Thursday, February 25, 2010

An Article from Mark Cahill

The following is the February edition of Mark Cahill's newsletter. I found it quite inspiring and thought it worth passing on! ~ Katrina

Money Bag

As many of you know, Judas Iscariot is one of the most fascinating characters in the Bible. There are so many questions that I wish I could have asked him at the time he walked with Jesus. Read these familiar verses in John 13:26-29:

“Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.”

One of the things about Judas is that he carried the money bag. Jesus entrusted him with it, so more than likely, many times during his time as a Disciple, Jesus would instruct him to take money from the bag and bless the poor.

That really got me thinking. Do you, do I have a money bag with which we are ready to bless the poor? Do we take it with us so that we can bless the poor as we are walking through our daily lives? Or does the plight of the poor never even cross our minds? You see a money bag doesn’t do you any good at home. You have to have it with you as you encounter people in the world.

I have decided to have a money bag with me wherever I go. Now it isn’t actually a bag, but it is cash or a credit card; and as I am walking through life, I try to see if there is someone that I can bless financially for the Lord. So this means I have to be led by the Spirit, have my eyes open, and be ready to be an unselfish man of God instead of a selfish one.

After a meal one time, I reached into the “moneybag” and gave the waiter money and tracts for all of the kitchen staff at a restaurant. Next thing you know, the waiter tells me that the kitchen folks want to meet me. The guy running the kitchen told me in all the years he had been a kitchen manager, he had never seen anyone do that. He also said in all of those years, that was the first time he had ever let a customer come in the back to see his kitchen and talk with his staff! So I always remind people that I am not just giving money out or blessing people. I don’t do random acts of kindness. I let them know that Jesus said it was more blessed to give than receive, and I take those words very seriously. I am so glad that I was being unselfish that day instead of acting selfishly like I so often do.

After speaking at a church last Sunday, some of the folks wanted to take me out to eat, and they mentioned a certain restaurant. For some reason, I didn’t think it was the right place to go. So I suggested another place, and there was one right down the road. So as our big group was there eating, I walked over and struck up a conversation with a man watching the football game and holding a baby. Well it wound up being a Dad who had five children. One of them has had 12 surgeries, including four open-heart surgeries! I just couldn’t imagine how tough that had to be on a Mom and Dad. So I asked the waiter to come over and give me the check for that table. I wanted to reach in the money-bag, pick up the bill for them and bless them. After they finished eating the grandmother came over to me and thanked me. I said I had heard a rumor one time that children are expensive (is that true parents?!!), so I just wanted to bless their whole family. She told me in all of her years of living, that she had never had someone do that before. A few days later, I got an email from the lady telling me how she had been telling the story to so many people that week. So we sent her some books to give around to others and we will see what the Lord will do with those. I am so glad that I was led by the Spirit and had my eyes open when I walked into that restaurant!

I just met a lady who had zero dollars in her pocket. ZERO! She was down to nothing. So I reached into the money bag and gave her something. You should have seen the look on her face! It was like I had given her a million dollars!! She said, ‘Can I hug you?’ I am so glad that God gave me that encounter with that woman.

Now you may be saying to yourself, ‘the economy is tough, and I don’t have any extra money to have a money-bag.’ Well then, this might be the time in your life that you are receiving a blessing from someone, but when extra comes to you, then you can bless others with it. But probably for most of us, we do have the ability to bless others, but just don’t have the right mindset to do it. Is it possible that maybe it is time for you to give some things up, so you would have some extra money to give away? Maybe it is time to give up those sports tickets and put that money in the money bag. Maybe it is time for you to finally drop cable TV to have some extra money in the money bag. Are you really sure that everyone in your house needs a cell phone? We did just fine without those not even ten years ago! Maybe it is time to stop getting dessert every time you go out, so you can leave a better tip to that waiter or waitress. Maybe it is time you gave up one of your kids, so that....Okay, that was a joke! Yes, I know kids are expensive; but don’t ever forget that those beautiful treasures that God gives you, are worth everything you invest in them!

