Roosters and “Kukelekus”

roosters.jpgA funny thing I found out is that even animals speak another language in different countries.

For instance, the sound of a dog to me is “woof woof” or “bark bark”. But for Moldovans, the sound is “hum hum”.  I was also taught in America to make a “Cock-a-doodle-doo” sound for a rooster, but kids in Moldova are taught to say, “Kukeleku”.

I distinctly remember my first visit to a Moldovan village and enjoying the sound of the roosters. In the house I grew up in California, I did not live around roosters, and it was a rare occasion that I would hear one crow. On the contrary, as I walked through the village there were so many new sounds, views, and smells in this new environment for me.  And in that moment, I basked in God’s goodness for bringing me to this mysterious place I knew so little about, but instantly had a heartbeat for.

When I was back in America during the year of preparing to move to Moldova, I remember having a huge desire to be in Moldova and every time I heard a rooster crow, which began occurring more often than before, I would think about Moldova and believed that God would make a way for me to come back. And look, He totally did! God provided in so many unexpected ways that I could never have imagined.

Now to this day, every time I hear a rooster crow it reminds me of how God called me to Moldova and that I am here with a purpose. There are moments and days that are challenging like crazy, but at the end of the day I know God is with me, He is my strength, and I know this is the place He has called me to be…and it’s all worth it!

When I hear a “Cock-a-doodle-doo”, or as Moldovan’s would say, a “Kukelku”, it’s a reminder of God’s promise to me saying, “I’m with you always.” I am thankful to be reminded of this often since I hear the sound of roosters much in Moldova.

Roosters were also a reminder for Jesus’ disciple Peter who denied Jesus three times. He probably continued to hear roosters all the time in the place he lived and wherever he traveled. I can only imagine that this may have been a constant reminder for him of the grace of Jesus, to not hold back, nor be ashamed of the Gospel.

Also, I just finished reading a book by Corrie Ten Boom called, The End Battle, where I found another example of how God provided the chirping of a bird to remind Corrie of God’s love. She shared in this book about a time when she was in Ravensburg Consentration Camp. Here’s the story in her own words:

“We had to stand every day for two or three hours for roll call, often in the icy cold wind. That was something terrible. Once a woman guard used these hours to demonstrate her cruelty. I could hardly bear to see and hear what happened in front of me. Suddenly a skylark started to sing high in the sky. We all looked up, and when I looked to the sky and listened to its song, I looked and still higher and thought of Psalm 103:11: ‘For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him’ (RSV). Suddenly, I saw that this love of God was a greater reality than the cruelty that I experienced myself and saw around me. ‘Oh, the love of God, how deep and great, far deeper than man’s deepest hate.’ God sent that skylark every day for three weeks, just as the time of roll call, to give us an opportunity to turn away our eyes from the cruelty of men to the ocean of God’s love.” (pg. 59)

God created all things, and we can actually notice Him in our everyday lives; just like a simple rooster is now a reminder for me. God provides so many blessings in everyday life through his creation, people, and even through the challenges.

I want to notice God more in the little things of life!

Let’s take notice of God throughout the day in His creation, through the people we encounter, in each blessing, and also in our challenges.

 What are some things that God uses to speak to you?

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Going the Extra Mile…or a Hundred!

I couldn’t believe it! The other day I woke up to a HUGE surprise on a spring morning in Moldova: A SNOW STORM! I woke up and literally saw thick piles of snow outside my window with big snowflakes proceeding to add to the piles.  It’s true that we never know what can happen around the corner; whether, it’s a challenge like a snow storm at the end of April or a wonderful blessing of someone going the extra mile or a hundred for you.

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The surprise snow on April 20, 2017!

This spring snow extravaganza reminded me of the time we had another snow storm in Moldova during Christmas in January. In that snow adventure, I experienced something very special: a family who went an extra hundred miles for me in the snow!

