Tuesday, June 5, 2012

2012 the year of the dentist

So, for me, 2012 is the year of the dentist.  I have been to the dentist five times this year and I am far from finished!

It all started when I was in Colorado at a missionary training.  There was a tooth I had work done on about ten years ago that broke.  This was a problem!!!  I had previously had a root canal, so I had no pain, but I went to the doctor right away.  Of course, there were many options, but none of them were simply filling the tooth, you cannot do that when only half the tooth remains - go figure.  Option one was to perform a surgery that would lift my gum line allowing them to cap the tooth.  Option two was to remove the tooth and then a whole list of options - mainly to implant a new tooth, make a bridge with other teeth, or leave it open.  All of these ideas took lots of time and money.  So, I prayed.   God provided funds and I went to the dentist again.

Now, it had been some time since I had gone to the dentist just to visit.  So, my first visit, they wanted to do an x-ray and a check-up of my other teeth - good, but bad news - cavities!  YUCK.  But, God provided funds and I was planning to leave the country for more than 2 years,  I should get things taken care of.  So, I made another appointment to have my teeth cleaned and then we made a plan for the other teeth.  I can again to the dentist, and he filled three teeth on the right side of my mouth - I know, it is scandalous!  Then just 3 days before I came to Ukraine, I went to the dentist again to have my broken tooth removed and the tooth next to it filled.

Now, this is the point were I admit that I had a lot of trouble giving up that silly tooth.  It may not seem so, but I am a little vain.  I really like my smile and I do not want to be missing teeth.  It really was a difficulty for me, but it had to be done.  SO, I am now missing a tooth.  A couple of sweet things that help me to know I am loved.  First, a friend who is Italian made me show her my missing tooth and she said "Shushan, now you look Russian."  That made me laugh, in truth, if it were replaced with a gold tooth I would look Russian.  The other really sweet thing, two of our pastors here in Ukraine are missing the same tooth - I know that is silly, but for some reason it made me feel more connected to them and loved - it doesn't have to make sense, I am so glad.  (at this point, I should mention I have a half written blog about the healing of the whole where my tooth was - it is amazing how God made us.  I have watched with interest as it has been "knit" back together - it is amazing!)

Okay, so, I figure I am done with the dentist, at least for a while - right?  So, a couple of days ago I was eating a piece of bread - the best bread in the world is in Ukraine and I am eating it everyday!  Anyway, eating bread - pretty soft stuff - and my bottom tooth hits the filling in my top tooth and pain - I felt real pain!  Well, now that is NOT normal.  But it did not do it again...for a while.  So, I have no sensitivity to hot or cold, but randomly, if I hit is just right, KA BAM, pain, shooting pain.  I have determined with my extensive medical knowledge that this is not normal.  Any guesses what I will be doing on Friday???

If anyone is awake around 2am Indiana time, pray for me, I will be in the dentist chair! 

Language study

So, today was my first day with my language teacher. Her name is Anya and she is a teacher of English at one of the public schools near our ministry center. Today was really about trying to discover where I am with my Russian and how she can help me to proceed. I think she was pleased with my level of Russian. I had told her that I spoke a little Russian, but I think she thought I would be limited to "hi, my name is Shushan." Repeatedly she told me how good my Russian is and commented on the size of my vocabulary. Then we actually got down to business. After a little while, she asked me if I know that all nouns in Russian have gender - words are either male, female, or neutral. In a sentence, all the words have to agree with the gender of the noun. I assured her that I do know that. She said, "you do not speak as though you know that." What a gentle reprimand. So we worked on that for a little while. We talked about tenses and she was please with my ability to do past and future tenses, but then she said "you don't know cases at all." NOPE! Good observation. Russian has six cases and I do horribly trying to remember any of them. Oh well. She assured me that we will work on that too. She was please that I can do simple conjugation of verbs and she said I read well - of course I think she teaches small children. I read well for a first grader - but still it was a nice compliment. I am also excited to say that she has agreed to meet with me five days per week. Originally she had said she could do 2 or 3, and I was hoping for 3. But today, she agreed to meet with me everyday at least for the beginning of the summer and then we will see how I progress. I don't know if Anya is a believer, but I am praying for a relationship with her that will draw us both closer to God. When we were talking today, she asked me why I wanted to learn Russian. I told her it is an act of service to God and part of the ministry here. Praying for God's help and strength that I will be an excellent student and glorify Him in my service!

