Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Summer to Remember

Sorry it has taken me this long to make my last post about this amazing opportunity that the Lord allowed me to experience this summer. I want to say that the lessons I learned and the experience as a whole cannot be put to words, but I suppose that would be dumb to say right before I blog all about it :) But, I'll do my best!

I want to start from the beginning because how God planned this entire thing could not be more perfect. As some of you know I went on a two week trip to Thailand last summer with MacTrips. This trip was amazing! But, my feelings for Thailand just were not quite as strong as they were on my previous trip to Romania the summer before. But, nonetheless an awesome trip in which God worked in some huge ways. After returning home from this trip I was curious about what God had lined up next for my life. I knew that he wanted more. I knew that he wanted me to see the foreign mission field for more than just two weeks. So I contacted Bro Dave Manary who I had met the previous summer and told him about what I felt God was telling me. He told me that him and his family would love for me to come and stay with them for as long as I wanted.

I was extremely pumped about the summer that was to come but I had to stay focused on school. Around December when finals week was approaching I really felt God was trying to tell me something else. He had rid me of a couple aspects of my life right before school had started and I was probably as close to him as I had ever been that semester. But, when finals week rolled around I was really worried about my grades and really just told God that I was going to do all I could but I was going to need His help if I was going to bring these grades up like I needed to. I told Him that if He would just help me get them up I would do whatever He wanted. Long story short the grades came up and I knew God was up to something in my life. Shortly after He revealed to me that He wanted me to surrender my life to His ministry. After talking with my youth pastor and much prayer I did just that. I haven't regretted one second of it since.

So there I was knowing I was supposed to do ministry with two years under my belt at the U of A and headed to Romania for a month in six months. A tad bit confusing honestly. But I knew it was what I was supposed to do so I was extremely pumped. As the spring semester drug on and the weeks got closer and closer to me heading to Romania the more excited I got.

Finally June 20 rolled around and I got on the plane headed to Romania. Honestly, I really had no idea what to expect. I knew that I loved the Manary family and I knew that the Lord had told me to go. That's it. I didn't really have any clue what I was going to be doing day to day nor did I have any responsibilities lined up with Dave. I just went. And I was completely at peace about it. Looking back now it is completely clear why he had me go. I learned so much and experienced God like never before. I saw what it is really like to live a radical life as an American on a foreign mission field. I saw what true faith really is all about. If you have read any of my previous posts you know that I really did see what it is like to live as a missionary and see the struggles that they go through. The faith and trust that the Manary's have truly is second to none. And they portray that through every aspect of their life.

So you are probably wondering why I told you all that stuff about my life leading up to my trip. Well it had everything to do with the main thing that God taught me through this trip. Sure he showed me that if He ever were to call me to a foreign mission field, whether that be Romania or anywhere else, I would be completely fine and He would take care of every need, but there was something else that was much bigger in my opinion. He showed me that his timing is perfect and flawless. I am sure you, just like me, have heard this your entire life, but until you experience it first hand you just simply agree and move on with whatever else the person who told you that is saying. The way that He sent me to the U of A and then told me He wanted more the next summer and then revealed that he wanted more for my life blows me away. Had He told me that He wanted me to do ministry while I was in high school I honestly doubt I would be at the U of A. But I know that is exactly where I am supposed to be. And had He not allowed me to go to Romania with Mactrips and my sister the summer after I graduated I never would have met the Manary's or been able to have the summer that I did. The timing of all these events honestly blows me away. Every time I think of this I keep going back to the scripture I've shared with you one or two times in Isaiah 55. It tells us that the Lord's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. The difference between His ways and thoughts and ours is as far as the heavens are from the earth. This scripture has really hit me hard and proven to me that I honestly have nothing to worry about.

Another scripture that I'm sure you, just like me, have heard your entire life that has become so real to me is Jeremiah 29:11. I have heard this verse time and time again at high school graduations and various places. But, until this summer I have just heard this verse and never really thought much about it. I have always know that God had big plans for my life but when He showed me up close and personal the awesome plans that he has for me. While I was in Romania He opened up another door for me to walk through in my college ministry Thrive. I am being brought on as an intern this semester and couldn't be more pumped. I will leave you with this verse from Jeremiah, but I challenge you to read it and truly believe what it says rather than just acting like you already know.

