As I sit bouncing around on the LONG flight where the stewards usually speak to me in German, I can't help but reflect upon the last week. How was that only a week?
But, if I'm to reflect, I must go back farther than a week--all the way back to my first trip to Romania in 2002 at the age of 16. It was then that God began to grow in my heart a deep love for Romania and its people. It was that trip that stole a part of my heart and locked it up in Eastern Europe. I had to go back--there was no question.
At the time, I had NO IDEA of God's long term plan. But, do we ever? I only knew that I had fallen in love with Romania and I had to return--so I did on short term teams in 2003, 2004, and 2005. It was during my trip in the winter of 2005 that I decided to intern for CTL during the summer of 2006. That summer I lived in an apartment. In Piata Uniri with a few other girl interns for a couple of months and served alongside the Romanian staff. It was then that I was able to see some of the long term effects and benefits of this ministry.
Although I still held a deep love for Romania, I did not return for six years. That long time period seems crazy to me now, but God was still working. My summers were busy with classes and work. I wasn't totally keen on the idea of going back on a team after having lived there on my own for a few months, and I was not yet ready to take a team of my own, so I waited. And waited. And waited.
After moving home in 2009, I always had this desire, this itch, to get back to Romania, but I still wasn't quite sure where I fit or how God would want to use me. So, I waited. In 2012, as we were just a short time away from finishing up the school year, my mom and I (deciding we were thirsty after running some errands in the Marketplace) ran into DeAnn and Haley at Starbucks. They were talking about Haley's upcoming trip to Romania with Victor. As I leaned over and looked at the table, I noticed a CTL Romania flyer with my picture on it. It was at that moment that DeAnn exclaimed, "Amy! We're looking for another girl to go to Romania with Haley. Want to go?" My response: SURE!
I was ready. I went back that summer and the fire was rekindled within me. I still didn't know how God would use me within CTL or in Romania, but I was sure glad to be back.
The next fall, at the CTL banquet, as Victor shared his story, Colette and my mom both turned to me and said, "We're going!" Umm ok. I didn't have plans to go back yet, but God certainly did. I led a team of women back to Romania in the summer of 2013, and Colette and my mom (and I) have been quite involved with the ministry stateside ever since. I began to feel like I had some sort of purpose. I knew going to Romania made a difference, and I hoped God had used me in some way on each trip, but I now really felt like I'd found my niche.
Helping with child sponsorship and other things Romania stateside helped to keep my fire going. For years (even before I first went back in 2012) I'd been hoping and praying that my church, Living Grace, would somehow get involved in CTL Romania. Toward the end of last year, through different talks and meetings with our pastor, Brian, it became clear that our little church now had an interest in the ministry in Romania. Praise The Lord! Through a series of events, it was decided that my mom and I would travel again to Romania this summer with DeAnn and our pastor Brian. What a HUGE answer to prayer. If you've been following my posts at all, you know how our week has been. If not, look back!
So, why all the long history, you ask? Well, to share with you a tiny piece of God's sovereign plan. He sent me to Romania for the first time in 2002 to plant the seed and begin to grow my love for this place and these people. Now, it seems as if He may use our little church to help buy land to build a ministry center that will begin to break the vicious cycle of abuse, corruption, and trafficking in the lives of these precious children. I am humbled and in awe that God allowed me to be even a small part of His grand plan in Romania. And, I look with much hope to the future, knowing that through his strength and mercy, we will be able to save more children from the jungle and dungeons they are living in now.
This hope is renewed and multiplied every time I think about the sweet little girls from the Home of Hope. Hearing how far they've come in six short months is nothing short of a miracle. Just imagine what God will do in their lives in the next six or sixteen years!!
God is working. He has a plan. He is not finished with Romania, and I am so thankful that he's not yet finished with me. I don't know when I will return, but I am confident that I will. Romania and these little ones are forever burned in my heart--not because of anything I have done, but because of God's mercy and sovereignty. I pray that when He chooses to send me back, I will not be like Jonah and run the opposite direction. I pray that I will run toward God and His plan, trusting that in my weakness and humility He may continue to use me in this place.
Until then, I will pray and fight for the least of these. Will you join me?