Life While Temporarily in Estonia


Many people are wondering and a few have asked, “What’s it like in Estonia?” or “How’s Estonia?”

There are many different ways to answer the same question?
How is Estonia?
Pretty, especially this time of year and especially, where I’m living near the river.
How is Estonia?
Small. It has a population of 1.3 million.
How is Estonia?
Small. It is slightly bigger than Massachusetts.
How is Estonia?
Really small. The second largest city has 100,000 residents.
How is Estonia?
Very high tech. Most things are done online and each resident is given a card and card reader so that transactions can be done on line.
How is Estonia?
It has long days in the summer. It’s May 22nd at 10:37pm and it’s still not dark.
How’s Estonia?
It’s relatively quiet, as Estonians tend to very reserved and quiet.
How’s Estonia?
It’s great!

The next question is what are you doing there? Mostly, I’m learning and practicing new disciplines God has been teaching me. I am also conducting a Bible Study once a week and doing some consulting in how to teach ESL.

Here are a few pictures.

IMG_1666IMG_1669IMG_1674 IMG_0588 IMG_0604

Finally, here’s a link to my Facebook which shows what I’ve been up to since March.

In Northern Idaho?


Yes, northern Idaho. And it was more beautiful than I knew, but the beauty was not the most interesting thing. What was interesting was meeting a young woman who is serving in Ukraine (in Crimea) at my training. They put us into the same group thinking that maybe we knew each other. To everyone’s surprise, we did not. Once we arrived we understood that this was a God connection. As only He can do, God orchestrated a meeting thousands of miles away from where we live and serve for purposes still unknown to me, but known to Him. It hasn’t been the first time God has done it and it won’t be the last. The twist to this story is that we were both planning on attending the training in August but circumstances changed in both our lives causing us to change our date for attendance to July. What an amazing God we serve! Please pray for my new friend from Ukraine as she is recovering from surgery and will return to Ukraine at the end of September.


I Can’t Believe It!


I went to the dentist for the first time since I have been in Ukraine. I needed to get a filling replaced. I’ve needed to do it for some time now, but I was hesitant. Today was the day. I went in to the dentist. He asked what was wrong. I told him I needed the filling replaced and I wanted a cleaning. He looked at my teeth. No x-ray. He agreed about the filling. He told me that I didn’t need a cleaning; my teeth were beautiful and white. He started to clean the instruments, he began to drill. That’s right; I didn’t miss telling you a step. No Novocain! He told me that if it began to hurt, he would give me a shot. As he drilled, he slightly hit a nerve. I jumped. He said he understood, but he had only a little way to go. He ask if I could bare it. I didn’t answer because I wasn’t sure. I said he would be very accurate and he was. There was not more pain. He filled the teeth, looked at the other teeth again and that was it. I was done in less than 30 minutes. The cost 80 hryivna which translates to $10.00. Can you believe it? Ten bucks for something I would have paid a lot more for in the US, especially without any insurance.  Today, I was very impressed.

Letter to a Ukranian (Guest Post)

Posted in General Posts by Kelly Steinhaus on 8/23/2012

It’s been so great to have you in English class this past week. I’ve learned so much about the Ukranian culture in our discussions in class as we talk about the hopes and dreams for our lives. It was striking to me that almost all the students in our class were born in Ukraine and have lived in Ukraine their whole life: “Ukraine is a country of patriots,” I was told.

When our team shared about our journey to eleven countries in eleven months, I saw a longing in your face… you mentioned having the deep desire to see the world. Yet, for you it seemed like this was just a fantasy, a far-away dream that had little potential to be accomplished. You told me that due to personal economic situations, as well as the red tape within the Ukranian visa system, traveling to multiple countries was almost impossible. That broke my heart… I asked myself, “Why me, and not you?” Why would God give me the privilege of traveling to eleven countries in eleven months, and not you?

