Sunday, December 31, 2017

Intentional.

Well, its New Years Eve and I wonder how this year already came and went so quickly. Last New Years Eve, I spent it with Jon and we were talking about how 2017 would be one of the biggest years of our lives. That statement couldn't have been more right. Recap: I was commissioned into the Air Force, Jon promoted to Major, I became an Aunt to my very first niece, I broke my arm during a fall while hiking (insert irony), Jon finished a long but awesome year as Aide de Camp to USAFA's 19th Superintendent, I packed all my things to move to Arizona (one armed... apply irony), started dental school at Midwestern, Jon deployed and continues to thrive and lead, and I've completed half of my first year of dental school. Whew. It's been an incredibly blessed year.

While it has been blessed, our worlds have been tipped on their sides this year in ways that we could have never imagined, even just 4 years ago as we spent our first New Year's in Colorado. God has grown us and stretched us to prepare us for this season and I know that four year New Years Eves from now, we'll look back and see the purpose in this journey we are walking. Now, that sounds elegant and great, like I have it all together but we all know that isn't true... I'm human. While I submit fully to God's calling (like anyone) it's not perfect or glamorous a lot of days in how I handle everything. There are days where I question everything, cry, miss Jon so bad... I'd just about do anything to have a hug from him, feel lonely, and wonder why the plan doesn't look like what I pictured in my head. Example, tonight, instead of being Arizona and spending time with my friends to bring in the new year, I am still in Arkansas and spending a night in (too sick to fly) nursing a gnarly sinus infection. While I know I would have had a great time, I'm not mad, I know I needed the rest and extra time with my family.

My detour of plans for the past couple of days got me thinking about my new year and what word will represent my year. Some of y'all know that I'm not really a resolution type gal. I read somewhere that less than 10% of people actually follow through with their resolutions... I believe it. It's hard to keep up with blanket goals, although the end goal is to improve life in some way shape or form, when life hits (and not I'm not knocking anyone who does them but they are not for me). So, through inspiration from a dear friend of mine (she'll know who she is... HI!), I choose to represent my year with a word so that I can try and apply it to all facets of my life. If you find that resolutions don't work for you either, I encourage you to do this!

I think the perfect word to represent my year is intentional. This comes from a place of learning that I've experienced this year mostly starting when I broke my arm and even until now (and I'm sure it will forever be a learning process). I've always have tried to be intentional or purposeful with my life and what I do with it but let's be honest, sometimes life happens (like it always does) and I get bogged down with details and things that don't matter. When I was reduced to one arm and not being able to really do much of anything, it (literally) slowed me down and knocked me down a couple of much needed pegs to let me know that I wasn't in control when I very much "needed" and wanted to be. I needed that reality check before dental school badly and that lesson has served me well as I've been enduring it. Between school, dealing with a deployment, and life never stopping for anything, I've been able to see when things need to fall of the plate, who to surround myself with, what to give my time to, and what fills my soul up and what doesn't. It's been one of the hardest lesson for this control and order lover to learn but it's been humbling, so this year, I am making a point to be intentional with my time, my heart, my thoughts, my words, and abilities. I think we could all use a little bit of it in our lives so that we can see the bigger picture, and ultimately God's blessings, big and small.

Live. Love. Be Intentional.

Melissa

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Finding Thanks in Emptiness

Now, you are probably reading the title to this and thinking something along the lines of what is she getting at here or negativity on this day of thanks? I knew I had a tug on my heart (as I do with anything written on this blog) to write a Thanksgiving post but I struggled with a few things. I've struggled with laying the honest depths of my heart out for the world to see in this season of life. I've struggled with sharing my thoughts and sounding ungrateful or dramatic like my problems are worse than someone else's. I've struggled with baring where I'm at and someone thinking I need sympathy and yes... the dreaded "you chose this" line. I've had a great rest from my first quarter of dental school, an awesome visit back home with my family, and a very blessed thanksgiving with my family celebrating my Grandmother who will be 93 years young on Monday. As I sat with my family, having a deployed spouse and a seat missing an incredible woman at our table... my Aunt Sandy, I actually let my heart ache and acknowledge the feeling I've felt a lot as we enter this holiday season. I realized that the emptiness I felt, the feelings I feel and the things that I struggle with are not unique or abnormal. They are real and raw, and thats ok.

