Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Laughs & Loves of a College Freshman

I still can't believe half of my freshman year in college is a masquerade of memories of the past. In my last post I focused more on the sadder/struggling side of things of college life. In this post I hope to capture those moments of life where laughter echoes the sunshine filled windows of the human soul... May these crazy stories of this Lithuanian girl who lives in America make your heart smile...Blessings ~Ruslana Evelyn~

To this day, I am left SO speechless at how I ended up at North Central University. I can honestly say if I were talking to you face to face today, IT. WAS. ALL. GOD. Those 4 words are very much overused, but yet it is purely the beautiful truth of reality. To all my dear friends who are in the process of looking for a college or one day will have to face this milestone, if there is one thing I learned, it's that, if you commit your college choice to God, in other words, let HIM decide where he wants YOU to go, He will lead you to the right place. North Central University was literally THE LAST college I had in mind to go to. I applied to  3 public and 6 private Christian colleges. The application process was a daily living nightmare on earth that lasted about 1 year. How I survived? I don't know...I had my heart set on Colorado Christian University from day 1 of this college search all the way up until the first week of this past July. I'll forever hold close to my heart the beautiful memories that were made on my college visit to Colorado, and all the lovely new friends that I made those cold unpredictable days of February.I  had this mindset that this is clearly what God wanted and regardless if my family and friends around me didn't agree I was seriously going to WALK to Colorado from Minnesota BY MYSELF if that's what it took to go there. That's how desperate I was.I'm so glad that we serve a God who is greater than our ways and stubbornness.Slowly week by week past, and I narrowed down  my college decision to either Colorado Christian University or the U of M in Morris. North Central was not even in the picture...YET....Personally, speaking from experience, I wouldn't recommend  going through the ridiculous process of applying to 8 colleges, but I'm the type of person that would rather explore all the mysteries of this life than be ignorant to the unknown. Eventually the reality of life really hit me with a bang that God was not calling me to go to CCU...I seriously wanted to give up on life...and just when I thought that all college hope was lost, God brought to my mind the very last possible Christian college option...North Central University. I officially decided on going to NCU the first week in JULY. and I am forever thankful I did. This is just a mere summary of the war that took place, so if you ever need someone to talk to about this whole college thing, I'll be waiting with open arms =)  I just thought I'd share the process of how I got to North Central University, because all the beautiful realities of life that happened are because of God's decision to bring me into this blessed Christian college community...

The first memory that comes to mind is when one of my guy friends and I were walked the streets of downtown Minneapolis one cloudy/windy afternoon.  Out of nowhere there was this random guy in his 50s who started talking to us about Jesus. He asked us what our names were and I totally white lied "Ruslana". I mean think about it, the stupidity of telling a stranger in the cities that my name is ICE TEA...aka Aiste, it's such an uncommon name in America...AND to put the icing on the cake, the random guy asks "Are you two married?" and my guy friend says..."Not yet." At this point I'm sure you can just imagine the horror on my UnRussian face, as I look at my guy friend  questioning what he means by the two words "Not yet" and what scandalous heart secrets he's hiding from me... I was VERY tempted to say "Um yeah, we just got married last week, I lost my diamond ring a few blocks back, and we've been searching for it all afternoon"...LOL Eventually by the end of this awkward conversation we find out this random guy works for the Salvation Army.... =)

Swing Dancing:
Another memory that  comes to mind is swing dancing on Thursday nights at the Social Dance Studio in Minneapolis.Oh the lovely college guys you meet here...=) LOL I'll never forget the guy who taught me how to swing dance, I"M FOREVER THANKFUL for that moment...Also, I don't know if it's because of the Midwestern/"Northern gentlemen" culture, but alot of the guys were afraid to ask the girls to dance. I found this cutely funny. So me being my crazy self I just got over it and asked those guys to dance with me. =) I'll never forget dancing with this one young gentlemen. He told be he was from Uzbekistan. I was like OH MY GOSH YOU SPEAK RUSSIAN?!?!? He's like "Da." Then he said something to me in Russian with a smile on his face and I was like, what did you say? He's like "I asked you if you'd like a shot of vodka...just kidding" It was so funny...bless his dear Russian soul....<3

Being My Crazy Self:
Looking back, I remember that if I ever dared to walk the streets of Minneapolis by myself or with my dear friends, I would always put on my "Russian Musician Disguise". This other identity consisted of  black 3D movie glasses with the lens taken out, a knit red winter hat, Wine Is Everything lipstick, and the scandalous Lithuanian look on my face....

British Accents:
My NCU friends and I would have these cute little British tea parties. We would write down British names, put them in a hat and then draw a name, and then we'd go by that name for our tea party. I claimed that I was a Soviet Russian, who's name was Molly that spoke in a British accent.... After one of tea party's a few friends and I decided to FINALLY study for our Systematic Theology exam in the Carlson Commons area of NCU. Throughout our whole study time I spoke in a British accent. It was HILARIOUS. The group of people studying at the next table over looked at me like..."REALLY, R U FREAKIN SERIOUS"...I looked back...Yeah, totally....It was a great studying time to be alive......My British accent improved so used to seriously suck...LOL

Family Force 5 Concert:
On November 19th, Family Force 5, Grits, and Owl City were in concert at the U of M Fieldhouse. It was supposedly the largest college outreach in America in 10 years.... I'll never forget standing next to  2 of my NCU friends as Family Force 5 took the stage.... My favorite song "KOUNTRY GENTLEMEN" started playing and I remember I LIKE FREAKED OUT insanely during the lyrical lines "MY MAMA RAISED ME IN THE DURTY SOUTH"....the U of M students who were standing by us were like "Oh My God....Really?!?!? who are these crazy girls!?!?!" It was so funny...yeah I forgot to mention that I do become very crazy during most Christian rock concerts....just a little...

The India Church:
Our college had this church fair back in September, and I remember really wanting to to this church called Global Harvest International Church. I was like OH MY GOSH INTERNATIONAL!?!?!?!? That means that there will be people from like all over the world there. I contacted the pastor of the church, and he was excited to hear that I was coming. I rode the light rail to Bloomington, MN and when I got to the bus station, I was completely lost. The service had already started....and I called the pastor. I told him I was so lost as which bus to take, so he decided to come pick me up...He eventually comes, and I realize he's of India descent and has the coolest accent ever... then drives me over to his church. I walk into the building and there is 99% INDIA people and one white Lithuanian....It was great. =D So next time you hear the term "INTERNATIONAL" when it comes to a church, it could literally mean ANY single country in the word......

