Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Change of Plans

Well…Saturday was quite the day. The plan was for a group of us to drive a little outside of Brasov, Romania to hike up Seven Ladders Canyon and then hike back down and go home. However, that is not quite how the day went.

The first bump in our road to Brasov came in the form of one of the two vehicles we took breaking down. Apparently it is not uncommon for this to car to delay a trip for a little bit; however, this time the problem with the car could not be fixed. That was not the only road bump we ran into, but we did eventually make it to Brasov. However…we did not make with enough time to allow for our hike. Instead we ended up enjoying some time in Brasov for the rest of the day.

This is, obviously, the short version of the story, mostly because I don’t want to type out every detail, but you get the gist of the adventures of the day. But even with all the messed up plans, and frustration that could have easily taken over in each of the moments where the plans went awry, it was a great day. Yes we sat on the side of the road for two hours instead of getting to Brasov on time. So instead, we were able to enjoy two hours of great conversation with our Romanian friends. I think it’s a true testament to the change God has made in my thinking that I can take a day that did not go as planned and just enjoy what makes a day worthwhile—good friends and good conversation....and memorable moments.

Making the most of our delay...eating cherries that David brought.
In Brasov we went to one of the narrowest streets in Europe,
Strada Sforii (Rope Street)

God has been teaching me a lot since we've been here; especially, that my brain really tends to get in the way. There have been a couple times in which I have just dreaded going to work with the kids or something of that nature, simply because I feel a little tired or nervous that the lesson isn't good enough. However, I always go, regardless, and every time, as I’m embraced (or tackled) by children, God reminds me that this is not about me, and that my tiredness and worries are all just my selfishness. I thank God that he has put me here and I pray that he will work through me without me getting the way. And we’ve only been here a month, I can’t wait to see what revelations and slaps in the face the next month and half bring for me and for all of us.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Climbing out of the "pit"

This is the time of our trip that we were all warned about in our cross-cultural training... culture shock. We were told that about 3-4 weeks into our summer, culture shock would start to hit us. And indeed it did, for me at least.

This is officially our third week in Romania and I am starting to make my way out of the "pit" of culture shock.
I am not one to ever be home sick so it was a surprise to me that I would even encounter, let alone be the first to experience culture shock. Little things like our internet at the apartment we are staying at goes out often so Skype dates get either cut short or get cancelled.  It was also hard to find the alone time that I didn't even know I needed, but quickly realized that I do.  I know these things are little, but they were the things that have brought the most frustration.  And honestly I was scared.  I was scared of little things like if the work I am doing even matters to the people here and if I am even going to make a difference in Sighisoara. I was scared of being forgotten as soon as I left for home and of not learning as much as I want to. I know that these are just fears.

My prayers are lifting me out of the pit. I pray that I do not define success in how many people will remember my name after I leave or how quickly I can learn the language. My prayer is that I am faithful, faithful to learning but more importantly, faithful to the people of Romania. As long as I am faithful, I will learn, I will be remembered, I will make a difference. I want to be faithful to God's plan for my team this summer and I look forward to continuing to climb out of the pit.

In happier news, we are having a great time.  We are settled into our host homes and into our schedules at Veritas.  Evans is working in the Kindergarten and Kids Club programs, Michael and Kate are immersed with working with the teenagers, and I am working with Kids Club and Elderly Club programs. Our work in Tigmandru is going well.  Our team travels to the village every Wednesday and Friday to lead the youth group. We do a lesson, we are focusing on character and helping them figure out the kind of person they want to be. After the lesson, we split up into sports and crafts.  Michael and Kate lead the sports and Evans and I lead the crafts.  They usually play soccer for sports but also baseball and frisbee and encourage the teens to have positive attitudes and sportsmanship.  Evans and I are teaching how to make paper beads that can be used to make necklaces and bracelets as our craft in hopes that someday the girls can sell them. Kate and I are also helping teach English on Wednesdays in Tigmandru and next week we are taking over and teaching by ourselves.  It is going well so far!! Sighisoara is beautiful and so are the people who live here!

