Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I forgot to post pictures from last Wednesday's Cooking with Jesus.

We made Sloppy Joes, steamed vegetables, and my mom's apple dumplings.
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This is my United Methodist cross and flame Easter Egg. It took me a couple of hours because it was my first time and I had a lot to learn. I'm working on my second one right now!
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David Goran and Mike Stallion check out the attic space over the student center.


Valya is teaching me how to make traditional Ukrainian Psikanki in preparation for Easter.


My United Methodist cross and flame Easter Egg mid process.


I love graffiti. "Vegan Jihad" (a holy war perpetrated by those who do not eat meat or use animal products, apparently) might be the best yet.


Saint Sophia with her children; faith, hope, and love.


The beautiful railing leading up to an ancient monastery.


It's fairly rare to be allowed to take photos in a non-tourist church here, and I'm glad that this picture is beautiful proof.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Today I went and played soccer with some students. I learned the Ukrainian words for "close," "good try," and "that's okay."

I wish that I had paid more attention in PE during High School.

I had a good time - we'll see if they invite me back to slow their game down again.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

More pictures from the monastery and L'viv


Me in front of the Monastery - there is a large church inside a castle of walls. The church was built in 1638.


Andrij and me with the monastery in the background.


This is a statue to the man who invented the printing press - no, not Gutenburg, but a Ukrainian who invented it first - apparently.


Sometimes I'm overwhelmed at the beauty of this city.

Trip to a monastery with Maks and Andrij


Maks in front of the blessed spring spout.


A little wooden church and a bell tower.


Apparently you should take your old, weathered, broken crucifixes to this monastery - there was a whole wall of them and they were all beautiful.


Andrij and Maks sitting on a bench in front of the monastery.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cooking with Jesus

Last night was cooking with Jesus. Once a week David and Shannon have a small group at their house - the students prepare a meal, lead a Bible Study, and then share in the meal.

These are some of the students - I'm excited to get to know them.

We made Irish food for St. Patrick's Day. Shepherd's Pie, Macaroni and Cheese, and M&M cookies with only green M&Ms.

This was my first event without David and Shannon present - and I'm happy to report that it was a resounding success.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm sitting here in the "Molod do Isusa" student center in L'viv Ukraine, drinking weak tea, preparing future sermons, talking with students, waiting for the rest of the slush to melt outside, and just thinking about how incredibly blessed I am.

On Sunday, St. John's Episcopal church held an ecumenical concert to raise support and awareness for my time serving in Ukraine. I had the opportunity to talk to the people (via Skype) gathered about my time overseas and my call to missionary service. It was such a blessing to see people from my home town gathered together in support.

If I ever had any doubts about my call to be a missionary - their love and support have proven once again that this is EXACTLY where God wants me to be.

I'm frustrated with the language. It's so close to Russian that I can understand bits and pieces - but it's different enough that I feel like I've stepped back a few thousand hours in language training. I will have to work really hard and be diligent to learn Ukrainian.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Week 1 re-cap.

It's been a fun, full week in L'viv Ukraine.

I've basically just been following Shannon and David around and learning EVERY detail of their lives, house, and student ministry.

How many seconds do I have to hold the knob in that position to get the oven to light? 10 - I was paying attention.

Shannon leaves on Wednesday to head back to the states - so a good number of my responsibilities will kick in this week. I'm in charge of "Cooking with Jesus" this week. Last week we made meatloaf and mashed potatoes. This week we're going to go Irish for St. Patrick's day and make Shepherd's Pie, Macaroni and Cheese (apparently Irish?) and M&M cookies using only the green M&Ms. I wish my sister was here (and still had her red hair) so she could make an appearance as a leprechaun.

Yesterday at L'viv United Methodist church (which began weekly services in late January) we had 16 people - which was the largest number yet - and a really good service. Over the next few months we'll be working on building a stronger base, small groups, and eventually a Sunday School.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'm still in my first week here in L'viv - but at the moment everything is going great.

I'll be interning with David and Shannon Goran, GBGM missionaries, and will help keep tasks on schedule while they are back in the states in May having their first baby.

My other piece of luggage arrived - against all expectations - after only one day and we managed to retrieve it with only minimal gnashing of teeth. Everything in Ukraine seems to be a process. Even paying bills can take a long time and visits to several offices - which, it seems to me, is funny because wouldn't someone WANT to take your money? It's and even lengthier process for other things.