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11

In Him.
  Lawson Albey

P.S. Thanks again to every single person who prayed for me or helped me financially. You are the ones who made this trip possible and I could not say thank you enough!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

God is Good

As I type this I am on the long flight back to the states. And if I didn’t start this blog by telling you my time in Romania was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever heard then this post would not get off on the right foot. Even though this post is not my final post about my trip I still want to let you know that this trip has impacted me in so many ways that you will hear about sometime this week after I have gotten some sleep. This post is just to update you on what happened these last couple of weeks. And I want to start by reminding you that we serve an amazing God who is capable of anything.

If I remember correctly in my last post I left you by telling you that the team had just gotten to Romania and I was so excited to see them and my family! Believe it or not when they got there the remainder of that weekend was somewhat relaxing. Once the week got started we went nonstop, but it was nice to have that weekend for everyone to rest up after traveling. I also enjoyed this thanks to a not so restful week at church camp. 

Monday was the first day of VBS in Doicesti. This is a village right outside of Pucioasa where a good portion of the church members live. Sister Dumitru was nice enough to open up her home and host VBS. We weren’t exactly sure how many kids to expect on day one. At the end of Monday I think we only had around 20-30 kids that had come, but we knew those numbers would grow as the week went on. By the end of the week I am pretty sure we had over 50 kids that had come to VBS if not more. This was a huge blessing to us as well as the Manary’s. At VBS we had 3 stations set up where the 3 groups would rotate through every day and then end the day with a puppet show. The stations consisted of a lesson station, crafts and face painting, and then a station set up in the field that was nothing but games. The kids seemed to love every bit of it! The gospel was also presented to every child there!

The other big project we were a part of besides VBS was building a gazebo at the orphanage you heard me blog about a couple weeks ago. If I didn’t start by giving God all of the credit for opening this door I wouldn’t feel right. Dave and Melissa have been trying to minister here for years and because of this project now have the ability to go see the children there whenever they want! God is so good! Although this project was bigger and a lot more stressful (at least for Dave) than we had anticipated going into it, the Lord took care of all the details and glory was brought to His name through this work. We did not get the gazebo finished but we did get a lot more done than anyone expected.

I may or may not have mentioned that on the third floor of this orphanage is a place where domestic violence victims can escape from where they are being harmed and live with their children for a while. These women have had a special place in Dave and even more so in Melissa’s heart since they arrived in Romania. This awful act is so prevalent here that it is extremely sad. Melissa got the chance to share a gospel tract with one of the women who lived there one the first day we went. Melissa was able to go through the entire tract and completely lay out the plan of salvation. The lady was just in tears and said she wanted to talk more when we came back tomorrow. When we got back on Tuesday this lady (Tatiana) informed Melissa that she had accepted Christ last night! Is God awesome or what!!!!! This news made every last bit of stress and hard work at the orphanage worth it. The last day we were there we got to play with all of the kids that live there as well as Tatiana’s four precious children. And oh yes, my little friend that has Aids was there and I got to see him again! My sister might have hogged him most of the time we were there though. Seeing God work right before my eyes on this opportunity was one of the coolest things I have ever seen! 

Saturday we did a little sightseeing and went to the Citadel in Brasov. This is a fortress that was used years ago for the peasants to run up in if they were ever under attack. The views from the top were unbelievable (see facebook album). Sunday was another great day of worship at church. We were a little nervous about meeting outside because of the weather but the Lord held off the rain and it all went smoothly. Once again, I got the opportunity to preach. This time I was given a little more notice (thanks Dave!). I am thankful for those three opportunities I got to preach while in Romania, even if I was put on the spot. The experience I got there I would not have gotten had I been at home all summer. That is just one of the many perks to spending my summer in Romania. So Dave had told the church that if 70 people showed up to church while the team was there he would shave his head. We were all a little optimistic if this would actually happen, but when it came down to it, a ton of the kids from VBS decided they wanted to show up and get their Passport to the Promise Land. Little did they know they would get to see someone go bald. There is also a picture or two of this on facebook if you want to check out Dave with zero hair.

This trip has been such a blessing to my life. The new friends I made and the old friends that became family really had a huge impact on me. I am looking forward to blogging again in a few days and telling you all what all God has shown me through this trip. Thanks again for all of your prayers! I could not have done it without you!

In Him,
   Lawson Albey

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tabara Stramba

I know, I know, you all are thinking “I thought Lawson said he was going to blog quite a bit while in Romania.” Well hopefully by the end of this post you will understand why it has been so long since I blogged…

Before I tell you about my awesome week last week I will attempt to entertain you with a little story.  As many of you know the first Sunday I was here Dave asked me to preach. I told you before it was a little different getting used to the translator and what not but it went fine. Well the Sunday before last I also got the opportunity to preach, for lack of a better term. About 20 to 30 minutes before the last service Dave joking ( I thought ) mentioned something about me preaching and then gave me a little bit of a guilt trip when I told him I needed more time to prepare. Well the excuse of needing more time did not work out to well and I found myself in front of the church about 30 minutes later. Thanks to some iphone notes from a Chase Reynolds Cityreach sermon and getting up there about 5 minutes before church was supposed to let out led to a short and sweet 8 minute sermon. Thanks again Dave for the help with my impromptu preaching skills that needed a little work.