The Russian Church:
So me being the crazy UnRussian I am, came across this Russian church....One of my Russian friend's decided he wanted to go as well, so he drove me there. We were quite late for the service, it started at 2pm we got there by 2:30pm (oh did I mention that the reason we were late is because I first went to the INDIA church, then rode the light rail back to NCU then decided to go to the Russian church, all in the same day!?!?!?) We are both kinda nervous, but eventually I find the courage to open that Russian church door and we find our seats...To our surprise we realize that the ENTIRE church service is truly in 100% Russian....Both of us are just learning Russian language, so we pretty much had no clue what the pastor was saying. As we sit there my Russian friend is like "Look Aiste, all the people are staring at us, they probably think we're dating or something," I was about to die of laughter, it was so painful to hold my smile in... The he's like "Aiste, did you know that Russian people usually marry young?"  I was like no....really?? That was a very good realization to realize I guess...LOL Eventually after the service, we introduced ourselves to people, and to my delight, they spoke English! =D

Cat Stew:
Lastly, I leave you with this final story. So all 3 of my roomates are Hmong. I remember the time I went over to one of their houses and we were standing in the kitchen. She opens the fridge and pulls out this interesting looking soup.  I'm like, what is that? She's like "Well, you see Aiste in the Hmong culture we have this tradition." Yesterday our neighbor's old cat died, so we decided we'd make a stew of it" I was like "Really!?!? Cat stew!?!?!?" She was like "Yeah"...I was horrified....LOL I can't believe how gullible I was....seriously....she eventually tells me that it's actually squirrel stew.....=P

May you always be able to find those Laughs & Loves moments of life....<3

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Living Life Without You

As the year 2011 comes to a close, I wanted to reflect back on my first college semester at North Central University. To be honest, it was the greatest of times these past several months and it was also the most deathly challenging of times musically speaking for me.

One of the life lessons I want to share with you is one that no passionate musician should ever have to go through…or should they? Basically this semester MUSICALLY… to simply not sugar coat it….SUCKED. Yeah, that was the sad but true reality. I look back on what happened and it just brings tears to my eyes. I got a taste of what life would be like if I chose not to pursue the God given passion of music on my heart. What a terribly sad and tragic life story to tell. It’s funny because North Central is known for it’s Christian music. New bands bloom like fresh spring tulips ever corner you turn on that campus. If you want to have anything to do with glorifying God through your passion of music……North Central is where this party is at. Hands Down. So why then did everything that could possibly go wrong musically in my life did? Or so it seemed… Being a freshman in college who “has a handful of dreams and a heart full of God” (Tobymac) it seemed like I wanted everything to happen at once. It’s like as if I wanted all my musical dreams and passions to be sorted out and all put together in a few months. Obviously, God sized dreams take a whole lifetime to unfold, so it was a mix of excitement and a sense of urgency to just make this life happen. Also, it was the fear of failure and rejection musically. Even amongst my musical friends, I felt as if I just could not truly express who I was as a musician. I felt like they would just look down upon my vocals, flauting (Flute) and newly learned guitar skills. I had a few situations in which I just cried my eyes out, horrified at how terrible I displayed myself as a musician. But I realized that all musicians throughout their life have days where the absolutely feel like the failed at life. I remember auditioning to be on this worship band, and oh, me being the naïve country girl I was at that time, had no idea what these city people were about to throw in my face…and oh in my face did they throw it….I’ll never forget walking back to my dorm and right when I opened the door I just cried my eyes out. I don’t remember the last time I ever cried so hard, so deeply, so passionately…It seemed pretty much worse than a break I would know…. I was so hurt. The only reason I ever recovered from that situation was because my dearest roomates walked in, saw me, and just put their hands on my shoulder and prayed for me. That touched my soul so deeply, I’ll never be able to thank those blessed souls for what they did on that cold rainy evening. That was probably the point where my music confidence went down hill. I completely avoided anyone who was part of those worship teams. Once again very sad but true. Personally, I thought that the people who did get to be  part of those  worship teams were chosen because of performance verses heart passion. I could get into the whole music performance v. worship arts argument that I have very strong feelings for, but  I’ve written about 6 or 7 blogs on that so if you’’re curious as to my view on that you can look them up…lol There was just something inside my soul that didn’t feel right about being on that worship team. 

Going back to the whole musician self consciousness, I don’t know why I was so stupid to fear of what people at NCU would think of me musically. You know what, at the end of the day a true musician is someone who appreciates and accepts AND is open minded to all styles and genres of music regardless of the level of professionalism. (This thought was based off one of the band member’s of Love Out Loud, Jake Johnson) If you as a musician are going to judge me or  someone musically, vocally, guitar wise and instrument wise because you think they suck and you’re obviously better, you might as well get your a** out the music scene. I’m serious. You’re not wanted. Your place is somewhere else. Give people a chance. Everyone has potential. Yeah. I think the Christian music scene in America has forgotten that. It’s all about competition. Competition. Competition. Competition. Competition. FREAKIN COMPETITION. Somebody kicked Jesus out in the cold…

So with those two musical thoughts “I didn’t make it onto my so called “dream” worship team at the time” and “I don’t feel comfortable being my musical self in front of my NCU musical friends” my music confidence was on the verge of rock bottom. It was bad. Then the final cherry on top was that I started to believe one of the very most powerful lies out there I believe today is “I’m not good enough musically”… BANG. BANG. BANG. That was 3 shots straight through the heart. I felt as if I had lost the musical voice my creator gave to me. I was silenced in fear. Silenced by deep discouragement.  At this point the temptation to forget every note I ever song, take my silver flute and dent it a hundred times over, and seriously throw my newly bought guitar out the 4th floor dorm window, never felt so great….

I prayed that God would place a song on my heart to sing…but no song came…

Just silence.

Terrifying kidnapping silence.

Days and Days and Days and Days and Days of silence.

 Not one note was played or sung.

