Friday, June 27, 2008

Its the pleople that make a place.

How many times do we hear that phrase "Its the people that make or break a place", or "Its the people that make it home." Its true. This precious woman above in the pink apron is my Babushka Lida. Her gift is domestic love. She cooks for Pam and I Monday and Wednesday. She is very precise and makes perfect borscht, plove (a rice, carrot, onion and meat dish that is awesome... lots of spices), and verenikie (little dumplings with veggies or fruit stuffed inside). I decided I wanted to glean from her vast field of knowledge and she graciously put up with me making the verenikie wrong :) She is now my adopted grandma and she gives the best hugs. I can't really communicate well with her since my Russian is almost as limited as her English but some how, body language of a few hugs and hand squeezes communicates volumes.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Pride in Me.

This is an excerpt from my prayer journal. It is one of the most significant lessons I have learned.

Dear Jesus,

I have been listening to a lot of missionary vocab recently. The most prevelant word in this unique and sometimes cheesy language is "calling". "My calling is to orphans in Russia, or "I feel God calling me to Lithuainia." Is this "call" really biblical? Did Paul, Peter, James, John, etc feel called to go where ever they went? They obeyed your voice Jesus. Maybe this word is used so many times that it has lost its meaning. What if I don't "feel" called anywhere but go where I am needed, which could be anywhere? So to obey is better then sacrifice, or to put it another way, "to obey is better then religious acts. (end quote)
So to obey you i will go home to my family. I feel like you are calling me to minister to my family for a time in person. my pride tells me i am 25 and need to be "further along in life" then this. how the world measures success is not how Jesus measures it. I need a ministry, a "calling", a job, SOMETHING TO KEEP ME BUSY! But in my business i miss out what He is teaching me.

I met this girl at the conference named Beth. She has moved home twice since college and God has taught her through it. She is not a dependent of her parents and a leech but a women who obeyed God's voice. It gave her the freedom to hear from God in a unique way and minister to her family. She is now going into full time ministry overseas.
I take my family for granted. I am not a home body but I am very close with my family. I want to be where God wants me to be, not where I am conquering the jungles of Indonesia in order to be recognized and seen as great. Hard lesson to learn. I needed it.

I love my Ukrianians

350-400 people, teachings and worship time every morning, afternoon and evening, bread and cheese sandwiches for breakfast, swimming in the pool, eating mulberries and Hungarian ice cream. These things might describe my time at the Calvary Chapel Foundations Conference in Vajta, Hungary as some of the major activities. Or, the people to your left from Kiev, Ukraine might describe my favorite, and some of the most influential moments in my life are with the people I meet and interact with. I did not know these girls before I came. I had never attended their church in the capital city of Kiev. That didn't seem to matter at all. These girls enveloped me into their worlds the moment I met them. I spent hours singing and worshiping Jesus with them. Lube( the one next to me) plays the saxophone, guitar and sings beautifully. We didn't speak eachother's languages very well but Jesus gave us a connection of prayer and music. Tasha( in pink) wanted to learn how to dive, so I spent time teaching her with our mixed Russian/English phrases. She loved to tease and love on me ( especially while she was sopping wet and i was dry). Oksana (right, white shirt) loves to serve others and asked me how to plan a menu for a vacation trip to the Black Sea. The Ukrainian people love to have fun and include everyone in their fun. They also love Jesus and want to make sure you do too. I was immensly humbled once again by these amazing people. They are beautiful and made in the image of God just as I am. I have learned what warm love and acceptance is through my relationships with Ukrainians.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Family of Jesus

There is an old song that I used to sing at Emmanuel that goes.."I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God. I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood. Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod. I'm a part of the family, the family of God." I have begun to realize just how big that family is as I meet and make friends with the Ukrainian believers here at Calvary Chapel of Dnepropetrovsk. I was humbled for the millionth time this month, when I asked a group of girls about how they felt about the level of love and accountability in their church. They just looked at me and answered, "Calvary Chapel is a family. We know we can count on them to help us and pray with us whenever we need it." They were confused and surprised that I even had to ask. I asked about the Ukrainian culture and if the people would ask for help, counsel and prayer in time of need. We in the U.S. often feel like we are stepping on toes and that our beloved friends don't have the time for our problems/joys/fears. It is a lie from the enemy. "Two are better then one. If one falls down, his friend can help him up". and, "a cord of three strands is not easily broken". The American Church needs to start taking a stand for itself during the minutes and seconds of the week. We need to pray together, cry together and rejoice together. Thats how the world will know that Jesus is in us.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bobbing Demitri

This is Bouncy little Demitri. Actually, that is the name that i gave him. The staff at the baby hospital/orphanage do not know what his name is. He was found on the street alone, while his father was passed out drunk. When I first saw him last Thursday he was unsmiling and emotionless. This week, he was beaming when he saw Kristina and I entering the room. After I bathe him and change his diaper I take him over to the window so he can see the trees and people outside. His favorite activity is bouncing on the window sill. He gives my forearms a work out. The children are stuck in cribs all day so he has so much pent up energy to wiggle out.

