(This post was written by Claire Monteen)

“Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” Philippians 4:17 (ESV)

How is it possible to be entirely exhausted and happy at the same time? We’re winding down from a day that was longer than expected, both at the job site and at dinner, but for joyful reasons.

We woke, ate a delicious breakfast that included oranges with the leaves still on the stems, and traveled to the job site amidst heavy, large snowflakes. Our drivers point out interesting sites, filling the journey with the history of Romania, and local stories. Our team likes to point things out to each other (thanks to Erik for identifying all the birds,  Gene for telling us the brands of the farm machinery, and Kirk for pointing out all the fruit trees), and discuss the differences between here and home. The average salary in Romania is $300-700 per month, and most people in this area have animals to supply their food needs. We’re told some have no regular income at all.

There was more of the same kind of work today, but our group was determined to make serious progress. On the first day, we hung drywall, insulated seams, trimmed windows, and began to put a first layer of plaster on the walls. By the end of the day today, we had completely finished the plasterwork in the sanctuary and the foyer. Around six o’clock in the evening, right when everyone was exhausted, our Romanian contractor, Samuel, declared the importance of finishing the ceiling tile installation. Half of our group threw efforts into the tiles, while the other half doubled down on jackhammering concrete and drywall installation in the Sunday School classroom.

Finally, a happy Pastor Gigel and a happy Samuel loaded the vans with Americans at 7:30 to head back to home base in Tamna. Heavy, huge snowflakes left the roads in a sorry state and for the second time on this trip, we ended up pushing the vans out of slush, up the hill to the church. What a blessing it is to serve with a team that does not grumble and has excellent boots!

After celebrating Miriam’s birthday yesterday, it was time to praise God for Dan’s 67th year. We were joined by Gigel’s daughter and granddaughters. There was an incredibly delicious mousse-filled cake, Romanians singing hymns of praise, Americans singing hymns of praise, and one Miriam on the piano. It was a feast of fellowship, and very hard to head upstairs for a good night’s rest.

We came in hopes of finding fellowship, Christian brothers and sisters with whom we share our reason for life, unity, laughter, and service, and we have not been disappointed. Our co-workers at the church in Orevita Mare and our hosts at the church in Tamna are eager to share their faith. They have taught us about Romanian building methods, and living for Christ in very different circumstances. They have showered us with hospitality. They have fed us cake. We are exhausted, but we are entirely happy.