Thursday, May 30, 2013


It is hard to believe that five months have gone by since I was on the other side of the world.  Part of me thinks it was just a few weeks since I was teaching English and taking Russian classes, living in a rowdy dorm; another part sometimes forgets those experiences are really mine.

I would encourage you to remember our sister Star who put her trust in the Father.  She still undergoes persecution in her home.  Her parents are not happy with her decision to follow the Lamb, but she is slowly being allowed more freedom again.  Please lift up her witness to her family and the testimony of her life.  Also ask for a steady mentor for her, as many of the older sisters have taken in more younger sisters than they can handle.

Remember also our friend Justice, who fervently inhaled everything about the Father while we were with her.  Since we left, she has not been growing steadily in the faith.  Ask for her perseverance and good mentors for her also who can share deep thoughts with her.

I am afraid that I left you all with a cliff-hanger!  How did my time end?  Well, if I told you everything that happened, or even all the important things, you would be reading all day!  So I will sum up with a story that spans almost our whole experience.

During the summer, Callie and I went to a village to help get ready for English Camp then go into the wilderness and—you guessed it—camp!  Well, the NGO we were working with did not have all the money they needed in order to go camping.  Natalya, our adopted mom, told us that there would be no money to buy candy for the children.  Though Callie and I were sick, and not really that excited about camping right then (we were thinking, “what have we gotten ourselves into?”), we did have compassion on the kids. We saw how we had grated carrots enough to feed everyone for a week, potatoes for an army and bread for the whole country of Cuba.  Kids need something more.  We decided pretty nonchalantly to give the rest of the money that was on us (over $100) to buy sweets for camp.  So we got sweets, went through camp and got even more sick!  One of our friends gave us some money so we could get back to the city (thanks Kevin), and we didn’t think much about the candy.

Two weekends after Thanksgiving we were able to go back to the village the third time.  We taught English clubs all day about Thanksgiving, sang songs, ate food, and played games.  Later we went to our adapted parents’ fellowship for a time of feasting and dancing!  We were there from seven until one or two in the morning!  A messianic-Jewish group came, and we danced around in a big circle!  What fun! Well, after dancing, one has to get clean!  So we got all squeaky clean and had tea at three in the morning.  It was then that Natalya told us her story.

She went around to all her friends, neighbors and frequented businesses for loans to get English Summer Camp off the ground.  One man she went to sold meat.  She asked him if he would loan her some meat and she would pay him back after camp.  He said, “No way!  How do I know I can trust you?” “You can trust me,” Natalya said, “I am honest woman!  Every time, I pay you.”

“No, no” he said, “I cannot give you meat.  Maybe you never pay me.”

“You must help me!” Natalya demanded, “These American girls, they help me.  You can help me too.”
“American girls?” he asked.

“They give me much money for sweets for the children.  Surely you can do something.”

Honor in question, the meat man thought about Natalya’s proposition.  “If these American girls give you candy, I can help you,” he said.  He loaned Natalya the equivalent of $800 worth of meat.

Come to find out, this man felt really bad after this incident.  “What have I done!?” he lamented.  He pondered how his business was going to survive.  $800 worth of meat.  What would become of him, what would become of his hairbr--, I mean family?  Surely his business wasn’t going to survive since he was in the negative for such a long time. 

The strong atheist broke down and said, “Oh, Father, I don’t know what to do!” He knew he had done the right thing, but he also knew that his business was in peril.  His neighbors, who happened to be brothers in the faith, found out and told him they would be lifting him up.  They also gave him a copy of the Scriptures. 
After English Summer Camp, Natalya went to the man and told him what she had found out from the Embassy—money still wasn’t there, but it was coming.  He asked Natalya then if those two American girls were believers.  Natalya said yes.  He then inquired if she, herself was a believer.  She affirmed that too.  That made him think.

Dad really started working in his heart.  The day after he had cried out to the Father and the neighbors said, “We’ll ask the Father to bring money quickly,” something happened he did not expect.  He went back to work and his friend from a decade ago appeared.  This man had once owed him a large debt, but was incarcerated for many years.  The old friend had come to pay off his debts, of the exact amount equivalent to $800.  From that moment, the meat man says he started to believe.  Now his faith is firm and his whole family believes.

