Friday, June 19, 2015

June 19th, 2015

There are few times in life when your soul is touched so deeply that it profoundly changes you.  I count myself blessed to consider this experience one of those times.  Romania has been a place I've felt drawn to and called to for many years.  When I heard of the opportunity, I was overwhelmed with a sense of the Lord's hand at work.  One night, I had a dream about my upcoming time in Romania in which a young girl with wild curly hair ran into my arms.  In the dream, I felt an instant connection with her.  A few months later, our training team came to Halifax from California to prepare us for our time with Children To Love. During the training, they put photos of some of the children up and we were asked to pray for them leading up to this week.  I noticed in one of the photos, the very girl from my dream.  Meeting her at the beginning of the week was such an incredible, touching, and profoundly changing moment.

Today, I once again got to spend some time with the sweet and beautiful young lady. In addition, she was joined with her 5 housemates/"sisters", and about 20 other young children from a center we'd visited earlier in the week. We presented (likely for the 5th time this week) the story of the man who built his house on the rock. I've been so touched by the Romanian CTL staff and the ways in which they live their lives, dedicated to showing these beautiful children of Romania how to find a rock suitable for building their house. One of the team members shared a story of times when they tried to "build their house on the sand."  The children responded with such love after hearing the story. (This love was clearly learned by the many people investing in their lives on a daily basis.) They expressed concern, and responded with relief when they heard that the individual had eventually found Jesus as His rock. Later in the day, a new group of preteens and teens came to the ministry center, and enjoyed time worshiping and spending time together.

In the evening, we had a chance to visit a Christian book store. I've been really enjoying learning the language here, and was able to purchase an English/Romanian translation of the New Testament.  I'm really looking forward to continuing my study of the language once we return.

As I reflect on the profoundly changing moments, these are the top 10 things I believe I will now carry with me.

1. The JOY of the Lord is our strength

2. Life's simplest law= Love wins

3. Behind every face is an untold story.  Be the ear that hears it.

4. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus our Lord.

5. God shows up in the most unexpected ways.

6. Dutch Blitz crosses all language barriers.

7. When you do something for the least of these, you are doing it unto the Lord.

8. Simply put, I am so blessed.

9. Give generously, even when you feel like you have nothing left to give. (both financially, and in giving of yourself.)

10. A piece of my heart now lives in Romania.

Thank you all so much for the support and prayers for this team. We were met with challenges, but we were also met with amazing witness of the things the Lord is doing.  Praise be to God. Amin.

Kim Musser

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Day 6 June 18th, 2015

A picture is worth a thousand words, and with these pictures, no words are necessary. Due to the sensitive nature of orphan care and protection, we are refraining from posting many pictures of children from the facilities online. We look forward to sharing them with you in person when we return. Until then, we'd love to share some pictures of the awesome Romania 2015 team. Thank you all so much for your support and prayers thus far. Our God is an awesome God.
Silly fun with mirrors at The People's Palace

Florina and Marc version of a selfie!

After a long day. Team selfie!

We had a tour of the People's Palace. 

Exhaustion after running around and playing at an orphanage this afternoon. 

Lots of laughs were had today. Such a good day!

A quick break at Starbucks. It was fun to sit and relax after a hard day of work.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Day 5

Day 5 - June 17.  This morning, the whole team went to the rehab center.  The center consists of kids with all sorts of disabilities...some mental, some physical.  Jamie and I had been working with several kids in the rehab center since Monday.  She has been helping with the autistic kids and I have been helping with the kids that need physical therapy.  Many of the kids I have been working with are very low level, meaning not one of them can walk, a few can barely even sit on their own and most can't even do that.  Because they can't do these things, they spend a lot of their day lying in their beds sleeping or staring at the wall.  It has been challenging this past week to keep them focused when doing rehab with them.  Today, we asked Justin to bring his guitar into the therapy room and play for the kids to see if they responded any differently....and boy did they ever!  One little boy, who usually would just smile and reach for your hand, actually was bobbing his head to the rhythm of the music and then started kicking his legs too.  We heard a few good belly laughs from him as well!  All the kids did so much better during therapy with the music.  The physical therapist at the rehab center is new, but very caring and eager to help the children.  The downfall is that her hands are tied as the center does not have the funds for more staff or more equipment.  So this afternoon, a few of us went to get some supplies that should help the physical therapist better treat the children.  

Tonight we had worship night at the ministry center.  It was a great time.  We interacted with all the kids that came over doing things from playing basketball and soccer to card games to singing songs, to just talking and joking around(with a translator of course!).  Several people also shared their testimonies, which were powerful and I'm sure every child was touched by at least one of them.  
Another highlight of my day was meeting the girl I sponsored before I came here.  Her name is Mariana and she is 10 years old.  We talked for a little bit, but I could tell she was a kind of shy.  She was painting her nails with her friend, so I asked her if she wanted to paint my nails.  She thought that was hilarious and was super pumped to do it!  She kept laughing every time she saw me with my purple/sparkly nails.   Just looking around the room, I saw so much joy in the children's faces as well as our team members and the CTL staff members.  

