In my last 4 1/2 weeks in Ukraine, I’ve been able to meet some pretty awesome people through the English camps and church.
However, I’ve also been able to have some out-of-the-blue meetings here in Odessa. In the last 2 1/2 weeks or so, Kimberly, Olivia, and I have had four different encounters where we had a chance to share about why we are here and what we are doing in Odessa.
At the Market
Between Family Camp and Youth Camp, we were doing a little shopping in the market to find some fresh fruit. Shopping is always a little bit of a struggle as we speak only minimal amounts of Russian, and most shopkeepers can’t speak English. As we struggled to understand the total cost of our peaches and plums, a lady named Ira who could speak great English stopped to help us out. After our purchases were settled, she explained that she teaches English, and she asked why we were in Odessa. We were able to share with her and invite her to English Club which is held every Saturday at the church.
On the Street
Another cool encounter happened as we were dragging our suitcases along the 20 minute walk from our apartment to the church just before Youth Camp. As we crossed the street, two ladies began speaking to Martha in French. We shrugged it off, but a minute or two later, we noticed that Martha had stopped and was talking to the two ladies. We found out that they were Jehovah’s Witnesses and both spoke great English (they had thought that maybe Martha spoke French). We were also able to share with them about why we were here and invited them to English Club as well!
In Our Home
Another time, God even brought someone right to our door! We were enjoying our first day off after Youth Camp and had been relaxing and cleaning up the apartment. Naturally we had the air conditioner on full blast. :) Midway through the afternoon, we got a knock at our door. Our neighbors two floors below had come to tell us that they couldn’t sleep because the pipe from our air conditioner was dripping water onto their air conditioner, and the noise was keeping them awake. As Sergey (the man) tried to move the pipe outside our window, we were able to tell him about why we were here and invite him and his family to English Club as well; he even mentioned that he has a daughter who is studying English and would definitely come.
At the Beach
The next day (yesterday), Kimberly, Olivia, and I headed to the beach for a relaxing evening. We decided to take some time to pray together. As we were sitting there praying out loud, a young man, Andrew, came up to us and began speaking to us in broken Russian. We apologetically said that we didn’t speak Russian, and he replied, “You speak English? Oh, thank God!” He was looking for directions to the city center, but in the short conversation that followed, we found out that he stays in Odessa for a month each year, and we were able to invite him to English Club as well as the Sunday church service!
These encounters were so amazing because they were so unplanned. These people saw that we were different–from a different place and speaking a different language…but them noticing that then gave us an opportunity to tell them about another way we are different.
And after each encounter, we were able to pray specifically for each person we met and that God would work in their lives. These encounters gave us specific faces of the million people in this city.
So were these just random encounters? You tell me…