Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We're All Back

I wanted to put up a quick post saying that everyone got back yesterday from Budapest safely around 2:30 PM. The group left our hotel around 5 AM on a bus, checked in around 6 AM at Ferihegy Airport, flew to Frankfurt and made their next flight much quicker than anticipated. Everyone seemed to be relieved to be back safely, but also a little sad to say that this week was over.

I can safely say that Romania has had a great impact on everyone that came this past week, including myself. Whether anyone will ever return again in the future, or if this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, Romania has changed us all. Working with orphans in Gavojdia, building the House of Joy in 100 degree heat all day, and playing with kids from poor villages has changed our perspective and enriched our life in immeasurable ways. Something about this place will always stay with us. My prayer is that we never forget what we saw and did there, but ultimately remember the beautiful things God did this week and allow it to change the way we live our lives in America. I was told by a friend of mine from Dallas back in April that Romania has a way of staying with you, no matter where you are in your life or in the world. I pray that every one on this trip has this same experience.

This was a powerful week and I am grateful I had the opportunity to be a part of it. I thank you guys for reading this blog and for supporting me while I lived in Lugoj. God did and will continue to do amazing things in Romania, and I feel blessed that I got to have this incredible experience. I was blessed to work with such a great group of people and to make many new friends from Pioneer. My life will never be the same after this experience, and I think it's safe to say that applies to the other 41 people on this trip.

Friday, June 11, 2010

My Experience in Romania- Guest Blogger Brian Bessent

What an experience we all have had! My team has been located in the village of Susani where we have led VBS each day. We have had van loads of kids dropped off each day from neighboring villages ready to hear Bible stories, sing songs, make crafts, and play games. Pastor Ovidiu and his wife Adina are so gracious to open up their home and allow us to be a part of what they have been doing here for a long time. We are sorting through suitcases now and getting prepared for a big Texas party in the village tomorrow. We will invite all the children and their families to come and play games and eat food and experience a real Texas sized adventure! As we begin packing and reflecting on our time hear, many of us ask, "What will they do when we leave here?" We must remind ourselves everyday that God has been working here and will continue to work here long after we are gone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Week of Joy From The House of Joy - by guest blogger Barbara Ringwald

This week has been filled with one joy after another. How can one person have so many blessings bestowed on them in so few days? From the kids at the orphanage (who can be real imps) to Bro Stan's sermon tonight on Paul's joy on the road to Damascus, the Precept Center, Pastor Ovidiu and his beautiful wife Adina, our student translators, van drivers, this gorgeous mountain setting - everything on this trip has truly touched my heart in a deep way. Even my roomates, Patsy and Annelle - I could not ask for better! I know now what it would be like to be in a nursing home - I'm sleeping on the top bunk that has rails on both sides. I've also met some new running friends who have challenged me to hit the road with a new vigor!

Pace (which translates the peace of Christ be with you)


*additional update from Nathan - Speaking of the word joy...excitment over the House of Joy community center here in Susani that our construction team has been working on all week reached a new level as walls began to form. The PDBC team spent the better part of the day in 100 plus degree conditions loading brick by brick by brick from pallets to the new foundation. I wish that every member at Pioneer Drive could have seen the look on Pastor Ovidiu's face as the outer walls of this much needed facility went up. What began this week as a pile of rocks and a seemingly impossible task has turned into a realized vision for our friends in Romania and a tool to reach many for God's kingdom.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Guest Blogger-John Whitten, College Minister/Teaching Pastor, the gathering/Pioneer Drive Baptist Church

Today has been a great day here in Romania! I think we have finally settled into a routine and the jet lag is behind us! We are going strong at our ministry projects. Today our construction crew was able to get the slab poured. We jokingly talk about "Romania time" We are learning that others don't always share the same passion for promptness that (some)Americans do! After waiting around all day yesterday 8 truck loads of concrete arrived on-site today and we were able to get the slab poured! It was great to hear Pastor Ovidiu look on the scene with excitement! The vision God has given him is coming to fruition!