There's somebody reading this right now who felt empty today. It doesn't mean you do not give thanks for the things that you have or were not thankful to be with family. The reasons for emptiness can be numerous: maybe your loved one is far away, maybe they have passed away, you are estranged from them. Maybe they're deployed. Maybe you are dealing with unbearable pain or an illness, maybe you are worrying about how your next bills are going to get paid, etc. Regardless of the reason, as lonely as it feels, you are not alone in the depths of that emptiness. I see you and from one empty soul who is still thankful to another, its ok. 

On a more personal note, I was talking with Jon tonight about this deployment and how its been incredibly different than any one we have ever experienced on many levels and on both sides. That can apply to so many things in life. Emptiness and loneliness have been one of my greatest struggles this go around and that's an extremely hard thing to admit. As a military spouse, you always wish to be resilient, brave, on-top-of-it, and strong for you know you are supporting someone who needs it greatly. Don't we all wish to be those things in life too... to always have "it" together? God has worked on my heart and continues to work on my heart in this. I've had to step back, pair down, and admit the ugly "I can't" more than I care to admit with juggling dental school and deployment. I haven't had the care packages sent out that I meticulously planned out before school to "save me some time," because I haven't had the time. (insert still feel like the worst wife ever that I'm just now getting them out-ha). I've had to be absent with my parents as they have visited because the tests kept coming. In the midst of those feelings of inadequacy and defeat, as I'm sure any one of us have felt as some point in time, I choose to learn and be thankful for this season. Thankful for having an incredible and understanding husband who gets me. Thankful to have parents who will go to the ends of the Earth to help me and understand as I sit there for hours listening to lectures on 2x the speed with head phones on. I do have a lot to be thankful for!

Jon and I have said a lot that everything in life is a season... this one is just a little more difficult. But God. God asks us to lay these difficult seasons in his care. He has a lesson waiting in the midst of the deepest emptiness, the feelings of inadequacy, the tired, the pain, the "why's"... everything. That is one thing that I do know and I am so thankful for.

Live, Love, and Finding Thanks in Emptiness.

Melissa




Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New Beginnings

Real talk. This blog has taken me almost a month to write due to my schedule. So, those following me along on this journey, my wish to blog frequently, will be no small job. However, I will always do my best to keep you up to date on our happenings.

First, Hi! How are you? I feel like I've fallen off the wagon on keeping up with everyone, and for that I apologize. I'm hoping normalcy will slowly find it's way back to me as I settle in. I just completed (and passed... hallelujah) my first course in dental school: basic science or what we refer to as "BASI." We have a full year of these courses... so, 1/25 of the way done with my D1 year. Small. Victories.

Now, to write about what's been going on and what has been on my heart. Since moving to Arizona a month ago, the constant theme of purpose has flooded my life from every angle. We often make plans for ourselves but God usually laughs at them and my story is no different. But every turn that went differently than what I had planned, has yielded great purpose, even early on in my journey. Whether it be my living situation, my school, my friends... I see the why in my circumstance of being here. It's an important grounding factor when times have been tough and it is a great reminder of His grace in every facet of my life.

When people ask how dental school is going, I laugh. Again... real talk... it is one of the most challenging things I have done (and I'm only almost a month in). It's not that the material itself is challenging... its the sheer volume of everything thrown at you. It stretches you in ways that you couldn't imagine and it's crazy to think that at the end of these four long years, you'll be a dentist and they (Midwestern) are shaping you with purpose every step of the way. I have to remind myself of that. Instead of boring you with describing dental school, I have decided to create a top 10 of things I have learned almost a month into my D1 (1st) year. Will this list change and grown? Absolutely. So will I (and I hope I do). Do I have it figured out? Nope. These are just some personal observations of dental school from my perspective... enjoy.