Genesis 22:16 says,

“And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:”

Abraham wouldn’t even hold his son back from giving him to God. God was worth everything to Abraham.

2 Kings 12:10 says,

“And it was so, when they saw that there was much money in the chest, that the king’s scribe and the high priest came up, and they put up in bags, and told the money that was found in the house of the LORD.”

When the people gave to repair the house of the Lord, they had so much money it was literally overflowing. They had too much for the project! Why isn’t our giving that way all the days of our life?

But now look at a very interesting passage of Scripture in John 12:3-6:

“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.”

See, this entire time that Judas had the money-bag, he was stealing out of it! And an all knowing God knew it. He knew he was a thief, yet he let him stay around. He was giving him time to repent. You are seeing the wicked heart of Judas. He was a thief; it led to betraying Jesus with a kiss, and he sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. His love for money was much greater than his love for God.

So lets ask a tough question: Have you been stealing out of the money-bag? Have you been dipping your hand into the bag of blessing that God has wanted to use for blessing others? Have you been stealing tithes and offerings from the Lord? Is your IRA and bank account full, but it should be used for the Lord’s work? Do you continue to buy things of the world that will all rot away one day, but that money is supposed to be in your money bag?

I want to encourage and challenge you to take a good hard look at your life in the coming days. Make sure that your life is lined up with the principle of giving the way the Bible lays it out. Why? Because I really think it is about to be the church’s finest hour! I think there are some very tough times ahead in this country and this world. And when Christians are givers and blessers, God is going to use that in so many hearts. People are going to see how real Christians live. God will use that to intrigue people’s hearts with the truths of His Word. The time is now to bless people. You don’t know how much time you have left to do that, and you don’t know how much time they have left to receive it. Act like Jesus. Be a giver. It is the best way to go through this life!

Until the nets are full,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Winter Reading Material

These past couple of months, I have been spending considerable time in biography land...and loving it! For Christmas, my grandparents generously supplied five new titles for my library at my request that I have found to be inspiring, challenging, and delightful to read. Even though these books written by Janet and Geoff Benge are geared toward a younger audience, I have learned that I prefer their biographies compared to many others due to their captivating story-telling style. Sometimes, biographies can be rather dull and slow-moving...but not with Janet and Geoff Benge! The only title I owned for years by this husband-wife writing time was that of Gladys Aylward. It had always been one of my very favorites and I have read it at least three times. Now, I am thrilled to have these five additions from the same series, Christian Heroes Then and Now, and looking forward to continuing the collection which totals over thirty volumes!

I just finished reading the last of these five books. They were all excellent, though I must say that the stories of George Muller and Lillian Trasher were my favorites...probably because they worked with orphans and lived completely by faith, telling only God when they had needs. George Muller has been a long-time hero of mine, but I had never actually read an official biography of his...just snippets here and there...and Lillian Trasher was a new one for me to learn about --- but oh, how her story inspires!

Another selection of winter reading which happens to be the only fictitious piece I've read in awhile, is a new book on the market called Bright Against the Storm. This masterfully-written novel by Ari Heinze is a truly great piece of literature in all the ways that makes literature great. I could write an entire review of the book, but since Anna Pedersen has already done a beautiful job at that, I will give you the link to her thoughts here. Knowing Ari and his family from back in our growing up years made reading this novel especially enjoyable, but you certainly don't have to be acquainted with the author to find his book equally delightful.

And finally, I am currently making my way through this charming biographical account of two other missionary heroes from days gone by: Hudson and Maria Taylor.

