It’s kind of hard to believe that another year is here, and that four months have already gone by since I first got to Ukraine. While in the moment, those four months seemed to drag on FOREVER, looking back it seems like I only blinked and then they were gone! It’s strange how time works that way…
So much has happened since I last posted! Emily and I started our English classes in November after being postponed yet again due to swine flu. I cannot even tell you how nice it was to finally have something to do!! I am teaching English 2 and Emily is teaching English 1. She definitely has a harder time with her classes for obvious reasons. It is extremely difficult to teach English with little knowledge of the native language of your students. I must say, I don’t envy her at all. We have nearly 40 students total, ranging in age from 12 to 77. I have 22 students in my class and I love love love teaching! Im not sure if it’s because I simply have something to do now, or if I would like anyway, but I am so grateful to be enjoying my time here a little more. Most of my students speak far beyond level two English, but they love getting the practice and its allowed me to be a little more creative with my lesson studies. We have discussions, write papers, play games, and on occasion, I even make them sing. Although it was more than frustrating to have to wait this long to start classes, I can see the way that God used that situation! Over half my students signed up for the class in the two weeks that we were postponed, one of whom we have been having bible studies with after class once a week. It’s been exciting to see where God has opened doors for us to witness for Him! We will start a new set of classes in the middle of February, and hopefully those will please me as much as these do!!
When I left for Ukraine in August, I had no plans to return home until May. Long story short, things worked out for me to come home for Christmas, and I’m so glad I did! It was great to see family and friends for a little while and of course to be back in the US! You just don’t realize what an amazing life and home you have until you are away from it. What blessed lives we live! Before we headed back to the States, however, Emily and I spent a few days in Prague. It was glorious!! Prague is the most beautiful city I have ever been to. It is so old and regal-looking. I would have loved to spend more time there, as I know we only experienced a small portion of its awesomeness. :) We went to the Prague castle, walked across the Charles Bridge, spend some time in the Dvorak and Smetana museums, visited the Astronomical Clock and Old Town Square, did some shopping in the Christmas market, got slightly confused by the metro…., ate amazingly cheap food, located the biggest metronome in the world, got snow flurried on, climbed the clock tower to watch the sunset, and overall just had a truly fantastic time. For any of you planning a trip to Europe, Prague is a must see!!! The rest of my vacation was spent relaxing at home. All the traveling I could have been doing, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. :) It was the perfect two weeks.
Although leaving home was extremely hard, I was excited to see my Ukrainian family and friends again! It was fun to see everyone again and to start classes again! Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait too long to start work again. We are still holding our Bible study and English club once a week, and English Sabbath School is going strong as always. I am starting to become more and more glad that I chose to come here this year. Although it’s been pretty tough and frustrating, I can see the ways that God is using me here, and it’s so exciting! It’s also amazing to look back and see how much I have grown spiritually. If I could say nothing else positive about this experience, that would be enough!! Nothing will strengthen your spiritual walk like realizing that you have nothing else except your God. It’s quite humbling.
Of course, the winter that I spend here would be an uncharacteristically snowy one….I hate snow. This last week has been cold and icy (not an element conducive with the uncoordinated)! And when the snow melts, everything is a muddy mess. Snow seems so charming when it’s falling from the sky….but it so isn’t!!! It’s wet, and cold, and slippery. Did I mention it’s cold?! I absolutely cannot wait for it to go away!! The good news is, as spring approaches, the sun is going down later and later! All the darkness is very discouraging so I can’t wait to spend more time with the sunshine! Plus the onset spring promises more fresh food!! One can only eat cabbage and potatoes for so many meals before they become less than appealing. We have been seeing a lot of apples lately, however. So that is something to be grateful for!
In November, as I’m sure most of you know, we got some horrible news about our fellow SM Kirsten Wolcott. While serving on the island of Yap, she was found, murdered, in the woods after a morning run. I had only met Kirsten once, but her death shook me pretty badly. And of course, serving as an SM myself, it hit quite close to home. What a sad way to be reminded of how short and precious life is! But what a wonderful way to spend the last few months of her life; serving the Lord!!