There were approximately 12 churches represented, with 125 people on the team; most churches had at least 1 adult leader with them. At this point, the unanswered questions from the scouting trip came back to haunt us – magnified- became clear through our ‘interactions’ that there was a serious issue: we lacked a cohesive idea of what the mission was about – so, everyone made it about what they thought it should be.
I dreaded the real-deal.
In August – we flew out of SF to Helsinki, Finland, the a plane to Budapest, then took buses to Romania. Rather than go through every day & every issue – the snapshots of the trip:
The crowning moment of the trip was the return of the mob – just down the hallway from my & Chum’s room, there was a collection of rough-looking characters (reminiscent of the Hotel Dacia, but without guns.) They were fairly rowdy, & had women in & out of the room – but mostly they kept to themselves. Except for this time.
We had just gone to sleep, when there was a commotion. By commotion, I mean screaming, crying, & loud voices yelling. And a siren. Then there were what sounded like fireworks popping, but what must have been a gun being fired. I was mortified. Chum & I were praying under our blankets with the roaches. I grabbed my tape recorder, & dictated my last words to theBean, & a modified last will & testament. No exaggeration, it sounded like WW3 outside our door, & I was sure that we were going to die. Then, someone started banging on OUR door. To the room we were staying in. And yelling in Romanian for us to open it. We didn’t. We prayed more, & finally they went away. We looked out the window to the ground below & saw a ‘paddy wagon’ that was being loaded with a few people.
Turns out, the Romanian cops had showed up & busted our mob friends from down the hall. Hmm.
Its not that everything that happened was bad – its just that SO MUCH of it was. A few people came to know Jesus, & the group from our city had grown closer in the midst of adversity. At the same time, it felt like we’d wasted our money in going on the mission. Worse, we hadn’t been prepared for, & many of us felt like we’d wasted our time, been ineffectual, & had nothing really to show for our time there. Worse still, the majority of the bad could have been avoided by simply making sure that the questions that we’d had on the scouting trip got answered before we would go on the trip.
What I took from this experience was the fact that I needed a missions philosophy – some clear, concrete guidelines based on values & relationship… something that would provide a screening process for what we would/wouldn’t do in the future for missions.
In the weeks after the trip, I put my thoughts on paper… & wondered if going to Germany was still as good an idea as I’d thought the previous May…