On July 29th, 2012, I flew out of Atlanta to spend a year in Romania.
Five years later, I’m still here.
They have not been easy years.
In 1st Samuel chapter 7, we read about Samuel praying to God on behalf of his people, Israel. Under Samuel’s leadership, they had just destroyed all of their idols and repented of worshiping false gods. They had gathered to fast and repent together as a nation, and this gathering made them an easy target for their enemy, the Philistines. They had been obedient, but now they were about to be attacked, and they were afraid. They begged Samuel, “Do not cease to cry to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us.” So Samuel cried out to the Lord, and the Lord did save them.
In that place where the Israelites had repented, where they had cried out to God, and where He had come to their rescue, Samuel set up a memorial stone. He named it Ebenezer, which means “stone of help,” and declared “thus far the Lord has helped us.”
Like the Israelites, I’ve had to destroy many idols in the last five years. I’ve thrown out false gods of pride, insecurity, jealousy, pessimism, and even my own thoughts about what my life should be like. I let go of some things I thought I wanted, and accepted some things I wouln’t have chosen for myself.
I’ve fought battles, too -- language, cultural differences, doubt, conflict, moments of fear, and temptation in many forms. But every time I cried out to the Lord, He was faithful. He has shown me His goodness and blessed me in ways I never expected and don’t deserve.
I got married. I worked five years at my dream job. I’ve seen lives changed and prayers answered. They have not been easy years, but they have been good.
So how did I celebrate five years in Romania? What did I do to mark the fact that thus far, the Lord has helped me?
My Stone of Help
On July 29th, 2017, I had a baby.
I, an American, had a baby in a Romanian public hospital.
Does that sound as crazy to you as it did to the hospital employee who checked me in?
“Don’t you know there’s a private hospital? And why aren’t you having this baby in America, anyway?”
When I found out I was pregnant, I had to make a lot of decisions, and it seemed like everyone I talked to had an opinion about what I should do. It was all quite overwhelming, and I was already terrified of giving birth. But thank God for my husband, whose faith is often much stronger than mine. Every time I second-guessed a decision, he would ask me, “Didn’t we already pray about this? And what was the answer?”
In hindsight, I can see that every choice I made in faith turned out to be the best choice. Everything was arranged perfectly by the One who is perfectly good, and I can see His faithfulness in every detail.
I can see it in the little bird that sat on the skylight of the operating room for the whole hour during my C-Section, although my heart had been set on a natural birth. Somehow, that bird was like a sign to me that this was for the best.
I can see it in the nurse who kept rubbing my head and telling me everything was ok. This was my first surgery, first time even being in the hospital, and it was scary.
I can see it in my doctor, who’d tried to change shifts so he could be home for his daughter’s birthday. I’m sorry nobody would trade with him, but I am so thankful he was on call that day so I could be with a doctor I trusted.
I can see it in the three other ladies who shared my hospital room, even though I’d been hoping for a private room. We became a team for those five days, a community.
I can see it in all of the hospital staff who were so nice and took such good care of us, even without bribing them, which is what most people think happens in Romanian hospitals.
I can see it in a roommate’s mom who tried to comfort me when I was in pain. I appreciated that.
I can see it in the two times I got sent home from the hospital because the baby just wasn’t ready yet. If he’d come sooner, I wouldn’t have given birth on a Saturday afternoon when the hospital was less busy. Any sooner and his birthday wouldn’t have been on the five year anniversary of my coming to Romania.
Most of all, I see His help and His goodness every morning as I sing old hymns over my sweet baby boy. He is my stone of help, given to me as a a reminder forever of how faithful the Lord is when we trust Him. He is my Ebenezer.
“Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come...”