God is always at work around you. One of my favorite principles from the Henry Blackaby study, “Experiencing God.” We’ve been through this study several times. The 4th or 5th time was right before we adopted Matthew and Micah. When we surrendered to God on a deeper level during that study we had no idea where that would lead us. We simply put our “yes” on the table…whatever question it would answer. We put our trust in our Heavenly Father, recognizing that HE knows the whole plan and the whole picture…whereas, we only see dimly and partially. It was around that time that our lives began to take on a different (and somewhat, dare I say, “weird”) appearance.
Four adopted children later, we discovered another level of trust and obedience. When we began to realize that God was calling us to move here to beautiful Ukraine, we remembered that our “yes” had already been uttered years ago. That made the actual decision of moving here much easier. It didn’t make the process easy by any means, but knowing we could trust Him made it the only direction to go. Leaving what we knew and were comfortable with was anything but easy. Leaving my career and in many ways, my identity, was difficult. Leaving our families and our friends was excruciating and when we physically landed in Ukraine, we realized suddenly that, for all practical purposes, we were all alone (except for the Lord, of course).
We spent our first year uncertain of our future here. At times the fear was suffocating. At times it was all was could do to catch our next breath. Other times, the uncertainty of our lives seemed like a weight that we couldn’t lift, much less carry. Much of that first year was spent just learning to live here (where to buy groceries, gas, pay bills and absolutely every tiny thing that we had taken for granted our entire lives. The fact that absolutely every thing (and I mean everything) we had to LEARN to do here and were completely at the mercy of our Ukrainian friends here to help us. It was very difficult.
Add to those difficulties the fact that we were wanting to be effective ministers here and that our lives would matter here and that most days could barely wait for night to come again so we could sleep and it was a very frustrating year. We had moved from a place where we could “program” ministry in many ways and here we have had to depend on God even for the ability to share His love with others.
We began to earnestly pray for the opportunity to reach out to the orphans, the institution caregivers, our neighbors… God brought to our door families with children with special needs and has allowed us to really connect with them in deep relationship and allowed us to encourage them with His love and guide them closer to Him and toward salvation. It’s been a wonderful aspect of our lives here, but still we have yearned to help the orphans and those who work with them. We have continued to pray and watch. Recently God has been opening our eyes to so many different ministry opportunities that we are now overwhelmed with the possibilities. There is so much to be done all over the country. So our prayer has now become to have discernment to walk toward the “best” things…not merely the good things that need to be done by someone.
We have been presented with opportunities close to home and far away, alike.
Valeria is almost 19 years old. She has Cerebral Palsy. Her mind is clear, she’s creative, artistic, loving, warm, gentle… Her legs don’t work and she hops around on her knees using her hands and arms as “crutches.” Some dear friends of ours have known her since 2006 where they met her in one of the many institutions here. She’s desperately wanted a family to call her own. Yet, no one has come. No one has called her theirs. Now, she’s too old to be adopted… but you’re never to old to want a family. (In fact, we met a young woman this week in an institution who is 32 years old. Still her greatest wish is to have a family. Heartbreaking.) But back to Valeria… she was recently transferred to a different institution where there are more possibilities for her (daily activities and such). Yet, her desire is still to be in a family. We have decided that we would like to gain guardianship of her and invite her into our family. We don’t have any idea when this process will be finished, or what it will look like having another person in our family (especially someone grown who can’t walk), but we know the One Who does know. We are simply trusting Him, following Him and depending on Him. She doesn’t yet know what our plans are…we are starting by building a relationship with her and will take it from there. She lives a long distance from us…but our hearts are close to her. We’ll keep you posted as we can on the status of all this. But for now, we simply as you to pray with us that God will be honored.
We don’t really understand all that God is doing. We would love to see the entire picture of His plan. Or even a few days in the future…but He’s keeping that plan pretty quiet and right now He is just asking us to trust Him for today and let Him hold our tomorrows. We’re okay with that. After all, honestly, if we had known 4 years ago what our lives would be like right now, would we have been able to say “yes, Lord, no matter what”? I would like to give you the Sunday School answer that we would have still committed to follow Him with our entire lives…but it’s hard to know that for sure.
Daily, we strive to have a simple, childlike faith in Him that is counterintuitive to our flesh. Often, we think we need to help Him with planning our lives. Frequently, we have to repent because of our unbelief.
Yet, we are so encouraged by His work in and through us. We are delighted to be here in this beautiful country, among these beautiful people who so desperately need the hope of our beautiful Jesus. We are encouraged by those who support us in prayer, with their kind words and, of course, financially. Our prayer today is that our love and devotion to Him will grow stronger today than it’s ever been before.
[emptybox]From Mary’s Heart… For me God has brought me to a place of total contentment in Him. Despite the fact that life here can be hard and I miss our family, and friends, He has made me know fulfillment in Him. He has renewed my passion for the people of Ukraine, for parents of special needs, and for orphans. He is strengthening our relationships in our church, and in our Friday night bible study. He is opening doors for more opportunities to minister to parents in the Kiev area. And now we have even more opportunities to minister to orphans here , and in places we never imagined. We are praying and seeking The Lord like never before, and He is honoring our prayers![/emptybox]
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