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.


Larissa Smith said...

Yeah! Congratulations on a year in the field. We just passed that mark a few months back and it was such a treat to sit around and think back over the year. The main celebration for us what that even with several stretches of craziness, we are still here and content.

I cannot imagine trying to learn a language as difficult as Russian, but I still feel like a fish out of water half the time with Spanish, so I respect even more your determination to speak to the people in the language of their hearts. God bless as you kick off year two!

Collin and Marisa said...

It's amazing you have been in Ukraine for a year now. Time sure does fly, doesn't it?

Learning a new langauge is very difficult. We're still learning German and we have now lived in Germany a little over a year.

Your team is in our prayers as you start to reach the lost in Ukraine this year.

payton said...

I love you both. I'm sorry we haven't talked more, hopefully we can soon.