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Autumn Ramblings

A glimpse into the past few month since I helped with Training Camp…

H Squad at Stirred Conference Photo by Casey Wells

Stirred Conference in Gainesville, GA. A refreshing weekend of worship and being with my AIM family. I was surprised to see many people that I love dearly, including some of my H squad family and my roommate from Haiti. Most surprising of all was seeing my dear mom and dad Hillebrand who drove down from Indianapolis. Worship was led by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser and was phenomenal as always. I suggest checking them out if you have never heard them. I respect them a great deal and love their heart for God and His Kingdom coming.


Photo by Sean Williamson


My dear friend, Vicki Welch, celebrated her birthday during the same weekend as the conference and I drove to my home in Auburn, GA to be part of the celebration. Vicki and her family will be moving to Tanzania next August as missionaries with EITanzania. We had a big sleepover, played Imagine If (which I’m horrible at) and watched Fried Green Tomatoes (though I bailed somewhere in the middle for sleep). I was reminded once more how much I love my Ekklesia community.   (I also thought if I put any photos I managed to sneak from the party that I may get jumped … you can all thank me later).



Jeff and Alycea Hylton



A Little Alpaca Love



I spent the next week with Jeff and Alycea Hylton and their wonderful family.The Hylton’s are precious and have such a heart for their home being a retreat for people. It is a home filled with peace, love and laughter and I know God is going to use them in a lot of people’s lives (and already has). They are doing some renovations to add on to their haven, please keep this process in your prayers.


The Adventures of Hillebrand and Pridge



Very concerned for our safety



One of my best friends from the World Race, Kim Hillebrand,  just finished squad leading and flew in for the week. It was a great time filled with lots of laughter, deep discussions, movie watching, prayer and entertaining the kids. Of course Chick-fil-a and Swedish Fish were also a part of the week, as well as a Target run. It is kind of hard knowing it will be at least a year before I get another Kim hug. . . but we aren’t talking about that fact.


Amazing Chicken Salad Sandwich

Leaving Gainesville, I popped into Riverside Church where I worked as an Office Admin. It was great seeing the staff, whom I miss greatly, even though I don’t miss answering the phone and scheduling appointments. Kay, Melanie and I enjoyed a great lunch and time of catching up in Athens at a place called Marti’s at Midday. My first time there, but definitely a place I’d go again. You should check it out… the chicken salad sandwich was WONDERFUL!



I also had the chance to sit down and visit with my former professor, slave driver and friend Jennifer Benson in the Communications Department at Emmanuel College. Seems I won the Comm Dept. Alumni Award this spring, but I was in Haiti and unable to attend. They were gracious enough to accept my reason for absence.


Now I am in Royston for a few days, back at my home there with Mary Beth and enjoying the Roystonian breakfast. In a few days I will be traveling to North Carolina and will be there through Thanksgiving (well that’s the plan for now, but we know how my plans function these days).

1 11 11 1 10

1 11 11 1 10

No it isn’t binary code. It is THE date.

January 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Two months from now, approximately 5,200 miles away from home, I will step off yet another plane and my feet will once more be in Kyiv, Ukraine.

I can hardly believe it. Am I ready for this?

Truthfully I will NEVER be ready, yet I long to be back with the university students that I love.

We chat on Facebook and leave messages but I am ready to hear laughter and give hugs again. I am even looking forward to being tortured with Russian lessons, and I’m sure friends here are ready for me to stop torturing them with the five phrases I have already mastered.

The past few weeks have been a gamut of emotions as my departure date creeps closer. Finances loom in my head but the assurity of God’s leading, His call, and His love for Ukraine stands taller. Fears of my own inadequacy whisper in my ear, but then I chat with one of my students and it erases all doubt. I wake up with a chill in the air and try to motivate myself to get out from under the warmth of my covers and wonder how in the world I will survive winter… ok so I haven’t found anything that counters this one yet.

Within the past week I was given the money needed to acquire my visa. So I am sending off my application for this very important sticker. It still seems a bit like a dream.

With a visa and a ticket to my new home that just leaves monthly support for actually living. My goal is to raise $1,150 a month to cover expenses. If you would like to support me either with a one time gift or monthly, click here for more info.

And if you come across any great deals on Under Armour please let me know, I think I’m going to make sure they stay in business at least one more year.


Passionately Extreme

For over a year now I have been trying to pinpoint what it is that I love about Ukraine. People frequently ask “Why Ukraine?” when I speak of my love. Usually my answer is “I have no idea.”

However, recently while perusing various blogs and articles, I came across “For the love of Slavic culture” written by Sarah Wade, a missionary in Ukraine. She describes the Slavic world as “neither a warm nor a cold culture, but it is passionately extreme.”

Passionately extreme… I like that.  Why?

Probably because I’m that way. Maybe part of my love for Ukraine is that I don’t have a problem with there simultaneously being two polar extremes. In fact my life tends to operate in that manner.

Please don’t read this the wrong way… I am a huge advocate for bringing balance into your life. However, it is also true that for every situation there are two opposing sides. I usually see both sides too clearly, understand both sides of arguments to well and sometimes  I admit I get lost trying to reconcile the extremes.

They don’t always have to be reconciled though. The fact of life is that there is death and life, beauty and suffering, rejoicing and mourning, knowledge and mystery.

I still don’t think I have found a good way to explain it the way I see it and understand it, but for now I would say “passionately extreme” is a good description of both Ukraine and myself.

Are You a Dragon Trainer?

Snuggled up under a blanket, armed with lime and salt popcorn and a plate of hot from the oven brownies, Kim Hillebrand and I settled in to watch How to Tame Your Dragon last night, which I have been wanting to see ever since it released in movie theaters during my stint in Haiti.

It did not disappoint and, honestly, I almost put it in again today to watch one more time and I am certain it will become a part of my all-favorite animated movies list right under Beauty and the Beast and Up. So if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend (Mom… wait until I am home!)How to Train Your Dragon

One bit of dialogue that has been rolling around in my brain for the past 24 hours is this:

Hiccup: If only I had’ve killed that dragon when I found him in the woods! It would’ve been better… for everyone
Astrid: You’re right. Everyone else would’ve done it. So why didn’t you?
Astrid: Why *didn’t* you?
Hiccup: I don’t know… I couldn’t. Look why does it matter?
Astrid: Because I want to remember what you say, RIGHT NOW
Hiccup: Oh for the love of – I was a coward. I was weak! I wouldn’t kill a dragon
Astrid: You said wouldn’t that time
Hiccup: Well whatever! I wouldn’t! The first viking in 300 years who wouldn’t kill a dragon.
Astrid: [pause] First to ride one though. So…
Hiccup: [sighs] I wouldn’t kill him, because he looked as frightened as I was. I looked at him, and I saw myself.

Poor Hiccup, even his name suggests that he’s a misfit and rightly so. What I love though is that he doesn’t do what everyone else would have done. He can’t and won’t. And because of that he comes to discover what 300 years of vikings missed out on, to see the dragons from a different perspective and to change the lives of countless vikings and dragons thereafter.

Do you have the gift of a dangerous dragon in your life? Can you look past your fear and see it from a new perspective, one that might not just change your life but the lives of others as well?

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