A broken heart

Through tears of searing pain, a broken hearted women just told me that God is so good. And I believe her.

Friday morning my friend, Ryan, was meeting his mentor, Bob, at McDonalds in Kiev Ukraine. Before they sat down to have their regular encouraging conversation centered around God, they went up to the counter to order. I do not know the details of what transpired I only know that as he went to order, Bob had a massive heart attack and went to be with The Lord he loved so much. He left behind a wife of 37 years and two biological children and many, many people here in Ukraine and in the states that would consider him their father as well. Bob and his wife, Sherri, have served in Kiev, Ukraine for 12 years. Bob’s love and passion was for God, his wife, and showing others the love of God.

I have only interacted with Bob a few times but let me tell you about them:

Bob and Sherri invited Ryan, Sarah, and myself over for dinner one night. As Sherri finished preparations for the dinner we sat in the living room talking. I remember being impressed with how much Bob wanted to really know about our lives. I remember thinking,”Wow, it’s not only his wife asking all the interested questions, they are unified in wanting to know me.” This couple was also unified in wanting to encourage us with the truth from God that they have experienced through the years.

A few weeks ago, six missionaries were sitting around a breakfast table before our team meeting. I was the youngest one at the table. As Bob and Sherri, and a few other missionaries asked deep questions and discussed truth from the Bible and their life, I was fooled with thankfulness. I felt so rich in that moment that I was with such people who loved my Lord so much. I had to leave the room before my tears of joy started spilling over. That was the last time I spent with Bob.

Thank you for praying for our team. Last night we had a celebration service, Bob is with Jesus! And we also mourned Sherri’s loss with her. When I spoke with her she told me, “God is so good. And I’m gonna get through this, one breath at a time.” This woman is real and she is hurting! She is not denying that the pain is there and threatens to suffocate her, but she takes that pain to Jesus and they sit together and cry. She is so beautiful and so was Bob, I am so privileged to have have been loved by this couple.

Please Pray

Please pray for my team here in Ukraine. A very traumatic thing happened today that will change the lives of some here. I don’t feel like I should say more right now. Just know that it did not involve me, but people very close to me and I hurt for them. Please pray for blessing to come out of this. Pray that this very hard journey will bring a blessing. Pray that those affected will feel the comfort of the Lord and lean hard into His love.

Thank you all for praying!

Train ticket

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I want to thank those who have been praying for my foot. It is exponentially better than on Sunday and continuing to heal. Such a relief!

On Tuesday I was standing in line with my language helper at a Kassa for train tickets. As she ordered the tickets she needed I repeated devyatnadsatoy (19th) over and over in my head. When I got to the counter I ordered my return ticket to Russia for the 19th of June. Looking over once or twice to Djenya (my language helper) for encouragement. The cashier apparently understood me and began the paperwork. I was very consciously trying to smile and make eye contact because I have noticed that when I speak Russian I am focussing too hard to smile. I started out smiling anyway, I’m not sure what happened after I said devyatnadsatoy. As she handed me the ticket I was so relieved she didn’t ask me any hard questions and amazed how painless the experience had been.

Hilarity amidst pain

Thank you Lord for hilarity amidst pain.

Today I was sitting in church trying to pay attention while my foot burned. At times sudden sharp pain would cause me to start and bend over a little. At times the constant pain would work it’s way out onto my face in the contortion of my mouth and the cringing of my brow. One time I caught myself making a ridiculous face and thought, I wonder if anyone sees me and what they must be thinking. Did they think that was my thinking face? Everyone has a thinking face, but mine did not look like that normally. Did they think I was trying so hard to understand pastor that it was painful? Sometimes it is indeed painful but I hope I do not show it on my face. Trying to find some relief from the pain I smiled at the thought of the onlookers wondering what the American was doing now. (This church is set up in a semi circle and I was sitting on the far end of one side, so half the church could see me.)

I am thankful for this time of constantly calling out to Jesus for strength but i do hope my foot will heal. Please pray that God will heal my foot and mature me though the process.

I am sitting here at lunch, elevating my foot and trying to be distracted from the pain when, chomp! I bit my tongue! So now I am in pain from top to bottom!! Normally it is not something to write home about but today my constant prayer is, “God, this really hurts! Help me!” And he doesn’t reply, “Common Amanda! You are such a wimp!” He doesn’t even think that. He knows I’m made out of dirt and dirt is wimpy. He loves it when I ask for help. He loves it when I admit that I am weak cause then He can step in and do really big things that I am not capable of.

It is such a glorious thing to ask help from a glorious God!

If anyone doesn’t have wisdom ask God, cause He gives generously without disapproval or disappointment. And when you ask He will give it to you!

