Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 2011 KCA/Ukraine Update

Christmas greetings to you!

My next update will be from the New Year, so I send Christmas greetings now.  The past few weeks have been extremely busy—I’m glad that a couple weeks’ vacation from school is on the horizon!

Speaking of vacations….
For the Thanksgiving holiday, I traveled to Budapest to visit the Sunberg family.  Ukraine recently changed its visa system, and I thought that I would need a new visa.  As it turns out, my old one is still good, and I had a few days to simply relax and celebrate Thanksgiving.

Hanging out in Heroes' Square in downtown Budapest--it was COLD! (photo by Teanna) 
Lexi (an MK who had been at NYC this summer) and I also hung out, watching our favorite TV show and going to a used (English) bookstore together.  During my layover in Vienna, I had ice cream with my friend Natasha from Kiev – she and her husband used to host a Bible study I attended.  The long weekend was a nice time of relaxing and refueling before the mad dash at the end of the semester!

High School students after Snow-Ball 2011
KCA Life
On December 3, KCA held its annual Snow-Ball.  This event is a semi-formal banquet for all high school students, and the girls invite the guys (Sadie Hawkins-style).  After dinner and a senior trivia game, the students change clothes and play all kinds of active games in the gym.  My roommate and I (and another teacher) were chaperones, helping with set-up of food, clean-up, and games.  It was a lot of fun to hang out with these students, and to learn some little known facts about the seniors!
My 6th grade Bible class has been going better than before -- I am trying to involve the students more by asking them questions to get them thinking about God's Word.  Reading the Scripture on their own before we discuss as a class gives them more time to think/process, then I can ask them about applying it to their own lives.

6th graders (Zoe, Chae Hee, Andre, Kolya, Paul) collaborating during their exam review game
Hope House visit #2
The week before our second Hope House visit was fraught with many uncertainties--and made us practice flexibility!  Once there, Amy and I kept our English lessons short, because the girls had been at a church all-nighter.  After dinner, our Bible lesson was on Hannah and her dream of having a child.  We discussed our dreams, and what the girls said was revealing of their culture and their life circumstances.  They dream of finishing university, learning English to be an interpreter, to marry and have an apartment, having a car, to teach art to kids.  Despite having had hard lives, these girls can still dream – especially since these things aren’t “givens” for them.  Praise God for the hope that He brings to our lives!

This is where we get off the bus in the evenings -- by the camels.  :)
Another link in the banana box trail...
Some of you may remember my story of seeing the entire path of humanitarian aid to Ukraine.  My home church in America, Chestertown, MD, has a "packing house" where banana boxes of clothes and Crisis Care Kits (CCKs) are organized, labeled, and then taken to the NCM warehouse in Fawn Grove.  During my YIM trip to Ukraine in 2008, I saw empty banana boxes that had come from the US, loaded full boxes from the church onto a truck, and then saw kids wearing shirts with the names of 2 churches on my district.  To see the process all the way through was pretty neat, though I never got to see the kids receive anything.

Today (12/15) at Kids' Club, when the kids were about to leave to go home, Sveta told them, "We have a gift for you from the church," and put a banana box on the table.  Each child received their own Crisis Care Kit!  These kids were--of course--more interested in the stuffed animal than the toiletries.  "It's scented!" the kids realized, and sniffed their toys.  No kidding -- it's been in a Ziploc bag with shampoo and soap for weeks or months! :)
The kids looked at each other's bags and toys, showing each other what they got.  I heard "Спасибо" (Spasibo--thank you) repeated multiple times by the kids.  Anya, pictured above, was showing the adults her sunflower bear.  It was so cool for me to see these kids receive the CCKs -- I have been going to Kids' Club for about a month and a half now, so I know some of these kids and some of their stories.  I've helped them make crafts when they just can't do it themselves, tried to keep them from touching the snack ingredients too much, and have tried to show Christ's love even when they drive me nuts.

On behalf of these kids, I would like to thank you for sending banana boxes of clothes and CCKs throughout the world.  You may never meet these kids, know their stories, or watch their expressions as they receive this gift.  These DO make a difference, no matter how simple it seems.


Upcoming Dates:
December 19-21: Semester exams for KCA middle/high school students
December 22-January 4:  America for Christmas break!

Prayer Requests:
*Hope House girls—for their studies (to pass exams).  Their church needs a youth leader.  They want their relatives to know God.  Pray for their character development.
*KCA MS/HS students taking semester exams on the 19th, 20th, 21st
*Holiday travel: KCA alumni are returning home for Christmas and New Year's, and other families/teachers are traveling to America or elsewhere
*More flexibility, and a Christ-like attitude when things don't happen according to my expectations

*Spending time with friends and fellow teachers
*6th grade Bible class -- discussion is improving!
*my Russian skills are improving -- I prayed a few sentences in Russian at the home Bible study last week!


  1. Your updates are always wonderful. I read them in my email and then I read them again on your blog (ha :). You're such a blessing to the people around you. Have you heard of A21? Or written about it before, maybe? It's an outreach I see a lot about, and I know one of their homes is somewhere in the Ukraine. For some reason, when I read about it, it made me think of you. Hope you had a great Christmas!

  2. I've never heard about A21, but I'll look it up! Thanks for the tip. :)