Ghazals, Church Birthday Celebrations & the Harbor Bridge

Standard

During the month of June, I spent time with my Dad when he came to visit, prepared for the RIDE event and attended events for the Sydney Refugee Team.

One SRT event was a prayer night during refugee week. Another was hosting some of our refugee friends for a dinner to celebrate the shortest day of the year. In Iran, they do a big celebration for the day so Julie, Matt (the lovely people I am staying with) and I tried to recreate that for our refugee friends.

This included pomegranates (there’s an easy way to get those seeds out that one of my refugee friends taught me), watermelon, candles and heaps of food. We also read some ghazals, which is a form of poetry. It was a lovely evening of fellowship.

 

fullsizeoutput_b7e

Below is one of the ghazals I wrote:

I thank Jesus for His Sacrifice
The way He died for human vice

I no longer need to rely on fate or the universe
My life is much more than a roll of the dice

I am wholly dependent on God
And His son who died to pay the price

I now have brothers and sisters
With whom I share life and advice

My heart no longer beats for this world
The ultimate lure is not merchandise

I cannot wait for heaven
Where believers live with God in paradise

Additionally, I attended a Persian church for its fifth birthday celebration with a few of my co-workers. The church service was all in Persian and one of the church members kindly translated for us during the sermon. There was a power point of pictures from prior years and we even sang happy birthday to the church! The evening ended with big meal and this massive cake that our refugee friend made. My friend Julie was also along for the celebration and reminded me that it was beautiful that God is worshiped in all languages, which was helpful to hear.

The service got me to process language barriers in a way I hadn’t before. Many refugees I know are in English classes and learning as they go. But my heart really went out to people who come in not knowing any English, and especially their first few days in a foreign country. It was a very frustrating experience not knowing what was being said at the service and trying to pray or concentrate during worship.

My Dad and I had a great time when he came to visit. Here is a photo of us on top of the harbor bridge:

703120513

Praises

  • Praise God that my Dad got to visit and that all of our travels were safe
  • Praise God for all those who have supported me through prayer and giving during my time in Australia with International Teams

Prayer Requests

  • Pray I keep my mind on Jesus and work as if for Him
  • Pray that God will comfort refugees as they get used to new languages and customs
  • Pray that the RIDE event will glorify God

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Blessings,
Oksana

Will you help me stay for RIDE?

Standard

The Ride for Refugees event is held August 19 in Sydney and then September 2nd and 9th in Brisbane and Toowoomba, respectively. Part of my role here is planning this event that raises awareness and support for refugee projects around the world! Last week, I only had enough funding for the third week in July. However, thanks to supporters, I am closer to my goal of staying through the RIDE event!

To stay until August 19, the first RIDE event that is in Sydney, I just need to raise $802.95 USD more before the end of May. Would you like to support me and help me stay until the event? If you are a monthly donor, thank you for giving already!

Donate here (https://give.iteams.us/) and please put “for the ministry of Oksana Carlier” in the information box.

Your support and prayers thus far are appreciated!

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!

 

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

Praises, Prayer Requests and Recap!

Standard

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!

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-8-50-19-pm

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

Standard

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:

newsletterpic1

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!

Screen Shot 2016-09-08 at 8.50.19 PM.png

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

Standard

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!