28 December 2007

merry christmas :)

Doing good. Eating lots of tangerines. Drinking lots of coffee. Hanging out with Brad and Kindra. Enjoying loads of Christmas parties--jr high, neighborhood, staff. Discovering a new hidden talent: Boxing on Wii (I'm good). Wearing all the new socks that I got for Christmas. Learning to knit. Reading magazines. Not working.

Every Christmas that I spend away reminds me that Jesus also left his Father on Christmas. Strangely, Christmas makes me want to be home...and strangely, it's actually a holiday when it's poignantly fitting to feel distant. So, in all that, this is the verse that's stood out to me this season:
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel--which means, God with us. (Mt 1:23)
Distant and close. So baffling to me...

Merry Christmas!!!

07 December 2007

bustly, fun days

This week has been FUN--full of a lot of things I love. I've been carrying my camera with me, so here's a few portholes into my week.

Hanging out with the youth group after church. Neja's very own orange juice shake :)

Recycling. It's a good habit to be in.

Teaching English at an elementary school. We were learning about clothing. Can you tell which ones are wearing my old stuff? Chaos.

Hosting Ana and Anja for their Bible study. I snuck up and scared em!

Reading: the Prophets, Life Together by Bonhoeffer.
Listening to: Holding Nothing Back by Tim Hughes.
Excited about: Christmas, going to America in the Feb/Mar.

26 November 2007

thankful for...

  • the exact people that God has placed in my life. the people that i get to be with on a daily basis. thanks for these specific brothers and sisters.
  • all of history. every single event, relationship, wonderful thing, sorrowful thing--all of that comes through the hands of a good and strong God.
  • our new baby. Nina Joy Stepanian.
  • a sky that is always changing, always beautiful.
  • the holy Word of God. that i can read it any time I want. i'm thankful for freedom.
  • that God doesn't stop working in me.
  • Ana loving Anja.
  • trust.
  • friendship.
  • funny things like the Office.
  • a warm coat.
  • good food every day. and that I get to grocery shop. i like that.
  • a healthy body--for me and people I love.
  • Grandma, still standing firm.
  • Dad who is wise and loving. Mama who is a dear friend that leads me to Jesus.
  • that I know God's calling on my life. that he's been clear with me.
  • for emotions.
  • books that stretch and encourage and judge me and influence me.
  • a warm and safe and inviting home.
  • a church where I want to be.
  • music.
  • beauty.
  • redemption in Jesus.

the great Elizabeth W. Stepanian!

happy birthday (plus two days)!!!
i couldn't ask for a better mom. really. i'm totally convinced of that. in these past years i've truly enjoyed being your daughter, your sister and your friend.
i thank God for a mother that:
respects and loves and submits to my father, trusts God,
sacrifices joyfully (like you even gave away a kidney!), raised John and i well, has cooked a LOt of meals...and keeps cookin em, is honest about faith,trusts Christ in me, likes to hear my stories and ideas, thinks i'm wonderful, soaks in the Word, goes for walks, cares for her mother and brother and sisters, goes through hard things with a whole heart, is really joyful and eager to serve, has calculated and embraced the risk of raising her children to follow God, learns new things, doesn't agree with everything, prays and prays with me, lets us play pool and eat ice cream on the beach on Christmas day, enters into sorrow, sends me sudokus, loves me lots.

mom, i sure love you. and i'm celebrating your life!

16 November 2007

little bit o' this, little bit o' that

item one: jr high girl book club. praying that just the right girls will be a part.
feeling? sweetie pie.

item two: music video we're using for a high school English lesson. ahhh...the black-eyed peas. is this actually a prayer? and we do this in school??
feeling? "badness is what you demonstrate. where is the love?"
i must say, i do love this song.

and you gotta love the contrast.

07 November 2007

sleepy girls :)

For our Pižama Party we had a full night of laser tag in the freezing cold,
hot chocolate and friend stories,
snackity snacks,
friendship bracelets,
The Cinderella Story and Princess Diaries. :)

How in the world is Meagan looking so chipper?