The following day was the day we left for church camp. The name of the camp is Tabara Stramba, which means crooked creek. There was about 60 people at camp the week we were there.  I really didn’t know what to expect out of a Romanian church camp to be honest. All I knew was that Ramona Clinciu ( another pastor’s wife from Romania ) had told me I was going to be a “counselor”. I was a tad bit nervous about this since I don’t speak the language but I got paired up with another cool counselor and she spoke both English and Romanian so it worked out great! Even though I could not communicate with my albastru ( Blue ) team I really feel like I connected with a lot of them by just being around them and participating with them during game time and skit time. Needless to say I had an awesome group! 

Brother Duke Hergan was the evangelist at camp for the week. Him and his wife live in Albany New York where he pastors a church there. I was also a little worried when I found out an American was going to be preaching to these kids from Romania. But, at the end of the week after camp was said and done I knew that Bro. Duke had laid down God’s word just as clear as it could be. There were three girls that accepted Christ the last day at camp! Praise the Lord! I know this doesn’t seem like a lot but from the messages that were preached I can promise you that seeds were thrown on to good soil just like Luke chapter 8 directs us to do.

As many of you know, the Tuesday I spent at camp was my 21st birthday. This is a day I will never forget. Thanks to Liviu and Ramona I was able to celebrate like a true Romanian. When they announced that it was my birthday and told everyone we were going to sing they also mentioned I wanted to experience the Romanian tradition of being kissed on both cheeks by everyone. Yes, everyone. So after they sang a line was formed and the somewhat awkward kisses began. See the video on facebook for a better idea of how this went. My face says it all.

We did get to have a little fun at camp as well. On Thursday we went to Brasov for most of the day to the Adventure Park. This is a hard core intense ropes course. I guess it doesn’t have to be extremely intense, but I got talked into going on the hardest route. There was one part of this route where I was a solid 150 ft. up in the air walking across one wire while holding on to another while also removing one carabineer around a piece of wood followed by the other after the first one is attached on the other side. This was somewhat nerve wracking even though I am not afraid of heights.

We left camp on Friday in time to get home and put the car in the shop (long story) and then head to Bucharest to pick up the Mactrip team, including my family! I was so glad to see them as well as all the other team members! ( Philip wanted a shoutout) God is already working through this team and I ask you to please pray for the work we are doing at VBS as well as the building project of a gazebo at the orphanage that I blogged about previously. This is a huge way for the Manary’s to get their foot in the door at the orphanage and be able to share the gospel with the workers as well as show God’s love to the children that live there.
One thing I wanted to do was make sure I keep those who helped fund my trip up to date on where that extra money was going after my travel expenses were taken care of. God truly blessed me and because of that I am able to bless others. I was able to purchase a ping-pong table for the kids and teenagers at Bro. Dave’s church here in Pucioasa. I was also able to sponsor three of the teenagers that attended camp with this church which I know was a huge lift off of their shoulders. I cannot say thank you enough to all of you who had a hand in this. God is truly doing awesome things here in Romania. 

Can’t wait to update yall about VBS and the orphanage at the end of the week! Please keep praying that God will do big things in the lives of everyone we will encounter!

In Him,
  Lawson Albey

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Greater Things are Yet to Come

Been a while eh? Yeah, sorry about that! I feel like we never stopped at all last week!

It all started with an good ole fashion American BBQ for the 4th of July (and Vasy's birthday of course)! This was a time of good food and even better fellowship with Bro. Jim Black and his family, Vasy's family, and of course the whole Manary gang! Another BBQ happened the next day I believe as well for one of the teens 18th birthday. This was another good time with everyone!

The rest of the week had pretty much been set aside for planning. We leave for teen camp tomorrow. I am praying hard that God will do big things this week in the lives of every student that is in attendance. Please join with me in praying for these students that they may hear whatever it may be that the Lord is telling them.

We will come home from camp on Friday. This is the same day that the Mactrips team (including my entire family) will be arriving here in Romania. I am so excited about this!!! I cannot wait to see my family and friends that are coming! I know the Lord is going to use this team to impact these people here in Puchioasa. I will blog more about this in the next few weeks when they arrive and I can fill you in more about how VBS is going!

