Saturday, December 5, 2009

Quarantine and Field Retreat

As mentioned in previous posts, Ukraine closed schools and forbade large public gatherings for three weeks as a quarantine against swine flu. Public transport and roads seemed a little less congested, and so many people wore masks, believing it was wholly effective at preventing the spread of the virus. I learned how to say "swine flu" in Russian, which of course does not help me in every day life, but it is nice to know more of the language!

This quarantine included KCA, unfortunately, and we also had to shut down school as we know it for those 3 weeks. At first, I couldn't fathom not seeing my students for 3 weeks--how would we keep on track academically (how would they remember anything), or how would they be able to teach themselves the material? Not to mention, what would I do for three weeks when the focus of my ministry here in Ukraine is to my students?

Various alternate plans were devised...Plan B: have students complete a week's worth of assignments at home. Plan C: have high school students gather in a few apartments in Podil for most of their classes. Plan D: create a rotation of classes on the Left Bank, in various apartments scattered within a mile radius or so, in which teachers changed places and the grades stayed together.

We finally followed Plan D, which required learning a different routine in order to navigate between the apartments, and having my students focus on the schoolwork at hand rather than anything distracting in their home environment. As I've learned within the past year or so, "the key to missions is flexibility," and this certainly still holds true in my experiences. I've had to trust that God would work out the school schedule, and in this entire quarantine situation, for His glory.

During the quarantine, we had 11 people over for "fajita night". This is Lisa and I (with Robyn behind us) making tortillas. Lisa is a fellow KCA teacher.

Once we returned to a regular schedule, I was glad to see my students again, and be a bit more settled. I am still in the process of catching up on grading--a task which seems never ending.

CIS Field Retreat
During the week of Thanksgiving, I joined missionary families and other volunteers from across Ukraine, Russia, and central Asia. Most of these missionaries I had already met during their visits to Kiev, and we spent time together at meals, in worship, and at some meetings. On Thanksgiving day, we cooked a traditional American meal, and enjoyed leftovers the next morning for breakfast.

I spent time with the MKs, whether it was doing math homework, finding strange objects by old abandoned buildings, or playing on the playground. One of the girls that was there was Vica, our translator/teammate from last summer--we were roommates the whole week!!! I was excited to see her!

During our devotion times together, we were challenged to be fully present wherever we are and to be aware of God's presence and to allow God to shape us into who He intends us to be. Sometimes we cannot see what God is doing in the lives of people around us, but seeds have been planted and God is still at work. Just because things aren't changing, or God's not answering our prayers the way we'd imagined, on our timetable does not mean that God is not making things happen. We may not see that any of our work has been fruitful, but who knows? God makes things grow in His time, and has a purpose.

The entire CIS team--my family away from home. Shortly after this photo was taken (and at least 5 others just like it), we discovered that the creamed corn had burned.

Other stories:
*When there is heavy traffic, it is often much faster to get out of the bus and walk. The other night, there were traffic jams all across the city, and not just in my part of the city. It turned out the president of Brazil was visiting.
*More photos can be found on my Facebook page, or via the links on the right hand side of my blog site

Prayer Requests
*Health of the students and teachers--sickness is going around the 9th grade especially
*Energy and strength and patience to teach these last few weeks before Christmas break
*Safe travels when I travel to the US for (western) Christmas
*God's continued guidance in my life
*Raising the last bit of financial support: To contribute, visit

*My friends here at both church and school
*The quarantine is over! I have been healthy thus far in the school year.
*Your support and encouragement

In Christ,

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