Today started just slightly earlier than the other days here. Tase wanted to take us on a Pilgrim’s Progress type hike through the mountains of Romania so we left about an hour earlier then we had before. Originally when they said they wanted to do this, I scoffed when they said it was a really difficult hike. I live in the Rockies. I know how to hike…Pssshhh…this is nothing. What are you? Like maybe 2000 meters above sea level?!
What I didn’t know is that their hills and mountains literally go straight up with an incline of easily 55 degrees. It’s hot, humid and you’re dripping in sweat in the first 10 minutes. I literally took a shower in the morning and right when we started it looked like I had jumped back in a pool with how wet my hair was. Not only that, every plant in the wilderness either has ginormous thorns or stings you as you try to walk by them.
We started the hike with an incline that rivals the Rockies with mud and rock and a path that doesn’t look like it gets used by cars ever despite the deep grooves cut into the dirt. This was the beginning of your Christian life and it’s the hardest part. The part that makes you question if you made the right choice with how difficult it is.
Once we were all breathing quite heavily for a VERY long climb which was at least a mile according to my Apple Watch, we finally reached a level area. Here is where you start to feel a bit comfortable in your Christian walk. Where things get a bit easier for you. Tase had said that this is where Christians will settle into the home to work routine and never shoot for the big dreams and callings that Gd has for us. And once you see the incline ahead of you that looks harder and longer than what you just came from, it’s so easy to stay right there and not make that climb. But!! Once you make the decision to go for it, you can see your vision at the top. The path that God has chosen for you.
And that climb, my friend, is hard. It’s rocky. It’s literally straight up. You are fearful for the people around you that could easily fall off and get seriously injured. And it’s hard. So hard. But that climb is different than the one before. This one looks bigger and meaner but really it’s not as long as it seems and once you start on it, and fight through the hard bits, it’s over as quick as it started. And the view is something to be rivaled with. It’s incredible and takes your breath away with the beauty God laid out for you. Here, the lukewarm Christians start to tell that you your fire and zeal for God is too much and you need to slow it down slightly. They will try to put out that fire because you are dangerous for their safety in the easy path.
But you set out again on the vision God has for you. You make it to a tree that has been struck by lightning. This is where the trials and tribulation comes that make you second guess the vision God has placed in your heart. But still you press on.
Eventually you come to more uphill areas and ones that are just as difficult as the first and right in the middle is a tree that was covered in vines and hollow inside. Here is where you see people that have a good front and outward appearance but inside they are empty and when everything starts blooming around them, they are dead.
But still, you press on. You come towards the end of your journey and you are making your way to heaven. On either side of you are trees clothed in white. They are shaking in the breeze and you are silently being cheered on by these trees for making it this far. At the end of this path, you walk out into a mountain meadow covered in soft grass and wild flowers. You can see for miles and miles and the scene in front of you is unlike anything that you have ever seen before. You have made it to heaven. And you’ve never felt anything so amazing in your whole life.
For us here in this reality and not in the story….at this point, we are all exhausted and tired. We’ve done 5.5 miles and I did it in Tieks. I had no idea we would be hiking or I would have brought my hiking boots. We also didn’t bring any snacks or a lunch. It was now, 12:30 pm and we’ve been hiking for three hours. The journey back was intense as well. At one point we were walking down a steep downhill path on a hairline which was much deeper than the pictures show. I did slip and fall and my camera smashed into the dirt. Thankfully I had a feeling I was going to fall and rotated my camera on my belt to the backwards position. This made my camera hit on the top and not directly on my lens. This literally saved my camera. I would have broken it had I fallen with it in any other position. I NEVER rotate it like this but I listened to God and it made it just perfect.
Toward the end of the hike I was absolutely miserable. I had a killer headache, I was shaking so bad and was so swollen I could barely move. My feet hurt terribly from dirt getting between my shoes and my feet. Otherwise, the Tieks would have been just fine. When I enter things unprepared it usually ends badly but while this was difficult, it was incredibly worth it. I have never seen someplace like the mountains of Romania. My husband would have loved every minute of it, even if he would have been dripping with sweat in the first five minutes. We did nine miles with no snacks and limited water and unprepared but it was so amazingly worth it.
As soon as we got back to the lodge, I hit the sack. I needed to rest and right now. I must’ve been out for at least an hour. I was so sick when I got up that even the smell of food was making me nauseous. I couldn’t eat the sandwiches the team had for lunch so I tried to choke down some beef jerky and Motrin and a coke. Which strangely helped amazingly well. I needed it to work desperately. I was teaching today with the kids this afternoon. We went back to the center in Romos and it was our last time with them. I was teaching storytelling through images, which I feel I am tremendously good at. It’s fantastic they gave me something to teach in a foreign language that I felt very confident in.
At the center, the afternoon went off without a hitch. The kids were attentive and responded very well to the lessons we taught and the gospel that we presented again. Even the little kids when they went through the games, story and crafting rotation, did an exceptional job.
We went back to the farmhouse for dinner and ate until we were stuffed. A few us went back into the Romanian town and not the Gypsy village to gather supplies for the next few days and camp week. We stopped at a cafe with great WiFi and I was able to post yesterday’s blog post and grab a kit Kat shake…and yes…it’s as delicious as it sounds. Shopping in Romania is interesting. They have about 2% of the same stuff as in the US and it’s all in Romanian…so trying to figure out what things are what are actually kind of fun. It’s like playing a lottery and you’re unsure of what the prize might be. I found some microwave popcorn which made me exceptionally happy.
Tomorrow we head back to Geaigu which is the extremely poor neighborhood that I really like. I feel like we make a bigger impact here and that’s incredibly rewarding.