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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Arrived and in Australia

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G’day mate!

Many thanks to my supporters who sent me to Australia! I arrived a few days ago and am thankful to the Lord for His provision of safe travels. My flights were quite long, but I made all of my connections (with only a little running).

Upon arrival, I was greeted by Deb and her two wonderful kids, whom I already think of as my Aussie brother and sister. They made me signs (see below) and International Teams got me a welcome bag with sunscreen (50 spf) and some fun Aussie food.

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So far, I’ve been addressed as “my love” and “darling” more in my 5 days here than my 22 years in America. I love the funny and endearing Australian greetings!

I’ve been quite homesick the first week but I know as time passes, I’ll continue meeting great people who will make goodbyes at the end of my stay very difficult.

The first few days have been a whirlwind of Aussie culture, between learning the public transportation system, meeting the family I am staying with and a LOT of sleeping. I accidentally took a nap the first day that lasted 7 hours. Thankfully my host family stayed up and let me have dinner at 10pm Aussie time. They are very sweet and have a wonderful home.

I started work at the International Teams office on Monday, now that I’m a bit more adjusted to the time difference!

Monday was mostly meetings. I will be working on developing a member care plan for volunteers with International Teams Australia. To do this, I will be working with the different “pockets” within International Teams, including the Sydney Refugee Team (food bank and refugee visits) and the Streetlight program. I’ll post a blog in about a month with more details on each aspect of my job and hopefully a few stories!

Praises

  • Safe travels here
  • A wonderful family to board with
  • Learning the new culture

Prayer Requests

  • Adjusting to the time and weather change (it was a crazy 107 F last Friday, which is hot even for Australians)
  • That I will continue to integrate and feel less homesick

If you’d like to stay in contact, please message me on Facebook, email me or get WhatsApp or Skype! I do not have international data for regular texts and calls and have somewhat limited wifi. I also would really appreciate letters! Message me if you want my address.

Thank you again to all of you and to God Almighty for supporting me!

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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

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

 

 

Praises, Prayer Requests and Recap!

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1 Chronicles 16:24

 Declare God’s glory among the nations;

    declare his wondrous works among all people

Thank you to all of my supporters thus far, you’ve been a great help while I prepare for my field work in Australia. Below is a recap of what I will be doing along with some praises and prayer requests!

What will I be doing while there?

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!

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.

What about support raising?

Thanks to my supporters, I am between one-third and one-half of the way to my fundraising goal. I am speaking at my home church, Hope Community Church, on Sunday, October 23rd about my trip. I am still looking for supporters.

If you are interested in giving, the link is: give.iteams.us. You can send a check by mail or donate via credit card on the online portal. Please remember to include a note that says the donation is for the ministry of Oksana.

The graphic below shows support that I am praying for!

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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 thankful for the supporters God has provided.

Praises:

  • 50 + donors already donated one time
  • Found some monthly donors!
  • Much of preparation completed regarding suitcases and clothing needs

Prayer Requests:

  • Speedy return of my federal background check as it takes a long time to process
  • Quick return of my VISA once it is submitted
  • Additional support, both in prayer and funding

In prayer,
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

Australia Calling

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God planted the seed in my heart for missions a few years ago.

It was missions night at church and group was coming in to tell their stories about how God had worked in the lives of those around them. They also shared what organizations helped facilitate the stories.

I sat in my seat and listened to them talk and thought it would be cool if someone was called to go overseas. However, I was sure that someone was not me. There were so many people who needed help around me, why would I need to seek someone out in a different country?

By the end of the service, I was ready to go back to my dorm and finish my homework or just go straight to bed. Midterms week was always like this. But God had other plans for me.

While singing the last song, I felt a strong calling to Australia. I didn’t know at the time, but that evening would mean something for my future.

The calling to Australia didn’t go away, and God changed my heart, beginning that night.

God reminded me that there are people who need Him everywhere and He calls us where we will best fit in His plan for us.

God reminded me that some things are far bigger than me and that people like YOU want to make a difference.

God reminded me that, ultimately, fundraising is a way for me to connect with YOU and fulfill his vision for OUR lives.

I will be going with International Teams, which is a global nonprofit with offices in both the US and Australia. Our shared vision statement is to see lives and communities transformed by the power of God. The organization really speaks to my heart because they do not separate ministry and compassion because Jesus did not. The organization is filled with people who are willingly following God in his call for them. I am thrilled to be a part of God’s plan through ITeams.

During my stay in Australia, part of my time will be helping refugees with both their physical and spiritual needs. With a team, I will be doing home visits with refugees from Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Burma and Pakistan, just to name a few. These home visits will allow me to connect refugees with local resources and supply them with daily needs.

The other part of my volunteer work in Australia will be to support the Australia ITeams office through administrative work such as updating their website and event planning.

Australia is the destination.

One year is the timeframe.

Summer 2016 is takeoff date.

But…the story has just begun and YOU can make a difference. Will you be a part of my story and God’s plan?

This blog is one way for YOU to connect with God’s plan for the world and everyone who benefits from your generosity. Updates will be posted regularly once I am in Australia.

Blessings,
Oksana

Want to learn more?

Donate **

About ITeams

International Teams Australia Website

 

**Note that the above “Donate” link is the right link to donate. Donations go through ITeams United States as I am being sent by ITeams US. Write in the donation box “to the ministry of Oksana Carlier.” If you click on the “give” link on the International Teams Australia Website, the donation will not go to me. Thank you and let me know if you have questions!