July 21, 2010

lyubof {russian for love}

i lived in ukraine one summer. there are three things i specifically remember about that summer, years later: 1. i ate a lot of carbs that summer. 2. it was really hot and i only wore cotton. 3. it was the greatest adventure of my life thus far. 
this was taken while i lived in ukraine with my two ukrainian roommates, vera and helen.

lauren schneider lives in ukraine this summer. 
love lauren schneider. lauren schneider loves ukraine. it's fun to watch someone you love having a similar experience and loving the same people {in theory} that you lovei asked lauren a few questions about ukraine and her adventure there. here is what she had to say:
q: so how did the whole ukraine thing happen for you? 
a: so the whole thing happened through a bunch of weird connections. a good family friend of ours is the president of the board for this organization, Mission to Ukraine. so he knew about an internship with World Next Door and that i was looking for something to do this summer. what makes it even cooler is that my sister had been here last summer with a  team from church in Indianapolis. so i basically ended up here through winding road of opportunities that could only have been strung together by the Lord. it's pretty rad. 
q: what exactly have you been doing there? and how long are you there for? 
a: we got here June 2, and are leaving in less than a week! July 27 we leave for Rome (trip "debriefing" time, it's fine), and then we'll be home by August 3rd. i've been interning with this online social justice magazine called World Next Door, Inc. there are three of us plus our director, and we've each been assigned to a different ministry in the city of Zhytomyr, Ukraine. i've been working with the crisis pregnancy center at Mission to Ukraine. another intern is writing about a disabled ministry with Mission to Ukraine. and the third intern is at a place called Last Bell, which is where orphans can go after they graduate from the orphanage. i'm living with the coolest woman ever, Ira. she's the director at MTU. so i've been hanging out there, running around with the ladies and visiting homes. i listen in on group sessions, talk with people, and basically just live life here with the people around me in ukraine. i worked for two weeks at their camp for disabled kids and their moms- which was absolutely incredible. so i've been writing articles on different things i've experienced and learned and stories of people's lives here. it's been really neat being here with such a different mindset than any other trip i've been on. i'm here to learn and experience and observe, as opposed to bringing my superior American ideas and ways {tongue in cheek?} am i allowed to say that? i hope so. it's honestly what's made the trip for me. i've been able to see God work in a thousand ways right in front of my eyeballs because i got the chance to form real life relationships and legitimate friendships with people.  
q: do you foresee yourself ever living in ukraine long term? 
a: that's an interesting question. i've thought about it. i have no idea where things will take me. i don't think i can answer that. but i can say that i will be back. you can believe me or not, because i know everyone says that. but these people that i lived with have become my family. i can't help it. 
q: what is this i hear about you wearing nike shorts and frat tees in ukraine? 
a: oh gosh, it's true. my secret has spread all over the interwebz. listen, i'm in a foreign country, okay? isn't that allowed? i hope you know that i bought new sporty shoes just for this trip. and i've worn them with completely inappropriate outfits. i'm judging myself for it. but don't worry; right now i'm wearing Nike shorts and sweet indie band tee. my life is not okay right now. i swear i'll stop. 
q: what has been your most treasured memory/lesson from this experience thus far?
a: that's a hard question... okay, i think i have it. this is pretty general and may actually seem really unexpected, but i've seen in away i've never ever seen that God is actually good. despite all the poverty, the sickness, the pain, the loss and hurt, everything messed up here- God is good. He still completely transforms lives, He still provides for people, just maybe not how they would think. i know this is true because i've seen it. it's something that's really hard for me, i struggle with this thought on a daily basis, but over and over again i've been reassured that it's true. even when i see little Sasha in his wheelchair who tells me that he wants to walk by himself but he can't because his muscles don't work to support his body. or Dima who can understand everything you say but can't speak back because no one talks to him at the orphanage because they assume he's mentally disabled as well as physically disabled. it's all here in front of me. God's goodness prevails. i hear the words "lift your eyes, the sun has overcome the night."that's kind of the image i see here over and over again. oh gosh! i'm totally being that girl. so anyways... that's it. 

where there is love {in ukraine}, there is art. 

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