01 November 2007

everyone should have a good chicken story

I rented a guest house from a family while I was in college. One day I was rushing to school and Tessa, the 3 year-old-daughter, came around the side of the house singing, "Turkey lurkey, turkey lurkey." She was carrying a shocked, stretched-out chicken by the feet and the neck. I almost fell over I laughed so hard.

29 October 2007

we have a Nina Joy!

Sarah and John had
Nina Joy Stepanian
at 3:57 am
27 October 2007
8 pounds, 7 ounces
21.5 inches

happy birthday, mateja!!!

We just had a party for Mateja's 19th birthday! :)

Our group has a birthday tradition of each telling how we've been blessed by the birthday person. Last night we all loved listening to and thinking about how Mateja is loving, wise, gentle, understanding, truthful. I loved thinking about how I appreciate Mateja's friendship. She's been sad and happy with me in the past months. What a treasure you are to us all, Mateja.

23 October 2007

christmas already?!?!

Christina and I were thinking about all the people that we see all the time in our neighborhood. There's a lot of them: the people upstairs, the people downstairs, the people on our floor. The new mom, the drunk guy, the fruit guy and his brother, the bread lady that looks sad, the snobby lady, the old man that Christina thinks is an angel, the Čajna Hiša man, the couple that run the Mom & Pop store. I don't think I've ever had more than a 5 minute conversation with any of them, but I see them every week. Why don't we have a party and invite them all?

We stayed up late planning our party. The guest list has sixty people on it... our house isn't that big... but man, are we enthusiastic! We'll see. Why not try, huh? :)

20 October 2007


--the deliberate and systematic extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or cultural group (Dictionary.com)

The American government was moving towards an acknowledgment the Armenian Genocide (1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Young Turks, 1915-17). Turkey reminded the US that it's not good timing, threatening to make our efforts in Iraq more difficult. The United States has caved to the pressure. That's it. A loud noise and silence. More loud silence.

I've been troubled, angry, confused, sorrowful, deeply pained and silent as I've been researching and reflecting on the Armenian genocide. My cousin, Greg, pointed out that victims of violent crime need people to listen and respond with outrage. Will this ever happen for the Armenian people?

Three aspects that are plaguing me:
  • The Armenian Genocide happened to us.
  • Currently, most Armenians side-step it or live in hatred and bitterness. Remembering the Genocide is a huge part of our national identity. Is there more?
  • Turkish government is set on covering up reality.
I'm so upset by all of this. And I can't figure out what to do about it.
Where is the voice of justice?
Where it the voice of peace?

15 October 2007

"try springform. fun!!!"

I'd written this on my recipe card. Funny, maybe...
But is that what we're going for??
I need to admit that I am not a springform pan expert or advocate. A spingform pan has sides that spring off, making the cake beautiful and easy to serve.

I have a chocolate cake recipe that calls for a springform pan. So, I bought one. I don't know if it's cheap springform or bad recipe (or...inexperienced baker?? no!), but I do know that Saša got the ugliest birthday cake I've ever seen. AND not one person tried it at her party.

Ugly means there was more for me...not exactly what I was going for...

Also, the anti-biotics worked! I'm feeling much better. :)

14 October 2007


Dr. Dolgan said don't leave my bed for three days. I'm cheating because I've been on the couch, but it is within 10 meters of my bed. I hope it counts.

12 October 2007

armenian genocide?

Obviously, it was genocide. No question. 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Turks in the early 1900s.
But is now the time to deal with it? I don't know.
What do we do about it? I don't know.

In general, I believe that you've got to notice the wound, scrub it out and bandage it up before you can expect healing. And in general I believe that sooner is better than later. However, my thoughts on this have always been on a small scale. A scraped knee, in relationship with my roommate, my family...maybe as big as a church...but on a national scale?? Dealing with innumerable murders? Is it the same? How do you decide the time? Why is America involved? Why can't Turks just admit the problem?

08 October 2007


Mana, Mateja, me, Ana. All three of these girls are so unique, so beautiful, and so dear to me.