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This picture has nothing to do with my blog… But this is my teacher, Irena and roommate, Sarah. I love them both and am so thankful for their patience towards me and care for me. And we have a lot of fun together! 🙂

Joy

Today I was sitting in front of a stuffed breakfast burrito basking in the uplifting conversation around me. Sometime I think I am so blessed to be a missionary if just for the people I get to know. After breakfast we began our team meeting. First on the agenda was announcements, and then Bible study. Can I just tell you! This Bible study was in English! So I got every word! And the people in the room all loved The Lord and were serving Him with their lives (I guess that is kind of assumed of all missionaries but it is not the case with everyone). Oh boy! 🙂

We were told the story of the 70 followers of Jesus whom He sent out to bring the good news to villages in the surrounding area. And when they got back they were rejoicing! Whoohoo!! Way cool Jesus, even the demonds were cast out in your name! Success!! And Jesus said, “Praise God that is good news! Let’s have a missions conference so you can tell everyone these awesome stories and then they will be moved to give more money and you can go out and do it so more!”
Uh… No.
What? Jesus didn’t say that?
Nope. Jesus said He watched Satan fall out of the sky like a bolt of lightning, He has given them power over scorpions and snakes, and nothing will harm them. But that is not to be the cause of your joy. Wait, wait, wait. Um I’m like invincible because God is protecting me, my enemy is being knocked around and is really upset about it (which makes me feel great) and you say don’t be joyful about it. But, that’s like the best news I’ve had um… My whole life!

No it’s not. Remember that part about a relationship with me and not having to pay the penalty for your sin? That’s the best news you have ever had in your whole life and that, that is to be your source of joy.

Okay, if you have made it this far in the post might as well go all the way right? So hold out your hands in front of you. Please 🙂 Now put your nice house, family, friends and whatever makes you happy on one hand. Okay, that hand must be pretty full. Now put your salvation (assuming you know Jesus) on the other hand. Know think with me. What is more consistent? Relationships with friends and family always make you happy right? And your money is always there just waiting to make you feel secure and give you what you want right? Or is it the other hand? A relationship with God who promised to never stop loving you no matter what? Raise the hand that you feel is more stable and set your joy in that! You will still find joy in the other things! They are great! But salvation is to be the source of joy that seeps out of you and you just can’t help it.

Okay, just one more thing. Empty the friends and family hand, and fill that hand with talking about Jesus, encouraging others, going to church, singing and playing powerful songs of praise to God. How consistent is this joy? What if the people I pray for keep swearing at me? What if when I share Jesus with someone I think it went really well only to find out later that they completely miss understood me? Oh, it brings such unexplainable joy to experience God working in our lives and through His church. So then why does Jesus say not to rejoice in the power He has given us but rejoice in our salvation?

Thank you for helping me process all of that. I feel more tired now than after my last Russian lesson. Whew, I’m gona go relax and cook something. :). But before I do I must tell you what I found today. Multiplication table cookies. They don’t multiply (thank you merciful God!). And they don’t multiply tables! That would be weird too. They have different multiplication tables on them. So as I snack I’m brushing up on my math. And, they are really yummy too!

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Contentment

Yesterday as I walked and talked with my Lord He opened a window of joy to me. If I were to start at the beginning of the story I fear I would need to go back to even before I began to follow Jesus. So, it is too long, I will sum up…

I have tried to make God happy and tried to become a better person because that makes Gad happy, right? But then people would say, “no matter what you do God will never love you less!” I was like okay, um… I don’t get it… So I kept up the fight for righteousness, peace, love, joy. It’s a good fight and I felt so good when I got it right. I felt like if I could just remind myself of the reward then I would be willing to put up the fight.

God gave me a glimmer of hope last year when He made it clear to me the He was teaching me something while I was not working for it. But that is a different wonderful story.

Yesterday, as I was wandering through little Ukrainian neighborhoods on my way to language school, the realization came over me that I am not getting anywhere with my fight to be content. My desire for a husband, children, intimacy, and companionship is almost stifling at times. Don’t you dare go all mushy on me and feel sorry for me right now! We all have our area of discontentment. The answer is not like the prayer I’ve been praying (and many pray for me), “God give me this good thing that would make me happy so the pain goes away.” The answer is God. But now I need to back up again.

I have been studying James with Kay Arthur (she doesn’t know it, but I am). Still in the first chapter, we have been sinking our feet and curling our toes around (she doesn’t know that either) trials and how to let them have their perfect work. Looking at a cross reference the other day I saw Jesus. The Man of sorrows, in Hebrews 4:15-16. My example is He. As I began to fix my eyes on him and ponder all the temptation he faced yet He remained pure, He gave me a thankful, contented heart. I was reminded of something so important, if I try and fix myself I will fail. But when I look at Jesus and really glory in who He is, my issue kind of becomes a non issue. I did not pray for contentment yesterday. I praised my Jesus and enjoyed spending time with Him. The contentment came, Jesus is my healer. Lord keep my eyes fixed on you!

Truth

– God is who He says He is,
– God can do what He says He will do,
– I am who God says I am,
– I can do the good works He has prepared for me through Christ who strengthens me,
– God’s Word is alive and active in me,
– God is here, He is sufficient, and He is worth it.