Day 1 ~ Flying, flying, and more flying!

I traveled on three planes to get to Kiev.  On my first flight (about 2 hours total) I felt wonderful and I really enjoyed being able to fly again.  I have only flown 3 or 4 times before.  My favorite part of the flight is when the airplane revs up its motor and we zoom into the air (take off).  😀  It makes me feel all excited.

Flight 1: On my first flight (about 2 hours total) I felt wonderful and I really enjoyed being able to fly again.  I saw a beautiful winding river.  The sunlight was hitting it in just the right way to make it look like a rainbow river. 🙂  I also loved seeing clouds from the top instead of from underneath.  I sat next to a lady who was going to Minnesota to visit with her two sons.  I got to show/teach her the Russian alphabet and we talked the entire trip.  It was my quickest flight because of her companionship.

Flight 2: My second flight was 8 hours long.  It was the trip that took me from Minneapolis, MN to Amsterdam, The Netherlands.  While waiting in the airport I sat next to a Swedish lady named Kajsa.  She was kind (but also very tired, like I was) and we talked about her visit to the US and a little about her homeland, Sweden.  I heard a TON of German being spoken in the waiting room for the airplane.  Then we boarded the plane.  She sat several rows back from me, so we didn’t get to talk again.  I sat in seat 7J.  It was right next to the window in a 2 seat row!  🙂  The rows are set up like this:  2 seats then an aisle, then 5 seats then another aisle, and then 2 more seats.

After I sat down, Francie (I don’t know the correct spelling, sorry!), my airplane neighbor, joined me.  She is from Germany, but lives in the US and works as an ecologist.  She was also very kind, and I greatly enjoyed talking with her on a multitude of subjects.

We flew over Canada, and Ireland, and England!!  I took pictures of England. 🙂  It was a very cloudy flight and I was hoping to be able to see the land, but I could not because of the clouds.  So I prayed about it.  And when we began traveling over England the clouds broke and I could see the beautiful landscapes!!  🙂  England is covered in a patchwork of browns and greens.  It was stunning.  Also, it was cool watching the shadows that the larger clouds made on the land.

For my first airplane meal (‘dinner’) I had:  a chicken, rice, and veggie (quite spicy) dish along with a bun and a piece of cheese.  They also served a small dish of cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettice, but… I didn’t eat it.  I was not very hungry on the trip, and I don’t really like cucumbers or tomatoes plain.  For breakfast (towards the end of the flight) they served a banana, a small cup of orange juice and an egg biscuit sandwhich.  I did not eat any of it, and I was beginning to feel somewhat sick, and my temperature kept switching from hot to cold.

I did not realize that on long over-sea flights they provide a TV/computer for each passenger.  So, I listened to some music and watched the movie Brave.  And after that I did the Berlitz language practice and games for Russian and German.  (numbers, basic phrases, days of the week, months, etc.)  It was really fun!  I was not bored at all.  I tried to sleep, but I was unable to sleep in such a position.

Flight 3: From Amsterdam to Kiev, we boarded a very small (in comparison) plane.  It had a row of 3 seats, an aisle, and another row of 3 seats.  The aisle was very thin, and my carry-on bag barely allowed the overhead compartment to shut (after much shoving, the compartment finally closed).  In the Amsterdam airport, my German friend helped me find the correct gate and she encouraged me because I was feeling sicker at that point.  I found the gate and then sat down on the floor to wait for my friend Lienna and also to rest because they would not check us through customs until a half hour before the flight (so I had to wait one or two hours).  When Lienna walked up I was so happy to see her!!  I felt happier for a few moments.  We decided to go and find a seat (there weren’t any near the gate) because I was not feeling good and she wanted to use her computer.  She even let me use her computer for a few minutes to update my family and FB (Facebook) friends.  I drank a lot of cold water, but none of the food we had sounded good to me at all.  My stomach told me it did not want anything, even though I knew I was lacking sleep and needed energy I could not eat anything.  Lienna offered me some string cheese (one of my favorite foods!) but even then I could not eat.  I ended up eating several bites of banana (the one from my last flight) and one bite of the cheese.  All of the stores in the airport used Euros.

