i left my <3 in romania

i’ve been to several places around the world. i am no world traveller by anyone’s standards, but i have set foot on a couple different continents. i’ve had the pleasure of visiting Mexico (twice), Panama, Costa Rica, and Romania. i travelled to these places with Teen Mania and Living Word. while i had amazing connections with people in all the countries, one of the places that really stuck with me was Romania.

we worked with a church called Salem in Oradea, Romania. we flew into Hungary and took a bus over the border into Romania. the pastoring family of the church is the Ciuciui Family… wonderful people. we instantly felt at home with them. i think that one of the reasons such a large part of my heart stayed behind in Oradea was because of the difficulties i had to get through to get there. raising the money to get there was one obstacle, but i had no idea it was going to be the easiest one! once i got to training in texas, i met my co-leader. he was an older man, literally the age of my father. at first i thought it would be a good match, because he had experience as a team leader on the field and he would be a good “grounding” element for me as a young “rookie”. what i failed to realize was that he would treat me like his daughter. we clashed so many times, with myself being the one that usually had to back down. to add to the frustration was a rule that the organization had about dating. my husband and i were dating at the time, but we had to “break up” for the trip, which meant that no one was to know we were together. this rule makes complete sense because we were dealing with teenagers who have a tendency to over romanticize things and see themselves in the “love story of the century”. so to keep them focused on the mission trip, we had to keep their focus off of “love”. i didn’t realize how hard it would be to pretend we weren’t together. it would have been easier to have one of us stay home. on top of that, i was so sick. once in country, i picked up some “thing” that had me bed-ridden for a whole day and very weak for days after ward. i have never gotten sick in another country, and no one else got what i had, so i still to this day have no idea what it was. but the show must go on, and the kids had to see us as their “fearless leaders” who could brave anything to lead them to the “lost and dying” of the world. so the morning after i finally could get out of bed, we got to hike 3 miles through the city streets to an orphanage… sigh. i had a girl on my team that refused to go to the orphanage. after talking and talking and almost demanding that she “suck it up”, the true story came out. 3 months before the trip, she had given birth to a baby boy and had placed him for adoption. she was only 16. so the thought of going to an orphanage and seeing children in a situation she potentially placed her child in was unbearable… so glad i didn’t tell her to “suck it up”. so she and i sat on a bench and watched the other teens play with the children (none of which were infants, thank God!). and don’t even get me started about the food… tripe, really??

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” with all of those obstacles to overcome, it really made me appreciate the people and places i found in Romania.

What brought up all of this was seeing them again on youtube.com. Check it out …


2 thoughts on “i left my <3 in romania

  1. Hey Jennifer,

    We don’t know each other, but I also left my heart in Romania! I went with Teen mania to Romania in 1999 to Cluj-Napoca, and Baia Mare. (we also went to Bulgaria). I was 14 years old at the time. Nine years later, Romania is still in my heart. Three years ago I had a Romanian girlfriend and I learned to speak Romanian. These days I’ve started to attend Saddleback Church in California. I felt God put on my heart to go to Romania with their missionary program. They don’t go to Romania, so I involved to be a Leader. I met some people last week that were interested so now I may have a team. I have five potential churches to help their ministries in Romania, but thanks for mentioning Salem. If you have any info about the church that would be great!

    Wow, this is a small world we live in. I get alerts from google about anything new on the internet that google finds about Romania. That’s how I found this page, and to think you went to teenmania too!

    God bless you!,


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