Romania Short-Term Summer Team
Romania Team Members
Team leader: Pastor Corey Kugle
FRONT ROW: Elizabeth Carteaux, Susan Wade, Michaela Wade, Julie Wilkinson, Cindy Wilkinson
BACK ROW: Kent Wade, Sue & Jeff Templeton, Corey Kugle, Jerry Burkard, Nathan Wilkinson
This team had the opportunity to encourage the people of our sister church, Piatra Vie, in Slatina, Romania. This is part of an ongoing commitment by The Chapel to help spread the good news of Jesus Christ in Romania by supporting long-term missionaries, sending short-term teams (like this one) and supporting local pastors, newly-established churches and an orphanage.
Specifically, the team helped run a family camp, participated in a marriage seminar, and assisted with English lessons.
Updates from Pastor Corey during the trip...
Saturday, August 4
Our team made it to Romania last night safely. Our flights were good...8 hrs from Chicago to Zurich, 6 hour layover in Zurich, and then 2 and a half hours from Zurich to Bucharest. pastor Adi and Viorel Vodita picked us up at the airport and then we made the 2 and a half hour drive to Slatina. Lots of traveling and we were exhausted. We had a much needed night of rest yesterday and are ready to go today.
We are staying with host families from the church last night and tonight. Today we are meeting at the church in Slatina to finalize plans for the family camp. I am preaching tomorrow in the worship service in Slatina at 10 am Romanian time. Please pray. After church we will make the four hour drive to the family camp...in the mountains in Brasov county.
The weather is hot in Slatina, but will be cooler at the camp in the mountains. Thank you to everyone for their prayers. I will try to do another post tonight because we may be without internet access the rest of the week.
Saturday, August 4
Here are some pics from yesterday and today. The pic of the big building is the Romanian parliament (govt) building in Bucharest. It is the second largest building in terms of surface area in the world (behind the Pentagon). The other pics are at the church in Slatina (Piatra Vie).
Today, we spend some time at the church with the Romanians finalizing plans for the retreat, ate pizza for lunch, and had some time to pray as a group. We also received a nice surprise as Jeff and Sue Templeton's daughter Libby texted to let them know she just got engaged. It was fun to share in their joy as a team.
Tonight, we are having dinner with our separate host families, then we will meet as a group to walk around and explore the city of Slatina. It is one of the larger cities in Romania with about 70-80k people. Everyone is feeling good so far, except Nathan Wilkinson has poison ivy that is bothering him. We got him some medicine though so he should be ok.
The Romanians are very kind and hospitable, and we are looking forward to getting to know them more at the retreat. We learned today that there will be a few unbelievers at the retreat too. So please pray that their hearts would be receptive to the Lord. Not sure if I will be able to send any more updates because we leave for the retreat tomorrow after church.
Monday, August 13 (from Susan Wade)
It is Monday evening here in Slatina around 8:30. In about three hours we will begin our trip to the airport for the journey home. It has been an amazing trip, and we have watched God work through all circumstances. We were without Internet access while we were at the family camp, and we have limited access here, so Jerry has kept a daily blog that he will share after we return.
Since the details will come later, we just want to share a few things. God has been working through His servants in the Piatra Vie Church. Thirty-six members of the church were able to attend camp. Only two regular attendees were not able to join us. We had a wonderful week as you will hear later, and at the camp and the Sunday church service many shared from their hearts. The church has played a major role in their lives, and many spoke about how their lives have been changed. We heard this again and again in their testimonies, and they are so thankful for all who have come from America both now and in the past.
This just reminds us all that we are all one piece of the puzzle. We all have to step out in faith and take our part in God's plan. The relationships we built could not have happened without all those who came before us. Now that our time here is almost over, it is hard to leave our new friends, but they will remain in our hearts and in our prayers.
Wednesday, August 15 (from Pastor Corey)
We are all back at home safe and sound! We had a very long day of travel yesterday, but got back to St. Joe at about 9 p.m. Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and we can't wait to share with you more about the trip.
