Saturday, July 30, 2011
So, this post is titled "What NOT to do Overseas" because I definitely wish that I could change the fact that my poor little ankle is sprained due to my desires to climb trees that are too high for me to step up into. Ooops.....
What have I learned since then?
1. Be very careful when the nearest hospital is 2 hours away.
2. Trees may appear higher than they seem.
3. Russian hospitals may or may not be handicap accessible (mine wasn't and it was kind of funny to be in a wheel chair and then have to get out at a certain point and walk with friends supporting me.)
4. You really have to look in Russia to find crutches.
5. Needing help can be a very humbling experience. The camp is also not handicap accessible and I have been carried up the stairs by boys to the last 2 meals. Being carried by people is one of my HUGEST pet-peaves so I've had to force myself to let it go and just recieve help.
6. Being the 'slow one' will require lots of patience for me. I am a fast walker and when we go to St. Petersburg, it may be a tough day for me. I just want to have fun and I want my team to have fun. I may have to say 'no' to things and I will have to be okay with that. I was already struggling with patience yesterday, but I got some sleep last night and feel a lot better now.
7. You never know what's going to happen, I only have a few days left here, and I need to live it up as best as I can in spite of my circumstances. It can still be the 'best' it can be even if it's different than what I pictured the 'best' being.
This adventure continues to be unpredictable, but it is the BEST. The next time I update I will be back in AMERICA!!! Now it's on to one more day here at camp, a day on the road, another day in St. Petersburg and a day of flying home. Please pray for my ankle and pray for safety as we begin the journey back.
In Joy- yes JOY.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Oh, this week has gone by WAY too quickly. I feel like a blinked and Friday came! Today is our final day of teaching here in Russia and then on Monday we leave for St. Petersburg to see the city before our flight back to America.
This week, I co-taught a class each day with another team member and than had another class on my own each day. Our class attendance this week has been poor because many of our students are at 'Modna', the island camp that we went to for the day a few weeks ago. Our co-taught class was a group of beginners and my 'alone' class are high-intermediate English speakers. I have only taught beginners the whole time I've been here, so it has been kind of a fun, special treat to see what it's like to teach a different skill-level and plan different kinds of activities for them. My intermediate class is also all girls, so that has been fun too. They are all middle-school aged and very sweet and enthusiastic. Today as our final day of class we are going to do a photo scavenger hunt around camp so that should be a lot of fun!
Some highlights of this week have been:
1. WINNING ( I don't know how we did it- but we did!) the group dance contest. We danced with two of the athletic trainers and one of our interpreters and it was actually really fun. We made up a dance and then were surprised by what our music was going to be when we got there. Luckily our second song (that I had do to a solo to...yeah one person had to do a solo.) was "Cotton-Eyed Joe" so I knew how to dance to that one! I pulled a little boy from the crowd who I knew was a good dancer and we both clicked our heels in unison to the music for a bit. It was hilarious! Now we have to compete tonight for the second round. We are all dressing as different animals and doing a funny dance. I will be the grasshopper.
2. Paddle Boats. Two of our helpers took us paddle boating a few days in a row and it was so much fun. We went out to the middle of the Mologa River (Don't worry it's not the Mississippi or anything) and jumped off the boats and went swimming.
3. Teaching some of our helpers American card games. They LOVE "Phase 10" and one of the girls on my team even gave her deck away to one of the boys. We have played "Phase 10" quite a bit and I've also played "Spades" and "Nerts" with my team mates.
4. Watching "Tangled" with Natasha. One of our helpers had a movie night with us the other night and it was so fun. We put the English subtitles on for her and had some candy and relaxed.
5. Listening to two sermons from Havest Vineyard in Ames. I was really missing my church family this week and so it was wonderful to be able to just click on a link online and listen to Josh and Cory preach!
6. Going to a 5-year-old's Birthday Party! One of the little girls whose parents work here had a Birthday this week and our helper Genya, even though he is a teenage guy, dressed up as a "Karlsson" (It's a Swedish character by the same author as Pippi) and went to the party to give the girl her birthday cake. We went with him and got to have some watermelon and sing "Happy Birthday" in English with the kids. She had her party at a picnic table under a tent and everything was so bright and decorated with streamers and balloons. It was just like an American birthday party in so many ways.
