Monday, January 26, 2009

Orphans and Widows

[something I journaled in Ukraine]

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. [James 1:27]

We don't love God truly if we do not love His creation, especially His most unloveable ones. How can we say we want to serve Him or even that we love Him if we can stand against His own? We show our love for Him in many ways but most often by loving others. We don't realize it but by showing kindness, giving of ourselves, we are loving Him. When we open our doors, give our things, invest our time in the sick, hungry, widowed and orphaned, we glorify Him and serve Him.

How thankful I am that we are here in Ukraine to love people, specifically those deemed unworthy of love by society. We illustrate how God loved us, unworthy and unloveable, adopted orphans... we show Him love and understand His love for us more fully.

And "keeping ourselves unstainedby the world...". It could mean so many thingsbut when i think about it in connection with the rest of the verse I think it has something to do with Romans 12:2 - not being conformed but being transformed. Removing ourselves from the world's view of the unloved... and loving and serving anyway. Truly being different. Not letting the world's opinion of orphans and widows enter into our own but retaining the pure and undefiled religion we are removed from thoughts and opinions unlike God's.

[and now more thoughts]

The orphanage was completely unlike State orphanages I have visited in past trips to Ukraine. These children so well cared for and the workers so loving to them that I almost feel silly calling it an orphanage... it seems like a very large, very diverse family. The goal for the Vinnitsa Christian Orphanage is that the kids might have a "double adoption" - being adopted into the family of God and being adopted by a Ukrainian family. The orphanage has been in the process for quite a few years, open for about three years and now has 48 children (it can hold 50). Legally, it has been a difficult road for kids to get adopted but the first adoption is now going through. It's very exciting to see what is going on there and I am so thankful to have been a part of it.
Praise God for His faithfulness!

Ukraine Trip

I got back from Ukraine last night. It was a great trip!

I lived in the Vinnitsa Christian Orphanage, along with Stephanie, Stephen, Jillian and Caleb. A great set of people who were both an encouragement to be with and very fun. I laughed a lot and truly enjoyed my time with each one of them.

We spent just about every hour of our days with kids - playing in the snow, clapping games, letting them do our hair, learning Russian words, teaching them Bible stories, helping with homework... our goal was to be with them and we accomplished it! We had bunk beds just like the kids and it was definitely different to go to sleep with the rhythm of so many other girls sleeping.

A highlight for me was being able to share the gospel with four little girls. We took them to McDonalds for lunch one day and spoiled them a little bit. It was great to spend time with them and talk with them but we asked them to articulate the gospel message and ended up sharing with them. God totally worked and gave us words to say and them understanding. I really enjoyed that.

We left Ukraine very tired but very sad to say goodbye. We'd quickly made friends with so many of the 48 kids in the orphanage and felt like we could spend so much more time there. It wasn't enough but it was such a great trip. I feel so refreshed by it, even with jet lag :) God moved inside the five of us and also in the hearts of the kids. Stephen and Caleb said they thought two of their boys accepted Christ.

It was a "worth it" trip. I'm so glad I went and of COURSE I have pictures... in collage form so that I can fit more in the post ;)

[We were traveling January 13-14, were in Kiev, Ukraine January 14-15, traveled to the orphanage in Vinnitsa and were there from January 15-22, and were in Holland from January 22-24. Came home yesterday. A team of eight - Mr. Alex, Mr. Vince, Stephanie, Michael, Me, Jillian, Stephen & Caleb.]

Friday, January 9, 2009


I looked up the meaning of the word "dwell" on Dwell means to live or stay as a permanent resident, to emphasize, to ponder in thought, speech or writing and last but not least, of a moving tool or machine it means to be motionless for a period of time during use. 
Let me just say right now: I LOVE that last one.  I think of the poor riding lawnmower Dad has had since before I was born. I have memories of him riding it around the yard every Friday on his day off, but what I remember most was that thing sitting in the driveway to be fixed. Dad would be under it, fixing things, or standing over it, trying to figure out the problem. The lawnmower dwelt in the driveway to be repaired by Dad. It was motionless. It had a problem and apparently realized it (because it stopped working) and so it sat in the driveway where a solution could be found. 