Sometimes when a biography is written about a particular man or woman of faith, the description of their life is almost other-worldly, with only the finer points of their character shared to the degree that one almost wonders if they were truly human. Not so with John Pollock's rendition of Hudson Taylor's life. There is no question as to Hudson and Maria's humanity in this finely crafted literary masterpiece. Their adventures, hardships, romance, ministry, joys, sorrows, and experiences are all described in an refreshingly realistic way. There is no glamor associated with their work, only the truth of the hard, yet blessed lives they lived. Perhaps most inspiring of all is the depth of relationship that Hudson and Maria experienced with God.

This is my third time to read this book, and every time I read it, I glean so much from their examples of faith. I could fill my journal with one profound quote after another. This time through, I am finding the Taylors' experiences to be especially pertinent to the season of life God has me in as I make decisions regarding missionary service in the very near future.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mercy on the Road

Yesterday, I had an experience that gave me a new perspective to the concept of mercy.

I was driving home from work and had just passed through an intersection. Traffic was a bit heavy as usual during evening rush hour. I pulled to a stop behind a long line of cars that was backed up at the next light. As I looked down to move an object from my lap to the seat next to me, I must have eased up on the brake without realizing it, because the next thing I knew, a great jolt shook my car. My head snapped up and to my horror I realized I had just hit the car in front of me. It took about two seconds to process what had just happened, but those two seconds felt a whole lot longer. A low moan escaped my lips, and strangely enough, the first words out of my mouth were, "I'm so sorry, Lord." (Not quite sure why I was apologizing to the Lord...I guess I felt guilty for not being as attentive as I should have.) Then, a jumble of thoughts began to race through my mind: "I can't believe I just hit that car! I've never been in an accident before. I know I'll need to get out my insurance card and driver's license...what else do I need?"

I saw the driver of the car in front of me unbuckle his seat belt and climb out for a look at his back bumper, so I hit my emergency flashers and followed suit. "I am so sorry," I started to say. "Has your car been damaged?" He looked at me but did not reply, just proceeded to examine his bumper. After about a 5-second inspection, he looked back up at me and stated very calmy, "It's okay. Don't worry about it." I couldn't believe my ears! What? No dent? No damage? No need for an insurance card or a call to the police?

I pointed to an area on the side of his bumper that was obviously banged up and hanging crooked. "Was this already here?" I asked. He said yes. "Okay." I replied. Then, we each climbed back into our idling cars and drove off. The whole transaction took less than five minutes.

In that moment, I felt engulfed by mercy. It was God's mercy that no damage was done. Even though the "collision" had very little force behind it, it was still my fault that I had not paid better attention to my braking efforts. It was also very merciful of the fellow driver to show such kindness and not press any kind of charges.

My heart was singing all the way home (and I was very careful to keep my distance from the infamous gold Camry in front of me). God is so good!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Home Decorating on Display

Over the past few years, I have come to the conclusion that I really enjoy interior design on the level of home decorating. It is an interest that kind of snuck up on me. :-) I do not consider myself an "artsy" type of person, but I do appreciate beauty and order, especially in a home environment. I have learned that I love painting walls, working with color schemes, re-arranging furniture, and finding those special little touches that make a room take on the personality of its occupant. In the past, magazines on the subject held little interest for me, but now, whenever I come across a used version of a magazine that contains interior design ides, I scoop it up, cut out the pages of interest, and store them in a folder for future dreaming.

The past several years have brought about several home decorating projects. First, about two years ago, I transformed my red-white-and-blue bedroom into a delightful country gardens atmosphere with color-washed walls in sage green hues and lovely paintings done by one of my Chinese girls. Then, a year ago, Katelin and I decided to become roommates again, so she moved in to my sunny green room and we converted her former habitation into an office/craft room. Katelin chose the color periwinkle for the walls and I added black and white photographs to the walls for a classy look.

