Ukraine Prayer Letter

Dear Family and Friends,
        I wanted to let you know about an upcoming opportunity God has given me.  On Monday, June 24, I will travel to Ukraine.  I’ll return on July 22 (4 weeks later).  Last September, I traveled to Ukraine for 9 days with a missionary friend of mine.  This year, I will again be staying with her parents in the town of Tulchin.  My friend cannot travel with me, so I will be going over alone.  During the four weeks I will be working with the mission organization Building Hope.  They serve orphans and special needs families.  For two weeks this summer, they will offer a children’s VBS.  Last year they had so many kids that they decided to expand to two weeks this year for the first time.  They started doing VBS two years ago.  On Sunday afternoons I will get to visit a nearby orphanage which holds over 200 kids.
        Last year I was only in Ukraine for one Sunday.  At the end of the afternoon a couple of the girls asked if I would be coming back next week.  With a heavy heart I told them I would not be back next week.  I am so excited to see the kids again (at least three more times).  I don’t know specifically what jobs I will have during the weeks.  I will help with the VBS in whatever areas I can.  Building Hope also visits families with special need children to encourage them and help out wherever they can.  So, I will be visiting different families and villages.The family I’m staying with and the staff of Building Hope have asked me to teach them English.  When I’m not working on other things, I will be figuring out what to teach and how to teach it.  I look forward to the challenge of putting last summer’s 1 month of TESOL training to good use!  I also plan on helping around the home(s) that I stay at (I.e. Hand wash dishes, help fold laundry/hang it to dry, etc.).
        You’re probably asking yourself why I’m writing to you.  No, I’m not writing to ask for money.  I’m asking for your prayers.  More specifically, for:
~ For God to be glorified by everything I say and do.
~ Safe travels & that I don’t get sick like I did last fall.
~ That all my luggage/carry-on bags make it through without complications.
~ Easy customs/airport checkpoints.
~ Safety in Ukraine.
~ Ability to understand and learn lots of new words in Ukrainian and Russian.  For my brain to quickly adjust to the complete switch in languages.
~ Wisdom to know what/when to help (with).
~ Love for the people of Ukraine.
~ The Salvation of the family I’ll be staying with (my friend’s parents).
~ The Building Hope team to have the right words to teach the children at the VBS, and the families they minister to, and the orphans.
~ Good health.
~ Me, as I work on my first ‘real’ English lessons (both informal and formal).  That I would know exactly what to teach.  I know some basics on how, but figuring out the what is much more challenging.
        Thank you for reading my letter and praying for me.  Oh, I almost forgot!  I will be posting updates during my trip on a special travel blog (along with my regular blog).  You can keep up with me there.  Please comment with any/all questions/thoughts/comments you have!  I’d love to answer them.
Travel blog:    Sent2Serve.wordpress.com
Regular blog:   LanguagEnthusiast17.wordpress.com
Твой друг в Христос,
Элизабет
Your friend in Christ,
Elizabeth
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My Life After Ukraine

What parts of my life have changed since my nine day drip to Ukraine back in September?  It has been about three months since I left for Ukraine.

I miss seeing all the people who I met and served with/to.  Especially Игор and Албина and their three year old daughter, Тина.  I spent an entire day with their family (without a translator) and absolutely loved it (aside from the toilet without toilet paper).

I miss the orphans in Неміров–especially several of the girls.

I also miss Маша’s cooking and Валера’s constant teasing, energy and lightheartedness.  They were very hospitable to me and I have sort of adopted them as my second or third parents (depending on who else you call my adopted parents, haha, I certainly have no lack of them). 😀

Please pray with me that Maria and Valyera would come to know Jesus as their savior and best friend.

Now that I have told you about a handful of people I miss I’ll tell you how they—and their country—have changed my life.