This was the reality I realized…This was truly as taste of what my life would be like in the future if I chose not to pursue this music passion Jesus placed on my heart. What a very disturbing thought. This is how many people today in our society choose to live their lives. They  “grow out of” their dreams of being a  musician who is in a band, a scientist, a professional figure skater, an artist, a doctor… Just seeing how some beautiful soul is so unhappy with their life because they decided to “play it safe” , chose the more “financially  secure & savvy” road or simply are just DEAD to their God given passion….That is ever so depressing and soul shattering. I don’t want to be that person who chose not to pursue my God given passion. I don’t want to sit my whole life in a white soundless room merely dreaming of the music I could create and be known as the “Musician who doesn’t  sing songs or play music”. So with those thoughts collected, I realize that going back to the musical confidence I once had will take many weeks, months, even years to bring back inside this fragile soul of mine.  I’m so thankful that this semester God taught me what  “Living Life Without  pursuing my musical calling was like.” It was worse than Auschwitz hell inside this soul of mine. So from this day forward, I choose…I choose to passionately embrace this musical passion and give it one more try… Thank you Jesus for the beautiful gift of second chances…

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Lie

It's the thief in the middle of the night,
it slowly creeps in the lonely shadows of these barren hallways,
Everywhere she walks, it follows her like an invisible kidnapper waiting for the right moment,
she turns around...nothing is there,
the lie whispers to her musical soul "You"re not good enough...You're not good enough"
It hisses again....and again...and those moments of her life when the sun sets and the world becomes a dark haunting place..."You're not good enough...You're not good enough"....
Her heart cries silent tears of agony,
The world around her smiles and laughs on a warm, bright and summery day,
They have absolutely no idea of the deep soul stabbing sadness that walks amongst them,
He picks up his guitar,
sings a song about how this beautiful God loves her,
How could he possibly know about the lie that haunts and curses her musical soul?,
She falls to the ground in tears,
but gets back up,
she falls again, again, again, again, and again...
she simply believes she has no strength to get up,
she cries out to God praying desperately that He would banish the lie she has believed for 18 years, 8 months and 17 days...
"Father God," she says, "I can't believe it took me this many years to realize that "I'm not good enough...musically...was A LIE"
It was and infectious LIE meant to KILL those musical passions you placed on my heart when I was 8.
She picks up her guitar for the very first time after this realization,
and it never sounds the same again....

Monday, November 28, 2011

Note to Self

As the semester comes to a close in 2 weeks here at North Central University, I got a letter in my mail box.... from myself...On my first day of college back in August we all wrote letters to ourselves describing how we wanted or believed God would work in our life within the next few months. I just thought I'd share my letter, that I wrote. I pray for all my friends, all you musicians out there, may you be deeply encouraged and blessed.I also pray that you would be inspired to write your own "Note to Self" as well...=)

August 31st, 2011
Dear Ruslana Evelyn,
You have officially made it through your first semester at North Central. God is going to use you in amazing ways you never thought possible. He holds all your passions and dreams very close to His heart. He will bless you with someone to talk about your dream of majoring in worship arts. He will bless you with the opportunity to be involved in a professional praise and worship band. He will bless you with someone to build up your music confidence in ways you never imagined possible. He will bless you financially for NCU. You will have overcome the Russian music situation that scarred your soul, He will use every broken situation of your life that broke your heart and murdered your soul, and turn it into this beautiful golden sunset masterpiece. He will heal you. He will restore your passionate music soul. He will give you the musical confidence to pursue your vocals, flute and guitar and accomplish His musical dreams that He has placed in your heart.He will bless your passion to LOVE on your generation of European and Russian teens, you will be absolutely speechless at all the miracles and healings you will witness and experience. You can't see what's coming because it is too powerful and beautiful for God to reveal to you at this moment.
Aistė Miškinytė
Song: Already Home by Thousand Foot Krutch
"and I know I haven't always been where You wanted me, standing before You broken down...I am on my knees cause you're everything I need, and I've made a mess of myself on my own, and I won't run away, cause I''m calling out Your name Jesus, and I won't run away..cause I'm already home...<3 ~Thousand Foot Krutch

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blessed Be Your Name

Today in chapel the Somoan (Hawaiian) band the Katinas led worship and during the song "Blessed Be Your Name" I felt inspired to write the following poem...

Blessed Be Your Name 

Father God, blessed be Your name when the sun is shining down on me
when You bless us with Amazing life long college friends who accept us for who we are, the Russian craziness and all
with endless hours of laughter and sorrow is no where in sight
with the confidence to be ourselves as we walk down the streets of Minneapolis in our European geeky nerd disguise
Lord, blessed be Your name...
Blessed be Your name when we finally discover the new church You have called us to go to which seemed to take a million years to find
when God places a vision on our hearts to start  our college's first ever Dance ministry and He gives us the bold courage to stand alone for our passion
when we get that opportunity to have our  dream job interview
Lord blessed be Your name...
Jesus blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering...
when the ones closest to us seem to have drifted far away and we miss them dearly
when we don't get that job and we are low on finances
when our music passion is burned through the fire and we want to take our acoustic guitar and throw it out our 4th floor window and give up
Lord blessed be Your name...
Blessed be Your name when we're waiting on You to do the miracle of the impossible and provide us with a worship arts opportunity at a church
when musicians judge and reject us because they don't appreciate who God created us to be musically
when we doubt that Jesus can take this broken and shattered life of ours and take these shards of glass and create a uniquely colorful masterpiece...
Father God, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Own Song

