Village Life in Romania (May 2009)

From sarahdiederich.theworldrace.orgFrom sarahdiederich.theworldrace.orgFrom sarahdiederich.theworldrace.orgMonday, May 4th, we moved from the city to a little village called Arcalia.  My team is staying about 30 minutes from four other teams.  Our new home, for two weeks, consists of two rooms, a bedroom/living room and a kitchen/dining room, which was provided by a local family.  They moved into the husbands parents house in order that we may have our own living space.  The kitchen includes, for the most part, everything we may need, except literally a kitchen sink!  There is a gas stove, cabinets full of pots and dishes, a large refrigerator with a freezer, etc.  Our “sink” is outside the window involving a couple basins, and a barrel of water.  The water is pulled out of a well and carted to the house everyday.
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Our yard has two fenced-in areas, a small backyard for hanging out in the sun, and a small farm comprising of a huge rabbit with babies!, couple chickens, a dog, and a cat.  Another fenced-in area contains a large garden of onions, potatoes, lettuces, etc.  It’s like a little bit of home!
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We have mostly been cooking for ourselves, but have been treated to a few Romanian meals.  Gabby, our hostess, has made cabbage rolls-rice and pork rolled in cabbage leaves and a flour/sour cream mix with chicken.  Both excellent and I’m in the process of getting the recipes!
From sarahdiederich.theworldrace.orgFrom sarahdiederich.theworldrace.org                                                                                         Sara and Gabby, our hostess’ children
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      Castle in the park where we found WIFI

Poppin’ Popcorn in October

October is Poppin’ Popcorn Month!!  Popcorn just happens to be my FAVORITE snack! I could eat it all day and love the variety, although I am perfectly happy with a bowl of air popped, spray buttered, and salted popcorn.

Popcorn is pretty amazing. For more than just a few reasons, and guess what it can help change the world!

Popcorn Month

First some fun popcorn facts!

  • Americans consume some 16 billion quarts of this treat. That’s 51 quarts per person a year.  Yikes, I probably consume twice that!
  • Each kernel has a tiny drop of water, which when heated causes the kernel to ‘POP’.
  • Microwave popcorn was the very first use of microwave heating in the 1940s.
  • The world’s largest popcorn ball was created by volunteers in Sac City, Iowa in February, 2009.  It weighed 5,000 lbs., stood over 8 ft. tall, and measured 28.8 ft. in circumference.
  • It is believed that the first use of wild and early cultivated corn was popping.

Now, ideas for changing the world with popcorn!

  • Host a movie and popcorn event at a boys and girls club.
  • Plan a game night with your family and enjoy popcorn.
  • Make your favorite popcorn recipe and take bags of it to those that are homebound.
  • Invite all of your friends, family, or your church to each make a popcorn recipe for a fundraising event. Then everyone votes on their favorite by putting money in jars.  Money raised can be donated to hunger fighting organization.

What other ways can Popcorn change the world?

God Calls the Weak

The Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
In today’s society, we are told to focus on our strengths, the things that we know we are good at. We try to forget our weaknesses or at least hide them so no one will see. But thats not what the Bible says. The Bible says to boast all the more gladly of our weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 
Why? Why would we want to boast of our weaknesses?
Have you ever noticed that when we use our strengths and talents to succeed at something, we are the ones that are praised. But when success happens in the face of difficulty or seemingly impossible circumstances, we look to God with our praises.  I think that is because we knew that we could never accomplish those feats on our own.
God’s power is made perfect in weakness, because that is when He is praised.  When we once again realize that it is not my our works, but by His that we achieve our goals or dreams.

Throughout the Bible we see testimony of weak or incapable people being used by God for His glory.

