Thursday, July 16, 2009

Church, Champagne, and Blood

This week has been full of mini adventures and experiences! Sunday we decided to go to a new church, new meaning new to us. So we arrived about ten minutes early, and upon entering the sanctuary we could tell that this was a very traditional church. There weren’t any screens for the music or scripture, and all I could see was a piano. I looked around at the people sitting in the little wooden chairs, and I noticed that most women had scarves on their heads. Yes, very traditional indeed. We took our seats in the back and shortly after, the service started. The only things I gathered from the service, which was in Ukrainian and Russian, was Thank God and then a few words to some hymns that I know from home. The service lasted from 10-12ish and there were three sermons. Yes, I did say three sermons, about twenty minutes each. Very traditional.

After church we decided to eat out for lunch. We arrived and sat in one of the corner booths. As we were eating we noticed this man came and sit down in the booth beside us. He was drinking a beer and watching and listening to everything we said. After a few minutes the guy got up and went to the bar. He came back with the waitress who was carrying a tray with a bottle of champagne, three empty champagne glasses and another beer. The girl walked to our table. I look to our friend who speaks Russian and I think she was in too much shock, because as the waitress pours champagne into the three glasses, the only thing that was said audibly for everyone to hear, was “Lord help us”, which came out of my mouth, not hers.

We were speechless. None of us has ever had a guy buy us a drink, so we had no idea how to turn him down politely, and to do it in Russian. The man stood there insisting that we each take a glass and toast to who knows what. We tried to tell him that we do not drink thank you, but no. He didn’t take no for an answer. He started telling us how pretty we are and listing off the things he owns. Then, the man pulled his chair up to the end of our table, and blocked in me and Julie. We couldn’t escape! Our other friend looked at us and said let’s leave. So, I politely tell the guy in my little amount of Russian, excuse me please, and I tried to squeeze past him. Thankfully, he allowed us to pass and we got the heck out of that place! That was only Sunday!

Fast forward to Wednesday.

Well we learned that we needed another HIV test. I’d already had two and they expire in three months for the visa. Since it has taken so long for this whole visa process, I’ve got to have blood drawn again, for the third time.

It all started Wednesday morning. We’d called earlier in the week and found out that this place near our apartment would do the HIV test, but we weren’t sure how to get there, and the person on the phone wasn’t really sure what HIV was so we took a friend with us. Our friend, Luda, met us downtown and we were off. We arrived at the lab, a few bus rides later, and walked through the doors. Luda did all the talking and I could tell something was up when the girl behind the counter repeated HIV and said something about not understanding. After conversing for a few minutes Luda turns around and informed us that we couldn’t have it done there and we would have to go back across town to a hospital. We said okay, and after a few bus and metro rides later we get to the street.

“It’s just up this hill,” Luda says. Julie and I both look up at the “hill” and immediately I’m filled with dread. It wasn’t a hill, it was a MOUNTAIN! By this time its midday and Julie and I are pretty hungry. We weren’t allowed to eat or drink anything all morning, and we were feeling the effects. But, we needed the blood test, so we trek up the mountain, oh I’m sorry hill, and arrive at the hospital. Oh and it wasn’t a hospital, but more like a very small clinic, stuck in the 70s. We walk inside and it’s dark, and all we see are stairs leading up and down. We go down and arrive at the bottom to see a guy sitting outside a door, Luda asks him a question, then opens the door. We’d arrived at the clinic. We walk into the room and speak to a guy behind the desk. I’m tired, hot, and hungry so I sit down and pull out my little fan and fan myself. After some talking, we present our passports and twenty griven, which is like 3-4 American dollars. He wrote down my info and told me to go into the other room.

I walk in and this lady is standing there. She starts gesturing to me and pointing at the table and speaking very fast in Russian. I have no idea what she’s saying and Luda is helping Julie in the other room. I call out for Luda and thankfully she comes to the rescue translating the Russian for me. The nurse/doctor lady said, “Put your form on the table. Sit down. Put your arm here.” Then she held up a needle for me to see and spouts off something in Russian, I notice that Luda had stepped back into the other room to help Julie, so I had no idea what she was saying about the needle, I was just glad to see that it looked clean. Later on I found out that the lady was telling me something like, “I am a professional and this is a clean needle.” She found a vein after telling me to pump my arm repeatedly, and thankfully she found it on the first try. As we’re leaving she tells me to drop my cotton ball in a little bucket of clear liquid located by the door on the way out.