01 October 2007

university started today

Over the past few months, I've been increasingly burdened for the area of town called Rožna Dolina. Hundreds of students live in one city block. I just can't get them off my mind. This evening I was again walking through the complex and couldn't help but notice the ridiculous number of alcohol bottles. Depraved and precious. Wretched and loved. We're all both. I'm honestly afraid for these precious people. I look around and realize that I really am separated. And I don't know what to do about the situation.

I'm praying that God would:
-move into the dorms, powerfully
-change these students into generation that seeks Him
-have whole-hearted followers living in each building
-send his glory forth from here

I'm praying that none would be lost, that students would know LOVE. I just don't know what else to do right now. I walk and pray and wonder if me praying makes a difference. I wonder and I know that it does. But does it? I believe and I ask for faith.

25 September 2007

coming soon!

One month from now.

16 September 2007

egg fights & another adventure in foreign driving

At Easter the Stepanian family traditionally has Egg Fights. It's a pretty big deal. Each person chooses what they think is the heartiest looking Easter egg and takes a turn to hit another person's egg. End to end. Last egg standing wins. Pretty simple.

I must say, the skills my dad has passed down have served me well. I was on vacation in the French Rivera when a 1980 Mini decided to hit my 2000 Opel. Like we were eggs or something.

When this car

runs into

that car

who will win?

The really cute, little car was totalled. Screeching, crashing, clattering, etcetera. His brakes locked, hood flew up, tire was at an ungodly angle and .... I have a 2 inch scratch. Put your bets on the newer, bluer car. I've officially been in my first accident. No injuries. WHEW!

15 September 2007

mom, this is for you.

I don't know if anyone else is interested, but I know you'd want to see kid's camp. Just click on this link. Johnny's pictures are really great.

Dad and mom, both of you,
enjoy Hawaii! :)
I love you.

02 September 2007

600€ is about $825

So, apparently, in Slovenia reading a map while driving is against the law.

Tickets: 600€.

I'm still not sure if it's coming in the mail or if I got a stern warning.

Uhhh....live and learn??

20 August 2007

Križ (pronounce Kree sh)(means Cross)

Absolutely wonderful. Really. Križ, our two-year theological school, is off to a beautiful start. On the last evening Benjamin Hlastin, a Slovene man who was teaching said, "I could die happy now." He's dreamed of maturing, Christian Slovenes for years. And here they are!! Let me present the first official class of Križ:Along with morning and evening class, we....
drank lots of coffee
watched incredible sunsets
ate good Slovene meals at the gostilna
we played hearts, hearts, and more hearts
sang some songs
talked long and deep
explored questions and learned to ask more
spoke Scripture to one another
hung in the hammock
celebrated three birthdays (Sebastian, me, Katka!)
quoted Nacho Libre
and totally enjoyed being together.I've realized some insecurity I have in ministry and it was really good to deal with some of that. Ephesians talks about identity and roles. Also, in studying John, I've got a renewed and clearer picture of Jesus. He is amazing. And I'm drawn again into knowing him more deeply.

15 August 2007

something in her eyes

I met a woman tonight. I see her everyday sitting on the green benches with all the drunk men. Dirty, confused, rude...drunk. This time she was sitting alone and smoking. Was she waiting for me to come?

I parked my car, knowing it was time. When I walked close, she got up. Unsteady, and I helped her like I help Grandma. Slow and dizzying. We got into the car. I thought she wanted a ride. She wanted to sit together and talk. And we did--up and down and all over and back. In Slovene. In English. Liliana and Anna, sometimes in formal language, sometimes informal. Back and forth. I teared up. I laughed. She got quiet. She got loud. Were we talking about actuality or imagination? What is most real?

When I finally did drop her off, she stopped. Focused her eyes on mine, touched my face with her hand and held it there.

"Welcome to Slovenia." I smiled and thanked her. But sincerity pushed her on. "No, really."

"Welcome to Slovenia."

It was Jesus tonight. Jesus that I cried and laughed while she talked, that I could see her eyes. Jesus that she welcomed me here.

12 August 2007

a hat club

Off to the seaside for a few days of relaxing and reading and sun and sleeping and floating on an air matress. This is the crew. We'll probably laugh some, too.