Our Father can use candy and silly American girls for a purpose.
One seemingly unimportant act of kindness was used in our Father’s grand purpose to bring an entire family to Him.  While this is just one story that we found out, I just want to encourage you that how we portray our Dad in all situations impacts the world.  I believe there are stories like this woven throughout all of our lives, we just don’t often get to see what our Father has done through the little things.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Very Large Update

Yum... Dead goose guts...
I am so sorry that I have not been faithful in blog-writing!  A lot has gone on in the past two months.  We started language classes and moved into the dorm.  About three weeks later we met one of our best friends here.  We started visiting with her almost every day. “Justice” has become such a great friend for all of us.  Her wisdom is well beyond her years.  She is a deep thinker and is very well educated.  She reminds me a little bit of Einstein in that if a subject is too boring and mundane, she is not interested in succeeding.  However, she has become very interested in what we have to say about our Father.  When we started hanging out with her on a regular basis, she asked us lots of questions about love.  We had the opportunity to share with her about Love.  Her life has been changing as she grasps hold of the Word and clings tight to the Father.  She holds the Word as authority, but still has not yet placed her hope in He who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  Please lift up Justice.
It's Da pig...

We had the opportunity to go back and hang out with the family that we stayed with during the summer!  One of the friends had butchered a pig, so there was a huge flank of meat just sitting out for quite a while.  And grandpa went out shooting geese for his birthday and brought home three beauties that made the house smell o so good.  just like dead geese haha. it was a wonderful time to be able to glean from their wisdom and we were encouraged that we could now communicate more effectively since we can speak a little of the language now!  That Sunday was the harvest festival so there was singing and dancing at fellowship.  Callie and I even went forward and sang a song, in English though. It was a jolly good time thanking the Father for what he has provided and remembering the harvest of souls to come.
Summer Friends!

The first week I was here I made a wonderful friend named Star.  She and I get a long really well since we both love the Arts.  We have spent a decent amount of time together over the past few months (though we both wish it were more).  Two weeks ago I had the privilege of going with her and two Sisters to a central Asian theatrical production. The actors/dancers did a marvelous job! The performers were all the professors from nearby schools of the arts. To see traditional artistic dance on stage was a wonderful gift.  An even greater gift was what went on after the performance.  We all went out to eat at a local restaurant.  While we were eating, we were talking about the performance which was about love. The conversation changed when Star was asked if she had ever heard that our Father loves her.  She said yes kinda wishy-washy. My friends started sharing with her (they’re locals who don’t speak English well) in the common local language.  One Sister started relating to His Love to sacrifice and to Korban Eid. Korban Eid is a Muslim holiday which celebrates God’s provision of providing a ram to sacrifice in place of Abraham’s son.  On this day, many slaughter goats, sheep and horses and have a big feast.  My friend shared who that sacrifice was for-shadowing—the Lamb.  They switched to their heart language, which is different from which I am studying, but Dad allowed me to be able to get the gist of the main idea. Star heard the whole story, from beginning to end in her heart language.  That is what made the difference. She has heard in English, in the common language but I think that night was when it clicked that she didn’t have to be white to believe what was being said.  She started thinking that night.  She believed it was true, she said, but she had to think of the consequences such a life-change would make. Oh, how difficult it was for us when she said, “yes it’s true, I know. But my heart’s not ready yet.”  Well, we have been asking the Father that she would make a decision on her own, not prompted by us or any locals.  Yesterday she told me she wanted to tell me something.  She said that she was up in her special place where she likes to go to think.  She was thinking and talking to Dad, when she knew.  She couldn’t tell me in English what had happened.  She had to continue in the local language.  “And then…” her face changed to show a new sense of joy, “I put my faith in Him.”(Him=the Lamb!) Oh, praise that Lamb!  Please lift her up, she is just and infant.  Ask that she would have a strong local mentor who can disciple her in their heart tongue.
Some Korban Eid food... the prelim...

As for me, I have made another friend in my dorm.  A harder friend.  She has been scarred by the world and turned rebellious.  Please ask that I would have more opportunities to spend time with her and that the Comforter would give me the words to say that will have an impact on her life.

So, Korban Eid…. We had quite the celebration!  We made a feast with some friends and invited a lot of friends to come too!  And did they come!  We had over twenty adults/students.  We talked and laughed over leg of lamb and other local dishes.  I made no-bake cookies and apple cobbler which were a hit!  It was that day that Star said she believed but that her heart was not yet ready.  The same day many other good discussions took place and all attendees heard the story of Abraham which has led to more good discussions.  Lift these many friends up who have had seeds planted!
Our Halloween Costumes!