We did not have the same seats in the plane, and I sat down next to a middle-aged Russian couple who spoke no English.  The lady who sat accross the aisle spoke Russian and English, and she was amazing.  I was so exhausted by this point that as soon as I sat down I laid my head against the seat ahead of mine and closed my eyes (trying to sleep).  I’m not sure if I slept or not… it’s sort of hazy and I definitely wasn’t myself.  The lady next to me was kind enough to save me a sandwhich (‘lunch’) and some water and she gently woke me up 2 or 3 times.  The lady accross the aisle encouraged me to eat close to the end of the trip, when she saw I was feeling sick and tired.  She also informed me that lying hunched over on the next seat is bad for your neck and back, so I stopped doing it because it bothered her.  I felt sick, and sort of coughed once or twice.  After I took a bit of the sandwhich I threw up.  (right after we landed)  We had quite a bumpy landing and I really enjoyed it.  And right after then… well, you know. :p  The people next to me took my sandwhich and cup and helped me leave the plane.  They were very sweet, and the one lady kept telling me it would be all right.  She even (somewhat jokingly) called me a baby, haha, because of how sick I was acting, and unable to be myself.

We went through the Kiev passport check and customs in about 10 minutes total (that is very quick) and then we went outside to find Lienna’s parents.

[Lienna’s computer is almost out of power, so I will write more later.  I am no longer sick, and after I went to the apartment that evening I felt find (only super tired).  Oh, and another funny thing was that all of my gate numbers had 8 in them.  (8, 8, and 18) 😀 ]


13 Days Until…. Ukraine!!! ^_^

It is finally hitting me that in 13 days I’ll be headed to Ukraine!!!  🙂  I’m so excited and I can hardly wait!!  Everyone keeps giving me gifts to take.  I think my gifts will max. my space and weight limits, haha. 😀

I’ll be going with a friend, Lienna.  She lives in the US, but ministers to the Ukrainian people alongside her husband.  She’s visiting her family who live 6 hours away from Kiev in a small town of 16,000 people.  We’ll also be visiting another town about 20 minutes away where most of their ministry is done.

I was encouraged to bring peanut butter, coffee (instant), and beef jerky as food gifts. 😀  I’m also taking 2 American Girl dolls, along with some clothes and accessories, that I no longer play with that children there will love.  One of the days we are going to a birthday party of a little girl.  My Russian teacher gave me 2 American history calendars to give away (one about US monuments and the other about President Ronald Reagan).

Last week, when I was cleaning a friend’s home, I was given 12 large “cloth napkin” sized fabric squares.  They are quite beautiful and I realized I could use them to make bags to take as a gift (or to sell).  Starting this week, I’ve been busy making bags.  I discovered that I love to sew.  It gives me time alone (because our sewing machine is in the basement) to think and listen to music while doing something productive.  I also love the creativity of the project.  Although I have a basic pattern, I am able to decide how to do the pockets and which fabrics go best together.

Here are some pictures of the first bag (I’ll add other pictures as I complete the other 6 (or more?) bags).  The bags are reversible, so I’ll be showing you both sides of each “bag”, but it takes 2 “bags” to make one reversible bag.

Bag 1A (side 1)

Bag 1A (side 1)

Bag 1A (side 2)

Bag 1A (side 2)

Bag 1B (side 1)

Bag 1B (side 1)

Bag 1B (side 2)

Bag 1B (side 2)  Here is the address to the pattern, if anyone is interested.  I did not measure the cloth, I simply made sure both bags were the same size.  Same with the handle.  If you are going to make pockets make sure you make and attach them BEFORE step 2.  I used the extra cloth from the handle and bag to create the pockets.  You can make the strap for the bag (step 1) after step 2, 3, 4, or 5; as long as the handles are done by step 6.

Since returning from TESOL, I’ve enjoyed babysitting, cat sitting, and house cleaning to raise money for my airplane ticket to and from Ukraine.  So far I’ve earned $325.  I’ve still got about $1,000 to go, but it’s encouraging to see that you can earn about $100 a week on odd jobs, if you go and search for them AND if you’re willing to do jobs you wouldn’t normally enjoy–and if you do them to the best of your ability.  I’ve never made this much money before (in such a short time frame).  I prayed for jobs, and God sent the right amount. 🙂  It has been enough for me to earn money but also has left time to keep up with school.

My all time favorite job (so far) has been holding a little 5 (now 7) week old baby while her mother and older brother water ski.  She’s a happy little one, and I just love to sit (or stand and stroll) with her in my arms.

Today was…

(This post is about yesterday (Sunday, June 24th, 2012).  I started to ramble a bit… just so you know. 🙂  I wrote this yesterday in my journal and decided to share it with you as a continue to finish several other blog posts.  I plan to have at least 2 more blog posts this week on Wednesday and Friday.)

Today was a good day.
Today was a sad day.
Today was a day of new beginnings.
Today was a day of changes.
Today was the day God planned for me.

Thank you Lord for setting apart a Sabbath day of rest.  A day when we can take a break from many of our weekly tasks and worship you–alone and as part of the body of Christ (the Church).

