Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Let me just take a moment and tell you how awesome God is.
I just came off of spring break. Well, it was sort of a break but I did do a ton of homework and such while at home, because, well, there's a lot of it to do. By the end of my time at home, I'd gotten through some things and worked really hard at it, but there were still some things that needed to be done.

Friday for example, I went to bed thinking "Okay, I have this ten page paper that's due Tuesday and I have no topic and not a lot of research. Plus I have a Psych test on the same day that I haven't studied for yet and..." The list went on, full of things I had to do my first few days back or shortly thereafter. Even though there were only six weeks of school left, I had no idea how I was going to get through them. I thought to myself "If only the paper were due Thursday, then I would have time to do it." Then I thought to myself "Well, with God all things are possible and he'll get me through the next six weeks." I feel asleep.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I checked my e-mail. The professor of the class where I had to write the paper informed us that she was moving the due date to Thursday. I was happy. "Good," I thought. "Now I'll be able to get this stuff done." Yet life can be tricky. I didn't get as much done as I hoped and I was super stressed. I was really upset when my parents brought me back to school Sunday night. How am I ever going to get this stuff done? I just kept telling myself that it would work out somehow, I had no idea how. But it would.

Sunday afternoon, I worked on research for my paper, and I kind of forgot that I had that Psych test on Tuesday. It's okay I can always study tomorrow. Monday, one thing lead to another and it was 11 p.m. before I was able to even open my notes and look at them. Fail. I prayed. "Dear Lord just please get me through this test tomorrow. Please. Have mercy on me because I didn't study. Help me."

When I got the test on Tuesday, I started to panic looking at the multiple choice questions. I prayed again, flipped the test to the back and started with the short answer. After answering a few questions there and mentally chanting a prayer "Lord, Help me! Help me! Help me!" My brain seemed to unlock and I was able to at least complete the test. After I made it through, I decided that my Tuesday afternoon would be dedicated to finishing stuff for my online class that's due Thursday and then I would spend Wednesday afternoon writing my paper. It was a great idea, except my professors had other plans.

My translation professor gave us a huge translation due Thursday, plus a final draft of another translation also due Thursday. So now I had an entire unit to do for my online class, two translations to work on and a ten-page paper, all due Thursday. So last night, I spent hours working on the online class. I managed to even beast the test which made me happy.

This brings us to this afternoon. I get back from class and I'm like "Okay, I'm going to do the translation first because it won't take as long, and then I'll do as much as I can on the paper. If worse comes to worse, I'll e-mail her and ask for an extension through the weekend, because once I get through the week, I'll have time to do it." So I sit down at the computer. Before getting started, I decide to check my e-mail because the Prof in the class where the paper's due said she would send us some information. There was no e-mail from her, but my psych prof sent one saying she had posted the grades. I went and checked mine and immediately began giggling hysterically. My roommate asked what was going on. "Would you believe it? I got a 90! I did better on this exam than my last exam!" God is awesome. And before you go saying "Yeah, right you prayed and he gave you an A." Let me just explain a little more because it gets better.

So I was trying to decide if I wanted to e-mail the other prof about a paper extension now, or wait and see how much I got done. I decided to look at my e-mail again and keep it pulled up in case she did e-mail. To my surprise when I reloaded the page, there was a note from her. It's subject "Paper Extension." My breath caught as I opened it.

"Dear Students, I was having trouble uploading some things so I will try it again tonight. In the meantime, I'm extending your paper due date to Tuesday, April 5th."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! <----- That's what I did. My roommate goes "Are you okay?" I replied that I wasn't sure whether I wanted to laugh or cry. She gave me a funny look and went to class. Turns out I did both. I laughed and then I hit the floor literally crying in relief. Whereas before all I could do was say "Lord have mercy, help me" over and over now all I could say is "Thank you!"

