For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Derek recently wrote about meeting a woman here in Romania who came to our door begging for food and money. As the weeks of our relationship with her passed, she is now coming to our house once each week to help clean to earn money rather than just continue begging for food. She has done a great job. She always looks for more things to clean and constantly asks if I approve of her work. We believe that finding ways to employ people is one of the best ways to help because it's a form of "teaching a man to fish," it encourages personal dignity and responsibility, and doesn't continue a system of begging. And most importantly, it allows us a chance to build a relationship with her as we speak as we clean together and share coffee before she begins working. And yet, it is still so hard.
Our Christmas card was designed by our dear friend and amazing graphic designer, Katie Smith with Cotton Social. Check out her Etsy shop!
Our Stateside home church, Restoration Presbyterian Church, held a women's ministry event on Saturday, December 2nd in preparation for Christmas. I was honored to be asked to be the "guest lecturer" to expound on John 6, as Jesus explains that He is the Bread of Life, and specifically describe how the Lord has been shaping me over the past year with this text and how I have been able to apply it here in Romania. The entire lecture is included below as a video, so feel free to check it out.
After reading so many missionary biographies, I am so very, very grateful for things like modern technology - which allow me to continue participating with events going on back in the States. Can you imagine being a missionary who says goodbye, sets sail, and heads into the completely unknown and isolated? I am so glad that the Lord has not called me to that type of mission work!
As we draw nearer to Christmas, it is our prayer that you would be able to truly savor our Savior as your Bread of Life - that He would be what fills you up this Christmas rather than anything else. That we would all be able to reflect on the ways that the Lord uses difficult circumstances and teaching in our lives to draw us closer to Him. That we would all be able to focus on Christ this Christmas!
This was our first Thanksgiving in another country. As Derek and I thought about it, this was our first Thanksgiving without being with one of our families! So we were very glad to get to share it with some of our new Romanian friends. We invited over our tutors and their families, along with the administrative assistant at our language school whom we've gotten to know. All in all we had 13 people. I was so nervous because not only have I never cooked the entire Thanksgiving dinner by myself, I also had never cooked a turkey, our family's traditional dressing, green bean casserole, or pecan pie. And not only that, but for the first time I was trying to make as many of those things gluten and dairy free as possible so as not to totally kill myself. (I didn't do a good enough job because my hands have definitely still broken out in eczema!) I definitely messed up some of the recipes, but overall I was proud of getting it all done between just Derek and me. I also had to learn how to use shortcuts because we couldn't find all the ingredients we needed here, like fresh cranberries, cream of mushroom soup, marshmallows, or friend onion pieces. We will definitely have that on our list of things people can send us in care packages from now on!! :-)
When we all sat down to eat, I explained all of the foods I had prepared to everyone. My opening line was, "So in the South of the States, we take healthy foods and make them unhealthy but delicious. And that's basically what Thanksgiving is all about." Other than turkey, none of them had ever had any of the other foods, and they really seemed to be baffled at the thought of putting marshmallows on sweet potatoes! In fact, most of them had never even had marshmallows before. It was really fun introducing them to new foods from our home, and they brought several traditional Romanian dishes to share with us, as well. Our kids did some painting crafts and played together. The older kids enjoyed playing on the xbox, and we all really enjoyed getting to know one another better and sharing in conversation (of course mostly in Romanian).
Since the families who joined us are teachers at our school and know English, their children know English really well, as well. At one point we were sitting at the table and Ionut was watching into the living room and started laughing. Apparently Elin was speaking to the other little boy in Romanian, and he was answering her in English. Hilarious! And we had no idea that Elin knew how to say that many things in Romanian. Granted, they were obviously learned from preK, with such phrases as "No, that's my toy!" and "Atticus, you can't do that!" And it's so funny to hear Elin say Atti's name with a Romanian accent now.
It was a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving in our new home!
We wanted to give a bit more information about our church in Codlea to those who are interested in knowing about the similarities and differences here versus your own home church.