Morning Praise

As I was about to fall asleep last night (or rather, this morning) at 4am, I began to notice the sounds of the birds awakening outside my window.  I don’t know about you, but birdsongs make me happy.  It immediately made me think about all the verses in Scripture that talk about creation praising God and giving Him glory.  The birds are certainly whistling His praises right now–on and off–as a new day begins.

I’ve never had any desire whatsoever to wake up early and go to bed early.  I typically prefer to stay up until 12 or 1 and get up at 8 or 9.  But after hearing these bird whistles this morning I think I could definitely want to change my sleep patterns a little (well, ok, a lot).  Wouldn’t it be amazing to get up with the birds and praise God before everyone else is even awake?  Maybe it wouldn’t be at 4am, I’ll admit that’s a tad early unless I plan on going to bed at 8.  I have been thinking recently of the necessity of getting more sleep and moving my sleep schedule back a couple of hours, so this gives me a tiny reason to give it a go this summer.

While I’m on the topic of birds, I wish I knew what birds whistle which birdcalls.  My grandmother and my sister are good with naming birds, flowers, trees, etc… maybe they’ll teach me some of their wisdom this summer. 🙂

Side story: This morning it poured rain and I didn’t have time to take the tunnels to class.  Why not?  Because I slept until 10 minutes before class.  Anyways, I had no idea it was raining and so when I opened the door of my dorm building I was quite surprised–but also very happy!  For some inexplainable reason, rain makes me exuberant.  I can’t even explain it, it just does.  🙂  So, that was my wonderful Friday morning in the rain, wet, and thoroughly drenched, but also very cheerful.

Plus: it’s spring here now and all the flowers are blooming!  It’s the most gorgeous and glorious thing.  🙂  People complain about the smell or the pollen, but just look at the trees!  The trees we have on campus, … let me see… the 17 or so in the plaza plus the 2 or 3 by the student center and the couple inbetween that and the library are just so full of life and color!  Green, white, and pink!  I’ll try to remember to take some pictures to share with you all.

Reflections on Winter Tour (MBI Chorale – 2014)

Back in January, the choir that I’m in (The Moody Chorale) went on Winter Tour for three days.  I journaled a bit about each day and I’d love to share that with you along with a couple of pictures from the trip. 🙂  In the next couple of weeks I’d also love to share another post of pictures from my time here in Chicago.
The only information I will leave out are the names of people we stayed with (host homes) and a couple of stories I think should remain in the chorale due to people not wanting to be embarrassed, haha.  Nothing bad.  Oh and a couple of observations about people that wouldn’t mean anything to you all.  Everything else will be practically copied exactly (except for when the meaning wasn’t clear (in which case I edited it)).

Day 1) Friday, January 17, 2014
Driving out:  The city looks so beautiful on this cold partly cloudy day!  The geometric shapes are fun to look at.  I saw a 10-story building with trees and plants on the 8th floor (the 9th and 10th floors were indented behind the green area).

The bus isn’t actually as loud as I though it might be.  I think that is due to the fact that the bus is carpeted.  I have a pair of seats to myself which is nice for the moment.  The women’s choir gave us a bag of snickers (candy)  for our trip.

I see a domed green building off in the distance.  There are so many church spires.  There is an air of excitement which causes even me (or is it I??)  to be excited. 🙂

I will record random questions I wonder about as often as I can because someday it will be fun to read them.  🙂

Question 1:  Do trucks ever get stuck on hills? (this was accompanied by a drawing of a truck stuck at the top of a hill with the bed of the truck holding the wheels off the ground on either end.  Yes, I know, funny question, but since I’m writing up exactly what I wrote you get to see some of the silly things I come up with).

I had a very rough day yesterday and this morning.  I kept seeing more of what is truly in my heart.  What is in me is awful.

Interruption: I see a huge area full of semi-trucks stacked five to six trucks high.  There are multicolored ones (greens, reds, creams, etc.).  This whole area is trucks and factories.  At least there are some trees.  There’s a lot of graffiti on everything.  I also saw a field of huge train-like gas tanks.

(back to your regularly scheduled program)  I have a deep root of bitterness, complaining, selfish, self-righteous, legalistic… it is ugly.  Covered in sin and rebellion from God.

It started snowing.

Seeing signs reflected off the bus windows makes me think for a second that they are in Russian.

I’m listening to music on my iPod on shuffle.

