This is my next-to-last email update to you, written during my last week of life in Ukraine. I depart Kiev on July 9, and what an amazing 3 years it has been!
In the immediate future, I will be spending two weeks in Holland with my boyfriend. One of those weeks will be at the Netherlands District NYI (youth) camp, where we will primarily be working behind the scenes in the kitchen, preparing and serving meals for the students. There is also the opportunity for us to lead a missions workshop together!
Once I return to the US, I will spend a weekend in El Paso, TX for Youth in Mission re-entry camp. Here, I will have the opportunity to debrief teams and hear their stories about their summers across the world, just as was done for me in 2007 and 2008. I also look forward to being back in a place I still consider as one of my "homes"!
After some time back in Maryland and Massachusetts (going to my roommate Amy's wedding!), I will be moving to Kansas City, Missouri to attend Nazarene Theological Seminary. I am studying for a Master's in Intercultural Studies, and have already started work on a fall module course.
On top of all this, I will be re-adjusting to a culture where I SHOULD fit, but I realize I am not American-American any more. US coins, water fountains (that provide tap water), convenient and already-prepared foods, hearing English everywhere, and even the presidential campaigns are unfamiliar to me.
A couple weeks ago, I visited Chernivtsi in western Ukraine. This city was the first place besides Kyiv that I visited in 2008, working with Vera, and once I came back, I went for a weekend in January 2010 and also in September 2010 to help with the Kids' Club for kids with special needs. While I was there this time, I was able to enjoy some time visiting people and just have a relaxing weekend. A team from Khmelnitskyi, Ukraine, was there to make plaster molds in order to create braces for the kids' arms and legs -- so Vera and I stopped by each day to see how things were going!
|Roma and his mom|
|New friends Vitalik and Roman|
|Old friends from 2008 Nastia and Sveta|
I have still been playing tour guide for Ree and Joey Sumi, and at this point, I think my job is done. Ree has successfully ordered water delivery via phone, and they come and go to their language lessons, the grocery store, and metro. I've also showed them the major landmarks of the city, given them some history lessons, and taken them to the train station for a weekend trip. They are getting settled, I think, and are about to leave for 3 weeks of summer camp. Continue to keep them and the rest of the missionaries here in your prayers as they adjust.
Here is an abridged quote from missionary Bob Skinner from the Sumis' blog, sharing about the "core necessities to minister cross-culturally: Simply, if you cannot learn how they think, study their history, eat their food, or speak their language, how can you love them?" My hope is that Christ's love has been shown through me as I've lived here for three years.
*My friend Svetlana, from the Obolon church, is looking for a job as an economist
*An apartment and job for me in Kansas City
*Ree and Joey Sumi's continued adjustment to life in Ukraine
*Focus and diligence in completing my assignments for my NTS coursework, despite not having a routine anymore
*Peace and comfort as I am leaving what I've known as home and family for 3 years
*Three amazing years of life here in Ukraine
*Relaxing days where I can finish everything I need to
*Traveling safety during the weeks of the EURO 2012 cup (Spain won)
*More opportunities to have quality time with friends
God has been teaching me during this time of transition that my identity is not based on my job, my ministry, my position, or anything else. It's not about me. What matters is what CHRIST has done on the cross and how mighty God is! God never changes from day to day, and that is what I'm holding to.
May you continue to remember that your life is about Christ, not about you!