Our prayer is that we are faithful to the people that we are serving here in Romania and that we are an example of character that we are teaching to the teens in Tigmandru. Thank you for your prayers.


Monday, May 23, 2011


After a short delay in Bulgaria, due to lost luggage, we finally made it to Sighisoara last Thursday night! We got settled into our host homes and started our day early on Friday. Our first day here we had our first language class and will continue to have language classes for the next six weeks. We also got to visit Tigmandru, the town where we will be spending most of our time this summer. The school there only goes through the eighth grade and many of the youth do not make the extra effort to finish schooling in Sighisoara. Many times they cannot find work either so they are left without much to do. We are going to partner with the Nazarene Church there and build relationships with the teens through crafts and sports clubs. We will also be assisting in some English classes that are already taking place at the church. We hope to start our clubs Tigmandru this week and will keep you posted! Thanks again for your prayers and support!

The team outside of the ruins of a citadel on a hill in the village Saschiz. An excellent view!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I'm kinda opposed to writing a blog, its kinda weird, just so you know. And if you can't already tell Evans, Katie, and Kate made me write this, but here it goes. 
This past summer I was talking to some friends telling them why I became a Christian. They told me that the fire that I felt for God would eventually burn out. The idea of the fire going out was the last thing I wanted. I made it my mission to keep my passion for God burning. So here I am, having never ridden on an airplane or been out of the country and I'm about to get on a plane and fly to a country I know little about and live there for twelve weeks! I'm excited for this adventure and opportunity to jump right in and trust god with my life.
-Michael Follis

Friday, March 25, 2011

How I Got Here...

In high school I was able to participate in a lot of short term missions' trips with my school.
My Junior year we had the opportunity to serve in the Dominican Republic and it was there that I felt God calling me into a life of ministry. Since then I have done my best to figure out what this calling means for my life. I am still learning everyday what this looks like; but, for now, I know that it means complete trust in God in every decision that I make.
After graduating high school I decided to attend Trevecca Nazarene University, eight hours away from my home in Ohio, to study Missions. I hardly knew anything about Trevecca and certainly did not know anyone that went there which made that decision terrifying! I trusted God and I feel so blessed to be here learning and living in Nashville.  I am trusting God that this summer in Romania will be a lot like my decision for college. I applied for the Immerse program at the last minute possible still very unsure of whether I should participate or not. Three months away from home in a country I have never been to that speaks a language I do not know was a little intimidating. I trusted that God would lead me where He wanted and about a week later I received news that I had been accepted into the Immerse program as a part of the Romania team. I am incredibly excited and nervous for this journey. I do not know much about Romania but I hope that this summer, through God's grace and power, I will be able to be a testament of God's amazing love to the people of Romania. I also know that it will be a great time of growth and change for me and the rest of the team!

In closing I would like to share with everyone a verse that I always turn to in times of brokenness, anxiety, grief and even joy. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9 This summer I am sure will have its fair share of struggles but my prayer is that in times of struggle I will be able to turn to this verse and know that God's grace will be the one thing I can always lean on.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Getting to know Katie Gibson...

