for all the promises of God…

^ Our first ever visit to the village of Cristotel, and we were overwhelmed by the gypsy families who came on this chilly morning. We delivered 30 food parcels, and Ben shared a message on the love and grace of God. Everyone was so attentive, and you knew God was speaking right to their hearts. Madelina (precious little girl in the yellow jacket in the top picture) was listening so intently to Ben that when he asked a question, she barely heard the translation before giving a hearty, “Da!” Yes! Yes, she heard God’s promise to forgive our sins and give us grace we don’t deserve. It was one of my very favorite memories from the entire trip. I pray Madelina and every single person who heard the message will give their hearts to Jesus, and this little village of Cristotel will be transformed by God’s promises. Yes and amen!

^ I wish I would’ve counted how many were there! It was purely the goodness of God working through the faithfulness of Isaiah, the man in the navy/gray jacket. He opened his home to all of these families that we might be able to share Jesus with them. His love for them was so evident, and he taught me such a beautiful lesson on what it means to love your neighbor. Please pray God’s continued power and protection be on Isaiah, that he would hold fast to the promises of God and faithfully share the gospel with everyone in his village. Yes and amen!

^ Goodbyes are always the hardest! Penny, Cheryl, Kelley and I spent our last night with the women of Simpetru, who have grown to be so incredibly special to me over these past four trips. I knew it would be a tearful goodbye for us, but Penny and I were completely blown away by a surprise visit from Mariana. We met her on our last trip in 2015, and I’ve stayed in touch with her all these years. She has moved to Cluj, so I did not think we would get to see her. But Rodica (glasses in lower right), who is one of the most humble and loving women I know, contacted Mariana and let her know we were visiting. She made the almost two hour drive to come and spend just a few minutes with us. No words big enough for the love God poured out on us through Rodica and Mariana. I am so very grateful for the promise of God that whether or not I get to make another trip to Romania, I will see these precious women again in Heaven. Yes and amen!

^ These are the women of Simpetru. They are forever etched in my heart and Penny’s, and I know Cheryl and Kelley would say the same even after meeting them on their first trip. They love Jesus, and it shines through in every hug and word. They love so big! You might notice we are all wearing scarves on our heads. Penny received hers from Aurelia, the lady to her right, on our last trip in 2015. Sweet Carolina, the lady to my right, who I met back in 2012, gifted me with mine. I don’t know who gave Cheryl hers, but you can see my Cheryl’s tearful face that she was overwhelmed with the love she had received! Kelley was a step ahead and already had one on, but I know they wouldn’t have hesitated to love her the same way.

The top picture is of Eleanor (glasses) and Joana. They are ANSWERED prayer! They are IMMEASURABLY more! I met Eleanor in 2012, and we connected instantly. On my trip in 2015, I felt God prompting me to encourage Eleanor to step out in faith and organize a ladies Bible study, and I shared that with her. Over the years since my last trip, I’ve thought of Eleanor many times and prayed for her continued faithfulness… prayed that God would nurture the seed planted. A few months ago, I began to pray earnestly that God would raise Eleanor up – empower and equip her – that when we left after this trip, she would say yes to serve! Just a few weeks before our trip, Joana moved into the village, and she immediately expressed to ChaCha her desire to serve. Before I left, I met with these two women to ask them if they were willing to team up together and begin ladies Bible study… and you already know the answer! Yes, yes, yes! This is loaves and fishes math! I asked for one; God has given two… and what I know based on His promises is this is just the beginning of what He will do. Yes and amen!

^ On our last trip in 2015, I decided to make paper plate awards for each team member, and of course, since Penny was my roommate, I roped her into the fun. We carried this tradition forward and awarded the following:

ChaCha… the Joker award: He is always ready with a hearty laugh, a big smile, and something funny to say. He blesses us with his joy, and we know without question, it all comes from Jesus.

Dina… the MVP award: Y’all know I speak all the words. I can’t say anything less than 500 every time I open my mouth. Multiply that times all the rest of our team members times all the days we were there, and you’ll know how Dina easily earned the Most Verbal Player award. She never missed a beat, and her skill and love for the people made the language barrier that could’ve been there just disappear! Her love for Jesus speaks volumes to all of us!

Ben… the Not So Droopy award: From the beginning of our team meetings, Ben repeatedly expressed his worry over getting enough rest and sleep, and we all prayed for his concern. Through God’s faithfulness, Ben earns the Not So Droopy award… which also could’ve easily been the Good and Faithful Servant award.

Jean-Michel… the Mr. Google Translate award: We’re all certain that if we could’ve stayed another week or two, Jean-Michel would have been fluent in Romanian. His affinity for language and his diligence in learning Romanian helped him to connect with the people, but that’s probably most likely because he first knows the language of love.

^ Kelley… the wandering worship award! We were all so thankful Kelley brought her ukulele, as she blessed every village with her gift of music. When the Romanians would join with us in song, every note sounded felt like a heavenly choir. We would’ve missed that special gift without her willingness to give up precious space in her suitcase so she could carry her ukulele. She also kept us all on our toes with her penchant for curiosity and wandering… Where is Kelley?

Cheryl… Gung Ho from the day she said yes to go on this trip, this award was an easy one to determine. However, her unfortunate step into a very deep hole in the village of Almasu earned her the Gung HOLE award… and a few bruises, too. Cheryl never missed a step of faithfulness the whole trip, and we were all so grateful she was not hurt.

Penny… There’s no telling what you might have to do when you room with me. Paper plate awards is just one of many things. Prior to our trip, our team did a foot washing service, and Penny was the one to wash my feet that night, but she has washed them over and over and over again, both prior to this trip and since. She is a true servant to all, but she also earned this award because of our shower situation. Not only did she have to help wash my hair, but she also checked for lice a few times. Above and beyond!

Penny gave me the Miss SONshine award… and I so pray it true of my life every day.

^ Jason… the JPS 100 Percent award. I’ll leave it to you to ask Jason about Jason’s Pigeon Service, but I’ll tell you his motto of 100 PERCENT delivering Jesus on-time is absolutely true. Jason never tires. No job too big or too small, his yes is always ready. His energy and enthusiasm for Jesus blessed us all on this trip! His business ideas for pigeons entertained us, too!

While these awards were given with much laughter, they were also given in true gratitude for the generous way each team member used the gifts God has given to faithfully administer His grace to each other and to everyone we encountered. God’s promise is to continue the work He has begun in each of us, and I’m so excited to see what He has in store next. Yes and amen!

(Note: The other pics were from our last meal together. The young man in the picture is Dina’s husband, Mihai. We were so glad to have met him. He and Dina make a great team for Jesus!)

^ One of our last pictures was with Sam, our Sri Lankan neighbor in the hotel. We continue to pray the seeds we planted will bring forth salvation in his life. We trust God’s promise that our little mustard seed of faith will produce a mighty harvest in Sam. Yes and amen!

^ Our last team picture upon arrival back at DFW. The One who called us was faithful, and He did it! Yes and amen!

“For no matter how many promises God has made,
they are “Yes” in Christ.
And so through him the “Amen” 
is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
2 Corinthians 1:20