Monday, August 2, 2010

A little explanation

Well friends, I'm aware that someone new to my blog might be a little confused, so I will try to clear up a few things. I've just been moving a little too fast and haven't had time to recollect all of my thoughts.

My "usual home" at the moment is in L'viv, Ukraine working with an inter-confessional student ministry.

I'm away from "usual home" at the moment. The last week of July was spent in Berlin, Germany at the Global Young People's Convocation and Legislative Assembly. And, I'm spending the month of August in Kiev, Ukraine working at a center for street children.

The center is open 6 days a week from 10 AM until 5 PM. It's a safe place for homeless children, youth, and young adults; formerly homeless individuals; at risk families; and staff/volunteers to gather together in community.

Our main task is to model an alternative to the family life that people may know. We eat meals as a family and we pray together before we eat. We watch the TV one day out of the week. We play card games and board games and we listen as much as we talk. (This is easiest for me, because my Russian/Ukrainian skills are pretty rudimentary so I don't do a lot of talking! - I'm also forced to be an active listener, I have to constantly reword things to make sure I have understood.)

It's August, and it's a HOT August so there aren't many people at the center. Some of the at risk families go to the village, some of the street children are offered a home by a distant relative looking for a field-hand for the summer months, etc.

On Saturday we really only had two people come through during the day - we were able to give them our full attention and I had a good chance to really interact with one of the staff members. None of the staff speak any English (and if they do, they have strict instructions from Bill and Helen Lovelace - the GBGM missionaries who run the center but are out of the country for a short time - to NOT use it and to FORCE me to use my Russian.) It's hard not having anyone around who speaks English - but it really forces me to function entirely in Russian. Which is a good thing.

I'm having a little bit of a difficult time fitting in to my new setting. I'm having withdrawal from the constant community of the Youth to Jesus student ministry. I went from having dozens of English speaking Ukrainians who could meet up for a meal or coffee to Kiev - a huge city where I know almost no one. It's a big transition, and I have my work cut out for me.

The other difficult aspect is feeling useful. The first few days/weeks in a new ministry setting is all about building trust. I don't really feel like I'm DOING anything - and that's okay, because it means that I'm building trust. But, I'm a doer. I feel guilty if I'm not DOING something. So, I just need to push those feelings out of the way and work on building trust through playing UNO and listening to people.

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