Thank you for praying for the family mission trip to Romania. It was a very meaningful trip and we are grateful for the tremendous prayer support. We have some stories, several photos, and a link to a slideshow we'd like to share with you so you can see how the Lord demonstrated His great faithfulness while giving us the chance to make new friends and share His love with the precious people of Romania.
Travel for our team of 32 (12 adults / 20 children) was very smooth although we had a few more pat down security searches on the way home after the latest air travel scare. While we experienced a few cases of the 24-hour stomach bug, the health of the team was very good throughout the trip. During our 10 days in Romania, we had the opportunity to serve alongside faithful saints in the following settings:
Village Churches - each family had the chance to help lead a worship service in a different rural village church outside of Timisoara
Buzias Detention Center - a correctional facility for boys age 14-18
Potters House - a ministry to disadvantaged children and their families
Recas Orphan School - a school and residence for children ages 3-16 who have been orphaned or whose parents cannot take care of them
Family Conference at Betel Church - the team put on a 3-day family conference for families at a large church in Timisoara that God is using in significant ways
Dwight and Melissa Poggemiller and their three children serve in Romania with Greater Europe Mission. They teamed with Pastor Peter Bulica from Betel Church to provide all of these ministry opportunities and the tremendous logistics required to make the trip a reality. It was a pleasure to work with them and learn from their example. The Lord provided a team of translators and drivers that served wholeheartedly. It was rich to see the way they love their own people and to develop friendships with them over the course of the trip.
For the first five nights, the team stayed in a hotel where the Lord provided some neat opportunities (see stories below). For the last four nights, we had the privilege of staying in the homes of Romanian families that were brave enough to welcome some fairly large American families. It was very rich to get to know these families so well, to hear their stories, and witness their faith.
Here is a link to a 3 minute slideshow that helps paint a picture of the trip:
SMR Family Mission Trip Slideshow - Romania 2010
In addition to the planned ministry opportunities, the Lord opened doors to share His love and truth with people on the plane flights, front desk clerks, and customs agents. When people saw a group with this many children, inevitably they would ask what we were doing. We had great joy in getting to talk about the Lord in unexpected settings.
Sharing the Soularium
Here are some stories from different team members (names in parenthesis) that we hope will help you see how the Lord was working:
On the plane from DC to Munich - I sat next to my little brother, Zeke, as well as a man I didn't know. At the beginning of the trip, he didn't seem to want to talk, and I was more focused on Zeke anyway, so I did not try to have a conversation. However, when we got dinner later that night, he turned to me and asked, "Is your bread roll cold? Mine is." That started light conversation, but I was still more focused on my little brother than talking to the man, who's name was Veejay. Before the trip, I'd prayed that God would help me not to miss any opportunities He presented, so God "got my attention" when this man shared (out of the blue) that he was a Buddhist. He then went on to ask me various questions, like "What are the differences between our religions?", "Why are there so many divisions (denominations) in Christianity?", and "Why was Jesus special?". After talking for around 2 1/2 hours, the man asked for information for SMR, saying that he wanted to come. He also allowed me to pray with him just before the flight was over. I'm so grateful to have gotten to see God's fingerprints all over the situation with Veejay; from receiving cold rolls for dinner to having teammate Rachel sit on the other side of Zeke and take care of him during the entire conversation! (Maddison, age 15)
At the Detention Center - We had finished the large group teaching with the boys and the "Everything" skit and then broke into small groups to talk utilizing the Soularium cards. During that time we were grateful to hear bits and pieces of their life stories, to talk about their experience of God thus far, and to consider future possibilities for life with God as their savior. At the end of our time we actually had the privilege of praying for salvation with several of these young men. As our time at the center was coming to a close, our team gathered on stage to sing "How Great is Our God" in Romanian. While we sang, I looked over the faces of these young men whom we had just prayed with; many had tears and softened demeanors. I could see that the Lord was moving in their hearts. The realization that I was witnessing, and even participating, as God transformed lives was overwhelming. I couldn't even sing the words to the song, but silently worshipped in awe. (Jennafer)
With the boys at the Detention Center
Circle of Encouragement – During the family conference, I called my family up on stage so we could demonstrate the Circle of Encouragement before giving the families a chance to practice it themselves. We asked Pastor Peter to join our circle and then shared encouraging words with one another for a few minutes in front of the congregation. When I shared an encouragement with Chantal, I noticed that Pastor Peter, who was translating for everyone, got a little choked up. When we finished our brief demonstration, I was completely caught off guard by what I saw. Almost half of the adults in the congregation - young and old, men and women - were wiping tears from their eyes. God decided to use this simple picture - a family encouraging each other – to move the hearts of our Romanian friends. Praise the Lord. (Matt)
