Wednesday, July 27, 2016


 Random military vehicles on our way out of Kherson back to Odessa

 Alika, Zach and Nastia

 Many people... I will tell you their names when I get home and can point to the picture. ;)

 Camp fire!!! Left to right, Roma, Mark, Viktor, Nastia, Yulia, Nikita, Kim, Kimberly. 
In the back is Thomas.

 Doing Rob's signature "how to make everyone smile" routine... L to R, Alika, Rob and Nastia

  Our AMAZING translators!! Love them all so much...
L to R, Sergey, Arkadiy, Sergei, Sasha, Andrey, and in the front is Oksanna.

 Alika with her sweet note that she pleaded with us not to erase... I told her we could take a picture to save it forever. (I didn't mention that I would have to erase it before leaving but she knows and is content that I have the picture.)

 Yegor, Igor and Me

 Fully dressed, Kimberly and I were persuaded to join the boys from camp and two of the girls in the big, dirty lake... We had a wonderful time!

 Nastia, Me, Kimberly, Alika

 Our entire camp!! I miss these guys.... :( :(

 We had a mouse in our room and had an all out attempt to capture in kill it... which means- we stood, mainly on our beds, and shone flashlights on it until Mark got there. 

 Our small group... 
L to R, 
Me, Ruslan, Sergey, Vika, Ilya, Mark, Kimberly, Vera

 Kimberly, Alyona, Me

 Alyona and Me

On Monday I went on a last minute trip to the catacombs under Odessa with this wonderful group of guys... As soon as I got in the car Misha pointed out that I was the only girl.

 Misha and Arkadiy

 Zach is the one sitting, Thomas is not actually trying to look the statue of liberty.... Misha is enjoying the view and Arkadiy is almost not in the picture so you can't see what he is doing... Oh well, I'll tell you... He is being the mature one and just casually standing on top of an old world war II truck exhibit because in Ukraine you can do that! It's great! (There is even a thousand year old castle fort here that you can visit and walk the walls and go inside and everything.)


 Rob and Zach.... being Rob and Zach... (They became the best of friends it was such a fun relationship to see... They are both jokers and goaded each other it was very funny to watch!)

 History in the catacombs


We had a great time! After the catacombs we went and got shaurma and baklava. :) 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Toward His Heaven

Shoulders weary, laden, worn
Striving upward on a hill,
Burden heavy, dirty,  torn
Pulling fiercely, climbing still.

Knowing surely, burden must
Be carried onward from the cross.
Doggedly, blindly, pushing onward
Determined to burn up all the dross.

Plodding, plodding, always plodding
Onward trodding, from the cross,
Toward His heaven climbing still,
Afraid to stop or all is loss.

Master sadly shakes His head,
bends down from His throne;
Gently touches little me,
tells me I am not alone.

Bids me open eyes & see,
I wonder how I cannot know,
And blindly I ignore Him,
When truth & light He free bestow.

He keeps on calling out my name,
Telling me to stop, & turn away from muddled mire
I think I hear from up above
& so I keep on climbing higher.

He knows my burden blocks my ears,
I am His sealed &  washed in blood
He will not see me walk away
From His presence, grace & love.

He pulls my burden hard away,
Clinging to it, I fight His mighty hand & moan
About my unwillingness to let go, I say that I’m
‘Afraid I’ll fail & never make it on my own.’

In a whisper He calms my heart
& shows me truth anew
His Son He sent, my burden bore,
There’s nothing left for me to do.

My burden of who I thought I had to be
Fell slowly to the ground,
I thanked Him for His grace & love
But again, I began to look around.

I didn’t fully trust His grace
And what He said He did.
I somehow thought I could save face
& dismiss all the sin I hid.

He passionately pursued me,
& tore my selfishness from me away,
It hurt, ingrained so deeply,
Held by sin’s dark way.

Blinded to my pride,
I thought I could press on, in my own
He knew better & in His grace
Would not let me, by wind be blown.

I pray to walk by His side,
Along the narrow way,
For this I’m made,
To worship Him all day.

To be an arrow on the road,
Not gathering crowds around me in a little glade
But pointing towards the cross of Christ,
Where every debt was freely paid.  

By His grace & that alone,
I stand here truly free,
& if my burden I lift anew,
Again, His truth will chase me.

& someday in His sacred place,
I’ll see afresh how very wrong I am.
When I look into His face,
& weeping touch His hands.

His grace is deep & love is wide,
His sacrifice was limitless,
To cover every single sin of mine
& I simply must confess;

That naught of good have I done,
Or ever could I do;
You clothed me in your righteousness,
& made my life anew.

Knowing surely, burden must
Be left behind at that rugged cross.
In His strength I’m pushing onward
By His grace He’s burning up my dross.

