Wow! The last two weeks have been busy, busy, busy!!!
I’ve had several more language classes and I am understanding more and more (though that “more and more” is still not very much). My teacher even took me to various shops around town to practice. She pretended to be American and I was her “translator”… it was quite the experience! 🙂
We also had our team strategy retreat and it was INCREDIBLE. I got to know all the people on our team (even those serving in other cities) and gained a much deeper understanding of where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. Our hotel was gorgeous and had an amazing view. I don’t know if I have ever seen (or eaten) so much food in my life. We had a little stomach bug make the rounds, but everyone survived. I had no idea the retreat was happening until after I got to Prilep so that was a fun surprise!
I’ve now been here long enough that I’ve gotten to experience all of our regular Izgrev activities and it’s been a blast! I have to say one of my favorites so far was watching over 30 people pile into our little club to make quesadillas – tortillas and all – from scratch. Granted, I think some of them were much more interested in eating them than they were in learning how to make them. Haha
I think the cultural adjustment is going pretty well so far. There are definitely still a lot of things that I don’t fully appreciate or understand, but I’m sure many of those will come with time. I have already purchased a leather jacket and a pair of tall boots. These are not necessarily things I would have picked out for myself while living in the states, but they are very cultural and practical here.
I have friends serving all over the world (which is REALLY exciting). Some of them are probably buying head coverings, burkas, sarees, long skirts, and/or other culturally appropriate attire. I’ve decided my jacket and boots are the equivalent of a burka and a head covering. 🙂
Truth be told, I struggled a bit with serving somewhere so “comfortable.” I have everything I need here. The whole town is within walking distance. A lot of people here speak English. And I have running water, a western-style toilet (you can even flush the toilet paper!), and wi-fi in my living room. I felt like I wasn’t sacrificing enough. But the reality is that God calls each of us to something different. I’ve been reading through the Old Testament and realizing that God is the one who decides what each sacrifice will be.
I am reminded of Psalm 51:17 ~ “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” And also Hosea 6:6 ~ “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Then I saw on http://www.biblegateway.com that the “Verse of the Day” for today is Romans 12:1 ~ “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
I am the sacrifice. I give myself wholly and completely to Him. Sacrifice is not about stuff – though sometimes “stuff” is included. God does not call each of us to give up all of our material possessions, though I believe He does call some to do so. Everything is already His to do with as He sees fit. If He asks us to steward it, we steward it. If He asks us to give it back to Him, we give it back to Him. So, should the day come that He calls me to surrender the things He has blessed me with, I pray I will do so with a grateful heart. But until then, I will continue to enjoy my “burka & head covering” and all the other blessings He has poured into my life. 🙂