What a difference a year makes!

I spent some time today reflecting on Christmas 2005. It was our first Christmas in Ukraine having been here for only a month. It was our first real winter and the worst in Ukraine in ten years! Everyday was full of new (some good, some not so good) experiences. A year later not all the changes are ones that can be seen. I have four children who speak the Russian language amazingly well. And there is a deeper peace around the house as if it has become 'home'. But most of all there is a sort of contentment. It's not something that you could notice on it's own, but when comparing this Christmas to last, I see it. I am reminded again of Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I can see so very much heart change. All the children who were old enough to understand what was happening in the beginning were supportive of our calling into missions and excited about being called to such a distant place. It was exciting to think of living in a mysterious land of the former Soviet Empire. But a year ago after living here for a month, we were coping with new living conditions, new foods and the loss of so much we had come to take for granted. We never doubted God's call, but we sure had some major adjustments to make. God has been so faithful throughout. Merry Christmas to all!

Christmas 2006 Kyiv, Ukraine

Now a year later we don't have all the answers, but gone are most of the concerns and reservations. Each of us now has a new understanding and appreciation for both the people and country we were called to serve. We understand most of the 'whys' of a year ago. We understand the lack of smiles, we understand the buying of 100 lbs. of potato's when the stores always seem to have plenty, we understand what friendship truly means to a Ukrainian. I even understand some of the things that bring me the most frustration; the bribes, the lack of some courtesies, the babushka's, and yes even to a small extent the actions of the directors of some of the orphanages we work with. There is still so much to learn, but with time has come some clarity, and with clarity has come better understanding, and with that has come more of a heart for this nation… and then all of a sudden as your heart changes, you find He is giving you the 'desires of your heart'.