Emily, Ruslan and I took a trip last Thursday to Nikolaev to meet with the conference president and our fellow SMs, Barry and Eli, about what exactly our mission is here in Ukraine. It would have been extremely helpful to have this meeting when we first got here. Unfortunately, four weeks in was the earliest we could make it happen. The president, Andre, is a very friendly man who is as anxious to get things off the ground as we are. Everyone at the conference office is very willing to get us everything we need to start our programs. So, now, in order to start our English classes and club, we need to find a place to meet that fits within the church’s budget. Emily and I have been making plans all week for these programs, so as soon as a place is found we will be ready! We will be teaching two English classes, one beginner and one intermediate, both of which will meet three times a week until the middle of December. Then in January, we will start a new set of classes. The English club will meet once a week; so when all of these are up and running, along with the English Bible study and another English club we will be hosting, we will have something to do every evening! Yay!
Every week I learn something new about the water schedule. Lesson from this week: just because the water is supposed to be on from 11:30 to 2:00, doesn’t mean it actually will be. I learned this one the hard way when I had to dump freezing cold water on my head to wash out the shampoo after the water spontaneously quit at exactly 12:03. Not cool. Also not cool was my premature excitement about the disappearing watermelon on our balcony. Little did I know that when we ran out, Ruslan would promptly go by 12 more. Haha!
On Wednesday, Emily and I got to spend some time in the English department of a university here in Kherson. We had a discussion with one of the classes about American culture. The students were very curious and Emily and I had a good time discussing everything from pets to why Michael Jackson isn’t the first name that pops into our minds when we think about the American dream. It was interesting for us to hear their ideas about American culture. We are going back next week, and even though we aren’t allowed to openly talk about religion, I am praying that this will still be an opportunity to witness.
I have spent a lot of time this week bonding with my Ukrainian sisters. It turns out, “girl” is a universal language and Lena and Ira speak it very well! Emily and I love taking pictures with them and fixing their hair and playing games (that require little to no Russian, of course). It is going to be a lot harder to leave them than I initially thought! As I was sitting here, writing this blog, Emily and I heard a knock on the door, outside of which we could hear Ira frantically asking Tatyana “Shto?”, meaning “what?” and Tatyana repeating back an English phrase. The door swung open, and there were Lena and Ira, holding plates of grapes and little cookies. Ira said, “This for you” as cookies were falling off the plate to the floor. She quickly bent over to pick them up which caused nearly all the cookies to fall on the ground. Once the all the cookies were back on the plate, a now very stressed Ira plopped them on the table. Emily and I both ate one quickly to set her mind at ease, and now we are all in our room having a little party! :) They are so cute!
Last Sunday, Emily and I started our English Bible study. We are going to be spending a couple of months going through the story of Joseph. We were expecting that all the people who came to the Bible study would already know English. About half the people, however, didn’t know a single word of English, which made our plan to not use a translator impossible. There was a lot of confusion (and a very scary, argumentative woman sitting next to me) and Emily and I felt extremely discouraged and overwhelmed. I guess the first run of everything is a little rough, but we are praying that the second time around will run much smoother. Now that we know more what to expect, I think it will. On the upside, one man who attended had never even set foot inside of a church before, and he is planning on coming back next Sunday. It’s amazing to me that God can work through a bible study that I perceived to be a near disaster!