Monday, December 30, 2013

Hold Me Accountable (to my resolutions)

     Here we are coming to the end of another year. I am not sure where 2013 went but it really has flown by. We are a day away from starting out a brand new year. As usual it is time to set those resolutions that we quickly break. I laugh out loud at this because each and every one of us are guilty of setting those goals and then being discouraged as they fall by the wayside.

      I am going to do something here and ask for accountability. I am placing three goals here in writing on my blog. I challenge anyone that comes across this post anytime during the year to ask me how I am doing and am I continuing in my resolutions. I am keeping it simple and setting three goals that I wish to work on this coming year. God, Family and Self are the three areas that I am addressing.

     The first, I am most excited about as it will be the focus of the first eight months of this year. My church is doing the study "The Story"- the entire church from children to adults will be aligned at the same time studying the same lessons. It is my resolution to remain true to this study as well as committing to a deeper quiet time with God. This year in addition to meditating on my readings in "Our Daily Bread" I am going to be doing a daily meditation from an "Experiencing God" devotional. I hope to grow closer to God and find better direction in my life with all three of these.

       Secondly I want to be a better husband and father to my family. I obviously am not perfect and would like to concentrate on making my actions count for more. I need to watch the tongue and let things go. I want to continue to grow the relationship Karen and I have. I know God has things planned for the two of us and I want to be more in tune with that calling.

        Finally there is the matter of self. I am now middle aged and need to pay better attention to my health. Already I have started this journey by getting a physical (which I put off for too long) and need to work on getting back into shape. I can stand to lose 20-30 pounds and of course need to get back to the gym. This starts with the New Year. I am committed to this.

      All three of these are probably your typical resolutions but it is my plan to make them a reality. I am going to start out gently with baby steps. I will do my quiet time each day without fail. I will watch my words and think before I speak. Finally I will commit to going to the gym a minimum of 3 times a week for at least 30-45 minutes. I can grow from there. All I ask is that you hold me accountable. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Wishes

   It has been a little over a week since I have returned home from Romania. My heart is still filled with many mixed emotions and I know God is working on my heart. My ministry is and always will be with Compassion International. I believe in their mission of releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name. I have seen the difference that sponsorship makes in the children's lives. In the past two years I have been blessed to travel to Mexico with Southern Mexico Missions, traveled to Honduras to see my sponsored children and then partnering with Remember the Children in Romania to deliver Christmas boxes of Hope. Each of these trips, though different, are similar in that we brought smiles to children. That perhaps is the greatest gift of all.

     With an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education I know the importance of reaching out to children in their early stages of development in order to make a difference. Giving hope and helping them reach their potential should be every adults focus. This is my wish for this Christmas. As we prepare to sit down in our comfort with our families I pray that we take a minute and remember those that 'have not". Offer a prayer, sponsor a child, make a contribution to some fund that will assist those less fortunate. This year reach out an make a difference. Please!

     My specific prayer this Christmas that I will offer up this Christmas Eve will be for each of my sponsored children. May they know the potential they have and continue to strive for that. I will pray for Southern Mexico Missions that they will continue to reach the unchurched and spread the Good News. I will pray for the continued growth of the Christian church in Romania. I specifically  lift up the new friends I have there and pray that they will continue to be encouraged. Finally I ask prayer for direction in my calling. I would love to be 100% working for God and I know what He has placed in my heart. I pray for openings if this be His will. Please join with me in prayer. Blessings <><

Friday, December 6, 2013

Remembering Romania~ Part 2 (Hearts of Gold)

