July 30, 2015

Go. Give. Pray.

Details! I have details! I don't know about you, but I love details. Anyways, allow me to share these details with you. 

I have a fundraising goal now! It is just shy of $10,000
Now, the interesting thing is that this number should totally freak me out...but it really doesn't. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again...Romania feels like home. I truly believe that I am supposed to be there. I am supposed to continue working in Romania, developing relationships in Romania, learning more about who God is in Romania. Yep. 

As you read in my last post, I'm planning to return at the beginning of September 2015. For this adventure, I will be staying until mid-June 2016, which is the time frame that the $10,000 covers. I do have some funds leftover from the first adventure so they'll rollover, which is fabulous. 

Soooo...the details on how you can support me.

GO: Have you gone? I'd love to hear about your experiences, advice, brainstorm ministry ideas, etc. Call me. Text me. Email me. Facebook me. Comment on this post. 

GIVE: You have some options in the GIVING department...

  • I have an online donation webpage this time around, and I'm very excited about it. You can choose to donate a one-time gift or a recurring gift. If you choose a recurring gift, your total amount (based on duration) will be counted towards my goal, which is pretty cool. Click HERE to donate a tax deductible gift through Nazarene missions

  • Like last time, you can also give money directly to me. This type of donation goes towards my personal funds, and covers things like toiletries, student loans, clothes/shoes (as needed on the mission field), etc. Donations given directly to me are not tax deductible. You can write a check, hand me cash, or give online with PayPal by entering my email address (cjbloom2@gmail.com).

  • Buy one of my shirts HERE. I decided to do a fun and simple fundraiser to get things started and the results have been OVERWHELMING, to say the least. Thank you to everyone who has already supported me by purchasing a shirt, or two! They will be on sale until August 3rd. Once the shirts arrive, I would LOVE for you to post a photo of you wearing it! Don't forget to add #CBtakesRomania if you post a photo!

  • I am planning to have a garage sale on Friday, August 21st and Saturday, August 22nd. More details to come as far as location and times, but just know that ALL of the proceeds will be going towards my return to Romania. 

PRAY: I strongly believe that one of the reasons I've had that PEACE...you know the peace I'm referring to...is because of the prayers that have been said on my behalf. Thank you to those who have supported me in prayer. I am forever grateful to you. Some prayer ideas for you...

  • Peace! Let's just keep it going... 
  • My time at home. I want to make the most of my short time at home. Quality time with MY PEOPLE, opportunities to share my experiences with others, rest, preparations for my return, etc. 
  • Fundraising...I am not a fan of asking people for money. Who is?! However, I know that some people are meant to give, and I would ask that you pray for those who are considering giving. I want them to have peace and know that this is one way that they can be obedient to God.
  • Veritas, my coworkers, the people we serve. 
  • Romania. 

Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear from you. I'm planning to make some changes in regards to communication for the next adventure so check back for more information on that in the future. Oh, and thank you. I feel so comfortable sharing my adventure with all of you because I know that I have your unwavering support. Man, you guys are the best. 

July 12, 2015

The adventure continues...

I made the graphic EXTRA big because this is an EXTRA exciting post. Are you ready? Here we go.

I am "officially" planning to return to Romania in September! 

As many of you know, this 4.5 month trip was not intended to be a one-time/short term adventure. The purpose of this trip was to get my feet wet and see what a long term adventure might look like. Well, here we are, almost at the end of the 4.5 months. I come home in about 2 weeks, which is INSANE! I'm so excited to see my family and friends. I can't even think about that right now! 

You know what's weird though...I'm also extremely excited to return for a longer adventure in the fall. I can't imagine coming home and not knowing if/when I would be returning to Sighisoara. Honestly, I would be devastated. Obviously, I miss my family, friends, home, etc., but this is where I truly feel I'm supposed to be right now. I think I've mentioned this in a blog post or maybe just in conversations with some of my family and friends, but I feel at home here. No, it hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows, but I can honestly say that it's been FABULOUS (I have to keep using this word...it applies to so many situations!). I have experienced so many new things...escaped my super comfy comfort zone...learned how to better serve others...and so much more. Remember when I talked about the peace? THE PEACE. That feeling hasn't come to an end, and I don't think it will. Many of you know that the song "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" spoke to me during the time leading up to my departure. The one line that ALWAYS hits me is, "You've never failed and you won't start now". This is the truth. 