Question 2: (reflected upon after seeing a couple different advertisement signs by the highway/interstate) Why is the word grownup/adult immediately connected to sex, toys, and other related things?  

(Written after our first concert the evening of the 17th):
I met a family of 11 children–6 boys and 5 girls.  They like singing — they sang us a song they wrote about coffee.  Their youngest is 2 and their oldest is 20.  We (Mariya and I) are staying with the P. family and their two sons (N. 10, and A. 7).  They have a cute brown and white dog.  They have built a ton of lego creations!




The concert went well – especially the beginning songs and the last ones (esp. “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” arranged by John Rutter).  Wow!  Singing like that makes all the effort and time worth it!  Today I feel like I want to be in chorale all 4 years at college!

Daniel’s back was really bothering him today.  Sean did a beautiful Bach cello piece arranged for his guitar for the offertory.  SuJin’s testimony on grace was phenomenal!

The church had wonderful acoustics!  The women’s bathroom was light green. 🙂  The table decorations were mason jars with green tissue paper and fake yellow flowers (lilies perhaps??).  The church is filled with large families who almost all homeschool and many of whom have adopted.  They served us a delicious dinner of: meat (3 kinds – ham, chicken, and beef), corn, vegetable casserole, buns and butter, cookies, and 7-layer salad. 🙂

The girls’ changing room was in the nursery.  My pinch-on earrings hurt a lot especially the right one.  I sang in the front row inbetween two sopranos (Georgette and Alex).

While driving home (the host home), I looked into the darkness and saw many factory (chemical refineries, etc.) lights twinkling a happy golden color while from out of thin pipes water vapor floated into the dark sky forming beautiful white clouds.  There were also a couple tall thing towers on top of which a bright flame burned away all the impure and bad gas.  It was a beautiful view. 🙂

Day 2) Saturday, January 18, 2014
I had a bad dream about a snake.  I had to escape my house before the snake was let out of its cage on purpose to chase me.  I looked up while escaping and woke up (around 6:15 am).  I fell back asleep trying to ignore the room sounds.  Mariya woke me up later.  We ate a delicious breakfast of meatballs/sausage, french toast with eggs and almonds, tea and water.  A. played “Away in the Manger” for us on the keyboard.  He was adopted from Russia.  I took pictures. 🙂


On the bus ride (later), Christian had to do a dance because he forgot his hanger in the dressing room.  He danced to Janger (one of our choir songs in Indonesian).  We also shared host home stories.  Our bus driver’s name is Jeff.  He is an excellent and safe driver.  It snowed many inches today.

We walked around a mall.  I rode on a white horse.  Sean road on a cat and named her Gertrude. :p  The mall was painted!  The ceiling was green, then the ceiling lights were blue, and the walls were yellow.  There were real plants and trees. 🙂

We sang in an elementary school.  It had ok sound acoustics though the piano was a bit out of tune.  I enjoyed singing on the stairs and in the hallways because they were so echoey.  The song “Daemon Irrepit Caledus” was stuck in my head a lot.

OH!  In the morning we did small groups.  My small group is: Taylor, Mariya, Ian, and myself.

I was really tired for tonight’s concert so I don’t think I sang as well.

We (Alex, Madison, Mariya and I) stayed with S.  She has a very old huge house.  She also has a cat named Sharlie.  🙂  I petted Sharlie a lot.  She loves the side of her face and her neck getting a good rub.  She left lots of hair on my black choir dress.  Bedtime now at midnight!  I will be waking up around 6:50am or so to leave at 7:20am.



Day 3) Sunday, January 19, 2014
I am writing you with the pen S. gave me.  She also gave me: a make-up bag, 6 heart chocolates, a mechanical pencil, a card and a knickknack. 🙂

I love, love, LOVE singing the “Thank you” song! (It’s a song we sing after every meal we are served to thank the cooks).  I love seeing the people’s reactions. 🙂

Breakfast was scrambled eggs, cheese, bagels, grapes, pink “fluff”, and more. 🙂

Ryan was very sick last night and today.  Mariya also felt sick but only in the morning.  Our call time tomorrow is 8am.  I saw swings outside the church so I hope we get there early so that I can swing for 5 minutes!  (I did get to swing)


The pastor picked up on our concert’s theme of man’s sin verses life lived under God in His grace, joy, love and peace.

