Yep, sure as day, December 16th – gasp! less than a week away! – I am leaving for my ‘second home’ Ukraine. I fly through Prague. Sadly without a proper lay-over either way, so no sight-seeing this time around.
Several days ago I started making preparations for my arrival and stay in Kiev. I am so looking forward to meet K. again. She is such a sweet girl, the daughter of A. who was part of my team from 2004-5 in our women shelter. K. is married now, has her own business which by the looks of it is doing well.
Also, I am gonna meet up with an old team member and friend N. from the first ministry I was involved in. She is still part of it, and has moved from Dnepropetrovsk to Kiev for the work. It will be so much fun to catch up. Can’t wait to see her!
(Photo: St. Sophia’s Cathedral, Kiev)
Then I will travel on to Kharkov, where I have lived several years. Where my Ukrainian church is and the church plant that I was involved in back in the days. From that one church planted in the early nineties by an American family – precious, precious people!! – has sprung at least three other churches, including the first one of which I was a part. I am truly excited to see how all these churches have grown! Unfortunately there will not be enough Sundays in my trip to cover it all, I am afraid…
(Photo: Arched globe in front of train station, Kharkov)
Then the excitement to meet up with all those good friends I have been missing for close to 5 years! I can’t begin to tell you how thát feels and what it means…
When I left Ukraine in March 2006, it was for a three-month visit to America to be part of a few conferences and be built up again after a difficult and challenging time, including my family situation. I had a return ticket to Kharkov, fully intending to return ‘home’. But that didn’t happen and I haven’t been able to go back since. It was a very painful way of leaving what I considered my home, to stay in a country I didn’t know and where I didn’t have friends.
The amazing thing was that God had gone before me and truly had prepared the way fulfilling my initial needs – even though I wasn’t even aware I had those needs! Of course I was aware that life for me wasn’t going very well due to many stressors. Once away from my ‘mission-field’, providing distance physically and emotionally, I actually fell totally apart. The diagnosis: severe burn-out.
In my innocence I thought that a three month stay in the States while visiting some good conferences and some thorough (prayer) counseling would suffice to deal with what was going on. Only, I did not truly know what was going on with me. Which isn’t so strange after all. It is hard to know that you are very sick when you don’t expect it and when your life approach is: suck it up and get on with it!
Except I couldn’t go on anymore. But that is a whole different story. For now, I just want to explain how I wasn’t able to return ‘home’. All my stuff is still there, there is only so much you can take with you on a plane. So this visit will also reunite me with my personal stuff and the ministry administration. All the rest was given away and taken care of by friends, bless them!
This visit I will give the useful stuff away, take some stuff with me and throw the rest out. It will be nice to be reunited with personal stuff, it will be painful to see the ministry stuff, it will be joyful to give stuff away. A whole host of different emotions…. I truly hope and pray I will be able to handle it with my bipolar brain.
It will be interesting to see what has changed in Ukraine in the past 5 years. I know from friends that life has become increasingly difficult due to the economic crisis that hit Ukraine earlier than the West. Also, since there is less to lose, the crisis hit harder than in the West. There is a difference if you can’t go on holiday or if you can’t pay for your apartment. Or properly feed your kids. Or pay for proper treatment when a loved one falls ill. Even while living in Ukraine I saw many people pass ‘my’ rubbish container doing their ‘shopping’ for the day. I can’t imagine how it will be now…
But it will be such a blessing to see the growth of the ministries that I know, see the blessings of a faithful God amidst the darkness and difficulties. Spiritually a lot of amazing and wonderful things are happening that I am jealous of. I want them happening here too.
No doubt there will be a lot to share once I am back. Hold your seat! I’ll be back on the subject 🙂