Driving through the snow-dusted Carpathians toward the Ukrainian border almost two weeks ago, I felt the seriousness of our departure more heavily with each passing mile. We left our home, not knowing when we’ll be back. We said emotional goodbyes to special friends; many we left without having had that chance. I reflected on my years in Ukraine and felt regret at things I could have done better.
While these realities are hard, we feel them a little less as we see so many others in worse circumstances. Many families have had to separate indefinitely, saying their goodbyes at the border. Women and children are alone in foreign countries, striving to figure out a new life without their husbands. Other families are trapped in cities targeted by missiles, or deprived of food, water and heat. Of even greater weight, how many of those thousands are without the hope of the Lord Jesus Christ to sustain them in these dark times?
While all of these events are heavy, I am reminded of what God tells us to do with heavy things. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.” Ps. 55:22
And that’s not all. “Be careful (anxious) for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7
Don’t be anxious. Pray. Ask earnestly. Give thanks. Have peace. What a practical to-do list for times of heaviness and distraction!
This week, we have been figuring out how best to function in our new surroundings. Our yellow van is in the shop getting needed repairs, and meanwhile we’ve been putting out feelers (largely through Slovakian friends) for a new van and a more serviceable place to stay.
Our family has benefitted directly from so many generous Slovakians. A lady who owns a shoe store heard about us and sent beautiful boots for all the kids! These will really be helpful in the days ahead.
Joshua has continued to help with evacuation efforts. Most recently he was searching for hospitals in safer areas where evacuation teams could transport wounded people. He has also been the spreadsheet guy, consolidating jumbled information into clear, succinct spreadsheets for the benefit of everyone on the evacuation teams.
I’ve stayed quite busy keeping household tasks going. We’re cooking in a camp-style facility, without our regular shopping routines and menus. Nevertheless, each day, things have come together beautifully for that particular day’s meals.
Not pictured here is the Lutheran church service we attended on Sunday, another place I never imagined myself! It was a unique experience for us, with lots of standing up and sitting down, pastoral singing, and congregational responses. Organ-accompanied hymns had irregular tunes and meter, as if a child had composed them willy-nilly. I appreciated the reverent atmosphere of the building and service, even though we did not understand most of the proceedings. Our hosts, who are pastors for four Lutheran congregations, invited us to sing in Ukrainian at services both Saturday night and Sunday morning, and to share about our family’s recent journey. This church body is praying for Ukraine and actively gathering humanitarian aid and support for refugees.
While we wait for next steps to become clear, we are earnestly praying that God will direct us to a place where we can serve Ukrainians effectively. Thank you all for your prayers and overwhelming support for our family!
Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.Psalm 139:5