Hi! I am Katie Gibson. 
I am a Junior studying Religion with a focus in Compassionate Ministries.  I serve as a resident assistant on the second floor in Tennessee Hall, and I love it.  I am from Valdosta, GA where I live with my mom and older sister.  My dad just moved to Lompoc, CA about a year ago. While at school, I attend Trevecca Community Church and, when I visit home, I am a member of the Valdosta Church of the Nazarene.  I really love Nashville and the people that I have met here. I also like to paint, be crafty, play frisbee, and enjoy warm weather. 
I have a passion for serving people; that's what encouraged me to apply for Immerse. I am very excited for this summer and what God has in stored for me and our team. The only mission trip I have been on was to Jamaica last Spring Break and it was only ten days.  One of the things that I learned on that trip was that we didn't have to bring God to the people there in Jamaica, he was already there.  I know that's how it will be in Romania.  God is already there in Sighisoara, we just get to experience him and the community that he has there.
We just had the opportunity today to talk to a volunteer missionary that lives in Sighisoara, and I can not explain how helpful and encouraging it was to hear about the culture, people, and how life is kind of like there in Romania.  If you would have asked any of the four of us going on this trip, what we would be doing there, none of us could really tell you. And maybe we still couldn't really, but now we definitely have a better idea.  I think this is just what our team needed to hear because sometimes not knowing exact things can be discouraging.  I think that it can also be stressful especially for some of us who are planners and like to know what is going on.  I am so thankful of the time our team spent together today and the things that we learned today.  If I could give an adjective describing my day, it would definitely be encouraging.
I know God has a plan, and every day I need to remind myself that it's okay that I don't know what it is right away.  We still have three months to prepare, and I know that God will reveal his plan in the right time, even if it's not my time.  I'm going to be leaving behind a lot of great things this summer, but I am looking forward to what God has in store for me and for our team on this journey.
I hope this shows you a little bit about myself.  I want to try to be as honest as possible, and thank you all for reading this and sharing in our journey.  I am looking forward to keeping you posted on everything that is going on with our team! 
- Katie

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Oh hey...I'm Evans :)

As the semester and summer goes on the four of us will alternate writing updates and we thought you all would like to know a bit about each of us and why we are going on this trip. So we want to take the next couple blogs to introduce ourselves for those of you that don’t know all of us.

So HELLO! I’m Evans Knowles and I am a sophomore graphic design major at Trevecca from Ooltewah, TN. I have a great family--two fantastic parents, one older brother, a sister-law, two younger sisters that are twins, a 4 month old nephew (that is just the cutest), and a larger extended family full of pretty much the best people ever. I love my family, God has certainly blessed me with them!

My passion is people. Ask anyone, I'm a people person and I love it. If there's an event or social gathering, I'm usually there. I want to love on people, make them feel included. That's what I want to do on this That's what we're called to do. I'm not perfect at it always, in fact I'm rarely perfect at it; but, it's what I strive to do. Everyone should be loved...there's no for anyone not to be.

I am excited, nervous, thrilled, and a million other emotions about this trip. First and foremost, though, I am so excited to see what is in store for us this summer! When I applied for Immerse I was not sure that I would get chosen and I certainly did not know what I was signing up for. All I knew was that I had always thought the idea of a long-term mission trip was fantastic, life-changing, and all around amazing but I had pretty much assumed I'd never go on anything longer than a week or two trip---I'm a graphic design major after all, long term mission trips didn't seem like something I'd get any chances for. Honestly, before applying that was a hold back for me, I had friends applying that were religion majors and I thought, "Well, yeah mission and religion majors, that makes sense. But graphic design, not so much." At the same time, however, I've been on a journey for the past year or so just trying to figure out where I'm going and where God's taking me and mostly what it looks like to trust in God's plan, even when I have no idea what he's doing. I'd say there is certainly no accident I heard about this trip when I did with where I am in my walk with God. Therefore, my interest was peaked and, with some nudging and encouragement from friends, I decided to jump right in--even with as little as I knew (and still know) about the trip.
One of my favorite Bible verses comes from Ecclesiastics 3:9-13 and says
"God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he's left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he's coming or going. I've decided that there's nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That's it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It's God's gift.” (The Message)
That's what I want to do, make the most out of every opportunity God puts in front of me, even when it's scary how much I don't know about those opportunities. This trip is part of that for me. This is me trusting that God has a great and wonderful plan for me. This is me coming to terms with what will not be an easy summer at times. So yes, I'm scared of all the unknown. But I guess Jesus never said following him would be easy--I mean really, carrying a cross would be the opposite of easy. This is me embracing a call to love. This is my confusing scared excitement. This is my readiness to be challenged.

This is me. It's nice to meet you!
I can't wait to take you on this journey with me and my team!
 - Evans