By Kim Latham
What do you do when you have no savings, are flat broke and starting a new job and you get a call to go to Romania for a month to give a series of seminars for the Lord?
You say yes, of course!
Total Member Involvement (TMI), an evangelistic organization of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, coordinated a movement to present seminars throughout the world in 2017, beginning in countries such as Romania, Ukraine and Moldova. The movement has spread to other countries throughout the year.
I began my trek to Romania earlier this year. All 250 participants met in Bucharest for our orientation before heading out in smaller groups to our assigned areas.
Though there was unrest at the time in the countries to which we were traveling, the Lord paved the way for safe travels and wonderful experiences. At orientation, we learned that some groups in Ukraine were encouraged to leave the country early due to escalating protests, but the people assigned to those areas prayed about it and decided to stay, trusting in God for protection.
My group of six flew into Cluj, Romania, then drove to the city of Bistrita, where we would commute each day to our local congregations. My assigned church was in a small village called Rustior in the mountains of the Transylvania district.
Each day our group would gather together to go over that evening’s presentation, then head back to our rooms to practice individually and pray. On Fridays, we’d cover three presentations—one for Friday night, the presentation for church service Sabbath morning and Saturday evening’s presentation.
Each evening, drivers would take us for a lovely, home-cooked meal before we went to our individual churches. We had many lively conversations and all became fast friends. Our driver, Alfred, decided that if I moved to Bistrita, I could get a job teaching English. He said he’d find me an affordable apartment and even look for a husband for me (though he did admit that finding someone taller than me in Romania might be a problem).
We soon found that God had placed each of us in the perfect congregation for our personalities. We bonded with our congregations, and our love for the people and the country of Romania grew each day.
I found the Romanian people to be gracious, loving and generous. Though they struggle economically, they were quick to give what they had out of love and appreciation toward us. They cooked meals for us that undoubtedly stretched already thin budgets and took time out of their busy days to come to meetings each night, even though local priests tried to discourage attendance.
One gentlemen in my congregation was struggling with cancer, but came most nights just to hear about the Lord. We met at his house one evening when he was unable to attend due to his illness, and we held hands and cried together as we prayed. Though he couldn’t understand a word I said, our shared tears conveyed my sorrow and love for him. The Lord gave him strength to attend the rest of the meetings after that night.
I hoped to be a blessing to the Romanian people and came away blessed so much more in return. Somehow my meager budget stretched and my bills were paid on time. I purchased my plane ticket using my parents’ accumulated airline points. My meals were provided and I did not go hungry. My new employer graciously did without me for a month and warmly welcomed me back.
I said goodbye to the wonderful friends I met in Romania with a sorrowful heart, and I’m still in awe of the love and generosity they extended to me. It sounds cliché, but I truly did leave a portion of my heart behind. Whether or not the Lord sees fit to send me back, I know I will always remember my time and friends far away in the mountains of Romania.