We celebrated Halloween with our English Clubs by having Mummy wrapping contests with toilet paper, playing mafia, carving 20lbs pumpkins and bobbing for apples.  English Club is going really well!  I am so blessed to be able to have a place where I can use some of that creative energy :)  We will soon have a Thanksgiving festival!  Please be thinking about that and if you have any ideas, let me know!!
My 20 lbs pumpkin, which I still have half of...
Getting some needed Rest

Well, all…. That’s a lot all at once.  Thank you for lifting me up!! Please continue to do so!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Some Pics...

At a R.O. Cathedral
It was built without any nails!

Overlooking the city


Peaceful River

Actually, it's a roaring river!

Fresh Picked fruit!


Well, what a past couple of weeks!

Living in Asia can be very interesting at times.  The good news is, we are back in A-town and we are starting classes on Monday.  We were told on Monday that we will be able to move into the nice dorms with kitchenettes, which is great because we girls love cooking and that we should come back the next day.  Later that night, our soon-to-be teacher called and said not to come til Wednesday.  On Wednesday we went to the university and were told that they are remodeling our floor and we will not be able to move in until maybe Monday.  If it looks like we will not be able to move in the next week, they will move us momentarily to a different dorm.

Okay, so we had to leave the country for two weeks to change our visas, that way we can study at the university here! Our last full day we spent with our local friends. We went to a huge fabric market with one friend.  We talked a lot about worth and finding your worth in the Father and not in men, we also talked quite a bit about future plans. We really hope she can visit us in the States one day.  She took us to a place she used to work at for our early dinner. The restaurant in English is called "Poor Family" and it was pretty cheap, but still delicious. We did not say good-bye to her because we went to see her our last morning.  Such a sad parting.  We all hugged and started to tear up.  Anyway, after our early dinner, we went and met up with two of our other friends.  We met the whole family of one of our friends and walked around the huge central park, named after a heroic WWII general. The other friend that was with us is very spunky and loves to do crazy things.  Though she is in her late twenties, she has way more fun than any ten year old!  She convinced Callie to go on this crazy carnival ride with her where you get strapped in and rotate in a circle in a circle!  Hair was flopping, they were screaming and Callie looked like she was going to die!  The rest of us laughed hysterically. Callie really was a champ though, she got her breath afterwards and smiled and said how that was crazy, but good. Later she said that she thought her early dinner was gonna fly right out!  After that, our friends really wanted to sing karaoke, but the park didn't have open karaoke booths, so we took a marshooka to get to this karaoke restaurant. (a marshooka is a small tiny bus, in which a lot of people try to cram). However, we went too far, so then we took another marshooka to go back four blocks, and wandered around until we found the restaurant! We had the whole place to ourselves. It was a very fancy restaurant with screens everywhere so that you could sing no matter where you were seated.  We ordered some tea and a light second dinner to enjoy that way we could sing to our hearts content.  The songs for the night included "My Heart Will Go On", "Y Tu, Te Vas", "Waka, Waka" and countless Russian songs.  We had a wonderful time getting to know those ladies better and hearing their stories.  Keep them in your requests.  They both have had hard lives and they know of the Truth, but they haven't made a decision for Him.

Coming back to our glorious country, our flight was delayed two hours!  We got back and in bed at a little after three in the morning.  We met up with some of our friends there, but before we knew it, we were headed on a twelve hour train ride back to our city!  When we got back, Sarita and I stayed at one apartment while Callie stayed somewhere else. Due to some circumstances, we couldn't all be together.  This past week has been filled with playing with small children.  Three of which were boys, so there was a lot of wrestling involved.  Which means they run at me and I fall over! Hahaha.  We also have been going over to the university a little bit to check on our dorm situation.  Hopefully, we will be able to move somewhere soon.

Oh, so funny story.  Sarita and I had been given the key to the apartment, that way when we got home and everyone was asleep we could slip in. However, when we got back, I unlocked the door and it wouldn't open!  We were then faced with  a dilemma.  The lady we were staying with had not been sleeping well.  We didn't want to wake her up.  We decided to text her and if she was awake,  she would come let us in, if not we would sleep somewhere else (it was almost midnight). But she didn't come. Sarita and I decided to spend the night in the office apartment where we volunteer. That night marked the tenth place in which I have spent the night since coming here, apart from trains! Anyway, the morning after they were trying to take one of the kids to school when they realized that we had not come back.  They also saw that they had locked us out.  And also that in our attempt to unlock the door, we had inadvertently locked them in!  (There are two locks on the door, one that can only be locked/unlocked from inside and one that can only be locked/unlocked by a key!) So they finally found a key that worked that way they could let themselves out of the apartment.  All this happened on the first day of school, no less!