As I get ready to pack up and leave here in a few days, I realize that I will miss my time here so much. It has been a once-in-a-lifetime blessing and I have learned so much about myself, people, and the world. I am excited to extend hospitality in new ways when I get home and see how I can apply the things I have learned here to my life in Ames, Iowa. It has been such a blessing to be loved, served, and cared for here in ways that I could never have provided for myself. God has sent his angels with us and has given us people to bless our lives that we will never forget.
Blessings and Joy,
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I hope that you are all well and enjoying the height of Summer wherever you are! I am doing well, and enjoyed this week at Yantar and all of the new events, people, and changes that have occurred.
We got our new group of students this weekend and began classes with them this week. We are team teaching this time and teach 2 classes each morning instead of one. It has been so fun! My new students are all English beginners, so we are doing lots of songs, dialogs, and vocabulary with them. The last few days have been focused on numbers so we have taught them about how to say their birthdays and now we are working on telling time in English. We will be doing more with that today.
Our friend Galina has been here with us this week and we have had a lot of fun with her too. She has been helping us by speaking to the administration as our interpreter and she is in charge of coordinating our new students with classes. We have had lots of fun dancing this week at the 'Disco' at camp with her, going swimming at the river, and even eating a delicious meal that her sister Dinara prepared and brought to camp for us. It's amazing what a little good food can do after you've been eating Russian camp food for 3 weeks! She even brought a cold bottle of Coca-Cola!
It's amazing how aware I have become of my daily luxury by being here. We are in such a rural place, but it is so beautiful and so full of love and life that I only think about what I miss some of the time. I can't go to the store, I can't drink coffee, I can't go shopping, I can't be online every day, but it doesn't matter. I miss it, but it doesn't matter at all. I'm alive and I am here and I have everything I need. I have the same life here that everyone else does and eat the same food and do the same things. We are all happy and know that this temporary season is a gift for all of us.
I feel like a lot of the reason why I'm here is because God is showing me things about myself as a teacher, but also as a person. I feel like I stepped out of the control of my life so that God could lay it out for me and place me back on it when I was ready for it. I am excited to return to Ames and to all of the things that I have to look foward to.
Praise God for sending me to Russia!!!!!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Yesterday we said 'good-bye' to our first group of students. from the AMTEK school in Cherepovets, and it was a very emotional time. Those kids were so special to us and we really became close with them over the 2 weeks that we were together. I had kids that were English beginners and were ages 9-12. They were so precious and so eager to learn. We had so many laughs in class even though it was often difficult for us to communicate with words. I will also miss the teenagers from AMTEK who helped us every day, spoke Russian on our behalf, and blessed us with meaningful conversation in English. Their English teacher, Elena Nicolievna, has been such a GREAT HELP to us as well. She made sure that 2 students that were here last week will be coming back to the camp for the next 2 weeks with us as our interpreters and helpers. That is something she didn't have to do, but she did it. AMAZING. Praise God for friends when you need them and can't do anything for yourself! (Sign Language is okay in some circumstances, but not always effective when you need it to be.)
We got to ride the bus back to town with our students and met some of their parents when they picked them up. Then, Elena, Irina (the Principal), and some of the teachers that had been at camp with us took us to the AMTEK school and gave us a tour. I will post my pictures later when I get back to the US, because I can't get it to work here, but I will tell you now that I was SO IMPRESSED with the school and it looked like an amazing place to learn. They had SEVERAL 'Smart Boards' and state-of-the-art technology, the building was beautifully rennovated and cared for, and student work was all over the place. Their auditorium was gorgeous and full of new padded chairs. It seemed more like an American private school than a public school, but it IS a Russian Public school. It's a science and math magnet school in town and they have a 100% college acceptance rate for their graduates. wow. I think the teachers there have it REALLY good and the headmaster Dimitri seemed like he was a pretty good guy.
