I am legitimately the most exhausted I have ever been. Not just because I have been up for 24 hours but because the last month has been a spinter’s pace marathon and I have barely had time to process every thing that has happened. I’ve spent the last month with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. The last month has earned us the title of a weird little family formed in the mountains of Romania. The laughs and jokes that I desperately miss sitting here in the Frankfurt airport with the first solid wifi signal I’ve had in thirty days. I want the voices that I have been accustomed to that when I hear them, I instantly feel love for them. But they are now spread across Europe. Some are headed for a two week backpacking trip through Austria. Some are headed to Prague and others are headed to different connecting airports in Germany. And I miss them terribly. Skylar spent the first hour we were separated in tears. We’ve spent every waking moment with these people for a month. How do you just leave and carry on your normal lives after that? But the missionary families? They are people we have fallen in love with too. Jessica, Tase, Jessie, Jordan, Gerry, Yan, Iulia and her family, Jacob, Cami and their children along with all our translators that we could have done absolutely nothing without them?? It just hurts.
Romania is a place that captivates your imagination. The wild flowers that grow in every field and line the road squeeze as tight as possible to the shoulder. There are succulents that grow wild in every nook and cranny of the stone walls and rock formations. It’s my favorite thing about this place. There’s the grapevines they form into window shades and garden trellis coverings that have taken generations to shape. But there’s also a deep history that’s folded in between the corner stones of castles that have become the foundation stones for other homes. There are Roman ruins near our hotel that date back 2000 years ago. Just knowing I am someplace with that much history fills my heart with a happiness that only being surrounded by very old things can give me. This place is a place that fairy tales are made. And the villain is a darkness that feels like a massive weight and oppression. This post-communist country has deep rooted mistrust and sadness surrounding outsiders. The older generation is convinced we are here to exploit them and their stories. Every day I am starving by the time the next meals comes around. And for how big these meals are, I’m surprised every time just how famished I am. It’s mentally and emotionally draining working with these kids everyday that need us to show them love in every way. Then combine that with being physically exhausted with the heat and the work ahead of us. Every night I go to bed completely spent and thinking I don’t have anything left for the next day. And when things happen back home where I am needed are that cause more emotional stress, it’s massively draining.
I am condensing a few days into one blog post due to time I have to write them. I am here in Frankfurt, Germany for a few more hours before boarding the plane that will take me back to America. Once I get on that plane, I will need to put my business owner and mommy hats back on to focus on getting those things done and this trip will begin to fade. And I think that’s the part that hurts the most. Having to say goodbye and move on with regular life. I have already made plans to see these missionary families and team members again but we won’t be all together again. Next year will absolutely happen because I can’t fathom not being able to come back to a country that felt like home the second I landed. To a place filled with the broken and suffering. I need to come back.
Our last day of the program was Thursday but on Friday we did a special pizza party with both communities of kids and it was just amazing. We did Clopotiva in the morning, but not before we divided up into three teams and ran off the mountain with parachutes strapped to our backs for paragliding. The first team of five girls went up and we met them on the landing strip before our turn. I called it the post-paragliding glow when I saw their faces. It was amazing and I prayed that it would be like that for me. I am petrified of heights but I purposefully do things that force me to face that fear because that’s the only way that I will ever overcome that stupid fear. It drives me NUTS. I hate it. I know that most times it’s completely irrational which is why it frustrates me.
As soon as they land and we grab hugs, high fives and pictures and the pilots load up their chutes and pile into a bus with us. We are all silent, except for the Romanians…they chatter up a storm and I catch phrases and words that I have learned in the last month. I am silently praying desperately in my heart that we won’t die and that I won’t pee myself when we run off the mountain. My hands are white knuckled together and I have to force myself to relax and trust that everything will be okay. You know you are doing something life threatening and dangerous in Romania when no waivers need to be signed…you just pile into a bus and drive 20 minutes up the mountains. Once on top of the mountain, we are literally two seconds past where I took Skylar’s pictures a few days ago. We strap in and I half listen to my pilot Steven because I am terrified. And I watch every single one of my friends and my daughter take off. When I saw Skylar, bravely face her fear and start running with her crazy pilot, Gigi and lift off the ground I have never been more proud of her. My breath caught and I said, “Look at her!!” Steven laughed and said, “Now we run! Run Lacey!” I didn’t have time to think and over analyze the terrifying height that was ahead of me. I was focused on running and not tripping over the guy running behind me. And within a few seconds we were in the air…with no fear. The fear didn’t kick in until we flew towards the thermal where Seth, Careena, Rebeckah and Skylar were circling above me. I felt the wind take us straight up and I was reminded of God’s power in such a small little gust of wind. We spiraled and flew and circled. And it was glorious. The freedom up there is something I have never experienced before. It was truly amazing. My husband would have LOVED this experience and I pray that he’s able to experience this in Romania with me.