A Family Challenge during the conference
Missing Family - There was a boy at the prison who kept waving to me and wanting me to sit by him. Toward the end of our time, when we were all playing games together, he told me that I reminded him of his nephew and that he missed his family very much. I saw tears going down his face. It made me very sad to see how much he missed his family. I hope he will make good choices and grow up to be a good man so he can be with his family again. (Jackson, age 6)
Singing Together - This trip was very stretching for me as it pulled me way out of my comfort zone and threw me into something that I knew I couldn't do on my own. I guess the thing that sticks out to me the most was when we were doing our presentation at the village church and sang "God is so Good" in Romanian. As we sang, the entire church joined in. God showed me through that experience that, even through we were from opposite sides of the the world, we all were singing to the same God and Father." (Emma, age 13)
At the Orphanage - The kids at the orphanage were all very joyful even though they were not in a good situation. One boy tried to give my younger brother some money, even though he did not have much at all. I think he did this because he was so grateful we were there. That boy reminds me of the widow with 2 mites, who gave all she had while the wealthy people gave lots of money but only a small portion of what they had. I want to be more like the widow and that boy and give all I have rather than offer my leftovers. (Jessalyn, age 11)
Dining with the children at Potter's House
At the Boy's Prison - The second day at Buzias, we all got to break up into five groups and each family got a group of boys. Mr. Eric shared a little of his testimony and then did an object lesson. We got to do a craft with them and then we asked them what their prayer request was. Many said stuff about their family or that they wanted to get out soon. One boy said that he wanted to ask Jesus into his life but not while he was in prison. One wanted to become a Christian right then, so my Dad took him out of the circle and talked and prayed with him. It was neat to see God working in their lives and using us to fulfill his plan. (Eden, age 8)
Tested & Proven - Our family stayed with a wonderful couple and their daughter, whose lives taught us about the reality following Christ in the face of persecution. The father had grown up under communism, being persecuted by his school teachers every year for being a Christian. His family had secretly carried Christian literature back into the city after summer vacations. He had been denied college entrance due to his beliefs and had taken part in demonstrations that helped start the Romanian revolution. Following 1989, he had become involved in orphan care and later founded a ministry to help children move from "orphanage-life" to "real-life". During our time in Romania, this amazing man of God shared not only his family and home, but helped translate for our team as well. (Chantal)
The Poggemillers who serve with Greater Europe Mission
Contentment - When we visited the orphanage it touched me that even though these kids had little or nothing they were very happy that we would come visit them. I learned that I should be content and grateful; and that I should not store my riches here, but in the kingdom of heaven. (John, age 11)
The Body of Christ - On our last evening with our host family, they served us a lovely meal and we sat and "talked" as well as we could without their son being present to interpret for us. Our host asked us something and we agreed to it, but were not sure what we were agreeing to. After supper, he told us it was 'time to go.' Off we went on a round of hospitality. He took us to three homes of friends, who in turn shared their best with us, sat and talked with us, prayed with us. To me, it was a picture of the Body of Christ loving on one another. The door was always open, freedom to wander, sit, talk, eat, share, and encourage. (Kim)
Friends from the Hotel - During our hotel stay, one of the front desk managers was named Radu and another was named Cosmine. They both spoke some English so several teammates were able to converse with them during the time. We regularly asked them if our children were being too loud and if there was anything we could do for them. One couple on the team invited Radu to come to the family conference later in the week. To our surprise, he showed up the first night of the conference. He sat through the first night and showed up the second night with his girlfriend and Cosmine. Cosmine, who didn't attend church, said Radu had talked him into coming and said it would be valuable. At the end of the night, Cosmine, Radu, and his girlfriend all approached us with huge smiles on their faces. Cosmine said he had "found himself" in the preaching and teaching. Radu said, "You always asked if I needed anything. I always told you 'no.' Now I know what I needed from you. It was this [conference]." We joyfully prayed with all three of them, marveling how God brought this about. (Chantal & Matt)
The trip was a tremendous gift from the Lord to each one on the team. Undoubtedly, we have received far more than we gave. As we sought to share His love and see His Kingdom expand, He poured out His love on us and took new ground in our hearts and families. He gave us a fresh taste of the richness of living in His Kingdom and the joy of working as one with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We praise the Lord for His amazing kindness to us.
As you might imagine, part of our hearts are still in Romania. We invite you to join us in prayer that His Kingdom will expand in and through the Romanians to touch a continent that desperately needs the Light of the World. Thank you again for all your prayers.
In Christ's Love,
Matt + Chantal for the entire Sonrise Romania Team