Here I am, updating you from my house in America. I've been here for the past month or so, and will be returning to Ukraine in just under THREE WEEKS! I can't wait! Last night I even dreamt about the first day of school!
This summer has been busy at times. I've shared the opportunity to partner with KCA and my ministry at churches on just about every Sunday I've been back. During VBS at my home church, my grandmother and I helped with snacks. Each of these snacks was also an object lesson--for instance, we lavished chocolate syrup on our marshmallow-and-pretzel divers just as God lavishes His love on us.
In my down time, I've read some great books (fiction and non-fiction). I've also had the opportunity to reconnect with friends from church and college while in Maryland. A few weeks ago, one of my friends (Masha) from Ukraine was in DC, and we walked around the Mall together. Another family from KCA was passing through the area, so we had a grand old time walking and talking!
Walking buddies in Kyiv and now in DC!
Last weekend I visited Massachusetts and Vermont, where I was able to reconnect with supporters and spend time with more college friends. My new roommate and I met each other in person for the first time, and she heard all kinds of stories about her students-to-be at KCA and life in Ukraine. In her words, I'm going to be her "pocket translator," helping her figure out daily life! :)
At this very moment, my visa is in process, and should be ready in a matter of days! I'd applied via mail, but they returned my application saying I needed an apostille from the Dept of State. Since I didn't want to take this extra step and pay some more money, I just applied again in person.
As far as Russian language study goes, I have not done as much review as I would have liked (does ANYONE, when they are on vacation??). However, I've practiced here and there, by listening to podcasts, accidentally discovering a Russian radio station, reading the Lord's Prayer aloud, speaking a little (while otherwise trying to hold a conversation in Spanish), etc.... I recently realized that the more I can listen to Russian, the more I will be able to say what "sounds right" grammatically, and possibly even figure out more grammar on my own.
Currently in my account, I have $7,267.24, plus $950 more pledged. This is approximately 68% of the amount that I will need for the year! Thank you for your partnership and support in the ministry of KCA, and for making it possible for me to return for another year.
If you would still like to contribute, here is the information you need to know--
To contribute via online check or credit/debit card, and to set up recurring payments (EFT), visit http://web.nazarene.org/goto/ukrainejh.
To support via check:
Make check payable to "General Treasurer, Church of the Nazarene", with "Jessica H, Mission Corps, Ukraine" in the memo line. Mail to PO Box 843116, Kansas City, MO 64184.
Since I've been back, I've definitely experienced reverse culture shock. So many things struck me as "unfamiliar" in the beginning of the summer, but I'm readjusting more and more each day.
In two phrases, here is how I define reverse culture shock: When you miss the familiarity of the unfamiliar, and the familiar is suddenly unfamiliar. When you switch from the familiarity of the unfamiliar, and the unfamiliarity is what "should" be familiar. I hope that wasn't too confusing, but to decipher: I got used to the unfamiliarity in Ukraine--language and customs--to the point where it was familiar, even though I may not have understood it.
It's been weird to have perfect strangers here (wait staff at restaurants, people passing by, etc) wave at me or say hello or even make conversation. I'm not used to food labels being in English--they make me think that they are part of a "commissary stash" and should be saved for a special occasion! When talking about the recent election in Ukraine, I have said, "We have a new president now..."
*For a good summer so far, and for the opportunity to return
*God's provision of funds for my first few months in Ukraine
*When I returned to the US in June, I didn't need to pay the $50 bag fee for my second checked bag!
*Traveling safety for these next few weeks in the States (including another trip to Massachusetts), and for my flights across the ocean
*Wisdom/discernment for participation in possible ministry opportunities this year at KCA
*Provision of the rest of my funds
Thanks again for your prayers and financial support! Without you, I wouldn't be able to participate in ministry in Ukraine!