A Conversation with Mihai

Before we were going to talk together, I wanted to write down some thoughtful questions about their beliefs. Questions I wanted to know, questions I think others would like to know so I got my pen out and jotted them down. I wrote down questions like, “How do you explain the gospel of Jesus Christ?” “How do you authorize your worship? Bible? Creeds? or Tradition?” and “What is the biggest threat to your church today?” I had seven questions in all. I kissed Julie. Then I started walking down the apartment steps.

My friend Adrian scheduled this meeting for me after I told him I have been trying to talk to an Orthodox priest without success. He was the translator. Walking into the church was not the most welcoming. It was quite dark and candles were lit. The painting of the saints covering the walls seemed were dark, flat, black. There was a girl in the corner with her head on a shelf and her hand on an icon. She just stood there leaning.

Mihai, the priest dressed in his priestly garb, quickly approached us with a nice smile on his face. Adrian introduced me, we put some chairs in a circle and started the conversation. “Ask whatever questions you have.” “Okay,” I replied. “First, what is the gospel of Jesus Christ?” He looked at me for a moment. “I cannot explain it. It cannot be explained. Only God can explain it to you. Just read the gospels and epistles and it will be explained to you, if God wants to. Paul explains it very well in his epistles.” “Okay” I replied, “but you cannot give me your own summary?” “Ok, God is love. God is light. God want you to have peace and not be in turmoil.”

I then wanted to know how the Orthodox church saw protestants. “What do you think about protestants?” He replied, “they are in the dark about many things. They went to far when they left the Catholic church. Catholics are extreme in that they glorify Mary too much, as they think the Pope is infallible, as they don’t allow the Pope to get married.” “So do you think protestant or Catholics are saved?” “I do not judge, only God knows,” he replied. Then he told me a story. “You know, once a Orthodox priest and a drunken bus-driver died and went to Saint Peter. Peter let the bus-driver into heaven and sent the Orthodox priest to hell. And the Orthodox priest cried, “Why” and Saint Peter said, you preached too many sermons and people were just sleeping. But the drunken bus-driver lead 23 people to heaven when they prayed for their lives.”

“When I walk around town passing out fliers in search for an opportunity to present the gospel, some Orthodox believers call me a “pocăiți.” What does that mean?” Looking a little embarrassed, he explained slowly and carefully. “It means a person who repented. It can mean a good thing, like when someone turns to God. But people use it also for people who leave the Orthodox faith.”
The last question we talked about was the topic of studying the Bible. “This was one of the extremes of the protestant movement,” he said. “The Pope is looked to for truth for Catholics.” “The people are to study the Bible for their truth for the Protestants.” Then he brightened up; “the Orthodox stay right in the middle. We want the people to read the Bible, but the explanation should be left to the priest, who has studied it in college. Just like a patient goes to a doctor for medicine, Orthodox Christians go to the priest to hear the meaning of the text.”

Mihai had to leave the conversation for 20 minutes to bless some food for a walk-in believer. After he returned we concluded our discussion with the main threat of the Church. “What is the main threat for the church today?” “Peace,” he replied. No one has peace today and that is what everyone looks for. And because they don’t have peace, they aren’t able to live right. It’s like a tree which can’t bear fruit because the winds are pressing against it. The world needs peace. With that, I asked if we could talk next week about worship, baptism, singing, and icons. Lord-willing Adrian will visit Mihai again next week.

Living My Dream

Sometimes I cry. A lot. Almost every day.

Sometimes I ask myself again and again what I am doing, because sometimes I have no idea.

Sometimes I feel stuck in the middle of stress and there’s nothing I can do.

At these times I have to slow down, stop, and remind myself that this is my dream. I am literally living my dream!

I think it is typical of most young girls to daydream about their Prince Charming and the perfect wedding day. I had my whole wedding planned out when I was 14 (and I used 0% of my 14-year-old ideas!) and I had a picture in my head of my “ideal husband.” I prayed that if it was God’s will that He would show me my “ideal husband” and we could get married and live happily ever after.

Now I am living my dream and so much more. God more than answered my prayers and gave me the perfect husband for me, at a time when I was not even expecting it.

When I met Sam (although I had determined NOT to have anything to do with guys my first year of college) I was blown away. I can remember praying to God that I had no idea if He was answering my prayers and this was the one, but if he was I honestly could not imagine anyone better. He went above and beyond every item on my “ideal husband list.” As a senior he was always so kind to me, a freshman who was terribly homesick and had no idea what she was doing in college. The more I got to know him the more amazed I was, and I remember thinking that if nothing ever worked out for the two of us, I didn’t think I could ever like another guy; no one would ever match up. We began dating second semester of my freshman year, and a year after we first met each other Sam got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was beside myself with joy and I did not hesitate for and instant to say yes. I had known for a long time that Sam was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. This was my dream.

Our long-distance engagement was difficult, but we survived and had an absolutely perfect wedding. Even though it was nothing like my early teenage fantasies, it was my dream wedding, mostly because I got to marry my dream guy.

Now I get to live with my best friend every single day. I get to wake up beside him and tell him good morning instead of texting him. We get to eat meals together, study together, run together, and everything! We still look at each other sometimes and say, “I am so glad we get to be together now. Living with you is so much fun.”