The sad news is that I don't think I will be going to Moscow this trip. We had the chance to go, but I said 'no' because it will cost $115 just to get there, not to mention taxis, food, etc. when we are actually in the city and I know it's not a cheap place to be. I'm okay, just a little disappointed, but I know I made the right choice. If God wants me to go to Moscow someday, I know He will make it happen when it is right. This just didn't feel right to me. I think we will be able to go to St. Petersburg before we leave, so I will still get to go to the city and see some famous places :D
Right now, we have 3 days until our new students arrive at camp. In that time we really don't have any obligations. Two of our team members are going to Moscow on that trip, so they will be getting ready for that. I hope to spend these three days reflecting and journaling, relaxing on the bank of the river, and just resting. As I remember from working at Riverside, camp takes a lot of energy so it IS important to be quiet and be refreshed.
Well, that's what has been going on for me! My feelings are: Peaceful, Patient, Reflective, in Anticipation and- yes - dependent on the care of others and of God.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Right now it's about 6:30 am on Thursday and it has been such an interesting couple of days that I wanted to make sure to get up early so I would have time to write it all down! Here is the overall breakdown:
Monday: On Monday we taught in the morning and then had a great day planning lessons, playing volleyball, and THEN we got to have a Russian traditional campfire in honor of the 4th of July. We toasted bread over the fire and topped it with a mixture of butter and chunks of garlic. They have never had S'mores here and we wish we would have brough some marshmallows so we could make them! They also sang about 15 different songs for us around the campfire that became a tradition during the Soviet period and are still sung by almost every youth in Russia today who sits around the fire. They told us that most of them are romantic ballads. It was so cool!!! We also performed a few songs (but they aren't worth mentioning)! We have done a lot of impromptu singing and dancing since we came here, but it has been a lot of fun.
Tuesday: On Tuesday we had class in the morning and then they took us to a little camp on an Island about an hour from here for some special activities an entertainment. It was Laurie's birthday, so the kids sang to her and even gave her a Russian birthday card! The island camp was what we would call an 'adventure camp' here, but they called it a 'military training camp'. While we hiked around we got to do a high ropes challenge, shoot a pellet gun (YES-I shot a gun and I was terrified, even though it was just a pellet gun), toss old bullets in a game that was kind of like 'horse shoes', ride a zip line AND learn how to disassemble and reassemble an old Kalashnikov rifle. I have pictures of all of this that I will post when I get back to the States probably because our connection out here makes it hard to post pictures. When we got back to camp, we arrived just in time to run to the auditorium and perform in the talent competition that we promised one of the girls (Maya) that we would help her with. We seriously RAN from the van to the stage. We performed "Let it Be" (of all things, me singing the Beatles in Russia!) and she played guitar and sang, I played piano, and the other ladies on my team were the back up singers. I'm glad we made it back in time! Maya was so glad we helped her out. She said "Oh, I think we will win first place!" I haven't heard the results yet.
Wednesday: On Wednesday we had an excursion to Cherepovets that was partially for tourism but mostly so that we could register our passports with the local authorities. We went to a restaurant and I had my first cup of espresso since arriving in Russia (yay!), a quiche, and some pickled herring. Then we went to the local Orthodox church. It has beautiful gold onion domes on the top and inside is filled with incense, gold, jewels, relics, candles and icons all over the walls. They were having a mass when we walked in, so we could hear the singers (it was BEAUTIFUL) but couldn't see them because there was a giant gated wall seperating us and the women from the room where the priest and other men were worshiping. It was a very beautiful and mysterious place. We had to cover our heads when we went in too. After the church we went to an old, restored nobility house and toured the grounds and learned about the history of the family that had owned the house and what happened to them during and after the 1917 revolution. Some were killed, some excommunicated to Siberia, and some managed to escape to other countries like France and Belgium. They had done a great job of finding period pieces for the house, family photos and paintings, and even restoring many of the original items to the house that had survived. It was a fun history lesson for us about Cherepovets. Then we went to register with the police. It wasn't something we could do on our own, so Galina and Denara (Our friends that helped us the first couple of days we were here) helped us all day with talking to the police, basically doing ALL of our paperwork (It was all in Russian), and making sure everything was in order. Again- we could NOT have handled that on our own. I'm so thankful to have had their help yesterday! After that we went back into town, went to a couple of stores for things we needed and for some fun things (like Russian beer and souveniers) and then got back on the van to camp.
Today, in about an hour I will go to 'morning workout' with the kids, breakfast, and then teach my class. We will see what today has in store for us! I am glad to be back on site with the kids and hope to spend lots of time with them today. They leave on Tuesday so we want to spend as much time with them as possible since they are such a great group! Our next round of students will arrive on the 15th so we have about 3 days without students in between to get work and planning done and to rest a little bit.
