This afternoon we leave for Kiev; but it’s no small trek to Kiev from here. I’ve ridden on many trains in Europe before, but this will be the first time to sleep on a train. Although Kiev is about 800 kilometers (500 miles) from here, the train ride is 17 hours long. Josh and I will be sharing a “Kupeh” (a closed-door cabin) with two strangers…who have already claimed the two bottom bunks. It seems like a weird experience for me, but Emily (a missionary in Ukraine) has reassured me that it’s really not a big deal. I am actually looking forward to the train ride mostly to see the country and to have the time to just sit, think, meditate, and read.

Our week was full of what I can only call “wonderfulness.” A little recap for you:

Sunday – I attended three churches: A Ukrainian church at 10:00, a Russian Church at 3:00 and a Hungarian/Roma (Gypsy) church at 7:00. The day was very busy with time inbetween only to eat, but i chose to go to all because the Spirit within me was just urging me to go. Attending church here really is difficult, not because I’m spiritually dry or frustrated (which I’m not), but because i do not yet understand the language; which can make for some really long sermons. Fortunately, this day, two of the 3 churches had English speaking guest Speakers! The Russian church did not, but they have amazing worship and it always refreshes me.

Tuesday – visit from our landlady and her son’s English teacher to serve as a translator. We are having all kinds of repairs and remodels going on at our apartment building. Our landlady wanted to make sure we understood everything…but the translator was so excited to just be able to speak with native English speakers that she really did not translate much of what our landlord said. Mostly she just asked us a bunch of questions about us, what I was cooking, about our experiences here, and even wanted a tour of our flat. I just realized that I wrote about this (and some about our train ride) on an earlier post. sorry for the partial rewrite! 🙂

Wednesday – Off to the Roma church again, this time to hear special guests from Germany. It was awesome – God moved – lives were changed – spirits refreshed – and new friendships made.

Thursday – Natasha set up a little get-together for me to talk with her English students from the University. There were 5 young women all, 18 – 19 years old. At first they did not want to talk, admitting they were very scared to meet me and speak with me; but I just kept asking questions and made each one answer. Natasha was there, but she basically sat back and just let us talk, interjecting only when they could not fully understand something I said or when there was a small lull in conversation. After our small meal, Natasha said her goodbyes. wouldn’t you know…the girls became alive and soo talkative…they were terrified of speaking English in front of their teacher, not so much me! They joked with me, asked all kinds of questions, and we even had a mini photoshoot out in the middle of the square. (no pics from me though).

some of these young women do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, but they now have a relationship with me…and i pray that God will continue to use me in their lives to show Himself. God is doing something here through me … something I hadn’t expected…

Friday – There are some Roma who want to learn English, but the only people to teach them are other Roma who can speak limited English! Most Ukrainians who can teach English won’t give them the time of day, or they charge way too much. And, when they (the Roma) can’t even afford food, they won’t have money for lessons. So, these Roma asked Josh and I to help them out. We’re not teaching the class yet, but went and just offered our friendship and conversation. I tell you, God is really doing something in this church; it’s quite inspiring…and a very long post…so I’ll save it!

I know this post didn’t have a lot of depth to it…but many of you have told me you’re interested in my daily events…so this one’s for you! Actually, some of these stories have some great depth, and I’ll try to write them out on the train and post them later. If you want some good deep spiritual reading, check out Josh’s blog that he wrote this week…it’s good stuff. You can read it by clicking HERE.

Now, off to pack and make homemade tortillas for our trip!

English Camp

Next August, one of our outreach ministries in China will be 4 days hosting and leading an English Camp.  Josh has had several meetings this week with the Principals and administrators of a couple of schools that will be participating in these camps.  We have found that in all the countries we’ve been to, administrators quickly welcome missionaries into their schools, seeing it as an incredible opportunity for their students to practice their English language skills and to learn about another culture.

Someone asked me today, “what exactly is an English Camp?”

Basically, it’s 3 -4 days of thorough English language lessons and conversational activities.    On a typical day you would see:

  • Students and missionaries intermingling in conversation, building friendships
  • A missionary gives a speech or presentation about an American Holiday, Custom, cities, etc.
  • Games and activities that teach vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar.
  • One-on-one question/answer sessions between the students and missionaries.

Even though the focus is the English language, it is also an incredibly effective avenue to speak about our faith in God and our relationship with our Savior.  For example:

While in the Czech Republic, we were invited to the local high school’s English class.  After a short presentation on Thanksgiving, we sat down one-on-one with the students to let them practice conversation.  As I talked with a 16-year old girl about our families, I was praying that God would open up a chance to talk about God.  I noticed that she was wearing a cross necklace, so I told her I liked her necklace and asked if it had a special meaning for her.  Viola!  The door flew right open…she explained that it didn’t, she bought it because she thought it was pretty; a mere fashion statement.  I proceeded to explain that it had special meaning for me.  She asked why.  I told her about Jesus’ crucifixion and shared the entire Gospel message.  She continued to ask questions about my faith.  That night at a special presentation of the Jesus movie, she gave her life to the Lord.

God can move in any circumstance…even in an English lesson.