My general knowledge of Russian will serve me well here. Russian and Ukrainian are "mutually understandable" languages. My first day I understood about a 10th of what was said, but I'm up to about a quarter. I think after a few weeks it will be possible to understand everything that corresponds between the two languages and to start learning new vocabulary. I'm a little scared that I won't be able to keep the two separated in my mind and that I'll come out of this sounding strange to everyone.

The student center is a basic hang out zone with a number of fun activities, a thriving weekly ministry, and an emerging general-population church all wrapped into one. I met with the leadership team and am looking forward to get to know each member - they are all highly competent, natural leaders. The Gorans will be featured in an upcoming GBGM video about the four areas of focus in the United Methodist church. Their ministry represents Leadership Development and they do a fantastic job with that.

Last night they introduced me to "Cooking with Jesus." People gathered at their house, cooked a big meal together, shared in a Bible Study, and then ate together. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to leading that event next week.

I'm trying to learn new names and faces, plan out a few sermons, and begin preparations for English classes starting in April. I shouldn't have any problem staying busy here!

Monday, March 8, 2010

L'viv-ing it up.

Let me begin this story by saying that I am safely in L'viv, Ukraine. I have enjoyed a relaxing night's sleep in David and Shannon Goran's spare room and am so excited to go explore the city this afternoon.

It was -25 degrees Celsius when I woke up on my final morning in Mongolia. Helen Sheperd took me to the airport at 6AM and dropped me off at the ticketed passengers only area and returned home.

I put my luggage up on the weigh in area and breathed a sigh of relief that they only weighed 41 kilos collectively and I would only need to do a little rearranging. Until the Aeroflot staff explained that the weight allotment was 20 kilos per PERSON and not per bag. And that I would need to pay $26 for EACH KILO I was over. $26 a kilo? What am I buying? Crack?

Quick math showed that I would owe well over $500 to get my luggage on the plane. So I began to rearrange my luggage. Through a process of throwing out non-essentials (goodbye $10 shaving cream bottle) moving all heavy items to my carry on case (hello back pain for the next 2 weeks) and a good amount of prayer I managed to make 14 kilos disappear. That still left a lot of weight I had to pay for, though. So, I sadly forked over more than $300 for the privilege of bringing my luggage to Ukraine.

My flights were enjoyable. On the first flight, from Mongolia to Moscow, I had an empty seat next to me and a woman who was afraid of flying next to it. At the end of the flight a man in the back hooped and hollered in glee as the plane descended and then demanded that everyone cheer for the pilot after he had safely landed the plane.

I had a few hours in the airport, all of which reminded me just how much I love Russia. Big fur coats, lap dogs on leashes inside public buildings, smoking areas inside large public buildings. I also noticed a significant lack of mullets this season - which is progress. I met a Chinese student studying medicine in Ukraine and we talked for a bit and decided to try to sit together on the plane. He speaks English and Russian very well, and made me embarrassed that I didn't know any Chinese.

On my trip from Moscow to Kiev I had an empty seat next to me (soon to be filled by my new friend Xia Wei Ren [said quickly it sounds like Sefren]) and an older Mongolian man next to it. The man and I talked a bit - he spoke some English and also Russian quite well. He told me that he was a pilot and that he REALLY liked it when the plane was descending. Wei Ren came back and joined us and we all had a lively hour of banter in Russian, Mongolian, and English. I love conversations most that can't pick a primary language.

When the plane began to descend I quickly realized that I had been talking to the man who hooted and hollered on the first flight this whole time. He immediately began shouting and making all kinds of noise. It was really funny. When the plane landed he again demanded that everyone clap. I was only embarrassed a little bit.

In Kiev I stood in line for over an hour before getting to the baggage carousel. By then there were only three bags left. One of them was mine. The other one (yes, the one I had paid over $300 to have sent!) didn't make it! So I went and filled out the forms (in triplicate, of course) and got a phone number to call with the address (because, of course I didn't know the address where I would be living!) before going through customs and meeting David.

Then David took me to McDonald's (Big Mac, I have missed you.) and we went to the train station to wait for a few hours for our train. The sleeper train would take about 10 hours and would get into L'viv at around 5AM.

After talking with David for a few hours last night and Shannon for a bit this morning, I'm really excited about the ministry here. I met a few of the students in San Diego last year at the Mission Iniative meeting and I'm excited to see them again.