Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Experiment in Practical Christianity

So this semester will be a little different for me. Last semester I taught some English courses. After some long discussions we decided that this wasn't the best use of my time. While I think that my English courses were very good, and I feel that the students really learned a lot - teaching English simply isn't my passion; and it's not that effective at bringing new people in the door.

This semester my English courses will be replaced by a weekly English language small group. [I will still lead a weekly English Club - open to people of all ages and English levels. We have 11 year olds who speak quite well and 45 years olds who don't speak at all!] We will be studying "Experiment in Practical Christianity." It's a wonderful resource written by two Candler professors from the 70s/80s. During this semester we will look at Christianity as though we had never been introduced to it before. We will experiment with the acts of Christian discipline - like we're trying on new outfits to see which ones fit best.

Nastiya (on the left) spent a year in St. Mary's Pennsylvania and attended the United Methodist church there. I think we met once in Bradford at a Methodist youth retreat ... but when I tried to speak Russian to her she told me that she spoke Ukrainian! Nataly (on the right) came to my English course last semester and is a student at the Ukrainian Catholic University.

I really love blurry pictures! I'm on the left. Dale is another American young adult who lives in L'viv. His girlfriend is part of "Youth to Jesus" and it's great having another American in the group. Michael Maiko comes to a lot of English language events - and I'm glad that he's joining us for this small group.

So, in case you didn't notice - these pictures are all taken in my bedroom! The small group meets in my room at my apartment. I only rent one room - and I couldn't ask my many Ukrainian roommates to vacate the living room every week for a few hours ... so we all squeeze into my bedroom. Luckily, They don't make single-serving furniture in Ukraine. Every bed also folds into a couch. So fitting seven people is not problem and it's actually quite comfortable. The Ukrainians don't think anything is strange about the arrangement ... but could you imagine inviting seven people into YOUR bedroom once a week???? It feels super bizarre to me as an American.

So far things are going really well. I just hope that we can get a consistent group that is willing to make it every week.

(I borrowed these pictures from Facebook. Mariya Zelman was willing to document our first meeting - and I really enjoy these photos.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This is Lily - she's one of the students from the student center in L'viv. She's currently a contestant on the Ukrainian version of American Idol. This clip is in Ukrainian and Russian, but she sings in English. It's worth a view or two. We're super proud of our Lily.

(Lily gave me my Ukrainian nickname, Mishko - which is a very villager form of the name Michael.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010


These last few weeks have been busier than anticipated. I apologize for not writing as often as I should.

I am juggling two cities, two languages, and two VERY different jobs. These things come together to form one AMAZING experience, and I will forever be indebted to this time for the things it is teaching me.

I live and work in L'viv, Ukraine; still. I do the English Language ministries for Youth to Jesus inter-confessional student ministry. This means Tuesday night English Club as well as a new small group in English (which promises to be quite an adventure!). The only language spoken in L'viv is Ukrainian.

I spend time in Kyiv, Ukraine. I work with the United Methodist center for street children - but I also work with the ongoing church plant in Kyiv - specifically in working to reach out to people of different socio-economic levels. I speak Russian in Kyiv because it is easier for me to speak and understand than Ukrainian and both languages are spoken.

On top of this, my roomates and I have been welcoming couch surfers. The idea is to allow strangers to sleep on your couch or in a spare room - with only the promise that they will pay it forward. We are a bit zealous and might be trying for a world record. We had 25 couch surfers in one week, and as many as 15 people at the apartment at one time!!! It's a whole, crazy, extra-layer to life, but really quite wonderful. It has been a huge blessing to get to know people from all over the world and to show them the most beautiful city in the world (because, truly, L'viv is unimaginably beautiful).

So, some weeks I sleep two night a week on a train, and others I have people sleeping in the hallways of my flat! But, I consider myself very lucky to be leading a very full and fulfilling life.