low overheads. The experience was so different from traveling on the large Delta jet, but traveling on Carpatair made this trip seem real for the first time since leaving the States. Our flight attendant began the standard speech about safety regulations that you hear on any commercial flight, but she spoke first in the quick, lilting Romanian language then again in perfect English, and a third time in pitch-perfect Italian. Multiple speeches, each in three languages and all in a perfect, unbroken cadence. It was at this point that my heart soared to find myself in Romania.
We met Doru, the pastor who coordinated this mission adventure from the Romanian side, and in his hands we were carried by passenger van the 30 km from Timisoara to Arad. The trip might have taken an hour from the hectic streets of Timisoara though expansive farm country to the metropolis of Arad were it not for “one quick stop”. Doru explained the need for gasoline then offered to purchase a liter of bottled water for each of us (“apa, no gas”), and we ended up in the parking lot of a grocery supermarket. Our US coordinator, Kent Jones, returned to the van to report that the store was basically a Romanian Wal-Mart, with everything you would need housed on its shelves. On the other end of the parking lot we noticed another large building labeled Selgros: Cash and Carry. Doru explained that this store sold items in bulk quantities. Of course. A Romanian Sam’s Club to accompany its Wal-Mart cousin. The American experience was heightened further by the presence of a car decorated with Cheetos marketing logos. We realized that we’re really not that far from home.
This feeling was compounded by our lush hotel. The Maxim Hotel might be a 4-Star accommodation back in the States, but nestled within its industrial neighborhood it is decidedly modern and upscale. With its sort of Asian-influenced, Scandinavian décor, the Maxim felt opulent compared to what we all expected. And while it was nice to have hot multi-headed showers and air conditioning to sleep under after long flights and sweaty hikes to and fro, I can’t hide my disappointment at not staying in one of the old world hotels that has been pounded by history and is still full of rich stories waiting to be found. I expect I’ll get much of this in the home of my host family. It is then that I will truly enter this experience of a lifetime.
REFLECTION: Father, Your goodness overwhelms me. To look around today at my dreams come to life at every turn is something I should have expected yet am surprised even still. How awesome of You to say “yes” to my heart’s desire. I am humbled to be loved so much.
Lord, I want to honor You these days. I want to honor this gift You’ve given me. To be assured of eternity in Your Presence is truly enough, but to be granted the opportunity to bring others with me is a generosity beyond comprehension. The challenge is daunting, Father, but I thank You for all You have given me to be equipped for the task. My Jesus has assured me that You will honor all that is done in His Name. Be glorified, God, in my speech, my heart, my attitude and the touch of my hands. Open the hearts of Your people in the Arad area and fill them with a sense of urgency to know You through Christ, our Redeemer.
continue reading: Day Three