I'll never forget the day I became sick....sick of every song that ever inspired this God breathed soul of mine....You ask...why? Why such a tragic thought?
Last night, I went to this concert that included the bands Grits, Family Force 5, and Owl City at the U of M Field house...Supposedly this was the greatest evangelistic outreach for my generation in the last 10 years. When Owl City took the stage I was taken aback to where this music passion had carried me. I was absolutely amazed by Adam Young. (Lead singer of Owl City) He chose a road that not many passionate musicians choose to travel. His music sticks out in such a melodious beautiful way. No matter what this world throws at him, he chose to stay true to who he is as a musician. He did NOT let this temporary music world define him. He chose ORIGINALITY over musical monotony. I was curious as to who this guy was. I did some research and growing up he suffered from insomnia and would create his electronic music in basement as the late hours of night crept into the glories of dawn. Can you even imagine what that felt like to be in his musical shoes?....I can't even begin to. Also at the concert he explained how he was a college drop out....I, Aiste, for that rare moment of life, wsa absolutely speechless.....OWL CITY WAS A COLLEGE DROP OUT!?!?!?!?!? NO. WAY....but it was true. I was amazed at God's hand in his blessed life. He chose to follow his music passion to the corners of the earth few choose to go...and look at him 5 years later.....WOW....... and the part that forever amazed me was this... He was about to sing his last song...and he gave this speech that I wish to this day I would have been able to record...He was like "Thanks for coming to the show, to see a college drop out, a loser like me, friends, from the bottom of my heart thank you..." I wish I could have taken a picture of my facial expression in that moment. The way he humbled himself musically, calling himself a loser when he is one of the world's greatest music successes...Isn't that absolutely mind blowing?...Just a little...doesn't it just cut one of your heart strings in two? Also, how he addressed the crowd as "Friends"....NOT FANS...but you're like Aiste, all musicians at one point I'm sure have called their fans friends.. FANS? FRIENDS? those 2 words cannot possibly be involved in the same sentence. Just how he said the word "Friends" you could tell it was expressed from the depth of his soul. For a musician of his status to call YOU a friend...that is just simply Golden. I believe we can learn quite a few life lessons from his short speech. Never in my entire musical life, have I EVER heard a musician who ever so passionately said those above words....and ACTUALLY meant it.....I truly believe when he said "from the bottom of his heart" God's amazing love and grace it was from  the bottom of his precious beautiful heart...
So, with these things on my mind God took me back to my first musical love....the reason why I fell in love with music...I believe we musical souls all have our own story...our own version of this musical timeline...
 0-7 years: I was like, MOM! I'm going to be a scientist when I grow up! I love nature, kittens, doggies, leaves...I'll never forget wearing my cute little science nerd outfit on "future career" day when I was in 1st grade...
8 years old: I accepted Christ into my life for the very first time, and He blessed me with my passion for music to glorify him.I fell in love with one of the end credit songs in the Hunchback of Notre Dame II and would sing this song over and over constantly in my room for hours on end. This was also the year my dad gave me my first Christian music CD called The Promise by a band known as PLUS ONE. I would sing their songs for endless amounts of countless time. My heart fell in love with the beauty and depth of the lyrics and their love for God. I was like, God, I'm going to be a Christian musician when I grow up!
10 years old: two words. Trevor. McNevan. This was the year I discovered FM Static and my #1 musical inspiration in my life. You could say this was the time of my life I got my "Canadian emo punk rock edge".....AHMEN. it's always been engrained in my soul ever since. I was like "God....I'm going to be a Canadian emo punk rock musician just like Trevor McNevan when I grow up!"
12 years old: I discovered the band Hawk Nelson....yes that phase where I wanted to marry dearest Jason Dunn for the longest of time. I'll never forget those moments at recess in elementary school my 6th grade year when my best friend Katie and I would just rock out to Hawk Nelson....sigh...good times....good times....Also, that summer was the FIRST time I went to Sonshine Festival....that shy quiet girl standing in the middle of Toby Mac's Diverse City crowd.....that festival forever REDEFINED how I viewed Christian music...It was then the God shaped music hole in my heart intensified in such a way I couldn't contain this passion inside of me any longer...I was like "God, I am SO going to be a punk rock musician who sings to glorify YOU!".....and marry Jason Dunn too of course. (this was also the year I met Jason Dunn for the first time)
13: Went to Sonshine & Lifelight Festival and was involved with as much music as I possibly could handle in school. I was like "God, I SO am going to be a Christian musican one day..."
14: Went to Sonshine & Lifelight Festival, and continued to be musically involved...I was like, "God, I AM SOOOO going to be a Christian musician when I grow up".
15: I visit all of my relatives in Lithuania for 6 weeks in the summer. I come back on the first day of Sonshine in July....A musician by the name of Dawn, (lead singer of Fireflight) forever changes my life with her testimony and perfectionism is eternally banished from my imperfect life! I was like, "God, I am SO going to be a EUROPEAN Christian musician who glorifies you by singing about you to my relatives in Lithuania so they may come to know you and any other European who needs you Jesus." Also, that year at Lifelight Festival in September I was walking the sunset streets and in one of the merch tents I walked by I noticed 4 handsome  guys about my age standing behind their merch table. I glance one of their shirt's that says "I <3 EF" and think nothing of it........................for a while
16: I go to Sonshine Festival and Lifelight Festival......At Lifelight...I'm that LOUD CRAZY screaming freaking out girl (aka to this day known as my usual Aiste self) who shyly makes my way over to introduce myself for the first time to THAT band "EF" aka EVERFOUND....that I discovered last year...I'll never forget that moment I was like "Hi, I'm Aiste, the keyboardist says "I'm Ruslan..." then I introduce myself to the lead singer...He's like "I'm Nikita, where are you from?" I'm like "I'm from Lithuania"...and he's like wow, "We are 4 brothers and we are from..........I'm sure you know what happened's on the tip of your tongue....He said........we are from.........RUSSIA.........I was like God, "I am SO going to be a European/Russian Christian musician one day!!!!!!"
17: I go to this  week long christian conference in Columbus, Ohio with my youth group called CHALLENGE. This is where I rededicated my life to Christ and left my 4 years of deep dark soul shattering depression at the cross once and for all. God COMPLETELY transforms my heart and my life......I also go to Sonshine and send Everfound an 8 PAGE letter just before Lifelight....At Lifelight I encounter those 4 handsome Russians once again and meet my musical best friend Jenna through this Russian passion .......I was like God, "I am SO going to be a EUROPEAN/RUSSIAN "MUSICIANARY" who glorfies you through music while ministering to my european/russian generation. My passion for going to music concerts slowly starts to change...
18: I go to Sonshine for the 7th year in a row working backstage security and skip Lifelight Festival 2011 That summer while I'm visiting my best friend Jenna we decide to start our band called Ruslana Evelyn & Vika....I slowly but surely realize the true reality of this whole Christian music scene...It hits me deep....I realize that the Christian music I grew up loving, those songs that I sang on the Refuge over and over and over again memorizing every lyric, guitar solo.......had slowly start to lose it's passion in my heart....going to concerts only made my God shaped music hole scream out in agony..... I was like, "God, why this sudden change?, why is my heart being torn musically? WHY? Why am I supposedly SICK of all the songs your poured into my heart as a child and as a teen?.....Being a college student at North Central University, I realized that I was entering a new musical season....the old was coming to an end...everything I grew up knowing was about to change.... I was like..."God, I WILL BE a European/Russian musicianary who glorifies you through my passion of music to reach my generation of Europeans and Russians, oh and as for genre style I WILL be the LITHUANIAN emo punk rock girl verison of FM Static/Hawk Nelson...

God simply whispered this... "Dearest Daughter, the time has come for you to write your OWN song..."

