Worthy is the Lamb

“The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet.” Exodus 14:14

“For I, Yahweh your God, hold your right hand and say to you: Do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

The past few weeks have been extremely trying. My mind and body are tired, and there’s still a whole summer of challenges ahead of me. But I hold onto hope as the waves rise around me because of the One that never leaves my side. He who continues to fight for me when I don’t have the strength on my own. And He knows the plan; I just have to follow with my eyes open.

My first year in Poland will be wrapping up in 3 months time. I’ve grown so much in this year, embracing fear and stepping out of comfort for Christ; in giving of myself in greater measure than I have before. I feel more courageous, daring, and bolder than I ever imagined I would be. I feel like God is waking me up to my true self. At the same time, I’m facing life challenges greater than I’ve had before to meet this new person I’m becoming. My family is changing. My relationships are transforming. My walk with God growing deeper and stronger. My human-ness being revealed layer by layer; I’m so far from perfect. That’s why I need Jesus — he is, so I don’t have to be.

This second year will be the greatest yet. And possibly the hardest. It’ll involve a more serious transition to setting a long-term home here in Poland. There’s something about this country, the needs here for people to care, to love, and show compassion, that’s called to my heart. I’m not sure what God wants with me yet (is it ever 100% clear?), but I’m heeding that push I felt the first time to keep going and trust him with the details. Be praying for me.

 

 

 

November/Listopad

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Romans 8:28 

It’s difficult to write an update this past month because so much has happened internally for me. November was the first month where I felt some sense of normalcy here; I’m not new to Poland anymore. The language is becoming less mysterious and I don’t think twice about the inconvenience or discomforts in relying on others or myself to get around either. Complaint sometimes comes up, but more often with bigger issues like last minute scheduling or unexpected events popping up. All these are easy things to peg when I think about how I’ve changed.

On a spiritual level, I’m still discovering how God has been shaping my character through my challenges. I’ve become aware of my need for control and where that need is rooted from my past. I’m learning my limits, where my boundary lines are with relationships, and how to explain them better. I’m so in need of God everyday; there’s real thirst on a regular basis for his Word and taking time to pray. And that vulnerability is not easy to start over with new people. And that’s all 3 months in. God’s been busy!

New relationships have been popping up for me: there’s a new American missionary previously living in Ukraine that’s living here now long-term; my jazz friend, Wojtek, and his musician friends I’m becoming closer to as we practice together; a few of the other women helping at Proem that I started connecting to earlier, got away from for a while, and have been reconnecting with now. My two close friends from Warsaw have been invaluable for me, too, and I’ve come to know and make new friends through them. God has been setting up a village around me here.

The highlight of this month is getting to jam with my jazz crew and preparing a set to perform sometime in the coming months. I’m really thankful that I have an outlet like this, and an outreach opportunity because none of them are Christians. Two of them have asked me why I came to Poland or if I’ve been here before, and I hope that they’ll come to some Proem events and get tied in even more.

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First official snowy day.

Thanksgiving away from family and friends was not as hard as I thought. There’s so many other Americans here, we had our own celebration and it kind of made up for missing out on time at home. Christmas will probably be a little harder to bear, but I’m excited for something different and making new memories with my Polish family.

December comes in with a bang: teams of volunteers are coming tomorrow to help with Journey to Bethlehem and I’m so excited to see some of my Mosaic family this week! Every weekend will be busy helping out with Bethlehem, since it’s one of the biggest outreach events we do here. I’ll be singing every weekend, so please pray for my voice and health to keep up. Looking forward to it and more!

Pains and Passage

This week has been tough. The extent of the culture shock I’m experiencing really hit me hard. I cried over not being able to explain an order error at McDonald’s. Like, legit felt humiliated and stupid. I ended up leaving the restaurant because I didn’t want to get stared at with tears streaming down my face and the fresh air would be better for me anyway. I prayed in frustration and ended up calling another missionary who helped me regain perspective. She told me this is all still new (October is my second month here), and the things that were easy in the US are not going to be here for a number of reasons. There’s a grieving process happening and it’s completely normal. All of the veteran missionaries have been through it. You feel the loss of something you took for granted: normalcy.

