La Revedere România…again

Bucuresti was fun, but it wasn’t why I went to România.  România is a beautiful country with lots to do and see, but they weren’t why I went either.  Târnăveni, my second home in my heart, was the reason.  

I haven’t kept in touch like I wanted.  I didn’t accomplish all that I wanted…but it was never about me.  That became abundantly clear once I let go of my fear of being a stranger in a place so important to me.  I wondered if people would remember me, I wondered if people cared…because oh how I do!  I pray for the people, for jobs and prosperity…and my soul hopes for the best.  

It didn’t occur to me that my people there, and I say “my” because I love them, felt the same.  It’s been 7 years since I walked those streets.  7 years!  And people stopped to talk as I drank my coffee on the terasa, the woman at my hotel asked me about life at breakfast, families of students shared stories and where the kids are now, and I was treated to A LOT of food and drinks!  

I cannot tell you how blessed I am to have gotten the chance to go back.  I can’t bring myself to type some of the kind things said to me about what it meant to them that I came back and how I loved their kids and them.  I did, I do!  They loved me well back then and for the past 3 days!  I’m forever grateful!

So La Revedere (Goodbye) once again.  Please know my heart is forever part Romanian.  

Return to România 

Stories.  România and I have a lot of them.  Some I tell often and some I’ve never told anyone.  It, România, has a hold on my heart and it’s been 7 years since I’ve been within its borders; and this beautiful country welcomed me back with open arms.  It’s time for more STORIES to begin!

First, my seat mates on the plane from Doha, Qatar, that were Romanian but lived in Kuwait helped quiz me on vocabulary on the way.  The passport agent was surprised I spoke Romanian to him.  He smiled and said I did a good job and have a Transylvanian/American accent before stamping my passport.  Then, my amazingly kind taxi driver, Mihai, and I talked about life in Romanian, his 7th grade daughter that loves History, and laughed about all kinds of things on the way to my hotel from the airport.  BTW – look up Henri Coanda...he’s kind of a big deal for those of us that fly!  

I went on an early morning walk, before stuffing myself on zacusca at the hotel breakfast, to see Palaltul Parlamentului once again.  And I took the metro one stop back to Lipscani (Old Town) because I was lazy!      


Then I embarked on what I had forgotten was a 6 1/2 hour train ride to Medias.  As I sat in the train station, Gara de Nord, I said a prayer for the kids I know hang around that place and within the underground tunnels near it.  

My heart can’t handle going into that too much at the moment.  Anyway, I sat with three other people on the train to Brasov.  A young college-age couple, Alina and her boyfriend and another woman named Angela!  We became Facebook friends before they got off the train, we probably annoyed others with our constant conversation, and each of them reminded me of what I love about Romanian hospitality.  After they got off, my anxiety got the best of me…I’m not used to traveling alone anymore and I may have taken in some of the anxiety of my family and friends about my trip.  I texted my brother to prepare him to go Liam Neeson in case I disappeared…but of course all went well.

Now I’m in Tarnaveni, and I’m a mixture of goofy grinning and teary-eyed gazes.  My taxi driver from Medias saw that in his rear view mirror as we drove and he thanked me for loving his country and he asked me why I love România!  Tomorrow is Sunday, and I’m going to take an early morning prayer walk for this place I once called home.  Then, as was my regular Sunday afternoons 7 years ago, I’m having lunch with the Coros family.  

My heart is so full.  It is me that’s thankful for how this country loves!

Goodbye Thailand

As I knew would happen, the awesomeness of my Thailand journey and actually experiencing each moment trumped my blogging.  

I have lots journaled so I’m going to use my upcoming train time in România to share some of those thoughts.

Today, I’m leaving Thailand and saying goodbye to this leg of my vagabonding adventures.  I’m flying on the largest airplane in the world with Qatar Airways to Doha and then on to Bucharest.  I’ve been a bit nervous about this flight due to the current situation with Qatar and other countries in Southwest Asia…but everything is going well thus far!!  