Here’s how it all happened…

During that Moldovan Christmas weekend, the plan was for me and my two other foreign friends to journey together to the village of Pohrebeni for “Colinda” (caroling) and other festivities in the village. Unfortunately, a huge snow storm came that weekend. We, as foreigners, were uncertain if we should attempt the journey in this weather. At the last minute, we decided not to take the “Rutiera” bus that we were originally going to take. We thought maybe it is best not to go, but we proceeded to pray for wisdom on what to do. After we said amen, we received a phone call from our friend who had been helping us communicate in Romanian with the families. She said, the family has already left their house to come pick us up.

What?!? They are coming all the way to the city to pick us up? A journey that is approximately 52 Miles one way and in traffic, snow, and with the bumpy road conditions can take at least 2.5 hours each way. We were shocked that they would do this for us! They wanted to spend time and share their Christmas celebration with us so much that they went not only the extra mile but literally the extra hundred.

I began to think, if I was back in America ready to celebrate Christmas with my family, would I go out of my way and drive 5 hours to pick up my foreign friends to join us in the celebration. How often have I been so selfish with my time, my family, and my celebrations? What a reminder of the command for us to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” (Mark 12:31)

I was so grateful and thankful for this unbelievable act of kindness and invitation to join the families for Christmas. What a wonderful celebration time it was. We enjoyed getting to experience the Moldovan style of Christmas caroling, “Colinda”, literally walking from house to house in their village and neighbor villages. We began the caroling at 9 am and continued throughout the day until late into the evening. I only lasted till 9 pm; whereas many of the youth continued on until 2 a.m. Crazy! As we went from house to house singing praises about Jesus, we were often greeted with open arms full of candy, cookies, tea, and even at times with snacks and whole meals. Needless to say, we did not go hungry!

On the other hand, I did experience being the coldest I have ever felt. Even with what felt like 20 layers I had on, by the evening time I was greatly shivering and beyond ready to go inside. The mother proceeded to take me home where it was nice and warm and a hot cup of coffee and a lovely conversation with the parents awaited. This was a special time, one I will never forget. I was sure thankful and humbled that they went the extra hundred miles for me!

The thing is as much as we plan and prepare for each day, week, year, and even our lives, we never know what can happen in each moment. God is the one in control, not us. It’s like Proverbs says, “Man makes plans in his heart, but it is God who directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) The one thing we do know for certain is that we can have a firm foundation in Jesus, where no matter what storms, life situations, or changes happen we can stand firm in Him. No one, nothing can snatch God from us! He is with us and guiding each of our steps if we let Him. I want to continue to say, “Here I am Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

I want to be open and willing, like this beautiful Moldovan family, to go not only the extra mile but even a hundred for people as God may lead!

Do you have an example of someone going the extra mile or hundred for you?

It Ain’t No Rubber Chicken

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Do you remember playing with those rubber chicken toys as a child? I definitely have fond memories of those silly, floppy chickens that seemed to randomly show up in my life at various times. I always thought they were so funny. Rubber chickens are one of those things that just make life a little better!

But in real life, It Ain’t No Rubber Chicken! Plucking a real duck was a whole new experience for me while staying in a Moldovan village for two weeks last month. Once I removed all the feathers and held this plucked duck out in front of me, the first picture to pop into my head was that good ole’ rubber chicken! Although in a way it actually did look like a rubber chicken, it was definitely messier and not as easy to figure out. Living in a whole new culture, which sometimes seems like a whole different world, has helped me realize how much more there is to learn and understand about this life God has created, about myself, others, and Jesus.

Last month I had just a small taste of living the village life in Moldova. It felt like a simple yet busy life. I felt more and more a part of my “Moldovan family” I met two years ago. I finally got to help around the house with cooking, dishes, and everyday work.  For me, it was an honor to get to spend life for two weeks with this family. I spent time learning more about the village life by not only plucking and preparing duck for dinner, but also descaling and gutting fish, cleaning the cow barn, attempting to chop the wood for the fire stove, cracking huge bowls of nuts in preparation for winter, and trying to move the ginormous bags of flour that were delivered to the family (Although I didn’t get far in moving the bags because of how heavy those things are). I had never seen so much flour in my life! I felt like a child again with such curiosity and excitement in learning how to live this life I have never lived before.  I was now taking lessons from a 10 year old boy and the rest of the kids in the home on how to live this village life in Moldova. At times, I felt so childish and even stupid because I felt as if I didn’t know anything. It’s a humbling experience, but an incredible blessing to learn more about others, myself, and God in the process. These experiences of being “helpless” on my own has given me the ability to grow closer in my relationship with others and ultimately with Jesus.

