About a week ago, I was welcomed by my sister (Marina) to Braunschweig, Germany! I spent a week sending out my final good-byes in Ukraine, and now I’m spending another week greeting folks with tons of “Hallo’s” and “Guten tag’s”, meeting the friends and family she made on her journey.
I originally planned on writing about my experience shadowing her missionary work here, but as she’s been asked to write an article from her perspective, I’ve decided that I’d like to share her article as well:) (For those of you interested, the article will also be posted on the Bethany Slavic Missionary Church newspaper.)
“To say the past nine months have been a journey would be an understatement. I spent five months at Bethany Bible School, a month at Teen Bible School mentoring, two weeks in Estonia, and four months in Germany. When people say missionary, I think Africa, India, or some third-world country where there’s poverty and much help needed. Not all of these things are true.
I’m in the amazing and very beautiful city Braunschweig, Germany. I have a good meal every day, a great bed, indoor plumbing, coffee, and luxuries I could get at home. My biggest inconvenience here is frustration due to my inability to speak German and dealing with elementary schoolers who get frustrated when they don’t understand me either. But help is needed- which is why Nadiya Leonavets and I came.
At the edge of the forest in Braunschweig, there’s a christian elementary school called Christliche Schule (which literally translates to Christian School) where the mornings begin with singing, bible stories and prayer. The children play in the forest, climb trees, and play with sticks and leaves. There are God-loving and God-fearing people teaching children everything from math to english or instruments to swimming. It’s pretty amazing and I’m so blessed to be a part of it no matter how small the part I play is.
Let me introduce you to the woman who took this upon herself. Oxana Eisler, the director, teacher and principle of the school. The first two years, she was also the chef, book and lesson maker, planner, janitor, she was the dishwasher, separator of fights, kisser of boo-boo’s, the school bell- you get it- she’s a hero. She did everything on her own for two years. She kept telling me how she stayed up nights cutting out things, how she barely had time to eat. You never know how much goes into a school day until you have to do it all yourself- and it is possible but you should not attempt this, at least not according to Oxana.
What’s our missionary trip here? Cut paper, laminate it, cut it again. Make sure these kids don’t play too hard or climb too high. Speak English and teach it to the kids. Play with the kids and show them love in a Godly way. And in the words of Mike Khochay, “Love Jesus”. -Marina Kambur
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Waking up at 5:45 to catch the bus only to spend the next 8 hours helping and attempting to understand tons of German speaking kids isn’t something I’ve ever been able to do easily. Lucky for me, Marina is a punctual freak. If anyone knows my sister, they know that she won’t stand for being late. Even if she has to spill a glass of water over my face or literally dragging me out of bed, she will wake me up!
These kids love her, they know her, they play with her, they hug her, the cling to her feet and refuse to let go until Recess is over and the class bell calls them in. She belongs here 🙂 I couldn’t be more proud for everything she’s built here!
In her article, Marina mentioned that every day at school was started with a prayer. When I saw this, I actually cried! (Luckily, we were praying, so I got away with it!) Schools need prayer!
I can see how prayer has affected and influenced the school for the better. They not only pray every morning as a team with the staff members, but they also pray with their students.
The school started with Oxana being the only staff member with all of 9 students! Now they have so many students (50+) they don’t fit in the building anymore and have denied enrollment to 9 students already because of lack of space! (Keep in mind, it’s a small town.) God has been answering every single prayer.
My favorite part about shadowing Marina was how quickly the students accepted me:) They didn’t even know me, yet the moment she introduced me as her sister, they ran up to me and showered me with hugs! ❤
That being said, my least favorite part was the language barrier. I speak 3 languages decently, and unfortunately, only 3 words of German. “Ich liebe dich” meaning “I love you”. You can imagine my sadness when little Deborah would run up to me wide-eyed, sharing whatever it was that she had just experienced that excited her and then me just standing there completely clueless nodding my head.
Or the time when Jacob, Jonas, and Mark started arguing, and then proceeded to attempt explaining to me what had happened and who’s fault it was.
There was also the time when Jonas spent a generous amount of recess trying to tell me something. The explanation eventually turned into a game of charades and I was finally able to figure out that he just wanted to play tag!
Yea, clever little guys. I can’t climb a tree anymore! I have no upper body strength!
Or my favorite cascenario, when Bennett was sent to the office for being so disruptive because he was angry beyond control, and he spent a good ten minutes yelling and crying to me in German probably about what had happened and why he had every right to be angry. (FYI, German yelling sounds especially brutal!)
I’ve taken the simple gift of communication for granted. It’s frustrating having so much to say and having no way of saying it!
The conversations sound like a lot of “Ummms” and “mmhmms” and confused faces followed either by a successful “Yessss!” or a devastating and awkward silence.
I love being here, I love the people, I even love the struggle of looking pathetic trying to be understood at a coffee shop, let alone trying to understand. But I do admit, sometimes I miss the ease of having a conversation with a stranger in a language that comes naturally to the both of us. I guess I’m a bit excited about coming home 🙂
See you soon Cali:)