For the past month Bro.Dave has been telling the church if they get to 50 people in attendance then he will shave his head and let whoever has brought the most visitors give him a pie in the face. Last Sunday we had a record attendance of 47 people! Only 3 away! Although, no head was shaved a pie was thrown by Georgian Dumitru today since they were only 3 away!

I cannot say thank you enough to all of you who partnered with me and made this trip possible for me. As most of you know a good portion of the funds you provided did go into my travel expenses to get here. But, since the Lord so graciously blessed me with more than I needed these funds are being put to good use here in a magnificent way. One way I was able to help the church here is provide them a ping-pong table for the youth to play with at church. We just got it set up last night and I just know they are going to love it! Another way I am using these extra funds is to sponsor a 2 or 3 teens and paying their way to go to teen camp. I am so thankful for this opportunity, and it would not be possibly without you!

Please continue to pray for the coming weeks. God is going to do big things next week at teen camp as well as the following week when the Mactrips team leads a VBS here. Greater things truly are yet to come!

Here is another picture of everyone after church today!
In Him,
  Lawson Albey

Thursday, June 30, 2011

This and That

Well I suppose I should start by apologizing for the delay in blog posts. I hope none of you are getting too worried about me giving up on blogging. I'm not I promise! Well quite a bit has happened this week, but wording it is going to be tough because so much has happened involving the new van that it is all starting to run together in my mind. I will try to summarize it as well as I can.

Before I get into the van I guess I should tell you all that I got to preach last Sunday here at Pucioasa Baptist Church! It was an experience I will never forget! How did it go you ask? Well, it was different. If you have ever had to speak in front of people with a translator you know what I'm talking about. It isn't hard to make statements and get your points across, but what is tough is still maintaining your own input, or "style" as many of us like to call it. But nonetheless, it went fairly well I suppose!

Before I attempt to explain the van situation just know that I personally will never complain again for having to sit at the DMV for any amount of time whatsoever. I have never personally bought a car in the states, but I know that it is not difficult and might take 24 hours at most to have everything finalized. That is not the case at all here. We picked up the Van a week ago tomorrow and it is still not completely ready to go. We only have one more thing to do, but it has taken all week just to be able to drive it legally on the roads. We stated Monday and honestly we have been so many places I don't even remember where we started. But I know one day we went back to this one guys office I think 3 or 4 times. I should know what he does but I can't remember. Yesterday we got to the DMV to pick up the new plates (which say Luke 4:8, look it up) and we were informed of a new law stating the owner of the address where the van will be has to sign and give permission before the plates can be given. So we come back to Pucioasa and get the owner of the house where Dave lives (only Romanian citizens can own property) and go to another office where this form is made. This office has never even heard of the form. So once we finally get it made and signed by whoever that was we are then able to go back to Targoviste to the DMV and order the plates. That is just one example of what happened every single day this week. We had to go pay this tax, or get this inspection done, or do this so it's insured. It is literally a rat race and this paragraph does not do it justice.

After reading that you may be thinking, Lawson that does not sound fun, are you sure you are enjoying your time there. And my answer to you is ABSOLUTELY. I love it here. While going place to place and not understanding a word that is said may get tiring from time to time I always enjoy coming home to an awesome family. No, I am not just saying this because I know they read my blog. They are so much fun and truly a blessing to me. It is pretty much a nightly occurrence that before the kids go to bed me and Bubba are trying to get in as many games on the wii as possible. And I love coming home and watching a movie with Bubba and the girls (even if I did nap during Sleeping Beauty). I am loving every second here.

Shifting gears a tad bit, I want to mention to you the book I am reading. It's titled "The Holy Wild" by Mark Buchanan. If you have a reading list put it on there. My youth pastor Jonathan gave it to me telling me how awesome it was but warning me that it might not be for me because the author can be a tad bit wordy at times. I didn't like that much at first but now I am so into it that I don't even notice. To put the book in a nutshell every chapter is about a different characteristic of God. Some of the ones I've read were about his love, wrath, creativity, mercy, and wisdom just to name a few. I just finished the chapter on wisdom tonight and read something that really hit home with me that I wanted to share.
      "God didn't consult our wisdom. God said, "This is how I will save them. I will come Myself, in disguise. I'll be born to an unmarried couple. I will live in obscurity for thirty years, then wander like a vagabond, slum around with a ragtag group of men who are rash one minute, timid the next. I will live in poverty. I will make enemies of the powerful and the influential. I will go to Jerusalem, straight into their snare, and be beaten. I will be killed like a criminal."

