Life in Romania!

So other than the language, which is huge, what are a few things that I have had to adjust to in Romania?

Scents:  Romanians seem to love everything scented.ö  The first night I slept at the training center I think I woke up three times because my pillow smelled so “fresh.”  Not that smelling “fresh” is bad; I just didn’t expect it.  The following day I went to blow my nose and there it was in my tissue, that “fresh” scent.  It’s even in the toilet paper.  Everything smells very fresh and clean. Not that America doesn’t smell clean, but no where in the world does it smell as “fresh” as Romania.

The light to the bathroom is always outside the bathroom door:  Now this may seem logical to Europeans.  You turn on the light and go into the room, and when you finish, you leave the room and turn off the light.  Obviously they have never been around Americans who can’t wait to turn off the light while you are in the bathroom.

Sausages:  Romanians love like sausages.  First of all, Romanians reserve the word love only for their pets and other humans.  When they like something, they mean they really like it.  And they LIKE sausages.  At breakfast they will put out a plate with 5-6 different kinds of sausages garnished with bell peppers and cucumber slices.  The photo below is the sausage aisle at the large supermarket near Harvest Arad.  Notice that the whole aisle on both sides has every kind of sausage you can imagine.  I’m grateful now for my Polish upbringing that taught me to acquire a taste for sausage.

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I have a car!  But it’s been dark and rainy here every day so I don’t have any pictures.  There are a few things you need to know before you drive in Romania.  Like a white dashed line does not mean two lanes on a one way street; it separates two way traffic!  Don’t worry, I was driving so slow that I never ventured into the other lane.

The car is a used VW minivan from Germany, and the church member who sold it to me gave me a discount.  The Romanians have all been very kind and generous to me.  I went to see an apartment this week, and Lord willing, I will move in this Friday.  This too is a gift from God; the landlord is a member of the church and also offered the rent at a discount.  I am thankful for the generosity that God has shown me through the Romanian people.

We are preparing for the church planters to arrive here at the training center this weekend! Currently we have 6 pastors coming from 6 different countries and a 7th is still in the working. A pastor from Cameroon hopes to join us if he is able to obtain a visa. Please pray that God will open the door for him to join us. I’ll give you details of the church planters in my next post.

Thank you for praying for my daughter Lydia.  The nodule on her thyroid was benign.  She has a follow up visit with the doctor in a week.  Please pray for healing and wisdom concerning treatment.

Terry and Elizabeth will be joining me in 3 weeks.  Please pray for them as they prepare to relocate.

Missing my wife and family but falling in love with the people of Romania,

Mike

 

Saying Good-bye to This Old House

We wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Kijowski’s.  After going to dinner and a movie two days after Christmas, we came home to a broken window, four missing computers and three missing guitars.  Computers can be replaced, but unfortunately Mike jr’s two hand-made guitars that he uses for worship are irreplaceable.  Pray with us for a miraculous return of the guitars and for those who took them to turn from evil and to know the Lord.

The house is a wreck as we go through 25+ years of stuff we have accumulated throughout our time living on Lawndale Avenue in the Chicago neighborhood of La Villita.  There seems to be no end to the boxes and bags we have stored in every corner and closet.  We wonder how we are ever going to get our house ready for the new owners and move to a place that is one third of the size of where we are now?  Elizabeth advised that perhaps we shouldn’t live in any house more than three years so packing won’t be a seemingly endless project.

The living room was full of laughter as we looked through beautiful artwork from years gone by when our adult kids were young.  It brought back many memories of old friends and school projects.

So when are we moving? Well, we passed the termite inspection and handed in all of the necessary paperwork, but we are still waiting for the bank to set a final closing date. Please pray this would happen soon since Mike is hoping to move to Romania in early February.

We want to thank all of you who have prayed and given so generously to our support.  We have raised $45,000 of the $68,000 needed for Romania.

Please partner with us as we seek to strengthen and plant churches in Europe by clicking on our support page.

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Awesome God!