Monday, June 4, 2012

my shoes

Shoes – I have a pair of black flats. I got them just before I came to Ukraine, actually, my sister Kate gave them to me. She bought them, but after she wore them a couple of times, she decided they were just a little too small and uncomfortable for her. Yeah for me, new shoes! Now, these were not an overly expensive pair of shoes, but at home, I would expect them to last for about a year, maybe longer. I won’t wear them every day, but black flats are very practical, so I would plan to wear them often. Ukraine has been especially hard on these little black flats. I walk a lot more here than I did at home and these shoes were clearly not made for extensive walking. After I had been here about a week, I noticed that the lining was coming out of the inside of the shoes – no problem, I have super glue. Next, they were becoming very uncomfortable on my heel. I looked and realized all of the padding had flattened out and I could see the frame of the shoe through the lining. This was uncomfortable. No problem, for about 75 cents, I bought inserts. Again I was happily walking in my black flats. Today, while shopping, I realized that the toe of the shoe is pulling away from the soles – super glue to the rescue again! Then is struck me that I call my updates “Shu-box Greetings.” Now, obviously, I chose this because of my name, but then I have a little shoe theme with the verse and the graphic. It is funny to me that I am struggling with my shoes.

3 cups of tea

May 11th – – There was a book published some time ago with the title “Three Cups of Tea.” Today, I experienced the Ukrainian version of this. I had a lunch date with one of my friends here in Ukraine, Tanya. It was the first chance we had to really visit since I arrived. I am amazed at how her boys have grown and it was nice to catch-up. She loves to hear stories about my dad and family in America. After lunch, we sat and continued to visit over a cup of tea and some sweets. I thought to myself, how much I love having tea parties. This is something Tanya and I did a lot of when I was in Ukraine before. We ended our time together with a promise get together again with hopes of really reestablishing our friendship. Next I head to Pastor Sasha’s house. His mother, Natasha, had invited me over after church on Sunday, but I was not able to come. Today I was going to visit with her. I arrived at their house and we had a time of visiting. It was exciting to see the changes in their home since I have been gone. They now have running water in their house, I was excited to see their indoor toilet and sink and other improvements they have been able to make. We sat down to visit and I was served tea and sweets. It was lovely to have time to visit and try to catch-up. In the middle of our visit, Pastor Sasha left and Natasha and I continued our time together. Natasha received a phone call from one of the ladies in the church that is handicapped, also named Natasha, asking for help. So Pastor’s mom and I went to help the other Natasha. When we arrived, Natasha was delighted to see that I had come. We helped her with what she needed and then she insisted on serving us tea! When I tried to declined she showed me that she had “special London tea” – it was earl grey. Then she went on to explain that it was English so I had to like it. This made me laugh a little and I agreed to have tea and more sweets. Another lady from church came over as well and the four of us had a lovely tea party that ended with a time of prayer and singing hymns. I was excited to remember some of the words to a couple of the songs – it is amazing how my brain can store and access information that I do not even know is there! In the end, it was an amazing day! Admittedly, I completely ruined my supper, but just the simple act of sitting down and spending time with people over a cup of tea made a difference to each of us. So often I think ministry has been be these grand programs, but time and love are gifts and ministry as well. Thankful for my three cups of tea.

May 9th again

May 9th – What fun it was to be in Ukraine to celebrate the end of the Great Patriotic War (we call it World War II – I never really thought about other people calling it other things.) I know WWII impacted us in the States. My grandparents were alive, my dad’s uncle even fought in the war. I have heard stories, I have seen movies and read books, but somehow in Ukraine, I am closer to that war. It seems every person and place in this country was touched by the war. Ukrainians were kind of in the middle between Germany and Russia. Everyone was impacted. Today, nearly every town has a monument of some sort to those who died in the war, everyone has a story.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

the 9th of May!

