Weekend in Romania

Ah, the Paris airport in the early morning. Can you tell which one managed to sleep on the airplane?

The Reverend Mother and Tiger Lilly’s team rolled out of Garden Valley, Texas on Thursday for a five-hour ride to Houston for the flight to Europe. RM stopped drinking anything the night before the bus-ride; it was a five-hour drive with no bathroom in the bus and no stopping! Friday they caught an overnight flight that laid-over in Paris and then terminated in Budapest, Hungary. After that it was another six-hour bus ride to Oradea, Romania where the team is staying and ministering. I didn’t hear if there were toilet facilities in the bus or rest breaks in the trip to Oradea, but RM filed this email to me:

Hello, We made it after only 27 hours of traveling. I slept, last night, for 10 hours. I have been sick with a cold which I think I got from Emmie, one of the Project Directors. We are staying in a building built by the church. It has dorm rooms that sleep four. We are the first people to sleep in the beds because it’s brand new. The bldg. has a kitchen, an auditorium, the pastor’s offices and lots of other rooms, the purposes of which I don’t know, and maybe they don’t either, yet.

The travel was fairly uneventful, which is good. David, the other Project Director told us his favorite part is taking the groups through the airport because of the logistics and problem solving challenges. I’m fairly certain he’s been in the military, because of the way he runs things. He looks like ex-military too.

While we were waiting in the Houston airport he told us stories from some of the trips he’s been on. For instance, on a trip to Albania, a girl had half of her hand cut off and he had to go to amazing lengths to get her the appropriate medical care within 24 hours so her hand could be saved. They managed it. Emmie told me those were the early trips and every time something happened GE would make a new rule to prevent things like that in the future. They do seem to have a lot of rules, but now I know why.

Global Expeditions is a ministry of Teen Mania, formed to introduce young people to the missionary vision and to send them around the world. This summer GE had 58 trips planned to 21 countries (including the U.S.), and the trip my family is on was one of four to Romania. When they arrived at the church they are staying at in Oradea there was already a previous group there that had been working on various projects, including organizing a neighborhood block party for Sunday evening that would kick-off the church’s Vacation Bible School this week. The VBS will be the main focus for Tiger Lilly and her cohorts, though other public ministry in streets and parks is planned. Sunday at church they had a special visitor, Ron Luce, founder and head of Teen Mania.

RM’s role is as the assistant to the two Program Directors leading the trip. There are 30 youth (ages 11-13) with an adult Missionary Advisor for every four or five kids. RM handles the travel logistics, daily itineraries and other crucial details such as going to the market daily to buy bread for the main course of most of their meals: peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches.

This morning in church Ron Luce, the founder of Teen Mania, spoke. He flew in last night. Teen Mania has been working with this church for 10 years and this is the first time Ron has been here. I heard a little of his testimony of how he started Teen Mania and GE. After the service was over I had him pray for me as a youth leader. I’ve attached a photo of him with his translater, Ted, on the right.

I did see some gypsies here in church today. The church has some ministry to the gypsy culture, but no one talks about them much, I’ve noticed. I followed two down the street a ways, on my way to market to buy bread, and I wanted to take their picture but I thought it would be rude; as if they were not real people, but animals in a zoo or something. They were very colorfully dressed, but looked very downtrodden.

Yesterday I was mistaken for a Romanian, but today when I left the store I was stopped by security so they could check my purchases against my receipts. There were many security people standing around, but I didn’t see them stop anyone else. I wonder if it was the visor I was wearing or what clued them in that I was an unsavory individual. While I was in the store I heard all kinds of American music played over the PA. some of it was very old. I heard Baker Street. Isn’t that funny?.

I have to go almost every day to buy bread for our daily PBJs.

In addition to emails, I can follow the trip’s progress from a parent page on the GE website. The Project Leaders upload photos and news regularly. They posted the following as the group packed up to leave Texas last week:

The juniors learned how to communicate their faith using their personal testimonies and the basic principles of the gospel. We watched dramas that depicted how to tell others, who are from another culture, about God.

Evening worship, once again, was amazing. In fact, many of the students moved out of their seats and went down to the front where there was more room to express how excited they were about God.

After an excellent final service, the young people got ink, and put their finger print on a map of Romania. It symbolized their commitment to use their unique abilities to leave an impression on Romania, and make HIM known.

Packing went until around midnight, and now everyone is sleeping. We will be ready to leave campus around 7am in the morning.

Pray that God will help us to travel smart, and to pay attention to detail. Pray that our leadership team stays energized and alert, as we load these teens on the planes!

Dave and Emmie
Project Directors

P.S. We want to honor Marjorie, who is our ‘Country Assistant.’ Marjorie spent all day organizing passports and travel release forms, getting team lists together, and prepping games for the students to play while we travel on the long bus and plane rides. Thanks to Marjorie we have everything ready to go! She rocks!

Amen to that!

Update: Out of solidarity, I decided to have a PBJ for my supper tonight as well. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!

Update: The Reverend Mother writes: I’d like to point out that we’re only eating PBJs one meal a day. We have cereal or pastries for breakfast and today’s menu included fresh peaches. We have a large meal, prepared by some wonderful person, for lunch. Today we had roast beef, mashed potatoes and a salad of cucumbers and home grown tomatoes. The potatoes were kind of golden in color and very tasty. The tomatoes were probably the best I have ever had.

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