Arvos in Straya

Standard

Hello to my wonderful supporters!

You might ask…Why does Oksana work with refugees? What does Oksana’s work with refugees look like?

The Refugee Highway Introduction (2016), from the International Association for Refugees, is a great place to start in answering these questions (copy and paste vimeo link above into your browser to view). But to summarize, there are over 65 million displaced people in the world. As Christians, God calls us to love those around us. The following verse also summarizes it well for me.

Leviticus 19:34

“But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

Working alongside refugees is meaningful ministry. Sometimes it just means sitting with them and having a simple conversation to help them learn English. Many times, whether they are Christian or Muslim, they are often happy to let us pray for them at the end of a visit.

One of my new refugee friends just finished up chemotherapy and is currently in nursing school while her husband is going through English classes. Another family is facing a much more somber situation, where we bring food to a mother with five kids and her husband who has cancer. The help we provide is really important to the family, and a wonderful opportunity to share the hope of Jesus.

Despite their difficult situations, the hospitality of the refugees is something that has really touched my heart. Our visits to the homes of our refugee friends almost always include coffee and also biscuits.

Besides working with refugees, I am doing administrative work alongside the team leaders of the Syndey Refugee Team. During the past month, this included planning a wonderful Volunteer Connection Arvo.* We had discussion, training (on vicarious trauma – SEE PICTURE!), prayer, a devotional and lunch! It was great to get to see the volunteers get some time where they could be rejuvenated through fellowship with other volunteers and time with Jesus.

On Fridays, I help with the planning of Ride for Refugees, a family-friendly cycling event, currently held in three different cities in Australia (Sydney, Toowoomba, Brisbane). It has been really wonderful to be able to take the skills I learned from working on citywide events and use them here! Abby (my Ride for Refugees supervisor) and I can see how God set up my planning experience for great use here.

We are working on our master planning sheet for the event and prioritizing what needs to get done and when. I am also keeping in contact with past riders through social media and email updates.

If you want to help me stay longer in Australia (up to just under a year), you can become a monthly donor here https://give.iteams.us/.

 

You might also ask …how does Oksana talk, now that she is in Australia?

Below is some Aussie (Australian) lingo!

Australia – Straya

Fish and French Fries – Fish and Chips

Cookies – Biscuts

MacDonalds – Maccas

Sunglasses – Sunnies

Breakfast – Brekkie

How are you? – How are you going?

University – Uni

*Afternoon – Arvo

I think – I reckon

Friends – Mates

Lots – Heaps

Thank you – Ta

Joking – Mucking around

Barbeque – Barbie

Gas station – Servo

Pickup truck – Ute

 

Finally, you might wonder…Is Nick (Oksana’s boyfriend) coming to visit?

Yes! Nick is visiting along with our friend David in early April. I am so excited for their visit.   I’m grateful to Rod and Abby for allowing the boys to stay with them. We plan to visit the beach, go into the city and attend a BBQ that I am thankful to my super cool supervisor for hosting.

Praises:

  • Thank the Lord that the heat has subsided!!!!! Yay.
  • Thank the Lord that I am feeling much more settled in to Australia after being here for two and a half months.
  • Thank the Lord for my fantastic co-workers at International Teams who have helped me settle in.

Prayer requests:

  • Pray I will hold steady in my faith and desire God above things of this world.
  • Pray for the refugees, many of whom have experienced a lot of trauma on their way to Australia.
  • Pray that God will work in the hearts of the non-Christian refugees we help.

 

Thank you so much for your support! Comment below to let me know you are praying or with future questions you want me to answer in blog posts!

 

Advertisements

What’s New in Australia?

Standard

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.

img_6971

img_6966

img_6973

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

The VISA Arrives! Now is the time to be a supporter!

Standard

After waiting and waiting and waiting, my VISA has arrived!

YAY!

It was a bit shocking how quickly it got here. My background check through the FBI that I needed to submit the VISA took 2-3 months (the first time and the resubmission).

The VISA took 3 weeks.

Given my newly acquired VISA, I will leave soon! I already committed to one month as a temporary hire with the City of Ramsey (thanks so much to Ramsey!) prior to receiving my VISA in record time and am looking forward to working there and spending time with family over the holidays.

The plan is to leave in mid-January and arrive in Australia just in time for summer!

I am not funded for an entire year, only about six months at this point. If you are not yet a supporter, please let me know if you want to pray for me or support me financially (https://give.iteams.us). Can’t remember what I’ll be doing while there? Scroll down, as I have a recap in previous posts 🙂

Thank you all for your support and waiting with me! I’m told sometimes God makes people wait to help them grow. Hopefully this means I’ve grown a lot!

Please pray that:

  • Planning goes well between buying plane tickets and packing
  • I’ll grow closer and closer to God with this experience

 

Blessings,

Oksana