Fourteen

On July 4th, 2003 I left America for a three-month mission’s internship in Ukraine.  Little did I know at that time, nor could I have ever imagined, that fourteen years later I’d still be here in Krivoy Rog, Ukraine.

yaenadia
At Sunshine Orphanage back in 2003.

When I left America, my plans were set; I’d finish my internship in Ukraine and then I’d become a missionary to Africa.  But God had other plans for me, and for that I’m glad!

At the end of my very first week in Ukraine, when I still didn’t understand any Russian and was still a little scared of the culture, the Holy Spirit asked me “Are you willing to stay here?”  At first I was a little taken aback, this was not in my plans at all!  Ukraine wasn’t even on my radar – I had no desire to learn Russian.  But I knew when God asks a question, that’s it best to say “yes” to Him!  I told Him yes, but I asked Him to promise me that I would see Him moving mightily in this land.  The Holy Spirit assured me that this is what I would see.

So here I am, fourteen years later.  One-third of my life has been spent here.  It’s become home to me and I am happy.  After all, there’s no better place to be than picking up your cross and daily following Jesus.  To be in the center of His will is the best place you can possibly be.  I love this land and it’s an honor for me to serve the Ukrainian people.

Kryvyi rih 2008
Either way you say it – Krivoy Rog (Russian) or Kryvyi Rih (Ukrainian) – it’s home! (Photo circa 2008 with Amanda, Nadia, and Andrea)

Has it always been easy?  Absolutely not.  But it wasn’t always difficult either.  And, of course, God never promised me that it would be a picnic, but what He did promise me is a full life!  There were times when I was frustrated beyond belief, when I wanted to give up and quit, and when I felt like I was making absolutely no difference at all.  Plus, I was missing out on my family and friend’s lives in America – birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, or simply the chance to get a cup of Starbucks coffee and chat with a friend.

I don’t regret it.  Even in the hardest of times, I don’t regret it.  The joy I have in being part of God’s kingdom here in Ukraine is more than enough for me.  To witness lives completely transformed: former drug addicts who are set free and now in ministry, children who grew up as orphans now finding themselves in God’s family, seeing the light of hope come into a Babushka’s eyes as she understands for the first time in her life that Father God has never forgotten her, and to watch the children of God become whom God created them to be – there is nothing better than this!  I’ve witnessed countless salvations, healings (arthritis, ears opened, lungs healed, tumors removed…), and lives set free by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is the life I want to live!  But the part that excites and motivates me the most is that this is only the beginning.  The harvest in Ukraine will be abundant.  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit will be mighty.  The best is yet to come!

I’m so glad I’m not the one in charge of planning my life, or I would have missed out on so much!  He’s such a good Father, and He has my best in mind.  I don’t want to live my life and then at the end of it have no fruit to bring Him.  I want my life to make an impact on those around me, in whatever way I can, that by all means I’ve preached the Gospel – in words and in deeds.  I obviously make mistakes and fail, but God is gracious and merciful and always gives me another chance.  Therefore, I will try my best to follow after Him all the days of my life.

When I stop to look back over my life, I’m humbled and awed by His kindness towards me.  I’m no one special; I’m simply a girl from a village in America who decided to say “Yes” to God.  Looking back, I can clearly see He’s been the author of my story.  It began by growing up in a Christian home with good parents.  Then God brought me to Bible school in the midst of the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Florida.  I was taught, trained, and mentored by men and women of such integrity and character that my life has forever been impacted by them.  Now I have the privilege to continue to spread the flame of fire I received at revival to those in Ukraine.

I’m thankful beyond measure for all Jesus has done and I’m confident that as I continue to follow Him: plowing, planting, watering, and building, that I will see Him glorified here in Ukraine!

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The harvest is ripe!  A Ukrainian wheat field I photographed this past week.

A special thank you to those of you who pray for me, financially support me, encourage me, love me, and parter with me to see the Kingdom come to Ukraine.  I’m grateful to you beyond measure!  I couldn’t be here fulfilling the call God placed on my life without you!  God bless you!

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