The following night, Saturday would typically be the church service, but due to a conference the service was moved to Sunday night. So Saturday night on their way home, the Constanin's picked me up to take me to their house for the night. (Amber was already out there as she had gone earlier in the day.)
On the way, Nicu asked me if I would be interested in speaking to the middle school kids in the morning. I had already been asked to do a bible lesson for the children's program. I said I would think about it. I wanted to make sure I had something to say. Insecurity rising.
I had determined to try and say yes to anything I was asked to do and not miss out on an opportunity. On my own, I didn't quite know how to fit in as a temporary piece, wondering if I really had anything to offer. It felt like my brain stopped working. Over and over again, sometimes by the hour, I had to talk myself into trusting God had a plan and would use me somehow. During the evening and morning, I had many hours on my own to remind me of how short I was falling from my own expectations of myself and what I percieved as the expectations of the others.
In the morning, we went to the market for breakfast and lunch supplies. Everyone bustled about getting things done. I wasn't sure what to do. I sat, I wandered a little, and I wrote. For breakfast we had chicken - fresh chicken - cooked on the grill out back. With the meat we had corn meal, roasted tomatos with garlic, bread and a sausage that is traditional to romania called misi (meech).
I had let Nicu know the night before that I would talk to the middle schoolers. What I felt led to share would only take about 5-10 minutes and then I would scoot out. The children and youth program are all held in the front room of the Constinin's house. After I was introduced I spoke to them about my own search for love and feelings of unworthiness. I shared about the oil being poured on Jesus feet and his unconditional love toward her. I told them about Peter messing up and then God showing him that love makes room for our failures. More than that, love is about caring for others and when we give love we recieve love. It was a tough crowd. After I left I felt like I hadn't done a very good job. Several hours later during dinner, Nicu told me that what I shared was good and went right along with what he was talking to the kids about. Again, God knew. When would I stop doubting?
As the time for children's program drew near, we split up into groups and went to pick up the children from their homes. Many of the children we went to get didn't want to come, they wanted to go into the fields with their parents.
I had chosen to tell them the story of Samuel as a boy. I believe that children often can hear from God much easier than we adults can. I want these kids to know that they are important to God and He can use them right now. I tried to keep the lesson simple to translate. I didn't know what stories they already knew or how detailed they usually go with the lessons. I ended up a little too short and needed to be longer, so the translator had to fill in some of the time and asked them many questions about the story. As someone told me later, each failure a learning experience to make the next opportunity better. And I had a few hours to improve.
Just before 7pm, the church was filling up. I really enjoyed the singing. There is something about worship and prayer that makes language barriers obsolete. The singing ended in a time of prayer ministry, where I was blessed to be able to pray over a couple people and take some of my insecurity demons to my Father.
Then it was time for me to take the kids for children's church. Aurel called me to the front so I could be introduced. I wasn't sure what to say so I thanked them for their hospitality. I said I was enjoying their country and would take good care of the kids. Somewhere in the next few moments , I realized that Amber wasn't coming with me this time. I couldn't rely on her. I was on my own this time. Then, I felt peace. This was going to be fun.
I knew the story I wanted to tell and how to tie it into the craft. I, my teenage helper and translator, and 25 or so kids crammed into a room with a table in it. Nowhere near enough room for everyone to be at the table for the craft, but I knew we would still find a way to make it work. I started with the story of David and Jonathon, best friends. I talked about how good friendships make our lives better and stronger - like a strong tree. Then I explained the craft, the same one I had the kids in Roseti do the day before. The kids really enjoyed it. Some of the older ones got quite creative with the process and some of the younger ones had more glue on the paper than anything else. We finished up the craft, creating a nice mess to clean with only a few minutes left until the service ended. It had worked out in chaotic perfection.
I did have one casulty. A very young boy decided to sit in the corner and cry. He wouldn't tell anyone what was wrong, so an older girl took him out to his dad. One of the older boys decided my nickname would be "chicken lady." In the end, I got him to change it to "lady fox." I found out later he likes calling people by animal names. Then there was sweet Mari.
The precious girl trying to help me understand some of the other kids but speaking the words to me in very slow Romanian. I still didn't understand because I don't know Romanian. Finally she figured out she could just draw it. Then I got it! She gave the sweetest hugs.
Back in the sanctuary, one of the boys came up to me and gave me his craft to take. Shortly after, Mari appeared for more hugs and also gave me her friendship tree. Both of them now are proudly hanging up at my desk. Not only as a testimony to the simple love of a child, but also as a reminder of what can happen when insecurity is given its eviction notice.