  • Today our week begins to come to an end. So many amazing memories and stories to tell. I know one thing though. As usual I am coming away more blessed than when I entered this amazing country. I have been touched by the welcomes we have received, the hugs and the smiles. Several amazing moments are standing our for me right now:
  • In all of the churches we visited the children had taken the time to prepare a song for us in English. As bad as our attempts to speak Romanian have been they were amazing in singing to us in English. Funny thing is often we would try to say something to them in their language and they would respond in English. 
  • Going into the schools to celebrate Christmas and tell the Christmas story. Again each of the schools had prepared a presentation for us. Can't do that back in the United States. 
  • Sitting in a church in a remote village when the pastor walked in and up to me and said "Chuck, how are you?" Standing there with my mouth open he explained he had "friended" me on Facebook. Amazing how much smaller the world has become but equally cool because I now have friends overseas. I have added several friends including including Pastor Danny (who we are partnering with here) so that we can pray and make a difference together. 
  • Going to a church that was dead three years ago and walked in to 175 children clapping and cheering for us as if we were celebrities. Talk about a humbling experience. 
We have had several members get sick, I had my phone stolen and we are exhausted but overall I would say our hearts have been poured into. As we begin our journey back to the States I leave a piece of my heart here as well as new friendships.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Gypsy Village

    Back in Maryland when this trip was planned it was placed on our leader's (Dawn) heart to adopt a gypsy village. This village would be one of our primary focuses. It was for this village that we set aside some of our shoeboxes and brought coats for the children. I must admit that visiting this village comes with mixed emotions. The gypsies here are shunned by others. They are probably the poorest of the poor and where our hearts should be most broken. We were also warned though to keep our valuables close at hand. A simple hug could result in something lost. After all, they are gypsies and will use what they can to survive. Sadly as a Christian that fear convicted me and hurt my heart.
     We arrived there and were heartily greeted.  There were only a minimal amount of children. We did our candy cane story, gave out some candy, danced in the street and played some games. It was muddy and dirty but our hearts were filled. We decided we would come back later when their were more children and promised to do so. We visited another church for about two hours before heading back to the village. When we returned the children ran and gathered around us. The chief of the village came and helped organize the distribution of our boxes, coats and shoes. I need to add that Tony ( a member of our team) brought along boxes of sunglasses and crocs to be handed out. They proved to be a blessing. Distribution was organized chaos as some wanted more than what we could offer but the chief kept things in control. On a negative note we think we saw some of the things that we provided being resold on the street as soon as we gave them out. That is the way of life here and I can only imagine that there was a greater need for the money rather than the coat or shoes. God is in control and we can't let disappointment get in the way of His plans.
      Speaking of plans, Danny (the pastor), also has this village on his heart. He lives nearby and is active in this community to bring the gypsies to Christ. Sadly many years ago the Word was brought here but no one followed through. Danny has vowed to change that and is working hard here. Other local churches will not welcome the gypsies into their places of worship. It is part of Danny's plan to build a church here in the village. It will cost 20-25 thousand USD but it can be done. Danny's wife would also like to see an after-school care for the children as part of this plan. I know this can be done with help and prayer and we are excited to be a part of this and watch it unfold.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Remembering Romania ~ Part 1 (Here We Are)

So here I am in Romania. A trip that has been anticipated for almost all of this year. I knew about the trip before it was announced and was really not sure if it be on my agenda. However once it was announced I knew it was the kind of trip that I just had to go on. We would be delivering "Boxes of Hope" through Remember the Children. What an awesome way to begin the Christmas season by bringing boxes filled with toys, candy and essentials to children who may not otherwise get a gift. It would also be an opportunity to spread the "Good News" to those that need to hear the message.

     We left on Friday morning (11/29) and traveled for close to 26-28 hours. We went from Baltimore to New York to Paris to Budapest and then drove over into Romania. This was perhaps the part I dreaded most. Just being idle for that long period of time is really not my thing. I did not really sleep during that period but overall I survived.

      So we are now in Romania. We have had food beyond belief. I will be coming home heavier then when I left. Our hosts make sure we have plenty and we have to eat what is given. I officially had Hungarian Goulash and some other neat stuff. We worshiped on Sunday in two churches. The first was just a little church with few members. Those that attend are shunned by neighbors because they are going to a Christian church and not an Orthodox one. Still they remain strong. The second church was larger and I shared my testimony. It was a blessing. We worked in the warehouse unpacking the large boxes and going through the Christmas boxes. We needed to make sure that there were no inappropriate items and each box had at least the minimum that should be in each. I did find my own box which is cool. Hopefully I can hand deliver it to someone.  <><