Sunday, November 27, 2011

Who Are These People Anyway?

In the almost two months I've been here, I've found myself with what at school I called an "Urban Family" although here it's definitely more of a Family in Christ. In any case, it's a group of people with whom I have mutual love and support in absence of my own relatives. God has been gracious and blessed me with getting to know some awesome people so far in my time here. So I wanted to take a moment to explain who some of these people are and what they mean to me.

Joel, The Mentor
Joel is like the Obi Wan Kenobe of my apprenticeship. He's also a major player in the reason I'm here. I am extremely thankful that the day I talked to Dr. Green about the WorldWide Witness program he was about to go have coffee with Joel and that he mentioned my name. Joel has been working with the churches in Russia for something like 14 years. He knows tons about Russia and the history of the church here. Learning about this history and about being a full time missionary has been a great experience. It's been a blessing to be able to learn from him.

Luka, The Big Sister
Luka is the director of our choir as I've mentioned in several places. I would be completely lost without her. She is a woman who is on fire for God and is passionate about serving him through music. Not only that, but she's very giving of herself and her time. Without her, I wouldn't be living where I am now. I am so grateful that she took time out of her busy schedule to look at rooms with me. She has been a source of comfort when I'm missing home, lets me complain when I'm frustrated and has prayed with me often. Words cannot express how thankful I am that God has allowed me to get to know her. She is an example to me of how I, as a single woman, can serve God wholeheartedly.

Lena, The Mother
She would hate this label, but it's not like a mother mother, Maybe "Oldest Sister" is the best term to describe Lena. She and her husband, Brad, opened their home to me and I was blessed to be able to live with them for a week. During that time, I got to know Lena and I really look up to her. She always checks in to make sure I'm doing well and also to make sure I'm eating enough. She has done a ton to help me with my visa stuff and if I have any questions that I might not feel comfortable asking other people, I know I can ask her and she'll give me sound advice. Because her husband is American I feel like Lena understands better than most what it's like being a foreigner in Russia. It is very apparent that she and Brad love each other deeply and strive to be a Godly couple. Lena is a great example to me of how one can serve God as a Christian wife.

Natasha, The Good Friend
Natasha and I spend a lot of time together, partly because we both live here on Vasilevskii Island and because we're both young single women. Also because Natasha teaches English and I speak English. Natasha is a little hard to get to know, but it has been awesome getting to spend time with her. She keeps me grounded when I need it and always encourages me, reminding me that even if it doesn't feel like I'm doing anything here, the small stuff definitely counts for something and sometimes for more than the bigger stuff. I recently was blessed to get to visit her home for an afternoon and it was a great time. I am so thankful that God has put a friend like Natasha in my life.

Dima, The Big Brother
Dima is the Encyclopedia of Culture and the Master of All Aspects of Serving in the Church. He explains Russian culture to me and gives me an interesting perspective into how men in Russia think. He has been an endless source of general cultural help, word explanation and theological discussions that stretch my Russian skills to the limit. He also has me learning about all the different ways one can serve God. From answering letters from people who want to know more about the Bible, to helping count the offering money I'm learning about leadership and responsibility in the church in a way I never did back home. I am so thankful that because of Dima encouraging me to do these things, I am able to more effectively serve God.

There are of course other people in my Russian Family. It's interesting the way relationships are built and the ways you interact with people. For example, Yana, my little sister. She is fascinated by American culture and hopes to one day visit there. I love getting to not only help her practice English, but also listen to the stories about her daily life as a teenager. And then there are Sasha and Zhenya, sisters and young mothers. Through interacting with them and their babies, I've been learning about what it means to be a mother and to give of yourself to your family. That's a powerful lesson right there.

I could go on, for several more paragraphs, listing people I've met here and why I'm thankful for them. But I feel like this kind of gives you an idea. I know for me, just sitting down to write this blog post has given me an opportunity to reflect on my time here so far and really see how God has blessed this work. He truly is a powerful and almighty God!

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