I never realized how much work others need to do in preparations for the winter in order to simply survive and keep warm. These are all things I had never needed to think or worry about in my life. Growing up in California, my winter months also included a wood fire to heat our home; however, we had the money to purchase our own cut wood whenever needed. We easily could hop into the car to get all the food we needed without much preparation at all. I have always had such curiosity to the different ways people grow up and wondered why I had been beyond blessed in certain ways in my life. I’m thankful to God for the many blessings he provided me with throughout my life and for blessing me with my loving parents who were able to provide above and beyond my basic necessities. Nevertheless, I believe God blesses us in different ways so we can out pour His blessings to others and ultimately point people to Jesus who offers true hope and life no matter where and what circumstances a person is from.

I have been beyond blessed by my family, friends, ministry partners, and now the many Moldovans I have encountered along the way in this journey here. I have had the opportunity to grow in my understanding and perspective of how others live in different parts of the world with the blessings and challenges that they may face. Many families I have met across the villages in Moldova have poured out blessings upon blessings to me as they give their all in welcoming and being hospitable to their guests. One example is with this family’s duck. I had asked the family how often they prepare duck and their response was “only on very special occasions.” I was amazed to find out that they prepared duck as a celebration for my visit. They killed one of their ducks for me. They literally served me with their most special occasion best. They know how to show love and share with others from their hearts and with all they have. This is something I want to model in my life.

The many people I meet in the villages are very hard working with keeping up with their fields, gardens, animals, and finding the best ways to care for their kids. Unfortunately, many families are forced to live separated from each other due to the lack of paying jobs in Moldova. My “Moldovan Family” I stayed with for two weeks also is experiencing this with their father having to live in another country for 7 months at a time to provide for the family. Many elderly are working hard as well and often need to take care of the kids while the parents are away for work. There are many elderly and children across Moldova who struggle to even keep their homes warm and complete all the needed work for winter preparations to have food on the table and medicine when sick. It is a tough life for many in the villages.

Each new experience and new person I encounter along the way, has compelled me more and more to live a life truly surrendered to Jesus following His command to “Love others as ourselves” (Mark 12:31).  I have this question in my heart: What if? What if more families could stay together? What if more people could provide for their basic needs? What if more people could know the love and hope of Jesus? What if God wants to use me in these areas?

20161129_173222445_iosThere is so much more for me to continue to ponder and pray about, but one thing I now know is the answer to a question I never knew how to answer before. You know that icebreaker question of “If you could bring three things on a stranded island, what would they be?” Well I now know I would want to bring my “Moldovan family” (who definitely knows how to survive), a knife, and I might as well bring an actual rubber chicken for good laughs.

Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (ESV)

How to Make Pumpkin Pie in Moldova

 