27 July 2007


Today I got a LIBRARY CARD!!!! That's cool, huh? I just read a British coookbook translated into Slovene. Three Lonely Planet travel guides--all to the wrong places. Boo. And 1/3 of the Complete Idiot's Guide to Handwriting Analysis. The other night I read half of Atonement by Ian McEwan (??) which is a bleak, empty book. I feel like I'm an atheist when I read it. That is very, very unpleasant. I woke up in the morning in a BAD mood. So I've jumped ship on that. Christina read the newest Harry Potter aloud for like 4 hours today while i cross-stiched. I get going really fast during fight scenes. A few days ago I finished The Freedom Writer's Diary. Sometimes I'd just sit and cry--but good cry--as I read. And under my bed, I'm keeping Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. Nerdy, but fascinating.

100% this is between camps. I never read this much. I only ventured outside once today. I don't even feel guilty, trapped or restless. Just book-wormy.

22 July 2007

free hugs

These are our junior high kids after camp. We watched a "Free Hugs" video clip one day and they were inspired to do it themselves.

Cool, huh?

11 July 2007

believe and you will see...

That's what Jesus said to the people standing outside of his friend's grave.
Then he said: "Lazarus, come out!"
And he came! WOAH.

Right now we're smack in the midst of Jr High camp. I forgot how much I love this age!!! (I don't love being 13, but I enjoy others who are!) (Whew.) Half adult, half child. Either the best of both or the worst of both, huh? This evening I got a taste of all the best in our discussion about Jesus raising Lazarus. Big questions...

My prayer for this camp is this: That each one of us--campers and staff--would
taste and see
that the Lord
is good.

more impressive!

It looks a little chaotic and believe me...it is! :) How the heck did I get here?

10 July 2007

oh yeah...

Me and my friend between camps.

06 July 2007

i can't hear you!

This is our camp theme song. Can't tell you how many times we've done this dance, heard this song, sung this song, etc, etc, etc...and somehow it's still fun! :)

20 June 2007

lesson planning

I was working really hard. And the sun was really hot. This year I'm organizing the English portions of our camps.

Tomorrow we leave for our big English camp training time. A few American youth groups are flying in to help us.

I'm tired of preparing, ready to get this party started!

Please pray for us.
Endurace and safety.
Firm faith--we have a mighty God.
And for a love that overflows.

our pew last Sunday

Cute girls. Ready for camp.

12 June 2007


It's usually really quite in our apartment--except for in the middle of the night.

07 June 2007


17 May 2007

phone club

We've got a girls' Bible study. We were getting interrupted a lot, so we decided to all turn off our phones. Now we call it the phone club and they all stay by the door while we study our Bibles. We're in John 10 this week. We'll meet tomorrow. :) Can't wait!!!

15 May 2007

a funny story

When Sarah was working at Starbucks this one lady really, really wanted a certain drink. She couldn't quite remember the name but she knew she had LOVED it. Kind of spicy, tea-like...tai chi. She was ADAMANT. Chai tea...?? NOPE, that would NOT do!


My mom and dad were here for a little bit. I LOVED having them here. It was so much fun to introduce them to people that I love here and watch my two worlds meld into one another a little bit. (The two world problem is one of the saddest things about being a missionary.) We also got to just REALX out at Lake Bled for a few days. Someday maybe you can see the silly pictures with the giant comb, but now I'll just show you this one.

11 May 2007

it's late

I just got home from Mana's prom. Here students invite family and friends. It's quite a party! She's pretty, huh?

Amanda (girlfriend), Maya, Mana, Nina (sister), me.

Outside before things started. Everyone was nervous.

Wow. Five years ago i NEVER would have guessed this.

10 May 2007

well, I was praying for faith like Sarah...

There's this one crazy story that John pointed out to me.

God promised Abraham that he'd have as many kids as there are stars in the sky. He and Sarah waited, waited, waited and got OLD. Then three guys came to the two of them and said, "In one year you'll have a baby." Sarah thought it was funny. I can imagine.

Then the story goes on...God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. (waiting for a baby) Abraham and Sarah moved (waiting for a baby) and Abraham (for the SECOND time) pretended like Sarah WASN'T his wife and let her go off with a foreign king. WEIRD. (waiting for a baby)

THEN the king had a dream about Sarah. (whew) God made it clear that Sarah belonged to Abraham before he'd touched her.