Now that Katelin has left our little house to make her own home as a married woman, further re-arrangements became necessary. Upon my arrival home from Peru, the dinner table topic turned to bedrooms. Mom and Dad assumed I would want to put my bedroom back the way it was before Katelin joined me. I agreed. Then, since we were inheriting another twin bed from my aunt, we discussed putting two twin beds in the "purple room" (as our office/craft room had come to be called) for guests. Suddenly, it dawned on me that perhaps it would be simpler to leave the twin beds as they were in "my" room - they already matched and all - and for me to move into the purple room. Mom and Dad thought it was a wonderful idea!

A little re-arranging of furniture was involved, but miraculously, we were able to make everything fit once we gave away a few of Katelin's former pieces. Here are some snapshots of what the bedrooms look like now.

Ready for guests!

The bookshelves pictured here are mine. They have been brimming over lately, so I was more than delighted to inherit Katelin's shelves in the other room and divide my library between two cases!

Here is my new humble abode. I must admit, I have become quite attached. The periwinkle walls lend such a cool, airy effect and the smaller size feels cozy.

Notice the bookshelves again? I love having so much extra space for all my "literary" friends! :-)

I learned when I visited Eric and Leslie Ludy's beautiful home in Colorado how nice it is to decorate the walls with photography of loved ones in place of artwork that doesn't hold as much meaning.

This frame is still waiting for a picture. I want to put one of Katelin's bridal portraits (in black and white) in here, but I haven't ordered the photo yet.

I also love using Scripture verses to decorate walls. These are two framed calligraphy pieces that were gifts from several years ago, and just happened to match the black and white theme.

Last summer, I decided the hot months would be a good time to tackle a bathroom makeover project in the nice, cool air conditioning. For more years than I could count, our girls' bathroom sported wallpaper covered in pink roses on the lower half of the walls, and all the decorations were pink or mint green. It was time for the roses to go. (Unfortunately, I don't have "before" pictures...somehow, they got deleted.)

Dad helped me scrape the wallpaper, texture the walls, and add a new paint color. We also painted the cabinets, trim, and door frames, replacing the ugly,drab gray that was there with a fresh coat of white. Using birthday money to fund the project, I decided on a daisy motif against a cheerful, yellow backdrop. Daisies hold a personal meaning for me, and I thought yellow would be a bright, happy color to wake up to every morning. Lime green evolved into an accent color, along with white. Later, after my mission trip to Haiti, I decided to again capitalize on meaningful photographs as my wall decor. Hanging pictures of some of the precious Haitian orphans I had met would be good reminders to pray for them.

Here is the final product of our efforts toward Project Bathroom.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Movie Worth Watching

It's pretty rare that I post movie recommendations because there are so few movies that are worth recommending! However, I was very blessed recently by this new film from Pureflix called Sarah's Choice. The story is moving, the acting is impressive for an outside-of-Hollywood production, and the message is very timely.

Sarah's Choice follows the story of a young woman who was raised in a Christian home but chose to turn her back on God after her father died. Just when she is at the height of her career and about to receive a promotion, Sarah faces an unplanned, undesired pregnancy. When presented with the option of abortion as a "quick, easy fix" to her "problem," Sarah immediately declares that she could never do that. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes obvious that she is very undecided about her pregnancy. With her boyfriend on the fence and her career on the line, Sarah thinks abortion might be her only option.

Similar to Charles Dicken's ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, Sarah is given three dreams from the Lord. These dreams present pictures of what life might be like if she chooses life for her child. Surrounded by pressure and confronted with truth, Sarah finally comes to the point where the only one she can turn to is Jesus Christ.

My family watched this movie together a couple weeks ago and when it ended, my mom and I were wiping our eyes. While Dad wasn't crying over the touching ending like we were, even he said, "That was really good."

Working in a crisis pregnancy center ministry on a daily basis, I thought the movie producers did an excellent job capturing on screen the realities that young women must deal with when faced with unplanned pregnancies. Delicate issues are handled graciously making for a wholesome film that is truly edifying.

There will be a free showing of Sarah's Choice this coming Friday evening at the chapel of Champions Forest Baptist Church hosted by our Care Net center. While admission is free, opportunity to give to a love offering for our ministry will be made available. The film will start at 6:30 p.m.