Well, that's what's happening at Yantar! I hope all of you are well and enjoyed the update!
Sunday, July 3, 2011
It's Sunday evening here at Yantar and I'm reflecting on the events of this last week with joy and peace. I can see that this week has shown me so many things about how I can trust God with all of my heart and that my own understanding is NEVER something that can be fully relied upon.
In Russia, I have NO power and can't say ANYTHING to really fully communicate how I feel, what I want and need, and I don't know how to operate here on my own because I don't have the skills and tools to do so. So many of the prideful things that I rely on in America like persuasive speech, knowlege and expertise, etc. mean nothing here and I can only depend on God and EVERYTHING that He has to offer to me. What a beautiful place to be in- it is such a receptive position! I AM like a child here in Russia, who has to fully rely on her caregiver. God is answering so many of my prayers through this experience.
My team and I were talking today about how well we are being taken care of here and how happy everyone is to have us here as their guest. We are truly appreciated by the teachers and kids and I know that they will see God's love in us for them through our actions toward them and to each other. God has us here for His purpose and we are all on board to serve and love wherever we can. We are in a perfect place to have real relationships with everyone because we LIVE with them. It is a truly unique experience.
Those are my thoughts today! I hope you are all doing well!!!
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Blessings to you! I hope all of you are well and that you have had a wonderful week this week. My team and I are safely at the Yantar camp in Russia. We arrived early on Wednesday morning (Russian Time) after 16 hours of flying and 10-11 more hours of travelling by van on bumpy rural roads to the camp. It was definitely smooth, but exhausting adventure. We were picked up by the airport by a girl named Galina who is 23 and speaks English very well. She befriended us and helped us the first full day that we were here at Yantar too, which was great. Her sister also drove 2 hours from Cherepovets to meet us and we were able to have dinner and talk with her too. They said they might come visit us here in 2 weeks and hopefully can take us into town or something.
We are 2 hours outside of Cherepovets here, and aren't really close to any town or village. This camp is a place that the children come to get away from the city and find health with the fresh air and nature. They excercise every morning, eat healthy food, play games, make theatrical productions for competitions, and some study here as well (like the kids we are teaching right now). There is constant music blasting over the loud speakers in front of the main building from early in the morning until late at night, which is different than camp in America. There is a loop of children's songs that plays every day and one of them even features the "Tro Lo Lo" man from the youtube video. It makes me chuckle every time I hear it.
A highlight so far for me has been talking to some of the advanced students (who are mostly teenagers) and giving them an opportunity to use their English skills. They seem really mature and have worked really hard in school to build their vocabularies. I think some of them have had tutors, and a few have been in special English-focused schools since they were in 1st grade. Almost every day, we will have a chance to go to the river bank with the students and play volleyball and swim. We did that for the first time yesterday and it was a great way to build relationships with them across the language barrier.
I'm excited to teach my first lesson today too! I will be teaching a class of beginners, so we will see what that is going to look like. I'm anticipating good things. My team is in good spirits so far. We are tired and we are awake at strange hours as we adjust to the time difference, but we are excited, well taken care of, and ready to trust God and what He is doing here.
We had a great time of worship on Thursday night, so that was encouraging to me. We sang and read some scripture, and I cried because I was overwhelmed with emotion to be here. It was kind of disbelief/culture shock/joy wrapped up all in one. My prayer requests for this weekend and the upcoming week are that my team would be rested and adjusted, that our classes would be a blessing for everyone, and that we would continue to be healthy and united as a team that trusts in God and relies on his provision for everything we need. God is here.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
This is just a brief update of what I'm up to right now. I am currently at training in Pasadena and things are going really well. I am enjoying my team and all of the things that I'm learning about teaching language learners. I practice teach tonight for the first time, so that should be a good learning experience!
We have classes every day this week from 8am to 9pm, so we are VERY busy! I feel like I am aborbing so much information that will be useful for when we get to the camp.
We offically leave for Russia next Monday! I'm so excited!!! My return date is oficially August 3rd, which is nice to know too.