România – here I come!!

Braverly


I had a dream last night that included bacon.  Luckily, bacon in Thailand is for real bacon!  None of those blocks of big fat on my pizza in România!  Anyway, I knew I was going to Amy to her Thai language lesson and then to Braverly afterwards…so I held off on breakfast so I could have a bagel BLT and a tea at Braverly.

I’ve mentioned Braverly twice so I better explain what it is.  It started off as a bicycle shop to rent out bikes to people around Mae Sot, but it has evolved into one of Outpour Movement’s training centers for women.  They teach skills such as sewing, culinary arts, business management, and product development which is infused with an air of empowerment!  Pretty cool right!  The goal is sustainability, and I love that word and what it means for helping others live stable,  full, impactful lives!  

The mission is to help women from broken backgrounds, difficult circumstances, without options for education etc. develop their minds, bodies, and souls outside of fear and oppression.  Just today, I watched all the women bring out a muffin for an Outpour Movement staff member for her birthday.  They aren’t employees…they’re family!  

They sell handkerchiefs, bags, bracelets, coffee, tea, Arnold Palmers!!, etc…

Seeds

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20

I’ve loved this verse for a long time, and I’ve had my own times of having so little faith as well as my mountain moving moments…but today I want to talk about a new outlook I’m getting about Seeds.

Outpour Movement has begun building a creative space for youth and others, lost generations struggling to exist and set down roots after being scattered near and far due to the 65+ years civil war plaguing Burma.  The hearts of some awesome people are pouring into this ministry to empower youth that otherwise have never seen the inside of a school on a consistent basis, they may be vulnerable to the exploitation of child labor, etc.  I dig this!  My students are going to know about this.  I love the simplicity and far-reaching implications of empowering kids through art, technology, music, and recreation!  

I got to spend an hour or so in this future space teaching an easy English lesson, integrating a couple technology pieces into that lesson, and just meeting kids and hearing their stories.  My tech failed halfway due to my own charging error, but Jesus was there and I love being in that setting.  Teachers are always teachers right?! Whether in the classroom, on a sports field, in a coffee shop…

I just love being surrounded by people who think big, whose hearts break for the least of these, those who carry their idealism proudly, and then realistically go about the work needed!  That’s what a world changer is.  

Take a look into Seeds and trust me when I say that it can sustainably change lives of young Burmese kids (along with many others serving as the hands and feet of Jesus).  Plant a seed of hope wherever you may be called!

Seeds

First things first…

Flying in, my heart was awakened by the mountains surrounding the city!  I can’t wait to explore them a bit, but I digress.  I got to Mae Sot, walked into the tiny airport and immediately saw Amy there waiting!! 

Amy picked me up in one of Outpour Movement’s trucks and we made a few stops to pick up necessities.  After that, we decided to go to Famous Ray’s, the restaurant with burgers, fried pickles, and Thai food that Outpour Movement started; and then I got an Arnold Palmer (my favorite drink for those who don’t know) at Braverly, Outpour’s bake shop/bag shop focused on empowering women in the community.  Yeah, don’t judge me…I am having plenty of authentic Thai experiences throughout the day, this just wasn’t one of those moments!  Sorry not sorry folks!

I’m realizing I haven’t really explained Outpour Movement to many of you…so that blog post is pending!  Until then check out Outpour Movement!

Amy and I then sat down with two of her Outpour colleagues, Michael and Mason, to discuss plans for Seeds, one of their ministry projects.  I came in this adventure and wrote the grant to Eli Lilly hoping to help and serve by teaching English and tech stuff…and I got my wish because immediately I learned we will be having a small project happening Saturday with some students from The Refuge, a family-style home for youth affected by the ongoing civil war in Burma!  