20161004_1456140About a month ago while on a walk through a park in Moldova with some friends, I spotted a huge basket of pumpkins. This was a perfect autumn setting and it instantly made me think of Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie! I mentioned this to one of my friends and he said why don’t you just take one home for your pie? First I was thinking “I can’t take one because they are decoration for the park”, and secondly, “I don’t even know how to make a pumpkin pie from scratch with a whole pumpkin.” Although I have made several pumpkin pies for Thanksgivings, sadly I have only made it from pumpkin purée in a can. It was time to change that, especially now that I’m in Moldova. While in the park without hesitation my friend reached over and grabbed a pumpkin for me. He proceeded to ask the park host to ensure I could take it home. Needless to say, I ended up with this huge pumpkin that now several people were expecting it to turn into a pumpkin pie.
The good thing is, I have good ole’ Pintrest to help me out. It was actually easier than I thought. Here’s the recipe I used: http://pin.it/8LJ6-Dk. The only added challenge was mainly trying to find the right ingredients in the stores here. Back home, I am used to just jumping right into my car, knowing exactly where to find the ingredients in the store, and quickly making my way back home to make delicious pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert. Although, it is always crazy shopping in American grocery stores during the holidays. I do love the hustle and bustle, especially shopping with my family at the last minute hoping there still is a turkey left!!
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I’ve never seen ice cream sold this way before!
In Moldova, my pumpkin pie journey looked a bit different. The time it took for me and my friends to make this pie was double or triple what I’m used to. I no longer could rely on my own car, nor my knowledge of where the ingredients are, nor my English to ask a sales associate if need be. Thankfully, my friend was able to take us to the store in his car. Otherwise, the journey to pumpkin pie would have taken much longer. We still needed to go to two different stores to find what we needed. I still couldn’t find a true pie pan though; so, we decided to make an extra big pie in a caseral dish. You can never have too much pumpkin pie!  I also couldn’t find evaporated milk in a can. I only found powdered milk in a packet which I made do with.
Although this pie was not the same as a true Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie, it at least gave me a little sweet taste of home and allowed my international friends to try our “Moldovan rendition” of pumpkin pie for the first time.
Placinta cu dovleac - felii de placinta
Pumpkin pie as I know it in America is not typical in Moldova. But Moldovans have their own true rendition of pumpkin pie they call, “Placinta cu dovleac”. This is also very tasty!
Today, I’m thankful God provided this pumpkin for my pumpkin pie, for fun memories and adventures, and I’m thankful for my “Moldovan family” I’m staying with and their sweet surprise with popcorn tonight. Previously, I mentioned to them that I often ate popcorn with my family back in America. So, as a way to celebrate Thanksgiving in Moldova they made me popcorn from scratch!!
Even though I’m sad to not be around my family and friends in America especially during Thanksgiving, I’m thankful God has surrounded me with such loving people who give all they have and show love and hospitality beyond measure. I’m thankful for Gods grace and renewed strength and joy he gave me today. Tonight while my Moldovan family and I celebrated together with popcorn, we were listening to the radio. The radio host was talking about Thanksgiving in America, turkey being the traditional food, and played songs in both Romanian and English. One song we listened to was 10,000 Reasons. And I thought to myself, there truly are 10,000 reasons to be thankful and rejoice in the Lord. I’m truly thankful for my friends and family back in America who I thought about much today as we celebrate Thanksgiving from across the globe.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

And in Romanian, I think it’s something like this, “Felicitari cu Ziua Multumire”

Psalm 100:4 “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!”

It’s Like Having Rabbit on a Monday

It’s not every day I see Rabbit on the menu. But when going to a Moldovan restaurant, it isn’t out of the ordinary. A few weeks ago, my friends and I went to this restaurant called “Casa Mama” as a mini-celebration for passing our first Romanian Language class! Here is where we found rabbit on the menu. One of my friends decided to order this and my other friend said, “I like rabbit but it’s weird to have rabbit on a Monday.” From her point of view, rabbit is a delicacy something to have on very special occasions not just an ordinary Monday. Well, I guess in our case we were having a mini-celebration. However, from my perspective it felt weird to eat rabbit at all. From our little outing, we coined a new term, “It’s like having rabbit on a Monday.” So next time something is out of the ordinary for you, you say this phrase.

Well to say the least, I’ve had several experiences lately of ordinary things turning into not-so-ordinary fun surprises and curiosities for me and others involved. Many times what is normal for me is not so ordinary for someone else and vice-a-versa. This can especially be true cross-culturally when living and working with people from different cultures and ways of life.

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Just a few weeks ago, I got to visit a family who I call, “my Moldovan family” in the village of Pohrebeni. This was the very first village in Moldova that I visited in 2014 and the first family to host me. During this most recent visit with this family on the first evening, I was ordinarily brushing my teeth. Without even thinking about it, I turned my electric toothbrush on and the next thing I knew I had three sets of eyes on me and then a forth and a fifth set quickly to follow. Before I knew it, I was the subject for their photograph. This was so amusing to the family and they came closer and closer to get a good look at this fun, different gadget.