We ended the day with our usual debrief time.  We shared our highs and lows and what we will take from this week so far.  While going around the room and talking about these things, it hit me that each one of us has a purpose here and was called to come to Romania for a reason.  Each person may not know what exactly their purpose is right now or are able to put it into words, but I have seen everyone of us touch lives of not only the children, but the lives of the CTL staff and the lives of the other team members.  Many of us, if not all  of us, had our worries and fears about committing to go on this trip and following through and actually going, but many times the greatest moments in our lives lie outside of our comfort zone.  Seeing all of my team members learn, grow, step outside their comfort zone and ultimately flourish in this environment is amazing to watch.  I know there are still more days to come, but it is safe to say that this trip will be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Day 4

DA, DA, DA!! (Which means "yes" favorite Romanian word).  Waking up this morning at 6:30 a.m. was not so easy when we only got to bed @ 2:30 a.m. It was a rough night of yet again spiritual warfare that not only myself am experiencing, but my entire team. How was this day going to turn out? The last thing I wanted was for this to affect our day or the way we serve while we're here. After our morning devotional we headed out to Tei center. Tei is a day center that has children with parents (1 or 2) that have some sort of income but live in extreme poverty. While the kids are there they are bathed, fed 3 meals & loved immensely. We worked with kids from the ages 2-5 years old. When we walked in the doors the kids immediately swarmed to us. I had a little boy Mario sit in my lap, wrap his arms around me & lay his head on my chest. It made wonder if he embraces everyone that way?

After Tei we walked back in the rain to the ministry center. Did I mention we got these amazing cheese pretzels on our way there? When we got back, some of the children from the counseling center were already here. We had lunch, played dutch blitz with the kids & CTL staff and had worship time. While eating lunch, Nelu, CTL team leader, asked if I would like to go with him to photograph Ana's kindergarten graduation this afternoon! I can't even explain the amount of joy that came over me in that moment. Ana holds a dear spot in my heart. Back in April when we had our team building weekend, we were each given a picture of a girl we would be praying for while we were preparing for our trip. I was given Ana's picture, she is one of the six girls from Home of Hope. When we first met the girls at the beginning of the weekend, the staff told each girl to grab one of our hands and Ana came to me. Coincidence? No. That was a total God thing. It seem's like something so little but it was such a memorable experience for me.

2 hours & 200 pictures later I was back at the ministry center. The team was winding down & we gathered for our nightly debriefing session. We shared our highs & lows and what God was teaching us this week. Let me tell you, it was quite the Holy Spirit roller coaster ride. I can't put into words how incredibly blessed I'm feeling. Romania has stole my heart already.

Ana & I after graduation 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Day 3

Last night's team debriefing was such a blessing to us! The presence of God was so real as we joined together in prayer, seeking God's direction and divine touch as we prepared for today. We felt surrounded by the prayers from home as peace settled over us and we were able to enjoy such a peaceful night of rest. (Even though we didn't get to bed til almost 1:00 AM and the sun rises here before 4:30 AM.)
We rushed to get ready this morning and gather together by 7:45 AM for team worship. Again, what a blessing this time is as we have the opportunity to worship with the CTL staff. We began with songs of praise and adoration, followed by individual introductions. Brandon taught today's lesson and gave the introduction to the book of Galatians and also covered chapter 1. After our study, songs filled the ministry center once again as we joined together in singing praise and worship songs in Romanian and English. The presence of God was so real in the room that several of us had goose bumps and teary eyes. God is so good.
By 9:00 AM we were energized and set to go to the rehab center/orphanage. This center is populated with orphans who are seriously disabled, physically and mentally impaired, have autism and some are blind. In the Romanian culture these children will remain until they die receiving no education and very little therapy or interaction. While some of our team members were so eager to visit this orphanage, others were very apprehensive and fearful to encounter these children who has such severe special needs. When our team arrived the children were waiting anxiously for us to arrive and greet us at the gate. Giggles, squeals of delight, sounds of clapping and waving hands welcomed us warmly into their "home".
We quickly gathered the children who were going along on our adventure to the park and McDonald's, carefully pairing them off with one or more team members who would then be responsible for that child. The adventure began as we travel to the park with the children by taking public transportation of the tram system. Upon our arrival at the park we joined in play and games with the children. After playing about an hour, we walked them to McDonald's to treat them to Big Macs, French Fries and Sprites! Some children required little to no assistance eating, while others needed to be monitored because they tried to eat too much at a time. Some children could not feed themselves at all and depended entirely on our team to feed them. All the children were so ecstatic at this amazingly special treat! As we left McDonald's to take the kids back, we experienced our first official Romanian thunder/rain storm which left our team and kiddos pretty soggy to say the least. Goodbyes were a little sad as we bid them farewell but only until Wednesday when we will see them all again.
Jamie, who is an autistic support teacher, and Brandon, who is a physical therapist, didn't join us at the park or McDonald's outings but instead remained at the Rehab to help the staff's physical therapist perform therapy. Originally Jamie and Brandon were only to be able to work with these children Monday and Wednesday morning but since today went so well they are going to be working there every day! Praise God!
We arrived back at the ministry center where lunch was waiting for us. Around 1:00 PM we set out for another orphanage for teen girls called Chitila. At this orphanage we did a bible study with the girls by performing a short skit about Jesus being our Rock and the importance of building our house upon that rock. After discussing the skit, the girls sang worship and praise songs. I was overwhelmed with tears and emotions as I watched and listened to them sing and worship Jesus. This time of worship was followed by Brandon, Dana and myself sharing our own personal testimonies. The girl's attention were glued to us as we shared. They were so surprised to hear that American's also experience storms and pain in their lives. After the study we took the girls out in the courtyard to play games and continue to visit. I had the opportunity to meet with one of the girls during that time and pray with her. Surprisingly, although we have encountered very different experiences in our lives we shared several details of pain in our lives that were the same and immediately bonded.
After our time at Chitila, we returned to the ministry center for dinner and then out for a night touring "Old Town". We ate dessert at City Grille and shared our debriefing time there. Once again, another late late night but oh so rewarding and joyful. I am no longer questioning "why" I came on this missions trip. My heart is so full and overflowing with gratitude as we grow together in our faith and show love to these dear children. To God be ALL the glory!!!

