Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hit the Ground Running!

Hey!  Well, then, here we are!  Writing from my table in my room in Moscow.  I still have to shake my head every time I say those words.

My first week has been full. 

To begin with, I didn't realize the baggage restrictions waiting for me at the Delta gate.  After buying a bag and switching my things, I finally got myself to start hugging, crying and saying good-bye.  I was honestly fine until Arthur said, "but I don't want you to go."  Leave to an angelboy to get the tears rolling.  I'm sure by now his tears are dry, but my eyes honestly mist with the very thought of those kids. 

Not my grown kids, really.  I have iMessaged and e-mailed and chatted and discussed with them various important and inane details until I'm pretty sure we have communicated more this week than in the month prior.  Funny how that works. 

I landed on Monday to find two parties waiting for me at the airport.  I felt like a queen!  I expected to find the Moses family who offered to be there.  They are the missionary family I will be working with in whatever way my hands can find.  It's funny to me that I have prayed for them for so long and now I find myself talking to them as if I know them, but they can't possibly know me yet. 

The other party to meet me was the School of Tomorrow where I will be working.  It seems they misunderstood the message that I had a ride and thought I needed a ride and so there they were.  Two brave young women battling the roads to get me where I needed to be.  Since they were familiar with our ultimate destination, I rode home with them.  In the hour of travel it felt as though I had made two new, good friends.

The rest of Monday was spent traveling, exchanging cash (thanks to Genny Miller for cash in hand which has been a VALUABLE blessing and something I hadn't thought of), a quick tour of the school, getting into my room, finding the grocery store and meeting my flatmates, eating Burger King. 

Ah!  Yes, I was quite ready to sleep at 9:00 pm. 

I started work on Tuesday where I met the staff I would work with and the students who I am blessed with.  By the end of the day my heart was full of gratitude.  I still can't quite believe I'm here.

I see many things which have lead me to this place, confirming my appointment with destiny, as it were.  I have a lovely birch tree right outside my window - my favorite - as though planted just for me.  I can find my way around some, although I wish I knew the language better, I can get along.  I have made new friends who feel as though I have always known them.  The month I spent here 11 years ago provided me with so so much information and training I am honestly not afraid to be here alone.

God is good.

And now, finally, after almost a full week of waiting, I have the internet on my laptop!  I wanted to shout when I saw it connect.  Thanks, God!

Today I will attend an international church after making my way across the city.   I'll get you some pictures after I upload them from my fabulous camera.  For now, I just wanted to shout out to the world!

Week one down.  So far, so good.  Thanks, God!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Off we go!

Well, here we go. 

In about 10 minutes my crew will be here to begin the transportation process.  Thorp to Minneapolis to New York City to Moscow.  I am feeling rather cared for now that all is just about said and done.  I know I seem daringly independent, but it's all those people taking care of me that make it so.

Thanks, especially, to my tall sons.  How proud I am of them!  They are probably pretty sore puppies today after all the moving everything upstairs.  And my daughter-in-law, too.  Without the three of them this would be one messy crowded house!   I appreciate their generous time and energy. 

Then my angelbabies who filled me with hugs and kisses and promised to pray for me every day.  What a beautiful gift.

And friends, oh my word!  People coming from hither and yon and texting and calling and e-mailing to send me off covered in grace and prayers.  They say you never know who your friends are until you really need help. Well, I have a LOT of friends, apparently.  Thanks, God!

My church families, too.  I seem to have quite a few of them and I am thankful for them.  Those who give and pray and encourage.  I hope God blesses them back a bunch for all that.  I'm sure He will.

And so here I go.  Flight is scheduled to leave at 1:00 pm today to start this part of the journey.  I will keep you posted as well as I can.

Until next summer....  See you here, there or in the air!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sunday I Fly

Not all too long ago a former student asked me if I was still planning to go to Russia someday.  I can see us standing there beneath the waning summer sky.

“Oh, no, I mean, I would if God asked, but I’m sure there is no way.”  I answered much the same as I had answered all the other faithful friends when they inquired.

Whether my heart wished or my mind dreamed or my God planned, it all fell out the same.  Stars flew gently by and one day became another and then I was called.  Not by God, but by a friend who, I am sure, is called by God.

“I have a proposition for you.  Would you be willing to teach in Moscow?”

I didn’t even hesitate.  Not for a moment.  My voice activated without any thought to reason.  “Yes, I am interested.  Let’s do this.  Let’s tell them I will come as long as the Lord opens the doors, I will walk through them.”

Practically speaking, there were many doors to open and walk through.  Permissions to be granted, support to be provided, a Letter of Invitation, a contract, a job waiting my return, a car, a house, a foster kid, a Little, a visa…. I stacked them all up in front of God almost daring Him to close the doors.  