If you don't live in Houston or cannot make the showing, Sarah's Choice can be ordered online or purchased at most Christian bookstores.

An Article Worth Reading

"As I sit and watch CNN and FOX share news updates of the Earthquake it rips at my heartstrings. Anytime you hear of 150,000 people dying it can’t help but touch your heart. It can’t help but touch the heart of the world. In these times people give money... sometimes lots of it. They give it for three reasons. One, because they have compassion for the people in need. Secondly, because they are thankful that their family and their world was not at the epicenter. And thirdly, because they subconsciously just want the world to get back to normal so they can get on with their life. Often it is a combination of the three. I’m sure there are other reasons too.

I am not estranged from what is going on. I was on the ground January 12, 2010 across the border in the Dominican Republic when the shaking first started. Many of my best friends were at the mission I serve which is located only ten miles from the epicenter... much closer than the city of Port-au-Prince was. We lost 25 of our 54 buildings... we lost way too many lives. All four of our medical clinics are beyond repair. So please understand that what I am about to say comes from a heart of concern for everyone and everything that happened.

I have a fear that in the wake of this tragic disaster that many good ministries that are saving lives every day will be forgotten because the news headlines will simply “out shout” them. I doubt that there will be any nationally televised concerts to send help to the abortion bound child. Please remind your donors that abortion takes the life of over a million children every year in the United States alone. I hope and pray that those who support your work will not be sidetracked from an issue that stops the beating hearts of more children every day than the earthquake and its aftermath will, and it does this every year.

Please understand my heart. I lost friends in this Earthquake. I cry every day. People I know lost entire families. My heart aches for the people of Haiti. But one tragedy should not cause another. The Pregnancy Resource Center movement IS saving the lives of children every day. The Pregnancy resource center movement is saving more lives every year than we lost on January 12, 2010, and they are doing it nationally on less money than we are raising to help Haiti.

Please help Haiti, and please help rebuild the mission I serve, but please do not forget to save the lives you can save right there in your own towns and cities. Thank you for saving lives every day. Thank you for making a difference. Thank you for thwarting the earthquake of abortion in millions of hearts every year. Keep saving the children of the world."

Mike Williams

Missionary to Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic)

Verse for the Day

"The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable..."
Proverbs 10:32

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chocolate Granola

I was recently at the grocery store shopping for the family. As I stood on the cereal aisle, gazing at the boxes of healthier choices for breakfast, I was struck by how expensive nutritious cereal can be! Suddenly, it dawned on me that we have a recipe for a delicious cereal called Chocolate Granola!

With only one box of cereal in my shopping basket, instead of the usual three, I pushed my way on to the next aisle, determined to make a batch of chocolate granola that weekend, and thus save my family unnecessary money.

It only took me about thirty minutes to whip up a batch of the yummy breakfast food, plus another 24 hours to dry. (We make our granola on a dehydrator as the recipe instructs, but I've heard that it can be done in a slightly warm oven that has been turned off.)

The thing I like about this granola is that it is "raw." There is no cooking in the process which keeps the oats at their maximum nutrition level, and honey is used rather than sugar. This makes for a delicious, guilt-free, healthy bowl of dessert for breakfast! That's my kind of eating. :-)

We ate off that first batch of chocolate granola for two weeks. Today, it was time to make another batch so I decided to document my experience with pictures and instructions. Maybe you will find this recipe to be a hit with your own family!

I make a regular size recipe which calls for 12 cups of oats. However, it can easily be halved or quartered for a smaller batch, especially if you're using the oven rather than a dehydrator.

Oil first, so the honey will slide right out.

I love honey!

Cocoa gives the chocolate punch!

Stirring it takes some muscle! I usually have to stir it a good 3-4 minutes before all the oats and sunflower seeds are thoroughly coated.