Today is May 9th, a holiday here in Ukraine. Below is an article I found about today. I will post more about my experience tomorrow! "World War II ended ... on V-E Day (Victory in Europe) May 8, 1945 after 2,076 days of war. The USSR celebrated the end of the war, which it called the "Great Patriotic War," one day later on May 9th. Ukraine was the greatest victim of World War II, suffering the greatest material damage and the greatest human losses of any country in the war. How is it possible that Ukraine was even more devastated than Germany? One reason was that Ukraine suffered twice from a "scorched earth" policy conducted by the two greatest totalitarian powers of this century, first Stalin's Soviet Russia and then by Hitler's Nazi Germany. An American foreign correpondent, Edgar Snow, who visited Ukraine in 1943 and at the end of the war in 1945, was so astonished at the enormous losses it had suffered that he wrote an article for Saturday Evening Post titled "Ukraine Pays the Bill." It could be said that "The Allies won the war but Ukraine paid the bill." The story of Ukraine's role and suffering in World War II is generally unknown to the world because it was in the interest of the Soviet Union and Moscow to emphasize the sacrifice and struggle of the "Russian people," of whom inaccurate statistics said twenty million died. This statistic, first quoted by Khrushchev, included 16 million civilians, and actually applied to all citizens of the USSR. In fact, the majority of these victims were non-Russians, mostly Ukrainians. Ukraine was entirely occupied by the German Army for three years but only a small part of Russia was briefly under German occupation during the war. Prof. Norman Davies, criticizing western historians, wrote: "...the overwhelming brunt of the Nazi occupation between 1941 and 1944, as of the devastating Soviet reoccupation, was borne not by Russia but by the Baltic States, by Belarus, by Poland, and above all by Ukraine.... nowhere is it made clear that the largest number of civilian casualties in Europe were inflicted on the Ukrainians, millions of whom were killed both by the Nazis and by the Soviets."(New York Review of Books June 9, 1994, p. 23). " from : Andrew Gregorovich Forum: A Ukrainian Review Ukrainian Fraternal Association 371 N. 9th Ave. Scranton, Pennsylvania 18504-2005 United States

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 5, 2012

Today has been a great day! This morning I went for a walk around my neighborhood. So many things have changed, but also things are still the same. Then I came home and made a Ukrainian salad, I thought it would be for my lunch, but instead, Chris Dewey, one of the other missionaries invited me to go downtown with her. We walked through the main market, went to several stores, walked down to the sea, and then ate lunch. It was really a nice time, I enjoyed being in town and was amazed how much I felt at home. Then tonight, my welcome party was continued. Thursday night when I arrived a few friends were her, but because it was late, they told me we would have cake today. It was so wonderful! Most of the young adult group from the church I attended when I was here before came. As each one came in, I had a chance to visit with them and hear a little about what is happening in their life. Then I shared my salad and some other food and we had a light dinner, cookies, candy, and cake! One on one, my Russian skills are not bad, but when the whole group is talking, I get completely lost. I was sitting and smiling when one of my friends asked if I understood everything. I confessed that I really didn’t understand anything, but I was so enjoying listening to them. As I lamented that my Russian is not at the same level it was when I left Ukraine four years ago, my friend Katya reminded me that it is also not at the same level as it was when I first arrived six years ago. That was just the encouragement that I needed! As the evening came to an end, we had a group prayer – something I have always loved about this group, our time in prayer together. Then all the guys left, including Veka and Katya’s husbands, but the ladies stayed with me. We sat and visited and played a game. Then Veka went next door to her apartment and Katya is spending the night. It really has been an amazing day. Looking at it, I see so many answered prayers. Prayers prayed for connecting with my new missionary team members, prayers that I will feel like I belong with the people here again, and prayers for this time of transition. I was also thinking about all the people that have hosted me in their homes for the last year, all the meals prepared and time spent. I can never repay your kindness, but I can pass it on. Tonight is the first night of that, I hope in sharing this story it has been as much a blessing to you! In Him, Shushan

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Here I am in the airport with my passport and ticket, clearly I am ready to go!!!


The trip from my home in Indiana to my home in Ukraine was much shorter this time than on previous trips because we are now able to fly into an airport that is much nearer to our home. Before we had to fly into the capital city and then travel by train and by car, making the average trip about 36 hours long. This time, I left Indianapolis around noon on Wednesday and arrived at my apartment in Berdyansk, Ukraine at about noon (Indiana time) on Thursday. Quite lovely! I was rather tired when I arrived, but I was delighted by the surprise that greeted me. As we opened the outer door to the building I was confronted by a humorously dressed “security guard,” my friend Igor. He stopped me with a sign, a demand for my papers, questions, a hand print “scan” and a face check. I felt my weariness fading away replaced by joy and excitement. My apartment is on the second floor and the requirement to climb the stairs was that I had to read the words written on each step (thankfully they were written in English). They were all words of affirmation, it was such an encouragement! As we got to the top of the stairs, one of the other WGM missionaries Frank Dewey opened my apartment door. I turned to thank Igor for the greeting and for carrying my luggage up the stairs for me – behind me, there was a popping balloon and a shower of confetti as my friends Veka, Katya, and Allosha all jumped out to surprise me. What a gift and a blessing. I have cleaned up the confetti, but I have left the rest of the decorations, balloons, and welcome sign. How long do you think I can leave them up?
a picture of my welcoming party - Igor, Veka and their daughter Jessica. Katya and Allosha - the flowers are for me, I love receiving flowers!

