I’ve been keeping busy over the past few weeks. Last time I posted, I mentioned that we would be spending the day with a group of Christian refugees from Afghanistan. That day was so much fun! We had around 30 people come to join us at the YWAM base in Borlänge. We had teaching, shared stories, played outside and ate together. It was so inspiring getting to know these people.
Something that I have really cherished from my time in Europe is learning about the refugee crisis from first hand stories. When I was home, I had a hard time really understanding what was going on. Since being here, I’ve talked with missionaries who were on the front lines in Syria meeting people as they began fleeing their cities. I’ve talked with refugees who are still living in large centre’s waiting for their permits to come in. And I’ve learned about the numbers and statistics of the crisis from a pastor who has been involved over a number of years. Overall, hearing these stories and meeting these people has opened my eyes to a situation that I was essentially blind to. It is heartbreaking to hear the terror that people have been through. But even in all this brokenness, there is hope. God is working in powerful ways in the Middle East.
After our time in Borlänge, we packed up our backpacks and headed into the big city for a week! We partnered with a local church in Stockholm and filled in where ever they had need. So of our jobs included organizing clothes in their newly opened second hand store, helping clean up around one of their smaller church campuses and running a children’s program on Sunday morning. Working with the kids was one of my favorite parts. I have lead a small group and been involved with Children’s Ministry back home for a number of years, so coming to Sweden and getting to see the similarities and differences between our programs was really cool.
Overall, I loved my time in Sweden. I absolutely fell in love with the country and the people and I can’t wait to go back one day. If you have ever felt an interest in going to Sweden, I would say go for it! There is so much natural beauty, and Stockholm was probably my favorite big city that I have ever visited. They also have a thing called “fika” (aka snack time) every day, multiple times a day. You stop whatever you’re doing to grab a tea and some snacks with the people you’re with and spend some time just chatting. It’s great. 10/10 would recommend going to Sweden.
I got to celebrate my birthday as we were travelling to Albania for a YWAM Europe conference. We spent the night before my birthday in Montenegro, where we went bowling and got surprised by one of the other Outreach Teams showing up where we were staying. It was so much fun to get to catch up with them before we joined the rest of our school in Albania. On the day of my birthday we went on a three hour bus ride to Durres, Albania. We were welcomed by the YWAM team there and also the Footballers school from Biarritz. News seemed to spread pretty fast that it was my birthday (thanks Chris ;)), so I was sung to many times by people who I had just met. It was pretty fun. I finished the day off with ice cream and a nice evening walk along the beach with some of my closest friends. It was such a great way to start off my 19th year, I’m so excited for what is in store!
We spent the week in Albania taking part in the YWAM Europe Conference. It was an awesome week with so much good teaching, I definitely have a lot to still process. One thing that really stood out for me was the way that God changed my heart about Ukraine. Up until last Monday, I had absolutely no desire to come to this country. I don’t know why I felt this way, but I would have been completely fine with skipping our time in Ukraine and going right into Poland. It was especially weird because I really felt God call me to here when we were first deciding our teams, but that sure didn’t mean that I wanted to come. I knew this needed to change, and so in my quiet time I prayed that God would change my heart towards this country. That day we ended up having a Ukrainian speaker share and the session was translated into Ukrainian. It was weird how much Ukraine was brought up. But little by little I learned more about the country, and the opportunities that we would have to share the gospel here and I started to get excited about what was coming up. It still doesn’t make sense to me the way that my feelings could change so drastically in the period of one day, but by the end of that day I was ready to launch into Ukraine and dig into all that God has in store for us.
As I said the conference was awesome, and I plan on sharing a bit more about what I learned (once I take some time to unpack abbll of it for myself). Now I am here in Vinnitsya, Ukraine. We’re partnering again with some YWAM people here, working in the ministries they have set up. So far the plan includes some time in local orphanages, baby hospitals and joining in an English club. Im very excited for what is coming in our time here!
My goal is to update more often from now on. Too much happens in three weeks to put it off for this long. Thank you for checking back! I’ll update again soon!
- People in Ukraine to be open to hearing the Gospel
- Health/safety for my team and me
- Strength for my family at home (My grandpa passed away this week, so they have a lot of not so happy stuff to go through right now)