Monday, June 9, 2014

Going home

Over the past several months there has been a prayer request that has been uttered on my lips like a broken record.  “Lord, let Roma and Natasha, and Nastia and Marina go home with their families.  Please Lord, let them get out.

It was a prayer uttered in faith, but behind it my heart wrestled with doubt- recognizing that with an ever changing climate in eastern Ukraine, nothing was a guarantee.  After all, I’d just seen Crimea ‘annexed’ to Russia and adoptions close. So when things grew tense in the East...I grew nervous.

These 2 adoption stories are especially personal for me, as they are children that traveled to my home church with me last summer for hosting.  Kids that I don’t think would have ever considered adoption by American families, had they not first hand experienced what family is like. 

Roma and Natasha, two teens that once seemed so stoic and reserved came to life in the US and blossomed in their host family.   At a farewell dinner at my church, Roma was asked what he had learned while he was in the US, his response was simple, yet carried with it deeper meaning, “I learned to smile here,” he said.   I knew without a doubt that this kid belonged in this family, because I’d finally seen him come to life.  I was overjoyed when I learned they were moving forward with the adoption of Roma and his sister, along with another family from my church adopting the sisters they had hosted.

So when the country went to chaos and war broke out in the east, not far from the kids' orphanage, we all became a little nervous and we all were on our knees a bit more.   Never in my wildest dreams had I envisioned families from my hometown traveling to a war torn region to adopt children they had hosted. Not in my Ukraine. 

The last 3 months of these families’ adoption journeys have been nothing short of a roller coaster—with one family having to travel to Slavyansk (the heart of the conflict) to do documents and the other having to cross the Russian border for a birth certificate.  Prayers were uttered with greater urgency….Lord, see these children brought to safety, see these children brought home.

Over the last week I’ve seen these countless prayers answered. 
 Roma and Natasha became American citizens this weekend and Marina and Nastia will be headed that way with their family soon.   

On Friday night I sat around a table with these 2 newly formed families and gratitude swelled in my heart.   The tangible answers to those prayers were sitting in front of me.  God is gracious and kind.

He places the lonely in families (psalm 68:6)

There are so many moments when I ask myself ‘what I’m doing in this country?’ But that night, sitting around the table, seeing smiles radiating on the faces of those 4 kids and the faces of committed parents, my doubts dissipated.  

God had ordained this moment, and we were all exactly where he wanted us to be.  A moment that was not in the 'game plan' for any of us a year prior-- yet here we all were, God intersecting our paths and writing a bigger story.  

I don’t know the answer to why these 4 kids got out, and others remain in a region that is currently closed to foreign adoptions.  But asking that question never seems to get me anywhere.  Its a never ending circle.

Instead I’ll keep on living in the tension of the ‘why?’, and keep praying in faith for peace to come to eastern Ukraine and for God’s spirit of adoption to continue to pour out on this nation and around the world.  Because as the Holy Spirit touches hearts, and the Church as a whole responds, more Natashas, Romas, Marinas and Nastias will also go home. 

Roma and Natasha's homecoming with their adoring brothers and sisters

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The 2 month review!

Well all I can say is it's been a whirl wind of a last 2 months!  Though I would like to sit and give extended thoughts to each and every wonderful moment...let's face it, there's just not time for that!

So instead I'll just provide a pictorial review and some brief highlights of how April and May were spent.

Strengthening Families Conference  

April began with our Strengthening Families Conference for 100 Ukrainian foster and adoptive families.  It was seriously a miracle that we had the event when we did, as if we waited any longer, many families from eastern Ukraine would have not been able to attend due to the continuing conflict in Ukraine.  It was a blessed weekend and many were encouraged through our workshops and gifted speakers.

3 days in Armenia

The day the conference ended I flew with some of our US Orphan's Promise staff to Yerevan, Armenia.  I oversee our Armenian projects for OP and it was a chance to film some great stories and connect with our team there.  Its a beautiful place with the kindest people, and I'm so happy it is now an area I will be visiting more often.

Easter at home

From there it was a quick touch down in Kiev before heading to Seattle for Easter. My first Easter at home in 10 years!  It was a chance to celebrate my grandma's 85th birthday with almost all of her grandchildren present.

I also forgot how beautiful the spring is in the Pacific Northwest.  I was able to make it to see the Tulips up north in Mt Vernon.  Simply spectacular. And my niece made for the perfect subject against this stellar background.

Staff Training and CAFO

From there it was off to Virginia for Orphan's Promise staff training and then as a team we flew to Chicago to take part in the Christian Alliance for Orphan's Conference (CAFO).  What an amazing event to be a part of. 2,700 people all passionate about Jesus, orphan care and adoption-- doesn't get much better than that!

Little Women at KCA

Touch down back in Kiev and it was time to put on the finishing touches of the play I direct every year at Kiev Christian Academy.  This year we took on "Little Women" and it was a huge success! I had the added bonus of having my mom fly over to help me and be my amazing assistant for the week.  She is a blessing in my life I thank God for every day.


After we wrapped up the show, KCA finished off the school year with graduations celebrations and my cousin and I went to London for a long weekend! Ever since we did Pride and Prejudice together (the show we did 2 years ago) it was our dream to see England together. So off we went! Thanks to my dear friend Jenny, we had a wonderful place to stay in the city and got to have some sweet time with her as well. It was a wonderful trip. We managed to see 2 shows, 2 museums, drink lots of tea and eat lots of cake and enjoy some London sights and rain (a lot of rain!).


Then I landed back in Kiev to my 2 newest house guests that are in my care this week. Some friends of mine from Seattle are at the end of their adoption process of 2 kids from Donetsk region (so glad they got out!), but had to head home for their daughter's wedding before they could finish the adoption process. So thus I became caregiver to Roma and Natasha this week.  We are having fun exploring the city and me trying to teach them a bit of English (trying!)-- today's adventure included a bike trip to the island on the Dnieper River.

And that my friends is why I've not blogged in so long!!

Hope to write more soon and also share a bit more about the current situation in Ukraine and our work with coordinating refugee efforts.   Please keep praying for Ukraine and for peace...there is so much need right now.