Humor in language for today

When I left Ukraine, I stored one box of things. To be honest, I hardly remembered what I had kept here so it was a little like a Christmas present. Today, I wanted to go in the storage room and retrieve that box. So, I asked my friend Igor, the building manager here at the Center (Home of Hope Ministry Center) if he would give me the key so that I could go get my “Klubnicka.” However, he was quite perplexed as to why I would have put a “strawberry” in storage. Of, course, that is not what I meant to say, so I searched my memory banks and came up with the right word, “Karova.” When Igor started laughing, I realized that my memory had misfired again. Storing a “cow” is even less practical than storing fruit. So, the word for “box” is “Karobka” and the good news is that I remember it now.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


This Friday will end the five weeks I have been at Missionary Training International. I have attended two different training sessions during this time. There have been a total of 60 missionaries in attendance, some for just one training some for both. The break down, 5 single men (plus one man who came without his wife), 12 single ladies, and 21 married couples. There have also been 32 children here. Plus the trainers and facilitators, many of whom have also served as missionaries.

Just because it has been amazing for me to think about, I have listed the countries people will be going to:

Central African Republic
Czech Republic

Take a minute, look at a map. It is pretty incredible!

Friday, March 2, 2012

trees and rocks and rocks and trees

So, I have noticed that I am a simple girl. There is a LOT of beauty in trees and rocks!


and rocks

and rocks

and trees

My friend Mi Yun, a missionary and a great photographer. She is the one who took all the pictures I have posted except for this one.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Colorado Springs - Air Force Academy

This was my first time to any of the US military schools. The Air Force Academy is really incredicle - I mean, I totally want to attend now. Their honor code is "We do not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do so." Good code! Anyway, there was a lot to see at the Academy, but I was most impressed with their chapel, here are a few pictures.

From the outside.

inside - but the picture does not do justice to how beautiful it is.

reserved seating

the front of the chapel

In the basement, there are additional chapels, this is the front of the Catholic chapel. It was beautiful.

The Jewish chapel.

pictures Colorado Springs - Garden of the Gods

So, this place is called Garden of the Gods - perhaps better to call it God's garden. It was beautiful. Clearly God is creative and amazing!

missionary friends - Jennifer, Katie, and Angie.

me and a really big balancing rock!

pictures from Colorado Springs - seven falls

the frozen waterfall

Some of my new missionary friends - Angie, Katie, and Mi Yun. We were at Seven Falls making funny faces.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Colorado Springs

Lots of random fun in Colorado. This is my first visit. I came out for 5 weeks of training at Missions Training Institute (MTI). There are LOTS of ministries here in the Colorado Springs area, including Focus on the Family and COmpassion International. On Monday, I had the opportunity to visit both.

This was taking at Focus on the Family's kids area

Random writings not posted...until now

“I love Jesus”
For my online banking, when I sign in there are a series of security measures, one of which is a statement I chose to enter. It is “I love Jesus.” It is an important reminder to me, every time I look at how much money is in my personal account.
1. Not my money
2. Jesus is taking care of me
3. No need to worry
4. “Because He first loved me”

Sweet – stolen time at KMBC with people that I love. Should not be able to come home again, but I have had a little glimpse. 3 years at KMBC, people I came in with are still here. Never another time I would be able to come back and experience this again. What a blessing. Hard to leave. Gift really. So many of the things I love about KMBC – the people. Inside and outside at the same time.

Relationships are hard. Maybe that is why I am not married or even dating for that matter. It is hard to just be friends, aquaintences, associates, people are just difficult. It really is about balance and juggling. I think about living my whole life in a small town and knowing everyone. I think about my grandma who moved to Marion after she got married. In middle school, she would meet one of my friends and ask their parents or grandparents name because somehow, she had a connection to them. Maybe because I have spent the last 3 years on a small Bible College campus, I like the dynamic that everyone knows everyone.
I think if it were possible, I would really like to know everyone. I know it is inpractical and unrealistic. But, I struggle in sharing myself with people and getting to know them. So many relationships are so temporary, lives that just intersect for a few minutes – I want more. Lives that intersect for years – I want more there too. People not just at home in my town, but in different States and different countries. And it is hard. It hurts. Knowing people and loving people is a wonderful thing, but it costs something.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

always an apology

I find that every time I look at my blog I need to apologize for not blogging. So, why keep the blog? I love to look back and read the blogs of when I was in Ukraine. They are a journal and I love to be reminded of what God has done. It is funny, that I write blogs and then often fail to post them.

So, right now I am at a training center in Colorado - my first time to the state. I am amazed by how beautiful it is here. I love the people I have met. Lots of sending agencies are represented and it is exciting to see people going to so many different countries. I am blessed to be part of it!

Well, that is it for now, I need to run get ready for church. More later.