Saturday, July 23, 2011

Top 10 Russia Highlights

Here is a list of my top 10 Russian highlights for you to enjoy:

10. Mastering the bus/trolley/tram system. I really enjoy public transportation, and being able to hop on a bus number 14 and get to the city centre, or a 5 and get to Brad's apartment. I like knowing what stops to get off and when to get off at them. I like having my 12 rubles ready to pay and challenging myself by standing up while the bus is in motion. Proud, you say? Yes, I am.

9. White Nights festival. I truly enjoyed the events put on by the festival by the city of Perm-- it enabled me to go to several art museums, fascinating dance events or exhibitions, and learn a LOT about the Russian culture and the city. Thanks, Tanya for being my tour guide...and getting me into many places for free. I also had a lot of good conversation with the women who accompanied me on these excursions, sharing a lot about my faith and the importance of Jesus to them.

8. Boat ride on the Kama River. I was invited by my friend Tanya and a girl named Anya joined us for this. It enabled me to see the city from the river and take some really cool pictures of buildings reflecting off the water. I was able to feel the coolness of Russia on this day, for it was colder and wet, and I was wearing a fleece jacket! The breeze on the boat was so enjoyable, and going up and down the river viewing Russian landscape and city skylines from the water was incredible. I also got to feed seagulls and dance to Russian trance and techno music with a group of Russian girls who thought I was SO interesting because I was an American-- they kept taking pictures with me like I was some sort of celebrity, and anytime I would try to slowly escape from the top deck dance floor, they would pull my arm and keep me going. It was a lot of fun, dancing on top of a river boat like that, enjoying music in Russian and being blinded by cameras.

7. Walking, walking, walking! I have come to absolutely LOVE walking everywhere. I walk to the store, I walk to the bus stop, I walk to the river, I walk to meet friends, I walk to Brad's apartment, I walk to Elizabeth's apartment-- and no, I don't always quite make it perfectly everywhere, but I feel like I have mastered most of the streets of Perm! There is nothing as relaxing as walking somewhere, especially when the sun has gone down a bit and there is a nice breeze, getting to people watch and indulge in Russian city life and the rich culture of the country here. I also love walking to and from places as a means to experience God in new ways, to delight in him and talk to him and sing to him in my head and feel him with me as I travel on foot.

6. Music making. I have done a lot of this in Russia, whether playing guitar for friends at picnics, recording a few songs with my friend Sasha in his friend's recording studio, playing with Mark at the American English camp, or singing for Russians on Tuesday nights and teaching them simple English songs. My callouses on my fingers have reformed, my ability to play an F chord and switch from it has improved, and I have been really humbled being able to lead Russian bible studies or church groups in worship. It's amazing to me how God can use a simple gift like this to bring people together.

5. Feasting and tea-ing with Russians. My favorite times with Russian people have been simple gatherings of cucumber-tomato-meat-and-cheese sandwiches, cut up fruit and vegetables, banana-strawberry bread, and lots and lots and lots of tea. LOTS of tea. I have so enjoyed getting together and everyone bringing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, enjoying one another's company as we create a masterpiece of finger foods for everyone to snack on. It created wonderful atmospheres for myself along with Elizabeth or other missionaries/Americans to have meaningful interactions and conversations with the Russian people we spend time with, whether we discuss the importance of God's word, who Jesus was and why he matters, the standards of good and evil, or why believers shouldn't marry non-believers. The conversations were endless-- so many great opportunities to share truth with people came out of simple gatherings centered around traditional Russian food and tea. And yes, I have bought a Russian tea set to bring home so I can continue on with such a tradition in Texas.

4. Hohlofka. I have already posted about this place and this day, but it still warms my heart to think about it. I loved the sense of unity and family and togetherness that was present during our time in this little wooden log cabin village. Americans + Russians + lots of picture taking + bubbles + amazing landscape + cute little village + incredible lake and trees = a wonderful time of community and fellowship, conversation, and God-inspired love.

3. The missionaries here. Brad, Jeanine, Janet, Elizabeth, Dave, and Debbie-- a fantastic team of missionaries living in Perm who all have a heart for the Russian people. I have been blessed to live with Brad and Jeanine as well as with Janet, to interact and learn from Dave's leadership and devotion to students at American camp, to see and witness Debbie's love for the students and Russian people at the home church, and to spend lots of intentional time with Elizabeth as we planned activities or get togethers for us to entertain and spend time with Russians. I am so encouraged by each of their hearts and also by their response to the call God has on their lives to be here and invest in the lives of the people here. I have learned so much from each one of them, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have served with them as well.