We have been able to reconnect with two of our good friends from here.  We hung out with one friend and our fellow brothers and sisters Sunday and we hope to meet with them again tonight.  Later tonight, we are going to go to a soccer game!  Which will be pretty awesome. Tomorrow we will meet up with my other friend and go back-to-school shopping.  Please keep us in your thoughts as we spend time with our friends.  One is a sister, and one is not.  Please also keep in mind that we need to move into the dorms and make some more local friends.  Also, the kids we camped with have been asking for us and we would like to return to visit them soon.

Love you all!
Grace and Peace!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


If you would have asked me last Friday if I was ready to head back to our country to start Russian classes, I would have said, “Oh, yeah.” However, in the past week, we have been able to make some good friends here and now I am hesitant to leave another place.  Again. Every two weeks we have been in a different location and it has been difficult to make deep friendships.  We hope that the friendships we have made here in yet another country will continue over the internet.

We have frequented a local market quite a bit.  The first time we were there, this group of women got our attention.  They worked together in an isle of little booths.  They were all friends and had us go into every single booth and told us exactly what everything was.  We talked with them about our time in the country and how we were waiting for visas. We talked about the nearby mountains, lakes and other touristy things.  We talked a little about family also.

During the weekend we went to the mountains.  It was so beautiful.  We were up in a dacha which is a little gorgeous summer cottage with fruit trees all around and nearby meandering cattle.  We went with a few other Americans and hiked down to the glacier fed river that is canalled in such a way as to irrigate the city far below.  We stuck our feet in the freezing water and enjoyed our time soaking in the nature.  We spent a good deal of time picking plums and apples off the trees, and a few pears.  The time refreshed us and we started out the week on the right foot.

We spent time together singing and praying on Sunday.  We really wanted to go back to talk to the girls we met, so Monday we did.  We spent the whole afternoon talking with them and drinking juice.  We talked about deeper issues.  I was able to spend time with one friend, just the two of us.  She had been in an abusive marriage and was struggling to take care of her son. She explained how hard it will be for her to marry a local man in the future.  Although the guy would care for her and not worry about her past, the parents in law would gossip and she bring shame to their family.  It is very sad.  I was able to spend some time with her, talking to our Papa. It was such a blessing to do that.  The three of us are going to go out for coffee after our friends get off of work tomorrow.  We are so excited to have made friends here with whom we can spend time.

We also met a girl yesterday at a restaurant who wanted to practice her English.  We went back there today to speak with her a little more.  She is just a little younger than I am.  We decided that since tomorrow is her day off work, we would go poke around the city a little bit!  We are excited to spend our last full day here with new friends.  Hopefully we can continue friendship via email!

I have also been really convicted lately about the blessings that I have been given.  There are so many people here begging.  They ask for money or food. When I pass by them I remember what was said about those who love the Lord: they give clothes to the naked, food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless. I hope to live by that. Today was a good start.  There was this beautiful old beggar woman who was asking for food. We didn’t really know what to do, but Sarita gave her bread.  I looked at my plate of food, cheap by US standards, but still more than I needed.  I ate a portion, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat it all.  I had to give it away.  I grabbed half of my breakfast burrito and one of Callie’s sausages and walked over to the woman.  I asked her to please take this.  In my very limited Russian I told her that God loved her.  She kept clasping her hands to her chest and saying thank you.  Later two of her homeless guy friends came by.  She told them what we had done.  They all became very smiley. Soon enough, they were pointing their fingers at the sides of their mouths, motioning for us to smile back.  It was so sweet.  One of the guys came over to  try to talk to us. However, all he could say in English was hello, thank you, please and “Oh, baby!” So we didn’t get very far.  One of the waiters told him to leave, so that was the end.  On our way out, we stopped by the babushka and all gave her hugs.  She didn’t want to let go!  She said to each of us, “I love you!”  I tear up thinking about her.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Suffering as our Inheritance

I am sorry for being so silent these past few weeks.  There has been a lot going on.  Callie and I have a certain pattern so far of moving places every two weeks.  Almost three weeks ago we left our main city to go to the largest city in our country!  It was about a thirteen hour train ride-- and that was the fast train!  We were so excited to be going with one of our other friends and hang out with her and her family.  However, Callie and I had planned to stay in a guest apartment, and spend the majority of our free time the first week we were there on homework.  But, Dad had other ideas.  When we got off the train, the driver wasn't there to take us to the guest apartment!  So, we ended up staying with some new friends and hanging out with them! We spent a week hanging out with them and being tourists.  We had fun wandering all over the city—going to a big bazaar and park.  The week after, we spent the majority of our time meeting with other exchange students.  It is great to have built such a wonderful support network!