When we finally landed our faces shone with that glow and Careena was jittering with happiness. We grabbed our hugs, high fives and pictures with Enoch and Haley and headed back to grab pizza with the kids from Clopotiva.
In the afternoon, we went back to Balanu for their pizza party. This was more of a Gypsy community and I really love the kids here. They are crazy and busy and just want to be loved. They played and played and played with us before heading down to the river to cool down and swim. I got to snuggle with a little girl named, Roberta. She took a soccer ball kicked full force by some teenage boy and went down really hard. They just laughed and no one offered to help her. It’s a sad state of things when boys and men value women and little girls so little, they don’t even care that she’s hurt. I snuggled her for a long time before getting her some Motrin and some pizza. She did end up going to play and felt better.
The next day was our last day in Romania. We were going to be working with the food ministry with the elderly people in four different villages. We split into three different teams with Cami, Jacob, Jessie and Jordan and translators. We visited several people and I had two favorites. One is a man that is blind and is a WWII survivor. He actually fought on the Nazi Germany side in the beginning of the war until he saw just who Hitler was. He then fought on the Allied side against Hitler. It’s pretty amazing.
And the other was the last woman we visited. I wrote about her on my facebook page.
While we were chatting with her, I felt this massive urge to sit on the floor next to her and hold her hand. The second I touched her, her eyes flew open and widened and through our translator pictured here, this is what happened...
She said to me, "These are the words that God wants me to say to you, 'God loves you and will keep you. When you are sad He will never leave you. When you are hurting, He will never leave you. He does this to you when you are sad, *stokes my arm gently* and He is with you. He will never forget you." A chill went through me and then just as quickly as she started, it was over. I wasn't sure what exactly happened for a minute. The tears were rolling down my face as I watched this woman on her death bed telling me something like this. She had no idea how sad my soul has been for the last several months and how hard it has been for me.
When we left, Jessie came up to me and asked me, "I don't know if you felt what I felt in there but the Holy Spirit just talked to you through that woman. You just received a word." Our translator rushed over and said, "I felt it too. As soon as I started translating for you." I threw my arms around Jessie and just sobbed, those deep shoulder shaking sobs that come from way down in your heart. The ones that have been begging for relief.
Jordan, Jessie's husband, told me, "This is something that you will never forget. That woman probably held on to her life just to be able to tell you that. This was s God thing."
Part of my was so upset. What made me worthy to have God talk to me through this woman? Nothing. He did it to tell me that He sees my hurts, especially when I feel all alone in them. When no one can possibly understand the pain and hurt swirling together with anger and frustration. I am not worthy. God does these things because He is worthy and loves us even when we don't deserve it.
This is probably the most powerful thing I have ever witnessed or been a part of and I am blown away. I wanted to be able to share this with you all. Here we were trying to minister to a people who live in a one room shack with no electricity or running water and then give more than we ever could.
We ate dinner with Ema’s family’s house, who was one of our translators and she is super sweet. We said our goodbyes and lots and lots of tears and hugs and a few group photos. This was the hardest goodbye for me. It feels wonderful to know that all I need to do to come back is buy a plane ticket and I can hug these people again. I just can’t imagine leaving for good. Cami told me that she knows she will see me again, that it doesn’t feel like she will never see me again.
One of the sweetest moments I saw, was Jessie speaking life and encouragement into Skylar with the struggles she will face this coming year. I am always blown away when I see people love on my girls like they would their own. I can't ever thank her enough for this.
We went back to the hotel, grabbed our luggage, piled it into the back of Allen’s trailer and drove for six hours…all night long to get to the Budapest airport at 3 am. Skylar and I boarded our flights at 5:45 am and are now in our five hour long layover in Frankfurt before our ten hour flight to Denver.