In Ukraine, you do not sleep with sheets.  Instead, you use a comforter type blanket (plus other blankets if it is colder).  When I returned to the US, I rid my bed of it’s sheet and only left the comforter (+ another thin throw blanket) on the bed.  I have slept that way since, and I’m quite used to it. 🙂

A dishwasher—who’d have thought it a luxury?  I certainly didn’t.  But, in Ukraine, dishwashers are rare and you hand wash all your dishes.  I can not say that I have totally stopped complaining about hand washing dishes that don’t fit inside our dishwasher (because that would be lying), BUT the trip has certainly changed my general attitude towards the chore.

Another appliance they go without is a dryer (and in many cases, a washer as well).  Their apartments actually have a special room/hallway where you can hang your wet clothes.  Can you imagine how much longer laundry would take??  Can you picture how many drying racks my family would need???!  (At least 4!)

Whenever a prayer is offered up in church (in Ukraine), everyone stands.  I don’t know about your church, but mine does not (currently) do this.  So, I found it a bit odd, but I quickly became used to it.  Then, last week, our church changed one part of the service to have us stand for a specific Bible reading portion.  It did not strike me as odd, because now that I have seen other churches do different things I’m more open to minor changes.  After all, the Bible does not tell us exactly how each service should be run, and I need to be willing to adapt to non-vital changes in the order/type of service.  The focus should be on God and His Word.  As long as that is the focal point, the other things are not important. (note: I don’t usually like changes—especially not at church).

Tomatoes—I have never liked this fruit (and yes, I’m one of those people who will argue against science and say it’s a vegetable) and the only time I will willingly consume them is in soups (especially borsch—an amazing Russian beet soup).  It seemed as though this strongly disliked food was served in *every* single meal.  My resolve soon gave out and I had my first tomatoes on a slide of their brown bread on top of slices of thinly sliced meat, slices of cheese and the ever present mayonnaise/miracle whip type spread.  The story that goes with this sandwich is rather funny, so I’ll share it with you.

I was at the pastor’s home in the back room playing with his five year old daughter and three year old granddaughter.  The pastor’s mother-in-law brought in the open sandwich as a sort of snack since they were sill preparing supper.  She then left.  I did not know how to say the word ‘like’ in Russian (I only knew ‘love’).  I ‘generously’ offered the tomato slices to both girls.  They refused.  I tried to explain that I did not like tomatoes.  After only a minute I stopped trying and took a bite.  It was delicious!  Halfway through, the kind blue-eyed kindred spirited grandma looked in and attempted to take back the tomatoes.  Apparently, the five year old had understood my dislike of tomatoes.  To my horror, she had relayed this information to my hosts.  I was embarrassed and I quickly shook my head and tried to explain through my gestures and limited Russian vocabulary that the sandwich was fine and I liked it.  At dinner, a bowl full of tomatoes was sitting right next to my plate.  I laughed then. 🙂  I had totally confused my hosts.  First, though Emma, they believed I hated tomatoes, and then they thought I loved them.  All I meant to infer was that I dislike tomatoes in general—but enjoy them in, on, and with certain other foods.

There are a couple of other things I have changed, but I’ll just leave you with these examples.  I hope these have given you a small taste of life in Ukraine.  I will be adding my oral and pictorial report on my trip to youtube in the upcoming week.  I’ll add the links to this post and also in a post of their own.

Пока!

{P.S. From now on I will be posting something new every week on either Tuesday or Wednesday.}

The Next Big Thing (Week 26) ~ Marissaanne’s Travels

I was tagged by Laura VanArendonk Baugh for The Next Big Thing blog networking share, showcasing published and upcoming writers for those who want to find something new and different.

I don’t know if I really count for this, since I am not published and I am not 100% sure I will publish the novel I am writing currently.  But, I am writing a book, (currently in the rough draft stage) and I may end up sharing it—chapter by chapter—here on my blog once I complete the editing process. 🙂

I am supposed to tag at least one author for next week’s blog post, but I forgot to ask any of my writing friends (oops!).  Stay tuned–I will try to add links in the next couple of days if any of my friends are interested.