You know where I'm going with this, don't you? How can I resist? To dwell with God (some verses say "in His house" or "in His temple") is something very important. God is with us, the Holy Spirit living inside. He's not going to leave or give up. 
This is true, but we still have problems. We need things taken out and other things put in us. We break down. We need doctors, we have health issues... we are painfully aware at times that we are human and that being human makes us fragile. We're mortal, susceptible to death and disease. Bones break, hearts don't work... all reminding us that there is something we don't have. 

Basically: we are aware that we have problems. Sometimes hopelessness grabs us because we realize that something bigger than "me" must have and hold breath, must be immortal, must cause the heart to beat. I think we all must realize this instinctively. 

There is something I notice about when I've been in the Word like I should be. I don't really care so much about the physical problems. I feel that they have been taken care of and that I am free from worry about them. You see, when I take time to sit motionless before the Lord, I am a much more fulfilled person. I have come to the One who can heal my physical problems as well as   my internal problems. I "break down" from time to time, not because He cannot fix me, but because I am human. He did not make me perfect or immortal and I am thankful. Now I can experience His grace. I can see His love given to such an imperfect person. 
I doubt I am thankful for this enough. I believe that I sit sadly considering my issues more than I am thankful that God made me with the capacity to understand His love and to actually experience the extending of His hand. I know why it is. 

It is because so often, I do not sit motionless before Him. I don't "wait for the Lord" and I don't verbally recognize my imperfections. In reality, I have problems. I need them to be fixed. He can do that and He will but not if I'm not willing. My loving God has allowed me to choose to come to Him and to sit and wait for Him. I want to dwell in His Word and His plans!
"Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness" - Psalm 37:3(A side note in my Bible about "cultivate faithfulness" says that it means to feed securely or to feed on His faithfulness - we get to experience His blessings!)

thankfulness on break

It's been awhile. I'm quite busy here. The visions of long evenings of reading and going to bed early were completely unrealistic. I work full-time which has been great because I needed the money and I really love being back at the church. The people there are so great to be with. Such a blessing in all respects.

After work, I usually do something with friends. It's been great spending time with people but it's almost never ending. I'm so glad I have so many good friends but I can't do things with all of them, sadly. Again, such a blessing to have amazing people in my life. They're so fun, keep me laughing, but also keep me grounded. I know I've grown a lot spiritually just through fellowship and encouragement here.

I've had people come up to me ask ask in a half-whisper, "Are you ready to go back to Spokane?" Yes I am. I love being here but I feel that at least this break is just a break. I'm supposed to go back, as far as I can see. Content here, but just sort of this feeling of purpose for there. I can see a lot of things to do there, ministry-wise with other girls and with the church. I miss Spokane and my roommates and all sorts of things out there and I can't wait to go back but I am also thankful for a long long break!

Speaking of roommates, Amanda turns 19 today - Happy Birthday, Roomie!

I have a bunch of thoughts I've typed up and saved in my draft folder in my email. I'll have to post them sometime. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures from Christmas break (there would be more because I've done a lot more but I keep forgetting to take pictures with some people when we're out!):

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's 2009!

My last day in Spokane, snow fell very fast and thick on the ground. A few short hours later it stopped, revealing a world covered in white. It was on the roof and covered every blade of grass. All around was white, pure and beautiful. It didn't look like the same backyard; it appeared almost magical.
I think of the new year like a fresh blanket of snow. No one has walked in it and it's full of adventure, ready to be played in, to be walked in, to be driven in... it's thrilling entering each new year just as it is to open the door to a winter wonderland. Behind us lies the previous year. We can look back on its high points and smile at the memory and recall the low points with a sigh. We haven't messed the new year up at all but we can't wait to pull on our snow boots and coats and sink our fooprints in it, making our mark.
January brings newness to the same old things. I love it.

This year, I'm looking forward to:
- turning 20 in March
- knowing what I'm doing for school in the fall and seeing how God will lead me in that direction
- the summer. I have some ideas about what I'd like to do and I'm also excited about how those will come together
- really bonding with the roommates
- learning in school and out of school.

I can't wait to see what it holds. I just wish there were snow on the ground to make this illustration perfect :)
Related Posts with Thumbnails Follow Me on Pinterest