2. English camp. 14 Americans + 14 Russians = a stinkin' AWESOME time! English camp is such a highlight for me, in that it was the middle of my 5 weeks spent here. The American team that came enabled us to put on a camp in a quaint little Russian village and host 14 Russians there, where we were able to get to know them and share life with them and get super close with them in a matter of 3-4 days. I thank GOD for this camp, in that it brought so many new students into our lives, and allowed my following 2 weeks after camp to be busy and fruitful as I met with so many of them so often! I had such a fantastic time at camp sharing the gospel with people, having deep and intentional conversations about God, playing ultimate frisbee, visiting an old Soviet style communistic store, experiencing the beauty of a Russian Orthodox monastery, and building some incredible relationships.

1. Sharing Jesus with Russian students. This encompasses camp, any time we gathered, my amazing time at Rinat's house and cycling-- I cannot express to you how much the past 5 weeks have meant to me, and that God, in his kindness and rich, sweet mercy, has allowed me to partake in his plan of spreading his story and his gospel to the world. He has allowed me to share in his work here, has given me this sweet opportunity, blessed me by the financial and prayer support of so many people to get here and begin, has been faithful in orchestrating each meeting with each student and each relationship I have made here, has been so good to me in showing me my weaknesses and my sin while I have been here and has helped me see his forgiveness and restoration of my soul in that, has made me stronger and allowed me to learn to trust him even when I feel like I can't... I praise Him for the beautiful, God-given opportunities to share Him with the Russian people here. I love the students I have met and spent so much time with. I pray that God continues to work in their hearts and stir their affections for him, that they will see his goodness and the precious gift of life and love that he offers through belief in his son, and that they too will enter into his marvelous light.

I love you, Russia. Thanks for an unforgettable 5 weeks.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Amazing Times of Fellowship

1) Xoxlofka!

Last week on Wednesday, the American team along with a group of students/Russians went to a small village town on the outskirts of the city of Perm. It is a little log-cabin village called "Hoakh-loaf-kah" which is set up to depict what kind of life Russians used to live in centuries past, preserving little log cabins full of old stoves, dolls, or basements; sturdy, beautiful churches of old Russian Orthodox nature; and lots of fun little treasures; such as creaking windmills or tiny little wooden swings where we could all swing and blow bubbles to our hearts' delight. It was such a fun, easy-going experience. We hiked up a tall hill, a vibrant green with thousands of blooming wildflowers all along our path- daisies, lilies, pansies, peonies- and as we continued to reach the top, the village below that is actually resided in today was in our majestic view.

We also spent time walking down beaten paths and wooden staircases to the lake below, surrounded by tall, looming pine trees and rocky edges with the water splashing on the shores. It was beautiful, relaxing, and I once again thank the Lord for allowing me to spend time in Russia's beautiful nature and countryside during my time here.

What I loved most of all about our time in Xoxlofka was the feeling buzzing all around our group of family, togetherness, and friendship. We strolled and milled around as we pleased, posing for pictures together or laughing about how our heads were touching the ceilings in the little log cabins. We as adults took turns blowing bubbles, performing magic tricks, went deep into cabins and discovered old barn stalls or hidden doorways, all while having great conversation, laughing together, and enjoying life together. Our time was so blissful and joyful. I am really thankful that it was such a great last outing for the American team as well-- something easy and full of life to share with the Russians we were with. Praise him.

2) Unplanned Plans with Amazing Russian People

The past Saturday night was a marvelous time of fellowship with Elizabeth (a journeyman here), myself, and a group of 5 Russians. We met together because a man named Alex (we call him Alex the Poet, since there are so many Alex's) had spent time with me on the bus ride back from Xoxlofka. On our way back, somehow our conversation had turned to the BIble and why the Old Testament is important. It was so cool to spend our entire bus ride back discussing the beauty and importance and awe-inspiring pages of the OT to him. Afterwards I gave him my bible to read and explore, since he had only ever owned a version of a Russian-English New Testament. He asked Elizabeth and I if we could meet and discuss some questions he had. The conversation that ensued in our group was invigorating, deep, and long-- we discussed the topic of good and evil, how they both originated, what is considered "good" by human standards, and how we should only look to God's standard for what is "good." We spent time talking about the story of Paul, how before his conversion he thought persecuting Christians was "good," and how God changed his heart and his life; we spent time in Exodus on the law, and also discussed original sin and how God sent his son as his plan to rescue and redeem the fallen world, and will send him again. Such a powerful conversation in a room of 7 people from all different walks of life, all different perspectives and beliefs. Nothing that we intentionally planned to happen, but God in his rich blessing planned it, and allowed us to take part in it.