1. What is the working title of your book?

Marissaanne’s Travels.  I picked this title because it introduces the main characters name, and it gives the briefest summary of the book—traveling.  There is much more to my story than simply traveling, but if you read question number two (below) you will discover how it ties into my story and that it is the reason I started this writing journey.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

It all began on a swing set in the park near my home.  My favorite outdoor activity is swinging, and one day I was imagining what would happen if you were sitting on a swing and suddenly transported to another world.  That was the one and only idea I based my book on.  Now it has grown to include many other ideas taken from parts of my life, books I have read, and movies I have watched.  

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Hmm… I am not really sure yet how I will categorize it.  At first it sounds like realistic/modern fiction, then it begins to look like fantasy, and finally it feels like an adventure book.  Call it what you will, it includes multiple different genres.  

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is a really hard question for me because I do not know very many actors by name (aside from Julie Andrews).

For my main character, Marissaanne, I would want the actor to look like a slightly younger version of this actor:

Kahlan Amnell (Bridget Regan) in Legend of the Seeker

For my semi-main character, Gleb (a middle aged swordsman), I picture him looking something like this.

MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson)

Minor character: Ryan—captain of Alena’s special guards.

Aragorn, son of Arathorn (Viggo Mortensen)

I think I’ll stop here.  Sorry that I don’t have more actors to pick from.  I have not seen enough movies to know which actors to choose for my characters.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Only one sentence??  Not two, or three, or even… four??!  Okay, here is my best shot.

A girl travels to another country, fulfills an ancient prophecy, dethrones a tyrant, and learns about herself and her background.

Slightly longer version:

When Marissaanne Claire Pennington begins writing her NaNoWriMo story, she suddenly finds herself transported into the country of Tsvetlyn. While there, she must discover her past and use her knowledge (along with a group of other adventurers) to help the people of Tsvetlyn and fulfill an ancient prophecy by deposing Alena—the current oppressor.  

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

If I get it published (and that is a very big if), then I would probably go with self-publishing.  Honestly, I have not given it much thought yet since the book is still being written. 🙂

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I have written the first fifty thousand words in a month, but the manuscript is still not complete.  So, it will take me about 2 months to write the basic rough draft of this novel.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Good question.  *tries to buy time to think of an answer*… I really don’t know.  It does not exactly fit with any story I know.  I suppose it sort of fits with the Deltora Quest series (by Emily Rodda), because in both stories the adventurers must find something to dethrone the evil ruler and replace him/her with the rightful heir.  Beyond that, though, the stories are different.  It is hard for me to compare my book to those of my favorite authors’ because their’s are so excellent, and mine is still in it’s infant stages. 😀  

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) inspired me to actually write down my ideas.  Without the support of people and friends in NaNo, my story ideas would still be floating around inside my head, never to be shared with anyone.  

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

  • No bad language/questionable scenes
  • Use of foreign languages (with translations)
  • Daring escapes
  • Bold break-ins
  • Heart melting puppies
  • Real information on self-defense (knife fights, staff fighting, and more)
  • Colorful descriptions
  • Creative new ways to world travel
  • Sacrifice
  • Suffering
  • Love
  • NaNoWriMo Dares  (more information on these coming soon!)

To view my story statistics (for NaNoWriMo), click here.  What do you think about my story from the answers above?  Would you read it?  Why or why not?  🙂  Are there any other questions about it that you have that weren’t included in this post?  (I’d love to answer them for you!)

Favorite Grammar Pictures

I am a grammar nazi.  If you aren’t, you should probably just skip this post, since it involves all sorts of grammar nazi paraphernalia.  🙂

Below are some of my favorite grammar (and language) related pictures/words (in no particular order).  Enjoy!

Let's eat Grandma!

Irony

i before e

The Coolest Word

English it'll cost you.

Pacifically

B-E-F-O-R-E not B4

Needless Words

Retired English Teacher

Cact-Us

Double Negative

Homophones

1-5

Tips for Writing Better

Part 4

Part 3

Part 5

Cliches

Wi-Fi

Lay vs. Lie

Redundancies

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