Love in Christ,

Day 1 and Day 2

1st day -June 13th- Having been on two planes flying over 12 hours in less than a day, i guess you can say we were all a bit "out of it" this morning. But as sunny as the day over here, we got up and began getting ready. After breakfast we shared the thoughts one another had about everything so far, even though we had only been in country for about 12 hours at that point. Many feelings were brought up and we began to get involved in discussion.
Soon enough Bogdan was there with Marc and we were sent off on a tour/introduction to Romanian life. Even though it started as just a tour of the city, there was so much more than just sitting on a bus for an hour listening to people talk around you. We embraced Romania as more than just another country, but as another culture that seemed so different than that of the "perfect" U.S. society.
After our "culture-shock" as John Penrose put it, we walked back to the CTL center for a break from the hot and humid weather outside. Some then chose to take part in a game to test the very primal instincts of man and the "to the death" feeling many have when it comes to extreme sports...Dutch Blitz. Which up until today i knew nothing about.
After break we all climbed back into the vans and made our way to the Home of Hope to pick up the girls for a day at the park. Although when we met up with the girls, the forecast had begun to show some rain and we canceled the trip to park and settled with bringing them back to the CTL center and playing games.
They delighted us with the chance to hear them sing their little lungs out to some of their favorite songs, while we sang along in English. Then we took part in game after game with the girls. Anywhere from arts and crafts, to ball, to games of which i cannot pronounce their name. Needless to say we could feel the presence of God the entire time. But 7:30 came fast and the girls were taken home.
We ate dinner and debriefed as a group as we discussed if anybodies feelings had changed since earlier, which obviously they all had. And so ends the first day of Romania.

Day 2 -June 14th- Up at 08:00, needing a little boost due to layover jet-lag, we got up, ate breakfast and it was off to church with all of us. But instead of just jumping in a car and going like Americans, we walked a mile to the metro, rode the metro for a while, and then walked uphill for a decent time to arrive at what looked like an abandoned office complex that turned out to be the place that the service was going to take place at.
After an amazing service with songs, prayers, and a great message, we went for lunch at McDonald's, which actually tastes better in Romania. I witnessed a God event that i will tell you all about later due to the lack of time on this blog. But after McDonald's we made the trek back to CTL where we worked on a lesson and skit for the upcoming orphanage visits that we will be doing.
Then we loaded up the van and headed off again to the Home of Hope to escort the girls to the park for the much needed fun day, while my father, Jamie, Krista, and I stayed with Marc and Nelu to build cabinets and chairs for the Home.
At around 7:30 again the girls were back at the house and we had just finished everything and we watched as their little faces lit up with excitement when they saw what we had made for them.
We then met back at CTL for pizza and some debriefing from the days events. Many stories had risen up into conversations and many people had witnessed God moments much like my own. Then we opened up a couple more letters from the families back home. After a long day filled with many experiences and stories, it is time to call it a night and mark the end to the 2nd day! Goodnight Everybody! "Noapte bună"


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Meet the Team

With only two days left until the Romania Team goes global, this is a good time to meet the players!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Romania Team

Meet the 2015 Romania Team! 
Krista Keiter, Dana Reed, Schelly Thompson, Kim Musser, Jamie Popp, Amy Erickson, Justin Leonard, Cheyenne Reed, Sara Troutman, Heather Frantz, Waylon Leonard and Brandon Snyder

Why Start a Team Missions Blog?

As Halifax United Methodist Church embarks on a new adventure of 'Going Global', we want to take time to share our story. Keeping a blog or a journal is an effective way to capture the experiences. We will record our feelings about daily encounters: the stories about friendships with nationals, the way God intervenes in our day, what God is doing in our heart, new insights we learn about missions and doing God's work.
In the Bible we are encouraged to record and retell the things that God has done. The whole Bible is actually a compilation of the stories of God's people written by many authors who were God's inspired journal keepers.
Pslams 78:1-7 and Psalm 77:11-15 encourage us to remember, consider and meditate on our experiences. We want to share these experience with the whole congregation because we are representing YOU!