Have you ever felt desperate? Have you cried out to God and wondered if he is listening? The week before I started at the training center I checked the amount of support that I had raised and it was only a few hundred dollars. The problem was that I needed to raise $5,000 by the end of that same week and needed to raise an additional $5,000 within the next two months. Let me be honest with you, my default feeling was not faith but fear. What would happen if I weren’t able to raise the funds, would they allow me to attend the training center? My fears kept me focused on my circumstances and took my eyes off of the vision God has for my life.
God placed me in that situation to drive me to him, to realize that he alone is the one who sustains me. That week I was reading in Deuteronomy and came to chapter 8 verse 3, “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” I realized that God was humbling me. In the past I was the person with the means to give, but now I was the one who was dependent on others. On my last day of work I felt the full pressure of knowing that I would no longer have an income but be dependent on what God would provide through the generosity of others. I would love to say I was filled with great faith knowing that it is God alone who sustains me, but instead I was filled with fear.
That evening as I sat down to dinner my wife handed me a large envelope and said, “It’s from a lawyer.” “Great” I thought, “the worst day of my life and someone wants to sue me besides.” But it was the notification of an inheritance, and I thought to myself, “Really God, you let me be anxious all day about money, and you already had this envelope at home waiting for me. Please forgive me for forgetting that you can use any situation to care for me and to grow my faith.” During my first week at the training center I watched my account go from a meager few hundred dollars to the full $10,000 needed to complete the training! God provided beyond my expectations.
God humbled me and made me hungry, so that I would fully understand what it means to live by every word that comes from His mouth. God spoke at the beginning of time and brought the world into existence, and He is the same God who speaks to us today. I am thankful for the way that He provided for me and my family through the generosity of others.
Please continue to pray for me and my family. Pray for Lydia, Mike and Matthew, that God would keep them safe and watch over them while Terry, Elizabeth and I live in Elgin. Pray that we would be able to close on the sale of our home and find a safe place in Chicago for Lydia, Mike and Matthew to live.
When the inheritance money comes in it should cover the cost of relocating Terry, Elizabeth and I to Romania. Pray that God would provide for our day-to-day expenses there. That cost is estimated at $3,665 a month for two years for a total of $87,960. Boldly pray that God would provide as we step out in faith to strengthen and plant churches in Romania and throughout eastern Europe. Pray for me that the training center would prepare me in every way to assist national pastors as they grow and make disciples of Christ.

Elgin Training Center

 

We officially moved into Elgin! Last night – more acurately, early this morning – we moved the last of our belongings into our little apartment. We will spend the next four months here as my dad (Mike) attends the Harvest Training Center.

We have been very busy fixing and painting our house so we can sell it. As amateur painters, this is hard work! Our neighbor Raul Valdovinos helped us paint and work on the yard for over a week.  He was an answer to prayer and a relief to those of us who were tired from painting.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us in prayer and financially! On Thursday, when my dad checked how much support was raised, we were quite short of the $5,000 we needed by today. But by a miracle of God, we not only have enough to cover the $5,000 but are close to having the $10,000 needed to cover our fundraising goal for the training center! Now we can concentrate on fundraising for our relocation and monthly support to fulfill the mission of strengthening and planting churches in Romania.

-Elizabeth Kijowski

P.S. My three older siblings, Lydia, Mike and Matthew, did not move to Elgin with us. Because they have jobs and college to go to, they will stay in Chicago, even when we move to Romania (but hopefully they will come and visit in Romania).

Sunday to Tuesday

On Sunday after saying good bye to our new friends from Arad, we traveled to Budapest, Hungary, where we spent a day before returning home to Chicago.  Budapest is actually two cities separated by the Danube River: Buda on the west bank and Pest (pronounced Pesht) on the east bank, which united to become one city in 1873.  The narrow cobblestone streets are surrounded by buildings of intricate Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, and Byzantine architecture.  With a population of over 1.7 million, the streets are filled with people of many nationalities speaking different languages as it is an industrial hub and popular vacation destination for people around the world.  It also has a large Jewish population.  Some of the highlights of the sights we enjoyed were Matthias Church,  Buda Castle, Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Fisherman’s Bastion, Gresham Palace and the ruins of the old Jewish synagogue.  In one day we could only scratch the surface of what there was to see in Budapest.   We hope to return some day to experience more of the great beauty of this city.

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Early Tuesday afternoon, we boarded a plane headed for Munich, Germany, and then flew home to Chicago by Tuesday evening Chicago time.  Once again a piece of luggage was left behind and delivered two days later, but at least it was the suitcase with all the dirty clothes.  We have fond memories of our whirlwind trip to Romania.  Thank you for all your prayers and support.  We look forward to returning hopefully in January of 2017.

-Mike, Terry and Elizabeth

Friday and Saturday

 

On Friday afternoon we visited a monastery up in the hills which was quite beautiful and peaceful, rich in religious traditions of the past.  As we walked through the wooded hills surrounded by beautiful wild flowers, we first visited the new monastery which was also home to a number of animals including chickens, peacocks and doves.  From there we drove past the stations of the cross to the old chapel where we drank from a natural spring running down the mountainside.

In the evening Mike and Terry visited Marcel and Nelly’s small group where we ate a traditional Romanian meal of sarmale cooked by Nelly.  Then we had quite an engaging discussion about what it meant for a wife to submit to her husband among the 13 new believers in the group.  Meanwhile, Elizabeth enjoyed attending the youth group where more than 40 young people ages 13-25 worshiped, enjoyed fellowship and a message from Pastor Raul, and broke into small groups for discussion.