I’m sealed in Him
Held firm by grace
Until my final breath on earth,
& waking see His face.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Last Camp

This last camp was really good, I have lots of photos but for some reason they aren't showing up on my computer right now.
I loved each and everyone of these campers so much.
We saw almost all of them moving closer along the path to the cross. Some even said that they trusted in Christ throughout the week- time will tell if they truly have but praise God if it is true! (And also for a wonderful week and that everyone learned so much about God.)
Skype me if you want to hear stories. ;)
I have more things I want to say but they aren't for sure yet so I shall abstain.
Anyway, we had maybe 26 campers and they were all from near Donetsk. (more like "country kids" vs the last camp of "city kids") Veteran missionaries (those who are Ukrainian and those who aren't) all commented that this camp "was different from anything that they have ever seen." It was so neat to watch God working in the lives of these kids who had never heard the gospel before.
(most of them had never met Americans before either.)
Just to clarify... I keep calling them kids but I fit in the age range that we had. :P  14-16 was the main range but we had up to 20 yrs old (I believe- maybe just to 18 or 19)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Things I'm Learning

Okay, my last post was mainly peaches and cream  pictures and captions. I wanted to do one that was more about how I have really been doing and what I have been learning. (Maybe one with stories is due sometime soon*)

The first few days were really hard for me... I didn't feel like I was learning anything, I was overwhelmed by my inability to communicate, (as my understanding and ability to speak Russian is much worse than I thought and my English is apparently too fast and too quiet.)

 Monday night after the first whole day with the campers I went upstairs to "the big room" where we do worship times and meetings and play games at night... I tried to play UNO... Ukrainians play UNO very differently...
I was so humiliated by my incompetence in every sense of the word...To play the game, to speak the language, to be a missionary, to teach English... I was so done with being in Ukraine. I wanted to come home. I went to the bathroom and got in the shower (to be clean and to hide my tears) and sobbed, and sobbed. I told God that I wanted to come home, I wanted to wake up and have it all be a bad dream; I told Him "I thought that I was supposed to be learning and growing on this trip, and I'm not!" I questioned whether I truly believed in God, if I was really supposed to be here... I wouldn't be surprised if I was so at my wit's end that I questioned whether I really liked ice cream or not. ;)
After this I texted my mom briefly and got the wise advice of "go to sleep"
Upon waking I was still in a funk... (I couldn't even look at pictures of my family and say their names without struggling not to cry.) God slowly began to work on me... I don't remember exactly which day but somewhere within the first three or four days God helped me to adjust more and depend on Him. I had some blessed encouraging moments from different people at camp... Times of prayer and reading God's word. I was still not excited to be there, (I was exhausted most of the time as well) but God helped me to have a better attitude and to develop relationships with different campers.

Being in Odessa the past five days I am realizing even more what God was teaching me in that and the things He continues to teach me. I am seeing more of my pride, and desiring to be approved of by humans and finding my worth in how people view me, (or how I view myself.), I am seeing how I pridefully want to "have people I specifically am leading to Christ" instead of being content to watch and pray for other people's relationships, I am seeing how I am lethargic in sharing the gospel clearly and directly with people.

In daily, momentarily, taking my eyes off of myself of "high self esteem" and "low self esteem" and fixing them solidly on who I am in Christ; (the chief of sinners, saved by grace and chosen for a blessed inheritance in Jesus Christ my Lord.) I can not worry about "brownie points" in how many people I've directly shared Christ with or how many people came to me today asking me questions about the Bible study... Maybe no one comes to me the whole time, maybe no one wants to talk about the things of God... My job is to speak the truth in love, be willing to love even if they don't love me, to be available for them and pray for them and the people who are able to minister to them... This is only by the strength of Christ. Only He can fill me with passion for His gospel to be spread, only He can provide the opportunities and only He can give me the right words to say at the proper time.

These are ways that you can be praising God and praying for me this next camp week (leaving Odessa on Saturday for Kherson.)

I am looking forward to this next camp, to see how God will be working in my life and in those around me. I look forward to utilizing the things I have been learning.

When I am weak He is strong and I need to be reminded to pour myself out as a fragrant drink offering so that He can fill me with Himself... It is scary, it takes a lot of trust, the question of "what if I give all I have and can't push on?" comes to mind.
He has proven Himself faithful so many times, He will be faithful in this as well.

*I know there is so much of my life these past two weeks that I haven't covered and will certainly try to whether on here or when I get home, but if you have any questions in particular feel free to ask in comment or drop me an email. ;) I always tell stories better when I have questions to answer.

In Christ,

PS. I hope this all makes sense, if not, PLEASE ask me to clarify!

Lots of love,