This really put things into perspective for me and I hope it does the same for you. God is so wise. I would have never thought to do the things He did so that I could enjoy eternity with him. If you are reading this and are one of the many gracious individuals, couples, or families that help make this trip possible financially I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. God is showing me so much. Please continue to pray for me as well as the entire Manary family and their church. I love you all.

In Him,
  Lawson Albey 

Saturday, June 25, 2011


This is one of the things I was probably looking forward to the most when I was planning on coming to Romania to be with the Manary's. Going to the orphanage today was something that touched my heart so much that I can not truly explain with words. We weren't there long, but I tried to take advantage of every second I was able to see those kids.

When we got there we went into a room of two little ones. I got to hold a little boy that was around a year old, maybe a few months older. He was very small because he had been born premature. He was the sweetest thing. He did nothing but smile and giggle when I would play with him. In the next room there was a little boy with epilepsy. We would kneel by his bed and just give him some attention. He absolutely loved it.

My favorite (yes I had a favorite, so what?) was a little boy I met in the hall way. He was about 14 months old and was as cute as could be. He had a big water bottle that he was carrying around and playing with. He would throw it or give it to me and we would play. It was like a never ending game of keep away. The smile on his face said it all. I wanted to take him home. He seemed like a completely normal 14 month old boy. I later found out he had AIDS. I was heart broken and wanted to go back and just love on him some more.

Please keep the Manary's in your prayers so that doors will continue to open and they will be able to reach out to these precious children. I wish I had more to say about today, but the feelings I felt simply had no words.

In Him,
   Lawson Albey

Friday, June 24, 2011

I'm here!!!

Well I am finally using this blog for what it was originally created for! I hope my previous blogs have entertained you until now...I arrived in Romania around mid night Tuesday (4 pm tues in Ar). I was greeted at the airport by Bro. Dave, his wife Melissa, Drew Foot, and Joy Wilson. Drew and Joy had stayed with Dave a couple weeks ago and were back with him for a few days. 

The trip over was interesting and did not go as planned. My flight to Chicago was great. Got to chat with some other guys from Sheridan headed on a mission trip to India. This was very encouraging. After arriving in Chicago, things got rather, boring. I had about a 4-5 hour layover there which consisted of dinner (alone of course) and a lot of sitting around and reading. When I finally left Chicago and headed to London I was thinking sleep. This was the first part that did not go as planned. I only got 2 maybe 3 hours of sleep on the almost 8 hour flight. When I got off this plane my plan was to spend my 6 hour layover in London out exploring. This happened to be more complicated than I expected and I really wasn't feeling like it after little sleep anyway. I napped in the London air port somehow, and also got a lot of reading done.

After arriving in Bucharest it was a 2 hour drive back to Puchoiasa where the Manary's live. It was so good just to be in the car with them and Drew and Joy because I hadn't had a single conversation with anyone since the guy from Sheridan on the plane to Chicago. When we arrived at the house it was about 2:30 am here and it was time for bed. So my thoughts were, I haven't slept hardly at all, I'm about to crash. Wrong. I lied awake until about 6 am here (10 pm AR) and finally fell asleep.

Wednesday we took it easy until later that afternoon. Dave, Drew, Joy, Jessica (oldest Manary daughter), and I loaded up and headed 2 hours across Romania to the Brasov area where their church camp is. I got to drive all the way there! Oh, did I mention this route was tons of hills and hair-pin turns? AND I drove a stick shift(Thanks Michael Clark for teaching me how!) Here we met up with Bro. Jim Black and his daughter Hannah. Needless to say I crashed early knowing we had a day of work the next day. That work was mainly made up of moving a fallen tree (no small tree) as well as some mowing/weed eating that needed to be done. We ended up staying 2 nights there before heading back to Puchoiasa this morning.

This afternoon Bro. Dave's long time prayer of owning a 15 passenger van finally came thru! We went and picked one up today! It was such a blessing to him and his family. There is nothing better than being here and seeing God supply their needs on His timing. The faith of this family is shown in everything they have done thus far.

Tonight was awesome! My first of many Manary Family Nights! It was filled of prayer, singing, and reading the Word. Oh and topped off with some Banana Splits and "The Empire Strikes Back"!!! It is such a blessing to immediately feel apart of this wonderful family. I can already see that when my 5 weeks is up it is going to be extremely hard to leave.

Hope this post helps clear up where I have been the past few days! I am sure I will be updating again in a few days! Thank you all for your prayers. They mean more than I can ever express! God bless you all!

John 3:30

In Him,
  Lawson Albey