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

College!! :)

Guess what???  I got accepted into Moody Bible Institute for the fall of 2013 semester!!  ^__^  I am overjoyed to get into the college of my dreams (and the only college I applied to)!  I will be studying TESOL and Bible as my double major.

Flowers a friend gave me when she heard I got accepted!!  :)

Flowers a friend gave me when she heard I got accepted!! 🙂

I’m excited to get my teaching and Bible degree there because of the school’s missions focus. 🙂  Uncertain about my future, I thought to apply to college and then, if that wasn’t God’s will, apply for a one year teaching English as a paid teachers aid in Taiwan.  This open door, however, makes my path clear (for the next four years, at least).  Thank you, Lord!  I trust Him to continue to guide me.

Do you remember the talking dogs in the movie Up?  In the middle of a conversation all of the sudden they would yell, “Squirrel!” and be completely distracted.  College pops into my thoughts like those squirrels hopped by the dogs.  I don’t think about it constantly, but very frequently.

It will be a huge change in my life and in my family’s life.  I’ll be gone (except for holidays and breaks).  My next oldest sister will be the eldest child at home.  I’ll have to figure out my own schedule, food (depending on what college plan I use), and everything else.  I’ll most likely be in a two person dorm room.  That does not bother me at all considering I currently share a room with my six year old brother.  He will miss having me in his room, but when I leave our three year old brother will move into my place.  So, I think he will enjoy having his only brother in his room. 🙂

Another ‘fun’ task will be figuring out what exactly I can/should take and what to do with all the rest of my stuff that I will not have space to take with me. :p

I think the things I will miss most will be my (technically) six bookshelves and all the books stuffed into them.  Now that my space will be more limited I discovered I have a ton of stuff.  By stuff, I mean: books, clothes, decoration ceramics, more books, CD’s, folders with assorted papers, stuffed animals, piles of books, more papers, craft supplies, and finally a couple more books. :p

A couple of evenings ago I looked around my room thinking, “This will no longer be my room in seven months time.”  Sad thought.

So, even though I am super excited to be going off to college, I’m definitely scared of all the new things it will bring.  In seven months, I will turn to a new and blank chapter of my life.  I’m setting some goals for the remaining remaining months.

1) Start a daily morning quiet time (i.e. Scripture reading/meditation/studying/memorizing and Prayer time).  Right now my quiet times are in the evenings and sometimes I forget to do it at all.  I want to change that and have a good habit formed by the time I enter Moody in August.

2) Go through my stuff and be ruthless with the trashcan and and give away pile.  Not that I expect to narrow my stuff down to a half/dorm room size, but I do intend to get rid of stuff I will never use anyway or I’ve only held onto for sentimental reasons.

3) Start a ‘Moody’ list and begin to think through what I’ll need, what I already own, what I don’t have yet and need to buy, and what I’ll want.

4) Focus on more RL (real life) friends and friendships (especially with Sarah H., Kathryn, Amber, and Elizabeth).

I think that is all for now.  I hope you’ll join me as I begin this new adventure!

I will continue to update my blog regularly.  I’m aiming for one post every week by Thursday (i.e. I post on Tuesday or Wednesday).  That way you can simply check my blog every Thursday and immediately know whether or not I posted for the week. 🙂

Applying to College

When I was little, I dreamed about what I would grow up to do.  I didn’t realize how quickly life would fly by.  Yes, folks, I am applying to college for the Fall 2013 semester.  Let’s take a moment of silence to remember my childhood… *silence*

I’m afriad, you’ve caught me in a silly mood.  I don’t feel old enough for college, however, I do have several things I would like to do after I graduate–and college is one way I can prepare for them.

Over the past few months my future has been rather hazy, or as some people, like a bend in the road (i.e. unseeable until I arrive at the bend).  I knew (and still know) that God had/has specific plans for me, I just had no clue what they were, when they would happen, or what they would entail.

Two adventures this summer helped direct me towards my vocation.

First — My TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) 18-day certificate course in July.

Second — My 9 day trip to Ukraine.

At TESOL I discovered my love for teaching the English language.  I’ve always dreaded public speaking–even after being forced to attend several 1-day speaking classes.  So, I was almost shocked to realize that speaking about the English language to students was not only doable but also enjoyable. (of course in a good ESL classroom, the teacher does only 30% of the speaking)

I think I’ve struggled in the past with public speaking because I don’t know what to say or I urn out of things to say on the topic at hand (A rare predicament for me, since I never run out of words, even when I’m asleep).

Then, almost exactly a month later, I flew to Ukraine, not knowing what to expect.  What I saw there totally blew me away and stole my heart (in a good way).  I became deeply attached to the people I met and a strong love for the people grew quickly.  I saw many opportunities for me to serve them through my teaching and though everyday life on life service.

The orphans we visited also touched me.  When I go back to Ukraine, I want to spend more time with them and show them through my love, how much Jesus loves each one of them and how God is their heavenly Father.

Returning to the topic of today’s post, I’ve decided to apply to Moody Bible Institute–a small college in Chicago, Illinois.

Why?

1) Because they are a heavily missions minded college.

2) Because I would get a Bible Degree as well as a TESOL Degree.

3) Because they have a TESOL degree (something few colleges offer as a major).

4) Because I will be able to be close enough to home to visit on the breaks.

5) And finally, because the schooling will equip me to knowledgeably serve the Ukrainians (or anyone else God sends me to).

This weekend, during our neighborhood picnic, one of my adult friends made this comment to me.  “For some unknown reason, when you were 12 or 13 the thought crossed my mind, ‘She’ll be a missionary someday.'”

She can’t explain what made her think that, and I didn’t know about this until Sunday when she told me.  When I was 12 and 13 I had my entire life planned out (or so I thought).  I was going to become a librarian and then get married and have 12 children.  🙂

I still love libraries and children (though… 12 ????!), but now I have a heart for foreign missions.

Some of the songs we practiced in drama yesterday fit well with this post… so I’ll leave you with the lyrics.

~

The Bend in the Road

The bend in the road, unexpectedly it came our way one summer’s day.
And who could have known it would lead us here to you.

For a bend in the road can lead you to a place you’ve never known,
But a bend in the road can lead you safely home,
For a bend in the road can lead you to your home!

~

Avonlea 

(insert Ukraine for Avonlea)

Come away, come away to Avonlea.
Take my hand to this land of Avonlea.

Can you hear on the wind it whispers to me?
Like an old and dear friend,
it beckons me to travel where the flowers spill o’er the hillside to the sea.

For the young, for the old from afar going home.
No matter where I roam, my heart’s in Avonlea.

No matter where I roam, my heart’s in Avonlea.

~

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)

http://www.skiptomylou.org/2009/07/17/how-to-make-a-simple-reversible-totebag/  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.

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