We’ve been home for about three days. After the rush to get as much as we could done at the Orevita site, some last minute sight seeing and a dash home to beat the midwestern weather, I am just now catching my breath to write this last post and reflection about this year’s trip.

Our work far exceeded the expectations of our Romanian hosts. The contractors became increasingly comfortable trusting us with more detailed aspects of the job. We became friends. The resulting activity from that trust snowballed into the whole team outworking the materials on hand two times over. By the time we were hugging to say goodbye and taking group pictures on Monday (1/28), the Romanian workers were well underway in pouring the concrete floors. We learned they finished pouring Wednesday (1/30). We could not ask for more on the progress of the building from our time in Romania.

How do you rate the quality of a mission trip? Is it in the work accomplished, the ease of travel, meeting the depth of need or experiencing the goodness of the food? The team wrestled with this question throughout the trip. Was this a good trip? The answer is undoubtedly, “yes”. But if you go purely by the ease of travel, then no, it wasn’t a good trip. We happened to travel to and from Romania in a record breaking stretch of bad midwestern winter weather. When we arrived, it snowed everyday with accumulations sometimes hitting 4-6 inches a day. We drove at least an hour each day to the Orevita worksite always with the certainty of pushing out our snow-stuck vans along the way. It was hard traveling, yet a great trip! If you go by the food, then the trip was spectacular. We never expected to eat so well. This is why none of these things can gauge the goodness of this trip. Some things were sublime, some were challenging.

In all the ways you can assess a mission trip, one measurement is all that matters. Is the trip about God and people in that order? It’s hard to avoid thinking “we” are doing something when it comes to mission. But clearly God has ordained this effort and called the people to it. The evidence is in the blessings. I stopped counting them after our first fundraiser in September. They were too many. The intersections of God to reveal answers once thought impossible by our team came in succession and repeatedly affirmed His providence in leading us to Romania. There is no more faith-affirming thing than to trust God in the darkened path ahead and find He’s working mightily and intentionally. It is all about and for Him.

Next, is the mission about people? If we partner with God in mission, it is always about bringing the Gospel message of hope to those who need it. We undoubtedly served the Lord and the people by our work there. They received from the Lord through us. Yet, may we never forget that we also received in overflowing abundance from the Lord through the people there. This affirmed our faith in the Gospel at every turn. We received crazy compassion and care not from their abundance but from their need. We ate food and received gifts given by the people that couldn’t afford to provide them. We formed Christ-centered relationships that will span time and location. We served in the name of Jesus and were served in the very same name. After God Himself, it’s the people that matter in His mission.

This is just the beginning of our partnership. The plan is to build 7 Church buildings in 7 years. This trip was a great start to our endeavors together. May God bless the spread of the Gospel in Romania and our efforts to follow Him in Christ.