1. Difficulty is fluid. What is hard for one person may be the easiest piece of the puzzle for somebody else... and that is ok! Like I said, dental school is hard, y'all. But as with anything in life, it is a pendulum... so I am learning. With that being said, your strength will be in a place where you weren't expecting it, so share it. My class should get an award for how amazing and helpful they are to one another. I'm super thankful for them because when things get tough, everyone jumps in to help.

2. True balance is a fabled unicorn. You'll hear about "finding balance" a lot during your orientation. Granted, I am only a few weeks in but my balance has already looked different from day to day and week to week. It depends on the day, my mood, what I have due or what I need to study. No, i'm not saying don't find balance. When you think to yourself: Yes! This is how my week will go because I wrote down my schedule in my super expensive beautiful planner in twenty five different colors... the master schedule changes or your time simply gets consumed with something you didn't write in periwinkle purple. The take away: instead of chasing balance for a quarter... chase balance that is attainable for the day that will make you the most successful (and happy).

3. Take it as it comes. I feel like this goes hand in hand with finding your daily balance. The pile of stuff waiting on you doesn't change... ever. It's still there and the fire hose of information keeps spraying on (at full blast). Side note: my other favorite analogy is everything on fire and your tool to put it out: a water gun. Not a super soaker... but you know the "pew pew" lever action water gun the size of my hand. Any who, the concept of how you eat an elephant applies here... one bite at a time. Prioritizing is key for survival and while some may take it a day at a time, I find that taking in an hour at a time (literally) is how I keep a smile on my face and avoid feeling overwhelmed every moment of the day.

4. Receive it all will a smile. Trust me, I know no one is truly smiling when a semester of intense biochemistry material has been shoved in your face in the span of a week to make for the hardest exam of the quarter (can you say 20 point curve). But when that's over, smile... you made it, you did it, go have a coffee... or maybe something stronger (ha).  Positivity goes a long way not only in school but in life and any victory, no matter how small, is a victory. Be proud and smile.

5. Be open. Dental school is a different type of animal. You've been dreaming of getting started and feel like you know what you are getting yourself into. To a point, you do. But when you finally get there, you're thrown "in the wild" with 140 of your survival mates and newest best friends to endure everything together. You're learning about your classmates, how to study huge volumes of material (reference point number 4), and how to find the time to have somewhat of a social life. It'll stretch you, tire you, and push your abilities beyond what you thought they could go. Be open to change and to adapting, I feel like it will be key for growing in the chaos and not letting it grow on you.

6. Self comparison is destructive. People will be better at things than you... I feel like that applies to life in general. You will be better at things that others may struggle with. Comparing yourself to your classmates will do nothing more than waste your time (it is pretty precious) and drag your confidence down. My class is full of pretty incredible people with a lot of different talents. Rather than self comparison to their great talents, I hope that they can help teach and sharpen me in areas that I may lack and vice versa. That is more time efficient that exploring everything you did worst than everyone else... as Sweet Brown says "Ain't nobody got time for that."

7. Get involved. I was apprehensive about this one but getting involved to your comfort level, is a good thing! When you are in a lecture or lab roughly 32 hours a week and hope to study for at least 20 to prepare for the next week's exams, your free time seems best used trying to... you know... live. Yes, sleep is important. Yes, going to work out is important. However, putting yourself out there and getting involved in clubs, class council, and volunteer opportunities, forces you to step away from the grind and do something different. As I have already learned by getting involved, you meet some pretty wonderful people.