They fed us so much good food today that I think I might have gained weight. :p  🙂  One lady at lunch married and Iranian and was Muslim for a long time.  Now she and her husband are both saved!!  They are praying for their four daughters who are not saved.

Ben and Brennan left their folders at the last church so… they had to do some things on the bus.  Brennan had to sing “What Does the Fox Say?” with fake green teeth on.  It was hilarious!  But the teeth wouldn’t stay on because they were too small.

The Methodist church we sang at tonight was very well designed – architecturally.  We got an hour and  half of free time!  It was wonderful!  I lay in the dim sanctuary on a red covered pew bench listening to very quiet music.  I don’t know if I fell asleep or not.  On Saturday I forgot to say that I met an older lady named Bonnie (Bonnie is my favorite girls’ name).

Tonight Mariya and I are staying with a family with two boys at home and a black dog named Diamond (15 years old!).  The youngest son is 11 and he has the extra “love” chromosome.  He is so loving!  I had to argue with him to get him to only kiss me on the cheek.  He gives the best hugs!


I got to help take down the chairs and round tables in the gym after dinner.  It was fun!

I really don’t like TVs very much.  What a waste of time and energy.  I also think I waste too much time on my iPod games — so I deleted all of them.  :p

I sang Frozen songs with Rosie the other day in the bus.  Eric also randomly starts singing Christmas songs.  Colby says he gets flack about his hair being a “stumbling block” to others.  That’s ridiculous and a misuse of scripture as well.  Taylor really likes to read Stephen King books (It, and 11/22/63).  Daniel can talk but he’s also quite fine quiet and alone.  He’s observant.  Eric and Jacob study and do homework.  Ian talks and jokes around.  Sean rests and is quiet or asks 20 Questions or plays his guitar.  Kathryn sat alone.  She is very quiet.  Josie looks beautiful when she unbraids her hair. 🙂  Ryan is still able to crack jokes even when he’s sick.

Ok, goodnight!!  We head “home” tomorrow!  I’m so glad. 🙂


That’s all I wrote down. 🙂  I hope you enjoyed it and didn’t get thrown too many times by my jumps in subject. :p  I was too tired to keep it all organized and since I didn’t want to forget any little details I would just write down everything as it popped into my brain.

Driving, driving, and more driving…

[Originally I planned to write one post about each day… but some of the events have become so jumbled in my memory that I decided I’d just pick a topic and write about it, and do the same for the rest of the posts about Ukraine.  I may write about specific days (like Monday, or Wednesday…) but in general I’ll stick to topical updates.]

First I want to show you a few maps, because, as you may know, I LOVE maps. 🙂  Some of them are a bit small, but if you click on them they should be large enough to be able to read the captions.

My airplane travels

The first leg of my trip (3 flights)

The 2nd leg of the trip -- Driving

The 2nd leg of the trip — Driving

A map of the Vinnytsya Region

A map of the Vinnytsya Region.  I circled the towns we spent our time in.

A close up on the three cities (Вінниця, Намирів, Тульчин)

A close up on the three cities (Вінниця, Немирів, Тульчин)

We drove a lot.  In fact, I think we drove at least 2 or 3 hours every single day (except Tuesday).   Consequently, I have a ton of pictures of the Ukrainian countryside, homes, fences (every home has one), cars, cows, chickens, bus stops, crops, plants, trees and rivers.

(Friday evening – September 7th) When I first arrived, we drove for ~45 minutes to get from the airport (just outside Kiev) to an apartment in the city.

(Saturday – Sep. 8) The next day we drove over 5 hours to reach their home city of Тульчин (Tulchin).

(Sunday – Sep. 9) We left for church around 9 am and arrived close to 10.  The church is in the city of Немирів. (Nemiroff)  After lunch (served at church), we prepared a craft and headed to the orphanage.  (I think it was in Вінниця (Vinnytsya), but I’m not 100% sure)

(Monday – Sep. 10) Lienna’s step-father drove us to the dentist office in Немирів (Nemiroff).  Igor and his wife Albina came, picked me up, and drove me to their apartment (near-by-ish), and later to the зоопарк (zoopark = zoo).

(Tuesday – Sep. 11) We did not drive anywhere, mostly because Lienna was sick and so we just stayed home and rested.  In the evening two (2) different families visited us.

