Sunday, 23 October 2011

What life looks like

Howdy y’all,

I’m painfully aware that this blog entry has been a long time coming. Every time I’ve sat down to write anything my mind has gone completely blank because there’s always so much to say and a blog does not do the job of an actual conversation. So when we get back, let’s have a cup of tea. 

Today we went to church. It was even longer than usual; the sermon alone lasted enough time for me to learn the entire Cyrillic alphabet. Lots of people told their testimonies and cried and it was probably all great, but it was all in Russian so we were just bewildered for hours. Oh well, we made some new friends and the worship was still good.
Have any of you got any links to decent online sermons? If so, please facebook us because we’re needing some teaching… 

Life here has finally settled into a bit of a routine – our week generally looks something like this:
Monday: Team meeting where we eat whatever westernized food we can get our hands on, (peanut butter costs $20 a jar! Madness!) and talk about what’s coming up in the week. Then we have a proper old pray about the week and also about the future. Then we do whatever tasks need to be done for the week coming up.
This week, this involved traipsing around Vinnitsa for hours putting up posters for a concert a local church was putting on, that we were helping to organize. The Police shouted at Andrew and Daniel, but John and I got away with it.

Tuesday: This involves me and John panicking in the morning, because in the afternoon we have to lead ‘English Club’. So we google ideas, pick the good ones and then meet with the team to outline the plan. Then we go hang out with Ukrainian students and try to help them learn.
This week we were in the medical school where we thought their English would be good because med students are clever. It wasn’t. We hurriedly adapted the games.

Wednesday: It’s Bible teaching day! Genuinely, this excites us because we’re Jesus geeks. Daniel and Tetyana are amazing teachers who teach on SBS (stupidly intense YWAM Bible course) and they are also Jesus geeks and we get to learn from their brains. For free. And Oksana always makes cakes. This week we looked at Titus, or ‘Teetoo’ in Russian.

Then the team grabs a sandwich and piles into a van, and off to Nemerof orphanage we trot. It’s about an hour away and it’s an orphanage where the director is a little suss and the kids are apparently ‘backwards’. The atmosphere is not the easiest and the children are sometimes a bit violent. This week the boys played football and the girls did painting. 
Thursday: It’s the nice orphanage. Well, I like it anyway. Schmerinca has a much friendlier vibe and the atmosphere is a lot more relaxed. John loves a kid called Sasha who hasn’t got any shoes (trying to work out an appropriate way to fix that) and who loves John so much he thoroughly beats the living daylights out of him whenever they hang out. We think it’s love…it might be hatred… it’s hard to tell…
This week the boys played football and the girls did painting. At this orphanage, everyone painted hearts.

Friday: This day is usually free for whatever needs doing, such as visiting a new orphanage to chat up the director, or go hang out at the methodone centre, or help with a church conference etc etc.
This week we went and handed out flyers for the concert thing, got groceries for the three men staying in our apartment, made up beds, cleaned the apartment, went to the concert, stayed for hours as everyone chatted in Ukrainian, accompanied Oksana on a 10.30pm grocery shop, narrowly avoided being accidentally solicited by a drunk guy (I am a little innocent sometimes)(and apparently he was into fat girls), got a taxi home, fed said house guests and then fell into bed and conked it.
Saturday:  Saturday is usually fun day – we hang out, get food together, have movie nights at someone’s flat or just do whatever comes up.  This week we gave our guests brekkie, said good bye, hung out with Vova and his girlfriend Steph who was visiting from Holland (this was fun. Pictionary in English against people who spoke English as a third language? Steal.) and then went for lunch with Andrew and Oksana. In the evening I made a seriously dodgy vegetarian dish and then we watched the Hurt Locker which is an amazing film and you should go watch it immediately.

Sunday: Urgh, church. I mean, yay for church! It’s good to go because it’s important to honor what people are doing in the city and all that stuff, and it’s good to make friends, but I am very excited about getting some Southover back in my life. Then we have lunch together and then do something fun in the evening.

So yeah. That’s what it looks like at the moment. Pretty relaxed sometimes and sometimes completely mental busy. In the future, add in looking after a tiny baby, running a ‘Winter adventure DTS’ and being house parents of a transition home for teenage boys. Eek.

But in the meantime, we come home next week! The inestimable Marcus and Jenni are putting us up again for 20 days and then we move into a flat that the wonderful Alison Washington has found for us. Please pray that all the paperwork and stuff goes through for that because ‘we’re missionaries with no money or income and we’re having a baby’ doesn’t tend to impress letting agents. But we think they like us so hopefully we’ll be living in Malling. Come see us!

Also, we’re bringing Andrew with us for a week or so ‘cos he’s got Visa stuff to sort out. We are going to feed him Harveys, proper sausages and he shall be taken to the castle. He’s Aussie. He needs culture.

Ok, muchos love and rising excitement about seeing everyone again,
F xxxxxxxxxxx

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

World Changer

Hello, John here this week.

So, I was not sleeping the other night and many things were running through my head as they tend to when you’re trying hard to sleep. The thoughts ranged from the new set of Vans shoes I want when I get home, to being a dad for the first time to a tiny little girl, to what sort of job I’m going to have to do for 6 months in England, to me in missions and what that means, how that is going to look for the future and how its feeling now. Normally it’s not good to trust these thoughts or even think about them too much again after the event, as they tend to be a little confused with semi sleep and also riddled with panic. Because that’s apparently where the brain goes in the middle of the night. Well that’s where my brain goes anyway! 

But one thought kept running through my brain and I wanted to write it down today.

I’m a world changer.

This has been an ongoing theme for me over the last 5 years, since doing my DTS with Ywam in America. One of the weeks of teaching that I had we had this guy talk to us about pretty much that. That we are world changers. At first I was pretty convinced that this was the most cheesy thing I’ve ever heard. But he kept telling us that this was true. And as I processed it with God I discovered that it was very much true. I’m a world changer. I have the ability to change this world, this broken and beautiful world that we all live in.
So back to the other night as I was thinking thinking panicking thinking. I felt so far from a world changer as I possibly could, I felt useless. It’s hard here. Hard because we can’t speak, read or pretty much do anything. How can I possibly be a world changer if I can’t even communicate? Thinking of moving back here full time made me worried, I know in time we can learn the language and learn to read again but that’s a long way off. Years away. Can I afford to waste years?  Could I be so much more effective where I can communicate? Maybe moving to a totally new county was a bad idea? I think I drifted off now…..
I woke up in the morning.

The thoughts were still fresh in my mind, strange. Have breakfast, spend some time with Jesus. Get reminded that it’s not by my effort not by my strength. 

Christ in Me the Hope of Glory. 

Still some of my worries are real and don’t go away. But that day we went to an orphanage and I got to play with the kids and smile at them and love them, love them, love them and then I felt God speak to me in my heart. ‘John, this is world changing’. And I felt like it was a word to be shared. That we are all world Changers. We all have the ability to shape and re mould this world wherever we are and whatever we are doing. We can change the world for good and for bad but we are always changing the world.

As a Christian I have Jesus with me wherever I go. He will be my strength and my shield. When it’s hard and when it’s fun. And I fully believe that I’m called to be his ambassador, one that changes the world, one that brings love.

I would encourage you that you too are world changers. We are nothing special quite the opposite in fact. I’m trying to get across that it’s just about saying yes to God when he says go even when it doesn’t make worldly sense like the position Fritha and me find ourselves in now.