One day two of my new friends, Callie and I were left alone in the apartment we were staying at while the others went out for lunch (we were going to finish leftovers.)  While they were gone, my friends and I started asking ourselves what we should do… play games, go for a walk, take a nap… when my friend suggested we build a fort!  A FORT!! So my two friends and I get uber excited and start remembering back when we were so young and would make forts all the time!  We had a lot of long tables, sleeping mats, sheets and other random things, and we put it all together in less than forty-five minutes into a huge two room fort complete with entry way and staircase!  We were playing cards inside when the group came back from lunch, with our instructor who was a half-an-hour early!! Fortunately, he was a good sport and even came inside for a little while.  We made everyone laugh, which was great!

I learned so much during that week. Each day we would start off singing praise songs and studying the Word.  We talked about suffering and how as our Father’s children, part of our inheritance is to suffer. “You are expendable,” I was told.  This made a light bulb go on in my brain.  Expendable. So often our Body fights against suffering, against death, for temporal or material things instead of turning our eyes to our eternal hope!  Paul wrote in Romans 8 how suffering is our earthly inheritance, like a pregnant woman in labor—it hurts! However, there are glimpses of the coming glory that are evident in our lives “between contractions” if you will.  It is not all about receiving blessing in this temporal lifetime, but spreading the glory of our risen Lord.  I  have been challenged greatly  by this.

Callie, my new friend Sarita, and I all had to leave the country to get our Visas changed.  Since we will be students in September, we now need student Visas.  We got to the airport two and a half hours before our flight was to depart.  When we got there, we were not allowed to go through to check in because we were too early!  So, we sat down and soon afterwards, we started talking with a local woman!  We talked with her all the way through security until we had to board our flight! We hope to continue our relationship long-distance!  She was really sweet and curious about Americans.  She had gone to Turkey to take Islam classes and was returning to visit some friends. The three of us girls really took to her and hope we can meet up with her again, Lord willing.

Our flight was really short.  We took off, reached elevation, drank a cup of juice and not everyone had finished before we were ready to land! We were told to take a taxi when we got to our destination.  We were the last ones through customs(we picked the slowest line… oops).  On my way through, I was approached by a customs officer.  He had been consorting with some of the other officers and looked rather concerned. He said, “Excuse me, do you need taxi?” I, slightly bewildered, said, “Yehhs…”  Then he looked at one of his buddies and tapped him on his shoulder than told me, “This man take you.” He then asked me for directions and made sure that that was the exact location we were going.  It was so funny.  I think this other guy left in the middle of his shift to drive us into town.  On our way out we passed some sleazy lookin guys asking us if we needed taxis. I was glad we were with a nice officer.  We passed a lot of people partying on our way into town and while we were in town there were people everywhere.  It was getting pretty late, past eleven, and then we remembered—it was the end of Ramadan!  The next day was a holiday!  So people used it as an excuse to eat a lot and even, if they weren’t devout, drink!  It was probably a combination of all the partying, that it was late and that we were three girls without an escort that made the security guys want to give us a ride back.  We did pay him and it was more than we would have spent on a normal taxi, but it was worth it.

We have been here almost a week and we have been pretty restless.  The embassy took an extended vacation, so our paperwork hasn’t been processed yet for our Visas.  Fortunately, this has given the three of us time to catch up on homework!  Which though sometimes it is not the most thrilling of activities, it is important.  We are getting a little anxious though because we want to move into the dorms and make friends and start Russian classes!  It is so weird to think that all my friends back home have started classes! Dad is really teaching us some patience right now.  We have made some friends at nearby stores and a coffee shop, which is great.  We have also spent a lot of time getting to know each other better, which is also a blessing.
Anyway, long story short.  We are tired of running around and not having local friends.  Please pray that our Visas get done quickly and that we have patience to last until we get them!
Love you all!
Peace and Blessings!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Camp Photos: Wilderness

The Beautiful Lake

The kitchen!

Our Tents!

Our Gorgeous Group!

The Accursed Wildberry!

Us in our campin glory!

Russian Tea Pot

Class is in session!

Playing Ninja!

Fire Site

Beauty of the Lake

So gorgeous...

I don't want to sleep....

Face Painting!

Lovin America!

One Crazy Camp!!