Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Visit from NZ and New Beginnings!

Our Visit with David's Mom
We were very blessed to have Mary, David's Mom, visit us from New Zealand these last two weeks! We had a wonderful time with her while she was here, catching up and being able to personally show her a little bit of our lives here in Ukraine. While she was here, we were able to worship with her, introduce her to some of our friends, take her to our market, our grocery store, some of our favorite restaurants, etc.

We also did two new things with her: we went to our first Russian Ballet, Swan Lake, and she and David visited the memorial for the Kharkovians who lost their lives in WW2. For Ukrainians, it's normal to grow up going to ballets and operas. Our language teacher was very surprised to know that we hadn't been to an opera and this was Mary and David's first ballet. So this was a great cultural experience for us all, not to mention great entertainment!! The picture to the right is at the ballet and the one below is one David took at the memorial.

Mary also took time to do a mini-workshop on children's Bible class teaching for us ladies while she was here. She and another lady, Melinda Miller, worked hard for years to arrange a great children's curriculum in NZ. Their curriculum goes through all the major stories in the Bible, and is filled with teacher information, activity ideas, and many other resources for each story. They've taken it and helped train teachers all over the South Pacific and she was kind enough to bring us a part of the goods! Baggage restrictions made it impossible for her to bring it all with her, but she brought enough resources to last us quite a while! Thank you, Mary, for all your help!

New Beginnings
This last Sunday, our team had our very first all Russian service together. All the men on the team took turns leading the service and did a great job! We all have so much to learn, especially in our Christian vocabulary. We've all been reading the Bible more in Russian, struggling with the difficult words, but learning a great deal as well. A couple of us on the team have also started reading the Bible with friends here in the city. It has been a great encouragement to all of us! Keep us in your prayers as especially David and I struggle with the language barrier. We are thankful for how much we've learned this last year, but it will continue to be a slow progress for some time yet. Pray we don't get discouraged, but continue to trust that God's greatness is coming through, especially in our weakness.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

One Year in Ukraine

Wow, time does fly, doesn't it? As I write this, it's hard to put my mind around the fact that we've really been here for a year today. The biggest reminder to me is the fact that we are seeing the same scenes (for the first time) in Kharkov... the beautiful colors of autumn. Up until this point, we experienced everything for the first time, with open eyes eager to know more of what our new home was like. Now, we have a year's worth (still not a lot!) of experience to go on and, in a way, that makes us feel a little more settled here.

As exciting as it is just recognizing the anniversary of the day we came to Kharkov, it's even more exciting for us to think of what is ahead. As many of you know, when we came here we came with the commitment to spend our first year in language learning and cultural adjustment. The hardest part of this commitment was the fact that we were going to try to not engage in any outreach or studies, knowing that if we did that, we would be tempted to get interpreters right away and possibly become bogged down with ministry rather than being able to learn the language. That decision was based on the advice from several missionaries who had come to this part of the world, most of them not making that choice and regretting it later. We also knew, after talking to many Russians and Ukrainians, that not learning the language would hinder our work and their acceptance of us greatly.

So for this last year, we've been doing exactly what we committed to: learning the language and doing our best to adjust to the Ukrainian culture. Language has been a struggle for sure, but we are so thankful we were able to give so much of our time this year to our learning. After a year, we are still just at the beginning and have so much more to learn! Many of you may remember that we had been told that Russian was the language of heaven... because it takes an eternity to learn. In many ways, we see truths to that! :) Still, we are excited about our progress so far and we can get around so much better than we could a year ago.

This next year will be different. Our team has been dreaming since we first formed as a team, but even more as we've been here this last year, of what we might do to reach the lost in our city. We have plans and ideas and we're excited about them. We just ask that you will be in prayer for us as we begin to really reach out and share more of God's love with those around us. We know we are imperfect people, but we know we serve a perfect God and we pray that He is able to work through us, in us, and maybe sometimes in spite of us to reach people here. We know we'll make many mistakes, but we also know that He will grow us and transform us through each and every one.

Continue to keep us in your prayers as we're here. When we came, our dream was to be disciples, make disciples, and send disciples. We pray that God is able to accomplish all of those things and more so that His Name is glorified and praised here in Kharkov, Ukraine.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

In the midst of this...

It has been a long time since our last blog! We've had so much going on in our lives over here, it's been difficult to find time to write a new post. But, I felt it was time to write a little update about how we're doing here.

As many of you know, my grandmother, Betty Curfman, passed away a couple weeks ago. The family was told she would only live for another 2-4 months, so Lucy and I made plans to go see her one last time. The timing seemed to be good as well because we would be able to renew our visas at that time. Two days after we booked our flight, Grandma passed away. We were very sad we weren't able to see her one last time, but were glad we'd still be able to spend time with my mom and my Poppop. Lucy, Canaan, Max, and I all flew to Ohio and were able to see all our family in Ohio, plus spend time with both my parents as my Dad was able to make it for the funeral.

Around the time we left for Ohio, we decided to let everyone know that we were just over 9 weeks pregnant. After being in Ohio a week, I started experiencing signs of a miscarriage, so with a lot of urging from my sister, we went to the ER late Wednesday night. After two sonograms and some examinations, the doctor confirmed that indeed we had lost our baby. I was 11 weeks along in the pregnancy, but the ultrasounds showed that the baby was only 6 weeks developed. At that time David and Dougle were in Budapest, Hungry renewing their visas, so unfortunately, we had to go through it all without one another.

We immediately recognized the blessing of being in the states when all of this happened, I had such wonderful care there. I still don't know what we would have done if we had miscarried over here in Ukraine. Even though David and I were apart, we were able to see each other on Skype every day. Prayers started going up on our behalf from all over. It has now been just over a week since that night, but we have received over 100 emails or notes from friends, family, and strangers telling us that they are thinking of us and praying for us. We know we owe so much to many of your prayers! We are still grieving our loss. David has been a huge support to me and I am so thankful for that. These last couple days have been good for us both, just spending a lot of time together again. I am healing slowly, physically and emotionally. Right now I'm simply clinging to the fact that I will praise Him and trust Him no matter what. I know His timing is perfect and His plan for us is always good. I have difficult moments still, but I know with time I will have complete peace.

Thanks to many of you who have been praying with us and encouraging us during this time. We are blessed to be a part of the family of God. We know that even when situations don't turn out as we imagine, God is still in control and He is blessing us and molding us. Keep us in your prayers as we continue to heal and trust Him to give us His peace "which surpasses all understanding" that will "guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Even in this midst of this... we will trust Him.