8. Remember what you are working towards. This is probably one of the biggest points that has stuck out to me. This has been a hard one for me because I'm firmly ensconced in the average category when it comes to basic sciences. While I've had difficulty in the simulation lab (cue waxed teeth flying through the air and breaking right before grading... yup), its where I'd rather be and that reflects in my work. It's easy to get tunnel vision and think if I don't make this A in BASI, I'll never be a good dentist. I'm still working on this one because it's hard to give 110% and only receive back 50%. However, making an A in BASI may help me pass my boards and get me to a residency but it will not make me a great dentist. One of my bench instructors who graduated from MWU two years ago discussed this with me. He asked me how I felt about my first ever composite I just created (also drilled for the first time yesterday... super exciting) as he sat down to grade me. I said I felt great about it and I wished dental school was just this because BASI was killing me. He agreed with me that I did a good job and said that moments like this will make me a great dentist... not BASI. I needed that. While BASI is apart of this journey, there's something greater that is waiting to serve as a reminder of why I am doing what I am doing.

9. Don't forget about your most valuable asset: You. When you are incredibly busy but you want to get involved (see 7) and do everything else under the sun, sometimes you can fall by the wayside. There's something to be said for a full night sleep, a fed body, and a peaceful mind. I should probably eat my words here too because I find that this is a struggle. One of my good friends recently posted the quote "You can't pour from an empty cup," and that is so true, especially in dental school. Sure, can we survive on 8 hours of sleep in 2 days, eating quick meals to constitute eating, and go for the pool for an hour to clear our minds? Sure (guilty, again, I'll eat my words). The real question is what your doing fulfilling you in a way that you can give your best into what your doing. If the answer is no, find a way to focus on you and make that a yes. Your sanity and success depends on it.

10. Enjoy (and be grateful) for the ride, no matter how bumpy it may be. On the last day of our orientation, our dean talked about what it meant to be sitting in the seats we were in. He talked about giving all to this process and learning to enjoy every moment. He also said that for all 141 of us sitting in that room, there were 25 people who wanted my seat. Think about that...25 people wanted my seat... times 141 seats. Thats 3,525 people who weren't sitting in those seats living their dream at such an incredible school. Talk about humbling and a reminder of being grateful for your circumstance and new beginnings. Although it's already been hard and I would be lying if I said I didn't question if I was good enough to be sitting in my seat from time to time, I am so grateful for the struggle, the highs, and my surroundings.

That same day, all 141 of us stood up one by one and told our story to introduce ourselves to the people we would be spending the next four years with. I was so awestruck and humbled to be standing among such amazing individuals, that I didn't realize this took hours. Everyone has a unique walk in life and brings something different to the table... and I have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy this ride called dental school with them.

Update: I have attached some photos of my past few weeks as a fun little addition to the blog!

Live. Laugh. New Beginnings.

Melissa

















Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Answering the Call.

As usual, I have let my blog sit vacant for months and months. I often think of things that strike me to write about but time (as with many of you, I'm sure) is an issue. Beyond time, I always hope to write something meaningful, honest, and an accurate depiction of how God is working in my life. Therefore, in these months, God left me silent as he spoke to me, blessed me, broke me, and sharpened me. As I sit here wrapping up my birthday, I think about what "year 28" held for me and how much I have changed as a person in all facets of my life. Not many people look forward to reaching their thirties but I am so incredibly ready to experience God's blessings for answering His call. Will it be hard? Sure. It keeps me up at night when I think about it. However, God always sends reminders that He will be there through it all and He has given me such a beautiful support team. So, with that I felt it on my heart to write about my year and answering God's call.

Applying to dental school is like running the longest race but you are not sure of the race course and the terrain changes with every mile. You know the race is coming, you prepare for it, you train for it but once it starts you often wonder "How did I get here?" or "How will I ever finish?". You feel like the cycle will never end as you hope and pray for interviews, you get them, and interview, and go back to waiting. It's exhausting. But then you blink... and it's over. The past two months I have taken a break from life to recover from the last year. I've needed it to rest and to reflect before I embark on my dental school journey... which I'm sure will mimic on a larger scale what I described above.