A Martha Stewart shot.

Onto the trays it goes!

You have to spread it thinly so it will dry with a nice crisp.

Finished! Now the dehydrator takes over. The warm whirring sound it makes has such a homey effect! When we walk inside from church tonight, the whole kitchen will be filled with the aroma of cinnamon and chocolate. :-)

Okay, here is the recipe.

12 cups oats
1 cup sunflower seeds (Raw is preferred, however, I used roasted because that's what Wal-Mart sells. Just don't get the salted kind.)
1 cup cocoa
1 cup honey
1 cup oil
3-4 tablespoons cinnamon

Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add wet ingredients and stir thoroughly until all the oats are coated. Spread onto dehydrator sheets (or cookie sheets if using the oven). Dehydrate for 24 hours until crisp.

[Editor's note - it will not get as crisp as granola that is baked. Expect some degree of chewiness due to the nature of the raw oats.]

I like my granola best with milk. However, it is good dry as a snack too!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Long Letter from Katelin

Dear Friends and Family,


Well, at long last, I finally get to write you all about our adventures since arriving in Ukraine! We arrived four weeks ago! Can you believe? WOW!

We had a great flight, made all of our connections, caught a few winks of sleep along the way, and arrived with all of our stuff, namely the harp! YAY! A missionary friend, who has a van, picked us up from the airport.

We have been living in our missionary friends’ apartment, since our arrival and it has been WONDERFUL! We were unpacked and settled within two days. I knew where to find everything in the apartment and how things work from my summer 2008 trip. Their apartment was already stocked with all the necessary items that were waiting for us in the boxes that we shipped (sheets, towels, hangers, spices, dishes, etc.) Also, I know the surrounding area fairly well and feel comfortable with this small section of town.

The only thing that was wrong when we arrived was the water pump was broken. Therefore, we had low water pressure and no hot water. So, the first week found us boiling water for dishes and taking bucket baths! It was quite the good missionary experience! ;) Once Ukrainian Christmas (January 7th) was over, we were able to have a plumber and an electrician come out and fix the pump. Oh, the joy of a hot shower!!

Jet lag hit us really hard this trip. It was a full week of being tired during the daylight hours and being wired at bedtime! :) After several days of pushing ourselves to get up and attempt to function normally, we finally made it through the toughest part! In addition to hot showers, I’m very thankful for sleep (at the appropriate hours!!)

Upon our arrival in Ukraine, Nathan and I found ourselves living alone for the first time since we got married. (We are grateful to have been able to live with my aunt during our three weeks in Houston and then with Nathan’s family during our Colorado trip.) Just for the record, we ABSOLUTELY LOVE being married to each other! ;) Now that we are in Ukraine (where we’ve been planning to be for months now), we have begun to establish our life more permanently. Keeping in mind that missionaries HAVE to be flexible, we have set up a daily routine for ourselves.

Part of this trial and error scheduling included the decision to eat two meals a day! At the beginning, I found that planning, preparing, eating, and cleaning up from three meals a day, took A LOT of my time! I like to be in the kitchen, but I also like to be able to get other things accomplished! :) We decided to try switching to two meals a day. Now, we eat brunch around 10:30 a.m. and supper at 5 or 6 p.m. I've really appreciated how much time I save making the food and washing dishes. Also, Nathan and I like to eat when we're hungry, not just because it's "time to eat" again! This plan helps me to think about food less, which cuts down on the brain energy associated in that direction! :) Oh, one more thing, I've also been cooking for 4, instead of just two people. What we don't eat, I freeze to pull out when we need a quickie. It’s been great!

