[U’10] July 15, 2010 – Good-byes

July 16, 2010

Hi everyone,

It’s night here in K’chug . . . we just got back to the church from Camp.  Do you want the good news or the bad news?

Ok, the good news first.  We’re back to western toilets & hot showers!!!!  I know, I know, it’s such a spoiled American thing to say, but it just had to come out!  =)  But wouldn’t you know it: today, on the last day at Camp, Julia, Sunny & I were walking back from one of the squatty-potties, and we heard ourselves commenting, “Huh, that wasn’t so bad!”  And then we laughed at the wretched irony of getting used to such a scuzzy thing on the last day we’d be there . . .

And here’s the bad news: leaving Camp, leaving our friends, was really, really hard.  It was a hot mess, for sure.  Even for the first-timers, there is a vicarious affection that has been built up over the last three years, so for all 7 of us, it was just so difficult to say goodbye. 

Today was Sveta’s birthday (Zhenya’s wife), so in the evening, we had a big celebration for her, with cake, singing, skits, etc.  We Americans did an Applebee’s-style chant (a la “I don’t know but I’ve been told! . . . “).  Hey, what do you want on short-notice?!  Then, at about 9p, the bus came to pick us up, and it took an hour for everyone to hug, kiss, cry, pray, hug, kiss, cry, pray, hug, kiss, cry, pray, rinse and repeat.  On the one hand, it was so awesome to see all the teenagers spending the week dunking each other under the water, and piling friendship bracelet on top of friendship bracelet, and practicing their broken Russian & English on each other.  But on the other hand, it was hard to see them torn from each other.   You remember the sweetness of young friendships, yes?  The special things that happen, and the particular affections that form during summer camps and such?  It was just like that, that same sweetness, that same pure affection, that same raw enjoyment of each other without the complications wrought by adulthood.  Thankfully, we all know from past experience that sometimes, those friendships are the ones that last, and I pray that it will be so for Rachel and Julia and our young friends here in K’chug.

I don’t know what else to say, except that it was hard to say goodbye.  All of a sudden, I didn’t want to use a Western toilet, and all of a sudden, I had no desire for a hot shower.  I just wanted to stay; we all did.  It was just hard.  Being back here at the church, there is quiet all around.  It’s just us, and it’s a little bit lonely, to tell the truth.   The idea of waking up in the morning, and not meeting all our friends at the outdoor faucet while brushing our teeth is . . . not welcome.

Regardless, we look back on the week with lots of cheer.  Raimund totally represented, and won the men’s division of the table-tennis tournament at Camp!  (They would all like to know why the heck we call it “ping-pong.”)  Our Luda won the women’s division!  My small group sang a song in Korean AND Russian for the “X-Factor” competition that was running this week, complete with rabbit-ears.  Chae danced to an African beat (and it’s on video!).  Rachel, Julia & Sunny ran a successful bracelet-making factory.  Jeremey preached his heart out!  Sasha led worship AND interpreted AND took care of us at all times.  We made so many more friends, caught up with so many old ones, had such great conversations, shared some gut-busting laughs, cried & prayed together, worshiped together, made utter fools of ourselves with & in front of each other, and really dwelt in the shelter of our God together. It was awesome.

Thank you for praying for us, and for Camp, and for NHC.  There were many non-believers at Camp, and we just pray that we were of any use to the Lord in reaching them, loving them, drawing them closer & closer to Him and to His saving grace.  I don’t remember if I shared this earlier, but one of the women here was telling me: God saves families here.  If one spouse comes to Christ, then the expectation is that the other spouse will too, and soon, so the whole church prays with simple expectation: if they ask it, He will do it.  And He does.  No family member is left alone with Christ for too long in this church.  So when we hear things like that, we just think that Camp-times like these are so important, so awesome, so . . . amazing.  We met so many husbands, wives, brothers, grandmothers, cousins, aunts, best-friends-from-childhood . . . and to think that the Lord will grab them at any time . . . it’s EXCITING.  To see all these faces now, and to expect to see them also in Heaven?  It’s too sweet for words . . .

Please pray for them.  I know they are faceless to you.  I know they are not important to you in the sense that you don’t know them, you don’t invest in their lives, you don’t get anything from them.  But these are people whose hearts God has tickled.  He wants them.  He loves them.  He wants to save them.  He is preparing rooms for them in His house.  He calls them to be our brothers & sisters, our family.  Please pray for them to know Christ, to confess their sins to Him, to invite Him to change their hearts & their lives.  Please pray for their salvation, and the sustenance of their lives in Him.

Please pray for NHC, and everyone there, especially the leadership.  They need rest & refreshment & restoration.  They need strength, and continued inspiration.  They need increased faith & more outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  They love so much, do so much, care so much.  Please pray that the Lord will give them everything they need, and much, much more.  Please pray that He would increase their love for this city, and that through them, this city, this nation, this region would be changed — Heaven on earth.  Please pray for Pr Sasha & his family, and his co-leaders at the church.

Please pray for our team.  Tonight, we are finally clean & looking forward to deep rest.  Tomorrow morning, we leave for Kiev: an afternoon tour of the city & a leisurely evening.  Please pray for protection as we travel, and for a beautiful day of touring, experiencing, enjoying the city, and enjoying each other.  And, the trip isn’t over — please pray for the unity of our team, and God’s protection of what has been wonderfully created among us.  To the end, may we look out for each other, take care of each other, hold each other up, speak words of love & care & Christ to each other.  And though we might just be touring and exploring Kiev, even in that, may God shine His light through us, so that in a passing glance, or a “thank you” to a waiter, or a negotiation with a souvenir merchant, hearts, minds and eyes would be drawn upward toward Jesus Christ.

We sleep tonight enormously sad to be leaving here.  Now we know, it only takes 10 days to fall in love.  But we’re also incredibly happy to be looking homeward.  We can’t wait to share this trip with you . . .

His love,

c.

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