Monday, October 31, 2011

Safely Stateside

Thank you all SO much for all of your notes and especially your prayers.  They were felt the entire trip.

To say the trip went well would not even touch the blessings God has showered upon this ungrateful, underserving missionary wife.  As some of you know, I fervently prayed and begged God to allow me to have this baby in the states.  When is seemed like He was saying no, I went into a depressive, pouty baby stage.  The Lord worked a lot on my heart, so much so that I could once again sing and look forward to the birth of our fourth child.

Monday when God answered my prayer, I was not thankful at all.  In fact, I told God that it was too late and not the way I wanted it answered.  Thankfully the Lord did not take away the blessings He was about to bestow because of my ingratitude.  The Lord was SOOO good to me and His hand was visible throughout the entire situation.

The entire week after we found out, sleep elluded me and when I boarded the train on Thursday evening I was already exhausted and low in patience.  I didn't get a lot of sleep on the train, but the Lord had revived my spirits by Friday.  After arriving at the airport then gave Papa a last, tight hug, we headed through customs.  At the passport checkpoint, the lady looked at our passports, asked if we had entered the country in April, then left for a minute.  She came back with two other officials who asked me tocome with them.  After seeing the three kids, the carry-ons and probably my look of panic, he decided we could just talk there.  He asked if I had a religious visa, to which I answered yes.  At that moment, it was almost like I could see God reach down and change his mind again.  He quickly turned to the girl and said let them through.  I think she asked something about fining us, but he said, just let them through.  So it was with a rejoicing and grateful heart that we went to wait for our plane.

The transfer in London was one of my biggest concerns and when we reached the London airport, no one was there to meet us.  Even though the crew was rushing to meet another flight, they kindly helped me get to the customs checkpoint.  Anna talked their ears off the entire walk.  At customs, they were super sweet and even had a special section for families with small children.  After that I was "on my own" {quotations because God's presence was evident the entire trip} to find the gate.  We took a bathroom break, which gave me time to clear my head.  Me, being a complete blonde, could not find my gate number on the ticket so I asked at a service desk.  The attendant flipped through all of the tickets and found it on one of the tickets.  She sweetly circled it and told me exactly what to do and where to go.  I was still a little skeptical as to whether or not I'd make it to the right spot {I mean, I couldn't even find the gate number on my ticket!}, but it was very easy.  At our gate, they called us up early to board the plane.  Once they helped us get seated on the plane, they arranged for us to have the entire row by moving the lady who was to be sitting there.  That meant Sammy had his own seat!  I don't think we've ever flown with such a sweet flight crew {British case you were wondering}.  They kept coming by to check on us, bringing the kids brownies and toys, playing with them. Lydia fell asleep before take off and once we were in the air, the lady across from us pointed out the row of seats behind us...they were completely empty!  We moved the arms up and both of the girls were able to lay down and sleep there.  Sammy slept on the "cot-seat" that they brought him.  By the end of the flight, everyone was talking about how good the kids were and saying things like "that was some super parenting", but it was not us - it was God.  God was so good to me on this trip.  Without my husband, I am completely lost and forget to do things like fill in the declaration form before the passport checkpoint, but with God, we made it safely home.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
2 Corinthians 9:8,11,15

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sad Goodbyes

Where to begin?  So much has happened since Sunday that my heart is just overwhelmed with emotions.  

Recently, Ukraine passed some new laws concerning visas.  We were not too concerned since our local OVIR (place of registration) seemed to think they wouldn't affect us.  They kept telling us to come back when they knew more.  Eric visited OVIR 2 times a week for over a month, receiving the same answer until this Monday.  This time we were told that, due to being issued the wrong visa, Lydia and Sammy could not stay legally in the country past Friday.  That night Eric purchased tickets for the kids and I.  Everything has been a mix of blessings and tears since then.  So many mixed emotions that I don't think I could begin to describe.  Amidst all of the tears of saying goodbye {and there have been many}, we have been singing the Lord's praises for how He is working everything out.