Take Abraham and Sarah for instance. God told Abraham that he would be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. But Abraham laughed and said, “Can I really become a father at 100 years old and Sarah at 90?” And yet, regardless of how old Abraham or Sarah was, God was true to His promise.
Or consider Moses, he led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt through signs and wonders.  He became a great leader while the Israelites wandered in the desert. But did you know that Moses wasn’t a good public speaker. When God called him to lead the people, Moses said, “But I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” And God’s reply was, “Who gives speech to mortals? Is it not I. Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.” But still Moses argued that he was incapable of what God was calling him to do, and so God allowed Aaron to be the spokesperson.
It wasn’t because Moses was incapable that God provided another speaker, it was because Moses did not believe that God could use him despite his weakness.
Thats where we struggle. We are afraid to make known our weaknesses, because we see them as holding us back. As a barrier between where we are and where we want to be.
But God created us with both strengths and weaknesses.  And it is those weaknesses that we can use to show God’s true power. Yes, our strengths are gifts from God, but they can also hold us back from being used by God.  When we allow God to use our weaknesses, our faith is restored, and we begin to rely on Christ and not on ourselves.
Have you ever felt like God was leading you to do something out of your comfort zone? Or maybe you find yourself thinking what if I could do this or that. What if I could change the world? But then we become realistic and decide that those things are impossible, because we either aren’t good enough or our weaknesses will cause us to fail.
Thats where God is trying to intervene. He puts things on our hearts and minds for a purpose. He wants us to accomplish the impossible. He wants us to exceed our dreams.
But the reason we don’t is because we don’t allow ourselves to be available. We may think we are willing for God to use us. But problem is that we don’t make ourselves available for Him to use us.
Consider Jonah. God called Jonah to go to the people of Nineveh and announce that their city would be destroyed due to their wickedness. But instead Jonah ran away. He didn’t want to go to Nineveh. He didn’t want to proclaim God’s word in that city. And when he finally did, he was angry that God chose to save the people of Nineveh.
Isn’t that the way it is with us. We get scared or we don’t want to do what we know God is calling us to do. And sometimes when we do follow through, the results aren’t what we wanted.  But God is so much bigger than our desires, and He is more powerful than our weaknesses.
So, today I ask you. What is God laying on your heart? How does He want to use you?  And if you aren’t sure, consider the many opportunities around you.  Mission trips, especially international, has the ability to change our way of thinking and inspire us to make an even greater impact on the world.

So, the real question is this.

Are you willing and available to let God use you, despite your weaknesses, to do the great works that He has planned for your life?

Village Ministry in Romania (May 2009)

From sarahdiederich.theworldrace.orgFrom sarahdiederich.theworldrace.orgFrom sarahdiederich.theworldrace.org

Ministry in Romania for the last two weeks has given us a break from the tight schedule we’ve experienced many months.  We have been able to establish our own routine or ideas for ministry.  Personally, I had a rough start this month, feeling emotionally tired.  It was a constant effort to push through and persevere.  Although I, surprisingly, enjoyed being in the city, being back out in a village is so refreshing.  Seeing God’s beauty all around me, and the weather has been perfect.  It’s hard not to fall in love with village life.From sarahdiederich.theworldrace.org
This month I have considered cooking for my team as my main ministry.  I have taken care of grocery shopping with our contact, and making sure we have needed supplies.  In between preparing meals, I have tried to jump into other ministries as well.  There have been several house visits and prayer walks through town.  Tomina and Lindsey have headed up a children’s program in the evenings.  Encouraging Gabby and her family has also been an integral part of ministry.  Gabby has a huge heart for her village and she has an unconditional love, not only her children, but for the crowd of kids that seem to always be around her house.

