a sky full of glitter

A few days ago I walked out of my apartment building into a bitter cold wind, the kind that makes you want to pull the scarf a bit tighter, lower your head, and quickly trudge along. Then I noticed that it seemed the air was filled with glitter. All around me were sparkles. It was a snow so fine that it made everything look magical as the sunlight danced off each tiny speck.

Suddenly the cold didn’t seem as unbearable. The city wasn’t completely gloomy and depressing. I almost certain I even saw someone else smile.

sparkly snow
photo by ekiblog.com

 

Tonight as I trudged along once more, crunching fresh snow beneath my boots and occasionally slipping on the ice below, I looked around and noticed the sparkle in the fresh snow and was reminded of last week’s magical moment. Once again it made me smile and I forgot how tired I felt, how much I needed to get done, how long it had been since I could feel the tip of my nose.

Amazing how one moment can effect so much.

I’m praying to be aware of more of those moments not just for me but also for others.

Inconceivable!

Inconceivable!

During movie club tonight we watched one of my favorite classics, The Princess Bride. During discussion time one of the questions was, “Have you ever had something inconceivable happen to you?”

ABSOLUTELY!!

A few years ago the idea of doing the World Race was inconceivable to me. There was no way I could imagine being able to raise that much support. I could not fathom myself being adventurous enough to survive such a journey. I would also never call myself a good enough Christian to be a missionary. It was all beyond what I could imagine.

Then it happened. It was terrifying. It was exhilarating. It was miraculous. It was more than I could have ever conceived because it wasn’t really my idea. It was God’s. Trust me I spent a great deal of time arguing with Him over the issue.

Now I find myself living in Ukraine. I still feel like the wrong person to be a missionary half the time. I still wonder at how God provides and my less adventurous side prays… A LOT!!

Again I find that even in the middle of living this life it is more than I could imagine… the good, bad and beautiful of it. Why? Because I serve God and His thoughts are much larger than mine ever could be. So while this is all inconceivable to my mind, I rest knowing that God is in control and He is, after all, the hero of the story.

What Is Love?

Saturday night CCX will be hosting a Valentine’s evening  “All About Love” for the students. In preparation for this I came across this video. All around the world we have distorted views of what love really is. What is love again?

You Are My Sunshine

I woke up this morning to the unhappy feeling of my stomach doing some Cirque de Soleil moves and a mad dash to the bathroom. Too much information? Maybe, but in light of my crappy day (pun intended) here are my day brightening moments:

1. It was 43 °F today… a hint that spring will actually come.

2. Staying up to watch the Super Bowl with my pastors and a good friend. Kick off was at 1:30 a.m. for us, but sadly I only made it through halftime before I crashed.

3. I learned how to light the stove so I can cook on it.

4. But my favorite moment of the day:

I left a message for a friend in Georgia saying, “Love and miss you. Give hugs to the girls for me” and her response was…

“Stephanie! I love you too! I read this message out loud and Mackenzie came running across the room and held out her arms wide and hugged me…in the middle of the hug I realized the hug wasn’t for me…ha ha ha…it was for you!!!”

Made me so happy I almost cried!

The Newbie

Photo by Denis Sinelnikov

Last weekend I attended CCX staff conference. It was a great time to get to know other CCX staff and volunteers that serve throughout Ukraine and I was blessed to help with times of worship.

Admittedly at first I felt completely out of place as the newbie who doesn’t speak Russian, but they were welcoming and fun and thankfully sessions were translated into English. Dasha and I encouraged the staff to learn the ninja game we played at winter camp, and we gained a few new enthusiasts.

Most importantly the English staff was able to have some very good conversations throughout the weekend and gain a better understanding of the direction we need to take. Being a bit different from the other CCX groups since we begin with a service (helping students learn English), we have a completely different set of hurdles to conquer. Where the other groups have a hard time getting students to attend, we have a LOT of students. Going from English ministry to discipleship is the hurdle we have been figuring out how to jump over for the past couple of weeks.

We really want to help the students learn English. It isn’t just an “in” for us, it really is something that they can benefit greatly from and having native speakers to hang out with and learn from is a huge opportunity for many students. As a ministry team we are great at serving in this way. We also throw really GREAT parties!

We want to see students discipled as well though. Students we love and care deeply about, we want to see come to Christ and grow in Him. So as a staff we have agreed to commit more time to one-on-one with students, coming to know them better and intentionally pouring into a handful of students. We also want to have a stronger focus on prayer, realizing that our strategies are nothing more than good ideas without the power of God.

Friday night kicked off the beginning of clubs, and I am excited to see what this semester holds. Please keep us in your prayers as we flesh out some new ideas and for wisdom with which students to really pour into with consistent one-on-one discipleship.

How Dumbo Prepared Me to Be a Missionary

As a child I was terrified of water in my face (well let’s face it… it still unnerves me). Growing up out in the country with my grandparents meant that bath time was water heated up in a kettle on the stove, poured into a basin and Granny would hand me a washcloth and soap. After a traumatizing day at the pool during summer camp the idea of a shower was forever branded taboo in my mind.

That is where Dumbo comes in.

Walking through a store one night we discovered a Dumbo shower head. The trunk could be removed from the base so basically you could hold it and guarantee (if you’re somewhat coordinated) that you don’t get sprayed in the face with water. It was a life changing invention for little me.

Hop forward twenty or so years and I will tell you that I LOVE relaxing, hot showers. I like having a mounted shower head so I don’t have to worry about switching hands, tangling the cord, spraying the ceiling or whatever other options are potentially available to the clumsy person with a hand held shower head.

Of course here I have a hand-held shower head. It is by no means as cute as Dumbo but as I fumbled to use it yesterday afternoon I was reminded of the time when this was my safety.

I guess I can thank Dumbo for preparing me for life in Ukraine.

There’s no place like home

It seems impossible to keep up with all my happenings, but I will try to give you the condensed version because I promised to keep you informed! 🙂

This past weekend I attended the CCX staff conference. It was good for me to meet the rest of the staff and there were some really good moments as the English ministry team discussed this semester and the direction we sense God is leading. I also sense God has reminded me frequently these last few weeks of the importance of prayer and remembering that plans and strategies are great but without prayer and God’s intervention it is nothing but a wonderful idea. I must say however that after an entire weekend of Russian the silence of the office last night was music to my ears and I even went to bed at 10:30 pm (an early, early night for me).

Today I was blessed to have lunch with a friend from the summer who is working in a different city and was passing through. After meeting her, I then had a second lunch with another friend, a university teacher here. Both of these ladies were such an encouragement to meet with because conversation naturally goes in the direction of how amazing God is and all that He is doing in each of their lives and in the lives of those around them.

Then this evening was a moment we have all been waiting for . . . I moved into an apartment. Yes, I am finally a resident (though I don’t have a key yet, we are working on that minor detail). I am living with two Ukrainian girls my age that I think I will get along well with. The next challenge is learning where I live and not getting lost. The next few days could prove interesting as I try to figure out just where I should get off the marshrutka and exactly which of the all look the same Soviet style apartment buildings is mine and furthermore which entrance actually leads to my apartment.

February is beginning nicely. Now tomorrow I expect Punxsutawney Phil will bring the good news that winter will soon end!