The last day of class, when we passed out class photographs, you lined up to have me sign your photos and asked me to pose in pictures with you. This actually made me feel like a celebrity…someone told me “I have always wanted to speak to Americans, but have never been able to.” I get the sense that just because I’m from America, that we’re living in an ideal world. But God looks at all of us in the same way – we’re all His favorites. I’m actually not that different than you. Like you, I daydream about my future marriage: who will I marry, will I have kids? I struggle with temptation: how do I stay pure, why did I just say that? And I long after Jesus, wanting nothing more than His love to be poured out in all the earth, just as you do…

There is so much that I learned from you this month. I so appreciated seeing the way you love – how you poured out your heart on others and expected nothing in return. As Americans, this can be hard for us to do – we tend to put up walls between us and others. Someone told me that the Ukranian culture is based on relationships – I really respect that about you. From the moment we met you, you opened your heart to us. Within just a few hours, I felt like I had known you for years; we were family. I couldn’t believe it when nine of you showed up at midnight to hang with us and see our team off – I can’t say that I’ve ever seen anyone live as selflessly as you. When we had to say goodbye, you held me so tight, with tears streaming down your face. Don’t think that because I wasn’t crying that I wasn’t hurting inside, because I was. I just didn’t know how to express the pain that I felt. I didn’t know it was possible for me to get that attached to another person in just a few weeks.

If there is one thing I could say to you, I’d encourage you to dream big, girl! Never let your dreams be dictated by what people say or the situations around you. I believe in your dream to see the world – Did you know that God gave you that desire? Continue dreaming with Him – He is your loving papa who wants nothing more than to give you the desires of your heart. He might not answer your prayers in the way you expect, but know that God answers every prayer in His way and His time.

Although I’m leaving Ukraine now, know that we’re just an email or Facebook message away from one another. I hope we can keep in touch – please let me know how you are doing and how I can be praying for everything that is happening in your life. Know that you always have a second home in America – I’d be so blessed to take you around my neighborhood and welcome you into my country, just as you did for me.

I love you -

Your sister in Christ,


One of the Camps from this Summer


Posted in by Katy Westrom on 8/15/2012

After 56 hours of traveling with a pit stop in Turkey, we have arrived at Rivne, Ukraine, a city of around 250,000 people. It is full of people bustling around, going about their everyday life. Amidst all of the hustle and bustle, I see beautiful and amazing people. The people that we have had the chance to meet are so hospitable! Our contact Tania has been nothing short of a blessing! Along with Tania there have been many more wonderful people like Anna, Sasha, Tania, Dasha, Ena and Taya to name a few. These wonderful people have made our team feel so comfortable and right at home. They have showed us around Rivne to show us all the great places to go like the market and the large grocery store.

They also have helped us learn some phrases in Ukrainian that are important like (spelled phoenetically) “Toilet” which is “Toylet”, “My name is Katy” which is “Mayonaise votay Katia”, and “Thank You” which is “Diyakuyu.” They have such servant hearts and the community that they have to serve each other is so amazing!

We have been connected with our contact Tania who has been such a blessing! We have been able to eat at her place and has helped translate wherever we go, whether it be church or to buy water on the street. Her heart to serve others shines through her – she is such a vessel for the Lord!

This past week we have been working at a kids camp for Golgatha Church which had a pirate theme. They correlated different characters with people in the bible. The general story line was that “Black Beard” was the captain of the ship, and all of the kids were the pirates on his ship. “Black Beard” was not a nice captain – he would not feed them and he took their candy. “Archibald” was a good pirate who eventually was elected captain because he was nice to the kids. Archibald gave each kid a freedom paper. The kids then had to choose if they wanted to keep their freedom paper or trade it for candy. Some students sold their paper but majority of the kids kept it! Then, on the last day, “soldiers” came to take away the kids that did not have their freedom papers, but “Archibald” went in their place. It was amazing to see how the kids picked up on the correlation to the bible! We live in a sinful world, but the children grasped how through Christ dying on the cross for our sins, we are able to have our freedom.

The thing that impressed me most, though, was seeing the hearts of the people working with the kids. There was so many volunteers and their love for each other and the children spilled over! I was so blessed to be a part of such an awesome ministry!