We celebrated the Lords day with church at Slatina. Corey gave a great message, and the worship time was good. I think we all walked away with a better understanding that it is good to worship God together with fellow believers, no matter the language barrier. We may not understand what Adi was saying, but we could tell it was from the Lord! What a heart for God he has. Cami came to the service with kids from the orphanage that Elizabeth and the Carteaux's have supported. This was the first time I'd met Cami, having heard about her for years.
We had lunch with our host families, then met back at the church for our bus ride to the camp. We stopped at a World War I monument that was along the way. It was a nice and needed break. We bought bottles of water there, and learned a valuable lesson... NEVER LET COREY PICK OUT YOUR WATER IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. We ended up with bottles of sparkling mineral water (in his defense they look the same as regular water). It kind of tastes like Fresca... but without the flavor. And it tastes worse as it gets flat and warm. (Yuck)
We arrived at Casa Elim – whew, were we ever roughing it. Casa Elim is a very nice mountain retreat. We were really roughing it there. The nice thing was that it was cooler in the mountains. And, after Corey and I figured out how to open our windows all the way, we slept pretty good. We worked on developing relationships that first night, trying to get to know the Romanians a little better. We had a productive team meeting and then it was off to bed.
Day 1 of camp and the first day of English classes, VBS, and Marriage seminar. In the adult classes Viorelle did a great job in making every one participate, and as such it was a productive time. Learning English was a stretch for some, but came easy for others.
In VBS, the kids were fabulous. We would give them something to do and they would do it. We also had to work on developing relationships with the kids. God blessed us with two kids that could speak English very well! And both were named Stefan. We started working on our VBS stuff, and teaching them about Daniel.
We went for a hike in the afternoon along a dried riverbed. It was a blast... and little did I know the easiest hike we'd go on. I came to understand that Romania translates in English to 'everything is uphill.' You can learn a lot from the kids as they quickly started bonding.
Tonight Adi spoke during the worship time. I couldn't understand a word he said, but you could hear God's Holy Spirit was at work. Jeff and I both shared our testimonies and we learned that the Romanian word for 'cool' is Jerry. During our team session at night Corey shared Rev 7:9-10 with us. We were reminded that one day we would all declare our salvation before the Lord... and we won’t have the problem of not speaking the same language. God even showed Cindy that he was in control by providing her someone she could speak to in Spanish.
Day 2 of camp. Classes went well and I had a blast playing Simon Says with the kids. They continue to respond well to Sue's teaching and they really understood Jeff's lesson on the fiery furnace from Daniel. But the thing that encouraged me the most was seeing Teo's smile while Julie and Nathan played games with them outside.
The seminar on leaving and cleaving for the married folks was good, too. Adi and Viorelle bring out good discussions with the Romanian people. And Corey planted some good seeds with Andou and Arel during their Bible study. And then there was Angela who is an encouragement as she hungers to know Christ better.
We took a ride over to Rosanov castle today. Along the way we saw a van parked on the side of the road with Illinois license plates, proving they really are everywhere. It was pretty cool to wander around the ruins of the castle. It must have been a pretty impressive place in its day. Corey had a harrowing experience with the prop guy – you'll have to ask him as there are no pictures...... After the castle we went to a cave, which was really a needed relief, as it was cool inside it. The hike up was pretty challenging though.
During our worship time Nathan and Cindy shared their testimony's. Both were delivered well, and received well. I think the teens really liked Nathan’s, and Cindy's was received well by the adults.
Day 3 of camp. The discussions among the adults focused on the roles between husbands and wives. This seemed to create quite the discussion. A number of the conversations revolved around the fact that “had they known God's plan for marriage earlier in their married lives, then they could have avoided some of the struggles they've had.” Some still struggled with the act of submission and being as loving as Christ. Of course, we still struggle with that here in America, too.
VBS went well again. Pattie Warren would be proud of me. We've come to recognize how great a group of kids we've been blessed with. We give them things to do, and they do it. We've had zero discipline problems. The kids are very eager to learn English and to learn about Daniel. Even Teo is starting to be more comfortable.
