Do not worry about tomorrow

This is a lesson we have been learning (again!) and trying to live by for the last couple of weeks.  We were especially tested in this on Wednesday, as Bria & Lindsay had to leave Warsaw and were driving to Krakow, Poland, having arranged a place to stay for one night and having no idea where they would go after that.  Arriving in Krakow, they were introduced to their hostess, Dorota, a beautiful Polish sister in Christ.  And then, before we even knew what was happening, God began to turn things around.

After getting settled-in for the night, Bria & Lindsay began trying to find a cheap hostel where they could safely stay starting the next night.  They had pretty much settled on one hostel, when their hostess came to them and said that she would be going out of town for the weekend and they were welcome to stay in her apartment through Nov. 1!  Hallelujah!!!!

After this news came, the whole family was talking on Skype and Bria & Lindsay found out what had been happening in Lviv that day.  Our church deacon had gone back to Religious Affairs and calmly asked what we needed to do in order to get our invitation letter approved.  And completely unexpectedly, they answered that they had decided to approve the letter for 1-year visas and it would be ready the next day (Thursday) or Friday.  Praise the Lord!  We were still fervently praying, though, since the last time was still fresh in our memories – when they told us they would do something and then changed their minds!  However, Thursday morning, the approved letter was picked up from Religious Affairs.  Thank You, Lord!

So, Dad, Mom, & Krista will come to Krakow on Monday (Nov. 1 – the day Bria & Lindsay will have to leave the apartment they are staying in!) and the family will be reunited once again.  (“Reunited and it feels so good…“)  We will go to the Ukrainian embassy with documents in-hand and apply for our visas on Tuesday, and God-willing, walk out of the embassy the same day with said-visas in our passports!

In the meantime, the Lord has blessed Bria & Lindsay above and beyond what they could have ever asked for or even imagined; the apartment they are staying in is a beautiful penthouse apartment in a 6-story building near the center of Krakow.  The views are amazing (rooftops, church spires, mountains, and even a CASTLE!) and they are within walking distance of some of our favorite places in one of our favorite European cities.  Amazing, God!

While we still do not see the full extent of God’s intentions for this whole adventure, we trust that, as the Lord brings this time to a close, He has accomplished those purposes.  Bria & Lindsay are so excited to get back to Lviv and resume the works God has called them to.

Thank you so much for your prayers; we cannot tell you how much we value them.  Please continue to pray for us as we apply for our visas next week, that they will be quickly issued and with NO hassles.

In the faithful hand of God,
Bria, Lindsay, & Krista
blessinggirls@gmail.com

Calling All Prayer Warriors

We really need the body of Christ to join with us in prayer right now.  Our visa situation is still not resolved and while this might not be a big deal normally, Bria & Lindsay are stuck in limbo in Poland and each day is a mystery.  They have been staying with some dear friends for a week, who could only host them for that long.  So, tomorrow (on Wednesday), they will have to go to another Polish city to receive the hospitality of some distant acquaintances for as long as this couple is able to have them.

In the meantime, the Religious Affairs government offices in Ukraine have been on an endless power trip, delaying and putting us off until the last minute, when they tell us they are denying our request.  We have been trying to work with the Religious Affairs office in both Kyiv (the capital) and L’viv, both to no avail.  At one point, the deacon from our church who has been working on this for us, spoke to the head of Religious Affairs in Kyiv, asking why the request was being denied.  This man basically told him that he did not have to give any explanation; he was the head of the office and he could do whatever he wanted!  As of right now, the deacon is planning on speaking to a lawyer tomorrow and possibly going to the Religious Affairs office in L’viv to speak with them with a lawyer present.

The key word for us living in Ukraine has always been ‘flexibility’.  We are used to dealing with hassles and problems.  However, this situation may be a new level on the scale of preposterous situations that should never even be a big deal to begin with.

As Bria & Lindsay wait it out in Poland, facing a very uncertain tomorrow, we are asking you to please commit this to your daily prayers.  May we see the Lord not just change the situation, but turn it around completely, that we would not just receive visas, but maximum term visas!  We are asking God to intervene and move in the hearts of these officials and, in the meantime, trying hard to focus on praise, and rest in His grace and sovereignty.

