Friday, June 23, 2006

a quick breath in the midst of beautiful chaos that is summer

since June 8:

- the mavs blew it:(
- the rangers are blowing it :(
- weekend trip to houston for the couchman wedding
- great time with great friends and especially great b/c I got to experience the whole thing with Emily at my side
- flew to florida, braved a tropical storm
- vacationed with Em and her family for a of the best weeks ever
- conquered Disney World and the lazy river at our hotel
- saw Weck
- took 25 high school students to camp in Oklahoma
- ripped my new shirt on the giant slip and slide :(
- ate cafeteria food all week...not good
- witnessed kids come to Christ and see him in new ways
- so tired it hurts to type
- loved every minute of it
- headed for abilene sunday for middle school camp...fill me up Lord...I need you

blessings to all today

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Big Day (and Day 13)

Tonight the NBA finals begin in Dallas. There is definitely a buzz around town like nothing I have "Nowitnessed" before. Miami is a very talented and well coached team so this should be a great series.

Tonight we leave for Brent and Linds' wedding weekend so we'll have to listen to the game on the radio. But that is a sacrifice well worth making considering how special this weekend will be. It will be great to see all of the friends there, and I am especially pumped because Emily gets to come (thanks to the extreme generosity of a gracious family here at church)! Can't wait to be surrounded by people I love and celebrate the start of Brent and Linds' life together.

I'm going to be gone the next 3 and 1/2 weeks (vacation, HS camp, MS camp, visit Emily at camp) so I will post when I can. Until then enjoy these final thoughts from Ukraine. Blessings to all...
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journal entry from May 8:

The sun came up around five and I with it. She stayed out all day long and provided a beautiful day to close our time here in Easter Europe.

Showered and then caught the metro over to the church building. Took a taxi to St. Andrew's descent one last time and strolled through the streets. Went to dinner at a cool cafe near our hotel and had a terrific caesar salad and beer-battered chicken. Walked home and sat on the balcony for a bit at dusk, praying for Emily and her Senior Club tonight, as well as for this whole experience, the work here and all the people we encountered, especially those dear to me. Chatted and prayed with the group and headed off to bed.

Sometimes I have caught myself daydreaming on this trip, the whole experience feeling so surreal, like a dream or a movie. But in reality it has been rich and rewarding, a time of basking in God's presence and overwhelmed by his faithfulness and the vastness of his kingdom. I've seen things I never dreamed I would, talked with people I never expected to see again, witnessed all that is gloomy and sad in this cruel world and been reminded in the next moment of the penetrating love of God that is infecting people everywhere. This world is definitely not out home, we were created for another and I long to be there and to see all these people there too.

Until then though I suppose I'm ready to be back "home", to talk to Emily and my family; to see Chad and all the kids; to watch the Mavs and sleep in my bed; to minister better, to love harder than I have before. Lord take us home safely. And thank you, for everything. Amen.
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pic of the day, Holocaust memorial:

Monday, June 05, 2006

Day 12

journal entry from May 7:

Woke up early and showered before everyone else on this rainy morning and got ready for our time of worship. Sat inside the apartment with the balcony windows open letting in the cool breeze and smell of rain. Shared communion together and took some time to reflect on the experiences of the past weeks. I had scheduled a meeting with Uliana and Olga this evening, two friends whom we met at Camp Smena in 2004. Both were two of the very few counselors that spoke English, so our connection with them came naturally. They befriended several from our team that summer and I wish the rest of our group (Brent, Austin, Cass, Brandon, Erika, Rosalyn, Mize, Ashley, Micah) could be here to see them and hang out too.

Not gonna lie, I was sort of anxious about meeting them, unsure if they would had changed, but when they found me in front of Krishadek Metro Station they were exactly as I remembered. It was so crazy that I saw them and spent an evening hanging out--very surreal, like something you think could happen but probably never will. Well it did and I praise God becuase of it...

I'm not sure how far we walked but that is basically all we did for most of our 6 hour adventure, stopping only for pictures and ice cream, all the while talking like friends who needed to catch up. I was excited to tell them about Emily and our story and they were very happy for us (and I pray that somehow they might meet Emily someday because they would get along great). Spent a lot of time filling them in on everyone else's life and they told me all that had marked the past two years for them: graduating, job changes, heartaches, and how different life had become. From what I could tell it seems like the 3 of us had been in similar places, fresh out of college with big dreams yet so much uncertainty of tomorrow or even how to live each day. I suppose the same is true of this interesting season of life I'm in for people everywhere, regardless of culture or language.

Uliana and Olga really are two of kind--smart and funny girls with tons of personality and ability--the kind that make for great friends. And I realized that's what they are; though us Americans only knew them a few weeks and hadn't seen them in two years, they are really great friends, quality individuals.

It is still bizzare that I am seeing and talking to people who crossed my path a few years back and for such a short period of time, yet left such a lasting impression. Our God is a purposeful God, one with a perfect will and the master of time. I can only believe that he led me back here for something, perhaps not for me though, possibly for the sake of others. And though I am not exactly sure the what or the who or the when or even the how, I do know the why--to show my love to him by loving others the way Christ does; to lift up the name of our Lord; to live and experience the entirety of his faithfulness. And boy did I ever today...
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pic of the day:

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Day 11

Two more of these and then back to the regular blogging. Thanks for your patience and for reading...
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journal entry from May 6:

We rolled back into Kiev around 8am and Rick and Ivan picked us up. The train station is like an antique straight out of a movie; people rushing around, loud speakers blaring a crackled Russian voice; vendors making the most of the capitalist system; beggars begging, false beggars screaming at you; avoiding eye contact with pushy taxi drivers and turning them away with a strong "Niet!"; buses and cars galore all moving their own direction...I love it!

Our apartment is on the 9th floor of a building downtown with a spectacular view of the city, a walk away from Independence Square and may other cool spots, gorgeous really. Around noon we hit the streets to see the sights and shop. Made our way over to St. Andrew's Descent, a tiny coble stone street more than a mile long that winds down a steep hill, tents and vendors marking the trail, every square inch taken up by "souvenirs" and junk...

We took the metro to dinner--what an adventure that was. It is super cheap and the deepest subway system in the world (it took 100 yard long escalator rides to get down to it!). Sort of confusing with all the signs being in Russian and people bustling everywhere, but fun nonetheless. Had dinner with Jim and Marina Noyes and their son Andre at a really cool Ukrainian place built like a tree house in this quiet park. The food was the best I've had, Caesar salad, bread with garlic butter, and chicken and bacon shyshlik (k-bobs) that were to die for.

Marina used to work with WWYC and has tons of camp experience in Ukraine, so we had a great conversation about the camp work going on here, casting vision and gathering specific details of Christian camps and Pioneer camps. I'm starting to realize just how big this whole camp thing is, what resources are available and needed, as well as the fact that these are 2 separate entities that need fresh leadership, oversight, and investment to really take off. Again I'm reminded how much I love camps here--I pray that somehow the Lord might use me for them in the future.

Walked home full and tired. Pat got really sick tonight and I slept on a cot in the living room, dead tired...
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pic of the day, Metro Station (sorry it's dark, still figuring out my camera):