(The above picture of Sasha and I being sad is next to the zoo's Elephant "Johnny" and his obituary...he died a few weeks ago! how sad!) Tonight was another incredible example of how God plans our days, and we just take part in them. I have been worried about my last week here in Perm, and have been sort of stressing about making sure I meet with people and see them before I go. I was afraid but then today I just decided to let go of it all, that I would be able to see people and it all will work how God wants it to. It ended up being a day that was so enjoyable and full of people I love. Elizabeth and I met up with our friend Sasha (Alexander) and went on a walk across the city, meeting some of his musician friends for a while. Then we took a trip to the Perm Zoo, which was so unique compared to that in the states. The animals are so close up to you! I was standing 6 inches away from a lion's face. It was INSANE.

To my wonderful surprise, our friends Natasha and Rinat joined us at the zoo as well. I was so happy that we were able to all be together. Being at the zoo and looking at God's incredible creativity in his creations sparked some genuine and authentic spiritual conversation. Being able to discuss how uniquely and intricately made the animals are, their feather markings, their attributes and characteristics being so intentional that they had to point to an almighty hand and creator-- it was a humbling and sweet truth to explore.

After the zoo, we walked a bit and got some hot dogs and then decided on whim to go back to Liz's for tea and coffee, as well as some sandwiches and banana splits! My Sonic skills were put to work making those for my Russian friends. It was just a really, really beautiful and awesome night of fellowship with good friends. I felt blessed and still feel blessed beyond belief.

Overall, I think the point of this post was to reflect on how thankful I am to have built some really great friendships and relationships over here with some really talented, unique, special Russian people, as well as with the American missionaries who are already here. I look back on these few highlighted days- Xoxlofka, Saturday night's small group, and tonight's zoo + banana split evening- and I see a lot of joyfulness in it all. Most of all, I see a lot of God's faithfulness in bringing his people to me, and me to his people. I was so uncertain of how this all would work out when I got to Perm, how I would possibly meet and communicate with people, and it has been almost seemless. He is the orchestrator of all things-- and I get to enjoy and rest in that.

I love the people I have met here so deeply, and I can't believe I only have 6 days left with them. Time to make the most of all I have left, and I'm so excited for each day that will come.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Near Death Cycling + Uzbekistan Family Experience

This picture was towards the end of my cycling experience today with my dear friend R. We started out the cycling on our bicycles, going down the roads of his part of the city of Perm. Where he lives is a bit more easy-going and pedestrian friendly than the city centre I have been living in. I told him I didn't want to die today, thinking that it would just be hard for me to cycle for a long period of time. That wasn't really the hard part. We did bike for 3 hours, and ended up going for about 18.8 km (11.75 miles) in all. But the course we took was grueling and advanced for someone who has never seriously mountain-biked before. R told me he was impressed that I made it through, and I was too, to be honest. The hardest parts were the 3 times I ended up crashing because of ditches or pits or big hills that I couldn't get down or get back up. I crashed into trees, bushes, and gravel. Ouch!

It was really incredible though. It's an experience I will never forget. Think of zooming in and out of tall forest trees, the smell of pine thick and strong all around you, beautiful wildflowers boldly displaying their bright colors as you pass by, the Kama river glistening in the sunshine on your left over the cliffs and hills as you try not to look so long to where you drive yourself off the path to the beach below. Some of the paths for our bicycles were so narrow, and I was being hit with trees and branches and leaves on both sides. There was one part at the end of our cycling route where we went at "high speeds" as R called it, and everything whipped past in a blur- the trees, the damp ground, the nature all encompassing around us. It was majestic. I felt such peace as the cool Russian air was hitting my face and my skin, and I was in awe. Awe of God's beautiful creation, awe of his strong directing and guiding hand, awe of how he has brought R and I together in this world, an Uzbekistan-heritaged Russian boy, and a Fort Worth, Texas girl. By divine providence alone he has allowed me to share my life with him, and I am beyond thankful for the opportunity.

