Adventures in Europe: Part Two

Last week I began sharing my journey a year ago through Europe with a mission team. Read about it here.


May 29

We met with other missionaries in Vienna this morning. They gave their testimonies. We were challenged from Acts 17 about our focus in life. In Acts 17 Paul has been kicked out of several towns and is alone in Athens. When he is alone and depressed his default was to care about peoples’ souls. We must never forget the souls around us, and Christ must be the center of our lives.

After that we went into the center of Vienna to do some sightseeing. Our guide walked us through several historical sites in the city. After a picnic lunch in front of a castle-became-museum we had a few options: look through the aforementioned museums, tour the Vienna Opera House, or go buy CDs. Needless to say, I toured the Opera House with Michael (a fellow team member). It is a beautiful building. Much of it was destroyed in a bombing toward the end of WWII, but they rebuilt it around its surviving components. We also looked through the opera house museum and I got to tell Michael about operas and singers.

We went back to the church for dinner and fellowship with the youth group. We had fun playing games, and then had our Wednesday night service. A man from the church gave his testimony of salvation. He had grown up a Muslim, but was told about the true God – a God of love and mercy and not of judgment, not a God who must be appeased.

God’s plans are different than our own; and they are better than ours. We just have trouble believing that.


May 30

Hungary. We are in Pecs (pronounced “paych”) at the Potters’ church. Soon after arriving we went into the town to sing at bus stops and invite people to our concert tomorrow. We walked by a beautiful Jewish synagogue. Before WWII there were thousands of Jews in Pecs. Now there are less than 100. The town square is beautiful with old building and statues, but soon after we got there it began to downpour.

Back at the church we ate the most delicious rice meal and then our hosts came to get us. Esther and I stayed with a single lady named Eva. She is working on her doctoral dissertation in chemistry and teaching chemistry on the university level in German. She quickly set about making us feel at home in her apartment. She made us this very yummy berry tea and asked if we wanted internet. Praise God for internet! We don’t get it often.


May 31

Today was our day to go into the city and be tourists. The missionary pastor brought us back to the town square from yesterday and told us cool stuff about it. Then we were set loose to do some shopping. Several of us girls bought scarves and postcards and such. Thankfully we were able to use Euros. None of us had Hungarian currency. The currency is very inflated here. 200 Hungarian Forints are worth about 7 Euros. They sold the most beautiful porcelain, though. I wish I could have bought some to take home with me.

The countryside is so beautiful here. As a child I thought of “Eastern” Europe as a dark and dreary place where no one smiled or laughed. It was perpetually cold and people scurried from building to building in order not to be seen by the police. Nothing could be further from the truth. The people her have been free for many years. They walk around living life just like we do in America. And the scenery is just beautiful. I keep wondering how these people could have left their homelands for a place they had never seen before.

There are poppies growing everywhere in Europe. I feel that America has just as much natural beauty as Europe, but in Europe it is crammed together a lot more – gem upon gem. And there is so much variety here!

Tonight our service went well. Our Hungarian was a little sketchy, but I think people understood the songs anyway. We had about 10 visitors. When we got back to Eva’s house she had made us broccoli soup. She also taught us the Hungarian word for ‘moose’ – ‘Saruwash!’


June 1 – Saturday

Happy June! We had a very long drive. We had to deal with a border crossing into Romania and a time change, and between them all we were late to our meeting. We finally got there about half an hour late. Our meeting was in a gazebo in a park, so I didn’t feel so bad about being late. Afterwards we went to the church and were appointed to our houses. It’s so funny! All the host families here seem determined to marry us all off! If it wasn’t funny it might almost be a little scary. Abby and I went with the sweetest family. The dad was away for a few months working in another country, so we didn’t see him, but the mom was named Eva, and the daughters were Adelina and Andrea. They filled the table with food even though we told them we were only a little hungry, and then they taught us several Romanian words:

Pahar – cup

Prejitor – dessert

Roshu – red

Rose – pink

Mauve – purple

Marro – brown

Negro – black

Alb – white

Albastro – blue

Galban – yellow

Eu ami par krets – I have curly hair

They had rocks sitting around their living room. I initially assumed it was quartz, but they told us it was salt! Apparently there is a salt cave nearby. They gave us some of their salt rocks. Praise the Lord for providing a way to remember Romania as we will not have a chance to go shopping.


June 2

Sunday Morning with the Romanian church. Micah gave his testimony, how he originally was from Romania, but his mom gave him up for adoption because she did not have the means to support him. He was adopted by an American family when he was four years old. Now he has come back to Romania, even if only for a short time. It was very moving and many people cried. The pastor invited the young people to come to the front and pray for Micah and also a girl who was going to America soon. The way it all happened and the fact that it was all in Romanian, it almost seemed like they were betrothing him to her!

In the afternoon Adelina took us walking in the park. She got us ice cream. All over Europe we’ve seen people eating ice cream, many more than in the States. Now I understand why. This was supremely wonderful. I got macadamia and kiwi. Yum!

After the park we kept walking till we came to a historical village. It was exquisite! The buildings had been restored or rebuilt in a log cabin style with thatched roof. We were able to go inside many of buildings, even to touch things! This would never be possible in America, and yet we see it all over here. The chapel was beautiful. I wish I had known were going there so I could have brought my camera.

In the evening the team was at another Romanian church across town. We ate dinner there and then headed back to our host families. Adelina shared pictures of her childhood and family with us. Each place we go it gets harder to say goodbye.