Monday, October 31, 2011

Church Planting in Lithuania

                                                    Vilnius, Lithuania

                                                       Labai Graziu Lietuva (very beautiful Lithuania)
                                            My sister & I standing on the roof of Kaunas, Lithuania's tallest church building
                                           summer 2008....<3

Have you ever been  "THAT person" who had this REALLY, REALLY, REALLY HUGE dream to change the world? and...every single person around you, even your closest friends, thought you were absolutely out of your mind insanely crazy? Well, I can totally relate to you dear friend. This past Wed-Friday at my university, there was an event that took place called the START Conference. It's basically an event that encourages our generation to plant churches all across America and the world...I'll never forget after the conference on Friday morning walking up to the stage area to be prayed over. The speaker invited anyone who needed prayer over a certain vision or dream God had placed on their heart or any request in general. It was actually a funny/deep moment...the humorous side...the dear blessed elderly man who prayed with me thought my name was "ICEY"...and I'm sure you can just picture me standing there as he says "Dear Heavenly Father please bless ICEY..." and I did let a small little smirk rip through the corner of my scandalous was freakin hilarious...on another note, I'll never forget that moment where I gave my vision of planting a church in Lithuania one soon day to God....It was such a deep, moving, soul shattering moment...I knew that God wanted me to be a European musicianary...but plant a church in Eastern Europe? I was like God?? R U SERIOUS? ME. Aiste? ReALLY? You trust me THAT MUCH? R U sure you chose the right girl Jesus?  But Father God, I don't even speak 2 years worth of Russian...God said, "Aiste, the people of Lithuania speak LITHUANIAN....that is their first language, Russian is their excuses now dear blessed daughter" and I'm like "Jesus, my strength within the church would be the music ministry part....I'll gladly be a worship leader, but God who's going to be the pastor, where are all the other people who are essential for a church body going to come from?" He reassured me,"My timing is perfect, trust me, I will bring those people into your life at the right moment" But Jesus, I mean SERIOUSLY, I haven't met a guy that I could marry who would be willing to be a missionary with me in Lithuania, 99% of the guys I've met in my life don't even know where LITHUANIA is!....=P God said, "Well tomorrow at 10:52am as you are walking the streets of NCU you'll run into this guy who is head over heals in LOVE with Lithuanians AND LITHUANIA" ( JUST KIDDING....LOL....I'm still trying to figure that part out...God is still keeping  that Excuses.Doubt.Excuses.Doubt.Excuses.Doubt.Excuses.Doubt.Excuses.Doubt. I believe these are the 2 main reasons why we become afraid of the unknown when God blesses us with His vision and dreams that he places on our hearts. We come up with every excuse to get out of it. We doubt that God could actually use us in such great ways....but the TRUTH is....He WANTS to bring those visions and dreams he has placed on our hearts come to pass in His perfect timing. He sees all the days of our precious life. He sees the End. He believes in YOU my dear friend. He knows you have the potential to change the world and leave everyone around you absolutely SPEECHLESS at His amazing hand and work in your life...He wants to prove the IMPOSSIBLE..and show you that it IS POSSIBLE....
Getting back to the church plant in Lithuania, I believe this is going to happen within the next 10 years. After I graduate from North Central University in 4 years, I'm hoping to go straight onto the mission field of Europe and Russia. As of now I'm majoring in Intercultural Studies: TEFL (Teaching English As A Foreign Language) and minoring in Worship Arts. So I'd most likely get an English teaching job somewhere in Europe, and eventually plant a church in some city in Lithuania, most like either Vilnius (Lithuania's capital and largest city) or Kaunas (2nd largest city). I would then start the church's music ministry, and it has always been my dream to have a non-profit organization in which I would open a worship arts music training center. This would basically be a place where anyone in Europe or Russia, or whoever is interested would come and be trained to be their country's next worship arts leader. The main thing would be is that we would accept EVERY musician form whatever walk of musical life they come from...they would still audition, but we would ACCEPT EVERYONE. My personal belief is that EVERY precious child of God who has a passion to glorify God through music, has GREAT POTENTIAL to advance his kingdom through worship arts....We shall see where God takes me with all these HUGE, crazy, literally "out of this world" dreams to change the world...I encourage you my dear friend to seek after God and find out what Crazy AwEsome visions/ dreams that he has placed on your beautiful heart...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You don't mean to make me cry, but it's so hard to say goodbye

For my Intercultural Seminar class, we are required to keep a prayer journal 5 days a week. We use the book Operation World by Jason Mandryk. Every calender day there is a certain country you pray for...Recently the country of the day was Russia....and I thought I would just write this prayer out...<3

Jesus, I'll never forget about 3 or 4 years ago where you "accidentally/coincidentally" placed my life in the path of the Russian culture. I happened to run into a band called Everfound at a Christian music festival called Lifelight in Sioux Falls, SD. That band of 4 Russian could I possibly forget...I fell in love with their music and their LOVE for YOU Jesus. It has been an amazing 3 years getting to know them and in some aspects "grow up with them". They influenced my music  passion and Russian "obsession" LOL =P in so many ways...I can NEVER thank you enough for all the life lessons I learned through them.......................To this day, I still don't understand why my "friendship" with them had to sadly tragically seemingly "end" this past summer before I came to North Central University....But I don't believe in "Mere Coincidences"....only DIVINE APPOINTMENTS. So there is a reason, why you "accidentally" put the Odnoralov brothers in my path. For now, I know there is a reason why our friendship needs a break...I just don't understand WHY Father chose THIS time....I believe when my future European/Russian music ministry is in full swing, you will bring Everfound back into my life, and all will be well...I can see this glorious day coming within the next 5-10 years...hopefully...if it truly is your will Jesus.I pray that you would bless the Odnoralovs and their band Everfound deeply with Your LOVE  and grace in every possible way Holy Father. I pray for my best friend Jenna, all my Russian friends, and the Russian church that I go to in Osseo, MN....Church of the Nazarene...All of these beautiful friendship gifts would have NOT happened if it wasn't for the Odnoralov brothers. From  the bottom of my heart...Jesus, THANKYOU, THANKYOU, THANKYOU for all the "Russian Blessings" <3 that have happened in my life because of the Odnoralov brothers.....
<3 ~Ruslana Evelyn~ <3
"Say Goodbye" by Sanctus Real:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Last Musician Standing

                                               A violin from the Holocaust
                                            A violinist playing music for children during the Holocaust
                                                    A musician who played the violin to his last dying breath...

So...I've been procrastinating on writing this post that God has inspired me to write for about 2 long weeks...the moment is FINALLY here...

