We cannot believe that on June 25th our family reached our two year milestone of living overseas in Romania. Two years ago we were saying our goodbyes to family and friends and hopping on the plane to Bucharest, Romania. Since then we have taken several different trips on planes, visited three new countries (Bulgaria, Poland, and Germany) with two additional countries (Netherlands & France) coming in July, and added a new member to the family. We have been blessed to have experienced so many great things in such a short period of time and by the Grace of God come through many difficult life challenges. We have made many new connections and friends and look forward to seeing what God has in store for our third year.
On June 1st, Romania celebrated a special day called "Ziua Copilului" which means Children's Day. Many different restaurants and stores offer discounts or free items for children on this day. We attended a special event at a church that we have been connecting with called Biserica Baptista Harul (Grace Baptist Church). Harul's goal is to reach the people within their community of Bucharest with the Gospel and in doing that, they held their very first event on Children's Day. This event was free of charge to any family that came and children were able to enjoy a bouncy house, trampoline, several different games, watch an episode of Superbook, and enjoy ice cream. We met a Romanian mother there who identified as Orthodox and was shocked that a church was holding such an event, as Orthodox churches do not do this. In fact, we do not know of any other evangelical churches around Bucharest who held an event such as this. It was such a fun time for the kids and the volunteers and church leaders did an exceptional job.
Almost two weeks later a team from our sending church in America sent a team of 10 people to come serve with us in Romania. This team was absolutely wonderful, were true servants, and worked great together. On day one we took the team to visit a church in Alexandria where I had been intending to create a partnership with for a while. The leader of the team gave his testimony while another guy preached a sermon to the congregation. Afterwards we were able to break bread with the church over lunch and get to know the people better. The next two days we spent time at a camp called Loteia helping the leaders prepare the camp for incoming campers. The camp landscaping needed a lot of work done and the camp buildings needed cleaning up, organizing, and prepping for overnight stays. Our team worked incredbily hard to help these leaders get ready. This was also another place that I have been intending to visit but have not had the time to go visit. The next two days the team took a trip to Bran and Sinaia to visit Bran Castle (Dracula's Castle) as well as Peles Castle. They also had a cultural day visiting the largest market in Bucharest and taking a revolution tour in the center of Bucharest. The final two days consisted of visiting some Ukrainian refugee families providing food and meals to them as well as going into the city of Popesti sharing the gospel with 40 people within 2 hours. This was a very rewarding time as people got to hear the gospel for the first time with some asking for a follow up. We are so grateful for the time that we got to spend getting to know this team and serving with them. We are also as very grateful for all of the supplies and goodies they brought our family.
Two days after the team left our family took a trip to the beach in Albena, Bulgaria to have some much needed family time together. Albena is a beautiful town with family beach resorts about four hours away from Bucharest. This would be like us traveling to Myrtle Beach from Charlotte. We spent five wonderful days as a family away from the busy life of the city. We spent time swimming in the pool, jumping over waves in the sea (Black Sea), and building sand castles or playing with monster trucks in the sand. This was also Claira's very first beach trip and much of the time was trying to keep her from eating "Sand"wiches on the beach. We always look forward to our trips to the beach and cannot wait until our next one.
Finally, Our digital engagement project is continuing to move forward. We received funding for advertising and other expenses and have finalized our core leadership team made up of three other Romanians plus ourselves. We will be meeting soon to discuss additional information to add to our website in order to get it ready to launch. We will also discuss training material for our online responders. We hope to launch in August or September.
Our DE core team to prayerfully consider what the Holy Spirit would like us to have on our website. Also help from the Lord in recruiting the right volunteers.
That we would continue to have intentional, Gospel conversations with people in the city over the summer. In many ways the city slows down over the summer, so that we would be faithful to engage people at the right times.
Safe travels to our conference in July.