To better understand my ministry here let me give you a layout of my week.
Monday/Wednesday: Material support: clients of Bear child ministry can come and take a few baby items/clothes/diapers. They "earn" these items by participating in certain classes, going to church, working/husband working, doing article summaries, etc. We get a chance to talk with each mom as she looks through the clothing. We pray for with them and ask about their needs.
Tuesday: Reserved for visiting the baby hospital that Artyom, an abandoned baby is living. See the last baby post titled "artyom" for more details. He needs a mommy and a daddy. Any takers?
Thursday: Material support and visiting a different baby hospital Demitri's home) on the other side of the river. We wash and love on the babies. The nurses are used to us coming regularly as they have been receiving people from Calvary Chapel Dnepro for seven years now.
Friday: A day off but filled with traveling or catch up work recently. Today we went to the Zorka/central market. I love open air markets, so much activity and beautifully priced fresh items.
Saturday/Sunday: ministry, church and for the past few weeks childbirth and breastfeeding classes. i do get a chance to read and relax, which i take advantage of regularly. The church is having an outreach on Saturday for the TB Sanitarium kids. This will involve games, crafts, bible story, and just playing with the kids.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Always learning

I had to laugh at myself. Here I was in a grocery store looking like a first grader trying to make out the words on the bottle. I think its shampoo. I sound out the letters of the Cyrillic characters to myself.. shampoov.. something like that. I look for conditioner by comparing other bottles of Head and Shoulders, Dove, etc, hoping against hope not to buy gel or lotion. I finally find something that doesn't have the same word as shampoo on it and place it in my basket. Next i need to find some mouse for my hair. I look at the section of what appears to be hair sprays and gels, i hope its not shaving cream. Slavabog (praise God) for pictures and some English words that got the point across on this one bottle of what i still hope is mouse.

I have more and more experiences like this due to my exploratory nature and desire to learn on my own. I still cling to a translator or help of some kind and can be rather shy in saying using some Russian, but God does give me a spirit of learning and humility when i need it the most.

I am realizing more and more that my plans are not always His. I had meant to stay in Ukraine until August 12th but circumstances and the Lord has called me back sooner. Bear Child Ministries is closing in July and Pam will be leaving Ukraine in July as well. I came to be a servant to Bear Child Ministries and to Pam so I will leave with Pam as she travels back. It has been a hard decision as I could potentially stay until August with a friend or live in another city and house sit for a family. But my motivations would be out of pride and wanting to survive on my own and prove i can do it. i don't know what I will do when i go back to Waynetown/Crawfordsville, Indiana. I am terrified of inactivity and not knowing what the next step will be.

Pray that i would surrender my fear to Jesus. He knows the plans he has for me and they are awesome!

Monday, June 2, 2008


I traveled to a city called Harkov this past weekend to teach breastfeeding to what I thought would be about 6 clients and several volunteers and the center's staff. Jesus had other things in mind. In the end most of the pregnant clients were hospitalized that week for various reasons and so only one client with a five month old baby came along with 2 staff and the director.

These changes were all for the best as I was able to observe these women and here them pour out there heart of love for their clients and desire to serve them. | was humbled immensely by the way they treated me. They saw me as a professional who came to share my knowledge about breastfeeding with them and how to counsel their clients accordingly. They treated me w/ such respect I can't even explain how humbled I felt. I was able to give them bf materials in Russian that they can use to teach their bf class. This center is also sponsored by a church in America, however, this church is giving them less support in order for them to try to obtain the support/sponsorship themselves in Ukraine. It is very difficult for Ukrainians to support themselves and a charitable center at the same time due to the economy and the lack of resources. Pray for Ukrainians to step up to the plate. They are also exploring business and ministry possibilities.

I learned that breastfeeding is not really explained or taught in their medical/nursing schools either. It is so amazing to me how cultures are so different yet similar.