What’s New in Australia?

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What I’m Learning

I had this subconscious idea that all people who were sharing God’s message overseas were perfect. They were these selfless, doubtless, altruistic people who gave up everything and no longer had needs.

Sound a bit drastic? Perhaps it is. But I think a little part of me believed it.

What I’ve realized since being here is that my stereotypes were wrong. Even during my work here, no one in the office works 7 days in a week. We work regular work hours and then take time to recharge so we can fully show Jesus’ love to those around us. God rested on the 7th day and calls us to rest. I’ve made mistakes while here, like missing my bus.

I’ve had my doubts. Sometimes the Bible is quite confusing and needs working through! I’ve learned more about theology, like different ideas of Calvinists and Armenians. I’ve also delved into God’s verses about showing love to everyone around us as we do our ministry.

But, despite all of that, I am so thankful to be doing God’s work here in Australia. I’ve realized that, just like God said, I’m the imperfect one and his light shines through despite that. I’m thankful that Jesus paid for my sins on the cross. I’m thankful to know no one is perfect and also that God gives us specific gifts to put to use in our daily lives.

Ecclesiastes 7:20

Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.

 

What I’m Doing

While here, I get to watch God show his glory in action, despite my imperfections, while I work with International Teams on a variety of projects.

Three days a week, I work with the Sydney Refugee Team (SRT). Our team visits refugees, many from the Middle East. I now know 4-5 Iranian families and have met refugees from Iraq, Egypt and Myanmar (Burma). We bring food parcels to 16 families (see photos of us packing them!) each week as it is very hard for the refugees to find work. Some refugees are not allowed to even apply for work, depending on their VISA Status. While my VISA took 10 months to apply for, it is a small fraction of the time the refugees often wait for VISAs. Some are in limbo for five years or more. Also, we bring our friendship and prayer to the refugee families as they adjust to a new culture and sort through the trauma many of them experienced on their way to Australia.

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The culture of the refugee families is very hospitable. I am constantly being offered treats and tea or coffee. I’ve learned I love Persian food, thanks to E who cooked Ghormeh Sabzi, a Persian stew. The refugees also ask us about some of the mail they get, as their English is not always extensive enough for documents that come in the mail.

I am so thankful that God and YOU – my supporters – make it possible to do the work I am doing here. It means a lot that you are supporting me in this role.

As an organization, we want to ensure our volunteers thrive and thus, part of my role, for one day each week in the National Office, is to help develop a volunteer care plan. The plan is for the many volunteers who faithfully serve through International Teams. SRT has around 50 volunteers and Streetlight has 6 or 7.

The last day of the week, I work with RIDE for Refugees. This is a family-friendly cycling event to raise money and awareness for refugee causes in Australia and around the world. Last year there was $127,000 AUD raised, touching many lives. My role with RIDE is with planning, posting on social media and raising awareness about the event. RIDE is held in three locations: Sydney, Brisbane and Toowoomba three separate dates over August and September. At this stage, my funding sees me to July or August, but not through to all of the events. I love the days where I get to plan RIDE because I can put my administrative skills from past internships to work!

All of the days of the week, I’m getting used to currency conversions, people driving on the wrong side of the road, homesickness and the HEAT.

Today is the hottest day since I’ve been here and it’s 111 F this arvo (afternoon). Right now I’m in the aircon (Aussies shorten everything). We usually have one or two days a week that is between 98 and 107. That being said, this is the hottest year in Australia for the past 150 years. Thankfully, February is the last month of summer!

 

Below are some praises and prayer requests!

Praises:

  • I can now use the public transportation tolerably well
  • The family I am staying with are lovely, kind and accommodating
  • I’ve gotten to try lots of food from different cultures like Vietnam and Mali

Prayer requests:

  • For the refugees and opportunities to share Jesus’ love during our visits
  • For my adjustment to the weather
  • That planning for RIDE for Refugees goes smoothly and we can work ahead

 

Blessings,

Oksana

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The Countdown Begins!

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My federal background check came in the mail! Hooray! Praise God!

My VISA was submitted last week – the federal background check was the last component needed 🙂 Hooray again!

The countdown for leaving for my field work with refugees in Australia is 1 – 3 months, according to my application. Once I get the VISA back, I will leave as soon as possible!

Still want to support me? I still need supporters at $10, $25, $50, $75 and $100 a month to meet my goal along with prayer support! YOUR SUPPORT MAKES A DIFFERENCE! Thank you.

Click here to donate or paste give.iteams.org into your search engine.

Let me know if you will be praying for me!

Thank you for being so patient with me on this journey 🙂

 

Blessings,

Oksana

 

 

God’s Timing

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Proverbs 19:21

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

Thank you to all of my supporters! Each and every one of you is making a difference in sending me to do God’s work in Australia.

While there, I will be working with refugees, mainly from the Middle East, which includes building friendships, bringing them food and supplies, connecting them with local churches and helping them with the transition to a new country. Another aspect of my field work is helping at the International Teams Australia National Office with tasks such as developing a pastoral care and development program for volunteers and helping plan the ReachOut missions conference. This is only possible with the partnership that I have with generous supporters like you!

You might ask…How are the refugees in Australia doing? What is the Sydney Refugee Team up to? Below is an excerpt from a recent team member’s newsletter:

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Sam & Gloria were the first family that we met when we started with Sydney Refugee Team just under 2 years ago. At that time they were the only family living in our local area. When we first met them they had a new-born daughter Nadia. Just yesterday we celebrated Nadia’s 2nd birthday.

Early in our relationship they did not have work-rights and Nadia was not even covered by Medicare so they had a difficult time making ends meet. This was a source of depression for Sam who just wanted to be able to provide for his family but was not allowed.

We were able to provide some friendship and social support at this difficult time. We were also able to assist with weekly food parcels and some good quality second hand furniture. In the middle of last year the government policy changed and they were given work rights. Although this meant that Sam could now work legally it was still very difficult to find work.Recently Gloria and Sam hosted us for atraditional barbeque to celebrate that Sam isnow able to work and earn sufficient tosupport their family. They asked for us tostop providing food parcels for them in orderthat we can help another family.

Now, for the big question. When do I leave?

Praise God that the nomination from International Teams Australia was accepted! The next step is to finish my support raising while I wait for my federal background check so I can submit my VISA. Given these factors, I do not have a set date for leaving as of yet.

Thanks to my supporters, I am between one-third and one-half of the way to my fundraising goal. I am hoping to get more supporters in the next few weeks as I connect with friends, family and local businesses.

The graphic below shows support that I am praying for!

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One of the best and worst parts about following in Jesus’ footsteps is that God may have a different plan than I do for when I leave. It is both infinitely exciting and endlessly frustrating.

Know anyone else interested in supporting me? I am still in need of more supporters, both in prayer and financially, and would appreciate any recommendations for others to contact. I would love to share with more people the passion God put on my heart.

Thank you to all of you who have been on this journey with me and continue to pray and support me financially. It means a lot! I am amazed and so thankful with how God has provided me with donors and prayer partners.

In prayer,
Oksana