 

Later, our roles reversed. I always wondered how Moldovans kept their shoes so clean especially with the muddy roads. My shoes always seem to be dirtier than others around me. I was now the one looking and getting closer whilst they cleaned their shoes. I now was the one to have my camera ready to document and learn from them. I observed how they washed and scrubbed their shoes before walking in the mud, used areas with shrubs and leaves to wipe the sides of their shoes while on their journey, and upon arrival to their destination they would wipe the bottoms of their shoes on bar posts and use a cloth or something to wipe the tops of their shoes before entering a place.

At first, I was confused by seeing the shoes being cleaned before walking in the mud instead of just after. But I see how this is something of importance and value for them. I have much more to learn about the values and norms in this culture and way of life. I’m excited to continue to learn!

Maybe soon I will learn the Moldovan talent of keeping my shoes clean! Because I used another, less-classy method when I only had black flats to wear to church and had to walk in the mud. What a dilemma! How was I going to keep my shoes and tights clean, for that matter, in these type of shoes? So, here’s what I did instead. I wore my big, clunky rain boots with my dress on my way to church and just swapped shoes before entering the building. Next time I will come more prepared with the right dress shoes and practice walking in the mud to church without having to swap shoes. But this time, I hope I was sly enough!

I’ve found Moldovans to be very talented and hard-working at not only keeping their shoes clean but also the much work in the villages with their gardens, harvest fields, animals, and preparations for winter months. These are all areas I have no clue how to do or manage. However, I will have more opportunities to practice walking in the mud, practice my Romanian, and learn more of the culture and way of life in the village. I am actually traveling to Pohrebeni again soon to stay with “my Moldovan family” for two weeks. I’m excited for this time to learn more, help where needed especially in preparation for the winter, and to build more of a relationship with this family and others in this village that now has a special place in my heart!

There are way more stories I could tell and many more to come, but I will stop for now. What I will say though is how it’s been an adventure finding out ordinary things are not so ordinary after all!

I’m realizing more and more how vast God is and how He created so many people, so uniquely and wonderfully, in different ways for His great purposes. Since we are all created in the image of God, we can learn so much more about God through the people and cultures He has created.

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in His own image”

Psalm 139:13-14 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

 

Baby Steps: 3 Hour Groceries & Half Trees

I can only imagine what my thoughts were as a baby. When I could only wiggle back and worth, wishing I could crawl, wishing I could walk and get over to that toy I so deeply wanted. But I couldn’t. Not yet. First, I needed to learn how to roll over, how to sit up, and how to balance on my hands and knees before even attempting to move forward at all.

20160905_133956306_iosMy first week in Moldova involved a 3 hour grocery shopping trip; not knowing how to get anywhere on my own like to the store, language school, the park, the “Piaţă” market, the bank, and really anywhere; and literally relying on the Moldovan team members for practically everything. I’ve needed to rely on translators to understand what people are saying in nearly every situation.

I feel like a child again. Literally needing to learn everything from square one. Just about everything is new and different from what I am use to: from grocery shopping, how to travel anywhere, how to ask for my bus stop, how to order food, how to make my own food using different measurements then I’m use to, how to know what temperature it will be tomorrow since people use Celsius not Fahrenheit, to how to get money from the bank and pay for things.

20160910_140354I have now been living in Moldova for 6 weeks! It’s crazy how fast time flies! The exciting thing is I now know how to travel on my own to the grocery store or “Piaţă” and even finish my shopping in less than half the time it took me with my 3 hour groceries the first time. I can now order food on my own and most of the time understand the amount they say I owe. And I can withdraw money from the bank to pay for these things.