Preparing food here has been a fun and interesting experience. In America, you can buy almost any food year round. Here, food is very seasonal, especially produce. So, apples, oranges, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onions, turnips, beets, napa cabbage, etc. are all very plentiful and cheap. (Get this! They have kiwi here, of all things! And it’s reasonably priced.) Cucumbers, red bell peppers, lemons, etc. are rather costly. So, I’ve been trying to use what is seasonal, stay on our budget, and create meals that have variety! :) Nathan could eat the same stuff all the time, but me, I appreciate the change of pace! So, I’ve had fun planning menus, making grocery lists, and shopping, and creating in the kitchen! If you have any good cabbage or root vegetable recipes, please send them to me!

Ukrainians tend to stop by the store every day or every two days and buy a few items for their supper (maybe one bag of groceries.) But, we prefer to shop once a week on Fridays and stock up for the week. So, we walk to the grocery store and fill our cart (with the fellow shoppers looking on in amazement! ;) After filling 4-5 large plastic bags, Nathan calls a taxi and we ride home. This system has worked very well for us. It helps me stick to my menu and do without, if I don’t have it in the refrigerator. There are smaller stores or produce bazaars close by and sometimes, if we’re in a pinch, I can walk a few blocks and pick up what is needed.

One of the projects that kept me busy for the first three weeks, was writing the remaining 57 wedding thank you notes! It was a marathon, trying to find the time slots to write 4-8 notes a day. Thanks to the Lord’s help and my husband’s flexibility, I was able to get them all accomplished! Now, each one is headed for America and I sure hope they make it!! :)

The Steele Family (our missionary partners) will return to Ukraine in April and reclaim their apartment. In preparation for that, we are have been looking for our own apartment to rent. The Ukrainian version of finding a house is a similar process to that in the States, but different. Each party – the ones renting out their apartment and the ones seeking to rent (that’s us)- has a representative realtor. For example, Nathan called our realtor, Nastia, and explained to her what we were looking for in an apartment (location, cost, number of rooms, etc.) Then, she checked what apartments were available and met our criteria. We set up a time to meet her and walked to each prospective apartment. At the apartment entrance, Nastia called the owner’s representative realtor and he or she would also meet up with us. The owner’s realtor (acting as the liaison) showed us the apartment, the owner also being present. Any questions we had about the place were asked of the owner’s realtor, who then asked the owner (standing there) and then back to us! We left one apartment and walked to the next option, meeting up with a different representative realtor and did it all over again. Very interesting!

We found one apartment that was perfect! It was nicely remodeled, the light colored walls were painted (American style), it had solid flooring, newer windows and doors, an enclosed balcony (good for hanging out laundry, etc.), tidy indoor plumbing, enough kitchen cabinets (no pantries here), decent sized rooms, etc. We were ready to sign on it when the owner informed us that they could rent it out for four months, but then needed to move back in, while they remodeled their other apartment. After the remodeling was complete, we could move back in. That is Ukraine for you! We could not comply, especially since a potential move would happen during the summer months, which is the busiest ministry season here. We had to leave that apartment, praying that God would open other door for us somewhere else. At this point, we have not been shown anything else, but continue to wait and pray. To most Ukrainians, an apartment is simply a dwelling place, where they put all their stuff and live. To us, an apartment, is much more. It will be our home for 2-3 years, a warm haven in the midst of cold winters, a place of hospitality, where will raise our children, etc. So, when Nathan and I look for an apartment, we are searching for the right balance of structural qualities and the ability to make the house a home!

I find it rather funny that God has sent this southern girl to a very cold country! But, let me tell you, I am LOVING WINTER!! :) I know I’ve only been here for a month, but the cold, the snow, the cozy home is all very enjoyable to me. Every time it snows, I exclaim, "It's snowing!!" (I think Nathan's getting a little tired of hearing it! ;) But, he replies, "At least you have several more months to enjoy the snow!" AND he reminds me that I will have only be here for half a winter this year...and I should just wait until next winter! Last week it was VERY COLD – sub zero temperatures! But, recently, the weather has warmed up a bit to the mid 20’s. Trust me, there is a big difference! We have been so happy to have blue skies and sunshine a lot lately too! This is rather unique for the wintry season of gray skies. Snow falls every few days, which means that I’ve only seen green grass one day when the snow melted enough. Walking on snow mushed sidewalks can feel like trudging through beach sand, where your feet don’t get much traction and keep slipping out behind you. When crossing the street, it is wise to calculate enough time, so that if you slip on the ice and fall, there will be enough time for the cars to stop before hitting you!! :)