Maybe it's a coincidence. It's possible I suppose. I don't know what it was about the situation. I mean, I kept telling myself it would work out. I don't know that I felt like I had complete trust that it would, but deep down I think I knew that this was fleeting. Maybe it has nothing to do with prayer and everything to do with people. It's possible. But let me explain that in my time here I don't think I've ever had a paper due date moved before. If I have it's only been once. Never twice. I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it, but doggone it I was going to try and I was determined to make it through this week. Now I know I'm going to.

The first thing I thought of when I got up was the parable Jesus tells Simon Peter in Luke 7. Jesus talks about two men who are in debt. One owes fifty denarii and one five hundred. The man whom they are indebted to cancels both debts. Jesus' then asks "Which will love him more?" and Peter answers the one who had the greater debt. I feel like I understand that man in debt a little better now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Christian Training School

This is not part of the WWW curriculum, but is something I've been doing on my own. Every year, the local congregations in my area get together for a Christian Training School. We spend five consecutive Monday nights taking a class. Every year the class choices are based on different topics, and there are always interesting selections. This year among the offerings was a class on Islam, a singing class, a history of the church and a forgiveness class. I took the Ladies' class this year which is basically "Women in Missions Here and Abroad." Coincidence that they're offering this class while I just happen to be getting ready for a year long mission? Well, my mom is the coordinator for the class this year and was having trouble coming up with ideas... ;)

Anyway, each week we have different women coming in to speak about what it's like on the mission field. My mom was worried that the class was going to get boring because every week someone was going to stand up and give a sort of mission travelogue. It hasn't been that way at all though. Each speaker we've had has brought a new and different perspective to the area of missions. Whether it's a single woman working in Honduras, a married woman who spent two weeks in Romania, a newer Christian trying to shine her light at her workplace, or the ways in which local congregations are reaching out to their communities.

It has been an eye-opening experience and has given me a lot of food for thought and good ideas to incorporate into my own journey. If you are someone who is planning on going into missions, I would definitely recommend spending time talking to people who've been in the field and get some firsthand accounts of what it's really like.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Russia?

A lot of people ask me the following question. "Why did you decide to study Russian?" Sometimes I occasionally get the question "Why are you going to Russia?" Although I generally try to head this one off before it gets asked. It's true confessions of Abigail time in the blog today. As I was getting ready for the day I was doing some thinking and realized something.

Russia scares me.

Yes, that's right. You heard me correctly. Russia scares me. Funny isn't it? I've learned the language and culture of a place that I'm hesitant to go to. I spent ten and a half months in a place that I don't like.

What is it about that place that scares me?
I have no idea.
It's not really that I'm terrified for my personal safety or anything. There are just somethings about Russia that are intimidating.
It could be the wildness of the country, how it's not really European, it's its own place. It could be the government, it could be the cities, it could be the language or the people. It could be the history, the school system, the healthcare system, the food, the living style. It could be because my exchange year was rough sometimes. Or it could be a combination of all of the above and more.

So why am I going to Russia if it's a scary place?
The easy answer would be "God called me," but that would be ducking out without answering the question and not to be rude, but we all get tired of hearing people talk about "God's Call." Do I feel like God is calling me to Russia? Yes. Do I think he's been preparing me for years to go do this, even before I really knew this is what I wanted to do? Yes. Did I make an Oath to God that I would go serve the Russian people? No. Am I really obligated to go? Not really. Do I have freewill to go? Yes. Will I feel like I've missed an opportunity to shine for the Lord if I don't go? Yes.

Now that we have all that out of the way, back to the original question. Why go if it seems scary?
Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't like to take the easy way out. I've always felt the need to be different. Do things differently than everyone else. Choose the harder way. I speak French, I could just as easily have contacted WWW and said, "Hey, put me in touch with France!" That country doesn't scare me. But that would be too easy. Maybe it's about sacrifice? Or maybe it's about my comfort zone? I don't know for sure. I'm having trouble putting my emotions into words, but I can tell you this:

I've learned that the hardest trials bring the greatest rewards. Maybe I sound cliche. But it's the truth. Why Russia? Because getting out there in a place that makes me feel uncomfortable, will make me rely more on God and trust in him to take care of me and remind me that everything is going to be alright.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bible Study: Commandmants 6, 7, 8

I'm the chaplain for Kappa Phi, which is a sisterhood of Christian women. This means that once a month, I put together bible studies for the group. We've been studying the ten commandments this academic year and I noticed there are a lot of studies out there overviewing all ten commandments, but not really any where the commandments are split up. So I thought I would share. This activity is meant for reflection and discussion. At the end, I read Romans 13:8-10.