There continued to be many children involved in Vacation Bible School today in the village! Brian Bessent was filling a lot of water balloons today! Jimmy Gault shared a message and was teaching the Romanian children how to play washers. Each day the number of children who have participated has increased. Our orphanage team split in two today and one group spent some time at a very impressive Christian school. The other group returned to the orphanage where we have been working. Stories were shared at our share time tonight of children who have been hurt in the past are beginning to open up to our team! What a great testimony to sharing Christ's love with others! Many of our Vacation Bible School and Orphanage Team Members have had a great time getting to know the children but are definitely struggling with what will happen when they leave! Attachment is happening from all sides!

We had fried chicken, kind of, for dinner! We were introduced to a chicken schnitzel, which again, is kind of, like fried chicken. The construction guys learned the beauty of a cold pepsi and some took a break and tasted ice cream from a village store! Others today went out and canoed on the beautiful lake outside our lodge. We continue to learn the uniqueness and beauty of this culture!

Our team continues to grow together! During our share time it is evident that God's spirit is doing something incredible in the lives of our team! We all know that we will not return to Texas the same! The amount of transparency and authenticity that is present makes it clear to all of us that we are a part of something special. We know that this would not be possible without the prayer and support of so many who are praying for us and who have given to this mission! We are thankful for our prayer teams and the many others who have offered support and encouragement! Pray for us that we will continue to see what God has for us, seize opportunities, and be a blessing to the people of Romania!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pictures From Day One- VBS and Construction in Susani

Guest Blogger- Danny Barefield, Music Minister from Pioneer Drive

What an awesome experience to come to Romania for this mission endeavor. Today we completed the prep work to lay the remaining concrete slab for the “House of Joy” in Susani. The concrete was supposed to come but was delayed by a failure in electricity at the plant. Hopefully in the morning things will move faster and more work can be accomplished. While we waited on concrete we were able to go to the Susani VBS and see them in action. We watched the children play, observe Bible stories, sing and do crafts. Over the day they hosted more than 100 children. I was able to sit down at the keyboard with Sammy (15) who plays drums and Raul (13) who plays guitar and have a little jam session. The most enjoyable part of the day for me.
The people are amazing. There is such a sweet spirit among the people of Romania and they have been so receptive. This is a relationship that will not conclude after this trip, but will continue for years to come.

While this is not the type of work I ever do, it has been fun to work with those who do. It has also been a joy to work alongside my other church members all together for the same cause. I am thankful for a mission hearted church.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day One in Romania

Today was the first day that the entire group went to their respective places here in Romania. We decided to start a bit late because we wanted to give the group a little time to sleep in, but after that we hit the ground running. After breakfast and a quick meeting, we split up into our different groups, got in different vans, and drove to our different locations. I'll do a synopsis of each location, but we're all very excited to see how the group will come together as a whole. We have a meeting after dinner to talk about what each group did that day and some interesting stories that they have, which allows all of us to see a glimpse of what's happening with each group.

Construction: After driving to Susani to the House of Joy property, the team got started working today on the foundation. They assisted by a professional constructor (who has a group of three guys) and some volunteers by throwing rocks and shoveling mud all day in the sun. Danny was allowed to drive the Bobcat and after shaking off some rust he shoveled like a pro. They are really excited about the progress they will be making this week. The goal for the week is to do as much as possible, with probably a specific goal being to put up all the first floor walls.

VBS: A team also went to Susani to do VBS with some kids out there. Since we missed out on the morning, this group had more time to prepare for the mass amount of kids that showed up in the afternoon. Bus load after bus load came and when all was said and done, around 100 kids showed up. They played outside games with the kids and also did crafts with the kids, with emphasis on building relationships and connecting with the kids for the first time. They are expecting more kids tomorrow and in the future, so that should be interesting.