Well, I don't have a lot of time before I need to be at my next session! I love you all and hope that you are doing well.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
This is a song I wrote today as I was preparing to go to Russia. I hope you all enjoy it! It is called "This One's Mine" and it is about how the Lord has chosen me to be his and that he will ALWAYS take care of me because of that.
The recording quality is poor (I don't have fancy equipment or anything!) and my playing is far from perfect since I just wrote the song, but I still think it is beautiful and worth sharing with the people who are praying for me!
Only a few more days to go before I leave. Praise God for what He is doing.
Here is a translation if you can't understand the words:
"You lay your hand upon my head and you say this one's mine, this one's mine"
"My Cup Overflows, I know"
"Your hand will never leave me, the one you chose. My cup, overflows, I know"
Monday, June 6, 2011
I will be in Cherepovets this summer, which is between Moscow and St. Petersburg. It's a town of about 300,000 people, so I'm sure there will be plenty to see and do during our free time.
My team will be working at a place called the Yantar (Amber) youth camp. It is a place where kids with health problems can come for treatment and to have fun during the day. There are sports, drama, music, art and other activities for the kids to participate in. I'm sure my team will be doing all of those things as well as practicing English with all of the kids and becoming their new American friends :) Here is the translated link to the site's website. It is in babblefish, so some of the wording is funny, but you at least get the main idea.
I'm really getting excited for this! My team has been emailing back and forth now trying to figure out everything that we want to bring and prepare. More updates to come!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Of course my mind is racing with all kinds of questions including "Will I be good enough?", "Will I like it as much as I think I will?", "What will I REALLY learn from all of this?", and "How hard is this going to be?" I know that it's okay for me to have questions that I am waiting for answers to. All I know is that God has opened the door for me to spend my summer in Russia with a team of teachers because he has good things for me there that are part of His plan for my life.
If you had told me 6 months ago...which would have been December...what I would be doing this summer, I probably would have answered that I would be working part-time at Flowerama and part-time at another job to earn money for my semester of student-teaching in the fall. If you had asked me a year ago what I would have been doing...last June...I probably would have given the same answer. If you would have asked me two years ago, the answer still would have been the same. The year before that, I would have answered that I didn't know, but that I would probably be in grad school somewhere becoming a counselor.
This opportunity is REAL. I am actually going to Russia in a matter of weeks and it has all happened in a matter of a few months time. God is good and works in amazing and mysterious ways. I am so thankful and in awe of the mystery of living life dependent on the Lord.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
I'm so excited because, thanks to some very generous friends, I am going to buy my one-way ticket to LA today for my week of training before I go to Russia.
Today is also important because it's April 19th and I leave for Teach Overseas on June 19th. It's only two months away!!! I can't believe it.
I am about half-way to my total fund raising goal right now, which is so amazing. Within the three weeks that my letters have been out, I have been SHOWERED, seriously. SHOWERED. with generosity.
God is taking such good care of me and teaching me so much about how I TRULY can trust in his provision and protection in all things. When I felt like He was asking me to go to Russia, the whole process seemed so overwhelming and impossible, but I knew that He was telling me that he would take care of me and that I would be surprised at how he worked in all of it. WELL--I AM surprised and I know that I will continue to be surprised daily as I prepare to go.
I've got my suitcase, I've got almost half of the support money that I need, and now I'm about to buy a plane ticket. Wow. This is cool.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
I was surprised at how much joy I got out of putting the support letters together and preparing them for the mail. For each letter, I prayed for the person/people that would be getting it and thanked God for putting them in my life. It was an awesome way to reflect and realize how thankful I am to God for people that I know and for the blessing to being part of his body.
Another blessing is that I received my first 'support' for Russia. A friend and her husband generously gave me a suitcase for my travels! Yay!
I am excited to see what God is going to do. I know I will be continuously blown away and amazed by how everything comes together. He IS and ALWAYS IS faithful.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Let's be in contact! I would love to send you a letter!
Monday, March 21, 2011
1. It is written by a woman who is from Russia and her use of English has made me laugh a little bit. She used the word picturesque when talking about street vagrants. (I think she wanted to point out that her description of the city was just like the mental picture you get in your head when you read about it.)