For the past year, we have been searching for someone who could fill in for us while we took a much needed furlough (April marks 5 years).  Each time, the Lord closed the door and we just assumed that the answer was "Not right now."  Over the weekend we were contacted by a former missionary to Russia who was no longer able to get a visa.  He was interested in coming to help us with our ministry for a few weeks.  When we found out our situation on Monday, Eric called him and asked if he would be willing to fill in for us.  Last night he said that he and his wife had perfect peace about filling in, not only just so we could have the baby and get new visas, but for a year so we could take a furlough!  We cannot believe how quickly God has worked everything out and know that He is in control.  Please pray that he is able to receive his visas with no problems.  Also for the visa situation in Ukraine, pray that everything will be worked out so we have no trouble when it is time for us to return.  He is planning on coming in 3 weeks and his wife will join him a little later.  Eric is going to stay 3 weeks after he gets here to help him get settled and finish a few things here.

Because we are leaving, the church threw a little going away party for us and also gave Lydia some early birthday gifts.  We took pictures BEFORE the tears started to flow...though I think Lina got some videos that I won't share.  Should have brought waterproof mascara!  We are excited to see our families and church family, but it is very hard to leave everyone especially on such a short notice.  Here are some {LOTS} pictures of our last Wednesday in Ukraine...

They even had a little present for Anna.

Our dear Valentina.  Pray for her.  She has such a rough situation at home and is very close to our children.  When my mom left, she told Valentina that she was to take care of us and Valentina has taken her job very seriously.  She has truly become a part of our family.

Our translator and my closest friend, Lina.

My tired little guy.

The sunset on the way home.  The picture can't even come close to how beautiful and perfect the sun was...a redish/orange, perfect circle.

I was going to post a video of everyone singing in Russian as I absolutely LOVE to hear the hymns in Russian and will miss it greatly, but I was bawling too much.  Kristina came up to me, bawling as well, and we just hugged until we were okay.  Even Yuri had tears in his eyes.  We love them all very much, but we know they are not ours but the Lord's and He will do a much better job taking care of them than we ever could.

Well, I need to get back to bed.  It's 3:42 AM here and I desperately need sleep.  Tomorrow is a busy day.  Our train leaves tomorrow evening at 11:30 (4:30 pm EST).  It will be a long train ride and that is before our flight even starts.  We fly out of Kiev at 1:30 PM on Friday (6:30 am EST) and get in to Washington around 8 that evening.  We only have one layover, so that's a blessing and Eric has also arranged for assistance during that time.  It will be a long trip, so would appreciate your prayers.  I have prepared a "surprise" backpack of goodies that will hopefully help the kids make it.  I also would appreciate your prayers for the kids as they will not understand why daddy can't be with us right now.  Anna already is "praying" that she can come home {here} and keeps giving Eric hugs/kisses, saying that she will miss him and cry.  We have told her about all she will get to do in America and she is especially excited to get to see Auntie Bree again.  I just found out also that my dad will be flying out to visit with us in November as well, so I know she will be excited to see Grampy.  Thanks for your prayers!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Counting the Days

Days are flying by now and we are starting to count the days until we welcome our new little guy into our family.  Even though we only have about 9 weeks left, and my babies have always come early (two came 2 weeks early), we still haven't settled on a name.  I know.  I'm awful.  It's not just this pregnancy though.  We usually don't decide on a name until right before the baby comes.  Guess it's just our tradition.  Anna suggested Moses, but she will settle for Daniel. ;)

Even though I still have 2 months, I'm already in the organizing stage.  Part of that could be that the days have gotten shorter and colder so we are stuck inside more.  Either way, I feel the need to constantly be getting some area in order and cannot nap anymore or spend more than a few minutes at a time on the computer...hence all of the photo posts. 

We have been keeping pretty busy.  Here's what's been going on around here:

1)  For starters, Slavic got saved last Friday!  You can read about that here.

2)  Even though Eric and I have already been passing out tracts, we started going out as a church last Friday.  Last week Lina, Max and Yuri went out.  The kids and I missed last week because we were sick, but we went out this Friday.    This week it was just our family, Lina and Max.  We are trying to put tracts in all of the doors in Vvedenka.  We are moving along pretty quickly.  After we finish, we will switch tracts and do it again.
3)  Baba Maroosa is not doing very well and has not been able to attend services in quite a while.  We are very burdened for her and would love to see her accept Christ before it is too late.  I am going to try to get over with Lina sometime this week and meet with her.  Please be praying for this meeting and her salvation.