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One of my favorite moments was spent sitting on a bench along the road, hoping to read my Bible.  Before long, I had been joined by a handful of children, a puppy, and a couple of hens.  Then an older man came out to sit by me and we tried to communicate.  Communication is always a mixture of entertainment and frustration, because I desperately want to carry a conversation, yet with language barriers that “conversation” becomes a guessing game.  I was able to show him pictures of my family and friends out of my Bible, so then he went to get his Bible.  His wife came out with him this time, and I’m pretty sure he wanted me to read his Romanian Bible out loud! Which I of course couldn’t!
This month has been an example of how ministry may look for us once we get home.  We have gotten to live life while reaching out to our neighbors.  Since we are living in the village, our lifestyle relates to the people we are ministering to.  We all have to pull water out of a well; we consistently pass the same people on the street, etc.  This allows us to minister through our actions and through daily life.
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Words are Powerful

(This post is based on a true story, but recent information shows the supposed threat to be an ill-advised, inappropriate joke that led to the student taking his own life for reasons we will probably never know. It may or may not have any connection to bullying, but I am choosing to leave the post as is, because it still deals with other stories that our nation has and is dealing with.)

Words have the power to love, encourage, hurt, destroy. .

What power do your words have?

Last week, my small community was hit with a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened. . . That still makes no sense.

A highschool senior shot himself while being taken into custody for a supposed threat towards another student and perhaps others.

A young man that was a part of our youth group. . . who seemed to always have a positive outlook, a goofy comment, or a deep question.

Why? That is the question that keeps surfacing. What happened to cause this behavior?

We may never know the reason behind the threat, no evidence has been found of any follow through. And personally I truly doubt there would of been. . . .

But even knowing this young man, I’m glad the threat was taken seriously and school was closed.

But why did he kill himself? What made him decide that was the only solution?

Could it have been from bullying? I know that he was made fun of, that kids were harsh and mean towards him. He was a little different, had a few social behavior differences, but thats no excuse for bullying.

Could it have been those words that set this young man off? That convinced him to take his own life?

What if those bullies had treated him like a friend or even just left him alone. Would he still be here? Would there of ever been a threat?

We will never know.

BUT, we do know that words are POWERFUL.

Words make a difference.

YOU have control over the words that come out of your mouth. They can be used to hurt and destroy or they can be used to uplift and encourage.

If you are a parent, YOU have the responsibility to teach your children that bullying is wrong and it must be punished.

If you know someone who is being bullied, please let a teacher, staff, or parent know.

Be a friend to the friendless.

What power will YOUR words have today?

Message to my Childhood Self

What if you could send a message back to your childhood self? What would you say?  Would you of listened?

This month Compassion International is sponsoring a blog month and I’ve decided to participate.  The goal is to raise awareness about children living in poverty and to inspire YOU to sponsor a child or if you all ready do, to encourage someone else to change a child’s life.  I wrote all about my sponsored child, Suriya here.

Anyways back to the question.  What would I say?

Dear 10 year old self,

You have been created for a purpose.  Even though it would be really nice to be one of those popular kids, you have a greater mission in life. Ignore the hurtful words, and continue to strive to be the best person that you can be.  God has really exciting things in store for you. Things that you can barely imagine, but stay focused on what truly matters: God, family, friends.

Dream big, and never let someone tell you that you can’t. Because you can.

Encourage those around you. Be a friend to the friendless. And keep a smile on, because its contagious and will brighten the day.  Remember, you are special because God created you for a purpose that only you have the power to accomplish.

Have you ever noticed that as kids, we are encouraged to dream big. Reach for the stars. Nothing is out of reach.9

But as we get older, that tone changes. Be realistic. Just get a job. Dreaming doesn’t get the work done.

What happened people?  Why the discouragement? Why the doubt?

Imagine how different the world would be if we hadn’t changed our minds about those dreams. How would your life be different?

What would you tell your childhood self?

Visit to a Gypsy Village (May 2009)

Gypsies migrated from India to Eastern Europe.  Many have settled into farming villages, after living nomadic lives.  Others have established jobs or careers in bigger towns or in the cities.  The term “gypsy” is sometimes considered derogatory because many of these people came from persecution or heavy prejudices.  Others consider the term “gypsy” to be a descriptor part of their heritage.  Gypsy people seem to be laidback and full of love.  They love music, and prefer to incorporate many instruments at every gathering.

