A First Time For Everything

There are some things that seem destined to happen to everyone at least once in their life.

Getting stuck in an elevator seems to be one of them.

Tuesday was the day for me to check that experience off of my list.

Everything started off normally. Our group of 6 girls staying in our apartment all piled into the elevator, prepared to take the ride up many floors. Once the last person squeezed in, the doors closed, and someone pressed the button for our floor.

After a couple seconds, I realized we weren’t moving. Someone went to the push the button for our floor again, only to see the lights behind the buttons had gone out. And the alarm button was out as well. We were stuck. Six girls. One tiny elevator. We were trapped.

At first the situation was kind of funny. Were we really stuck in a tiny elevator with six people? It was amusing–something that happens to everyone eventually.

But soon we became a little more concerned. How were we supposed to get out of here? It was so hot, and there wasn’t really a lot of air. We tried to pry the doors open, but we could only get them open a crack before they sprung back shut.

Soon people were pulling out their cellphones. But how could we call the number written in sharpie inside the elevator when none of us could speak Russian? And to make matters worse, we soon realized there was no cell phone service inside of the elevator.

After waving a phone around in the air for a couple minutes, we were able to get reception just long enough to call Arkadiy and give him the numbers written inside the elevator.

Then the waiting game began.

We waited. And waited. The air became thinner and it started getting really hot. Eventually I realized that I wasn’t in America anymore. There was no easy escape–no button to push to send someone running to get us out immediately. We couldn’t even communicate with the other people who walked by because they spoke Russian and we spoke English. We were stuck in this tiny elevator. We would be stuck there until someone got there to help us, and who knew how long that would take.

When claustrophobia started to kick in, we knew we needed some air, so we pried the doors open a crack and shoved a water bottle between them so we could get a little air flow and just be able to see something outside of the tiny enclosed space.

We spent our time in the elevator praying, singing (which lasted about 5 seconds), praying, talking, praying…and toward the end of our hour, we decided to take some pictures and videos to document this crazy experience!

Eventually, a serviceman came, and the doors burst open. We tumbled out of the elevator, drinking in the fresh, cool (by comparison at least) air. We started running up the stairs, vowing never to take the elevator again (though flight after flight after flight after flight of stairs soon weakened that resolve).

This was a crazy, stressful experience, but also a bonding one for us. Nothing helps you learn more about people or grow closer to them than being trapped in a stressful situation together (in this case–literally!).

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Memories in the making!

One Year Ago Today….

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One year ago today, we said goodbye.

One year ago today, we got the call: around 6am July 16, 2012, my grandpa passed away.

After seeing him in such suffering and pain the days before he died, his passing was, in many ways, a moment of peace and victory. Yet it was also extremely bittersweet, as I knew I would no longer have a chance on this earth to see my grandpa, to hear his booming bass voice, or to be hugged by this godly man I had looked up to my entire life.

Now, one year later, I am serving in a place where he served, loving a people he loved.

I have a deep respect for the legacy of missions he left behind, and I feel so honored to be here in Ukraine–a place he loved to serve–celebrating his almost-93 years of life today. In the two weeks I’ve been here, I can already see why he loved this place so much and why he loved these people so much. My prayer is that I would have the same heart he had for these people, and that, in my own small way, I could continue the work he began in this country.

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I’m here! I made it! I’m alive!

Yes, as I write this, I am sitting in a lovely apartment in the beautiful city of Odessa, Ukraine!

This is my 3rd day in Ukraine, and I’m starting to recover from jet lag!

My first international flight EVER went very well! I was so fortunate not to have any delays or mess-ups! The toughest thing was just navigating though some confusing airports and waiting in lots of lines. The number of times I went through security during my travels definitely outnumbered the number of hours of sleep I got (the number of minutes actually..:P)….But I made it through customs, and my luggage arrived on time!

When we were driving from the airport to the apartment I’m staying in, Odessa almost seemed like it could be another city in America…until I noticed that everything is written in Russian–all of the signs, billboards, etc! It’s so crazy to actually experience a real language barrier–it’s something professors have tried to simulate in the classroom, but nothing compares to experiencing it in real life.

Another difference here is that there are dogs and cats EVERYWHERE! They sit on the roads, on the sidewalks, in parking lots, outside our apartment… So many animals that I want to pet but can’t!

Another cool thing here is the markets. There are rows and rows and rows of stands, each one selling their specialty–from meats to breads, to toys to candy! A lot of people also set up tables to sell fresh vegetables, fruits, cheese, and fish. Something new for me was seeing fresh shrimp that still had their eyes! :)

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The view from our apartment!

Tomorrow we have training, and then it’s off to family camp! I’m excited to meet the families and to get into the camp schedule. And the nerdy grammar-lover and future-teacher in me is so excited to start teaching English!

Hopefully I’ll soon conquer my fear of looking too touristy and work up the courage to take some pictures around the city and at the market!