We appreciate your prayers and support so much.  We pray the Lord blesses you abundantly in every area of your life.

In Him,
Bria, Lindsay, and Krista

Moldova…Ukraine…Poland…

from Bria:

At the moment, Lins and I find ourselves in limbo at some friends’ farm near Warsaw, Poland.  We’re here because the Ukrainian government still has not given us the document we need to be able to get religious visas to remain and work in Ukriane.  And, as of Oct. 18th, our 90-day tourist status was up.  So, here we sit with the situation completely out of our control, able only to relax, spend some amazing time with God, and wait.  And while we wait, I thought this would be an opportune time to fill everybody in on the Moldova conference.

It’s hard to believe that the conference was almost 3 weeks ago!  I can’t even begin to adequately express with words what an amazing time it was.

First of all, let me just publicly thank my amazing Nana and Papa, without whose financial support I would never have been able to go.  The Lord just never ceases to bless my life through y’all, and I couldn’t be more thankful to have you in my life!  I love y’all and appreciate you so much!

So, the first part of my Moldova adventure included a 29-hour…yes, you read that right…29-HOUR train ride!  Thank God He blessed my sleep on the train, which helped the trip go by much faster.  But still, sometimes I didn’t think I was ever going to get off of that train.  He also blessed me with a wonderful cabin-mate – an older woman who was born in Poland, grew up in Ukraine, and then married a Moldovan and has lived there ever since.  We shared some fantastic conversation together, and I was honored to hear her first-hand accounts of WWII and living under the Soviet Communist regime.

Once my train finally rolled into Chisinau (the capital city), I had a day to spare before the conference started.  So, after getting settled into my hotel room and getting a good-night’s sleep, I ventured out to discover a new city.  Let me just say, THANK GOD for kind-hearted Moldovans!  Without the kindness of strangers, I would probably still be wandering around Moldova on the public transportation system!  Haha!  But, with the help of people directing me onto the correct vans and buses, and then other people telling me where I should get off, I managed to find my way to the bus station (to buy my ticket back to Lviv – no way was I taking another train!), into the center of town, and even to the Museum of History where I soaked-in some culture and learned about history dating from the prehistoric age right up until WWII (it was a very big museum).  I would have to say that the most humorous event of the day was lunchtime.  I walked up and down Chisinau’s center street, wanting to find a local restaurant which would offer me the best possible taste of authentic Moldova.  In my travel experience, I’ve learned that in order to find the best local restaurants, it’s best to look for the locals.  So, as I passed every cafe and restaurant, I was looking for the biggest concentration of local Moldovans…but wasn’t finding any.  One cafe was completely empty, and the next would have a few patrons, but all of whom looked considerably shady.  So, I just kept walking through the city, getting hungrier and hungrier, but keeping an alert look-out for where the locals eat.  Finally, it was almost 2PM, and I had almost walked the entire length of the center street, when I found it!  The one cafe that was buzzing with local diners!  McDonald’s.  I should’ve known.

The conference itself was…well, the best way I can think to describe it is that it was “a little taste of Heaven“.  There were around 150 of my Christian brothers and sisters from all over the world – each person with a burning passion for Jesus in their hearts, and a burning passion to be His hands and feet on the earth (more specifically, in the world of human trafficking and prostitution).  I met so many amazing people – people who are working in orphanages in Ukraine to provide orphans with vital life training that will give them skills they can use to makes lives for themselves once they’re “of age” and are put out on the streets, in order to lessen the chances that they will fall into crime and prostitution; people who are working in the red-light district of Amsterdam, being friends to the prostitutes and offering escape and healing for any woman or girl who wants out; people who are working in schools and after-school programs in Moldova, teaching kids that they have value and have greater potential than crime and selling their bodies.  The list goes on and on – I have never been around such a large group of tender-hearted, strong, passionate people who have the Spirit of God shining so brightly in their eyes and in their lives.  It literally felt like Heaven on Earth.

