Bonfires and Music Workshops!
Worship at the Bonfires
3 out of the 6 nights that we were at the camp, we had these huge bonfires. They would spend the whole day collecting huge pieces of wood and building the bonfire, and at around 10pm at night, they would light this huge bonfire! The first night we had the bon fire, withLove and I started to lead worship with some songs we knew in Romanian. I was having a blast singing and shaking my tambourine in a rhythmic jam, Jordan grooving away on the cajon for the whole mountain to hear, Stephen, Derek, and Larry (one of the translators) playing on their guitars, and Rachael singing her heart out. We became one big choir that night! To my surprise, Larry, who claims that he “used to” be a worship leader, started to sing other worship songs in Romanian, and the whole gang sang along! That first night, we got hip to all the Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman songs they knew and to some cool folk-sounding Gypsy worship songs that are popular in their town! They took so much pride and joy in those songs and we loved singing with them even though we didn’t know the words! The Spirit of the Lord was there, and we were all singing praises in different languages! What a beautiful sight! I was pleasantly surprised at how many American songs they knew in Romanian and the experience gave the band some more songs to sing in worship for the rest of the week (songs that they would know in their language!). So here I am dancing around the fire like Kanye West trying to chorale the group and sing the whole time while catching their attention with my awesome tambourine skills! As one church, we clapped, we sang, and had an amazing bonding time in an atmosphere of worship and fun! The fire was so big and hot! We had to sit like 10 ft away from it so we wouldn’t get burned. But of course, crazy me was dancing like 5 ft away from it, every now and again getting hit by a flaming ember! But it was worth the dancing fun!
Pork Fat, Smores, and Toilets
The 2nd night, we did the same thing, but there were added treats: Smores. We were so excited to have a taste of back home! Unfortunately, since the fire was so big and hot, only a few dared to get close enough and stand the heat long enough to get that perfectly melted smore. I was dancing around eating my smore, I noticed this older gentlemen that had this hunk of white glob and an onion on a stick. I asked Naomi (one of our translators) what is was, and she said it’s pork fat. I was like “what?!”, who eats straight up pork fat?! But apparently Romanians do around a nice campfire. They heat the pork fat up to a nice slimy drip and soft enough to slice small chunks off with a knife. Then you take a piece of onion and place it on a bread with the pork fat chunk, and bottoms up! I guess that’s the Romanian version of the American smore! Stephen, Rachael, and I tried it. I thought it was pretty good, I had 2 servings. Stephen didn’t think much of it. And Rachael seemed to have found the next best meal of her life! She kept eating one chunk of pork fat after another. All I remember were 2 things from that night:
- The toilet the whole next day that Waddy and I endured and we vowed to never do that to our bodies again.
- Rachael going to Hateg, the local town, to get her own glob of pork fat for the next bon fire!
It was still an experience to never forget to say the least!
The 3rd night of the bonfire, it was nearing the end of our stay at Bradatel. It had just been raining for a brief time in the evening, and Pastor Danni decided to move forward the bonfire. Rachael was ready and excited to light up her pork fat. We had the bon fire going for about 20 minutes and then it started to POUR DOWN RAIN and we all had to scramble back to our rooms. Rachael was the most bummed, because she couldn’t have her pork fat, and decided to give it to one of the older men to eat. I was thinking, the Lord just saved Rachael’s stomach from having to process that craziness and who knows what else….
In the middle of our stay at the camp, withLove and I taught a music workshop to about 50 youth. I kicked it off with a basic 101 on what praise and worship is, what a worship leader’s role is, why worship leaders are important to the church, and so on. I also talked about how there are 3 main barriers that block a lot of people from true worship, which is fear, pride, and confusion. Derek chimed in some his golden nuggets of worship wisdom and then I began to talk about song writing.
My heart for them is that they would write songs from their own hearts that reflect their culture, story, and sound instead of singing every Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman song known to man. They would often complain to me that they would rather sing American songs in English because everyone translates the American songs differently and when they sing together, it’s one confusing dysfunctional mess. So it gave me all the more reason for them to write their own songs in their own native tongue where there’s one translation! I talked to them about the basic parts of a song like the verse, chorus, and bridge and the purpose behind each part. I talked to them about the creative process and how everyone’s process is different and encouraged them to keep writing bad songs until they write their great songs! It takes writing a lot of bad songs before you write your good one!
Naomi, one of our sweet translators, wrote a beautiful song that was close to her heart called “Free” and wanted us to put music to it. So we used her song as a demonstration to show what song-writing feels and looks like. After I found the basic chord progression of her song, Waddy (electric guitar), Derek (acoustic guitar), and Jordan (drums) added their spin to the song and it became this great song within 15 minutes right before everyone’s eyes! Even though it was a very simple process for us, their eyes were lit up with amazement and excitement about creating music. When we finished Naomi’s song, they erupted into a roar of applause.
Then, we let the youth come up on stage to practice playing together as a band. Since they all knew “Here I Am To Worship” by heart, we had them play and sing the chorus over and over again as we switched out singers and musicians throughout the segment. They were so excited to play each instrument and get behind the mic as they played and sang their hearts out with a big smile. As soon as everyone got a good feel for their parts, they started to sync and sound together as one beautiful sound. As they started to sound pretty good, their eyes and ears lit up with excitement as they noticed! It’s beautiful to see how music inspires and excites these young aspiring musicians to love God even deeper through this magical experience. And my heart is that it would inspire them to take what they’ve learned and to keep growing to be skillful musicians to their heart’s desire. And what’s even more beautiful is that they use their gifts to not make it about them, but to make it completely about others discovering God on a deeper level!
Music really is a powerful tool to connect with people even when there is a language and cultural gap. And my hope is that our music would inspire people to discover God in the power of His love as young worshippers. That withLove would have a hand in inspiring a generation of truly passionate worshippers that would worship the Father in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). And worship leaders that would take the time to disciple each other to be great men and women of God accountable to one another in enriching relationships and leading each other into deeper worship with God (Hebrews 10:23-25, Colossians 3:16). This is the withLove vision coming alive before our very eyes and it’s a blessing that we get to do it at an international level. The vision has already been written (see the vision here) and it came from above and now God is doing amazing things through withLove step by step, and I’m blessed to be a part of this amazing journey!