She also used the analogy that sitting down to a meal in Russia serves the same purpose as the 'Red Indian' (yes, this book was written in 2007...) peace pipe. That eating in Russia symbolizes peace and friendship. I thought that analogy was funny because it isn't actually one that westerners...especially Americans really relate to, but how is she supposed to know! I think it's interesting.
2. Most importantly though, I'm learning things about Russian culture that I didn't know before and didn't learn when I was there several years ago. I had no idea that most Russians associate smiling at someone you don't know as either creepy or signifying that your are 'stupid'. (That may be a challenge for me as people tell me I smile even when I'm not trying to...)
Aside from the whole peace-pipe thing, I am also really excited to bond with people in Russia over the dinner table. Eating with people is basically my favorite thing in the world, so I'm sure that I will enjoy the food and the company.
The second book is a guidebook that includes all kinds of different places and ways to get around in the city. It has public transportation maps and information about where to rent bikes (YES!), go shopping, eat food, and experience performances and other events.
Another fun feature is that it has transcribed pronunciations of important key phrases in Russian, so I'll be able to study some basic language before I go to training and hopefully learn some more. It also has a transrciption of the cyrillic alphabet, so I'll know how to sound things out in Russian and try to figure out what they mean.
there are all kinds of little features that I'll have fun reading about in this book, and it will come with me in my suitcase when I go.
I want to make sure I'm dilligent in my study of where I'm going to make the most out of my time there. I want to learn about the culture so that I can ask people questions when I get there for an even greater understanding.
I'm sure there will be more reading to come! I'll keep updating! Support letters should be printed and mail-ready by the end of the week!
Thursday, March 3, 2011
1. From Nyet to Da: Understanding the Russians by Yale Richmond (Reccommended by Teach Overseas)
2. More than a Native Speaker: An Introduction to Volunteers Teaching Abroad by Don Snow (Reccommended by Teach Overseas)
3. Orthodoxy and Difference: Essays on the Geography of Russian Orthodox Churches in the 20th Century by D. Sidorov
4. Russian Society and the Orthodox Church: Religion in Russia after Communism by Zoe Katrina Knox
5. Of course multiple travel and history books :D
I'll be looking for some more too! I'm so pumped! It will be good to read and get into the mindset of what I may experience.
I'm thankful for the advice of friends!
Friday, February 18, 2011
My 'draft' of my support letter is done, but I need to revise it and wait a few weeks to send it out because I'm moving! We will be moving into a HOUSE that my roommate just bought in the middle of March, so I don't want anyone's reply to get lost in the shuffle. I was also thinking today that I should make a list of personal expenses that will be oustide of the support that I have to turn in to Teach Overseas that I still need. Those needs include:
1. A 25 or 28-inch travel-worthy rolling suitcase. I only have a small one from like
1994...seriously. It's my mom's old one.
2. A power strip with international adapters
3. Approximately $150 for my one-way ticket to Los Angeles for training in June
Those are the big ones! I will try to include those in my support letter as well as those are needs that will not be able to come out of the amount of funds in checks made out to Teach Overseas.
I love organizing my thoughts on this blog! It's so much fun.
Something that I've been thinking about the last couple of days is the religious climate in Russia. Most people that I will encounter there will be relatively familiar with the gospel if they are not believers. Although the Orthodox church is the 'national church' of Russia, the aftermath of arelgious communism where people may claim church affiliation but not attend or believe.
Building relationships and showing the love of Jesus to my friends will be a powerful and dynamic way for the Truth to break through in people's lives. I am looking forward to that.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Well, after a busy week of sickness and working 'Valentines Day' at "Flowerama", I'm finally able to focus again on my progress for going to Russia.
I got an information packet from Teach Overseas.org last week that detailed the timelines for my fundraising as well as some of the things that I will need to do to raise support.
My timeline for funds is:
1. May 15th, $900 so they can purchase my airline tickets
2. June 4th, $1640 as a next installment
3. June 21st, the final $1900
I have a long way to go, but am confident that God will provide if it's His will!
I am making the final draft of my support letter, so those will be coming out soon!
Friday, February 4, 2011
Today I recieved a call from TeachOverseas.org that I was accepted onto their team to travel to St. Petersburg, Russia for the Month of July into the first week of August to teach English! More information will follow as I learn what I need to do to prepare for this amazing experience. Praise God!!!