The ride wasn't the only great part though. I was beat tired afterward, and as the Perm city was shutting off their water this evening, I was offered a shower at R's apartment. This might have been weird or awkward, but I thought that I'd rather shower and be clean than smell and be dirty as I was for the next two days until they turn the city's water back on. We cleaned up and were cooked some amazing Uzbekistan food. His mother made us a plethora of amazing dishes, including plov, winter salad, and a homemade pie with sweet milky custard in the middle. Not to mention some of the best tasting coffee I've ever had. She kept showering me with food and gifts, giving me a Russian dancer ornament (knowing I was a dancer) and also giving me a beautiful handmade kitchen towel with a matreshka woman on it, telling me to give it to my mother when I got back to Texas. It was one of the kindest, most hospitable places I've ever been. I was thankful beyond words, and the food was the best meal I've had in Perm!

I've been reading through Acts while in Perm this summer, and the things I have read and been learning have been so good for me. Thank God for his examples through the apostles for their boldness and urgency and passion to fulfill the call and to tell people about the wonderful love of Jesus and of his resurrection and salvation for all who believe!

Monday, July 11, 2011


This past week, from Thursday-Sunday, a team of 8 Americans from Hurst, Texas along with Brad, Janet, Elizabeth, Dave (all missionaries in Perm) and myself led an English Camp hosting 14 Russians. Some of the Russians were students, some were working adults. The ages ranged from 17-39 years old, but it seemed that everyone that attended was full of enthusiasm and excitement, willingness to play and learn and grow.

Janet, a girl named Yuliya, and I went a day early to the camp held in Kalinina, Russia, which is about 2 hours away from the city of Perm. It is a beautiful rural village set high upon some hills. The Russian landscape is absolutely breathtaking. I am so blessed to have gotten the chance to see it and escape the city for a few days, meeting new friends and exploring faith and friendship with these Russians.

Part 1: Camp

The first day of camp, it seemed that the group of Russians seemed to click right away with us. The Texan team had not arrived yet and we played a MEAN game of Ultimate Frisbee. I don't ever remember that game being so fun and intense. I can't wait to play when I get back to Texas with people! We also went for a walk in the village, going in and out of tiny little stores. The stores still were reminiscent of Soviet Russia, one store being still communist in nature where everyone shares everything they own and sells it again. As soon as the Texan team arrived, though, camp was underway!

Bring on the small meal portions of questionable meat, lots and lots of chai (Russian word for "tea"), games, classes about American life, and more. Everyday we held classes for the Russian students to choose from, including American Holidays, Travel, University Life, Idioms, Cooking (Mexican! yummy), Texas Worldview, American Sports, and Makeup and Beauty class. The Russians really enjoyed all of these classes and were amazed to learn about things such as college campuses being entire cities and our recreation center having two pools-- they saw a virtual tour of TCU and said it looked like Hogwarts-- also they were so pleased to learn some fun American slang and idioms, try queso and nachos, and find out that everything IS bigger in Texas! They wore the bandanas that Sean, one of the Texans, brought for the class the remainder of the camp. It was awesome.

The Russians that camp to this camp were seriously the cream of the crop that I've met here. They were so friendly, funny, and full of life. Each day was an adventure, whether we were playing hardcore games, trying to explain the confusing rules of kickball, swimming in the "lake" in the village, or going to the beautiful Russian Orthodox monastery together. We sang everywhere we went, the guitar got a LOT of use from Mark (an American) and myself, and had a great time learning from one another. I also experienced what a Russian "bana" pronounced bahn-yah is! It's this crazy room inside a log cabin with a SUPER HOT furnace, and you sit there with little to no clothing on and sweat, then get whacked all over your body with large branches of was insane!

Part 2: Missions

The first day of camp I sat across the table at lunch from a student, we'll call him R. He is 21 years old and comes from a Muslim family, mostly by name only (not practicing). R is an atheist and right away he asked me about my key necklace. I told him that it means that God is the key to my life and that I am a Christian. He told me quickly that he is an atheist and does not believe in God. After asking him why and talking for almost an hour on the topic, people were listening in and finding it so interesting that we were having such an intense conversation so soon in the camp! It was totally God's doing though, because even though he was very adamant about his viewpoints and seemed very hardened to everything, God began his work in R that was visible to everyone around that day.