And she was right. Besides the culture shift, I’m working my brain cells overtime trying to convert Polish words and sounds into cohesive meaning, all while managing and teaching young children which is a huge mental and emotional drain already. All of this seemed forgotten because all I could think about in that moment was the embarrassment of not being able to order a hamburger meal. My pride was hurt.

I know I keep referencing James 1:3-4 a lot (and Romans 5:3-4 is a similar message), but its exactly what I am in the midst of. Refining and growth to build endurance: painful, awkward, and uncomfortable; the results of which are a strong and resilient person, rooted firmly in faith because she was tested and came out better.

All is not grim struggle here, though. I’ve made new friends, strengthened previous relationships, and really, I have an amazing community here and in the States. I love being here. There are just days when it makes me feel like screaming or huddling under a blanket away from everything. One cool thing is that even my limited experience of living abroad and being on mission allows me to share advice to those about to do the same or considering it.

My best friend is on her way to teaching English in Korea. We had a chance to Skype the other day and it felt really good to reassure her about living overseas and how God has been pruning and pushing me. To encourage her to set aside misconceptions or insecurities, and know that God is the one opening and closing doors. I thought, while I was talking with her, how I felt the same just 2 months ago, a week before I was going to fly to Poland. I didn’t know fully what to expect or how my life was going to change. I couldn’t have been prepared for the challenges that cropped up or the emotional waves that I’ve had overwhelm me. But through it all, I have Jesus. I have the people he’s put in my circles. I’m not alone in this and remembering that makes a huge difference.

Week 1

This past week was challenging for a lot of reasons. The first day on Monday was a little crazy with all the kids coming back from summer vacation and a the teachers not really having a full-out plan for what subjects to do in the preschool. The świetlica was totally overwhelming the first two days because we had the entire preschool in there at once with only a few kids having left for the day. Needless to say, that wasn’t going to fly for very long. By Wednesday, the afternoon crew (me, Monika, and Ella–she helps out with the 2 year olds–usually with one other preschool teacher) had come up with a plan for separating the groups to not only keep the kids safe, but our sanity as well. Teaching English is a little tricky as well because I don’t know what themes each teacher is going with yet…but it’s also preschool. I can really just have some fun, singing in English and trying some games so the kids will pick it up. This week coming will be about establishing our routine.

On top of this is an ever changing teaching schedule, which is just how it is because we have outside instructors with separate schedules themselves, so coordinating everyone is a big job. The apartment is also still a work in progress, but I think we’re nearly settled with it too. We have a kitchen table (yay!) and will be getting a washing machine courtesy of the school for the Proem Edu interns, who happen to all be living in the same building or have access to a washer already. That was a big headache for K and I, so I’m really grateful God has worked it out. The only thing now is maybe purchasing a bike to travel a little bit faster and more efficiently around town. They’re a bit more of an investment, but worth it for sure.

As far as financial support goes, I can’t thank my donators enough for helping me follow through on God’s plans here. There have been some unexpected expenses with preparing a home, and God has provided either through you or by someone here beautifully. I’m so, so grateful and will be doing my best to touch base with any of you that would like to know more about my work here or plans for the next few months as far as sharing the gospel is concerned.

One really exciting thing is I was asked to sing at the church next Sunday! I miss leading worship so much, and when Karolina asked me, I was like “Bam! Here’s my good news that I’ve been waiting for.” Hopefully, my voice is strong enough to do so because I caught a cold on Friday, felt better by Saturday evening, but lost my voice Sunday after having too much fun with my brothers from Warsaw (they’re super sweet, coming to help us build furniture and lift stuff–love you guys!). But I’m pretty sure I’ll recover in time. And if not this week, maybe next!