Saturday, June 13, 2009


Father, tonight as I was reading through my friends’ blogs and a few of their emails, I realized what an amazing net of friends you’ve woven together for me! Over the past few years, I’ve been in places and situations that I’ve hated, now it wasn’t all bad, but there were some growing periods in there that I hated living through. Now, I look back and see that while in those circumstances, you placed key people in my life. Those trials brought me closer to several people who I now call my very dear friends, without them, I would have had a harder time getting to this chapter in my life. Oh, I know that I would’ve eventually made it here, but I now see looking back, all those times when I thought my prayers were hitting the ceiling, and my life was completely miserable, you were giving me true friends to lean on. Friends who have a bond with me and that know me better than I sometimes know myself because of what we went through together.

Thank You Father for your provision, yes even with friends, you’ve provided better than I could’ve even imagined myself. Thank you for not allowing me have a say in the friends I thought I needed!

To my friends, I might not be calling or emailing you every week, but know that I truly thank God for you. I thank God that He brought us together. My dear friends, you know who you are. Thank you for putting smiles on my face, for always helping me see when I need to make u-turns, and yes, even change my attitude. Thank you for your honesty, love, compassion, and most of all grace.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wild Strawberries

Yesterday, we were getting a tour of some of the catherdals of Kiev and I noticed a billboard on top of a building. The sign had one word, and it was in Russian, and I was able to read it and understand what it meant!! It said Corona! Yes it's for the beer, but that doesn't matter, I could read the sign! That was my first Russian word to read, not counting my school work!

Well here's a little cultural story about an experience we had tonight:

So tonight, Julie and I had made our way across Kiev to hang out with our co-workers at a coffee house they host every Thursday night. We were taking the Metro home, and it got a little crowded after we transferred over to our line. Julie and I were the last ones to board the Metro and we were smushed up against the glass! We had to lean in and push people back so our purses wouldn't get shut in the doors. I didn't even have to hold on when the Metro took off because the bodies surrounding me held me up. At the next stop, we had to get out of the way and let some people off. When we got back on, we were still right in the doorway, but we had a new person standing next to us. He was probably my age, he had hair to his shoulders that he pulled back into a ponytail, and he was wearing hippie clothes. He had an empty water bottle in his hands, and he had cut the top off. I noticed that he kept bringing the bottle to his face and smelled it, and then he would glance in my direction. Yes, it was weird; I thought he was high or drunk. Then I realized that he saw me looking at him and he smiled. I smiled back at him, and then he said something to me in Russian and shoved the water bottle in my face. Here's the thing, I couldn't move backwards because people were literally up against me, and I couldn't move my head back because I would have knocked heads with the person behind me. Both of those were my gut instincts, but since I couldn't move I just stood still and didn't breathe in any air, I was afraid of what he had in there. So I just smiled and said, "I don't speak Russian." He said, "Oh berries." Then he shoved the water bottle back in my face, and said, "Smell." I smelled the berries and they smelled like strawberries but didn't look like them, so I asked him, "Strawberries?" He looked at this older woman that was with him, maybe it was his mom or it could've been his girlfriend, and they started talking in Russian and she told me that they were wild strawberries.

All this time, Julie was standing right there with me, while this guy kept looking at me and putting the water bottle in my face wanting me to smell, and it was weird and awkward, so I said to him, "Let her smell them" and then nodded toward Julie. I could tell in her eyes that she didn't want too, but I wanted her to join the fun! :) He finally looked away from me and reluctantly let her smell them too, but then he offered them back to me to smell. Thankfully at this point we had arrived at another Metro stop, and he got off with his girlfriend/mother, whoever she was. It was weird, but I guess that's what happens when you ride the crowded Kiev Metro!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

He Lives! He Lives!

Yesterday we visited a few of the typical tourist sites. If you get my newsletter then you know all about the Patriot Museum, or WWII Museum, if you do not receive my newsletter and you want to, email me at and I’ll add you!

The other tourist site we visited was the Lavra, which is actually the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. Pechersk means cave and Lavra is actually the word for a monastery where high ranking male monks study. The site consists of several buildings as well as caves, or the catacombs and the current housing of the monks. Yep, I said catacombs, so you can probably already put it together that I saw some mummified bodies yesterday!! Actually, I did not see the bodies, but I did see the cloth that holds the bones and the glass that incases them. As I am walking/stumbling through the catacombs in the dark, I noticed the people praying to the dead bodies and even crossing themselves and then kissing the glass coffins. They did this repeatedly, at each mummified body, sometimes even more than once. It was eerie, and not because it was dead bodies they were kissing, wait well yes that was a little creepy, but it was really eerie because these people believe that their prayers and devotion to the dead are going to bring them closer to God.

I got in trouble twice while I was in the catacombs. The first reason was because I had my flashlight out, we didn’t realize it was going to be so dark, or we would have bought the candles at the door. The second reason I got in trouble was because I had pushed my head scarf back off of my head and on to my shoulders. The guy in charge of keeping the people moving in the catacombs walked over to me and pointed to my hand, and almost grabbed it saying no flashlights, but by the time he arrived, I had already turned it off so he just looked at my hand in confusion, because my little flashlight was hard to see in the dark. Then he grabbed my head scarf and tried to pull it back on, I pulled away and acted dumb and said oh okay and then did it myself. I just can’t believe that those two little things are so offensive! I wanted to ask him, “Where is your freedom? You know the freedom we receive through Christ?” But I didn’t I just walked on feeling pity for those who depend on rituals that require kissing glass coffins that hold mummified bodies and saying prayers to a lifeless pile of bones.

"I serve a risen Savior, He's in the world today. I know that he is living whatever men may say. I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer. And just the time I need Him, He's always near. He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart. Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing. Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King! The hope of all who seek Him, the help of all who find. None other is so loving, so good and kind."

A Cultural Short Story

Julie and I went out with some friends to one of the malls. We decided to eat at the food court, and I wanted a baked potato, and yes they do have them here. So we went to the counter to order, and my friend Elizabeth ordered in Russian for us just a potato with butter, cheese, sour cream, and salt. You should have seen the look on the man’s face. He was confused at first because he thought he misunderstood her, so he asked her to repeat the order. She did again, and he thought she was confused because she wasn’t ordering any of the toppings, and no, for the record, toppings are not chives, sour cream, bacon bits, and all the good stuff. Toppings consist of various mayonnaise salads, for example, little mushrooms with mayo and dill, or another salad was mayo with corn and cheese oh and of course dill. As you can see from my dilemma, I did not want their toppings, just give it to me plain! For all my brave friends, come to Kiev and try one of these baked potatoes with the mayo salad toppings and let me know how it is. If you can't tell from this story, I passed on that culinary dish!

Oh and I will be sending out a newsletter soon! If you aren't on my email list, send it to me so I can add you to receive prayer and newsletter emails!

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