Faith, Hope, and Love Remain

Alei's adventures in Ukraine

So Far So Good December 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aleicook @ 10:01 am

The close of 2009 will also mark the close of 2 weeks here in my permanent site and I’m happy to report that all’s well.  The timing was a little tricky as we wound up alone and bored during our first Christmas abroad which seemed like a recipe for disaster, but thanks to my family, friends, and a miraculous little thing called Skype it actually was a pretty good day.  My thoughtful parents emailed me a list of presents to buy for myself at the bizarre in the morning & then the 5th graders at school had a Christmas party where they put sparkly pink garland on me, gave me cards and candy & sang ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ with their little Ukrainian accents.  I successfully freaked them out by crying.  I think that PC service may have confused my body’s ability to identify emotions because tears seem to be my standard response  nowadays whether happy, sad, or just confused.   Oh well, at least my contacts will stay clean 🙂

After Christmas things felt much closer to normal & between the immediate connection to the world through internet & the absence of anything left to count down (leaving for site, Christmas, ect.) I’ve finally started to settle.  I’m getting to know the Yampil natives a little better and the kids in particular have been extremely welcoming and helpful.  I’ve spent much of my time tutoring some of our brightest students for our Olympiad (kind of like a Spelling Bee but for English) & was really encouraged by their ability to communicate & their appreciation.  One of the 14 year old girls told the judge during the speaking component of the competition that I was her favorite teacher.  I don’ t really think that was a fair estimation on her part but I’m definitely flattered nonetheless.

I also was able to teach a few lessons yesterday.  I thought I was going in to observe but I asked the teacher beforehand if there was anything I could do to help & she asked if I wouldn’t mind running the lesson while she finished grading their tests.  Normally that would have been a little problematic but our resources are so good that I was able to just follow along with their text & make up activities on the fly.  It was really encouraging and with classes of 9 students that can already produce whole sentences I really think I’m going to enjoy teaching here.  I must confess my guilty conscience though; part of the lesson included teaching unknowing 13 year olds that Pluto is a planet.  Probably not the most progressive lesson but the alternative seemed a little bit like telling them Santa’s not real so I went the ‘ignorance is bliss’ route instead.

My other favorite Yampil resident is my landlady who introduced herself to me as ‘Тьотя Луся (‘Aunt Lucia’ in Russian) & comes over every evening to feed sticks to the little metal heater in my kitchen that keeps my apartment nice & warm through the night.  The whole process takes about an hour and a half but she sits there patiently talking with me despite my embarrassingly broken Ukrainian.  I think she might be secretly working for the cattle council for the amount of lectures I’m given about how I need to eat meat in order to live, but she’s cute so I shrug it off & say ‘I don’t like it’ & then switch the subject.  She calls me ‘Aleychka’ using the diminutive suffix which basically translates to ‘little Alei’ & is not alone in thinking I’m a child, as I’ve already been asked by a teacher if I was 18 years old & am regularly called ‘little girl’ by shop vendors & babusias alike.

Communicating is still a bit of a trick as evidenced by the time that I needed matches to light my stove & went into the store closest to my building (like our equivalent of a White Hen Pantry but half the size of a baseball concession stand) without knowing the word.  I said ‘I need…stove’, mimed striking a match, and then said ‘Pojejah’ which we were taught meant ‘fire’.  It worked, the little old woman laughed and sold me the matches, but I found out later that I’m an idiot and pojejah actually translates closer to ‘catastrophe’.  Oy.  But I’m able to get by and was even capable of buying my bus ticket to Kyiv for tonight that will take me to visit my host family for New Year’s.  They still call every night to chat & I’m thrilled that I’ll be back with them in a few short hours.

That’s pretty much all that’s new around here.  There are still some adjustments to be made but overall things are feeling more normal by the minute.  I’m also kind of embracing that I’ll be ringing in the new decade with contradictions between old and new like when I peeled mushrooms with a tiny knife while watching a church service in perfect picture on my computer, or set an away message online that said ‘fetching water from the well’ (granted it’s not with one of those wooden contraptions that rests on your shoulders, but still).  Welcome to 2010.  And on that note I hope you all have very  Happy New Years!

Oh yeah, I put up a new photo album story of PC Training here: it’s a lot of the same pictures but a bit more chronological.


6 Responses to “So Far So Good”

  1. Denise Cairns Says:

    Hi Alei. I’m Julia Benson’s mom. I’m glad I stumbled onto your blog as you shared some of the same situations as Julia as you were in the same training group. I hate to sound like a dunce, but where do I find your photo album? I would love to see your pictures.

    PS. I’m glad to hear that things are off to a good start for you at your new site. Good luck and Happy New Year!

