My one-year anniversary in Romania was yesterday at 8:20 p.m. I had been looking forward to this date. If not in reality, at least in my mind it’s an important milestone; one whole year in a foreign country learning on the job how to do missions work.
Months ago, I started thinking about what I’d write, figuring I’d have something deep, insightful, and spiritual to share. But I don’t. Partly, this is because the date snuck up on me. Partly, it’s because the thing I feel most certain about is that I’m still learning, still growing, still discovering. And I have a headache now.
Instead of a “year-in-review” (you’ll get something of the sorts in July when I put up my next prayer letter) or something deep (that’ll take a few years to get around to), I’d like to give you just a couple of my observations and reflections.
1. Ninety percent of following Jesus really is about simply not quitting.
2. Ministry is not a microwave but a slow-cooker; it takes a lot longer than you think it ought to.
3. New locations, new opportunities, and new cultures mean new demons, new battles, and new victories.
4. I really love teaching people about Jesus.
5. Pastors are far too little-appreciated, and the spiritual covering they give is often underestimated.
6. Loving Jesus when no one cares that much whether you do or not is… well… tough.
7. I love the faithfulness of Jesus through my ups and downs.
8. God knows far more than me and is far more able to guide me than I often believe or recognize.
9. People across the world respond to love more than to words.
10. Romanians, just like Americans, are awed by power, money, and all the passing pleasures of the world.
11. I love how Romanians go out of their way to help total strangers.
12. It’s tough to plant a church, and being in a foreign culture and not speaking the language doesn’t help matters.
13. When I don’t have a strong vision, Jesus has one and will guide me into it.
14. Miracles can happen anywhere; you just gotta step out in faith.
15. No one gives better hugs than a poor Gypsy kid whose parents left him to find work in Portugal.
16. Good parenting makes a strong nation; bad parenting makes a nation of whiners.
17. God is ready to move, often more ready than I am.
18. People across the world are hungry for God; most just don’t know it yet.
19. Public transportation is awesome, and I love not owning (and fixing!) a vehicle.
20. American grocery store produce tastes like plastic.
21. I miss “Fruity Pebbles” and a cold glass of milk more than I ever thought I would.
22. God provides wherever he guides.
23. You don’t need a vision, dream, or angelic visitation to go on the mission field; you just need to be willing.
24. Romania needs missionaries desperately, but probably no more than America.
25. I love small towns, quiet streets, nights full of stars, and the smell of the country; yes, I even love the smell of dairy farms.
26. I have a difficult time with uncertainty.
27. There’s no better way to learn a foreign language than to move to a foreign country.
28. If I ever leave Bucharest, I’m going to miss the pretzel and donut shops on every corner; they’re a life-saver!
29. I can’t wait until we get something permanent and settled going here, but I rejoice in the day of small beginnings.
30. No price is too small if it means Jesus will be glorified.
31. I love dancing, smiling, lifting my hands, and generally being free in worship.
32. Religion really is boring, but a relationship with the living Jesus through his Spirit… is LIFE.
And there you have it! Thirty-two thoughts and reflections after a year in Romania. Have I grown? I’m sure I have. What have I learned? That’s harder to say at this time. Where is God leading next? That’s a mystery to me. 🙂