A few weeks ago...after coming back from a church service, I realized that I had to FIGHT for my music Obviously majoring in anything within the music field wiether it be music performance or worship arts is going to be a long, hard and bloody (metaphorically speaking of course) battle.I don't know why it took me 10 years to realize the reality of this. The REAL question is...Am I going to fight this MUSIC BATTLE until I'm the last person standing on the front lines?...OR am I going to let the people around me define who I am musically and let doubt, insecurity, and fear break me down? Through much prayer and thought...I have decided  I WILL BE the last musician standing...You say...well that's a DUH...of course you're going to choose that's easier said than done...

I've realized in this precious and beautiful life there will be people who will like you, LOVE you, possibly want to marry you one day.....AND there will be people who are neutral about you, slightly dislike you, ABSOLUTELY dislike, ,or even.....DESPISE you to the END of your living being...and you know what? It's time for me and you to WAKE UP and embrace this reality. I also realize that I will either be LOVED or ENVIED because of my music passion. With this in mind, we MUST choose to be who we were created to be NO MATTER WHAT EVERY SINGLE PERSON THINKS. It is time to get over our selves, and embrace who Christ made us to be....... not...0%.....1%......25%......50%.....75%....not even 100%....but 101%.....We must EMBRACE our true identity in Christ 101% wither the people around us like it or not.
Jesus WILL NOT LEAVE the PASSIONATE....PASSIONLESS. I repeat...Jesus WILL NOT LEAVE THE PASSIONATE...PASSIONLESS...Let those words sink deep into your soul. The dream/vision that God has placed in your heart WILL COME TO PASS in His Perfect timing. Those dreams in your beautiful heart are not there by accident...So when the battle of life is raging and you can't see the end...dearest sister...dearest brother...I'm CRYING OUT...Don't. Give. Up. God WILL COME THROUGH. HE WILL. He Will NEVER leave a God breathed passion hanging. When I get knocked down by the Goliath of majoring in music...I get back up....again...and again....and again....and again....and again....and again....and again...and again...and again...and again...and again...AND AGAIN...AHMEN. get my point. WE ALWAYS MUST CHOOSE TO GET BACK UP NO MATTER WHAT. I don't care how many years it takes me to master the acoustic guitar...I WILL MASTER IT....I WILL MASTER EVERY musical ability that God has blessed me with...singing and flauting...Most importantly in this life long process, we must remember NEVER to COMPARE ourselves with ANYONE or in this case ANY MUSICIAN. Do you realize that every second you waste your life comparing yourself to someone else...that's one second lost that you could have been practicing and improving your OWN abilities such as music?
I'm ABSOLUTELY DONE comparing myself musically to others...those days have officially ended...I don't FREAKIN care anymore...I'm going to embrace who Christ musically created me to be...and if YOU have a problem with know what?!!?!? DEAL WITH IT. GET OVER IT. I'm not going to stand here and be your target....I will forever be the last musician standing... 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

You Began Right Where I Ended

So, I've been wanting to write this blog inspiration since Sunday...I'll never forget how I was in my 4th floor dorm room, and God just completely exploded my mind with this following perspective. Isn't it crazy, how the most crazy/insane/ lifechanging ideas come to us when we least expect it? I LOVE God's colorful inspirational unpredictability....
This past Thursday at North Central University, chapel started at 9:30am instead of 11am in honor of our Prayer/Holy week. We as a student body eventually went on a prayer walk to pray for each building on our campus. I felt as if God were calling me to go pray at the Mensing building...You guessed IS NCU's MUSIC building...the only building that is like a mile walk and NOT connected to NCU's campus. When I got to Mensing, I walked up to the second floor, and found an empty piano practice room. I'll never forget that moment which forever changed my heart. The room was dark, with the only light being in the hall way. I just poured out my hurting Russian/Lithuanian musical soul to God...
"Father God, I just want to lift up Mensing to you. I pray for all the music performance and worship arts majors. I pray for every single musician in this building. Father God you know my heart about NCU"s music ministries. It's bitter, I'm hurt, there are some things in this life that I will never understand why they happened the way they did. I want to lift up all the musicians who feel like giving up on the music passion that you have placed inside their heart. Jesus I pray that you would refresh them, revive them , renew their dying musical spirit in your Holy & precious name, I pray that you would give them the passion to pursue their musical dreams relentlessly and that they would never give up and most important that they would let NO ONE define who they are musically, it's you father God who truly tell us who we are at the end of the day....It breaks my heart to see a musician give up on music, father GoD I've been in that place...SO MANY TIMES....TOO MANY times, if there are any discouraged musicians that you want me to encourage, lead me to them Jesus, I've realized God, today is the day I have to start FIGHTING for my musical dream, it's a true spiritual battle, and every day I have to make a commitment to keep this musical fight going....You never said that it would be easy but you promised that  that the passions you placed in our hearts would come to pass. Jesus it doesn't make sense that you would place a music dream passion on our hearts, only to be left passionless. You bless your people with musical dreams for a reason, and you will fufill them beyond our wildest dreams in YOUR TIMING Father GOd....You will NEVER LEAVE THE PASSIONATE....PASSIONLESS.....Jesus I just lift up all the music performance majors who are struggling, insecure, who feel like they are better then others, I just pray you would meet each musician where they are at, and I pray for full healing and restoration in Jesus' name. Father God, this whole Christian music scene has left me SO DISAPPOINTED, I pray father GOd that you would bring Christian music back to it's original place...original purpose....original it was meant to be all along...serving you with everything we have inside our hearts...I pray that this would come to pass in your Holy name in NCU's music ministries...I pray that you would humble the proud, and uplift the discouraged and the depressed. I pray for the worship arts leaders who are discouraged or encouraged I pray that you would also continue to give them a burning passion to worship you with everything inside their living being, I pray that we musicians would be real, that we would be down to earth with every person we meet, every person that crosses our paths in this beautiful and amazing life. Jesus I know you called me to North Central University for a reason, I applied to 10....10 colleges father God, and you led ME to NCU...Coincidence? I think not....I believe there is a reason that you placed the passion of Christian music on my heart when I was 8, and why I've gone to Sonshine and Lifelight 7 years in a row. There is a reason you gave me my voice, my flauting skills, and a passion to learn guitar this summer... You do NOT leave the musicially passionate....passionless...Father God I'm just crying out to you from the bottom of my heart, show me where you want me to go with this crazy European/Russian "musicianary" dream..out of all the musicially gifted people in this world, I can't BELIEVE you chose me, I feel underqualified in every possible way, Jesus WHY ME? WHY ME? WHY ME!?!?!?!?!?!? WHY ME with this crazy passion? WHY father GOd? WHY!?!?! Into your hands I commit this music passion, have your way in every area of my life especially this whole music thing, I'm so lost right now...musically speaking...Jesus what do you want? Why are all these doors seemingly closing.You promised in your word...that when ONE door shut...ANOTHER would open.........Oh how I pray that you would open THAT door....I pray for the IMPOSSIBLE in Jesus name to happen in my music life...I believe father God that if you were to tell us what would happen in our future that we would be at SUCH A DISBELIEF because our earthly human minds would not be able to comprehend the AMAZING REALITIES you have in store for us....we would think that those things would be too good to be true...Father God, there is a reason why you blessed me with the opportunity to meet and have SO many Christian musician friends over my life time...there is a reason why I met Everfound.....the Odnoralov brothers, I just don't understand why it took me 3 years to realize the actual truth, it breaks my heart in so many ways Jesus that me and my best friend had to go through all that, but in the end you taught us SO many life lessons that we would have not learned otherwise...I know that you are not finished with this whole Russian music thing, it's crazily insane...father God I pray that you would bless EVERY single beautiful FRIEND in my life who got me to where I am today.........Father God....they are the reason I am sitting at this piano Mensing....on NCU's campus...They know who they are....if it wasn't for them....I wouldn't be the person I am today....From the bottom of my heart THANKYOU....Jesus I pray that you would bless all the faculty and staff and EVERYONE on NCU's campus, Jesus into your hands I commit my spirit...Today Jesus...You began right where I ended...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Punk Rock Musician