Last week, we had the opportunity to visit a Gypsy village about 30 minutes from the city.  We visited two homes and organized a children’s program.  There was lots of singing, a few skits, testimonies given, and fellowship with crackers and soda.
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Need Inspiration? Part 2

Last week we talked about our passions and how to get started using those passions to make the world a better place. So, what do you do when you’ve started living your dream and putting your great ideas into action, but nothing seems to be changing or no one seems to care.  This is where I struggle the most. . .

Does anyone care about my passion to make the world a better place?

Is there anyone out there who will stand by me, and share in this passion?

Of course, most of us have family members or even a few friends who are willing to help out a little or maybe offer a little encouragement. But its not the same as having a partner that is just as passionate as you are.  Whose willing to go the extra mile or stick it out even when nothing seems to be coming together.

Well, I hate to admit this, but I don’t really have an answer. Or at least an answer that will solve this issue once and for all.

But I do have a few suggestions for gaining the inspiration that you need to keep on. . . keeping on.

Need Inspiration? Part 2

  • Find someone who has been where you are or someone that has a success story similar to your dream. This probably won’t be someone you know and you may not even get to talk to them. But search the internet, search the library for success stories with inspiration and ideas that will move you forward.
  • Pray and read your Bible. Wow. . do I fail at this one. . . but I keep trying.  If you are passionate and eager to get your hands dirty making the world a better place, I’m willing to bet that God has given those passions and dreams to you.  As Jeremiah 29:11 says, ” For surely, I know the plans I have for you. . . .” Be confident that God is helping to lead you to success.  But keep in mind that success may look differently than you are picturing it.
  • Be willing to adapt and grow your dreams or ideas as you go along.  More than likely the perfect vision that we have in our mind at the beginning of this process, will change as we go along.  And if God is leading you, then the end goal will be greater than you can imagine!
  • Consider asking for help.  List out a few characteristics or qualities that you lack, and think of people who would shine in those roles. For instance, I am not very creative so I could use help designing a logo.  Allow them to have ownership in a portion of your dream, and who knows they may be just what you needed to succeed.
  • And sometimes, all we can do is take baby steps.  My dream of ‘International Blessings’ laid pretty much dormant for 5 years, until I finally told myself I have to at least take baby steps.  Boy, do I wish I would of started those baby steps A LOT sooner!  One of my baby steps was starting this blog.  I’ve definitely had drawbacks and failures along the way, but I keep trying to do better and stay focused and eventually I was able to take another step.

Check out these resources and ideas of what others are doing to make a difference.

And if you aren’t sure how your passions or dreams can make the world a better place. Start by jumping aboard someone else’s dream. Ask how you can be involved and who knows it just may be exactly where you are meant to be!

Where do you go when you need inspiration?

City Life in Romania (May 2009)

Our teams, Clay and Remnant, left Lukansk’, Ukraine on Saturday, April 25th and took an overnight train to Kiev, Ukraine.  After an 8-hour layover at the train station, we boarded another overnight train for Romania!  We got off the train around 2pm and hung around the station, until the leaders were able to locate a bus to take us to Tirgu Mures, Romania.

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For a week, we lived in an apartment with two rooms, only 6 beds and between 10-13 girls!  The boys stayed at the YWAM base.  Although, the living space was crowded especially during meal times, we were all able to maintain sanity and get along!!  I was surprised how much I enjoyed being in the city, with everything at our fingertips.  We were also able to enjoFrom sarahdiederich.theworldrace.orgy constant wifi at our apartment, which is a luxury we haven’t had since leaving the U.S.  Jessica and I took care of grocery shopping and meals, though we had plenty of great help!  Ministry included visiting a gypsy village, prayer/worship meetings, street evangelism, etc.
From sarahdiederich.theworldrace.org
Sadly, the cost of living was over our budget.  So, Monday, May 4th, we relocated to a village near Bistrita, Romania.  Future blogs will share additional information!

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