Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Yes, I am still alive over here!

Hi there! Long time, no write, I know! Life started happening, or something, and I got swept off with it for awhile there. Always wanting to catch up with you guys on here, but the more there was to catch up on, the more daunting the task, therefore the further procrastinated it became. Eventually, just gotta cut your losses and jump in where you're at, though, I guess! So here's the synopsis: Prague conference was a river in the desert, felt confirmed and clarified in mission, and realized speaking English isn't actually a handicap; Easter was wonderful, included all-night Vigil (well, they just started at midnight and finished at 4:30, so that's not really much longer than St. Paul's...!) and a visit to Maria's very peaceful village; "American sojourn" trip home was a whirlwind but came back with new courage to be a pioneer here, training Ukrainians to get used to having foreigners around! okay with being an American (his Roman citizenship came in quite handy for St. Paul, you know!) and feeling much more like learning Ukrainian. Last week was the inaugural conference for UCU's Institute of Ecumenical Studies, which Marie-Aude has been slaving over for several months, with especially severe intensity these last few weeks, so I'm glad to say the conference was a smashing success, including for me many schmoozing opportunities, free meals, and opportunities to speak English :). It also included a visit from Marie-Aude's mother (God bless her! I don't remember having ever seen that much energy wrapped up in that small a body!). It was really great having her here -- it's good to have a Mom around! The other significant visitor for the conference was Father Daniel Ange, founder of the School of Evangelization called Youth and Light in Toulouse, France. Marie-Aude kind of knew him and Maria had met him last fall at a conference in Paris, and he was invited to speak at the ESI conference and then he agreed to preach a retreat for our Discipleship program. So last Thursday we left for that to a Basilian monastery an hour outside of Lviv (interestingly enuf I had been to this monastery last summer - what are the odds!). It was a magnificent retreat, Pentecost weekend here, and we had about 50 people come for it, so that was cool, too. And God provided many things at the last minute (in the plan all along, or the Holy Spirit covering for our lack of preparation??:) including a translator so Father could preach in French, and a very awesome lover of God to help me lead worship. [I haven't seen the Holy Spirit beaming so brightly in someone in awhile. It was so beautifully fun to talk "Catholic geek" talk with someone again, giggling over how cool we thought certain saints were! :)] You can view some pictures from this retreat on my Yahoo Photos site http://photos.yahoo.com/mbinukraine2005. Okay, ESS starts in two weeks, time to go home and get some rest. Love to you all..............mb:)