The following verses relate to the three commandments we are studying this evening. In your groups read through these verses and categorize them into stealing, murder, or committing adultery. Do Not split these verses up amongst your group members, rather you should read them together. This is not a race. The idea is to think about the implications of these verses and discuss them amongst yourselves. At the end, we will read one more verse and close in prayer.

Exodus 20:14
Exodus 21:12
Zech. 5:3
Rev. 21:8
Lev 20:10
Lev 19:11-12
Matt 19:16-19
Prov 6:32
Exodus 20:13
Matt 5:27-28
Deut 24:7
Jer. 7:8-10
Ex 20:15
Matt 5:32
Ex. 22:1

If you need discussion ideas:
-What are the punishments for breaking these laws?
-How are these verses similar? how are they different?
-How does the Old Testament view of these laws differ from the New Testament?
-What are the contexts for these verses? (Other verses around them; historical and cultural background)
-Have you broken these laws? How did you feel after?
-What does it mean to murder, to steal, to commit adultery?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why Don't Earthquakes Scare Me?

It's been several months since the bombing in Moscow's Domodedovo airport. Today it is time for me to write about it. Indirectly.

When I found out which airport in Moscow had been bombed, I completely freaked out. I had an anxiety attack and felt anxious for several days. The bombing took place at the international baggage claim. I've traveled through that airport several times and the fact that it was the international area made it even worse. For several days all I could think about was "What if there's some kind of terrorist act while I'm in Russia? What if I get hurt or killed or something?"

Yesterday Japan was hit by an earthquake. The last time I checked the death count was over 2,000 and there is fear of a nuclear disaster akin to Chernobyl. There were around 35 deaths in the Moscow bombing. Other then the threat of a nuclear disaster, what happened in Japan doesn't scare me. And even with the threat of nuclear disaster I'm not as paralyzed with terror as I was when I found out about Domodedovo at work today, I began to think about why.

Now before I go any further, I know some of you are thinking "Well Abigail of course this doesn't affect you. It happened in Japan, not Russia." Yes, but over the summer there were fires all around Moscow and I didn't have the same reaction to those as I did to the bombing.

So again, back to the question. Why did the bombing bother me so much? Why didn't the earthquake or the fire scare me?

An answer soon started to emerge.

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong...

Had to get my little blast from the past there.

I'm serious though.

An earthquake is a natural disaster. A fire (in this case) is a natural disaster. A bombing is not.

Natural disasters are forces that are often unexpected and cannot be helped. Terrorist attacks are unexpected and should be helped. And therein lies my issue.

I suppose it's equally likely that I could go to Russia and there could be some horrible natural disaster that could kill me just as easily and possibly more easily than a terrorist attack. Fire, Flood, Earthquake, Tornado, Tsunami. I mean, one could kill me here for that matter. But in either case, it's something that can't be helped. The terrorist bombing in the Domodedovo airport, and terrorist acts in general, are distressing because the people who are killed didn't *have* to die. It is just senseless murder. And that is what upsets me.

Because things should be different. (Oh yes, you didn't think I'd be able to tie this back to missions did you?) What if these people had been taught differently? What if they knew another way? A lot of Russia's problems stem from discontent in Chechnya. What if there was a way to work with both sides to keep from overusing violence?

I know, you're probably thinking I'm an idealist, that I'll never change the world, or even that I've spent a little too much time hanging out with the hippies here at SPU, but I don't know. What I do know is that the system is broken and people are broken. Not just in Russia, but everywhere else as well and I want to do what I can to help.