Time is winding down, and I am getting very anxious to be home! But, I must say, I have been enjoying these last few weeks more than I thought I would. Emily and I have been pretty busy with classes, English club, our new English worship service, and loooooong overdue Russian lessons!! Back in October, we met an English teacher from the Kherson art school. We have helped her edit papers and met with several of her English classes. About three weeks ago, she suggested that, to return the favor, we should study Russian with her. Emily and I emphatically agreed, and now we meet with Natalia (and her cat, Mura) three times a week. It would have been sooooo helpful to have found someone to study with when we first arrived, but better late than never! I feel like, just in the past three weeks, I have learned as much Russian as I learned the first 7 months! We also go to class with her about once a week and talk with her students about American culture and whatever else they are interested in. It’s been nice to have something besides classes to plan for and look forward to each week.
In the beginning of April, Ruslan asked Emily and I to start an English worship service on Sundays in place of Bible Study. I was a little unsure about how it would work, but in the end, the service has turned out to be very similar to Bible Study. For the most part, the same people attend, and their level is English is such that we still need a translator. We teach them a lot of English songs and memorize a new text each week. The people seem to enjoy it, which is what I had hoped for. Unfortunately, the only day we have available to do this service is Sunday, and the people we are trying to target (non-Adventists) are in their own churches pretty much all day. We are still advertising, however, and making connections with non church members through our classes and English club. We keep praying that God will use our programs to bring people to Him!
I’ve also continued meeting with Irina once a week. Things I have learned from this time:
1. Witnessing to someone who already has their own beliefs is a lot harder than witnessing to someone who knows nothing about God. 2.The things that Adventists believe really do make perfect sense! 3. Having to explain your beliefs to someone else forces you to understand/be sure of them yourself. 4. I am unbelievably thankful that my parents sent me to a school where I was able to learn more about and study the Bible. 5. God more than compensates for your shortcomings. When you don’t understand, or don’t have the words to say, He gives them to you! If you give yourself over to God and let Him use you, even the circumstances you aren’t really sure about can be a blessing.
As an SM, I constantly hear people say “God is using you!” and in the back of my mind, I know it’s true. After months of seemingly fruitless work, however, it’s easy to get a little discouraged. So, needless to say, watching God work in Irina’s life is more than a little exciting.
A couple weeks ago, Emily received an answer to prayer; word that she landed a job in the States. The job, however, requires her to be back a little earlier than she was expecting. So, in two weeks, I’ll be saying goodbye to her and finishing the last couple of weeks on my own. I’m very glad that I will be busy those last few days, because being here alone would leave a lot of opportunity for homesickness. I am a little jealous….but comforted by the fact that I won’t be far behind her. :)
I am still really enjoying my beginner conversation English class. Although the language barrier has been difficult, I am getting to know my students better and better. I’m becoming rather attached to them! I am particularly fond of an older woman, Valia, who is a member of our church. She makes me laugh daily, and reminds me a lot of my own grandmother, which I’m sure accounts for most of the affection towards her. I thought that I wouldn’t enjoy teaching older people as much as I did the younger students; but I think I like it just as much, if not more!