She quietly slipped in through the sunshine wood colored door
found a seat on the right hand side in the corner of the balcony
the aroma of the evening was pitch black
the only light was coming from the illuminated colorfulness of the stage
He wore black skinny jeans,
converse hightops,
A Ramones V-neck shirt,
His hair was a Trevor McNevan blonde fo hawk
 He was singing a catchy punk rock melody
 It seemed to be that he was practicing for his senior recital
His stylish rock voice echoed through the walls of the sanctuary
She sat there, so still silently in awe holding her breath
"What's wrong with my voice!?!?" He says loudly
"I can't sing!, Let's try this again, can you rewind the song back a little?
He tries to sing to his desired perfection,
and again,
and again,
and again,
and again...
"Can I have just one more chance?"
"K, we'll give you one more try, then you're dead" the sound guy says jokingly,
The punk rock musician belts out his melody once last time with anticipation,
then suddenly,
he stops singing,
"I'm dead" he says in a serious disappointed tone,
"Yeah, your voice needs alot of work, let's call it an evening" the sound guy says,
Her heart drops into the depths of the abyss,
Tears, slowly start dripping down her face,
She is in horror what words she has just heard,
the endless unsatisfaction of the punk rock musician,
She is absolutely amazed by his voice,
and he overlooks his musical gift and only sees the negative,
Oh the unending silent cries of the passionate punk rock musician...
She secretly leaves the sanctuary breathlessly,
He looks up,
right at her,
she never notices,
how his heart smiled...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Boy In The Black Leather Jacket

The lights were dimmed
Everyone in the crowd around me had their eyes closed
A sweet melody flooded through the remaining gap from the stage
There was a calmness, a sense of God's peace
just when I thought life couldn't get any more mysterious
I open my hazel brown eyes
and there was You...
sitting on the floor right in front of me,
as if somehow God purposely staged this moment,
there You were,
the boy in the black leather jacket,
my nostalgic heart jumped suddenly,
I could feel the long awaited tears creep into the corner of my eyes,
I was taken aback to my musical past,
today was His birthday... his birthday....
Oh Father God, why did you have to remind me?
It's been a year, you're 23 now and I'm 18,
why did You have to put this boy with the black leather jacket in front of me?
Don't you realize how hard it is to look back to that beautiful yet tearful heart day?
That day I saw Jesus through His deep brown eyes for the very first time,
His kindness,
His smile,
Our letters,
Your heart...
then the day where life tore Love apart...
that boy in the leather jacket was was had to be You...
To this day, I will never understand why God put "You" in front of me,
I don't believe in just "mere coincidences"
only "Divine Appointments"
so one heavenly day  "you will see some day
that all along the way
I was Yours to Hold..." (Skillet)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Scandalous Death of the God Breathed Soul

I've been wanting to write this post for the longest time...Since I've been at North Central University for exactly 1 MONTH....I've come to the sad conclusion that the musicians of NCU....are not who they claim to be....or at least not who I thought they were....Let me explain my music story....

So one of the main reasons I came to North Central University was because of their AMAZING out of this world music ministry program. Out of all the colleges I applied to (10 total)  NCU stuck out in the wise...Chapel is held Monday through Friday at NCU and then Praise gathering (PG) is held Wednesday evenings from 10pm-12am. (it's basically where you sing worship songs and pray for 2 hours) After realizing these facts I knew musically...or at least up until today, I was called to go to NCU. What I am about to say, may and will probably offend a few or most NCU musicians, so I want to apologize in advance before I express my UNSUGARCOATED perspective about how I feel about NCU's music program/ministries. I pray and hope that EVERY single NCU musician would get the chance to read this...So first of all, I personally believe worship arts should NEVER be a competition....Let me repeat this...I Aiste, believe that WORSHIP ARTS...should NEVER be a competition. If Jesus has placed the relentless passion on your heart to worship him through music, then you should pursue it confidently and don't let anyone tell you differently. I THOUGHT that NCU was a music college that would take you where you are at musically wither you "suck" are okay, or are mozart/beethoven level, and train you to be the worship leader you dreamed your entire life of becoming....Sadly, I found out recently this is not the case...Yes...I just said that...I recently tried out for ENTRY, it's this praise and worship band ministry at NCU....and you know what? DO YOU know what? I think ENTRY is a FREAKIN JOKE...WORSHIP ARTS SHOULD NEVER BE A COMPETITION IF JESUS HAS PLACED THE PASSION OF WORSHIPING HIM THROUGH MUSIC ON YOUR HEART. I'm sorry, but when I auditioned I felt SO intimidated...I was surrounded by music majors, and I'm just a worship arts minor....How fair is that? TO be judged musically to a music MAJOR when you are FREAKIN music MINOR...isn't that a little unfair, or am I just stupidly musically BLIND?  Imagine the students who tried out who aren't even majoring or minoring in music!