On my birthday last year, I said to Jon, "This could be the biggest year of my life." It was but ten-fold. If me today would tell me last year, that this past year (man that's a mouth full) would pan out the way it did... I wouldn't believe myself. When I felt this call on my heart to leave the realm of dental hygiene, go back to school, and apply to dental school, I was terrified. A lot of people asked why I did it and all I could simply say was I feel called to do it and it has been a dream of mine. This road has been a lot of praying and crying out to God to reaffirm His call on my life and each time he answers me... clearly. I worried about the cost of school... I received the Air Force HPSP. I prayed for at least two interviews... I received two interviews. I prayed that God would lead me to the right dental school for me and for Jon (because he is making an incredible sacrifice too)... He led me to Midwestern where we I have my in-laws nearby. I worried about where I would live... he provided a home.

But what if you don't feel God calling you to something? What if you don't feel Him answering? What if you answered His call but you feel as though nothing is happening? These are very real and tangible questions. It can feel like a very lonely and desolate place when the desires of our heart or what we feel is God's calling is not coming to fruition. I stood in that place three years ago where I thought God wanted me to pursue dental school but nothing seemed to be working. One day in a Denver coffee shop, I read my devotional and He answered me in His time. The devotional talked about that sometimes when God seems like He is telling us "no," and things are not happening like we thought they should, he may be simply telling us "not yet." That day changed my life and I realized in the months of my frustrations, He was preparing my heart to surrender fully without hesitation to His call. The "not yet" in our lives are God's masterpieces in the making and that is such a beautiful truth.

His call isn't always clear. It isn't always well-received by people. It can take time. Sometimes what you think He is calling you to, is something much more different and larger but a spiritual lesson in the making. I'd be lying if some of these very things didn't make my heart drop. The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming for Jon and I as we embark on learning to be married but be a commuter couple during this time in our lives as we both are living and working for our dreams. Some people have met us with concern, questions, opinions (I like to think they are all well-intentioned). We do appreciate being asked out of love but the answer is simple, God's call is much greater than our comfort and much bigger than stress or worry. This aspect was one of my biggest worries and battles in this whole process, but God met me in that worry and put strong spiritual couples in our path who have walked a very similar journey to ours. He knew we needed the affirmation from couples who answered the calls in their lives... even when it was hard and not popular. God is incredibly faithful. 

As I look towards my thirties, I couldn't be more excited to see what God has in store for our family. It will be a difficult year on the way there but the joy that comes in knowing I have a husband, family, and friends, who answered this call with me... is indescribable.

Live. Love. Answer His Call.

Melissa

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"My Hope Comes from God"

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains--where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." - Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)

April 3rd is a day that I always write, remember, reflect and share. I do these things because I feel it is imperative that the world knows Brady's amazing legacy and message. I can hardly fathom that it has been 11 years since he has been gone. My heart aches for his loss still but it rejoices in the fact that we serve a God that conquered death and lives in victory so that we can have the most beautiful of reunions one day. What a glorious day that will be. When I lived in Arkansas, I always visited his grave on this day. When I moved to Colorado, I miss that time to go reflect and just "be." Blogging has been my out and I feel the words I write cannot adequately convey all that I want to about Brady. He was the perfect example of practicing what you preach, loving people and Jesus were his passions and he followed Him so fervently, at even the most tender teenage years, that I feel he lived more life than most will in a lifetime. He shot it to you straight but loved you all the while. He was a leader.

I was talking to a good friend this week about the process of grieving a friend. It's something that you will never prepare yourself for or imagine yourself going through. But just as Psalm 121:1-2 states, my help came from God. He helped me to see the light in the darkness, the beauty in the rubble and He has given me the strength to step out and live a life that I know Brady would be proud of... one with his purpose of "Love God. Love People." I hope I make him proud and that I do his legacy justice.

Today, I had the extreme blessing of spending this hard day with my best friend, Sarah, who knew and loved Brady like I did. She experienced and walked through that immense loss along with me. We sat around this morning talking about Brady: things he loved, how he lived his life, how he impacted ours and how there is no way to really describe him perfectly. I loved that precious time today, for I know Sarah looks at her life as living Brady's purpose too. We spent the day at the Royal Gorge and taking in the magnificent views of CaƱon City and I couldn't help but to think of God's majesty and how much it commanded Brady's life. How blessed am I that I knew Brady and I get to share his legacy with others, so that they too may know Christ's love?! Brady sought after Christ with his whole heart and longed for everyone to know him on such an intimate level. He was ready to "charge hell with a water pistol." I pray everyday that I can be a "Brady," just his sweet Mom asked both Sarah and I to do on the day of his visitation. "Love God. Love People," has been a phrase that Sarah and I will never forget, as many others do not, so that we will always "be a Brady." Sarah has this tattooed on her arm in Greek. I love it.

