Monday, November 11, 2013

Sink or Swim

What a difference a week can make!

Last Sunday, as most of you know I was having a hard time adjusting to my new surroundings. But as always, the Lord has been faithful. It has been such a great week!

We have been super busy since we have arrived here in Russia. There's a lot of work involved as far as paperwork is concerned. And that means driving from this place to that place back to this place, and so on. Our friends, David and DeeDee Sterling, were wonderful at helping us get to all the places we needed to go the first couple of weeks. Then they left us :( and went back to the States on a needed furlough. Insert us- taking care of their home and church while they're gone.

Currently, we are working on applying for our permanent residency visas. I'll spare you all the boring details, but there's a lot involved. So with everything going on, we have yet to find a tutor for me. We have a couple of options but nothing has opened up. And I am so antsy to start learning.

Well they say the best way to learn a language is to sink or swim. A person must immerse themselves in the culture and language to learn. So I decided to jump in the deep end and hope I could at least doggy paddle!

All bundled up and ready to go for a visit! 
I decided to start with our neighbor, Babavara (Grandma Barbara in English.) 
Me & Grandma Babavara

She gave Jacob a couple outfits for his birthday, so of course the nice thing to do would be to dress him up in the clothes and take him to see her. So that's what I did!
The first time I went to visit her with DeeDee and her daughter, Rebekah, she initiated me into Russia. I had to try this...

What is this? Cold, gelled fat. There's a name for it, but basically it's animal fat from a chicken- put in the fridge to gel up and get cold and then they eat it like a cold soup. YUCK!! So after trying this, I felt like I officially became a missionary. If that's the worst thing I have to eat then I'm not doing so bad! 

So our visit went well. She kept talking in Russian and I would try to understand her and vice versa. I really had no clue as to what she was talking about the whole time. I picked up the word "machina" which is car and a few other basic words. I did a lot of pointing and sounds. Good thing I know sign language! In 20 minutes time, she gave Jacob two pieces of chocolate, one orange candy, and one orange clementine!  I believe it's safe to say, Jacob will be back to visit often! 

Then Sunday rolled around, and I wanted to do more than just sit there. And James asked if I could teach a lesson and he would translate. Perfect! So I did just that. During the preaching, I took the two 5 year old girls to do a craft. 
Then afterwards, he told the three teen girls they could stay a little while longer with me. I was nervous at first, but we had a good time laughing and trying to communicate. Thank you Google Translate!  I would type a message on my phone and have it translated and then I would try to say it and if I couldn't I would have them read it. It was wonderful to be able to spend some time getting to know these young ladies. 

My heart was so full at the end of the day. And we could only thank the Lord! He is so good to us. We had a total of 13 in service for church that day. And we hope to have our first "Girls Night" youth activity this week and start a midweek service for the teens as well. It was wonderful to serve the Lord in some capacity even though I don't know the language yet. 

So my encouragement to you is this-- Don't let anything hinder you from serving the Lord. Maybe you are shy or don't know too many people yet. The best way to get to know them is to work along side of them! The list of excuses can be endless.

Everyone can do something! What can you do to get involved in your church? I'm sure your Pastor or Pastor's wife would have a few suggestions! I have heard it said that 10% of the people in a church do 90% of the work. Why is that? How much more could we do for Christ if everyone got involved?! 

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me
Philippians 4:13

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26


  1. Reading this post makes me remember our first years on the field. Russian and Croatian are similar and share a ton of words in common. Knowing that Croatian is the 9th hardest language in the world to learn makes me imagine that Russian is a killer too.
    Enjoy the journey, it'll all be memories before long. BTW, so glad to have another missionary in Europe, especially to the Slavic folks.

  2. Loved your pictures. I think you're doing better than you think! Thank you for sharing. We really can relate, as we came to Spain not knowing one word. It was a frustrating couple of years, but once we could communicate simply, it was great! Welcome to Europe!

  3. What you've been doing is the best way in the world to learn the language and win the heart of the people you are working with. They appreciate the fact that you try, and love has no language barriers!

  4. It sounds exciting and exhausting at the same time! :) Keep up your enthusiasm!