Another issue I wanted to address is the "STUCK UP NESS" of SOME NCU musicians...yes, dear NCU musicians I don't know if you've looked in a clear mirror lately, but your nose is "just a little" TOO HIGH. I realize there is a difference between MUSIC PERFORMANCE & WORSHIP ARTS majors....THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING. Don't assume just because someone is majoring in MUSIC that both are the same things...It is two COMPLETELY different music culture worlds. In the music performance world I realize that these musicians have been practicing there a** off since the day they came out of their mother's womb. DUH. I know that. I'm not stupid! I realize that music performers practice 24/7 365, they are under ENORMOUS music pressure, and they have not a single second to spare to sit around. AHMEN. MUSIC PERFORMANCE = PURE 100% Competition. That's all it is...that's all it EVER will be. I realize that. I've noticed that when I walk around NCU's campus I can tell when someone is a music performance major just by the cockiness of how they carry themselves. They walk by me, they never say Hi, never smile, ignore me like I'm nothing and the are THEE best. They hold their noses high. I'm NOT saying EVERY musician at NCU is like that...just some...So I came to this music college to be UPLIFTED IN CHRIST by the very musicians that make me feel intimidated  and are BRINGING ME DOWN, music confidence wise, and most importantly spiritually...OUCH.....ouch...ouch..=( After observing Chapel & PG services for a month, and since I've made friends with an ENDLESS amount of Christian musicians growing up, I can tell when a Christian musician is faking or staging their worship and when they are worshiping God with their genuine whole heart. I can see past your cute lil red dress, or your geeky nerd black musician glasses...I'm not STUPID...I know your type...VERY WELL....VERY WELL indeed. Do you realize that when I notice that you are staging and faking your worship during chapel & PG that YOU are actually OFFENDING ME, and helping me DRAW AWAY from God....sound Scary? AHMEN...but it's the sad reality...the REALLY SAD thing is that most of the NCU student body is BLIND...they don't see what I see...So you can fool the ENTIRE NCU student body...but YOU WILL NEVER fool me, Aiste...I see past your scandalous musician EYEZ... On the other hand, I just want to THANK all the genuine musicians on the worship teams at NCU who sing and play their instrument to Jesus "With Everything" that they have inside their beautiful transparent hearts. Your example has FOREVER inspired me, it has touched my heart & kissed my dear Russian soul. I will NEVER be able to thank you enough...seriously...THANK YOU for living up to what it means to be a true worship leader who LOVES Jesus, music & all the NCU people and the people beyond NCU's doors. THis brings me to my other point. Some music performance majors think they are HIGHER  than me, it's like pretty much RACIST, but in a musician sense if you know what I mean. JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE A MUSIC MAJOR DOES NOT MAKE YOU BETTER THAN ME OR ANYONE ELSE...just thought I'd remind you, YOU seem to have forgotten your ACTUAL place in this world....WE ARE ALL EQUAL IN GOD"S EYES WITHER YOU ARE A MUSICIAN, A STREET SWEEPER, AN ARTIST, A BUISNESS MAJOR, ETC. REALIZE YOUR PLACE....and FREAKIN STAY THERE.....
Now you dear Worship Arts majors....Since Worship Arts = Praising God with your heart or leading people in worship, the whole intention and mindset is different. Worship Arts in it's purest form is not a competition. So overall most worship majors ACTUALLY HAVE a heart, and are very compassionate, friendly, loving and are fun to be around. But at NCU even worship arts HAS BECOME a FREAKIN competition....SAD. DAY...makes me want to leave this freakin college that misled me in so many ways musically. OBVIOUSLY Music performance and worship arts is not a black and white field there are many GREY areas, many reasons, many exceptions....So I hope that my perspective of NCU's music culture makes sense to you and that it challenges your thinking in an unsugarcoated and honest way...

Trevor McNevan of the Christian Punk rock band FM STATIC says it best:
"And you can tell me,
That I can't make a difference 'cause I'm just one,
But one is all it takes to start it
And you can tell me,
That I can't change the world,
Because I'm too young,
But I won't stand here and be your target
And you can push me,
And try to knock me down, but I won't listen,
'Cause I've got nothing left to lose and,
You can hate me, for everything I'm not,
But it won't change this,
'Cause now that I'm here, I'm not moving!!!"

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Tribute to My Dear Eastern European/Russian Friends

For my cultural anthropology class I had to write this "newspaper article" giving advice to International students about how to adapt to the American college life culture....(I apologize in advance if any of this article may offend you...LOL =P) I hope you have fun reading this as much as I did!!!

Dear Eastern European/Russian friends,
Welcome to North Central University! I am so excited that you are here. I just wanted to offer some perspective of the cultural similarities and differences you will experience during college this year. First of all, if you haven’t already noticed, we Americans are very outgoing, talkative and we can’t seem to stop smiling. (Trust me, no matter how “European serious” you might be it will eventually rub off on you.) Secondly, I would like to address appearance/clothing issues. In the cities, some people truly do dress like you (black leather shoes, boots, skinny jeans, & a leather jacket) Others in America prefer to rock the sweatshirt, sweatpants, gym shorts, t shirt, tennis shoes, and even pajama pants look. I know to most of you the second style of dress is considered a European /Russians worst fashion nightmare. Thirdly, I’d like to tell you about the food here. You come from countries that have a lot of healthy cuisine. In America, obviously food culture has lost its place in some aspects and there are a lot of fast food restaurants. As for breads,  we mostly eat white bread. They don’t have your favorite dark black/heavy rye bread. You have to buy it at a specialty store. Also, high fructose corn syrup is in mostly EVERY processed food product, so be careful when you buy certain things. The NCU cafeteria has a great variety of healthy food selections. I think you will enjoy it’s cuisine over all. As for the NCU sub culture, everyone here is warm, friendly and welcome so don’t be shy to introduce yourself to new people. I know in Europe/Russia the people culture tends to be more reserved. At NCU you have your musicians, bible scholars, artists, business, and sports people; a wide variety of groups that share at least one thing in common; their passion for loving Jesus Christ. NCU has a very strong Christian community, which I believe you will learn to appreciate and come to love. As for the language, we like to use a lot of slang/street language so once you start hanging out with all of us you will catch on fairly quickly. The symbols here are overall the same as those you are used to. I hope you found this perspective insightful and encouraging. I’ll be praying that you have an AMAZING year at NCU and I can’t wait to meet you!
May God Always Bless You,
Your sister in Christ,
~Aistė Miškyntė