On Saturday morning we successfully took an adventurous journey on the tram downtown to the mall to return an item we bought for Elizabeth before her luggage arrived.  In the afternoon we enjoyed an outdoor barbecue with Yonica and Christina’s family at the home of Simona and Adi, who is an elder in the church.   Simona told us that now we could be considered true Romanians since we drank water without ice and traveled by ourselves on the tram.

In the evening Mike and Terry ventured out again on the tram to the house of Scott and Carolyn Pouncey who have a ministry to young, orphaned or abused women.  Elizabeth took the evening off and rested at the Bed and Breakfast.  As we dropped off to sleep that night after packing our things, we thanked the Lord for the wonderful time we had meeting the people of Harvest Arad who so willingly shared their lives with us.  The next day after church we began our trip home.

-Terry and Elizabeth

Tuesday to Thursday

 

 

We were very thankful that Elizabeth’s lost luggage showed up at our hotel, Pensiunea Christiana, Sunday afternoon. Each afternoon we met with different leaders of Harvest Arad for lunch, hearing stories of God’s work in their lives.

On Tuesday, Ionica and his wife, Christina, invited us to their house for dinner and we spent the evening hearing their testimonies. They have been such an encouragement to us as they have welcomed us and we look forward to spending much more time with them in 2017 when, Lord willing, we will move to Romania.

On Wednesday, Ionica took us to the open market where people can buy fresh fruits, vegetables and homemade bread and cheese. He treated us to langos, a fried bread with sour cream, chocolate, or strawberry cream. As we left the market we found ourselves among beautiful old buildings that towered over the narrow streets where many Romanians, young and old, walked in and out of shops. Everywhere we walked in Arad, we were surrounded by many flowers, especially roses.

That evening, Terry and Elizabeth went to the women’s meeting of Harvest Arad where Kim Meeder shared her powerful testimony of how God used a great tragedy in her life to bring eternal hope. Her ministry brings hope and healing to broken children through interaction with horses at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch. We were so encouraged as were many other women who attended; many tears were shed and women came up for prayer.

On Thursday evening we met Steli and Ramona who have two daughters, Deby and Rebecca.  They moved from Romania to New Zealand and loved living there.  But three years later, they felt God calling them back home. Upon returning, they found Harvest Arad, and made it their church home where Steli is an elder and sometimes leads the congregation in worship Sunday mornings. Terry, Mike, Steli and Ramona shared stories while Elizabeth was able to make new friends with their daughters. God has blessed us with many friends from Harvest Arad who have encouraged us!

Thank you for your prayers and support throughout our time here; we believe God is doing great things in Arad and is calling us to take part in His plan here!

-Mike, Terry and Elizabeth

 

Monday

 

Monday morning the pastor of Harvest Arad, Cristian Barbosu, took us on a short tour of the city and shared his heart for his church and his city.  The first site he took us to is pictured below.  Just to the left of him in the photo below you will notice a monument with the names of the innocent people who were killed in the 1989 revolution.   Arad was the second city in Romania to rise up against the communist regime.

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In Romania as in many European nations the percent of people who attend an evangelical church is less than 4%.  Many European villages, towns and cities have no evangelical church.  Pastor Cristian along with other Harvest pastors in Romania are having a huge impact for Christ in their nation by raising up national pastors and planting churches.  Pastor Cristian is well known as an international speaker and evangelist.

Monday afternoon we had the opportunity to have lunch with Andrei who oversees  the Media Ministry, Sandy who works with Harvest Fellowship in church planting and Andrea the Children’s Ministry Director.

In the evening we ate dinner at the home of Mimi (Mihai) and Carmen.  Mimi is an elder in the church, and he and his wife work in a ministry to abandoned children with mental and physical handicaps.  The ministry is called Romanian Christian Enterprises.  Mimi is the director in charge of finding adoptive homes for these children.

Here is a photo of Mimi and Carmen, and a link to their ministry.

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It is a special honor to have been invited into their home and to get to know them.  Please pray for them and their ministry as they seek to love and care for handicapped children.  Not only have they placed children for adoption, but they give ongoing support to the child and the adoptive parents.  They travel throughout the country to follow up on the children who have been placed under their care.

-Mike

Our first church service at Harvest Arad, Romania

The Romanians are passionate about their love of Christ and it clearly shows up in their worship.  God’s manifest presence was obvious and service was amazing!

The entrance to their new church building opens up to this huge atrium and is home to a book store and cafe’.  People hang out together before and after each service to enjoy one another’s company and to share life together.  Romanians are so social that one of the deacons, Sabin (pictured above), needs to close down the coffee bar five minutes before each service.   As soon as service ends it’s a full house once again.

At church we met a couple that works with rescuing women who have been trafficked or orphaned.  They invited us to go to lunch with them, along with their assistant and the rescued women currently living in their home.  They have an amazing ministry and we were thankful for the opportunity to get to know them better.

-Mike