So, I learned what the name Adi means in English: mountain goat. We hiked up the mountain today, and was it ever a challenge. By the time we got to the top, I was soaked from sweat. But it was a beautiful view, and we had great fun climbing. There was no way I was going to let the teens make the climb and not me. I felt a little better when I walked into our room and saw Corey and all he could say was “whew... I'm exhausted.” Then he went out and played some with the kids.
During the worship time Elizabeth, Kent and Michaela shared their testimonies and a song that was very touching. Worshiping God with fellow believers is great! Even when there are differences, we serve the same God. It was an emotional and fulfilling evening.
Ps 61:1-5, 8
This morning was a long session for the marriage seminar. It was a double lesson... everyone seemed a little tired when it was over. Or, maybe it was residual from the hike up the mountain the day before. Christi seems to be understanding the message – and is struggling with who he is in Christ and it seems the Holy Spirit is really working on him.
VBS went really well, and the topper was when little Teo gave Sue a big hug. What more needs to be said? After reviewing yesterday’s lesson, it was clear that they are listening to what is being taught. This is really good because there are a few kids we don't really know how much spiritual training they receive. And poor Christi, he has to be a partner with me in the dancing. (Did I mention I didn't like doing that? But I knew this was an area where God was pushing me out of my comfort zone.)
We went to castle Bran this afternoon. Some know this as Dracula's castle. Once you get past the hype, it's really a cool castle. They did put quite a bit of emphasis on the Dracula storyline (lots of t-shirts and trinkets for sale), but we avoided that. I did try the Romanian equivalent of an elephant ear. It was dough cooked over charcoal then covered with sugar and cinnamon. MMMMMM.
We had a great time of worship tonight. We did the VBS stuff for the adults, and the kids did a great job. It was a lot of fun and everybody got a good laugh… or two...
Today was the last full day of English classes. The kids seemed a little low on energy this morning, it's been a long week, and last night was a good time. Listening to them review the Bible lessons for the week, I couldn't have been happier. They not only learned some English, but they learned principles and wisdom from Daniel. For me, this was the best blessing God could have given me.
We went to Brasov for the afternoon. It's a nice town. We got to shop a little bit and I found a few souvenirs to bring home. I also got to spend a little time with the two teen guys that were with us. Both Andou and Arel are fun kids to be with. They both need to keep evaluating where Jesus fits into their life. Both of them have taken the hard road and are starting to recognize that. Hopefully, people like Stefan, though he's younger, will be able to harvest the seeds Corey, Nathan, Elizabeth, Julie, and Michaela planted.
We had a bonfire tonight. A big bonfire. Whew… it was hot. You had to have a long stick for S'mores. Adi shared tonight, and he wanted to thank those who had come before us. He was very thankful of the willingness of those who came before us to answer God's call. He thinks of us as pieces of the puzzle that brought the church in Slatina to be. He said that our prayers and support are greatly appreciated, and have been so very beneficial.
Corey still swears he heard an elephant this morning in our room. And Jeff saw a shooting star while we were standing there.
So today was kind of a tough morning. We finished up our VBS, and the adults finished their seminar. There were a number of people who were obviously touched by the retreat. We shared the gospel message and there are seeds that are planted and need to be fertilized. The hard part for us is that we need to turn it all over to God and let Him do His work. The reality is that it's always been in his hands, we just need to trust him. He loves these people more than we do.
We went to worship for the last time this trip with our family in Slatina. Michaela gave her testimony in church and was it ever powerful. God has been so patient and faithful with her! And you could see the love she has for Jesus in her emotions. Then that afternoon we went to the baptism at the reservoir. That was just as moving. Again it's amazing to see when Jesus fills a void that needs filling. And we had a great time of fellowship back at the church – good food, good fun. God blessed us with a great trip.
We have a long day ahead of us, longer than we expected. After sharing some great times with Adi, Viorelle, and their family, we had lunch. After lunch we had a fire in the kitchen. Not exactly how we wanted to end the trip, but we all came together and cleaned most of it up. It's a good thing they use cinder block construction over there, here in America the fire would have destroyed a lot of things. Back to America...We're all looking forward to getting home, but we will definitely miss the Romanian people.