Summer Review

Shortly after my last newsletter, I put on my giant backpack and hopped on a train to Moscow. At the Moscow station, I then switched to a commuter train headed to Podolsk to meet the director of the camp. The day after I arrived, I helped them pack up everything they needed and drove two hours to a campground I recognized from the very first camp I ever helped with back in 2013! What a blast from the past. Upon arrival, they told me this year they weren't able to organize an English camp, but they still had a large percentage of kids coming who were unbelievers and their heart and mission of bringing the youth of Moscow to Christ, was just as fervent as ever. I helped them set up camp by decorating their main hall and was able to help with the first two days of camp. While I had to leave shortly after, I did have a chance to discuss future ministry involvement next summer!

From Podolsk, I went straight to Ryazan. Upon my arrival, I was informed the river was too low and the raftin…

Not a Natural Blogger

I have been in Russia for a year now, and have only posted a few times! Suffice it to say, I am not a natural blogger. For that I apologize, as the whole point of this blog, was to bring you along on this new adventure.

So here's an update. After school ended, I flew home for an unexpected funeral. I lost my grandmother this year. We had recently reconnected quite strongly; talking often and keeping in touch. She'd been my friend during the summer I was home, before moving to Russia. It didn't make sense to get the call that she was dying. Yet, she passed quickly and I felt the loss deeply. Thankfully, I was able to travel home for a week, to be with family and to celebrate her life.

After the funeral, I flew back to Saint Petersburg to begin language classes. They turned out to be quite beneficial, but too quickly the month was over and I was needing to head to another city to help with camps.

The first destination was Moscow/Podolsk. In the past, I've helped this chu…

The "Unplanned"

Towards the end of November, I decided to get a mass I had detected checked out. It was discovered I had a very large fibroid that would need to be removed, sooner than later. With break coming up, it was decided to go ahead and get it taken care of during that time.

To help me, my sister-in-law and mother come out (leaving on the evening of their Christmas to make the flight and leave the family).

Initially, I thought it wouldn't be too bad and that recovery would be quick. While in retrospect, recovery was quick, the pain was so much more than I anticipated. Without my mom there to push me to move, it very well may have been a longer recovery time.

During recovery, I was frustrated. Why did I need to deal with this and in the first 6 months of living abroad? I had, had plans to visit other friends in parts of Russia; to minister and fellowship with them. Yet, once again God was teaching me trust. To trust His bigger plan and purpose. While seemingly inconvenient, it was actually…

It's Christmas

A semester down and it's Christmas! One of my favorite things to do at Christmas is putting up and decorating the Christmas tree. So, after Thanksgiving, I went shopping with some friend and found this gem. 

Second favorite thing to do at the holidays is Christmas sugar cookies and decorating. I found a great recipe to work with out here and shared the experience with my students and my church. It was a lot of baking, but worth the fellowship time! 

In the winter here, it is incredibly dark. You have about 5 hours of daylight, which means a lot of walking in the dark. But Saint Petersburg has a beautiful tradition of decorating each main city center street with lights, along with each square. Walking at night, in the city, is one of the most beautiful things you'll experience. 

This December I wrapped up my first semester at International Academy and marked 4 months of being here on my calendar. I've loved being here and working alongside the staff at the school and getti…


As I arrived at my 2-month mark, here in Saint Petersburg, so too neared the end of the 1st quarter at school. Which meant Parent Teacher Conferences. Being a new teacher, this was intimidating and terrifying. My desire was to exemplify each of my students' strengths, but also their weaknesses so that in the future, progress could be noted. The day arrived and I was nervous. For the most part, they all felt decent, but one has stuck with me going into the weekend. Did I exemplify their strengths enough? Did I overemphasize their weaknesses? Did the parent feel as though their child was still loved and cared for amidst the lessons their learning?

Grace, I have reminded myself over and over again. They know it's your first conference and they know their own child. Grace, I repeat to myself. There is room to improve and grow. Grace, I accept. There are ways to correct if need be.

Grace has been a word that I have had to claim over and over again the last two months. In the days …

First Month of School

It seems like it was just last week that I began my first day of class. The students came in with their parents and we (the teachers) introduced ourselves, as well as covered school policies and rules. The next day, I anxiously awaited for the first period to arrive and my 8th graders to take their seats. Time has flown by since then!

In total, I have 18 students between 3 classes. Which, for many teachers in the US, is quite small. But, I have loved the opportunity to work with such small classes! As I've discovered the struggles each of my students have, the sizes have allowed me to cater to their needs much easier than if I was juggling 20 in each class.

As the class prepares to hit the halfway mark in the first quarter, I feel as though I'm finally starting to get the rhythm of the school and my students. In addition to the day to day with them, I've also volunteered to assist with the middle school youth ministry and chapel time. This weekend was the middle school fa…

First Day in Saint Petersburg

I've Arrived in Saint Petersburg, Russia!
Arriving into the city yesterday afternoon, I was so tired! Yet, upon stepping outside of the airport I felt such a sense of peace that I also felt refreshed. The principle met me and brought me to her home where she is graciously letting me stay until I find an apartment of my own. 
We visited for most of the afternoon, but by 8 o'clock my eyes would no longer stay open and I went to bed. 
This morning the principle took me to meet with the headmaster and a fellow teacher for breakfast at a french restaurant in the city. It was enjoyable getting to know at least a few of those whom I will be working with and hearing their input and advice for the coming year!  After breakfast, the principle took me to tour Nevsky prospect, a main thoroughfare here. It is a beautiful street filled with old buildings and history! On that walk we stopped in to one store, Kupetz Eliseevs,which I was told was considered a store of the Tzars. Walking inside,…