I need and I look forward to each Sunday.  Today was especially wonderful because last week my family worshipped at a different church and the previous Sunday because of our huge extended family’s Father’s Day reunion (which I greatly enjoyed).  I laughed when we arrived at church in our large van and one of the dads’ jaws dropped at seeing me park the car.  I don’t know if I’ll ever tire of seeing the surprise on friends’ faces when I drive up. :p

When I walked in to the building, one of my sister’s friends (I was going to say “little” sister, but she is growing up and little no longer fits) came over, gave me a hug, and told me she had missed me.  It was really sweet. 🙂

Since our pastor was out of town this week a visiting pastor preached.  Currently we are in a sermon series in the book of acts.  The visiting pastor preached from Philippians 4:4-7.

Радуйтесь в Господе всегда; и снова скажу, радуйтесь.  Кротость ваша да будет известна всем людям; Господь близко.  Ни о чём не заботьтесь, но во всём, в молитве и прошении, с благодареием открывайте просьбы ваши пред Богом.  И мир Божий, превосходящий всякий ум, соблюдет сердца ваши и мысли ваши во Христе Иисусе.  ~Филиппийцам 4:4-7

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Anxiety is very prevalent.  Did you know that the US has an official “Anxiety Awareness” day and month?? (April 22nd, and April)  Neither did I.  Society has no way of helping us cope with it.  Sure–we can escape for a short while through drugs, alcohol, games, sex, online sites, etc. but in the long run none of those things will help.  But when we trust in a God who gave us His son to save us from something far worse than death (hell) we know He will take care of us — even in the little and sometimes mundane parts of life.

For me, most of my anxiety lies in the future.  Where will I go to college?  Will I go to college at all?  If I do go, how will I pay for it?  What job/career should I study?  What if I’m being called into the mission field?  Just to name a few. :p  Coupled with another lecture  I attended on Wednesday evening about money, the sermon convicted me and helped me realize that money was/is becoming an idol in my life.  I was putting my faith and hope on money instead of on God who gives me everything I have.

After church a lady friend (a mother of 3 children) came up to me and asked me a ‘big family’ question.  “Growing up in a large family, what are your thoughts on the size of your [possible] future family?”  It’s a good question and I love being asked ‘big family’ and ‘homeschool’ questions. (If you have a question for me, ask me here.)  As for my answer: “I’ll be happy to love and raise however many children the Lord blesses me with (0 – ?).  If I am unable to have children of my own I would love to adopt children.  Now of course, this all depends on whether or not I get married.  I do not know if a godly husband is in the Lord’s plans for my future.

I enjoyed talking with a young couple (members of our church) who serve on a college campus as part of Campus Crusade for Christ.

 Immediately after eating a delicious meal with them (and with my family at home), I left for Russian church.  Today we sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in Russian and it was beautiful. 🙂  I love singing old hymns in Russian and English.  An elderly lady who was sitting next to me on the pew asked me in Russian, “Do you speak Russian?”  I was able to understand and reply!  It was really neat.

The sermon was from 1 Corinthians and it taught about loving others instead of judging them.  I think that too often we as Christians stay in our own little bubble.  We have our Christian community and anyone outside falls under our judgement.  Nowhere in Scripture does it command us to judge others.  God is the judge.  We are to love the sinner but hate the sin.  We like to go around pointing fingers and comparing our ‘righteousness’ to their sinfulness.

We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourself. (Matthew 22:36-40James 1:27Matthew 25:311 Corinthians 13.) Don’t take me wrong here.  I don’t mean to stay we should allow practicing prostitutes, drunks, or homosexuals to join the church.  Not at all.  We should befriend, love, care for, and witness to them.  Church membership is for professing believers of Christ who are not actively living a lifestyle directly against God’s word.

How can we be the salt and light of the world if we are unwilling to invest in friendships with non-believers?

Лубов, one of the church members, came and spoke with me after the service.  She taught me: “спасибо за пение,” which means “thank you for singing.”  I am so excited to be finally getting to know more of the members at church.  🙂  I asked Руслан, “Где Ина?” (“Where is Ина?”)  He responded with a six (6) or eight (8) word sentence.  The only word I caught was sister. 😀  So, Ина is staying with her sister today. 🙂

Following dinner, we had our weekly family meeting.  My mom gave us all some very hard news.  One of the families who were our good friends had left our church.  The family has been in our church longer than we have been (over 8 years).  They have several children who are close friends to all of us.  (This is not the same family as the one mentioned here.)  It is so painful losing close friends from church.  Of course they will remain our good friends–but we will no longer see them each Sunday.  I know that God will use this split for His good… but it is so hard to see.

