Saturday, June 30, 2007

First Counseling School in Russia

Dear friends,

I am back in Ukraine! I am back to my country and first experienced cultural shock with all the huge amount of different fruits and vegetables and warm weather. We came back from Kamchatka on June 19. If you remember, Vicky and I were invited to pioneer there the first IBC ( Introduction to Biblical Counseling school). And it was the first school this kind in Russia. At the far Kamchatka! The director of the base, Nikolai, invited us for several years but this year we felt that it is time. They sent 4 students to the last IBC in 2006, that they could help as staff with the current IBC.

We had a good staff team, 7 of them + Vicky and me. They all have a passion for counseling. 5 of the staff are our former students, 4 from Kamchatka and one from Kiev. It is joyful and fulfilling to see our students growing and bringing the message of healing further to others. Another lady was from England, Ruth, and one from Poland, Agneshka, she works with YWAM Ternopil, west Ukraine.

Our school went very well. Students were mature and very open. They were really ready for healing message. We have 18 students: 1 guy from Ukraine, 1 girl from Belorussia and the rest were from Kamchatka. 4 students were Koryak nationality. Many of the students are YWAM leaders or leaders from churches.

People there in Kamchatka have a lot of pain. I ran many schools but that amount of pain in the whole class now never saw. Almost all the students are the children of alcoholics. Koryak have life expectancy 45 years! A lot of traumas, alcoholism and death in the families. Many die because of accidents, alcoholism and bad medical care. They are good, soft and trusting people, like children. Their pain really touched my heart. They were so open to learn counseling, to get healing themselves and bring it to others. They would always say: "I need to get it and then to bring it to my people!" Two of them are pastors at the north of Kamchatka.
Their costumes and dances look like Indians. One guys from our school and the girl from the base are professional dancers! So, we had a chance to enjoy Koryak culture.

God did a lot of healing in the hearts of the students. There were so many stories I wish I could tell you. Many discovered Him not only as a Lord but as a loving Father, interested in them personally. Their relationships with the Father became stronger and more intimate. Korayks also feel shame about their own culture and nationality. They feel themselves as a second sort of people. They don't want to speak their own language and feel shame to admit that they are Korayks. God also did a lot of healing. They started to feel proud about their nationality and one of the student said that she would teach Koryak language her children. She danced the Koryak dance that she would not dance from the age of 6.

We also had open weeks for other YWAMers and church people to come to listen lectures. People are really interested and see the need to get emotional healing form the Lord.

Long time was cold. This year the spring was late and we had a snow at the end of May and in places snow stayed even until June. At first it was hard for me, I waited and waited for the spring and then decided not to wait anymore and just accept what God was giving us.

I really like the nature there. So beautiful volcanoes, you could look at them constantly and will not get tired. But the towns really don't look nice. The buildings look black- grey and very much Soviet style.

Vicky and I got to go to the volcanoes with one of our speaker. He loves volcanoes a lot and one local YWAMer decided to organize a trip for him. He was on the snow mobile and Vicky and I were on sleds. It calls narti. We went to the bottom of the volcanoes. It was so beautiful there!!! And very quiet! It was a huge blessing for us from the Lord because a lot of even local people didn't get to go there.

I cannot say that everything was very easy for us. Conditions were a little difficult. The base is situated in a former pioneer camp, it is very beautiful there, but it is in the process of developing. We had hot water only 3 times in the week in the shower. The food was also pretty simple because of the low base budget. Prices on Kamchatka are very high. 2-3 times higher then in Russia or Ukraine.

Also we felt a little separated from the world. We really felt like we are at the end of the earth, although Kamchatka people are joking and say that they are at the beginning. The news on TV are very soviet and describe everything from Russian perspective, pretty controlling and superior. It is so strange and interesting for me to see, because Ukraine now if far more in democracy.

But despite of all of those difficulties I really liked the school. It was really good. We had wonderful speakers, who came to support us. We are very grateful to them for their hearts and for the wonderful message of God's healing they brought. Students were able to learn so much from them and their own healing journey.

During the time we had the school in Kamchatka, the rest of our team led IBC school outreach In Kiev. From theS shool, we ran last year. Students worked very hard and did a great job. I am really proud of them. They taught in churches, in Rehab centers, worked with orphanages and different support groups. They shared the healing God gave them with others.

Now we have 2 other outreaches. One in Kamchatka, outreach of the school we just ran. And another one in Kiev. Outreach from the ABC school, that I ran last year. I have to lead this outreach as there is no staff to lead it. Of course, I am tired and rather not to do it. But students are mature and good and it will be enjoyable to work with them.

I want to thank you, my friends for all your prayers. We really need them there. We couldn't do it without you. It is always harder to break the soil. Also thank you so much for your generosity and your financial gifts. Because of them I was able to go and be there. Thank you so much for your partnership. God did great things through all of us!!! I hope this message of healing will spread in Kamchatka and we will see the fruit of that and what the Lord will do further!

With love and blessings, Natasha.