Saturday, July 4, 2009

In God's Country

We need new dreams tonight

So how do you celebrate the 4th of July in Ukraine? Well I can't really say what the rest of Ukraine was up to, but I can tell you what a group of Americans were doing. American things, that's what we were doing. Barbecuing, making ice cream, not using the metric system, lighting things on fire, why it was just like back in the states.

A group of our colleagues in the city got together at a park and grilled Шашлык (pronounced Shashlik...sound it out), which is essentially a Russian version of shish-kebab. There was also plenty of dessert, including hand-cranked ice cream to go around. And if you need an excuse to go out to the park, grill out, and toss around a football/baseball/frisbee, I suppose the 4th of July is as good of a reason as any. All that I need right now is some fireworks.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Island of the Honest Man

From the sunrise up above to the sunset below

I've been sitting at my computer trying to think of the best way to summarize my recent trip to Greece. Should I tell you about the really interesting sessions that I got to attend? No, that sounds kind of boring. Should I tell you about the lazy afternoons spent relaxing by the pool? No, that would probably just inflame your jealousy. Should I tell you about how I saved those 4 Greek kids from the burning building? No, that never actually happened. (It was 6 old ladies and a puppy.)

I guess you'll just have to hear about the best part of the trip: getting to see my friends from orientation. It was worth the trip just to be able to hear firsthand about the ministries that they've been able to take part in. and to catch up on their lives. It's a rare opportunity to be reunited with more than a dozen friends at the same time. And if that all happens at a Greek resort, well then that's just gravy. Here's the USA Today version of my week: a fantastic time of relaxation and fellowship. It was just about as good as I could have hoped for.

It was of course, more than a little bittersweet having to say goodbye again after only a week. They say us missionaries are in the goodbye business, and that goodbyes are just a part of the paradigm. This has proven to be quite true so far. My list of people that I really miss keeps getting longer and longer. I guess I'll just have to keep meeting new people here in Kiev. But that's kind of what I'm here for, right?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pictures on my Wall

People come, I count everyone

One of the fantastic elements of being a Journeyman is the opportunity to travel. This week I'll be traveling to Greece for our annual regional conference. Clearly, this is very exciting. I'm not exactly sure what goes on at a regional conference. Perhaps some kind of ritualistic Journeyman hazing. It'll also be a great chance to reconnect with some of my friends from orientation. I am looking forward to relaxing, and learning about the different ministries taking place throughout Europe. Please pray that we'll all have safe travel to and from conference, and that we'll have a productive week.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Weight of the World

Every little piece in your life will add up to one

The time that I have awaited for months has finally arrived. I have begun language classes. And after nearly 2 weeks of class, I have arrived at what I believe to be 2 indisputable conclusions:

1. Russian is hard.
2. Cursive is stupid.

(To be fair, I had discovered that cursive is stupid all the way back in the 6th grade, but it is gratifying to know that I'm still right. To paraphrase an important philosopher: Cursive is like a microphone at a Britney Spears concert.)

There are 4 of us in class, and we're meeting up 4 days a week for 3 hours a session. Our teacher, Alla, speaks almost no English, but never seems to have a problem letting us know what she wants us to do. It's a pretty good setup, and I am learning. Slowly. Quite slowly. Here's a brief sample of what I've been studying: Антон, скажи, это твой собака? It either means 'Anton, tell me, is this your dog?', or 'Help I am a cantaloupe.'

The prospect of studying a new language is more than daunting, as is the notion of having to do homework again. But I''m excited to be learning. I find my motivation from the idea of getting to talk to people that I meet, or being able to order food at a restaurant without having to point, or buying something from the store without having to do an awkward mime. (Seriously, try to ask someone where the bathroom is without using words.) I want to be able to share the gospel with someone in Russian. I want to be able to minister to someone in their heart language. It's going to be a long process, but I'll get there soon. Hopefully before 2 years is up.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


This life is a means to an end

It's hot in Kiev. We're talking 90+ degrees. Now that's not really a complaint, more of an observation. It actually reminds me a bit of home. In Orlando, 90 is sweater weather.

It's been a long day running around town in the hot hot heat. But all in all it was a good day. I got to spend some time with a Ukrainian friend today. We got a chance to talk about life, death, infinity, outsourcing, girls, and why Ukraine is better than Russia. Typical guy stuff. He's a really cool guy and he's offered to help me practice my Russian.

It's really easy to get focused on myself and all of the things that I have to do during the week. Filling out paperwork. Getting a haircut. Going grocery shopping. Finding out if that DVD in the store has an English language track. But I remembered today where my priorities need to lie. Please pray for my friend Nazim. I don't think that God let our paths cross on accident.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cold Beverage

Stick it in the fridge, stick it in the fridge

Nothing like a delicious imported beverage to remind you of home.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Outsiders

Can you spot the English here?

I had the chance to spend the afternoon at the park with a family visiting from the states. It turned out to be a really great ministry opportunity, and a fun way to meet people. Our group got to do some face painting in addition to making some pretty terrific balloon animals. I figured out how to make balloon swords for the kids, which they promptly used to pummel me savagely and without mercy. Perhaps I should have made them something a little less violent, like a balloon monkey, or a balloon UN peace treaty.

We were also able to meet some Ukrainian adults and pass out some Bibles. My Russian is below limited, but my friend Mike was able to share the gospel with a few of the people we talked to, and was even able to invite some of them to church. We met a man named Nazim from Moscow who spoke enough English to tell us that he was both a Christian and a Muslim. The language barrier was still a factor, but I believe that he understood when we told him about God's love, and that we would be praying for him.

We're going to be in the park for the next few days, getting to meet people as well as expanding my balloon making skill set. If you have the opportunity, please remember to pray for the people that our team will be able to talk to. We never know who we'll get to meet, or what sort of impact the things that we say will have. But God knows. And He is faithful.