Just One More Week… PLEASE?!?!

Veronica and Jane
I LOVE these two girls and am so sad they both live in different cities... and I may have already promised to visit them. . .

This week I fell in love all over again.

The very first evening of camp, my co-leader Matt and I were shocked at how quickly our small group opened up to us. We asked our students to tell us about their families because Ukraine is a relational culture and family is very important.

One student shared of a broken father relationship. Another student shared that her father had been an alcoholic and committed suicide when she was two. Still one of my other students told of a strict, military family that doesn’t understand. While yet another told of a recently retired father who is having a difficult time accepting retirement and no longer knows what to do.

Ummm… wow!

It isn’t that I was surprised that these things were going on in the lives of my students, but the mere fact that they told me about them on the very first evening! From the very beginning of the week Matt and I knew we were in for quite a ride, and we were correct in our assumption.

As the week continued our students were open and honest in conversations. During Bible studies they grappled with tough spiritual questions (so did Matt and I trying to respond)!! Again and again I saw God at work in them throughout the week. Several times their responses simply blew us away. For example during the Bible study about the Samaritan woman at the well, one of my students that is not yet a believer said, “So, with faith we live, without faith we just exist.” Matt and I just looked at each other in amazement from across the circle we were sitting in. That was just Tuesday.

Wednesday evening I walked into conversation time and a few minutes in one of the students said, “So Steph I would be interested to hear your story and how you came to be a Christian.” I kind of had a “umm what did you say?!” moment before having an open floor and very attentive group to share my testimony with.

During the physical challenges (when I wasn’t in meetings), I watched my group learn to work as a team. At the end of the week one of my students made the comment that the team never gave up on him even when he was convinced it was impossible. I even saw them cheering on the other team they were partnered with at one of the challenges even though they were supposed to be racing each other. I kind of felt like a proud mom.

They even cheered me on as I faced my own fear and climbed a 4.5 meter pole (that’s like 14 or 15 feet) and jumped. It was a challenge they faced earlier in the week, but it was optional for staff. Honestly I would have never done it, except out of love for them and a realization that it’s good for them to see their leader struggling and vulnerable. Yeah, I learned a few lessons this week too.

These few words do not in any way do the past week justice, but I wanted to write something to say it was amazing, I survived, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. God is definitely at work in the lives of our students and I’m looking forward to more of the conversations that I had this week.

I am also fully assured that I want to be in Ukraine for a long, long time.

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