That means "Merry Christmas" in Russian, and I'm using the phrase as much as I can since it's such a tongue twister!
A few days ago I returned to Kiev after about 2 and a half weeks in the US. On Friday, I celebrated Christmas with my Ukrainian church family (I felt like I was in a time warp). Read more below about the past month of life and ministry in Ukraine and America.
2011-2012 School Year Decision
And now, the decision you've all been wondering about...*drum roll*
I've decided to stay for ONE MORE year of teaching/ministry at KCA and in the local Nazarene churches! I'm looking forward to digging deeper in my friendships, getting to know the students better, becoming a better teacher, and learning more Russian.
Sixth Grade Party
A couple weeks before I returned to the US for Christmas, I hosted the 6th grade class in my home for a party. Besides 8 of the 9 that I usually have in class, I invited along 2 home-schooled students. It was a rambunctious evening, filled with games, movies, hide and seek, food (even olives straight from the can), and enjoying each other's company!
|Enjoying pizza together|
Holidays in America
While in America, I was able to see just about all of my family for the various Christmas festivities. I saw a few friends -- celebrated New Year's with a couple of them also -- and was able to catch up via telephone with a handful of others that I don't get to see very often. On one Sunday evening, I shared with the Chestertown COTN ways that they could pray for me, organized according to a typical day in my life (there also was a pop quiz -- with candy prizes -- about my classes and students!).
Being on vacation also included time to read fun books (I read 5 novels while I was at home), and to reflect on all kinds of life topics.
Christmas in Ukraine: January 7
In Ukraine (as well as other former Soviet Union countries), gifts are exchanged on New Year's Eve. Hence, holiday trees are known as "New Year's trees" instead of "Christmas trees." I returned to Ukraine just in time to celebrate Christmas with my Ukrainian church family.
Click here to read about our church's celebration of Christmas and see more photos. Part of our service included Pastor Vova reviewing the Advent candle meanings for the kids from the four weeks of Advent. The Sunday before I left for Christmas, I understood enough of what was being said so that I could explain/translate for my roommate Amy!
Even though I had no translation for the Christmas service, which meant my attention span for the sermon was only about 15 minutes, I was glad to be back with my church family. Little Katya and Anya were happy to see me, and hugged me before service. Anya asked me something like, "So you only understand English?" I told her, "I understand English, Spanish, and a little Russian." The above link also includes a video of Oksana and Lena singing "Mary, Did You Know?"--in Russian, of course.
In the evening, I traveled downtown to check out all the holiday lights, and then stopped by the home of one of our KCA families. We sat and talked for a while, and then played a game together.
*Provision of needed funds for Nazarene Youth Conference opportunity as well as this next school year
*Good time management this semester, as I will be taking an online course through Nazarene Theological Seminary in addition to all my other school/ministry activities
*Continued language learning -- that I will work hard and not give up
*English lesson @ Obolon on the 16th of this month
*Christ's birth on earth -- that He walked among us and knows what it's like to be human
*Safe (and uneventful) travels to, from, and in America over the holidays
*A restful vacation where I was able to see family and friends