Honesty.  Ask any of my friends, “What’s Amanda like?” One of their first words of description will most likely be “honest”.  Many would say, “She is open and real about stuff.”  And anyone who has spent even a little bit of time with me probably has experienced how offensive and shocking this can be.  Even in Russia, I do not have a wide vocabulary to be able to choose my words carefully so I just choose the words that I think will be the most clear to the hearer.

Having landed in America in October, I hit the ground running, with church mission conferences, visiting friends and catching up with family.  As I share stories about what is happening in Russia I want to encourage the church that God is at work and good things are happening.  In reaction, I hear the word, “exciting!”  Yes, it is exciting, and I am glad to have a front row seat in so many of God’s amazing stories.  I want to be honest, I don’t share everything!  There is some hard stuff that happens in our churches!  I am working with people, people let me down!  I let them down.  I get lazy, I get selfish.  I keep feeling like people use me as an example to their church.  “Give God your life like Amanda did!”  I just shudder when I see this happening.  If they only knew how many times a day I mess up.  How often I have to give God my life again.  I am human.  I need to be honest with you.  I sometimes wonder what I am doing in Russia.  I sometimes struggle with feelings of failure.  Praise the Lord for any encouragement I am to those who need to be reminded that God will care for those who love Him.  But please, please give all, every little bit, every piece of praise and honor to our Lord God Almighty.  The honest truth is that God will never leave me or forsake me.  The honest truth is that the nearness of God is my good (Ps 73:28).  The honest truth is that walking in holiness, sharing the gospel and being a faithful friend are real struggles for me and any time these things are worked out in my life it is only by the faith and grace that God has given me.  His grace is sufficient for me and you, for His power is made perfect in weakness.  So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me (2 Cor. 12:9). Please, continue to rejoice for all the good that the Lord has done (Ex. 18:9) and give Him all the praise, because He has done it!