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I now know how to get to language school via 178 or 108 Rutiera, transfer to 24 or 10 Troleibuz, and walk 10 minutes. It’s an exciting journey to school, and in fact it’s a journey wherever I go. I never know how packed the Rutiera will be, and if I will have a seat or be so squashed I will literally need to squat by the driver at the front of the bus. This is no joke…this happened last week! Just when you think the Rutiera is full, the driver pulls to the side of the street to let one, two, even five more people in. Another exciting thing is that I now know how to ask for my next bus stop: “La Biserica, vă rog or “La stația, vă rog”. The first time the Rutiera driver understood me, I had a huge smile on my face hardly being able to contain myself with such excitement!

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The path I take to catch a ride on Rutiera 178 or 108

Although I have learned some of the basic things to live and survive in Moldova, I still feel like a child with so much to learn with the language, the culture, the team dynamics, and how I fit into all of it. After the first few weeks, I wanted to be able to get involved in many areas of ministry and run full force. But just like a baby, I couldn’t. Not yet. First, I need to learn how to speak the language, how to understand the culture more, how to surrender to Jesus on my hands and knees each day knowing that I can’t do anything on my own. It is only through the strength, ability, and power of Jesus. I need to learn how to be faithful in these baby steps.

img_8729This time of learning, growing, and slowing down to listen to the voice of God can be challenging at times. Especially, during the moments I just want to get there already. I just want to be able to speak the language and build relationships with people. But, all things take time. They take work. Like God’s word says in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

The fact is if I didn’t have to put the work into learning and growing through all the mistakes and challenges along the way, speaking the language and building relationships with people here in Moldova would probably not mean as much to me. It seems the more work one puts into something, the deeper the meaning it usually has. The deeper the roots go make it something even sweeter and more fruitful. And not only will it mean something more to me, but also to others around me.

Plus, I would miss out on so much beauty in the great joy and laughter that comes from comical mistakes, funny misunderstandings and mispronunciations, and of course the curiosity it brings in this exciting adventure of new discoveries.  One of those comical moments for me was when we were heading to a garden “park” and I wanted to know if there were trees there for me to hang my hammock. I accidentally asked “Jumătate copac?” which means “Half tree?” As you probably can imagine, there were confused faces followed by much laughter and continued jokes. In the end, I was thankful to have found some great trees to hang my hammock! 🙂

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I have had moments of frustration and discouragement, but I have also had so much joy from getting to speak the new words I learn each day, having little bits of conversation with people in Romanian, worshiping God in now two languages, and laughing so hard I’m practically rolling on the floor. In times of discouragement, God is reminding me again and again how far he has taken me. It was a long journey to even get to Moldova. This is just another baby step in the adventure of faith in following Him. And in just 6 weeks, He is reminding me that I have grown up just a little more. When I take time to reflect on what God has done along the way, I can see how He has helped me grow, learn, and challenged me to go deeper in my relationship with Him and others.

 

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First exam for Romanian Class:We both got 100% “Bravos” Celebrating each baby step at a time!

I have been challenged to keep my focus on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of my faith” (Hebrews 12:2). I need to continually remind myself of “why” I need to learn the language and Moldovan culture in the first place. One of my friends once told me, “When you take time to learn someones language, you truly speak to their heart.” I want to speak to people’s hearts!

I’m thankful that my Father in Heaven does not look at me and say, “Why aren’t you walking yet?” Instead, I know He is cheering me on saying, “Follow me! You can do this. Take it one step at a time. Be faithful in the baby steps”.  And the moments, I make even the smallest bit of progress, I know He is smiling and proud of me. And the times I just can’t seem to wiggle at all, He is right there with me, holding me, and reminding me to be “Bold and courageous” and that He will give me strength and equip me (Joshua 1:9).

He is calling me and each of us to be diligent not hasty in what He has called us to: to be faithful in the baby steps!

Proverbs 21:5

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”

Lord, help me to be diligent and faithful in these baby steps that you are calling me to take as you know the plans ahead. Help me to keep my focus on you, leaning into you each step of the way. May you help me make sense of this Romanian language and help me understand more and more every day. Thank you for your faithfulness and your love!

Run4TheWorld

You don’t want to miss joining the

RUN 4 THE WORLD (R4TW) 10K

in Moldova! 

