Journey to Romania, Part 3: Preparation

September 11, 1995, I boarded a plane to Bucharest, Romania with a team of twelve others led by our mission pastor.  It would have been my mother’s 55th birthday.  I was given some great advice from a previous missionary to Romania, “Don’t have any expectations.  Just ask God to show and teach you what He wants to teach you.”  Expectations.  I never, ever in my entire life thought I would share with hundreds of Romanian orphan children the testimony of my being unwanted by my earthly father and redeemed by the overwhelming/never-failing love of my Heavenly Father.  My life was forever changed and Romania was forever embedded in my heart.  (Side note:  JeJe had just finished attending CC Bible College in Hungary and we did not meet on this trip.)

I was asked by my missions pastor and the then pastor/missionary of the church we worked with, to pray about moving to Romania and serving full time. I shared with them that I only wanted to be in/do God’s will and I would seek Him about it.

Within days of our return, my back went “out” and I could not walk for a couple of weeks. I started physical therapy but ended up having two herniated disks surgically removed in May, 1996.  When this first happened, I thought it was a definite sign that I wan’t supposed to go to the mission field, but…if that was the case, why was Romania burning in my heart?  Then in February, 1996, I attended a women’s conference and heard another missionary share words from Corrie Ten Boom and Elisabeth Elliot.  Oh, did the Holy Spirit fall on me and overwhelm me with the direction that I was to “GO!”

My family was against my being a missionary.  They were very good at reminding me of my “past” (especially my aunt).  Jesus gave me two verses:

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-39
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown.  But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47 (Jesus speaking about the “sinful” woman who washed/anointed His feet and the criticism made by the disciples.)

The LORD began confirming my decision by bringing my home church alongside of me, and I had total support when I moved to Romania, a few days after my thirtieth birthday, February 25th, 1997.  Shortly before I left, the LORD worked in my family’s heart and my aunt began supporting me.

It was winter when I arrived.  It was bitter cold and I lived in the town next to where the church was.  I had been placed to live with a couple of girls from the church until I could find my own place.  We were a five minute bus ride from our town to the next, but our town was a coal mining town.  Coal smoke filled the air as the city was not yet piped into natural gas.  There was a central coal burning place right across from the windows in my bedroom and the kitchen which blew puffs of dark clouds right into our windows…sigh!!! I cried into my pillow several nights.  It was freezing cold, my hands and skin became dried and cracked until they bled.  Daily I went to the baby orphanage, which was very emotionally draining, and my hair, nose and ears were black from coal soot at the end of each day.  I did not have a washing machine. We washed clothes by hand with a wood board and scrub brush in the bathtub and many days the water was shut off to prevent it from freezing in the pipes of the apartment.  Soot…ashes…cinders.  Seriously, God had a BIG sense of humor sending this Southern California Valley Girl there!

by Coleen Jejeran, Missionary to Romania
(Look for Part 4 of Coleen’s story soon)