On Tuesday evenings, our missionary team (EuroTeam Outreach- holds weekly meetings here in L’viv which consist of a one-hour English Club followed by a one-hour Bible lesson. During English Club, Ukrainians are invited to practice their language skills on various topics and read aloud in English. The Bible study portion will be resuming again this week (after a break with Nathan and the Steeles in America.) Nathan will be teaching through the book of Galatians in Ukrainian. I take part in conversing with the Ukrainians after the English lesson and bringing baked goods to share while we drink hot tea. English club attendance can range from 2-8 students and it has been fun to build relationships with the faithful attendees!

Private Ukrainian lessons started for me last week! I am studying with Veronica, the lady Nathan used to take lessons from. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, find me riding a marshrutka (bus) to Veronica’s house for my hour and a half lesson. Thus far, I have taken 4 lessons with 296 more to go! ;) (That’s approximately two years of language lessons.) Ukrainian is based on the Cyrillic alphabet. Previously, I had learned how to read printed Cyrillic. During my first three lessons, I learned how to write and read script (similar to English cursive.) The part that I really appreciate about Ukrainian is that every letter only makes one sound. So, “a” always makes the same one sound ALL THE TIME! Therefore, phonics and reading is a breeze! Understanding what I read is a different story!! ;) Even though Ukrainian has a simple alphabet, the rest of their language is fairly complex with different noun endings, various cases, etc. I have yet to learn all of that, but Nathan has told me enough that I’ll just wait until I get there to understand! During my “off lesson” days, I stay pretty busy studying and absorbing everything that I learn in my lesson. Homework takes me 3-4 hours in between lessons. Overall, I’m enjoying learning another language and being stretched and look forward to the day that I can understand what is being spoken around me and be able to answer intelligently! :) You know you’re learning another language when you wake up in the morning and the first thing you say to your husband is, “So, how do I make a noun plural?” ;)

You might think Christmas is over, but in the Day family, it has just begun! Our 15 boxes shipped from America have begun to arrive. In order for the boxes to make it through customs successfully, we had to ship each box to a different friend in L’viv. So, when the friends call to tell us that our box arrived at their house, I get all excited! Thus far, we have six here in our apartment, with the rest still on their way. Gratefully, most of the boxes have had relatively few dings, holes, etc. and all the inside items are intact. I was most excited to receive my Vita Mix dry blade that can grind wheat berries! And I’ve been keeping it busy with baking muffins, soft pretzels, cinnamon rolls, etc.! Another huge blessing is that we have not been taxed by the customs officials at the port for any of our boxes. We very carefully packed everything to avoid this problem, but in Ukraine, you just never know!! ;)

Just in case you’re wondering how I am doing personally, I am doing great! I am so happy to be in Ukraine with my man! I am very fulfilled as his helper and love being able to spend so many hours together. I am enjoying living a “different” life and being stretched just comes with the territory. Once I am able to speak Ukrainian fluently, I’ll really feel settled. Sometimes, the thought does hit me, “How did I get here?” ;) And yet, I have not experienced any loneliness or homesickness. I’m one happy camper!

Thank you to each one of you that has written e-mails. News from another country is such an encouragement and bright spot in my day! Between tending to my hubby (he’s high maintenance ;), keeping up with our home and meals, and learning Ukrainian, I am staying very busy! So, if I don’t write back immediately, please know that a reply is coming!

Within the next couple weeks, I hope to compile a picture album of “A Week of my Life in Ukraine!” Stayed tuned…


Katelin :)

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