Blessing, Joy, and Sadness

I didn't think I could feel as deeply as I have felt things today.  What a blessing it has been to be in the missionary house.  We woke up in time to discuss church service with the house caretaker...so he took us with him at 7:30 this morning to church, about 30 minutes away by bus.  It started at 9:00 and lasted until almost noon.  Here it is pentecost celebration weekend...so they have services all three days and keep the preaching and singing going for a while.  We were brought to the front of the congregation during the service where folks heard a brief testimony of who we were and why we were there, and that we were having some problems.   At the pastor's announcement the whole place broke out into prayer for us, it brought Jeff to tears to see the body come alongside in this way...even now I am crying through the writing of this account.  A couple of young men had lived in the US for a number of years and were assigned to translate for us throughout the whole service, and they were so kind in filling us in on what all was happening.  It was a graduation Sunday of sorts for some of the middle school-ish children and they sang and recited things and received approval for preparations in joining with youth group.  Amy didn't have a head covering, and it was clear that this place respected that tradition, so we asked a sweet little girl to help us - but she couldn't understand.  Another woman got what we were saying and graciously brought us a spare one of hers.  its basically a little lace half doily that is pinned to the hair, just enough to cover.  During service, little ones running around, chased by mom and scooped up brought Jeff to tears again...oh how we miss our little ones, and want to see this thing through with a happy ending!  There was great joy in being a part of the service and hearing the praises sung and to be surrounded by kind and gracious people who accepted us.  We appreciate all of you at home too, for the prayers, for reading all of these lengthy accounts, and for feeling deeply what we are going through.  You are one of the means by which God gives us strength and hope to carry on.  We love you all so much and long to see you again soon.

We returned in time for lunch (Jeff had to walk a mile to get groceries and then cook something - I miss my car!!).  During that time we spoke with our facilitator.  She asked our feelings on the matter to which we replied that we have been in tears all evening and morning (off and on).  She asked if we want to fight for them, or leave the situation alone?  At her advice and the input from the director, they both think we should fight for them and not give up.  At this point we are in agreement and we will do all that we can to see it through to the intended goal - and if then it still doesn't work, we will trust in God's sovereignty.  When asked if we would fight...again - YES, to the death if that is what they want...but if that is not what THEY want, then what good will any of our fighting do?  And how can I ask a child in this situation to determine if she wants me to fight?  No, I must determine that for her and trust that God is working through me to make the right decisions.

So, we go back to the school at 4pm today and see how things go.  We cannot do anything more with the process until Tuesday.  A lot has happened in 3 days - much more will happen in the next 3-5 days.  Our facilitator told me that Katya called yesterday afternoon (not sure if it was before or after I went back to the school to see them), and told her that she wants a family and is ready to come with us.  YES, FIGHT....but then Karina; well, she likes us, but is afraid of missing grandmother too much and doesn't think she wants to leave her.  So, will she change her mind?  Do we force the issue (she already signed the papers) in an attempt to decide what is best for her future on her behalf?  Do we possibly take one and not the other if that is an option? Questions, Questions...  which can mean only one thing.  Answers are in the making!  We look forward to them.  Whether we fight to the death for them here and bring them home, or die to ourselves by leaving them here - we die. I feel helpless and unable to move in any direction at all.  I am at the end of myself; where is my God?  He has not forsaken me. He is our rock - but this is still very tough on us and we look forward to the resolution!

Here is our Ukrainian Church building!  The Bible House caretaker is also a deacon at the church and so we came with him this morning.  We were rather early, since he had duties to attend to and so we took this picture before everyone began to arrive.  It's a very lovely place...

This is the outside of the building.  It is on the outskirts of Kherson (XERCON if you spell it in Russian letters!) and is in a residential area.  Main streets are paved and side streets are not.  Just across the church, there was a bull that was tied up in front of someone's house and he was fussing and braying, Mooooooooooooooo!  Why can't we do this in our neighborhood?  We have always wanted our own cow.  It's fairly common here.  Goats, chickens (we can often hear roosters in the distance) and cows are a normal part of life and we just love that.

 Landscaping is a little different here.  Almost no one plants grass is open areas.  Where nothing is planted, whatever grows, grows.  But they also have many lovely flowers like the ones in this picture and everyone has their own vegetable garden and fruit trees.  Very few inches of ground go to waste without producing something useful, like food!  Organic rules here...

More flower inside the walled courtyard area of the church.

Amy and the lovely borrowed head-covering.  Gotta love the Lord's provision, even in the smallest of details.  Oh, how we need to trust Him for the big details too!  Not so easy right now...

The Pastor's little girl.  What a cutie!  She tolerated us so that we could take her picture and was giving us smiles by the end of the service.  This place was a wonderful place of refreshment during our time of need.  People knew we could not speak much Russian but tried to communicate anyway.  Those that knew a bit of English would say, "God bless you from Ukraine" and things like that.  Amy received kisses on the cheek from women after the pastor had us come before the congregation for prayer and all seemed to approve of us and our mission, saying "slobabo" or something like that.  I think that means "good".  We've heard that word before when a lady had come to the orphanage to visit the kids.  She didn't recognize us and so wanted to give us a Gospel tract.  Somehow we were able to tell her about why we were there and somehow she understood!  And she said, "slobabo, slobablo!"  We're almost certain that "slobabo" is encouragement.

That's all for now.  We will be going to visit the kids 4pm, our time, until the children must go in.  All we can do at this point is just make the best of our time and love the children and hope and pray for all to work out for the good of everyone, including Babushka.  We'll "see" you again tomorrow.

Das V'danya!

2 comments:

  1. They were probably saying Slava Bo'goo which literally means Praise to God. Slava means praise or glory. God is Bog (long o). And the "oo" ending means in the direction of. Russian speaking Christians will often answer the question, "How are you?" with Slava Bo'goo. As if to say I will praise the Lord no matter my situation! Isn't that wonderful!

    I am so glad that you were surrounded by the family of God at this time! And that you were hopefully spiritually renewed for the challenges ahead.

    I continue to pray for you also! Blessings to you and your family at home as they wait for you.
    nanette

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  2. Nanette, I told Ilya Slava Bo'goo today and he smiled so big because he knew what I was saying! Thanks so much for the explanation. Whenever we cross paths with believers who know any English, they said "God Bless You!!!" and now I can say it back in Russian. Slava Bo'goo! We so appreciate your prayers too. They are carrying us through when we feel like we can't go on...

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