I knew today was the 20-year anniversary of my arrival in Ukraine and the beginning of my life as a missionary, but seeing it spelled out so matter-of-factly was jarring. For years I looked forward to this day. I assumed I would still be living in Ukraine, anticipating many more years of fruitful and fulfilling work there. I imagined I would celebrate with a big party filled with people who had been part of my life during all the stages of my first two decades in Ukraine. I would reunite with dear friends to celebrate this milestone and reminisce about all the wonderful things we had seen God do over the years. But at some point over the last year, I began to look forward to this day with pain and anger rather than eager anticipation. It was because I realized that, along with everything else this war had stolen from me, it had also taken away this milestone.
We’re Going to Make It
I have always suspected that children are far more resilient than most adults give them credit for. My experience of navigating early tragedy supported this theory (my mom died when I was 5), and now I’ve had a chance to observe my own children coping with loss and grave difficulty.
A Future and a Hope
Our life was a beautiful dream. Every time I walked the streets around the converted old mansion that housed our apartment in downtown Kyiv, I found myself thanking God that we got to live in this charming district, filled with historic buildings and dotted with trendy cafes, interesting restaurants, and all sorts of shops. We had a close-knit church family who all lived within walking distance and a wider community of friends who were in and out of our home on a regular basis. To top it all off, our new landlords had told us that we could stay in their apartment for at least 5 years, and we planned to do precisely that. We had moved 14 times since getting married 18 years earlier, and now, we were finally settled. I couldn’t have been more pleased or content.
I’ve Been Really Busy
Someone recently asked me why I’d stopped writing. In light of what has been happening in Ukraine, the country that I’ve called home for almost two decades, I had trouble comprehending why an explanation was even necessary. But since I didn’t want to embarrass my friend by stating what felt painfully obvious to me (“…my life turned completely upside down on February 24, 2022, and I’m still trying to figure out which way is up…”), I just said (truthfully) that I’d been really busy.
Oh, How I Love Boundaries!
This post first appeared as a guest post on a blog for missionary women in 2011. (That blog no longer exists, or I would link to it here.)
I’ve started to drive again. Until recently, I could have counted on one hand the number of times I had gotten behind the wheel of a car in Ukraine since moving to this country eight and a half years ago.
Home is Where You Put Your Heart
This post first appeared on Assist News Service in May 2016.
When I moved overseas as a missionary, people would often ask me if I missed home. For various reasons, it was always hard for me to know how to answer.
Raising Third-Culture Kids, Part 2
This post first appeared on Assist News Service in April 2016.
Last month I wrote about the unique experience of third-culture kids, children who are raised in a culture other than the culture of their parents and who subsequently develop a third culture that is a blend of the two cultures. (You can read part 1 here for more details and specific examples drawn from our lives on the mission field.) This month I’d like to revisit this topic.
I ended last month’s column with the admission that we are expecting our fifth child, and sometimes I wonder if my husband and I are being wise or responsible to have so many children when the missionary lifestyle is so uncertain. Besides the fact that we are almost completely dependent on the generosity of others for our monthly income, we also currently live in a country that is in a de facto state of war.
Raising Third-Culture Kids, Part 1
This post first appeared on Assist News Service in March 2016.
My husband, four sons, and I live in Ukraine. We are all American citizens, but three of our children were born here in Ukraine, and this country is the only home any of them has ever known. Their favorite foods include local dishes like borsch with pampushky (beet stew with garlic rolls), varenyky (boiled dumplings with a variety of sweet or savory fillings), and holubtsi (stuffed cabbage rolls). Each of us has a hand-embroidered traditional Ukrainian blouse that we wear for special occasions, and the last time I gave him a haircut, my eldest asked me to cut his hair in the style of a kozak, the historical defenders of the Ukrainian homeland. Although we do own a vehicle in a country where many people do not, our kids are equally comfortable taking public transport, and our 9-year-old even rides the bus and subway by himself.
This post first appeared on Assist News Service in February 2016.
As I write this, it’s two days after Valentine’s Day, and I still haven’t taken our Christmas tree down.
Only for You, Jesus
This post first appeared on Assist News Service in December 2015.
Have you ever had an Only-for-You-Jesus moment? It’s a moment when you’re facing an excruciating decision. You know what Jesus wants you to do, but you really don’t want to do it. In fact, if anyone else asked you to do it, you would say no. Flat-out, no hesitation. You wouldn’t do it for your husband, your children, your parents, or your best friend. But then you look at your beautiful Savior, and you find yourself saying softly and tearfully, “Yes—but only for You, Jesus.”
As melodramatic as it might sound, making the decision to move back to Kyiv was such a moment for me.