4)  It has been encouraging to see some spiritual growth in our church people.  They are starting to see needs and are trying to fill them without just expecting us to take care of everything.  Slavic was in need of some shoes and Eric was planning on buying him some, but before we could Lina and Valentina looked at their homes to see if they had anything.  On Wednesday, Valentina brought him a pair of boots.  They have also started to bring more for the Sunday meals, which helps take some of the load off of me.  Today, Yuri was not able to make it to church but Kristina came anyways.  It may be small things, but definitely a blessing to see.

There is SO much more to write about but my brain has a writing limit lately and it has already been maxed out.  Good night! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Silly Girls

Lydia "planting" her flower.

All of these pictures are a little old.  It seems like we have long since left the "coat-less" stage.  I wanted to post these anyways though since they bring a smile to my face...though I am a little embarrassed at how messy my little princesses are.  As soon as Anna saw my camera she started doing a million silly poses...guess she is just copying her Auntie Bree.

Auntie's monkey face

Two crazy girls.  Poor guy.  Don't worry, you won't be alone soon.

A Light in Darkness

Stumbling home after Wednesday night services, flashlights in hand, it was almost pitch black and my heart immediately turned to complaining - no vehicle, it gets dark WAY too early now...quickly my mind was brought to 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."  With Anna clinging tightly to my hand, I made a choice to stop the complaining.  As we continued to walk, darkness was all around us, dogs were barking (we hoped that they were behind gates) and our two little flashlights brightly beamed a little path in front of us.  A light in darkness.  I began to talk to Anna about that light and the LIGHT that we have.  A village full of darkness...darkness of religion, darkness of alcohol...A village sitting in death, yet we have THE LIGHT.  Our LIGHT helps keep us on the path, keeps us from falling in the 'mud puddles', and leads us Home.  God has put us here in this village "to give light to them that sit in darkness". May we be faithful to this calling.  May we shine this Light in the darkness and in the shadows of death surrounding us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Scripture Print Giveaway

Shortly after I wrote my last post (but before publishing), I found out that a dear missionary friend was holding a scripture print giveaway.  The prints are absolutely beautiful and would not only bring God's Word into your home, but also add beauty.  Jolene's giveaway ends on the 20th, though so be sure to head over to With Love From Ukraine today.  Even if you miss it, I highly recommend that you check out Amy's website, Path of Life Scripture Prints.

Making Melody in Your Heart

Journal entry {a piece}:

October  15, 2011
How I want to live before my children:
"Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;"
Ephesians 5:19,20

With all of my heart, this is my desire and longing.  To bring to the Lord praises, thanking Him in ALL things and FOR ALL things.  I want there to be a continual melody in my heart to the Lord.  I long for the joy of the Lord to be visible to my children and everyone we meet that the Lord might receive honor and glory from my life.  Slowly the Lord has showed me different ways in which I can surround my family in His Word.  Even as I type, the sound of "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" flows from the children's room; a picture with the verse "Be still, and know that I am God." hangs by my computer, and the girls' memory verse princesses are to the right of me, excitedly moving towards the awaiting castle tea party.  Many mornings now I awake (early, thanks to bathroom breaks)  and I cannot help but have a melody in my heart to the Lord as I both fell asleep and awoke surrounded by Him.  At the beginning of the year I picked a word goal - it was to build relationships with my Saviour, my husband, children...but I have found as the year has gone by that the Lord has gently been working in another area -that of song.  Over and over again He has reminded me of my need to sing and praise Him, thanking Him in ALL things and FOR all things.  I found that I had become so busy that I could no longer sing.  My service for the Lord, my family, and those I love here was of no good and stunk without a melody in my heart.  The importance of surrounding ourselves with God's Word and godly music cannot be understated.

I pray this is a blessing to you.  These verses have been on my heart just waiting to be shared. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Adorable Sammy

Isn't he adorable?  I LOVE the little foot!

 On our way to church last Wednesday night, Sammy and I did a quick photo shoot while Eric and the girls were at the little store.  I can't believe how big he is getting!  He looks even more grown up in the pictures!  Wish he would have flashed me one of his heart-melting smiles but he was too interested in the cars going by and just being able to sit on the log.

 (The village school is in the background.)

