Updated: May 14, 2022
We apologize for the late blog post. This past month and a half has been crazy for our family. We have been busy with so many things from developing new partnerships, meeting with teams visiting, saying goodbyes to teammates leaving, spending nights in the hosptital, to celebrating birthdays. This time has been filled with happiness, sadness, and fear. There were times filled with laughter and times filled with tears. When we do have a moment to breathe, we typically find ourselves falling asleep around 8:30pm or simply wishing to rest in silence. We are however very happy to feel the warm air coming to bucharest. Many days it has been in the upper 60's and low 70's while in other days the temperature's will drop back into the low 50's.
In March Drew and our new team leader began reaching out to local Baptist Churches in Bucharest and having meetings with the pastors. Our goal is to build relationships with them and ask how we can come alongside of them in their ministry. Building partnerships with pastors in the area is important for many reasons if you want to be successful in church planting. In the month of March, our top priority was to ask these pastors how we can assist them in their mission of helping Ukrainian refugees. It has been amazing to see and hear about what these churches are doing for Ukrainians. They have networks established with other churches in Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine. They have van drivers who drive all through the night to the Ukrainian border and back to bring refugees to their churches or camps. They are supplying shelter, food, and clothing for these people. On top of that, they are sharing the gospel with them. As an organization we want to assist them in this whether it is with manpower or through finances. It is expensive to provide these needs to these people. We have seen how God provides though.
In order to assist these pastors, the IMB has began sending teams from America to the Romanian/Ukrainian border. These teams have been connecting with the refugees and introducing them with the baptist churches. The churches have tents set up where refugees can come meet their hosts for the next few days, weeks, or months. We are so grateful for the work that these teams have been doing and will continue to do as they continue to come and serve in Romania. One other thing we are blessed for is the items that these teams bring us. As missionaries, you begin to appreciate the American goodies that are either sent or brought to you such as pancake syrup, cookies, candy, sauces (A1, Ranch, and Chick-Fil-A), and medicine. When you live overseas you find out how much you miss out on things from America.
With a baby on the way, we have been searching for a larger apartment. We are currently living in a 2 bedroom apartment that is 80 square meters or approximately 860 square feet. It is already tight so you can only image what it would feel like with another baby. Unfortunately the apartment searching is taking a lot of time. We have spent many afternoons and evenings visting different apartments. We have learned that 3 bedroom apartments are uncommon in Romania. Romanians have grown up living in 2 bedroom apartments and typically do not have more than 1-2 children. It is also normal for the children to all sleep in the same bedroom here. When there are 3 bedroom apartments available, about 85%-90% of them are furnished apartments, which is something we cannot look for. Of the remaining 15%, a large percentage of those apartments are set up for offices. We are unsure if this occurs all over Romania, but in Bucharest a landlord can rent an apartment to an individual or a business. Renting to a business is typically cheaper because you don't have to install full bathrooms and a kitchen. Another problem we have is that many apartments come without a bathtub as showers are more convenient for businesses. We are not trying to be picky, but we do have certain criteria that needs to be met for our family such as the bathtub and even a parking space. If you have ever visited Bucharest, you know that traffic is terrible and people park anywhere they can make a parking space. Sidewalks are fair game to park on here. Parking in another person's parking space is also common. People will park in your parking space and then put their phone number on their dashboard for you to call them if you need your spot back. This is something that can be quite frustrating for someone who has always had a parking space to park in when they drive back to their home.
In mid March Lydia became quite sick. She began to have a fever of 102 degrees for several days. We assumed it was a virus and we could treat the fever with medicine. After three days of having the fever we began to worry. We took her to her doctor who told her that a virus with a fever can last up to 5 days. Her fever then began to rise to 105 degrees with the 5th day being on a Sunday. On Monday we took Lydia back to her doctor who told us to take her to the emergency room. We went to a pediatric hospital called Medlife where the doctors completed lab work, an x-ray of her chest, and took a covid test. The covid test was negative and the lab work showed an infection of some type. The x-ray was never read because there was no doctor at the hospital who could read it for us. We had gone late at night. Lydia's pediatrician gave us an antibiotic, but asked us to get a urine sample. In Romania the doctor's do not use catheters to test for UTI's. The parents have to buy a bag for the child and wait for the child to use the bathroom in the bag. The urine then has to be dumped into a cup and taken to a lab. This was an interesting experience for us. We finally got a urine sample which did reveal an infection. After a day of antibiotics Lydia began to feel better. Three weeks later we were in bed when Lydia woke up and began coughing. After several seconds of coughing we went into her room and found that she was not breathing well. We immediately went back to the emergency room to find out that Lydia had the Croup. She recieved medicine, but was told that due to her low oxygen level and severe level of croup she would need to stay the night. Medlife, which is a private hospital, told us that we would have to take Lydia to a public hospital to stay the night. Brooke stayed with Lydia overnight while she recieved treatment. We discharged Lydia the next day at 8:00pm and brought her home. We thought we were in the clear until she began vomitting the next day after her afternoon nap. She apparently caught another virus while in the hospital. We all ended up catching the virus except for Emerson who never went to the public hospital.
In March Brooke went for another ultrasound and an OB visit. At this visit we found out the sex of the baby and asked about protocols for the delivery of the baby. While at this visit we found out that due to covid no one will be allowed into the hospital for the first 24 hours. This means that Brooke will be delivering the baby alone with the doctor. We are praying fervantly that the guidelines would change. Romania has relaxed thier covid regulations, but the hospitals have not relaxed theirs.
Emerson's birthday was in April and for an early surprise we took him to eat pancakes at a French pancake restaurant. We then took him to Dino Park. Emerson loves pancakes and dinosaurs, so we thought this would be a fun way to spend quality time with him before his birthday. We all had a great time and loved seeing Emerson enjoy the day. A few weeks later, we celebrated Emerson's fourth birthday with some of his friends from school as well as teammates of ours. We had his party at a local park and the kids had an amazing time playing on the playground together. It was a wonderful day and we feel blessed to have been able to celebrate another year with Emerson.
The last update is when we visited a Baptist Church in Otopeni led by a pastor friend that we know through an organization we visited several times on short term trips. This Romanian pastor invited our family to come attend his church and then have lunch with them afterwards. However, when we arrived, Drew was asked to give an impromptu speach/sermon that should last about 40 minutes. We were all surprised, but prayed knowing that the Holy Spirit would lead him in speaking. God is good! Drew spoke to the congregation beginning in Romanian and then switched to English. The Holy Spirit spoke through Drew that day which is always amazing to witness. Afterwards we ate Sarmale, which is a traditional Romanian dish typically cooked for special occasions. It is a cabbage roll filled with meat and other items. It was so good to have fellowship with this church and we hope to return in the near future.
We are so thankful for your prayers. Many of you have reached out to us letting us know that you are praying for us. We see God answering your prayers through us. Please continue to pray. We have learned that a missionarie's life is not easy. The devil is always trying to attack and discourage you whther it is personally, through your family, or your ministry. Here are our current prayer requests:
Pray for an apartment that meets the needs and desires of our family. We are ready to call a new apartment home.
Pray for language. We are learning more and more each day. We want to reach a B1 level before our new baby girl arrives.
Pray that the hospital changes their covid rules so that Drew can be in the delivery room.
Pray that our family stays healthy. We have had enough doctor visits already this year.
Pray for the team members coming from the States to work with refugees. Pray for their travel and ministry with the refugees.