Orphanage: Today was a great first day. This is the group that I'll be leading all week, so I'm much more connected with this group than the other two (even though I've been heavily involved with all three during these previous five months). We split the group into two vans and drove to Lugoj, where we picked up four translators at Manu's private school just around the corner from my apartment. We then drove out to Gavojdia and walked in with Delia, Jon Hogg, and Stan. We then met the administrator and he gave us a tour for about an hour. On the tour, we saw a colossal pig who we've named "Wilbur." After this, we ate lunch in our van and then played games with the kids outside from about 2 until 6 PM. We played basketball, volleyball, soccer, and gave tons of piggy back rides. My group did great with these kids today and I'm very excited about this week.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Group Has Arrived

I want everyone to know that the group safely arrived in Budapest. The flight was on time and apparently was boring and uneventful. After a quick head count, each person got on a lift in the airport and we got on a bus that was waiting for us outside.

We then went to Szeged, a big city in Hungary next to the border with Romania, and ate at a McDonalds and in the city center. After this, we walked around for a while and enjoyed the sights and then got back on the bus. They are very tired but had a little more excitement after getting some food in them.

The trip from Budapest to the Precept Center is around 5-6 hours by bus, and when we got here everyone went to their rooms and we had dinner. They are all excited about tomorrow's activities, but even more excited about sleep. I will continue to put up posts/pictures of everything going on here so people back in America can see how things are going here. It's great to have everyone here and see friends that I haven't seen since December. Life in Hungary/Romania is good, so no worries.

Oh, You Know, Just Another Morning in Budapest

I'm sitting here with Ovidiu and Jon in a McDonalds this morning as we wait for the group's plane to arrive in a couple hours from Frankfurt. We're in a different McDonalds this morning, but last night at McDonalds on Vaci Street I broke two glasses and ran out of the store. We picked Jon up yesterday, went to a European Wal-Mart to buy water and snacks for the group, ate at a KFC, and then went to the city center. Once again, this hotel is great and after we unpacked our stuff we tried to park our van. We went down into a parking garage but more than halfway down we realized we couldn't fit, so we had to back out.

After circling the block for 20 minutes, we found a spot and parked. We then walked down Vaci Street (the main street in Budapest) towards a restaurant I picked out in March for the group (which Jon loved, by the way). On the way, we saw a Hummer limo that had 8 wheels (6 in the back) and a random motorcycle rally that lasted thirty minutes that included a police escort. We've also talked business and have everything planned for the group, and last night before I broke the glasses we had a productive discussion about future opportunities.

We had an all-you-can-eat breakfast this morning, which Ovidiu and I dominated, and are about to go to the airport to pick them up and check out a rental car for Jon. I'll post tonight after we get back to Romania.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Nathan and Danny in Romania

Ovidiu and I picked up Nathan and Danny from Budapest yesterday around 3:30 PM our time, and after eating in a McDonalds (and enjoying my Nesquick McFlurry), we drove back to Romania. They were completely exhausted and didn't really listen to anything we said because they were half-asleep the whole time. We had dinner last night at Ovidiu's place and I stayed the night with Nathan. We woke up this morning late, had breakfast, went to see the House of Joy property, had lunch at Domacris in Lugoj, I gave them a tour of Lugoj by car, and now we're in my apartment. Life is good here and we're very excited about the group coming over. This will be short because things here are a little bananas right now, but it's a good kind of bananas.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Last Post Before the Group Comes

As hard as it is to believe, I'm leaving tomorrow morning early to pick up Nathan Adams and Danny Barefield from Budapest. After five months of planning and the last two weeks of complete craziness, I'll be seeing my long lost buddies in less than 24 hours. Everything here is ready to rock and roll for the group and everyone here is very, very excited for them coming over. In just five days the group will be here, and in just two weeks I'll be flying back to Dallas. Crazy.

I want everyone to know that during this week I'll put up posts of what Nathan, Danny, and I have done here in Romania for everyone to see. More importantly, I'll be putting up pictures/a post for every day the group is here next week. This is so everyone who keeps up with this can have a visual representation of what we did that particular day. I'm very excited to say that this is my last post before they come and can't wait for everyone to get here to see what I've been experiencing since January. It should be a great experience for everyone coming over and I'm glad that we have the technology so that people 5,000 miles away can see what we're doing over here. Anyways, all is good and can't wait to see some long lost friends in a few days.

Again, watch on here for daily updates with the group. Get excited.