    • aleicook Says:

      Hi Mrs. Benson,

      I’m glad you stumbled upon this too because now I have the chance to thank you for giving us the heads up about where to buy peanut butter. Thank you, thank you; that was quite a miraculous find. You should be able to see the pictures at this link: but let me know if it doesn’t work.

      I talked to Julia yesterday & she seems to be settling in too 🙂 Happy New Year & thanks again!

  2. tricia klein Says:

    I am not sure if you got my last message. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Enjoy the time with your host family.
    Mrs Klein

    • aleicook Says:

      Hi Mrs. Klein,

      Thanks, you too! I heard you were the musical catch phrase champion of the evening- very high praise. Also, I think you’ll be glad to know that I write this while eating a lardy piece of chocolate funded by your generosity. Thanks again!


  3. Renetta Butler Says:


    I certainly hope I have the right person 🙂 I think I do. Your mom, Dana, gave me this slip of paper with your name printed on it months ago. Up to this point, your name has traveled with me everywhere I go. Only today though, has the Lord impressed your name upon my heart to write you. This I do, faithfully, knowing that the Lord has a word for you.

    First let me say, HAPPY NEW YEAR to YOU! And it will be so, says the Lord. A very Happy Year.

    Alei, my name is Renetta. You do not know me nor have you ever met me. At least that I know of. I met your mom at Willow Creek while we both sat in front of a huge fireplace. The Lord brought us together in prayer. The Lord works mysteriously doesn’t he. Yes He does, very much so!

    Only today I awoke after dreaming of telling my own daughter in this dream, the headline you have posted on your blog site, Faith, Hope and Love Remain. In my dream, she held a soft blue speckled white banner. It looked like a squared blanket, where the word Faith was boldly imprinted upon it. I received her message, however I knew in the dream that it was only a partial message. Yes Faith is important, but so are Hope and Love, as you have written on your site. What was uppermost in my spirit to tell her though, was that she understand the message yet unseen. I knew in the dream that there was still something else just as significant if not as important for her to know. What was missing from her banner was — TRUST.

    Alei, it is important that You, trust the Lord with all your heart and all your might.

    I pray that whatever you read, you will pray about its authenticity for YOUR life.

    Lord God, mighty savior, I pray that I am invisible to this young woman. Lord that your power and your might flow through me and is bountifully received. It is by your grace oh Holy Father that I write.


    What I feel the Lord has for you on this day is:

    You are a wonder and a surprise to many people. This does not often leave you feeling very good. You do not understand why. These feelings you feel, are only emotions. You are a wonder and a surprise, because the Lord’s power works through you. People are often attracted to what is different from themselves. Sometimes believing that what they see is what they want. They move forward to touch and realize that what they could possibly have from what they see in front of them requires that they themselves change. You Alei, cannot change how they react or how they respond. That is not your responsibility.

    You have been made whole through the Lord. He works in you and around you. Many are affected by you simply because your spirit touches the Lords heart. You are a delight to the Lord. Do not change to meet measures of man. The Lord stands before you, He is in front of you, He is in back of you, He is around you. HE IS WITH YOU! That you can depend and never worry!!!! HE IS WITH YOU! and always will be so.

    Sometimes in the night you grow frightened. Do not be. The Lord fights your battles. Impressed upon your heart and spirit is his unending protection. He is your sole provider. He is your mentor. He will supply you with a divine peace during turbulent times. He will hide you in the wings of his grace and power. He will never leave you alone. You are in His protective care. Do not forget these things.

    Learn to lean on Him more . . . more . . . more . . . more . . . more . . . and still more!!

    His power is yours, says the Lord! Little one, do not worry.
    Learn to trust Him! HE IS THERE!

    The victory is yours says the Lord!!

    After prayer, Alei, these are the words which flow from my spirit to you.
    Be well, be of good cheer, HE IS NEAR!!! TRUST GOD He will not fail you. TRUST HIM — HE IS WITH YOU — TRUST!

    1 John 5:3-4 (Amplified Bible)
    3For the [true] love of God is this: that we do His commands [keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and teaching]. And these orders of His are not irksome (burdensome, oppressive, or grievous).
    4For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith.

    Alei, let me know if there is anything or anyone you need prayer for. I will be honored to join you in submitting your petitions to the Lord.

    Blessings and Anointing,
    Renetta Butler

    It may be important for you to know that I wrote this response for you prior to finding and reading your blog site. It is by faith that I remain obedient to the Lord’s requests. This He wants you to know that He hears your prayers.

    Little One — Be encouraged!

    • aleicook Says:

      Dear Renetta,

      Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers. I’ve heard so much about you & from what I can tell Mom’s description was right on; you really do have quite a gift. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your words of encouragement but would like to assure you that almost daily my readings I find verses that completely correspond with your message. I am indeed not alone & never have to worry about that with God & so many great people in my life.

      Thanks again for your support & have a blessed New Year.

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