Cause this here's a not-so-brief recap of my recent trip to Ukraine. When I get my camera back from Portland, there will be pictures. Oh...there will be pictures. =)
Until then...here's a glimpse of the last two weeks:
Our team of 6 met up in Amsterdam on Thursday, October 8th. We had spoken on the phone but I only knew 2 others personally. I was not worried about the Ukrainian people, the food or the travels – I was concerned with how the team dynamics would be. And the Lord was so provident in how He placed this team together that my worries dissipated within a day.
It was fairly up-in-the-air as to what we would be doing on a daily basis, so we expected that we needed to be flexible and that definitely came out as we began planning what we would be doing for our time there. We were “stationed” in a little church in the village region of Brusilov, about 2 hours southwest of Kyiv. There is a team of several pastors who live in that area as church planters with whom we worked daily. It was so inspiring to hear their stories of church planting and the struggles they have faced and how the Lord has continued to move there. The area of Brusilov has 37 villages that these pastors are working to evangelize. In the last 15 years, they have evangelized and seen active growth in 27 of those villages. It was our honor to partner with them as they continue to spread the gospel.
Our days were filled with morning prayer meetings (which were 2 hours long, each!), prayer-walking, evening services, and copious amounts of food. We were invited to a different church in the area every evening to preach, sing, and give our testimonies. This was difficult for some people in the group who were not accustomed to public speaking, but the Lord worked mightily through their words and it was amazing to see His power displayed, even in the midst of our personal discomfort.
The most powerful moments of the time there were for me were our prayer walks in 21 of the surrounding villages. Our team and one or two of the pastors would drive to a village and the pastors would share of what work has been done there and what they hope to accomplish, and they would tell us of the strongholds that satan has there. Alcoholism and witchcraft/the occult are two ways that satan has continued to prevent many people from hearing the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We would spend time there in corporate prayer and as we were able to, we would talk to anyone we encountered. Personally, I have never experienced prayer like that before in my life. It was powerful and the presence of the Lord was nearly tangible among us.
During our time there, I was surprised by how unlike a foreign country it felt. Few people spoke English, the writing was completely foreign, we were around mostly farmers whereas I am a city-girl. However, I felt like I was simply in another part of my own world. I expected that I would be shocked or unfamiliar with things, but it did not make me feel disconnected from the people there or even their way of life.
The only downfall of the trip was that I came back with a little friend – a stomach bug. It hit me early and was unfortunately accompanied by a fever, causing me to panic that I had the typhoid fever! It was a little ridiculous for such a small thing, but praise God, it’s gone (we hope!) now. =)
Thank you again SOOOOOOOO much for your support for this trip. You will never know the impact you made on lives in Ukraine, but I feel so blessed for the impact you make on mine.
Even though I’m no longer in Ukraine, please still take the time to pray for that area. The pastors and ministers there are doing a tremendous work and would still appreciate all the prayers you can give. Be in prayer for the region of Brusilov, as well Ukraine in general. They are in a time of religious and political freedom, but that can change in a moment.
That was long, but trust me...I could have been MUCH more verbose! =)