I ask that you take up Brady Hooper's purpose in life to "Love God. Love People." Life is too short to not care about the souls of the people around you and to the ends of the Earth. Life is too short to not love God with every fiber of your being that He created and experience His abundant mercy and forgiveness. I ask that you pray and think about Brady's beautiful family tonight. His parents, Greg and Sara Lu, are so incredibly precious and dear to Jon and I, as I know they are to Sarah and Michael and many families that they have touched. I remember as I hugged Bro. Greg at Brady's visitation that he said "God gives and He takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." I've never had a bigger or deeper lesson in faith and God's mercy than I did in that moment. Where does my help come from... in the moments where the grief is too much... when the pain is too deep... and the road seems impossible? It comes from God, who gives and takes away... and who made the beautiful mountains. Blessed be HIS name.


Live. Laugh. Love. Reflect.

Melissa


Friday, October 9, 2015

Get out of the boat.

The RoMed 2015 clinics are finished and I sit here amazed at the amount of work our team accomplished and the number of lives and hearts touched. Brasov panned out to be a great clinic where actually many peoples from surrounding villages, including Feldioara, showed up to be seen. We actually saw many from Feldioara that frequented our two day clinic there and we said numerous times that we were so happy that was the case, as we feel Feldioara is "our" village. Our team has this undeniable connection with that village and my heart is so full when I think about all of my precious friends there and the work that God is doing through them for the people of Feldioara. Love... doesn't even cover it.

That love is what fuels the fire of God's calling to me in Romania. There isn't a day that I don't think about Romania and how deeply it has gripped my soul. The trip redirected the course of my life and broke my heart for what breaks God such that I could know him on such a deeper level... even if it lead me outside my comfort zone.

Tonight during our group devotion, Bro. Jerry discussed that in order to truly experience all that God has to offer, we must fall outside our comfort zones and "get out of the boat." I've thought about that more and there are many "boats" or safety nets that I fall into that ultimately keep me from experiencing all that God has laid out for me. Yes, it can be terrifying to set aside familiarity and embrace what is foreign. Yes, it is hard to see clearly when you do not have the full picture. But is the Lord not the author and creator of every moment, every breath and every fiber of our being? But Bro Jerry made a point that I haven't quite thought of in taking the "gotta get out of the boat" concept a bit further, and that is once you are out of the boat to keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus. Expounding on this further (for me personally) I thought immediately of my own journey. The moment I was called to Romania, I put a foot out of the boat and little by little, leading up to my commitment to follow God's calling to pursue dental school (when I thought this was not even a bit possible) where I finally said "I am all in." I feel like I have experienced a new level of faith and love when I stepped out of the boat and onto the water. This trip, has helped me to see just how precious my focus is on Jesus... for without it... I will surely sink.

I think of all the blessings I would have missed if I didn't go all in with God and know that whatever boat I had been sitting in, would never be as good enough as the faith that enables me to do the impossible. I wouldn't experience the love and mercy of our Father like I do. I would miss the beautiful miracle of a friend being cancer free. I wouldn't hear the love of God flow out in a different language while knowing it in my very own. I wouldn't cry sweet tears with Maria as she is finally out of pain. I would miss out on this beautiful life that God has entrusted me with. Although the waters may be rough sometimes, those revelations... the love, mercy and grace of our Father, calm even the most raging of seas.

What is your boat? Has God been calling you for quite some time to go all in... to step out of your comfort zone and focus solely on Him? All it takes is a simple, "Yes, here I am," and get out of the boat and stand firmly in Christ's calling. I pray for each of you tonight, that God reveals what your "boat" is and how to get out of it and trust in Him.

