Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Final Ukraine Ministry Update - August 2012

Dear friends and family -- my supporters,

This is the last ministry update you'll receive from me -- what an amazing 3 years it has been!  I've been in America now for almost 2 weeks, and I'm in the midst of transition (more on that later), so I can't even begin to talk about a summary of these three years.

What I CAN do, however, is tell you about the past month or so:

Ukraine Farewells:
My last weeks in Ukraine consisted of sorting my things and saying goodbyes to friends.

Pastor Vova, Sylvia, and Philip came over for dinner one night
Zee and I outside our favorite Chinese restaurant
On my last Sunday there, after the pastor and Zee prayed for me, one of the babushki (grandmothers) gave me a dark chocolate bar.  For every person celebrating a birthday, this lady is prepared with chocolate!  I felt honored that she had one for me, especially since I've only once celebrated my birthday in Ukraine.  She even talked to me and invited me to join her and a few other people for tea in the side room.  I will miss my church family in Kiev, celebrating Communion together on the first Sunday of every month.  Even though I only understood a little bit of the sermon, but many of the songs, I will miss worshiping there in Russian!  Studencheskaya (the name of the street it's on) became my church home these past 3 years.

A 2 1/2 week "layover"
As I returned to America, I stopped in the Netherlands to visit Randolf, my boyfriend.

While I was there, he proposed to me--and I said yes!!!  We enjoyed our two and a half weeks together very much, celebrating our engagement together.  We're pretty happy together.  :)

We will be getting married next summer -- in both America and Holland.  Following our American wedding, I will be moving to Holland to live with him.  While there, I will finish up my NTS degree from a distance and then probably teach in an international school.  We will most likely visit Ukraine together again at some point, since we both have good friends there.

Youth Camp -- Netherlands District
Randolf and I had the opportunity to serve together, in HIS country this time!  We were part of the kitchen staff at the district youth camp, along with 6 others.  I had thought that we'd be in the kitchen all day every day, working nonstop, but this was not the case -- hooray!  Every day we would go into town to the grocery store and load his car with food.  One day we had 170 hamburgers, another day we had 50kg (110 pounds) of potatoes....

Each time, we had 2 grocery carts full of stuff.
 We also coordinated cleanup within the kitchen -- of silverware, plates, cups, and any cooking pots that were used.  Each meal, a different family group would come to help.  We simply gave them jobs to do and made sure things went smoothly.  As you can see, this group on this particular night had a blast while listening to music!

We also led a workshop about how they could be involved in missions right where they were.  Randolf shared his portion in Dutch, and I shared mine in English.  We asked them to imagine if their church started a coffeeshop/coffeebar, how that would be a ministry to the community, and how they could help.

It was difficult for me to know how much everyone understood my words, even though they all spoke some English, but a few of them were participating in the discussion.  Our prayer is that it has planted some seeds, especially with the winter camp coming, where they will be going into the neighborhood to talk to people.

Here is a link to a video they filmed while at camp (I am NOT in it):

Out in the west Texas town of El Paso....
Upon my return to America, I traveled to El Paso for Youth in Mission re-entry camp.  I participated in this in 2007 and 2008, and it was good to be with others who were re-entering America (even if they were only gone for 2 months).  Plus, I hadn't seen some of my friends from El Paso in at least 3 years -- the Grenier family and I spent some time catching up, I could be there for the Fothergill family send-off as they move to Africa, and I saw a few other friends too!

I enjoyed hearing the students' stories of ministry in London, India, and Madagascar.  Many of the students asked me about my Mission Corps experience -- how I got started, what my role was, etc.  Then a few told me about their interests, of how they wanted to be involved in ministry after college:  in teaching in Africa or in areas related to "family and consumer sciences," for example.  These students still have 2 or so years until they are finished with school, but this is the time for God to shape and guide them.

Upcoming Dates
August 9-13:  Visit to Boston for my roommate Amy's wedding (we lived together for 2 years in Kyiv).
~For those of you from South Weymouth COTN, I will be there on Sunday morning the 12th at 11am!

August 17: Begin travel to Kansas City

August 20: Foundations of Mission module course begins -- my first on-campus NTS course!

Prayer Requests: 
*Youth in Mission students -- that their summer of servanthood would continue into a lifetime of servanthood!
*Transitioning back into American life -- realizing that I've changed and see America as somewhat of an outsider now
*Traveling safety to New England and back, and then to Missour

*I have a place to live!  I will be living in a duplex in Raytown, MO!
*I've applied for a few substitute teaching jobs as well as a position at a Sylvan Learning Center.  Continue praying that there will be something for me.

As I finish writing this letter, I know I am closing a chapter in my life.  Thank you all for your role in my life -- of supporting financially, sending encouraging emails, and inviting me to share at your churches.  I've really enjoyed knowing you these few years!

In Christ,

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jess! Long time since we talked and I was wondering what you were up to these days and went in search for your blog.

    I just thought I would say Hi and Congratulations on all that you have achieved and continue to achieve and congrats on your engagement. Sounds like a lot of people I know are getting married.

    Again Congrats and Blessings,