Monday, December 31, 2012

Meet Yolanda II

I’d like to introduce you to Yolanda II (a friend of hers was a former student of mine. She wanted to use the same Spanish name as her friend and be called “the second” II) Yolanda, both the I and the II, were in my small group two years ago. Now that they are no longer in my small group, I was so happy to see Yolanda II on my class list so I would still have a connection with her. Although her parents are currently living here in Kandern, they normally serve in Siberia. Yes, I’m for real, Yolanda II really did grow up in Siberia. It’s not just a metaphor for a punishing far away place! Yolanda II is one of my “bright spots” - the kind of teenager who not only works hard and tries hard to achieve excellence in the classroom, but who has an intense strength of character. She truly desires to grow and to honor God in all that she does.
In her words: "When I first heard about BFA, I hated the very thought of living in a boarding school, away from my family and friends. I was accustomed to a TCK life in Siberia and I understood the Russian culture like no other. Every time my family returned to America for home service, I would feel like the freak show from the frozen lands. So when God clearly led my parents to enroll me at BFA, I protested with all my might. Despite my arguments, I moved to Germany and have spent the last two and a half years here at BFA. Those years can barely be put into one paragraph, but I will do my best.  As my parents moved back to Siberia, I was forced to make my faith my own. As I mentioned before, I had no clue what western culture was like. Even simple things like looking people in the eyes; Russians would never do that. My first semester at BFA was very hard. I excluded myself from the community at school, not understanding the culture of Europe, much less the combined cultures of 52 countries represented at BFA. I no longer was the foreign child that followed her Christian parents around; I longed to develop my walk with Christ. (I had said the prayer when I was seven and hadn’t done very much at all since then.) He was the only One who was always there for me, not depending on my actions or expressions. As I’ve walked with Him through this time at BFA, learning some painful/joyful lessons and knowing more of who God is, a certain image always remained in my mind. I picture a raging swirling tornado of grey and black, where there is no way out. In the center, unmoving, is a beam of light. This light is God and He’s asking me to hold on to Him. I think most TCK’s struggle with all the change that goes on around them. They all say: “Oh yeah, well this move wasn’t a biggie. I’m used to change. Done it all my life.” In reality, I think this change has hurt us and brings painful memories every time we move. But with God as our focus and guide, we won’t be shaken, no matter where and when we leave our homes. BFA seemed the worst thing that could ever happen to me, yet it has turned out to be the most rewarding experience I have ever had. The Lord has helped me through so much because of that initial adjustment from Russia to the west."

Friday, August 31, 2012

Here are a few on my first thoughts from Germany (incl. the trip across the ocean.) It's been a full week of God's blessings. I'm beyond grateful to God and everyone who has joined my team in prayer and support. -British Airways was a dream! They were so good to me, even thanked me for all the good work I do as a missionary, gave me an empty row so I could sleep, on the short flight from London to Basel, but still appreciated! Everything regarding British Airways from O’hare to Basel was wonderful. - Got a 24 hr. cold during the first flight. Miserable night trying to sleep, instead sneezing, blowing my nose, wanting to rub my face off cuz my nose was always itching, feverish chills while sitting in London airport… Not fun! - German yogurt was one of the things I missed most while I was away. My two favorite kinds of yogurt are on sale this week at my grocery store. Lots of yogurt being had these days! - Walking around town seems completely normal and natural, don’t feel the least bit out of place! - I thought I was away for 14 months, but it seems from the construction around town that I haven’t been gone at all. -Walking around school property… very strange. The amount of new faces is crazy! There are soo many new people to get to know. I feel very out of it around school. - Suitcases unpacked, but all the storage in the basement… haven’t gotten that yet. Haven’t set up the internet and phone either. Weekend to-do list. -The view from my classroom is amazing! I love where I work! -I got the most amazing welcome from one of the girls in my former small group. I was still in the school courtyard and she saw me from inside, came running out and nearly knocked me down to the ground with her hug. -I somehow got roped into being the Dept. Head for Foreign Languages. What!? Stop laughing! -My praise: “Oh Lord, You have been good, You have been faithful to all generations!”