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Just hop on a plane, and you can run with the OM Moldova team on Saturday, September 24th at 4:00 p.m. to raise funds for our Vulnerable Girls and Boys Camps for 2017!

Better yet the money you would spend on the plane ticket, you can give to support more children from villages all over Moldova! You can either pledge $/Kilometer or give a flat amount in cash or check made out to Amanda Schafer with R4TW in the memo.

Here’s how to give….

Please contact Andy Schafer (530-591-2338 or andyinidaho@outlook.com) or Melisa Pearson (208-639-6491 or mpearson@dcboise.org) if you would like to give any amount toward this cause! Thank you for helping make this ministry possible!

This ministry opens up opportunities for emotional and spiritual healing and growth for several hundred boys and girls from villages all over Moldova. The girls camps have an emphasis on identity in Christ, the true love of our Heavenly Father, healthy relationships, and setting goals for the future. There is time for fun, laughter, building relationships, sharing, listening, Bible lessons, and prayer. Most of the girls attending come from difficult home situations which may include alcoholism, abuse, neglect, human trafficking, etc. The impact of these camps have been seen in girls “declaring Jesus as Lord of their lives for the first time”, finding hope, and setting a goal for their future. These youth continue to receive discipleship and support through their local church’s Day Center. Read more about last year’s camp at this link: http://md.om.org/313-2/index.html

Feel free to email me at amanda.schafer@om.org for more information!

Here to Stay

You have moments in your life where you just know your life is going to change forever. Well, one of those moments for me was the last 10 minutes of my flight to Moldova. The flight attendant announced, “Please, prepare for landing.” A phrase I have heard many times while traveling; however this time those words had a whole different meaning to me. My heart was beating a little faster and with a nervous smile on my face I thought to myself, “My life is never going to be the same.” I was about to step foot on Moldova soil for a third time. But this time it was different. I wasn’t just coming for 2 weeks or a month, but I was here to stay and call this place my new home. As the plane landed, the crowd applauded our arrival. To me it felt like a celebration to God that I was finally here!

I’m not sure what to do with all my thoughts and feelings during this time of transition. It feels a little strange that I am actually here to stay. I keep thinking, “Is this really my life now?” I’m excited to be a part of what God is doing in Moldova and to see what the next step is ahead. I know I am weak but my Abba Father is strong and will guide me in this time of transition. I’m thankful for God’s promise that His grace is sufficient for me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

 

Moldova Bound

Last I knew, I had a year to prepare for this new adventure of moving across the globe to what was once known to me as this “Mysterious Place Called Moldova” to now a country and a people group I have grown to love and adore. I am feeling beyond blessed that God invited me to be a part of His extraordinary plan and all that He is doing in this beautiful country!

From what began as a simple dream 7 years ago, has now turned into reality. A dream come true! It is still a shock to me that this is actually happening. There have been many emotions and challenges during this year of preparation, but most of all it has led me to this point of being beyond blessed and thankful for this adventure of faith. I’m especially grateful for the many people God has provided to partner in this ministry!

Today, it is more real than ever that this is actually happening: me moving to Moldova for two years to join an amazing ministry team with Operation Mobilization. I leave exactly one week from today to hop on my first plane in this journey to Moldova.

It kind of feels like I’m about to go skydiving or bungee jumping. Back in 2009, I actually went bungee jumping. When I first decided to take the plunge and bungee jump, I was beyond excited and thrilled for the adventure. I rode a bus to a very high bridge that overlooked mounds of rocks with a small flow of water trickling through. The closer I got to the bridge the more nervous I felt. My heart kept racing faster and faster. As I got to the bridge, I thought to myself “Am I actually going to do this” and “This is a littler scarier than I thought.” My turn to jump came up. I was set up with all the gear and equipment I needed and they told me, “You are ready to go”. I walked out to the edge with my knees shaking, eyes opened wide, and my heart beating profusely. I was stuck at the edge feeling unable to jump.