I think God gave boys a special type of cuteness to make up for how rascally they are.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

28 Week Checkup

(These were taken on the way to church, Wednesday night.  Believe me, the belly is MUCH bigger than it looks.)

28 weeks and overdue for a doctor's visit.  Though I knew I had to go, I was completely dreading it and could barely sleep the night before.  You see, I am not a very submissive patient for them so they are never very happy with me.  Every visit I have had so far, they have found something wrong with me, assigned me with a new list of tests and prescribed different things.  This past visit it was an infection they found during the ultrasound.  They then gave me a new list of tests to do.  Eric was immediately skeptical and called our previous doctor for a consultation.  She, of course, said everything was fine and not to bother with any more tests as pregnant women do not need the added stress of running around everywhere doing extra tests. (I just love her and boy do I wish she could be my doctor this time!)  Not only did I not do the tests, but I put off the visit for a couple of weeks.  Lina was away anyways, so this gave me a good excuse to take a break.

The dreaded day came and I woke up Tuesday morning with the decision to take at least one of the girls with me.  Even if they didn't distract the doctors (and how could they not at least some?), I knew it would help keep me distracted.  Lydia wanted to go so off we rushed to meet the train and Lina.  After waiting for our turn, we opened the door and walked into the office.  Their faces said they wanted to chew me out, but they quickly put on big, fake smiles.  Lina and I were shocked at how composed they were.  Besides them mumbling "awful" when I stepped on the scale (ugh...that makes every pregnant woman happy) and telling me it was hard to live with me, everything went pretty well.  They talked a little about what to do about me, but I just let them talk to each other and explained different things to Lydia.  She thought they were nice, hehe...but maybe that's because they let her step on the scale. ;)

After I was done there, they sent me over to meet with the therapist.  She asked if anything was wrong (health wise), listened to my heart and marked ok.  She then asked what we were doing here.  When I explained that my husband was a pastor and gave her a tract, she immediately wanted to argue with me.  I tried witnessing to her, but she didn't give me much of a chance to talk.  Once she said what she wanted, she said goodbye. 

Later that night, I lay awake in bed thinking of ways I could have worded things better, etc.  Sometimes it is just so frustrating and I feel so helpless.  I so desire to be a witness and a testimony and the words are clear in my head, but don't come out the way I want.  Besides the fact that the doctor is very intimidating.  I feel like it would help if I could do everything the way they want me to, but I just can't physically keep up with all of their demands.  Now that I have stopped trying to do everything, I am able to enjoy this pregnancy.  I pray that God will still help me to have a testimony, give me opportunities to witness and freedom in the language even though I am not able to do things 100% their way.

Lydia completely enjoyed her day out with mama and Lina.  After we ate, we went out for dessert.  When we set it down in front of her she started singing "Happy Birthday to Dede!"  We know what she's ready for. ;)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Not My Brightest Idea

Last week while the girls and I were making bread, 
Sammy was dying to get his hands in the bowl with us.
So...I decided to give him a little bit of flour to play with 
to keep him busy while I "quickly" washed the dishes. 
I kept glancing in and everyone was playing nicely,
but a LOT can change between washing spoons...

Let's just say, this was not my brightest idea.
(And, yes.  The girls looked about the same.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Princesses Learning Psalm 1

My drawbridge is a little, um, messed up, but they think it's great.  They are so excited to move to the castle and the awaiting princess tea party that they are saying their verse constantly.  For months now I have wanted to put up something for verse memorization, but never got around to it.  Finally, I just did SOMETHING.  Anna was SO excited when she got up from her nap and found this on the wall.  When I explained it to her, she went up and counted to six and said "There.  I said it.  Now we can have a tea party!"  They pretty much have Psalm 1:1 memorized.  I LOVE hearing them constantly quoting God's Word!


They want to share it with everyone they meet and quoted it for a lady we met on the street heading to church tonight...guess we need to work on some verses in Russian.

Thanks, Jessi, for the great idea!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Little Helpers

"I can help you, papa."
Comes the cry as screws drop through clumsy, little fingers.

"Two glass cups + Two plastic cups =" 
A little dish-dryer jabbers.

"Here's a flower for you, mama"
A precious gift is held out in chubby fingers.

Smiles and giggles brighter than the sun.

All cause a rushing mama to remember to
Cherish Each Moment.


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