Instead, one by one He opened them.  You can think what you will.  I watched them open. I viewed them through my doubt and self-perceptions.  I saw what God did.  Now, standing on the other side of Jordan, I feel like the children of Israel.  I want to dance and shout and fall to the ground in worship.  But I’m too amazed.  I keep saying how surreal it all is.  Totally, completely surreal.

There is more to the story, but I won’t bore you with the details.  Suffice to say there are no more doors to be opened.  On Sunday I’m going to board a plane which will take me from Minneapolis to New York City to Moscow.  By this time next week, I will be sleeping in a strange bed, in a new place, with two roommates in a storied, foreign land.

I am going to be teaching before I get another legal assistant paycheck.  I am going to be eating pelmeni and borscht and drinking Russian tea.  I’ll use the dormant language hiding in my memories.

I’m going to Russia.  There are so many who believed when I didn’t.  So many who reminded me when I forgot.  So many who prayed when my words rang hollow.

I have so much thanks to give.  To those who support me and pray for me and encourage me and give to me and bless me.  You are going, too.  Watch the blog for updates here and there.  

It’s really going to happen.  

Thanks, God.  I’m going to Russia.

No good-byes.  Only see ya in the summer!

To order a copy of A Book of Pages About Crossing Bridges or a Friend Named Jesus,
 please visit my website:  Writer's Pages

Facebook:  Author Kris A. Newman

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Acting and Reacting

Scene change occurred yesterday.  One that I’ve been waiting for so impatiently!  My inner OCD displayed flagrantly as I checked and checked and checked the Russian post tracking number as my package went from Moscow to NYC.  Even when the information stopped displaying as my letter of invitation worked its way across the United States.

Just before I left for lunch yesterday the call from reception came.  “Kris, could you come here a minute?”  

And there it was.  A Russian package with my name on it and my official Letter of Invitation in it. 
Suddenly it all became so real.  

Up to that point, honestly, everything was done by faith based on a phone call, some e-mails and a promise.

I am amazed, and very humbled, by the trust I feel placed on me.  

It’s funny, sort of, that I would be so taken aback by it.  I have invested in the same thing time and again.  I don’t even think twice about giving to missionaries of all kinds.  I have encouraged them to stretch and live their dreams.  I considered it a privilege to invest in the countries of their calling through them.

Now people are investing in Russia through me and it’s catching me off guard.

They can trust me, it’s true.  I really am going to take what I’m given and use it to do something good in a faraway place.  I really am going to Russia to teach children and share the goodness of God with them and their families.  I am compelled to say that out loud as if to convince myself of a truth others see.

I expect to learn a lot, too.  Much more than I expect to teach.   Maybe that’s why I’m so humbled by the generosity of my friends and co-workers.  I don’t see myself as someone with much to give.  I see my struggles, inadequacies, small-mindedness.  I wear a mask of self-confidence always fearful it will slip and the audience will see the real me.
I spent some generous, quality time with my kids last week-end.  We had planned a trip for many months and now that I’m heading over the ocean its importance was magnified.  Walking among the plane displays of the EAA, I watched my kids playing like kids with my grandkids.  We laughed and smiled and learned some things, too.  

Later we were joined by others of my “kids” where the laughing and playing continued.  Another milestone shared. I sat beside a graceful friend as we watched the city mouse and country mouse story played across generations.  Cultures blending in common understanding that we’re all in this together. 
One conversation in particular rings in my ears.  “You’re an inspiration to us.”  Said one young man whose life, unwittingly, inspires mine.  His friend nods in complicity.

I?  Inspire them?  That’s crazy.  In the mirror I see a woman who has slowly, tortoislly, crawled from one rung below poverty to one above and below and above and below over and again.  I see myself treading water in seas of aloneness in waves of almost.  

These young people around me, they inspire me.  Their dedication to God and each other.  Their steady moving forward beyond my generation’s achievements.  Their love for ministry.  Encompassing others, even people like me, they give and take and grow.  Their actions draw from me reactions propelling us both to reach farther. 

This is what I love.  This Shakespearian replaying that all the world’s a stage and we are merely players.  Stage right and stage left designed by a Master Director writing our life script.

Two more steps to get me from here to there.  The visa.  The plane ticket.  

I am excited to see what He has written into the next Act of this play.  Curious to see who will share this stage with me and who is in my balcony.  

So quickly and so slowly this scene unfolds. 

 To order a copy of A Book of Pages About Crossing Bridges or a Friend Named Jesus, 
please visit my website:  Writer's Pages
Facebook:  Author Kris A. Newman