Last night was a real treat for me to hear feedback from our students on the class they had just taken.
We do pizza/salad/brownie nights on the first Friday night of their two-week session and they are always fun and upbeat with the guys feeling a little freedom after hitting the halfway mark of their courses. However, they usually still have half the course left…. but not so last night.
The course Leadership/Mentoring is a fantastic class actually meshing two tremendous courses. Dan Upchurch had just finished the Mentoring half of the course and the guys were pumped with ideas and plans to put in practice when they returned to their place of ministry. It was so encouraging for us to hear what they had actually experienced during the first half of this course and see how Dan had really “nailed it” with his teaching.
And then last night had a bonus in that Dan and Dr. Tony Merida (teaching Leadership) were both able to be at the pizza night… even though Tony had just arrived from the states a couple of hours earlier. Most of the men had sat under Tony’s teaching before and were really looking forward to Saturday morning classes… imagine that!
Joel is having trouble keeping his eyes open as we study Russian tonight... actually we both are, but I just happened to get my hands on a camera! Both of us are super excited about the possibility of really learning to communicate better with our national friends and colleagues... but age does have its drawbacks in learning a different language. First of all it takes longer to commit something to memory, but then you have the added problem of trying to stay awake after 7:30 at night ! ! ! !
Seriously it is hard and we DO need prayer, but I think we are both excited about the prospects and we certainly both appreciate Sveta's patience with us.
Please pray also for us to be able to get our work done at the seminary along with our work on language and for me... along with canning and drying food for this winter... I am canning tomatoes this week.
New Language Partner: Meet my friend that I introduced in language class... her name kept changing from Svetlana, to Valya, to Natasha.
Life in Ukraine affords us a lot of joy, but for me there is always the lonely feeling of not knowing how to sit and talk to national friends beyond the basic hello, how are you, good or bad weather dialogue... always having to kind of guess as to what each other are saying or relying on a translator. Time is a major factor in us not being able to take language classes now... basically we are in class all the time, it is just not language classes!
In talking to some friends the other day about this situation, they suggested a young girl who would like to start out teaching Russian and who would not mind our caotic schedule. We already knew and admired her and so we set up a "crazy schedule" for us to take Russian lessons... one in which we would take classes unless we were teaching or busy with volunteer teams or professors or any other situation that comes up in our world. I cannot tell you how much we are enjoying working with Sveeta... she is very energetic and creative and speaks very distinctive so that I can actually hear how she is pronouncing the words.
Please be in prayer for us as we strive to continue with the Russian lessons. Pray for us to understand the grammar and to retain the words and their endings.
People are always asking me what is the hardest part of being a missionary... the language, the living conditions... what? The hardest part of being a missionary is always saying goodbye to family and friends. We've been blessed to be in the States for Christmas and then to spend time with partnering churches in several states. But as we get closer to returning we are excited about going home... because that is where we live, but the ache in our hearts starts getting more painful at the thought of leaving our family. Of course this sadness is normal because of how much we love them and it in no way diminishes our love for our work and the Ukrainian people. But being a missionary is letting God sooth the pain of separation from our loved ones while we follow His wlll for our lives.
Above is Joel playing with our youngest granddaughter, Ellen Elizabeth, over at KK's house.
Today marked the beginning of class for our 2008 new students. I have 42 students enrolled in my class, although they are not all new students... a few people who missed my class last year or other years are taking it also. I believe the final count was 36 new students for this school year.Even though that number is down, we are still grateful for every student and thank the Lord for each one of them.
Part of the first day of classes is a new student reception where they meet faculty and all of those people working at the seminary. It is a fun time for all of us. Below you can see Joel talking to Sergei our Academic Dean.
Shown in the picture below is my good friend taking care of the food at the reception. Without good friends to help with projects like the reception, we could not get it all done.
It has been exciting getting back into the rhythm and flow of seminary life. One of the most enjoyable events of each two-week modular is the Friday night pizza night. This Friday night was our 3rd pizza night of this school year... our 2nd year students. It was a busy night because we had a lot of paper work for them to fill out and we spent the evening talking about their mentors and the paper work required of the students and their mentors. But of course nothing comes before the pizza.
Being an American living abroad one tends to hold close to any holiday from the U.S. So I start early on the Independence Day theme, including the end of May, (Memorial Day) all of June (Flag Day) and July (the 4th) both decorating my apartment for the holiday and being careful not to pass up an opportunity to get together for a celebration.
So in honor of the patriotic season, Joel and I hosted a mexican food party and invited all of the youth team plus Angela and plus our journeyman m... Shawn and of course their fearless leader... Darrel and his family the Hathcocks. I know most of you think that all we do is eat, but it just so happens that that is the only time we get the camera out! :)
Now I know that you are going to think from our pictures that all we do is eat, but that is not the case! The girls have been very active and Angela is passing all her skills with flying colors. She is picking up on the language and she has now mastered taking marshrewdka's by herself. I meant to take pictures of the girls this morning in Open Hearts Church, a church plant whose pastor is our translator at the seminary, Sergei Bochko, but I have to confess that I forgot. After church we got something to eat and then I will admit we ended up on the new outdoor sitting area at Gloria Jeans coffee shop. This evening the girls were going to a Farci Church.
Saturday afternoon Darrel and Kimberly Hathcock and their daughters and Joel and I decided to give our "newest missionaries" a real Ukrainian outing... cooking shashleek in the park. It was a great time for all of us and for Angela, Cammie, Michaela, Rachel, and Shawn. We had all the trimmings to go with the wonderful meat.
The girls relaxed and took time for a photo shoot. Pictured above, Michaela is getting a picture of roommates Rachel and Angela.
Angela and I set out this morning to acquaint her with the metro system and the "little bus" system in order for her to be able to get around the city on her own. Our first stop was the Baptist Building and our second stop was Gloria Jean's coffee shop right down the street.
We stopped off at St Michaels to enjoy the beauty of this Orthodox Church. And yes that is real gold !
While we were up there, we did a little sight seeing over the Dniper river.
Angela, our summer intern and close friend from our home church arrived this afternoon. She made record time through the airport and made it with all her luggage.
Above Angela and Mary Ellen are standing in front of Angela's apartment building. She has already moved into her apartment with three other summer
missionaries. (click "Read More" for more pictures of Angela)