I've been struggleing for a while (and by a while, I mean a few days) about how to organise this post. This trip is unlike any other I've taken. For one, it's a bit longer- five weeks as compared to 2, and way more intense. It's five weeks of constant discipleship and ministry in a culture completely different from my own preparing me to be a missionary in my hometown. The other trips were either with my church and led by my father, or a "pep rally for Jesus" type thing.
I came to the conclusion that I should write this post in three parts, doing a general anylisis of each part and highlighting the areas that stuck out to me followed by a summary. Yes, I am OCD.
So here we go.
Part One- Training Camp:
Wow. Training camp was... Intense. There are lots of things I can't share with you, mainly because Royal Servants wants to keep a lot of things secret. Not secret as in a cultish- brainwashing way, but secret as in everything they do is done for a purpose and used in teachings and discipleship and they want students to expierience everything for themselves, because it means more that way. I'll just say that they do a very good job of preparing you for oversees.
We spent much of our time in either worship, quiet time, or teachings. We would also spend 3 hours a day doing what's called "skill groups", which are our tools for evangilism. There was Dance, Drama, and Puppets. Select teams also had other groups, such as my team, which had basketball since that was our main tool of ministry, and Costa Rica, which had Soccer, since that was their main form of ministry.
I have to say that Training Camp was the hardest and most intense part of the trip, but it was also fun because it brought me closer to my team and we were going through it together. I also spent a lot of the week bonding with my team and discipleship group, which was good and fun.
Part Two- Ministry:
This part was the longest part of my trip, and in reality, it all blended together. After almost 2 hours of quiet time, we would eat lunch, then either have a teaching or go out and survey people and share Christ that way. Sometimes we would go to the beach and do ministry there. In the evenings, we would play pick up basketball, or if it was a weekend, host a basketball tournament.
I think I'll just share my favourite experience that happened to me. It was our last tournament, and I had been praying for someone to talk to and really connect to. I was also praying that they would approach me, because I'm shy. So on Friday I was talking to one of our translators, and this little 9 year old girl named Marsha walks up to me and started talking to me. She asked me questions about our team, and told me about her family. She told me about her older sister who was 15, and it turns out we had a lot in common!
After our dance and drama performance, she introduced me to her sister (Alonya), and we really hit it off! The next two days we hung out the entire time, and each day she heard the message of Christ. She didn't accept Christ into her life that I know of, but it was great getting to know her. She taught me the Russian alphabet and drew a picture of me!
Part Three: Debriefing!
The last five days of the trip were dedicated to two things: 1)fun, and 2) Preparing us mentally to go home. Our time was spent in quiet time, teachings, and going to touristy spots. We spent the day on the black sea, went to a mid evil castle, and chilled in downtown Odessa. This part was fun and full of random dance parties, but it was also the most bittersweet. I was excited to go home, but I also didn't want to leave Ukraine. I was comfortable in the work God had for me and I had made so many friendships and I was sad to leave my friends.
I thank God for facebook and texting- I can still keep in touch with my Ukrainian family!