Friday, October 9, 2009

One week in

Hello All,

So we have been in Azerbaijan for a week and have a lot to tell. We aren't really sure where to begin. As you may have figured out, internet is not readily available. We had a group meeting today in one of the bigger cities and were able to find an internet cafe. We are living in a small town, probably a few thousand. Our host mother is very warm and welcoming. We have a host brother that lives there, he is 21, and we really had our first chance to hang out with him on the night of my birthday. His work schedule is kind of crazy, so we don't really see him.
To be honest we have been stressed out. The difficulties that we have ran into are something that we have not experienced before or expected. The Azeri staff that are working with us are a great group of individuals. Our LCF's (language and cultural facilitators) are young people like us, away from their family, here to teach us. We have already become good friends with some of the staff. Our minds and patience have been pushed and stretched everyday. We are healthy, which is a blessing. The language barrier with our host family is hard. We are happy with how we have been progressing and are learning more and more everyday. It didn't take us long to be tossed into the thick of it. We have already been taking ourselves to training and language classes by way of mini busses, or marshutkas, as they are called here. It is packed full and always an interesting ride.
My 25th birthday in Azerbaijan was more than I expected. Alicia went to a local market and bought me a cake. This was very contrary to what she would have liked to do since she enjoys baking so much but baking in the home is very uncommon here (and hard). She made it special all the same. Our host family sang happy birthday in Azeri and we took lots of pictures (which will be posted later).
Living here is not easy. It has already taught us much about ourselves that we are challenged and frustrated by. We at times wonder about what it will be like to finally do what we've been preparing for. We have a new respect for the people here. Everyone says training is the hardest part and we look forward to finishing. We miss our family (so much!) but we need to focus on building relationships here now. It will be much easier once we learn the language and absorb the culture. We look forward to this more than anything else in our service. We are living like the locals. There are no amenities and we have little money, but we have all that we "need". Don't worry, moms, we're taken care of. Our host mother is very protective and loving. We love you all and miss America, but we are pushing through. The apples and pomegranates are mind blowing. We'll update again as soon as possible.
-Derek and Alicia


  1. thanks for sharing and being so honest--it gives us all lots to pray about!... i wish there was something profound i could say that would resonate somewhere deep inside and give you some encouragement.. perhaps some scripture will be the best thing--

    "From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise him--may your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him--those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn--for he has done it." Psalm 22: 25-31

    we are praying for you guys, and we're with you in the Spirit of our Lord.... much love!

  2. Wow. It's hard knowing that things are difficult for you, but I know God will use this experience to make you stronger in many ways. We never get strong the easy way. My heart is heavy - yet I trust you will be honest and open with us. Sarah is right - we know how to pray for you when we know how you are struggling. We are getting set up with phone cards and will call you soon. I just hope we can catch you when you have some time to talk. I take it you don't even have indoor plumbing? Why is cooking an issue - what do they do for meals? Thanks Alicia for making Derek's birthday special. It was a very hard day for me, but it sounds like it was a good day for you, Derek. I got the impression from something that Alicia said that you are not in training together - are you only together at night? How far do you have to commute, Derek? Where do you do training, Alicia? I'm sorry for all the questions - I just want to know everything. I love you both so much. Be strong together - Be strong in Christ! Mom

  3. (This is Elisabeth Mott, in case it doesn't post my real name)..... Good to hear you guys have arrived safe and are adjusting, I know the transition is never easy. But God is good, and you both are keeping positive and open minded (and open hearted) to adapting to the culture. I am proud of you both for giving up your comfortable lives to live in a country you do not speak the language (yet) and don't have the comfort of even being able to cook. Keep strong in your faith and keep your head up. You two are in my prayers.