Thank you, again, for your unending prayers for this team. God has helped us reach so many during our clinics. Please pray for the hearts of our team as they begin to really process and reflect upon this experience. Pray for the hearts of the Romanian people that the seeds we have planted will bloom for God. Also, please pray for a man that our team is continuing to treat over several days beyond clinic. His situation is quite dire and our beautiful nurses are treating Him with the hand of the Lord to guide them. Pray that God heals his ailment and that he will see a miracle of God in his own life.

Live. Laugh. Get out of the boat.

Melissa

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Grace.

I can hardly believe that we have just one clinic day left. The trip always comes in such a whirlwind but it surprises me each time. I haven't blogged in a couple of days because I have found myself tired, sick and without words (shock, I know!) to describe exactly what I am thinking. Our team has been such a beautiful example of God's grace, love and divine purpose. As we finished our last clinic day in Feldioara, had a free day to rest and through our clinic day today in Sfantu Gheorghe today, the Lord was breathing life into the walls... or the courtyard (in today's case), such that our RoMed team demonstrated His goodness and purpose in every work station. He placed specific people on our team for particular patients that passed through our clinic.

I found myself in a place where God meant me for a patient. Sandy called me outside into the beautiful flower filled courtyard at the church in Feldioara where I see beautiful Maria in her wheelchair. Maria was terrified to get much of anything done but she agreed to let me clean her teeth. I stood out in the courtyard with my instruments on a paper towel in a chair and Maria was wrapped in a brand new purple blanket to keep warm. Sandy stayed with Maria as I began to clean. As I worked, I began to pray for this sweet girl with her head propped against my stomach, her beautiful brown eyes staring up at me. Those moments with Maria, during such a hectic day in clinic, made me pause and realize the divine appointment God had set up for me that day with her. When I knew I had done all I could do for her, Maria's teeth which was once covered with tartar, emerged into a smile. What a joy to my heart to see her smile in that mirror and see herself for what she is... a beautiful woman. God's grace in that moment was so tangible and His purpose for me in my meeting with Maria, so clear. I threw in special instruments at the last minute into my suitcase, meant for very heavy tartar and I couldn't have removed what I did on Maria. God knew I'd be seeing her. Be still and know... that He is God.
Working on Maria in the Courtyard
After Tuesday, I barely could hold my eyes open. The clinic day was so blessed in all areas of our team and the tired was the best kind of tired I could have asked for. Wednesday was a welcomed break as our team toured Castle Braun. Some of us Veterans who have seen the castle twice now, stayed behind and shopped around at the gypsy markets with our awesome translator, Florin. Braun is such a beautiful area and it is neat to tell your friends you were at Dracula's Castle. We then went on to walk around the main "strip" in Brasov and spend time at the town square. Although I was feeling a bit under the weather, I loved just sitting at watching at the town's beauty. It was an early night for me but in hindsight, it was just what I needed.
Town Square in Brasov

Today, our team was in a new village, Sfantu Gheorghe. It was definitely different from our norm but God was so faithful and provided decent weather so that we could see many people in the village. For quite a while, the rain chances were very high but come today, it was zero. God's grace. Although Sfantu Gheorghe is in Romania, the villagers are primarily Hungarian, which yielded double translation scenarios where I would speak English to our Romanian Translators who would then speak Romanian to a Hungarian Translator. Again, God provided much grace to our team and the translations went very smoothly. The facilities are very small at the church there, so our waiting area, pharmacy and vision team were outside in the chilly weather. Our medical team was set up in a tool shed while the dental team stayed in the church building. We were able to touch many physical needs to the people of Sfantu Gheorghe and I pray that God provided a light to those people through our team members. I know He did.
Our Medical Team Staging Area
Please pray as we finish out our last clinic day in Brasov. We have many people traveling from Feldioara to be seen again. I also pray that you pray with and for the RoMed team members as they begin to really process and reflect on this experience. Thank you again, for your kind support! We feels your prayers!

Live. Love. Grace.