I got back from Romania on Friday night. No access to the internet for the fortnight so unfortunately i couldn't blog but let me fill you in on the highlights! During the first week we were working with a rural church in a small village called Selag Seg. We were being hosted by the Pastor of the church (Andras) and his wife Ella. Our team of 19 people was split into two groups and one group ran and kids club for Hungarian children in the morning and the other group did the same for Romanian children in the afternoon. We had approximately 50 children across the 2 groups and they had a fantastic time each day. The programme included an illustrated Bible story, games, singing and craft and the children loved it all. When we weren't involved in the children's work we were helping practically at a alcohol rehabilitation centre they were building. This involved painting or cement carrying. Alcoholism is a huge problem in Romania and has destroyed many families. Andras and Ella have a dream that this centre will offer hope to those seeking to beat their addiction. Sadly the government will provide no support for the centre and so they build when they receive donations which explains why the building has been under construction for 10 years now. God has shown me something about patience, perseverance and faith through this encounter. He has reminded me that He works on an entirely different time scale than I do and that slow isn't always a bad thing because it allows more people to come on board and be a part of a project and catch the vision.
We were completely blessed in Selag Seg with the hospitality of Andras & Ella who embraced us as family as we invaded their home for a week. The area was very rural and at times it felt like we had stepped back in time by 50 years as all the agricultural work in the fields was done by hand with horses and carts being common place.
For the second week we moved to a youth camp near to the Ukraine border. The camp was set in a beautiful location in forested hills and was hosting 250 young Christians aged 12-18 for a week of spiritual growth. Our role within the camp was to help washing dishes after mealtimes and to input into their evening church programme with singing and testimonies. During the week half of our team was also involved in running a kids programme in a small village in the morning and a gypsy community in the afternoon. This week started with difficulties as there were miscommunications around our role in the camp which left us feeling under utilised at times. Thankfully the situation improved and our time there finished very positively with our team making many new friends amongst the campers! It was an amazing privilege to listen to the young Christians of Romania worship Jesus with such passion and volume from the depths of their hearts. It truely was another 'thin place' where the gap between heaven and earth seemed very small.
Probably the biggest highlight of this experience was the impact it had on us as a team. When you share life with another 18 people for 2 weeks you undoubtedly get to know each other better - more than you ever could in a whole year of normal ministry. I have no doubts that each team member, including myself, has been changed through this experience for the better. We have grown in our faith as our view of God has been expanded and people's confidence has grown through leading devotions and children's work. People have also realised that they have an important story of their own to tell of God's grace and redemptive power in their lives. Thanks for all of your prayers and support for this team!