As the week goes on, 6am seems to come more quickly and harshly, especially when actually hitting the sack is somewhere between midnight and 1:30am. Not easy for this girl who usually gets to bed by 9:30 back home! But each morning, strength is found to peel my body off of my air mattress and get ready for the day. Even this morning my first waking thought was, “You better hurry if you’re to see what the Lord has for you today in His word!” Yes, after quite a while of struggling at home to find time to read the Word for each of my days, the Lord has given me a new desire to see what He has for me. He is Good. Every day since this trip began He has specifically spoken to me and given me direction for a situation I come across during the day, or a new outlook on what He is doing. I wish I could share them all! When faced with certain situations that I knew needed to be dealt with, and not sure how, or even willing to deal with them the Lord seemed to speak. I would read in His Word a very specific verse on HOW to deal with situations. He not only answers prayer, but gives us just what we need and the grace to do what He requires of us, JUST when we need it! Praise the Lord!
The Camp continued to go strong. Anywhere between 80 and 100 children have consistently arrived bright and early each morning with smiles and greetings of “Privyet!” with lots of hugs and excitement for what the day holds. By the time the first large group starts after morning tea, everyone is already hot and sticky. Most of the kids arrive day after day in the same dirty, stinky clothing. Yet the smiles seem to get bigger. And the smell, stickiness and dirt seem to be forgotten a little bit more every day by the American team. A team which, by the way, has done an excellent job in facing such large obstacles. The heat and lack of ice or even water at times, the immense sweating, the dust flying everywhere when the children play the games, the tackling, hugging, hanging, the language barrier, the extremely rumbunctious children and even the naughty ones, have been just a few things that this team has had to lean on the Lord for wisdom and strength to deal with. And most of them have. I have known this team for a good time now, and I have learned new things about each one while on this trip. I’m honored to call them my friends and family. I’m so proud of them. If only you could watch them from the outside… you would agree. They have gone above and beyond what they signed up for. What they PAID to come do. The Lord has blessed my heart to watch them draw from His fountain of grace, and those that submitted willingly to the Lord’s work here without complaint and let Him work through them are better individuals because of it!
The Ukrainian team also has been SUCH a blessing! This church has SUCH a heart for children, and serving their community. In all the traveling I have done over the last fifteen years, I have not found a more humble, serving, sacrificing group of young people and adults and church people. The men that helped out took time off of work to be there all week. The young people were dedicated in their responsibilities and not off among one another. We had Ukrainian and Americans on each team and made sure there was someone who could even roughly translate when necessary. All our curriculum was new to the Ukrainians and they were given responsibilities that they weren’t sure about at the beginning. But they dove right in and it was wonderful to watch them through it all love on the children. Ninety percent of the children at the camp were unchurched. SO different than the VBS’s we conduct at home! Just imagine the impact this church can have on their community with the families that have been touched though roughly eighty children! So keep praying for the wake of truth we left behind. Pray that the seeds that were scattered this week will be watered by this amazing church!
During the week the boys had a chance to bless Scott by using their muscles. Scott has a small older building that he calls the Ministry Center. A place he opens up three days week as a library of Christian books with fresh coffee available and a chance to talk with people. Then on Saturday mornings he holds English lessons mainly for children, but some moms and grandmothers will stay in on the lessons too. There was a wall in the yard that needed to come down, so during the course of 3 days, after camp the boys would head over for a couple hours and work on knocking that wall down. They got the job done before the week was over! Scott was so grateful.
On Wednesday evening after yet another wonderful dinner designed by the amazing Oksana, we sat around and shared and sang by turn. It was so uplifting. Each one of the team shared about what the Lord has been teaching them personally, and then Scott who was leading the singing would start a song that related to what had just been shared. One of the boys stated he was like a crazy good worship juke box. =) Seth shared about going off by himself and singing in an empty room and realizing how good the acoustics were and how good his singing sounded. And then the Lord spoke to him softly and asked him if he is willing to sing even when the acoustics aren’t good. It was a question for all of us to consider. The acoustics, so to speak, haven’t been that good this week. I’ve come to realize that nothing comes easy here in this country. The things we take for granted back home are much harder to reach here. Even everyday things like; ice cold drinks when it’s over 100 degrees and humid, like a shower when your feet are more dirty than they’ve ever been, like clean clothes instead of the sweaty ones you wore three days ago, like a quick trip to the coffee shop when you’re tired and need a boost of energy to get through the rest of your day, like your cell phone to text your friend and ask them to pray for you. Yet God has showed us that those things are not so important. His work on this earth is ginormous. And we are privileged to be a part of that work! I have been privileged to be a part of this work. And I’m learning to sing no matter what the circumstances. Are YOU willing to sing even when the acoustics aren’t good?
Thank you for all the prayers,
Sarah for the team