As for me, I felt like at the conference God brought greater clarity to me, as far as where, exactly, I can serve.  For at least 10 years, I have had a huge love for orphans.  About 3 years ago, God gave me a huge love for the oppressed.  And it wasn’t until the conference that I realized those 2 go hand-in-hand.  I don’t remember the exact statistic, but I learned at the conference that a heart-breakingly large number of Ukrainian orphans end up in jail and/or in prostitution after they are “old enough” to be kicked out of the orphanages.  The orphanages in Ukraine offer their children no life-training whatsoever.  Kids grow up and leave the orphanages without knowing how to do even the most basic things – like how to budget and shop for groceries – much less how to do anything that would help them find jobs.  They have no idea how to fend for themselves, so most of the boys will purposely commit petty crimes in order to be thrown into jail where at least they know they’ll be fed and have a bed to sleep on; and most girls will end up selling their bodies to anyone willing to pay, because they don’t have any other means of making money.

What’s really neat, though, is this: A couple of months ago, God started burdening my parents’ hearts for orphans and with a passion for our church in Lviv to begin loving the orphans of our city.  Once I came back with the knowledge I had gained at the conference, we knew that God was connecting all of our passions together!

So, that’s my story of Moldova…well, the highlights, anyway.  After Moldova, I went back to Ukraine for a few weeks and was able to celebrate my church family’s 7th birthday!  And now I’m biding my time and hanging with Jesus at a farm in Poland.

Never a dull moment.

Blessings from somewhere in Eastern Europe…
Bria
blessinggirls@gmail.com

(PS…the very weak internet signal that I’m managing to connect to here, at the farm, isn’t able to handle any photo uploading.  So, for the moment, this update will have to be sans visuals.  I’ll try to remember to upload some photos at a later date, though…with a stronger connection.)

Visa Prayer Request

Hello, everyone!

We are so grateful for your prayers for us, and right now we really need your prayers for our visa situation.  Bria & Lindsay came back to Ukraine with no visas, legally able to stay in the country for a total of 90 days within a 180-day period.  After discussing things with our parents, we decided that the best visa to apply for would be religious visas.  To do so, we will have to go to a Ukrainian embassy in Poland to submit our application.  However, one document that we need to submit with the application is an official, government-approved letter of invitation from a religious organization.  A deacon at our church has been working on getting this for us.  He has drafted the letter through our church and has been working on getting it approved by the Religious Affairs government office in the capital, Kyiv.  Despite the government approval being a formality, and there being no requirements on the approval being given, Religious Affairs is notorious for giving people hassles.  They are staying true to form in our case, and after much run around, finally told the deacon last week that the request for approval has been denied.  The deacon has also contacted the Religious Affairs office in L’viv, first being told they would approve the letter, then later being told that they would review the case and, IF they approve it, they will then have to send it to Kiev for approval, as well.

At this point, our 90 days are just about over – on October 19 – and humanly speaking, there is no way this letter will receive government approval in that time.  If it has not been approved, Bria & Lindsay will have to leave the country and stay with friends in Poland until the letter is approved.  We know, however, that our God is God of the impossible.  We are praying for a miracle, but ready to be flexible, whatever the Lord’s will is.

Please pray that:
*Religious Affairs will approve the letter by the 19th, despite the fact that this seems impossible.
*Our family will continue to have peace, rest in the Lord’s sovereignty, and not give in to the temptation to doubt, worry, and panic.
*Once the letter is approved, the visas will be granted with no further hassles.

Please also pray with us for financial provision for our visas.  Each visa will cost $200 (Krista is also applying for a visa as she is currently not on a religious visa, but needs to be), for a total of $600 for the 3 of us.  We do not have that kind of money, and we don’t want our parents to have to foot the bill from their ministry funds.  So, we are praying that the Lord will provide for us to be able to pay for our own visas.  Please join us in praying for this need, and if you would like to help, you can make checks payable to “Blessing Ministry to Ukraine” with an attached note, stating the donation is for Blessing Girls Visas (please DO NOT put our names on the check).  Mail to:

Blessing Ministry to Ukraine
P.O Box 1944
Stafford, TX 77497-1944

Thank you so much for your support in every way!

Blessings in Jesus…
The Blessing Girls
blessinggirls@gmail.com