Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Leaving the Land I Love...

This post is a challenging one for me to write.  It is difficult to put words to your deepest emotions, especially when you know that those words will be read by many.  However, I believe it is important that I address the way I feel about our family having to leave Ukraine.  I want my children to read these words one day and understand the struggle that their parents faced when making such a permanent, life-changing decision.  I also want my readers to understand how very emotionally difficult it was for us.

We spent 10 years of our lives laboring in Ukraine.  Before that decade, we spent 18 months raising support on deputation to live and work in Ukraine.  That is a huge chunk of our lives dedicated to one country!

In an upcoming post, I will better explain the nitty-gritty technical side of why we had to leave Ukraine.  But, for now I just want to talk about the leaving part.

Every bone in our bodies have been created to serve in missions.  We never, ever once discussed or even played around with the thought of one day leaving the field.  In fact, we were so prepared to stay the rest of our lives that we had even begun building our home after 7 years of being on the field.  After 3 years of building, we were living quite comfortably... the most comfortably we ever had lived.  We had most definitely planted ourselves physically and emotionally to stay a lifetime.  We also had our (airline) return tickets purchased and left almost everything we own in our home, where it remains to this day.

When it became apparent that God was moving us permanently, we struggled with several issues:

  • What about our ministry?  Praise the Lord that we were working for Missionary-Pastor Bob VanSant whose visa still does not expire for awhile.  The church is not without a pastor, and the pastor is not without some wonderful people - Ukrainians who have been trained for ministering.
  • What about our house?  (If you are also wondering, our answer is that we are still trying to figure this one out ourselves).  
  • What about the Russian language we have labored over, sweat over, and cried over to learn?  Only God truly knows the answer to this one, but I will say that there are Russian communities right where we live now and God may one day see fit to use our Russian-speaking abilities here.  Also, those language skills were not in vain during our time on the field.  As soon as we could speak Russian, we were using it to teach and minister.
I also want to state that we are, in most cases, against missionaries leaving the field.  To us missions is a life-time calling.  Though we are not on a foreign field, missions will be our heartbeat until the day we die.

I have also struggled with the whole idea of being back in America - the land of comforts and conveniences. In fact, there was a time that I really struggled with the idea of *maybe* serving in Israel permanently for the very same reasons.  Then, my hubby lovingly pointed out that you don't have to "do without" some things to be serving God.  Ah, yes.... right.  I guess this loosely comes under the same category of "you don't have to go to a country that speaks a foreign language to be a missionary."  I know that some missionaries struggle with the fact that they are in an English-speaking country and therefore do not "qualify" as a missionary as much as others who struggle over a foreign language may.

So, have I moved to America and completely walked away from Ukraine, not looking back?  Nothing.... nothing could be further from the truth.  I love that country with every ounce of my being.  I have Ukrainian friends that are dearer to me than I could ever say and it pains me to know that I will not see them on a regular basis anymore.  

I love Ukraine.  It was not my birth country, but it is the country in which I poured my heart and 10 years of my life.  It is my heart country.

I {heart} you, Ukraine!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Another update on Joshua from his Mommy

Remember my preemie nephew whose early days of life were so very fragile?  You can see some more updated pictures posted by his mom Ruth on her blog by clicking here.  Isn't he just adorable and looking fantastic?!  Thank you, Lord, for the gift of a precious life!

{BTW, I encourage you to subscribe to Ruthie's blog while you're on there.  You'll be glad you did!}