R would sit in the back of the room when Brad would teach about truth and Jesus, playing on his phone, putting headphones in, or even falling asleep. He acted like he wanted absolutely nothing to do with the ideas Brad was presenting and made it quite evident that he felt so. He did not participate in singing and would plug his ears when we would worship! However, after all of this we began to watch the movie "The Parent Trap" when he came up to me and began an hour and a half's worth of questions about God, faith, everything from evolution and big bang theory to archaeology to the Bible being authority to different religions to sin, why people make up and create God because they need something to believe in, and so forth. He asked me question after question, hitting me on all sides where I wouldn't budge...asking me about original sin, telling me that he does not sin much and does not need to be saved from anything because he is a good person with a normal life, great family, and no troubles. He said that people create God for themselves because they are empty or have lots of troubles, and everyone that believes in Jesus seems to have done so because of some big event that happened to them first. It was really interesting and it continued for some time when finally I said, "You know, if you are saved R, it's not going to be by me. It's not going to be Brad, or any human being, because salvation is God's work. If he wants to save you R, he will do so. And I didn't bring any of this up...YOU did. Why?" Then he paused and looked at me for a minute and said, "Well, you know, I am wondering. I wonder about these things." There was the ticket...he was curious, he was seeking, and even though he defied everything I might have said, hearing that gave me a lot of hope.

The following few days R continued to ask me questions. We had lengthy conversations and he also spoke with other team members from America about these things as well. The last day of camp, R seemed different. His countenance had changed from hardened and stubborn to curious and open. He sat in the front row for Brad's teaching. He sang along at worship time. He continued to spend time with me and ask me questions, and when I invited him to our home church yesterday afternoon, he said he would think about it.

R ended up coming to our home church. He came and when Brad had us pair up with someone in the room to pray, he immediately looked at me and summoned me to come partner with him. He confessed that he didn't know how to pray, what prayer was like, and wanted to know. I explained to him how Jesus had taught the disciples to pray, acknowledging that God is a heavenly almighty being who deserves praise, glory, and thanks, but also a close and intimate Father whom we can talk to, go to for comfort and strength, tell our thoughts and feelings and desires to and be open with. There is no right or wrong way to pray, it's having a conversation with God, and so Brad and I took turns praying with R. After the service, R stayed after and asked me questions about salvation, sex before marriage, hypocrisy and why Christians continue to sin or do bad things even when they are saved, and eventually said to me..."Well, if certain things are sin, and I have done them already, then I cannot be saved. I cannot be a Christian because I've already done those things." It was so amazing to then look at him breathlessly and tell him that is the whole point of salvation and forgiveness-- that Jesus died and took the punishment for our sins so that if we believe in Him and put our trust in Him, then our sins will be forgiven and every sin we have ever committed is forgiven and washed away, we are cleansed and are new creations and God changes our hearts and was so amazing to see him and his curiosity, his questioning, and his demeanor towards Christianity change over a matter of 4 days. He then asked, "What if I become believer, and my friends banish me and no longer want me around?" I showed him the verse from John 12 where Jesus talks about if a grain of wheat falls along the ground but does not die to itself, it does not grow or produce anything, but if it dies to itself it grows and produces a good crop...that he who follows Jesus and leaves their houses, families, and everything they own will gain Christ which will be far better...

R is spending time with us tomorrow all day long. I ask you to please pray for his soul, that He will embrace the beautiful love and grace and salvation that Jesus is offering him.

It's funny, when I came here I did not expect to lead a Russian boy to know the Lord. God is so good, working out all things for the good of those who love him, and although the past week was extremely challenging and there were times I would cry and pray aloud to him to rescue me from the unbelief I had, I am so thankful for it. I'm thankful for the American team for putting on the camp so that 14 Russians can hear about Jesus and see him lived among their lives and ours. Praise Him!

Part 3: Monastery Pictures

Oh, we also visited this awesome monastery in Kalinina, very famous in Russia. It was breathtaking and beautiful and glorious, and I even got a bottle of "holy water" from a priest. Sweet!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Update: Jane is coming to camp!