Outpour Movement very much lives out the verse…

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9

For me, the Lilly Of Endowment Teacher Creativity Grant is about empowering me later on in my classroom…some might not feel like that’s rest and renewal as the grant application called for, but for my heart, purpose, passion…I know I’m in the place I’m supposed to be right now for this summer. 

Mae Sot is bigger than I pictured or from what I’d researched online.  It’s a melting pot of Burmese, Thai, American, British, South African, Russian people and those are just people I know of so far.  They drive on the left side of the road like the rest of Thailand.  There are a lot of NGO’s here working on the Burmese peace process, with refugee issues, etc.  It’s fascinating to me, and my world is growing with each person I talk to!  I have much more to learn.  I’ll share that in future posts!
Did this make any sense?!  It’s literally just a stream of thoughts coming from my journaling.  Ask questions if you have some!  I love questions!

Exploring Bangkok

Despite my jet lag, I couldn’t pass up a chance to take in the city of Bangkok with B, a former Bluffton exchange student!  We joked about repping Bluffton Track & Field around Bangkok!

I ventured out and took a bus to Mo Chit, where B and I met to hop in the sky train!  We went to Siam Paragon, a really fancy, westernized mall to pick up a few things and enjoy air conditioning.  From there we visited the first of a few Buddhist temples of the day – Wat Pathum.   B told me about how her family used to visit there regularly when she was younger.

We ate an excellent lunch at one of B’s favorite restaurants…I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but I’ve discovered my favorites already–> Tom Kha Gai and Sticky rice with mango!

After lunch, we took on the humidity, as it is monsoon season, to go on a boat cruise on the Chao Phraya River.  I loved hearing stories about Thai history and Buddhist legends while visiting the Royal Palace, Wat Arun, and Wat Po!  B indulged me by taking a Tuk Tuk ride and we tried to barter a bit for some awesome elephant pants (I’ll model this for a later post!) and trinkets I bought for my niece and nephew.
Now I’m off to Mae Sot and meeting up with my good friend, Amy D, for the next part of my Thai adventure with Outpour Movement.  

Getting there…

All my flights arrived early, I had an open seat next to me on the 13 hour flight to Tokyo, and I just made the free shuttle over to my hotel for the night!  My prayers were answered for smooth travels and I thank many of you for the prayers and kind thoughts!

So I’m now in Bangkok!  Will report back after exploring the city this afternoon with B, an exchange student from Bluffton that just returned and was on the track team!  

Thailand Adventure

This is where I will be blogging my Thailand adventure, return to Romania, and my various other wanderings.

My goodness…I haven’t blogged in almost a year! Around the last time I posted here, I had just applied for a Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Grant.  I didn’t have much hope in getting it, but I figured it was worth a try!  Then my whole world started to have interesting little happenstance connections to Thailand, the place I wanted to travel to and serve.  Long story short, I got the grant, much to my surprise, and am now preparing to leave tomorrow morning!

This trip has been a goal of mine for nearly 4 years.  My friend Amy is a missionary in northern Thailand, and so much of what I teach in my classroom overlaps with the things we talk about in, I’m sorry to say this, the far too sporadic Facetime chats she and I have throughout the year.  So…4 years of building this up in my mind and praying about it have led to me taking off on a month long adventure to places I’ve never been!  Many of you have asked what I’ll be doing while in Thailand.  As of now, I know I’m going to set up some technology activities in an education center, help start an English language curriculum, and other than that my plan is to let God use me how He sees fit; I just want to serve and for God’s glory to be seen.  I’ve also been asked how I’m feeling about a million times this past week, but does it really matter how I’m feeling?

I learned a long time ago that when you have prayed for something, feel called to do that thing, and have faith and trust in Jesus then all I have to do is put one foot in front of the other and get started.  Thank you for your prayers and kind words over the past several weeks!

Here I go…see you all in July!

 

Deuteronomy 31:8  The Lord Himself will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forget you. Don’t be afraid and don’t worry.

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