Life and work with an international Christian NGO are fundamentally different than my life in the states. Flexibility and responsiveness to opportunities that arise are major lessons I have learned from working with Nadezhda Ukraine/HOPE International this summer - lessons I am incredibly grateful for. When Travis and I first met with Paul and Cindy Marty this past Spring, they emphasized the importance of flexibility. I knew from graduate coursework in NGO management and leadership that work with NGO's and non-profits is often fluid and requires flexibility. Having an awareness of this and living it out in practice are vastly different however - the gap between theory and practice is ever present! It has been an especially valuable lesson for me, as I tend to be highly structured and at times, rigidly fixed on whatever original plan I oriented myself toward.
Last week, I learned that two of the three surveys I had been working on were cancelled. We learned that trying to complete the three surveys within the time I was here was creating a burden not only for staff, but for clients as well. We want, as both an organization and a ministry, to be intentional about meeting the needs of clients. While the surveys were valuable, in the end, it was clear that plans for implementing them needed to flex. At first, I was a little discouraged, but my thoughts kept returning to the emphasis that has so often been placed on flexibility and responsiveness. So I quickly reorganized my efforts and began work on a project that I'm even more thrilled about: a year long plan for implementing the Spiritual Integration Project. Across the course of a year, this project will help brach offices to be even more intentional about integrating temporal and eternal efforts at alleviating by physical and spiritual poverty. It's an exciting project - one that allows me to use what I have learned through the past year of graduate school to be effective in a global faith-based NGO. It's a project that truly encorporates my passions and skills!
The ebbs and flows of work across the summer have been met this week by a full on cascade! I've learned across the summer as well that part of flexibility and responsiveness means being ready to work at whatever pace projects are running at. With only two working weeks left (and one in between for another children's camp in Kyiv), projects are in full bloom! There is much work to do this week, and much to be a part of. In addition to finishing out the Spiritual Integration Project plan, I have begun completing the Social Performance Indicators Surveys. This involves travel to several brach offices in the Zaporozhye region. Alongside of this plan and the surveys, I have Kiva profiles to complete and the Zaporozhye Moybutna Club English Camp to attend in the evenings. Ashley and Emily (who just arrived in Zaporozhye yesterday!) will be leading this camp across the evenings. They're holding lessons, bible studies, games, crafts, and just about everything else that can be packed into two hours! I'm excited for them - it promises to be a wonderful week with the girls of Zaporozhye!!
I am grateful for the abundance of work at the moment. At times, it does feel a little overwhelming! I tend to pace myself, so to feel the pressure of multiple projects mounting is unsettling at some points in the day. But, with three days remaining until Travis arrives in Ukraine, the business provides occupation and a healthy distraction. I have to admit that at nine weeks apart, I'm starting to feel the toll of the time we have spent apart. This summer has in so many ways been a blessing and a renewal for us - mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually - but we are beyond ready to see one another again!
This will likely be the last post I make before traveling to Kyiv early Friday morning. We will spend the week following in a children's camp held in a small village south of Kyiv. While details of our time there are still coming into place, we are thrilled about what the time holds for us! Each camp that I have served in this summer has been unique and rewarding in its own - and it has provided so many opportunities to get into the lives of those we are serving here, to live alongside of them, to serve them, and to learn from them. I know that next week holds so many opportunities to learn and to serve. I'm looking forward to sharing each!
It seems that as soon as we return from the camp, we will be in a fast whirlwind of completing projects before leaving for the states on August 10th. My eagerness for returning 'home' is growing. I am excited to see my family, friends, and communities, and to share this life-changing summer with them. I am still torn - ready to return home and share this but not ready to leave the relationships and work established here - but am becoming more at peace with the fact that the end of this internship is nearing. I know that two weeks will not bring the end of our work and partnership with HOPE - this is only the beginning for us. We hope that we are able to return here again in the future and work alongside these dear friends and family again. Until then, we are excited to employ the lessons we have learned in our lives and work - and share the overflow of this summer with those we know and love.