If you read the post below about me witnessing to a girl named Jane, she has decided to come to our English Camp this upcoming Thursday-Sunday where the Hope for Perm team, myself, along with a group of Americans from good ol' Hurst, Texas will be hosting an English Language camp. During the time there we also will be giving messages of the gospel and about Jesus. I am SO excited that she is coming and that I will be able to continue to minister to her and further our friendship there.

Be praying for us at the camp this Thursday-Sunday, that the 14 Russian students will be able to see Jesus lived out through our lives and that He will capture their hearts. Pray that the kingdom will be furthered!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

He who has ears to hear...let him hear!

July 1st was an amazing day. I met with Jane and Sasha, two girls I met last week in the tourist office. We spent about 4 hours together walking around Perm and spending time in a little cafe. It was so amazing because in God's graciousness I was able to share the entire message of Jesus/the gospel with them.

I asked them if they had a faith or religion and Sasha said "well I'm christian, because when I was a baby my parents took me to the orthodox church and baptized me." Jane said "I guess I am nothing because my parents did not do that for me." It was so cool to get to tell her that just because she wasn't baptized as an infant, doesn't mean that she cannot be a Christian...and explain to Sasha that her baptism as an infant is not an indicator of her salvation. I continued to spend time with them and eventually asked them if I could share my faith with them. They had brought up astrology and horoscopes and if I followed mine, and I told them no because it put too much power in human hands for our lives and path where God is the one who should determine that. I then asked if I could share what I believed with them, and they said yes.

In David Platt's book "Radical" he writes of the following metaphor of how Christianity is different than other religions, and I shared it with the two girls. Think of God, high and mighty, standing on top of a mountain. Other religions have laws and rules and works that get you to God eventually if you keep doing them, and you will work your way up the mountain and finally achieve God at the top. If you follow the 5 pillars of Islam and keep the rules, laws, fasting, prayers, and "balance the scales" of good and bad in your life, you will hopefully get to God. There is no forgiveness in the Muslim faith, you just have to do enough good to outweigh the bad, and your goodness will move you upwards to God. In Buddhism, you pray and meditate and try to live a life free of desires and sin and eventually you will find peace, nirvana, ultimately God or some desired afterlife. I can go on about other religions, but the key is that Christianity, on the other hand, is different. In Christianity, no matter what we do, we can't get up that mountain or do enough on our own to get us even close, because we always fall, make mistakes, and sin. We will never on our own do enough "good" and good works to get us to God; who are we to think we are good enough or doing enough? No, the beauty is that instead of us climbing up a mountain to get to him, GOD instead comes down from the mountain, picks us up and rescues us and saves us from ourselves, and carries us up the mountain.

I told them about Jesus coming down to earth and dying for the sins of the world, taking on the wrath of God in that moment as he endured all the punishment God had for sin and sinners and taking it all right then. I also explained that just because someone is baptized or lives in a certain region doesn't mean that they are automatically a Christian. It has to do with their faith, belief, and if their life is lived in a way that says I follow Jesus. Jane looked close to tears and like she had discovered or heard some great news...she looked really joyful and I saw hope in her eyes, truly. Sasha was content with the conversation but afterwards she started talking about astrology and horoscope signs and how my aura and electricity connects with others and that's why my words are well received. Jane did not seem to agree with her, and it was kind of strange to hear, but I told her than any goodness seen in me is because of Jesus in me. We did not talk much after that about it, but I could see that Jane's mind was whirling with the story shared, and she commented that she really liked the mountain example. They want to continue to spend time with me while I am here, and Jane might even come to our summer camp, which would be awesome! It was really cool getting to do that, share Jesus and the hope that He brings and life that He gives. I got emotional and joyful while telling it...I can't express how incredible it was to share that story with people who had never heard.

I have been reading through Acts and today I saw something very interesting that Paul does when he speaks to a King in chapter 26. Paul not only shares with King Agrippa about Jesus, the prophets, and God's promises, but then asks him "Do you believe the prophets? I know you believe." King Agrippa says to Paul, "In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?" and Paul said, Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am-- except for these chains." Paul boldly claims God, answers honestly that YES, I want you to become a Christian and know this love that I have!, and asks him if he believes after sharing with him. This is something that I did not do with these two girls, asking them if they believed or pressing to know more of what they thought of the gospel of Jesus after I shared. Next time I know to do this, so that I can further understand how they received the words and lead them to recognizing God's saving grace in their lives.