So far on the race, sometimes I have to stop myself and just say, “This is my life!” What a mighty God we serve! It is amazing to me how we can be miles away and be able to have family here because of our faith in Christ.

Then, last Saturday we were able to take a day and visit L’viv, which was a beautiful city! We woke up at 5:45 am to a beautiful sunrise! We took a train to the city and I even got to use my very first squatty potty! We were able to see a movie getting filmed while drinking some tea, take in a chocolate factory, do some sightseeing, and view a beautiful church. A great day!

This coming week will be filled with preparing for an English Camp. We will be teaching English to adults aged 16+. We must prepare lessons and materials to help in this process. The end of this week and the following week will be filled with teaching English. Alyssa and I will be teaching the elementary leveled students, which are the Ukrainians that have never learned any English. We will be using the bible to help teach English! I can’t wait to see what God is going to do these next couple of weeks!

Many people have asked what my living situation is….I am so blessed! We are staying in the upstairs of a church at a bible college. We have bunks, 2 showers, 2 toilets, and amazing hospitality! We primarily ride the bus or walk around the city. Many mornings when I get up to go running with my teammate Kelly we see people cleaning the streets. I love it here!!!


My Newest Adventure

On August 1st, 7 Americans rode into Rivne on a green bus. I wasn’t there to meet them, but we met four days later. They had been to my apartment and seen photos of me before we met. The seven are one of the eight teams in Ukraine at this time doing “The World Race.” They are with us for a little over three weeks. So, over the next few weeks they will be my guest bloggers. This will give you some new fresh insight on what it’s like for a missionary in Ukraine and their impressions of our ministry here. The first blog was written by Kelly.

Eat Like A Ukrainian

Posted in General Posts by Kelly Steinhaus on 8/12/2012

When we stepped off the plane in Ukraine, it really started to feel like we were in a different country. Ireland was so similar to my home in Boston economically and socially that last month it was easy for me to forget that I wasn’t in the States. Ukraine is a whole nother world, though, and I think this is mainly due to the language. I’ve been in countries where I don’t speak the language, but it’s a whole different ballgame when the entire written alphabet is foreign. For example, on our second day here, we went to a restaurant, looked at the menu, and not only did we have absolutely no idea what was on the menu, but we also couldn’t sound out the words to order. It’s humbling when you need an interpreter to do things as simple as ordering food, because without one you can only stammer and point stupidly, hoping that you don’t end up with something like raw alligator eggs:

A snapshot from our menu. What would you order?


The ladies of Team Doulos, joined our three lovely Ukrainian friends (in the middle)

When you travel country to country, you begin to see how cultures compare to one another. From our stay thusfar in Ukraine, the one word I would use to describe Ukranians is “welcoming.” After our plane arrived in Kiev, Ukraine, we sat on a six-hour bus ride to Rivne, where we were welcomed by three of the most welcoming, kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. They spent hours with us over the next few days, showing us around the city, teaching us the Ukrainian language essentials (“Hello,” “Goodbye,” and of course “Where is the toilet?”) It seems like every word in Ukrainian has about a dozen syllables, and they patiently worked with us so that saying “thank you” sounded more like “dee-yaku-yoo” rather than “dracula.” They helped us with our cross-cultural assignment to talk with a local Ukrainian and learn about the way they think and act. If that wasn’t enough, they volunteered to help us maneuver the confusing Ukrainian bazaar (market) so our team could pick up some groceries.
I love tasting local cuisine, and one of the most well-known Ukrainian dishes is borsch. Borsch is essentially a meat and vegetable stew, and usually comes in either red or green. Our first Sunday after church, Tanya and her husband invited our team and others over to their home for local Ukranian cuisine. It was SUPER tasty, so I wanted to pass along the recipe for the delicious Ukranian Borsch and holubtsi that we so readily consumed. Yes, even you can eat like a Ukranian!

Ukrainian Borsch


This recipe makes one big pot of borsch, which will serve about eight people.

