But, enough of that for right now. Let me update you on our goings on yesterday since going to bed at two this morning did not leave much time (or brain power) for blogging.
We awoke a bit early yesterday to get ourselves ready and down to the train station to catch our train to Sinaia. I ended up sitting with Sara, Heather, and Jamie on our journey. We enjoyed some good stories and the scenery a bit, but eventually Yahtzee took over and we tried to keep our volume down as we attempted to continually roll five dice on a side table the size of a piece of notebook paper. Perhaps my favorite line was when Sara explained that she couldn't go for a Yahtzee anymore because she had "turned it off" (crossed it out). I couldn't stop laughing. It was good for the soul.
When we got to Sinaia, the weather was cool and gorgeous. As we walked/hiked up toward the castle, we took short breaks every so often to rest and discuss a debrief question. Although this wasn't the usual method of debriefing, it worked quite well, I'd say. I think it gave all of us time to really think through and process all we had learned and experienced. When we got to the castle, Marc went to purchase our tickets, and we stood in the enormous beauty of the courtyard and continued to debrief. And, fortunately, we had a bit more time there than expected because the ticket people had poor Marc on a wild goose chase to get our tickets, the receipt, and correct change. Marc, you're amazing--THANK YOU!
Although I've been in the castle a few times, each time proves to be a new adventure. Upon this particular occasion, the adventure came in the form of a stalker. No joke. Apparently in the five minutes that it took us to begin the tour, a dude from Texas had fallen in love with me. Pe bune? (For real?) I actually found it quite hilarious, as did Waylon who wanted to give him my number. Fortunately, I stuck close by our dudes and wasn't much bothered by it.
After the tour, we met back up with Marc and the rain that had just begun, and we headed down to lunch. I have to admit that I was a bit frustrated when we couldn't all sit together at lunch as I knew our time to debrief was limited and valuable, but I just had to hand it over to God and trust that he'd provide the right time for us. That he did. As always.
Since our tables were near to each other, we shook off the uncomfortableness of speaking in public and were able to get through a few good questions before our food came. I had Schnitzel and savored every bite. It was seriously AWESOME. Oh, and guess who showed up at the same restaurant for lunch? My new"bff" from Texas. Serious? Haha.
A bit of souvenir shopping was our next order of business (Sara and Heather, I need pictures when you wear your blouses!) as we did our best to stay sheltered from the rain. Fortunately, the storm held off until we were pretty well finished shopping, but it came on quite strongly as we headed back to the train station. As many of my PA teammates were subtly grumbling under their breaths at the rain, I was like a little kid at Christmas. I giggled with delight at every roar of thunder and flash of lightening. I loved it! I'm fairly certain that Marc and Mama shared in at least a little bit of that sentiment as we're so used to not having weather. We arrived back at the train station sopping wet, but smiling.
On the ride home, our seats were still separated a bit, but we were all in the same area, basically set off from the near by sections. Because of that, I spent most of the trip back leaning over my seat or standing up talking to the rest of the team. We shared stories, secret talents, voices, and tons of laughs--we even threw in a few rounds of Two Truths and a Lie and Never Have I Ever. It was all quite enjoyable. I seriously love those non-structured, goofy interactions with my teammates, although they were few and far between this week with all we did.
When we got back to Bucharest, Marc took us back to Old Town to get Shawarma for dinner. Delicious! Oh! And, I ran into Denisa again in Old Town! It was seriously the sweetest surprise (and crazy to think that I could possibly run into someone I know as we're out and about--thank you, Jesus!). On the way back to the ministry center after dinner, we shared some awesome belly laughs (and I really am not even sure about what at the moment, but I'll always look back on that fondly and remember how much joy we were able to share in certain moments).
We met Bogdan for a quick debrief of the week when we got back to the office, and after Bogdan and Marc left, we continued our team debrief. We first discussed re-entry, our futures with CTL, and how to handle all of that. Although it was already late, we then decided to go around and affirm each team member in some way. Whoever's turn it was sat on the hot seat and received affirmation and encouragement from every team member. I have to say, it was good thing we had an entire paper towel roll near by because the tears were certainly flowing. It was a special and powerful time to speak God's truth into each other's lives before leaving this country and each other today. I hated to see it end, even though I was beyond exhausted.
The team packed a bit last night before attempting to get a few hours of sleep. Goodbyes were beyond difficult this morning, but I have to trust that God will allow me to see them again soon. Now I'm praying they can sleep on the plane and be rested and ready as they transition back home. Please pray for them as well!
Like I mentioned, we're headed to Budapest a bit later today for a few days before returning here on Wednesday and flying home on Thursday. Be looking for pictures!
And, although our time of ministry is finished for this year, God is not finished working in and through us yet. Please continue to pray for the team, the Romanian staff, and these precious little ones that have so captured our hearts (again!). I already can't wait to come back!