And then---this is the part that I can't stop thinking about---God also told the king to ask Abraham to pray for him so that all the women in his household would be healed. Apparently, during this time God had made them all barren. So, Abraham prayed and God healed all the women so that they could have children again.

Here was Sarah--finally back with her husband, waiting for this promised baby, watching her husband pray for the king's household, seeing them be healed,
still without a baby.

I imagine that she was mad at her husband for giving her away, that she was insanely confused, that she felt betrayed, that she wondered if God saw her, that she thought maybe they'd messed it all up, that she cried, that she wondered why....

All that stuff. At least I would....

Can you even imagine?

But then there's this:
"Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah, as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised." (Genesis 21:1)

15 April 2007

one crazy tulip

I keep thinking about what it means to be all the way Anna. All of us are created so so differently-different story, relationships, personality, experiences.

There are tulips everywhere. In a lot of the beds, there will be just one tulip that's a different color than all the rest. I don't want to stick out, like that, but I am challenged. It's refreshing to be around people that are the MOST themselves and allow you to be the MOST yourself possible. That's how I want to be.

10 April 2007

knock knock

When I was in California, Petra and her family visited.

this is where we sit and talk

02 April 2007

on my mind...

26 March 2007

no more bike

I lost it. I must have left it at the market, a coffee shop, or.....

After Rome I went to America. Then I returned home and realized that my bike wasn't in the hall. I've been searching for two weeks, but I'm done.

It's Gone.
And now I'm looking for a new one:

09 March 2007

home in CA

I get to be home with my family for a week!
It's been really good to get to spend time with my Grandma.

a little bit of rome

Recognize this?

I was there...but I was pretty sick. No fun.

These were all over the place. Weird, huh?

St. Peter's Basilica. Are Peter's bones really buried here? Does it matter? Am I allowed to say that?

Becca and me.

14 February 2007

the salt berg

Brandon, Alison, JACK, Terry, Johnny, David and I went to Salzberg. We ate sausage and saurkraut, went to H&M (the girls), and gave ourselves a modified Sound of Music tour. I liked holding Jack. I like Alison and Brandon. A lot lot.

03 February 2007

expert in astrology?

We were having a mock debate on Alternitive Medicine in Slovene class. The teacher was passing out name tags/characters for each of us to play and people were chiming in to help her decide the characters each would play. She read "Vanda Novak...expert in astrology." Three people jumped in--"Anna!" Like it was so obvious.

What??! At first I was upset (internally). But as I accepted the tag, I realized that my classmates, although they don't know what it is, sense something spiritual about me. The experience was fascinating and boggling to me. It confirmed Col 1:9 to me. Paul is praying that God would fill us "with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding." Most of my classmates don't have that. I do...so...that could cause some confusion sometimes. :)

That resolved, I enjoyed being Vanda, expert in astrology. It reminded me of my old days: looking in the softball and telling fortunes. I can still use the gypsy accent--even in Slovene!

01 February 2007

i remember...

don kihot

Christina and I went to the opera last night. It was an astonishing experience.

29 January 2007

I loved the youth conference.

It was the first time that I've been with OUR group in a BIG group. It was cool to see the personality of our group in contrast to other groups. It was fun to get to stick together, have late-night talks, watch the girls write down notes as FAST as they could while Dave Patty taught on growing in Christ, sing in Croatian and Slovene and English during worship times, eat pizza, the DJ from Amsterdam, walk home in the snow, ride home together. I totally enjoyed getting to be with our group and not having to do the organization. :)

24 January 2007

me, Mateja, Mana, Christina

happy birthday!!!

A few weeks ago was Mana's 18th birthday, but she didn't have a party. I really like her and I am so glad she's alive. So, I thought we needed to celebrate. We had a surprise party! :)
It was really fun: cake, presents, singing. Afterward, we each got to tell of the absolute beauty that we see in her. Then we prayed for her next year. She said it was the best birthday she ever had.

09 January 2007