Monday, April 30, 2012

Processing Change

Tomorrow it marks 23 months since we left America and moved to Ukraine for two years. Our family has experienced a lot of change. The weeks before we left America were so stressful. I pray that when we leave America in 2013 that it is much easier!

There have been some difficult days in Ukraine.  My family experienced waves of homesickness and tears more than I did.  But I was physically sick more than the rest of my family.  Living in a place where you do not speak the language (or do not speak it well) can be challenging, to say the least.


I have noticed some changes in myself.

There are many things that I cannot control and, because I cannot control them, there is no reason to let them rattle me.  For example, when there is no water, even though I do not like it, I just wait for it to come back on.  There is nothing else I can do.  I would not even know who to call.

It used to bother me to make mistakes in public.  Early on, I decided that I was going to speak Russian in front of people, mistakes or not, because I wanted to demonstrate that I was trying to speak so they could understand me.  It was painful at times (for them and for me), but the last Sunday in Krivoy Rog, it was great to know that the people in the church actually understood what I was telling them!

As we prepare to return to the states in less than four weeks, which I am excited to do, I realize that I love the country of Ukraine, as well as its people, and that I will miss them.  It will be good to spend time with family and friends (old and new), but part of my heart will still be in Ukraine.  And that is as it should be!

While we are in the states, we will enjoy some good beef, my Life cereal for breakfast, as much peanut butter as I want, driving on good roads, and no trains!  They are economical, but so s-l-o-w.

Change as usually been more difficult for me, but stepping out for the adventure of a lifetime has been good for me.  I have no regrets.  And I'm ready to return in mid-2013.

How about you?  As you look back, do you see changes in yourself?  Are they good or bad?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Visit to Sevastopol

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Sevastopol (a major city on the west side of Crimea about 80 kilometers or 50 miles from Simferopol) to attend a three-day conference about International Teen Challenge and their program for drug and alcohol rehab centers.  It was great spending time with friends - both old and new.

Two of us stayed in an apartment with a family. They were very hospitable people and did what they could to make us feel comfortable. We were thrilled when we found out they had wireless Internet available so we could keep in touch with our family and friends in the evenings.

Sevastopol has been an important port and naval base for Russia for a very long time and continues to be an important naval base today.  The Crimean War, with a major battle called the Siege of Sevastopol,  took place in from September 1854 to September 1855 with the British and French fighting the Russians.  During World War II, the Battle of Sevastopol was fought between the Russians and Germans for more than 8 months.

It was interesting to learn that at the rehab center where we met, there had been Germans fighting on one side of the hill against the Russians on the opposite side who were protecting Sevastopol itself.  The city eventually fell, but both sides had tremendous losses.

In some of the caves behind the rehab center, they kept some pigs for breeding.  They use about half the pigs for eating and sell the other half.  There was one large boar and 5 or 6 large sows, one of which had a litter of piglets.  It reminded me of my childhood when we raised two pigs for meat every summer.  I remember going to get the two piglets in the spring.  I also remember writing a short report about pigs for school.  My friend Kevin reminded me that the gestation period for pigs is easy to remember - 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days.

The pigs live in caves on the hillside - here is the sow with her piglets
These two pictures are of other caves on the hillside behind the rehab center - the side the Germans were attacking from.  The terrain is very rough and rugged.





These pictures are from the opposite side of the hill - where the Russians were defending the city of Sevastopol.



Being here reminded me once again how grateful I am for those who fought to protect my freedom.  Freedom is not free - someone had to pay the price.  Check out this slide show put to the song "It Has Always Been the Soldier" as sung by Doug Oldham.

How about you?  Are you thankful for the soldiers who have fought for your freedoms?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Food for Thought - 6

Today's thought for the day is a statement of confession...

"I confess that Jesus is Lord. I confess that Jesus shares the name and nature, the holiness, the authority, power, majesty and eternality of the one and only true God. I confess that Jesus died and was raised, opening heaven up to unworthy sinners. I am such a sinner, and I gladly embrace his atonement for me. I confess that Jesus rightfully owns me, every part of me, every moment of my time, every dollar in my possession, every opportunity granted me, every responsibility thrust upon me, every hope I cherish, every person whom I love and treasure. I am personal property of the Lord Jesus Christ. He deserves my allegiance, loyalty and trust 24 hours a day, in all places, in all aspects of my life, both public and private. He is worthy of my obedience. He is worthy of my utmost. He is worthy of my very blood."
RAY ORTLUND JR., American minister (1949–present day) [PFG, 143–44]
Bjorklund, Kurt (2011-08-16). Prayers for Today Sampler: A Yearlong Journey of Contemplative Prayer (Kindle Locations 802-810). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

"I confess"

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to confess means:
  • to tell or make known (as something wrong or damaging to oneself)
  • to acknowledge (sin) to God
  • to declare faith in or adherence to
  • to give evidence of
In this statement of confession, I will state what I believe and declare it by faith.  I will also acknowledge who God is (and who I am).

"that Jesus is Lord."

Lord.  Master.  Almighty.  Creator.  Jehovah.  In control.  Of everything.  (Even me!)

"I confess that Jesus shares the name and nature, the holiness, the authority, power, majesty and eternality of the one and only true God."

I acknowledge that Jesus is fully God - in every way.  I love that it so specifically mentions authority, power, and majesty - which all relate back to Him being Lord.  There is only one God.  Like the Psalmist says, "What God is so great as our God?"

"I confess that Jesus died and was raised, opening heaven up to unworthy sinners."

I realize that Jesus suffered horribly and died a cruel death on the cross.  But that was not the end of the story.  He came back to life - showing who He really is.  Lord.  Of everything.  Even death!  His victory made it possible for sinners like me to have a relationship with God.

"I am such a sinner, and I gladly embrace his atonement for me."

I declare that I am a sinner.  Through the grace that has been freely offered me, I have been made holy and righteous in God's eyes.  While it is not something that I can understand, that does not make it any less true.  I love Him because He loved me first, even when I was a sinner.

"I confess that Jesus rightfully owns me, every part of me, every moment of my time, every dollar in my possession, every opportunity granted me, every responsibility thrust upon me, every hope I cherish, every person whom I love and treasure."

I acknowledge that Jesus is Lord of me.  That is a lot of "every" things, isn't it?  Every part.  Every moment.  Every dollar.  (My money too?)  But if He is Lord - of everything - then that surely includes every part of me and my life.  Sometimes I fail.   His mercy and grace restore me.

"I am personal property of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Because I have given my life to Him, I am His.  He is Lord.

"He deserves my allegiance, loyalty and trust 24 hours a day, in all places, in all aspects of my life, both public and private."

Because He is Lord, He deserves to be worshipped.  He alone is worthy of my trust.  All the time.  Every where.  Even when no one else is watching.

"He is worthy of my obedience. He is worthy of my utmost. He is worthy of my very blood."

Because He is Lord, He is worthy.  Of so many things.  We obey those we love.  We gladly serve those we love.  And we gladly give everything (even our lives) for those we love.  Yes, that is hard, but there is no place I would rather be than where He wants me to be.  Because He is Lord.

As I read this several weeks back, I realized that these words express the desire of my heart.

How about you?  Are these words the desire of your heart as well?