Please pray for my church.  There is a lot of conflict to be worked through.  I am praying that it will be resolved peacefully and that it will give all the glory to God.  And maybe that the handful of families who have left will return.  Even if they do not return–God is faithful.  They will serve Him in a new church body, and others will join our church.  It is just hard to have close friends leave.  Satan would love to see us all split apart.  It’s my prayer that everyone can solve their differences and that those who do not return join another good church and continue to serve the Lord Jesus.

I’d like to end this post with the lyrics to one of my favorite songs.

Here I am a sinner, broken and in need of you
Take my life and wash my fears away
For you are the great I am, rest assured I feel Your hands
Holding me until the darkness clears

Father to the fatherless, redeemer of my soul
My life is yours forever, my heart will always know

Your mercy saved me, mercy made me whole
Your mercy found me, called me as your own 

(Mercy by Parachute Band)

A Conglomeration of Topics

Back in January I posted my New Year’s Resolutions.  I thought you’d all enjoy a quick update on the things I’ve been doing since then.

1. I am studying Russian with a lady friend of mine once a week.  This is greatly improving my conversational and grammar and vocabulary skills.  I also get to drink чай (tea) with her, which is a fun way to learn new words and phrases.

2. I have added a new post once every 2 weeks pretty consistently–though I did miss a few weeks in February/March.

3. I journal (or write a friend) regularly now, which is nice.  I’m sure someday it will be nice to go back and read what I was thinking about at this time of my life.

4. I had forgotten this was on my list.  ooops!  I better get a start on those 2 new alphabets. :p  (probably Karen and Arabic)

5. Nope, haven’t done that yet either. (learning how to read the base clef)

6. I learned my first and middle name in Arabic, but I have not memorized Arabic numbers (1-10) yet.

7. Every day (usually once in the morning and once in the evening) I’ve been weight lifting.  It’s fun, mostly, and I am stronger.  At least, my arms are. 😀

8. Although I really like the idea of starting a Book Passing Club, I have not made it a reality yet.

9. I really enjoy reviewing submissions of English students on livemocha. 🙂

10. Every time I think I have read everything there is to read and know everything there is to know in the Bible I find so much more!  Verses that I have read over and over again suddenly have new meaning to me.  It’s been amazing!  I’ve especially grown in Romans, Colossians, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs.

11. I can’t say I have a strong relationship with all of my siblings, but I have talked for hours with and become much closer to one of my sisters.

12. For my studies, I have read The Canon of Scripture by F.F. Bruce, several parts of books relating to Catholicism(one was: Roman Catholicism), some books about Islam (including: Secrets of the Koran by Don RichardsonUnveiling Islam by Ergun and Emir Caner,and Escape from Islam by Hass Strong), and some missionary stories that talk about suffering (If I Perish by Esther Ahn KimThey Would Not Be Silent by Harvey YoderGod’s Secret Agent by Sammy TippitThe Heavenly Man by Brother Yun, and Iran: Desperate for God).  I realize I did not have Catholicism on my list, but it’s become one of my newer study topics.

13. I’ve had the chance to read one (or two ?) friends’ partial books, but I have not finished reading them and they have not yet finished writing them.

14. I play piano almost every day, and sometimes more than once a day.  I have started to learn 2 new songs.  (1/3 of my 6 new song goal)

Now that you are caught up on my goals, I want to add a few more things that I hadn’t planned on at the beginning of the year.

First off, I’ve been sick (Sunday @ 6:40am – Monday @ ?) with the flu.  By God’s grace I was able to attend two (2) different baptism services (at two friends’ churches).  It was wonderful being able to sing, listen to a sermon, watch the baptisms, and talk with old friends who I hadn’t seen in years.  I came home, slept for three (3) hours, and then was sick four (4) more times before my stomach calmed down and allowed me to drink some energy stuff (around 22:30).  I rested all day and was able to listen to a lot of music, read e-mail, write this post, and go to my sisters violin concert (you did great, sis’!). 🙂  I had to miss Russian classes, but I practiced a bit of verb conjugation on my own.

Secondly, I now have a Russian teacher!!!!  I know I mentioned it above, but I am so thankful to have a real live, in person, teacher! 🙂  Thank you Lord!!  She’s an answer to prayer.

Thirdly, I got my restricted drivers license!  🙂  I am an official driver.  I cannot drive anyone outside of my family without a licensed driver, but I can drive my siblings and myself (of course) anywhere.

Fourthly, on Saturday I am taking the SAT.  My nerves are trying to get the best of me.  I am continuing to take practice tests until Friday.

Fifthly (and lastly), I’ve been blessed to be able to attend an afternoon church service that is in both English and Russian.  My favorite part of the service is singing the worship songs I know in English, in Russian.  It’s exciting to be learning songs in my new foreign language.

I’ll leave you all with that.  How have you been??  What’s new??  Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?  How are they coming along?  🙂

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