Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm baaaack!

"I'm baaack!"

Isn't there a little girl saying that in a famous movie? Like Poltergeist? Or was it just that she said "They're heeere..." I'm not sure. Either way, I just thought of her and how my family used to say that I looked like her when I was little. I really did.

Here's her picture:

Now if I had a childhood picture of myself nearby, I'd scan and upload it for you, but I don't. So just take my word for it: I looked exactly like the above photo throughout a large portion of my childhood. Spooky? Maybe.

Anyway, the past month of my life has been quite a whirlwind, but it has mostly been a good one. Hopefully you were able to follow up on my travels to Romania through our group blog: http://www.lccinromania.blogspot.com/ and if not, you'll have to go there to read about it. I had absolutely the best group of students I could have ever asked for. They were incredibly servant-hearted, and it was such a joy to work alongside them for a week. As we were there, and even going into it, we realized that none of what we did might benefit us personally nor would it produce direct or immediate Kingdom results that we could see. The work we did there, however, would somehow have a long-term effect as a small part of the greater Body of Christ. It would assist Rachel in her ministry. Though we couldn't be there long-term to see results, we were able to help plant seeds and cultivate parts of Rachel's ministry. By painting fences and apartments and teaching a few small Bible lessons here and there and playing hand-clapping games with kids in the village, we somehow helped her ministry to advance the Kingdom.

Returning was difficult, but it was exciting knowing that just a few days later I'd find myself laying by a pool or on the beach in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. If you know me, you know that I love warm weather and will do just about anything to lay in the sunshine. Again, I'm not sure how I was born in Illinois...

Family vacation to Florida was great, even if not as relaxing as planned. Evan, my 2-year-old nephew, bless his heart, had a double ear infection and enjoyed two trips to the local pediatrician's office in NSB (which was wonderful, by the way, at taking care of families like ours on vacation). His poor little ears were hurting which led to very little sleep for him as well as the rest of us several nights. Despite that small problem, it was still a great time with the family enjoying "Treats on the Beach" bubble gum ice cream daily (sometimes twice a day...) and fresh seafood (especially yummy crab legs...my favorite these days!). And of course, the sunshine was amazing...and I brought home a nice tan as a souvenir. Don't be jealous.

It's taken me awhile to catch up, but I think I'm finally there. At least now my blog is somewhat caught up, and hopefully someday soon I'll have something other than my travels to write about. For now, I'm off to do some other writing of my own...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

back and gone again...

So I didn't have a chance to write since I returned from Romania (3 days ago), and I'm heading out early tomorrow morning for family vacation to Florida. I'm not taking my computer in effort to truly vacate, otherwise I'd promise to recap and write while there.

For things to read about the Romania trip, head over to http://www.lccinromania.blogspot.com

I'll write more when I get back from Florida! :-) I'm looking forward to playing on the beach and by the pool with my almost-6-year-old niece and almost-2-year-old nephew, mom, sis, and bro-in-law. It's definitely my nephew's first time to the beach and only Maddy's second (she was really little the first time, though...) so it should be fun to introduce them to the ocean and sand!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


In the midst of about a billion things going on today and me feeling like I'm in Jesse Spano mode, I'm taking a brief pause to write.

In case I haven't updated everyone, I'm leaving tomorrow on my third adventure to Oradea, Romania. I'm taking a group of 10 students + 2 friends+ me (13 of us total) to a place that has somehow become near and dear to my heart over the past 3-4 years. We leave campus in approximately 19 hours and fly out of Chicago in 25.5 hours. About 9 hours later, we'll land in Zurich, Switzerland, and then several hours later fly out toward Budapest, Hungary, ride in a van for 3 hours and arrive at our final destination: Caminul Felix in Oradea, Romania.

While the place where we stay, Caminul Felix, is a ministry organization itself, we'll be working primarily with Rachel Ross--a friend and alum of Lincoln Christian College as well. Rachel followed the burden God put on her heart for abandoned children in Romania and went there years ago to work with abandoned babies in the hospitals. Since then, she began building relationships and sharing Jesus with gypsy families in the village of Tinca. Out of that grew a ministry she began called Forget Me Not Ministries, and God has been working by providing support and opportunities for this ministry to grow. You can read more about what she's doing at http://www.fmnministries.org/.

Why Romania? Why gypsies?

* Romania has a population of 22,303,052 in an area that is roughly the size of Oregon
* The average income = $100/month
* Poverty is widespread, and umemployment has risen while living standards have fallen.
* There are 5,000 children abandoned every year.
* 31.8% of the babies left at hospitals have no identity papers, so are considered "invisible."
* There are currently 29,000 children currently in institutions.
* 15% of Romania's population is Roma (Gypsies), who are greatly discriminated against.
* 80% of the abandoned children in institutions and hospitals are Roma (Gypsies).
* 1.4 to 2.5 million of the population consists of Roma (Gypsies).

These statistics are just one thing, but when you come face-to-face with the reality that these people (gypsies) are not even considered human by the rest of culture, the statistics come to life. And when you meet some of the children who have beautiful smiles on their faces, despite the fact that they were locked in a cellar or left under a bridge or were not held for the first year of their lives, the statistics don't even mean much anymore. Each little smile and each precious life becomes more important than any number.

The kids have stolen little pieces of my heart every time I have been (this will be my third trip), and I'm sure I'll return in 10 days with a little more of it there.

But somehow, each time a little piece of my heart is stolen by them, my heart becomes more whole.

These words of Bethany Dillon's song "Beggar's Heart" have been resounding in my heart:
Hands reaching through barred windows
Falling asleep on the sidewalk
You say You draw near to the low
Now I'm here, I know I'm not low enough
Because all the things I know
Suddenly seem so small
When You build, it feels like You tear me apart
When you heal, it always leaves a scar
And even when You fill, You leave me with a beggar's heart
I pray that each of us will return with a beggar's heart. I'm excited to see what God is going to do in the next 2 weeks. Please feel free to follow our blog at http://www.lccinromania.blogspot.com/. Each of us will hopefully be posting on there throughout the trip.
Thanks for your prayers!