This one time, I spent a summer in Romania.
I lived with 8 other people, and they became my family.
Sometimes it really sucked and things were really hard.
There was a lot of ham stew, conflicts in relating, and misunderstandings.
Sometimes it was really good, and things were too good to be true.
Many nights we distorted our faces with tape, played endless amounts of card games, and laughed until we cried.
I know it's horribly cliche to claim a mission trip changed your life and your teammates are your family. . .
but sometimes, it's just really true.
I found an unexpected sister in the least likely girl.
I found a brother through teasing rivalry.
I watched a girl grow up right in front of me and blossom into a young woman.
I held a baby girl with visible lice and loved her anyway. I learned how to persevere and forgive.
I stood up and spoke with shaking hands and trembling words all about an incredible love.
I ate a sheep's tongue and shoveled gravel until my blisters popped.
I watched one of the most radical guys I've ever known kill a fish with a rock and hide it in his pants to get past a crazy man and his dogs. The same guy later pulled me out of a moving horse and buggy when a translation mix up almost got us kidnapped by gypsy family. I watched a lot of sketchy music videos, overdone soap operas, and laughable reality shows. I learned a lot of card games and played one too many rounds of "Oh lei lei".
But the most amazing and remarkable thing about that month was something much simpler.
I fell in love and had my heart completely captivated by one incredible Savior.
I heard His still, soft voice through the streets of each village. I saw His love in the eyes of an orphan.
I felt His peace in the quiet moments we found together. I heard His loud, audible voice atop a mountain at sunrise telling me this was just the beginning. He romanced me and captivated me and radically turned my life around.
He took a selfish, broken, sinner and turned her into a beloved, treasured, daughter.
And ever since, my life has never been the same.
It seems weird that we are going on two years since this adventure.
It seems weird how time goes so quickly and yet moves so slowly.
Sometimes it even seems crazy to me that Romania actually happened.
Sometimes it feels like a really beautiful, intense dream that I just woke up from one day and moved on.
But then I look at my life, where I have been and where I am now and where I am going, and I know that
Absolutely nothing, other than that first big step of faith, could have moved me the way Romania did.
And even when months pass between communicating with my teammates and it's easy to go on with life as though nothing has changed, I only have to stop and listen for that same still, soft voice . . .
and I know that it did happen. It wasn't a dream. Nothing is the same. Everything has changed.
And I don't have to be across the ocean or loving on orphans to hear His voice and remember what He has done
and what He is doing now and will continue to do,
because He is here just as much as He is there
He is constant, present, living, active, moving, sending.
For me, it started with Romania and moved to Thailand, then to my very own college campus.
And from here? Who knows.
But where ever He is sending, I'm ready.