I am living my dream.

Beginning when I was in about 8th grade my family started reading lots of missionary biographies for school. The first one I ever read was about Hudson Taylor, and we went on to read countless other stories of missionaries to tribes deep in Africa, India, China, England, and many, many other places. I was so inspired by all these stories and it became somewhat of a secret dream of mine to become a missionary someday. I remember thinking it would be more difficult to do it on my own, so it would be better if I married someone who was willing to be a missionary and we could go together.

Now I am here, married to my wonderful husband who was a missionary in Romania for nine months before we got married, and we are missionaries here together. Being a missionary in a foreign country is certainly not as glamorous as perhaps I imagined as an eighth grader. It is much harder than I anticipated living in an unfamiliar country, surrounded by a different language, a different culture, and lots of people who are not readily accepting the good news we have to share with them as much as we would like. But I am learning so much. I learn from watching my husband work tirelessly every day, studying, thinking of new ways to reach people, and going out and talking to others, spreading the Gospel. I am learning so much patience. I am learning to trust in God like I never have before. I certainly have not learned any of it perfectly, and I am still learning every day, but it is truly such a blessing.

I am living my dream.

All my life I have wanted to be a mama. I have gone through phases where I was not sure if I wanted to get married or not, but I have never questioned whether or not I wanted to me a Mama. Dolls were my favorite toys growing up, and I absolutely love doing anything with babies or little children. They never fail to bring me so much joy! I grew up with an absolutely amazing Mama who taught me so much, and she inspires me every day to be like her.

These days, I really have to remind myself that this is what I want to do. Some mornings I lie in bed feeling extremely nauseous, just wishing it could go away. Some days I see Sam cook for me and himself, do dishes, and go out of his way to do anything to make me more comfortable, and while I am incredibly thankful for it, it is hard for me to watch him do the things I feel like I should be doing. Some days I am so exhausted I feel like I’m failing because I can barely keep our apartment clean and getting out to go anywhere is a feat.

But it will all be so worth it, I know. Whenever I feel like complaining I just have to stop and remind myself what it is all for! Sam and I are so excited for our child and we pray every day that we will be godly parents and lead him or her to the truth by our words and actions. We pray we can grow the Kingdom through our family. And if we can accomplish that with God’s help, it will be more than worth it. I cannot wait to be a Mama

I am living my dream.

My Word of the Year and an Exciting Announcement!

Unlike many others, I have never chosen a word for the year, a word to focus on and grow with. I have never had a word to stand out to me as a single word that can sum up what I want to focus on for the year. I love to write, and often I find myself rambling on and writing much more than I need to for anything, whether it is in my personal journal or for a school essay. So whenever I lay out my plans for the year I have much too many words to narrow it down to one single focus.

This year, however, is different.

One day on a run Sam brought up a conversation he remembered someone having with my sister. She was a new college student, stressed about being pulled in many directions by classes, friends, responsibilities, and events. He told her to do it all, but to really focus on what she was doing. “When you’re studying,” he told her, “don’t think of anything else. Just study. And when you’re at cross country practice don’t think of anything else! Just run really hard. When you’re at a social event, have fun with your friends and don’t think about how much school you need to do.” This helpful and practical advice reminded me how much I tend to think about everything all the time, and sometimes all I need to do is focus.

Right there, while we were running I told Sam, “I just discovered what my word for the year will be! It will be Present.”

2017 was a huge year of changes and milestones for me, and it looks like 2018 is going to be another wonderful, crazy, full year. And I want to be present for it all.

I want to be present as I am living in Romania and do what I can while I am here. I still miss home and family terribly, and sometimes I wish I was there, but I am not. So I want to be present here and do all I can to support Sam and help in the work here. I know my time here is limited and I want to make the most of it.

Whenever I am talking to people or spending time with them and building relationships I want to be present. I want to listen to what they say and be able to thoughtfully respond, not have my mind in a million different places as I am with others.

When I am doing school or studying I want to be present and be able to get things done, and I want to be present when I spend time with Sam and not think about my long to-do list or school assignments I have due soon.

Another thing I want to focus on this year (and the rest of my life!) is prayer, and I want to be present in prayer. I can have a hard time keeping my mind from wandering sometimes, but I want to focus and be present in God’s presence.

When my family comes to visit in May I want to be present and fully enjoy every minute they are here, not focusing on how sad I will be when they have to leave.

In September our lives are going to drastically change, and I want to make sure I am present through it all. Sam and I are thrilled to announce that we are expecting our first child in September 2018!

Right now I am in a fleeting stage of life, and instead of desiring to fast-forward time (as I am prone to do) I want to be present and soak it all in. I want to be present in these last few months Sam and I have together alone and take advantage of all the loads of time I know I will miss in a few months.

When I go home in July there will be a whirlwind of activity; doctor’s appointments and baby showers and a million little things to get ready for a baby, but I want to be present.

In September when we can hold our little bundle of joy in our arms I want to be present. I want to enjoy and remember every moment with tiny baby features and newborn milestones.

As I move into a new stage of life I want to continue to be present, to serve others, to give others my time, and to shower those around me with love.

This year I want to be present.