Saturday, April 10, 2010

So There We Were in Eastern Europe. . .

JJ and I got back from our trip to Romania and Hungary on Monday night after one two hour flight from Budapest to Amsterdam, a ten hour flight from Amsterdam to Seattle, and four hour car ride from Seattle to Spokane. It was a little strange getting home at essentially the same time we left and it has taken us until I think this morning to get over the jet-lag. But, we are back in action and ready for the next adventure.

It is difficult for me to describe our trip, so I will be borrowing from the websites of the organizations we worked with in Siria, Romania. First, to explain why JJ and I were asked to go:

We were asked by a group called YouthCompass Frankfurt to come to Romania on Project Compassion to provide the humor, recreation, and entertainment portion of the week for kids coming from other countries to serve. YouthCompass is a ministry to kids who likely have passports from one country, but may have not lived in that country for most of their lives. They have found themselves in Frankfurt, Germany living with Germans, but possibly speaking another language in their homes. In other words, they live in limbo at times trying to identify with two or more cultures they might not fit into. We went on the trip to bond this group of special students. Our good friends Justin and Heather Tillery work for YouthCompass in Frankfurt and were on the trip with us--what an amazing blessing.

{If you want to know more about YouthCompass Frankfurt go to}

Project Compassion is the trip we went on. According to our facebook page, "Project Compassion is an annual services project which gathers teens from our network of European YouthCompass community youth programs and gives them the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged."

Many people have asked me if we were Bible smuggling or handing out literature. If you know us at all, you will know that those activities are not our style. I understand that most people have had a traditional view of Christian missions and find it difficult to grasp the concept of what we participated in. NetWorks was the group that is in charge of this trip and has relationships with the community in Siria. This is what their website says about what they do:

"Romania is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture of its own. In 2007, Romania became part of the European Union. Yet there are still many people living in incredible poverty. Small mud houses with earth floors, no fresh water and no drainage. There are children with no clothes, and there are homes with no doors and plastic sheeting for roofs.

Romania isn't a tropical country. Each winter temperatures drop to below minus 20 C. Young people in these communities have little hope for their future as they see old people living on pensions that won't even buy bread. Families fall apart, and children live and work on the streets.

Eighteen years after the revolution there are communities in Romania with massive needs. A lot has already been done, but there is a lot still to do.There are no simple solutions, yet there can be no ignoring the problem. No one person, or organization can meet this range of needs. NetWorks is a Christian charity (registered and based in Romania) which has begun to collaborate locally, nationally and internationally to begin to meet these needs."

Project Compassion is a small, but significant part of what NetWorks does in Romania and we were glad to be a part of these important relationships.

I feel like JJ and I were stowaways on this trip in the sense that we had no other job than to hang out with these "third culture kids" and to unite them with fun and humor. This trip was very meaningful to us because we were able to see what can happen to an oppressed people when significant and Christ-centered relationships are established.

For a week, we worked hard, laughed hard, and loved hard. We took some pictures of where we were, but we were not allowed to take pictures in the community in Siria. NetWorks did not want 50 people taking snapshots of poverty because those are real people living in really difficult circumstances--it's not poverty tourism. If you would like to see some pictures and video, please visit Otherwise, you can check out the pictures I took of other towns and places near Siria:) The other pictures are from our jaunt to Budapest on the way home. Happy viewing. . .

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