The last day... It never gets easier. I am always dreading saying goodbye and a bit anxious about the long flight. I love to fly, but only for short distances. And, I hate goodbyes. HATE them!
Anyway, the alarm went off a bit earlier this morning to allow us to check in 24 hours before our flight. Fortunately, we were able to get aisle seats--thank you Jesus! After getting ready (for the last time this trip--wah!), we enjoyed our last worship time and morning devotion. Brian wrapped up Jonah by asking this question: Do you care more about things (the plant as Jonah did) or do you care more about people? I had never heard it taught that way--so insightful and an awesome reminder as we serve and go about our daily lives.
After packing up a bit, I headed back downstairs to the sound of laughing and squealing little girls--music to my ears!
The little girls from Home of Hope were at the office for the morning, but we also had the option of going to visit some of the families from the counseling program. At that point, I really wanted to do both, but I was fairly certain I was going to visit the families. However, as I walked into the living room, Ilincuta (Ee-lean-coot-sa) ran over to me and said (in Romanian), "Amy! I saw you at the apartment yesterday." She followed that up by saying (in English), "I love you!" One of the staff members asked her if she knew what "I love you" meant in Romanian and she replied, "Da! Te iubesc!" Are you kidding me? I knew right then that I would stay with the girls.
I'm certainly glad I did. Ilincuta (which just happens to be the little one my home group "adopted" to buy clothes for) hung on me all morning. Mom did a few assessments with the girls before we started the program (hopping, skipping, catching a ball, etc.) At one point I was standing by the gate filming and Florina told the girls to run to me. Well, they not only ran, but they literally ran into me and knocked me down. I loved it. We then listened to a story, sang, did a craft where we practiced gluing and counting and colors, and jumped on the trampoline (a lot!). It was a precious few hours with these little ones. I trust that God is going to do amazing things in and through them. Please keep praying with us for them.
After another delicious lunch, Bogdan and DeAnn went to the airport to pick up the BCHS team. We organized a bit more and took a little (long for Americans) walk to the store to get a few more Romanian treats. By the time we returned, the kids from the counseling families and the #7 social apartments were at the office. We played cards and hung out for a while before singing and going though a lesson on perspective (at least that's what I think it was about). :)
The BCHS team arrived safely just as the program was finishing, so they left their luggage by the door and jumped right in, playing basketball or cards or Dutch Blitz. As exhausted as I know they were, they didn't hesitate to dive in, and I was quite proud of them.
Before too long, the time came to a close, and the kids had to head home. Two of these girls have grown especially dear to my heart over the years--Gabi and Cristina--so I was not looking forward to saying goodbye to them. I left them with a note encouraging them and telling them I loved them. They kept hugging me and kissing me and telling me they loved me. I can't wait to see them again!
After the kids left, we sat down with the BCHS team and Bogdan and Nelu for an orientation. Nelu put together an incredible video depicting our week. I'd LOVE to show it to whoever is interested. While the men were briefing the team, I just couldn't believe I was getting ready to leave instead of preparing for a week or ten days of ministry. I would have stayed in a heartbeat if it wasn't for our NYC trip planned in a few short days.
After briefing the team and getting them settled in their rooms, we had them eat the dinner Nela had prepared and we (Nelu, Brian, DeAnn, Mom, and I) headed off to a "meeting." We got to meet Florina and Lili (who I wrote about yesterday) at the mall for dinner and Starbucks. It was such a special time to relax and reconnect with these dear people that I have known and loved for many many years. We shared our lives now, memories from the past, and countless laughs. I'm truly going to miss them!
Upon returning home (yes, it really does feel like my second home), the team was still awake and playing Mafia. We were pleasantly surprised. It's easy to tell that they're going to have a great week together.
Mom and I got ready for bed and settled downstairs (because the room was overtaken by BCHS girls). DeAnn came down to talk to us for a while and ended up bringing her sheet and pillow down as well. We turned off the light and chatted away like a bunch of high school girls. It really was a special way to wrap up our time in Romania. I'm certainly going to miss her (and everyone else!).
Tomorrow morning (well, in a couple of hours really), we leave for the airport and home.
Although our week has come to an end, this ministry certainly never comes to an end. Please keep praying for these children (especially the six precious girls in the Home of Hope), the staff who works harder than anyone I know, and the future of CTL in Romania.
Thank you for following us on this journey. If you feel any sort of inkling to get involved, please don't ignore it! Go to the website www.childrentolove.org and give to the van project or sponsor a child or staff member like the ones you've read about this week. Ask questions. Look at pictures. Think outside yourselves.
I'll leave you with one last thought (for now): Don't be like Jonah and keep running the other way. Do you care more about things (the plant) or do you care more about people? :)