Friday, August 28, 2009

September Prayer letter

Below you will find our September Prayer Letter...unfortunately I was late in turning it in (not on purpose, I misunderstood 'the rule.' So, here it is for all of you that may peruse my blog from time to time. I am hoping to be better about updating it since life is settling in/down. Sort of.

I say sort of because as of last week (I wrote this letter before then) things have become a little busy. I'm full swing into advocacy work here at the center. Just today we had a press release printed in a daily paper here in Galati about what our youth did last week (picked up trash at the park). I'd give you the link, but it's all in Romanian, so you'd not be able to read it anyway. Also, working to organize things better and keep people on track for doing what needs to be done regarding 2 publications our foundations puts out, bulletin boards we have in churches, church visits when our kids sing, Beggar's Society in Galati, etc. Stuff I love to do, so I'm excited. Please pray as I move into this area that as a result of the work we do in Galati, many will hear the good news of the Kingdom.

Also, beginning in October Lenuta and I will begin play therapy with copiii mici (little kids). We are excited about this, and nervous. Please pray for us. Therapy is never easy as it awakens stuff in people that they don't at first know how to deal with or what to do with it. This could be especially scarey for kids. We are confident, though, that we should move in this direction and look forward to standing back and watching what healing God will bring about.

On Sunday we leave for camp. This year I'm organizing the lessons for the little kids, and teaching 3 of them. We are learning about Moses. Whenever I think about Exodus, I think about how God calls us out of Egypt or slavery or bondage in order to worship. I was thinking about how I could communicate this to the kids, when I realized that all I needed to do was tell the story. That's what I loved as a child, just hearing the stories and believing that this God was my God (I Am that I Am...the God of my fathers). Please pray that the story goes deep, that they would know that our God is the God who remembers them, sees their suffering, and longs to bring them out and into a place of worship. Also, please pray for our safety, fun time, good kids, etc.

Finally, you will read below about the twins. They've been coming to the center again, mostly because John, Mary Margaret and I have been taking turns picking them up and taking them home. It's a joy to do, though. More on this at another time. More good news is that they are coming to camp!!!

Sorry so many words here...hope it leads to happy reading.

September 2009

Dear Friends and Family:

As I write this my sister is in labor with her fourth baby. As far as we know the baby is a boy and his name will be Abram.

And as she is in labor I am finding it difficult to be so far away. This is the first baby of my 10 nieces and nephews that I will not meet in the first weeks of his life. In fact, he will be close to a year old before I meet him in person, before I hold him and kiss him.

I am reminded of what I chose to give when I first came to Romania. What mattered most in my life were my relationships with my sisters and their kids. I knew that in going so far away I would be choosing to give the most imporant thing in my life. But it was what I had to give, not in the imperative sense that I was required to give it, but in the having since. It is what belonged to me, what I had, my most precious possession. I think it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.

Today, so far from home, I find that the giving has not become any easier and no replacement exists for that giving. While so much about this summer has been wonderful (getting married and being married), it has also been difficult. The children I worked with this year have not been coming to the center. The twins had a family crisis and now they are hiding in another part of the city. We have hope that they will return to the center and are especially praying that they are able to come to camp with us this month. My little friend Cristina has stopped coming and we are uncertain as to why. Many reasons could exist for her abscences, and the absence of her presence in my daily life is keen. I wonder why I have given up the presence of my family only to have to miss the children who no longer occupy my everyday life.

My sister’s baby’s name will be Abram. The other day I read these words in Romans 4 from The Message:

“This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and His way, and then simply embracing Him and what He does…Abraham was first named ‘father’ and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said He would do…Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what He had said.”

I’m thinking of a baby named Abram being born far from me and at the same time consider the man he is named for, Abraham, or first, Abram. A man who dared to trust what he could not see and plunged into the promises of God, believing that God would do what He said He would do. And as I think of this new baby whom I have not met, I am reminded that when it appears as if no replacement exists for my giving, that it is God who makes something out of nothing, just as He did for Abraham, if I will only embrace His way of doing things.

I’ve no easy formula for God’s way of doing things. I only know that He said in order to find our lives, we must lay our lives down. And so again and again I give what I want to keep, I lay down this life, in hope that God will make something out of nothing. I hope that a little girl I love will return to our center even when it seems like she won’t. I hope that two little twins will come to camp even when it appears they won’t be allowed.

And I will try and embrace the reality of what God is doing believing that even my little nephew Abram, yet to be born, will himself live into the promises of God not because of anything I say or do, but because of life that God gives when someone lays down their life, when they give all they have.

Please pray for us as we go to camp this month and that what happens in the lives of the kids for that week will be something which continues to grow in the months and years ahead. Also, please pray for the kids I work with who are no longer coming to the center…believe with me that they will return.

Make sure to keep an eye out for next month’s prayer letter because Bela will be writing it!


April and Bela Ispas

Friday, August 21, 2009

Honeymoon Part 5: Venezia

After Florence, we headed east to Venice and this is where we ended our tour if Italy. Venice is amazing. Built on stilts, it is supposedly sinking. What we saw was this delightful maze of canals and bridges and storeybook homes. On the main canal there are truly amazing buildings. We sat on a boat-bus for a couple hours one day and went up and back down the Grand Canal...a cheap way to see the sites. We also saw some old churches, visited the island of Murano where they are famous for making glass, and took a gondola ride. Also saw the Rialto Bridge and again, ate some very good food and drank good wine. All in all, it was an incredible honeymoon. We feel so blessed to be able to start our marriage with some good memories of a beautiful place.
Today, actually, is our 2 month anniversary and we are going to celebrate by drinking a small bottle of Cianti we brought back from Florence. They even sell these mini-bottles of champagne in Italy...

Honeymoon Part 4: Siena

While in Florence, we made a day trip to Siena, an old mid-evil (I feel like I'm spelling everything wrong) that is such a gem. We ate a fantastic lunch there and I sipped on a very good wine. The particular day we visited happened to be a festival day with horse racing and ancient clans claiming their greatness. These clans roam the streets in mid-evil clothing (including suits of armor)carrying their flags and sometimes doing tricks. It was fun to watch. We didn't stay for horse races...The old church in Siena is San really is a lovely little city.

Honeymoon Part 3: Firenze

After Rome we hopped on a train and made our way north to Tuscana (Tuscany). We stayed in Florence and this was our favorite city. It's where we fell in love with bruscheta, the Fiat 500, canoli, and eating in big piatas. We saw The David (and took a picture although we weren't supposed to) toured the Ufizzi, stood on the only bridge that wasn't destroyed by the Nazis, stumbled along cobbled streets, ate some good pizza, visited some old Churches, and was crazy about Florence. Seriously. We loved it.

Honeymoon Part 2: Roma

We began the second leg of our honeymoon in Rome. Slightly jetlagged (okay a lot) and feeling overwhelmed, we ran around this ancient city like a couple of young kids that I no longer am (Bela may still be...this is yet to be determined). We saw St. Peter's, the Vatican Museum, The Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon, the Collesium, lots of ruins, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a big memorial to the ruler who conquered Dacia (ancient Romania) and therefore changed the course of my husband's history, the Spanish Steps, many fountains, and ate some good food. We only had 2 days in Rome and probably could have used another to see a few more things. All in all, we saw a lot. At first, I wasn't crazy about Rome, but looking back over these pictures, I am. The Collesium was for me truly amazing.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Honeymoon Part 1: Miramonte

The first couple days of our married life were spent in Palm Desert at the Miramonte...what an amazingly beautiful resort! And thanks to my sister and her family for such a precious wedding gift!
Here are a few pictures of our days in the desert before we left for Italy.

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