The sermon in church today was about fulfilling your purpose. We've been working our way through the parables, and Roberta spoke about the fig tree in Luke 13: 6-9. She talked about finding our purpose by doing three things: having fellowship with others, worshipping God (every day...not just at church on Sunday), and...the third thing has completely escaped me. Ugh! That's what I get for not taking notes. BUT, she referenced I Peter 4:10, and I know I've read/heard the verse before, but it really struck me today. It says, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms (NIV)." Before I came, I was a little anxious about how I would serve during my time here. Once I arrived, it became clear that that wasn't going to be an issue. There were/are so many opportunities for me to use my gifts and talents. As someone who hasn't always been the most confident in her abilities, this is kind of a big deal.

In looking I Peter 4:10 up to type it above, I happened to read the verses before and after from The Message, which paraphrases it to say the following in verses 7b through 11: "Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!" Enough said. 

The thought of having to share this EXCITING news via social media (Facebook, blog, etc) makes me cringe. It feels a bit impersonal, and I hate that. However, I did not want to wait until I got home to share the good news. And I know that all of FABULOUS supporters would want to know this information ASAP!

Upon returning, I will be doing a lot of what I've been doing...working with teens, children, people with special needs, etc. I'll continue to work with Veritas and the Church of the Nazarene. There is also a social work student coming in September, and I will also be helping to supervise her as she completes her social work field placement/internship through the Romanian Studies Program. I'm very excited about that opportunity as well! There are so many things I want to do when I come back and so many relationships that I want to continue to build. I realize that I'm smiling to myself as I write this post...It's THE PEACE I tell ya! 

So...what do I need from you? PRAYER. Prayer for continued peace. Prayer for the goodbyes and/or see you soon's that I'll soon be saying. Prayer for safe travels back to America. Prayer for knowing exactly how God wants to use me as I return for a longer period of time. Prayer for financial support to be raised from this point on. Prayer for my family and friends. Prayer for my time at home.

I'm still talking with the folks from Nazarene Mission Corps about the financial piece...which I definitely just typed as "financial peace". Coincidence? I think not. Anyways, I don't know my official total for the year, but I will be sharing that with you as soon as possible. I'm hoping to have some type of fundraising event when I'm home in order to connect with you and share more about my adventure. Yay! Details to come...

In May, I met someone who had served as a volunteer for Veritas a while back for about 5 years (I think). We were talking about our experiences, and raising support. She put people into three categories: those who are meant to GO, those who are meant to GIVE, and those who are meant to PRAY. This struck a chord with me for many reasons. For the longest time, I was in the PRAY category...then I moved into PRAY and GIVE...and now GO. I hope and pray that you will think about which category you fit into...for yourself, but also in how you might be able to support my Romanian adventure.

And of course, I can't end this post without thanking you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. As I wrote in my last post (Insights & Investments), I would not be where I am without all of you. I truly believe that the peace I've felt is, in part, due to your prayers. The financial support has also been unbelievable. Thank you does not even begin to cover it. I look forward to sharing so much more about this adventure during my time at home as another way to thank you. Thank you. 

July 9, 2015

Insights & Investments

Found here.

Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. Lots of them. Always. Introvert and over-analyzer alert. These things have been on my mind for awhile now. I think they've always been in the back of my mind, but I process things rather slowly sometimes. It's like these little seeds are planted and then they take time (sometimes weeks, months, years) to grow into full thoughts that I'm able to express. Also, this will probably be another lengthy post. Just a warning.

Found here.
Two Thursdays ago, the English campers were given the opportunity to interview four people about their jobs/careers. Morag (director of camp) asked me to be one of those people. As we know, I do not enjoy speaking in front of others, but I had gotten to know these young people and I was oddly excited to share with them. I know that when I was their age (that makes me sound super old), I was always very interested in hearing other people talk about their careers, why they chose a particular path, and how they got to where they are. Actually, I still greatly enjoy this!

They asked questions like...Why did you choose your job? Do you have job satisfaction? What have been some highs and lows? Do you prefer working in a team or by yourself? How is this job preparing you for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? I talked about my job as a School Social Worker back home (Hi Dakota folks!), my "job" here as a volunteer, and social work as a career in general.