We were very thankful that Luda was there! After walking down the hill she pointed us in the direction of McDonalds and parted ways.

We get to go back either Friday or Monday for the results.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Saint Patrick

Tonight I came across a quote from Saint Patrick on one of my friend’s facebook profiles. She had just a few lines, and it made me want to read more about Saint Patrick, so I googled the quote. It brought me to what is called Saint Patrick’s Breastplate. From my short research on google, I found that her quote was part of a prayer that Saint Patrick prayed as a shield for himself each day. Saint Patrick was a missionary to Ireland after being held captive there and forced to be a shepherd tending other men’s sheep for about six years. During those years in captivity, he sought and found God. After escaping to Britain, he felt God calling him back to Ireland. Many say that he had visions and dreams of God calling him back to Ireland to reach the pagans who worshipped many gods and to teach his old captors about the one true God.

Too many times I’ve thought of my calling as great or grand, and people back home assured me of this and helped me place a great amount of importance on it. But when compared to Saint Patrick or even to the Disciples, what I am doing is nothing! It’s too easy, way too easy! Yes, I know that God has called me to this place and time, and that He has appointed me to serve Him for these two years. But what Saint Patrick and the disciples did wasn’t just a few years, it was their life calling. My two years of “roughing it”, according to American standards, are nothing compared to the trials, torture, and hate that was shown to them. I can’t help but think of Paul’s warning in 2 Timothy chapter three, where he tells Timothy, that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. Notice that Paul didn’t say some people, he said “everyone that wants to live a godly life”.

This past year, I was sent an email by one of my mother’s friends, and it had this quote, “I want to be the kind of woman that when my feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, ‘Oh no, she’s awake!’”. I realized that in order for me to make Satan shudder, I had to give God each day before my feet even hit the floor. The day was to be His, to be completely for His glory, and He was to use me, because I was a willing vessel.

My life has to mean more than just these two years. I am called to more than just this short time. It’s a life calling. Anyone that calls himself a Christian is to take up their cross daily and must be willing to deny himself of the worldly things (Matthew 16:24-27). When I mention all of this, I’m addressing myself, even away from home where I don’t have all my worldly comforts, I am too stubborn and stingy. I’m clinging to my worldliness, and not to the cross. So, I need to remember that each day I need to wake up and dedicate the day to God, for His glory.

Also, I will remember the words of Saint Patrick’s Breastplate,

“This day I call to me: God’s strength to direct me, God’s power to sustain me,
God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s vision to light me,
God’s ear to my hearing, God’s word to my speaking,
God’s hand to uphold me, God’s pathway before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s legions to save me: from snares of the demons,
from evil enticements, from failings of nature,
from one man or many that seek to destroy me, anear or afar…

Christ beside me, Christ before me;
Christ behind me, Christ within me;
Christ beneath me, Christ above me;
Christ to right of me, Christ to left of me;
Christ in my lying, my sitting, my rising;
Christ in heart of all who know me,
Christ on tongue of all who meet me,
Christ in eye of all who see me,
Christ in ear of all who hear me.”

My Brother Timothy

I’ve been reading the second letter to Timothy that Paul wrote while he was in a Roman prison. He warned Timothy of what the last days would be like, and how much godlessness there would be with people being “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers o f pleasure rather than lovers of God” and the part that struck me the most, “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3). Wow, doesn’t this sound like the world today? I thought of Paul warning Timothy about these things that would happen, and I realized that all he warned Timothy about is happening today and is a warning for me. He told Timothy that when these things arise to continue going on the way he was raised, to continue believing what he was taught about the Bible and of God and to continue sharing.

I got to thinking and I realized I’m a lot like Timothy. I was brought up in the church with sound Biblical leaders who taught truth. I was raised to share the gospel of Jesus, and the for eternal life and salvation from death, one has to accept Jesus into their life as their personal savior. I’ve been trained on how to share and to teach it when I studied at DBU, and yes I’ve even learned how to use it when rebuking and correcting. So I’ve got all of this, just like Timothy and now it’s my turn to continue to share it even when being persecuted. I’ve been thoroughly equipped, and I should be completely competent.

So did God give all this to just me and Timothy? Nope, He also gave it to you too, other Christians that have been brought up on Truth and have been trained. Even if you don’t feel it, you are thoroughly equipped and completely competent, you are lacking nothing to reach the lost.

So, what’s stopping you?


“When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” –Psalms 56:3


“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” -2 Timothy 1:7

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