June 3

Goodbye Romania, Hello Slovakia. We had another long drive, and arrived around 4. Our sponsors are staying with missionaries while the rest of us are in a hostel across the street. As much as I enjoy being in host homes, it is nice to be in a hostel and not worry about finding conversation topics and keeping your suitcase in some sense of array.

The further East we go the more beautiful the country gets. Quite the opposite from what I expected. Picture rolling meadows, mountains in the distance, enough sunshine to make it cheerful, with enough of cloud cover to give it a beautiful softness. We passed the most picturesque castle you could wish for. And, of course, beautiful bright red poppies to break up the sea of long green grass.

Singing in Slovakian is…challenging to say the least. These poor people sat through a service of us butchering their language and then encored us. There were a lot more people there than were expected. Even a few gypsies!


Hello friends! It has been over a week since I last posted, but that is because I’ve been on an adventure! I live in the the South, where Summer is sticky and sweet tea flows freely. But my family lives in the Southwest, land of dry heat and exquisite sunsets. Consequently, I don’t get to see them often, and this makes me sad. I just spent the last week and a half with my family, soaking in the sun’s rays, and packing up most of the stuff I left behind when I moved to where I am now. Then my brother and I drove a small moving truck back here (since he’s moving here, too). Let me tell you, driving those things is hard! But my adventure over the last 2 weeks reminds me of my adventure last summer when I went to Europe. I’ve never been more than just barely proficient with technology, so I didn’t figure out how to blog from my Kindle until the summer was almost over. But I think the time has now come to share my experiences from my summer in Europe. So over this summer I will be periodically posting journal entries from a year ago, sharing my thoughts and observations from a foreign culture.


A Journal of Impossible Things: My journal is so called because this summer I will watch God do things that seem utterly impossible.
River wrote in her journal, the original Journal of Impossible Things, of her adventures. All the strange people and places and things she encountered. These things all together were so improbable as to be impossible. But that description applies to God’s work, too. People don’t believe in God, don’t believe in miracles, but God is alive and well and working constantly. He is the One who makes truly impossible things possible.

May 22
All our bills have been paid. There are 26 of us, and the cost is $5,000 each.Two of our members needed $2500 each just a few days ago. God is so good to provide for us.

May 23
Landed safely in Frankfurt and then Geneva. Didn’t sleep much on the flight, and we are all very tired. The poor drivers have to drive on little sleep. Through a miscommunication we ended up putting gas into a diesel engine. Thank the Lord we caught it before we turned the engine on. The repairs were minimal – both in scale and cost. God gave us a safe trip to Grindelwald despite fatigue and weather conditions. We stayed in a youth hostel in the Swiss Alps. When we got up in the morning it had snowed and the scenery was so beautiful! Thank God for the beauty of His world!


May 24
Woke to snow in the Alps. Drove to Gummersbach – a 6 hour trip. Hopefully one of the longest drives of the summer.
The church in Gummersbach is Russian-German. Hundreds of years ago the Czar offered German people land in Russia if they would come farm it. Many went and were then caught behind the Iron Curtain. When it was lifted they came back to Germany – still German because they had formed their own communities in Russia – but they had picked up the Russian language and customs. Most of these churches are very conservative. This church has a huge split in culture between the older and younger generations. The culture split works here much better than in America. Or maybe they just put their best foot forward for their American guests.

May 26
Today we started our trip to Austria. We stayed in a youth hostel in Bavaria – a fortress, actually.
Yesterday 9 of us went with our hosts to a history museum in Bonn. It detailed Germany’s history since WWII. They don’t want to forget the Holocaust and how many people died without cause.


May 27
Last night we stayed at a castle in Bavaria! When we got to the church in Linz we ate wonderful food – including the most amazing schnitzel!

May 28
Before we left Linz we visited a baroque church in Pöstlingberg which had a view of the whole city. Inside the church we sang “God so loved the world” in German. I love singing that text in places like that. We can give them the truth from their own scriptures.
I am staying with a missionary family, and the missionary wife and I had a wonderful conversation over evening tea – sharing our experiences and what God has taught us. When I told her about how my dad and brother had died she said she remembered hearing about our family and that she prayed for us. God has chosen to use our testimony all over the world. After another team member gave his testimony yesterday I realized the power that telling a story can have. I realized that I need to tell my story. My conversation with the missionary wife confirmed that.

It’s a Small World After All

Back in the day traveling anywhere was a big deal. It took hours at the least, and some trips lasted for years. I’m so glad I live now, when I can go from Geneva, Switzerland to Atlanta, Georgia in less than 12 hours. We got back to the states this past Friday, and what a whirlwind it was! The time zone changed on us 6 hours, we changed our surroundings totally, and blessed English is being spoken everywhere. I never thought I would be this excited to come back to the states, but I am.  

You know you’ve been in Europe too long when you want to say “genau” every 3rd sentence, when you see signs in English and think they look funny, when you read the name of the sports building on campus and say “goom-nah-zee-oom” like the Germans pronounce it. Yes, it will definitely take a little adjusting now that I’m back. But I’m ready for the challenge. 

It was a long-short summer, and I’m not sure I’m ready for it to be over. 


Wow. It has been a long time since my last post. And I have a very good reason for that. You see, I am currently blogging from my kindle (I love my kindle). Why? because I am currently in Italy on the last leg of a European mission trip. I’ve been to Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, and now Italy. I am now a world traveller! Great, you say. Good for you. But was there no internet in any of these places?? Well…the truth is that I couldn’t figure out how to login to my account until just now…