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.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Brilliant Feat

And I can feel the power rushing through my veins

So how about the Magic, eh? You don't have to say anything, I know you're excited as excited as I am. The time difference meant I had to be up at 5 am to catch the second half, but as any Magic fan can tell you, we don't have a lot of chances to see our team this deep in the playoffs. And the Finals, no less. I realize this isn't a basketball blog, but I can't help myself. There is something thoroughly satisfying about watching your hometown heroes defying expectations and bringing home a win in definitive fashion.

I miss watching the Magic. I miss watching games with my dad. I miss going to the O-rena with Aunt Betty. I miss my mom pretending not to be interested in how the game is going. I miss seeing my nephew in his Dwight Howard jersey. I miss talking color commentating with my brother. I am thoroughly satisfied with where God has placed me, and I am overwhelmed with anticipation at what is going to happen next. But sometimes, there's no place like home. And there's no team like the Magic.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Think About It

We're talking about the issues, but we're keeping it funky

Yes. That is a Ukrainian dumpster with the words: "Recycle or Die" sprayed on the side.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Through Depths of Twilight

And the past it will decay, so sing goodbye to yesterday

One month ago today I arrived in Ukraine. Has it really been that long?

I really wish that I had the ability to neatly summarize the events of the last 30 days into something that would be both humorous as well as informative. But I just don't have the words. They should have sent a poet.

I'm still trying to figure things out, to find out my place in this country and with the ministry that is going on. There are times where I feel as though I am in way over my head, where I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things that I don't know. There are times when I feel lost, without a direction, when I'm sitting in my apartment just trying to think of somewhere to go or something to do. I can easily find myself discouraged, and losing my passion.

But in all sincerity, I find those moments dominated in my mind by a very strong confirmation and sense of purpose. No matter how down on myself I can get, I know that this is where I am supposed to be. I may not know why yet, and I certainly don't know what the next 2 years will look like, but He does. When I remember that, it's hard to feel anything but gratitude for this amazing opportunity. I am so thankful to be here.

I had and still intend for this blog to be a little bit more informative as to what I actually do over here, and with a little effort, it will be. Remember me in your prayers. And pray for the people of Ukraine.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Always just beneath the dawn

I believe that Love is greater, never ceasing, always hoping

It's all happening so fast. It's difficult to believe that I've already been here for more than a week. And really, things have been going very well so far. It's going to take a while before I find myself truly acclimated to my new home, but as a famous psychiatrist once said: 'Baby steps.'

The best part of this week has been that I've been able to participate in some ministry activities. On Wednesday I had the opportunity to go with a portion of my team to travel about an hour outside of Kiev to the city of Volodarka. We did some work for a local church helping to till in their garden. There are some pictures on my Shutterfly account, and although you may find it hard to believe, I have had no professional tilling experience. Honestly. I promise.

I was also able to sit in on an English class at a church downtown. Our team is involved with a teaching ministry there a few nights a week, and I'll be getting to teach one this Monday. Makes me wish I had payed a bit more attention in ESL training at orientation.

It's been a good week, getting to meet some more of my colleagues in the area, as well as getting to interact with some Ukrainian nationals for the first time. I still don't know what the rest of my time here will look like, but I'm excited to find out. New opportunities, new ministries, new people to meet. Keep me in your's going to get much more interesting from here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Again, for the first time

Cause we`re moving on and on and on. We`ll head out towards the sun

After a lengthy journey, both figuratively and literally, I have arrived here in Kiev.

It's really very hard to describe how I'm feeling at this point. I don't think it's all sunk in just yet. Sitting in my apartment or walking around the city, it's hard to wrap my mind around the fact that this is the place I'm going to be spending the next 2 years of my life. It's all very new, as you can imagine. But with the help of my team, I have begun to acclimate myself to this new environment. I have gotten to meet many of my colleagues in the city, and they are slowly but surely introducing me to the many elements of my new home. These first few days have just been sort of a blur, traveling, meeting people, all the while battling that insidious fiend known as jet lag.

As I ride the metro around town, surrounded by a sea of humanity, it reminded me of why I'm here. It's not just to have a cool experience and to learn about a new culture. It's so these people can have a chance to hear the most important message of their lives. I feel very humbled, but extremely fortunate at the same time to be called to share the Gospel with those who might never hear it.

This post is really just an introduction...I'll be able to get into more detail later, and hopefully post some pictures of my new home. Please remember me and the people of Ukraine in your prayers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Welcome to my blog! The purpose of my creating and updating this blog is to help keep friends and family informed about this amazing opportunity God has given me.

In April of ’09, I will be moving to Kiev, Ukraine for 2 years with the International Mission Board as a Journeyman. I will be a part of a ministry team that will be traveling throughout the country, doing anything that we can to energize the people of Ukraine for the Gospel and for the Kingdom of God.

If you’re interested in the ministry that I’m involved with, or would like to know how to pray for me and the people of Ukraine, please check back, as I will be updating regularly.