Found here.
One of the questions that I mentioned above was, "Why did you choose your job?" and when they asked me I really had to think of how to answer it. I've thought about this question before, but I feel the answer is constantly changing and developing as I change, develop, and experience new things. I've always wanted to help people...that's always been the underlying reason, but it's grown into so much more than that. My answer to them on Thursday was that I never want anyone to feel hopeless or helpless, and therefore, I always want to "be there" for others. I want to help people get out of that dark place. I want to be a resource. I want to link them with whatever they need to feel important, valued, useful, hopeful, empowered, educated, etc. This can come in many, many different forms, and I tried to explain that as well. It could be food, employment, self-esteem, education, social skills, etc. 

Furthermore, I shared that I am firm believer in empowerment and education. There is a Chinese proverb that says, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Giving isn't always helpful. We need to stop, look and listen...before we cross the street but also...to find out what the needs are. Then, we can try to educate and empower people to make changes on their own...while encouraging and helping as needed of course. Shameless plug...This is one of the MANY reasons I love working with Veritas. They do this by providing holistic care to their clients. Also, I'm not saying any of this is easy, but it's so insanely important. Okay, I'll get off of my soap box now, but I HAD to share that. 

Back to the interview, I shared (in response to the question of how this job prepares me for the future) that I feel as if I've been preparing for this job my entire life, while also being constantly prepared for each day and the future. Woah. Run-on and potentially confusing sentence! Let me try to explain. In my opinion, being a Christian and a social worker are very similar. As a Christian, my goal is to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and to live out Matthew 25: 34-45, every single day. As a social worker, my goal is "to improve the quality of life and subjective well-being of individuals, families, couples, groups, and communities through research, policy, community organizing, direct practice, crisis intervention, and teaching for the benefit of those affected by social disadvantages such as poverty, mental and physical illness or disability, and social injustice, including violations of their civil liberties and human rights. The profession is dedicated to the pursuit of social justice and the well-being of oppressed and marginalized individuals and communities." (Thank you, Wikipedia.) I see some major similarities, and therefore, my faith and my career influence each other, as well as my past, present and future. I didn't go into all of that detail with the teens, but it all just flowed out of my fingers right now!

One of my favorite quotes ever. Found here.
Anyways, I've distracted myself. If you were in my head, you'd understand how I got sidetracked, but never mind that. The main point...that I definitely haven't made clear...INVEST IN PEOPLE. Invest in someone. A young person, an old person, just someone. One. But seriously, we need other people. And young people REALLY need other people. Please read the black and white quote to the left. Literally one of my favorite quotes ever. They have art prints and mugs and t-shirts with this quote and I want them ALL. 

I'll finally try to connect all of the pieces for you...I truly believe that I am where I am today (not just my physical location, but also mentally, spiritually, emotionally, etc.) because people invested in me when I was young. Technically, I am still "young", but that's beside the point. Being young can be very difficult at times. You often feel alone and like nobody understands or even cares (back to those hopeless and helpless feelings I mentioned earlier). 

I will go the grave saying that I have been surrounded by some of the BEST PEOPLE EVER. Seriously, the best. Family, friends, church family, mentors, etc. I just can't say it enough. I know I haven't done a very good job of thanking these people, but that's not why did it in the first place. That's not an excuse, but I think I can safely assume that they did it because someone invested in them. At the time, I don't think I realized that these people were investing in me, but OH MY GOODNESS...I look back and it is so clear now. They were investing, educating and empowering me. My family always encouraged me to be who I am. They educated me about the importance of strong values, education, being a good person, helping others, etc. My friends always listened and encouraged...and by doing so they taught me how to be a better listener and encourager and how to be a loyal friend. I think it's safe to say that some of them taught me how to be more adventurous and spontaneous too, which I so greatly appreciate as the oldest sibling and someone with a naturally Type A personality. My church family educated, prayed, etc. I could make a list of how specific people invested in me, but I think you get the point. 

Anyways, back to making the connection...Helping at English Camp (among other programs I've been working with in Romania like It Takes Courage, for example) reminds me of how AMAZING young people are. They are so full of life and possibilities and courage and hope and so much more. They are so valuable...and need to be reminded of that sometimes. Sooooo...INVEST IN SOMEONE. The end.