Then I heard a voice, “Am I going to need to give you a push.” I replied, “I think so.” And before I could count to the even one, I was given a little nudge and out I went flying down toward the rocks. The fear on my face instantly turned to a huge smile! Even though it was scary and challenging at moments, it was totally worth it! 

smile jump

As the day for me to leave for Moldova has continued to approach closer and closer, some of these same thoughts and feelings have come over me like “Am I actually going to do this”and “This is a littler scarier than I thought”. My heart is beating fast with nervousness for the anticipation of the unknown ahead. But I continue to hear God whispering, “You are ready to go,” “I’ve prepared you and will be with you,” and “Will you trust me.”  And so, here we go! I’m ready to jump into this and see where God takes me and see how he opens doors and changes lives! I know following Jesus is worth everything! 

Hebrews 13:20-21

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Hold Nothing Back

What a whirlwind this past month has been.  I have officially been back in America in Idaho for 5 weeks!  While reflecting back on this past year, I have been reminded of God stirring in my heart to keep taking steps toward following Him into Moldova.  God has asked me “Are you really willing to give everything and go long-term?”  I’ve been saying “I think so” for quite some time but not knowing the when or what that would look like.  While on the River Outreach in Moldova the last two weeks of July, God brought clarity and peace to me that Moldova is the place He is calling me to go for long-term.  I felt as if this is what I was made for! I could not doubt God’s leading in all of this.

After speaking with several long-term missionaries with Operation Mobilization (OM) Moldova, it was clear that there are many opportunities and needs for more people to come to this place long-term, and they are looking specifically for people who feel called and have a heart for Moldova.  I kept thinking, that’s me!  As I continued to be inspired by others stepping out in faith in moving to Moldova and learning Romanian, I was greatly stirred by God to take a leap of faith in taking that next step toward long-term missions in Moldova.  I had been holding back because of not knowing the how and when.  But God reminded me that firsts I need to take the next step, and He will continue to guide me and open doors according to His “how” and His “when”.

Needless to say, much has happened since coming back from Moldova.  I have decided to take this next step and apply for long-term missions with OM Moldova!  I am excited, thankful, and nervous all at the same time.  The most difficult thing for me to even fathom is moving far away from family and friends who are so dear to me here in the states.  I love you all so much!

On July 27, 2015 I wrote the following in my journal:

“I don’t want to let anything hold me back from experiencing the fullness of you Jesus and following you into Moldova.  I love you Lord. Take complete hold of my life.  May I listen to your voice and walk in it, in step with your Spirit. Here I am Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

On August 15, 2015 I wrote:

“There is a cost in following Jesus without reservation, but nothing compares to that cost in living a sweet abundant life with the Lord in what He is calling.”

Proverbs 16:9 has become clearer to me more now than ever. “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”   I now have plans to go back to Moldova for long-term, but I do not know the when and the how yet. However, I have full assurance in the Lord that He will direct my steps.

During my last day in Moldova on July 30, 2015, I wrote the following:

“It breaks my heart to have to say goodbye time and time again to these children I encounter in each of the villages.  Many of them are beyond excited for us to come. Several have desperation in their eyes for love and affection.  And some have bruises on their faces showing they come from rough situations.  Families and elderly are desperate for their stories to be heard, to not be forgotten, and to have hope.  Lord, I know I need to go back home to Idaho now, but I know I want to be a part of brining your hope and light to these beautiful people! I feel this next year you are calling me to a year of preparation of building upon relationships, learning Romanian, praying earnestly, seeking you for direction each day, and listening to your voice for the next step. Wherever I am physically, may I serve you and not neglect the people right in front of me.  You have come to seek and save the lost.  You would leave the 99 to save the 1.  So, each person in front of me whether in Moldova, in the airport, or in Idaho may I make the most of the opportunity to share your goodness and encourage others.”

I encourage each of you to not hold back and follow what God is calling you to each day!  We are all invited to be a part of God’s extraordinary plans in which we each are called in different ways and capacities but for the same purpose of bringing Him glory and transforming lives.

Thank you all for supporting and partnering with me on this journey to Moldova! I feel blessed beyond measure!   Enjoy the video below of my time in Moldova this July 2015!