  • 1 pound of meat (chicken, beef, or pork)
  • 8-10 potatoes
  • 3 middle-sized beets
  • 1 large carrot (or two smaller carrots)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  1. Cut the meat into small pieces, place in a large stock pot. Fill pot halfway with water, add salt, and boil for twenty minutes.
  2. Peel, slice, and cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add to the stock pot.
  3. Chop the beets, carrots, and onion into small pieces. In a separate frying pan, toss them with some water for about ten minutes until soft. Then add them to the pot with the bay leaf.
  4. Boil everything for about twenty to thirty minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and add a bit of vinegar.  Great topped with a dollop of sour cream.

Ukranian Holubtsi (Cabbage Rolls)From

This recipe makes approximately sixteen holubtsi, which will serve about eight people. Ingredients:

  • 1 mid-sized cabbage
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pound of meat (usually beef or pork)
  • 2 big carrots
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp butter or oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a frying pan, chop the onion and cook with the meat until browned. Add salt and pepper to taste. Combine with rice to form the stuffing.
  2. Place cabbage in a big stock pot, then fill with water until covered. Heat water on medium, until leaves peel easily off of the cabbage (take care not to heat cabbage too long)
  3. Fill individual cabbage leaves with the stuffing. Fold and pinch the ends of the rolls to close them securely.
  4. In a large stock pot, add butter or oil. Cover the bottom with any extra plain cabbage leaves (to prevent burning). Place a layer of holybsti on the bottom, then cover with grated carrots, pepper, and ketsup. Repeat, layering holybsti and vegetables until complete. Add 1 cup water, cover, and steam for two hours.


I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did!

After Three Years…

On January 29, 2009, I stepped off a plane in Ukraine to embark upon an adventure with the Lord. I could not have guessed at that point the richness this time would bring to my life. I have been stretched, tested, and encouraged. God has matured me in manys ways and continues to reveal Himself to me in new ways. More and more I understand that this life is not about me, it’s all about Him, becuse knowing and understanding are two different things. Dying to self is a hard thing, but with GOd all things are possible. After all it is written, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me. After three years I can now say that I am thriving. Praise God! Praise Him with me that life with Him is better than anything I could make up in my wildest dreams.


the beginning of fall, I thought it would be the typical weather of haze and

rain, but then God blessed us with a lot of sunshine. The trees this year seems

prettier, more colorful actually. Now that it is fall one of the fruit of the

summer that can be enjoyed is canned veggies and fruits. Since, I had never

tried canning before, I decided to start small. I made a big pot of stewed

veggies (eggplant, carrots, onions, tomatoes) and canned them. Initially, I

wanted to go through this process with someone, but that never worked out, so I

ventured to do it on my own. My friend told me step by step what to do. After

finishing, I wasn’t sure if it turned out right. Well, yesterday, we opened my

first jar of canned veggies and they were really delicious. They had not

spoiled which means that I did it right. This may seem strange to you but for

me, it is another way of understanding the Ukrainian way of life. Most

Ukrainian families engage in the canning process year after year because

otherwise, a lot of the fruits and veggies from the harvest would spoil, they

would be limited in what they could eat during the winter, and they would have

to spend a lot of unnecessary money on food. Now, I be honest, I’m not sure if canning

in huge amounts is for me, because it takes a lot of time, but I am willing to

try, at least once.

My Encounter with a Bucket of Water

This week our church is hosting an outreach for teens in the school located next to us. It called “Teen Games” and involves sports and Biblical lessons. Photographing the “Teen Games” today, I had an encounter with a bucket. One of the tasks involved 6 buckets. Two full of water and four empty ones for each participating team. Each team had to carry as much water they could in two minutes, one by one, from one of the two full buckets to their individual bucket. Sound harmless enough, right! Well, as I bent down to capture the best shoot of the festivities, this was the last thing I saw….

before being drenched by the careening bucket of water, caused by the boy in orange sliding into it. The camera and I were both wet. And since a camera cannot photograph itself, it has no story to tell. As you might suspect, the camera and I are fine, and everyone, including me had a good laugh.