(Wednesday – Sep. 12) First we were dropped off in Немирів (Nemiroff).  Then from the pastors home, we traveled to different smaller villages (one with a population of 40 people) to do ministry work.  In the evening we drove into Вінниця (Vinnytsya) to celebrate Tina’s 3rd birthday.

(Thursday – Sep. 13) On Thursday afternoon we (Lienna, her friend, and I) were dropped off in downtown Тульчин (Tulchin).  We spent several hours walking around, shopping, and looking the Polish palace and other historic places in the city.

(Friday – Sep. 14) Late Friday morning we headed to Kiev (over 5 hours away).

(Saturday – Sep. 15) At 4:30 am Valera drove us (Lienna, her mother, and me) to the Kiev airport (about 45 minutes away).  Once I arrived in the airport here, my family drove me for about 25 minutes to arrive at my home.

Sorry to keep it brief.  I will elaborate the days more in later posts.

And now for some pictures of the countryside!!  🙂  I apologize for the ones that are blurry–I took 99% of them from inside a moving car, so it was hard to get clear photos.

Trees and buildings in Kiev

Trees and buildings in Kiev

Overlooking the Tulchin countryside

The road that overlooks some of the Tulchin countryside

Entering a city (probably Vinnytsya, but I don’t remember)

A tree covered drive in Nemiroff

A train bridge outside of Kiev

Trees outside of Kiev


Ready, Set, Go! You’re it!! (Blog-Tag)

Who knew there was a game of Tag for bloggers??  I certainly didn’t, at least, not until yesterday. 🙂  Anyone up for playing with me??


١ Post the rules.

٢ Answer the 11 questions that the tagger asked you in their post.

٣ Make-up 11 new questions to ask people you tag!

٤ Chase after and tag 11 fellow-bloggers!

٥ Leave a link to the person who tagged you in your Blog-Tag post.

Kana Tyler of Kana’s Chronicles tagged me. 🙂

Sound like fun?  Here goes!

1) What’s your favorite bumper sticker?

Pro-Woman, Pro-Child, Pro-Life

2) What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Bean sprouts!!  uh... not sure if I like them or not, they are just WEIRD!

Bean sprouts!! Not sure if I like them or not, they are just WEIRD!

3) What’s the kindest thing that a stranger has ever done for you?

I can’t remember…  But I do remember something a stranger once told me.  I was working at the library, shelving books.  She walked up and said, ‘You must be a Christian.  You are always joyful when you work and you smile a lot.’  (don’t quote me, because I only remember the gist of what she said not the exact words).  🙂

4) What’s something you’re great at?

Organizing things.  I especially enjoy organizing books. 🙂

5) What’s something you’re terrible at?

Climbing trees. I'm terrible at it because I am scared of heights.

6) Who’s your favorite superhero (and why)?

I’ve never watched a superhero movie/film so I don’t know.  Sorry!

7) What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?

When a friend told me that guys’ brains are like waffles and girls’ brains are like spaghetti. 😀

8) What’s your least favorite rule to follow? (Do you follow it?)

Going to bed on time.  Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

9) What’s the ring-tone on your phone?

I don’t have a phone.  If I did it would probably have the “He’s a Pirate” song from Pirates of the Caribbean. 🙂

10) What quirky habit are you willing to confess to?

Every time I do the laundry I stand in front and hide my feet and hands from the reflection of our front loader until it’s run water in for over 15 seconds.  Don’t know why I do it, it’s just a game I play with myself. 😀  I also hold absolutely still for those 15 seconds.

11) When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A librarian and a mom of 12 kids. 🙂

My questions:
Один: What’s your favorite quote?
Два: What’s your favorite season (why)?
Три: What are your thoughts on abortion (and have you seen 180)?
Четыре: What is one fantasy world/country you’d like to visit?
Пять: Have you studied any foreign languages (if so what/which one(s))??
Шесть: Who/What gave you the inspiration/idea to start your blog?
Семь: What is one thing on your “bucket list”?
Восемь: If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go (why)?
Девят: Do you play an instrument (if so what do you play)?
Десят: What are your two favorite songs (one with words and one without)?
Одиннадцать: What one cause would you be willing to sacrifice (and even possibly die) for?

Tag!!!  You’re it!!  @ Nizamhappieboyz, Multilingual Mama, Cartoons & Creative Writing, Sarah Smiles Awhile, Indiana to Thailand,  ETHOSHIFT, and to my readers who have blogs but weren’t tagged. :p

Post a comment below to share a link with your answers. 🙂