It’s so hard to believe that it’s been 4-something months since our last update! And it’s so hard to believe how much has happened in that time!
Our ministry to the poor (mostly widows) on the streets of Lviv has become a consistent event, and one of our favorite things to do. We’re only able to distribute food every 2nd Saturday (we would LOVE to do it every week, but at the moment we don’t have enough money to buy that much food that often). We’re giving out an average of about 12 food bags every time…and typically we run out before we’ve gotten to all of the people who need them. The lack of care & provision for the elderly (especially women) in this country is heartbreaking! Most of these women even have grown children!…who are too selfish/busy/complacent to take care of their own mothers! It’s beyond our understanding how any child could knowingly allow their mother to stand on the streets (even in freezing cold and rain!) to beg for money just to be able to eat and pay her utilities! Over the months, we have been able to develop wonderful, deepening relationships with a few of the women, and their love for us is overwhelming. They constantly tell us how grateful they are to God for sending us to them, and that they look at us as replacements God has given them for their natural children who care nothing for them. There are 3 women, especially, who have stolen our hearts: Maria, Lyusya, & Yaroslava. Please pray specifically for Yaroslava. Our hearts break the most for her…
We met Yaroslava back in December. We saw her every time we were in town – a tiny, frail old woman huddled against the concrete wall of a bank, bent over with a plastic cup in her slightly outstretched hand to receive any small coins people could spare, and crying…always crying.
We began giving her whatever money we felt God ask us to give her whenever we’d pass, & once we started food bags at Christmas, we would always seek her out to give her one. At the beginning, it was impossible to have any kind of conversation with her, because as soon as we would place money or a food bag in her hand, she would begin sobbing so hard that she could barely stand. Talking was out of the question. So, we would simply hug her, pray with her, bless her, & tell her that God loves her and so do we. Over the weeks, we managed to learn her name, and that she had to travel by bus an hour (one way) from her village to come into Lviv to beg. We assumed she had no family, until one day (a couple of months into our relationship) she told us that she wouldn’t be begging anymore, because her daughter-in-law had told her that she was going to come get Yaroslava and take her to live with her. It was sad to think that we might not see her anymore, and we had to wonder where her daughter-in-law had been up to that point, but we were glad to hear that someone in her family was stepping up and was going to take care of her. A week later, though, we were in town, and there was Yaroslava, huddled in the same spot she’d always been. We asked her what happened with her daughter-in-law, and she said she didn’t know. Her daughter-in-law just never showed up! We were so heartbroken for her, but we just continued to love her and bless her whenever we saw her. Then Spring came, and she wasn’t in her regular spot anymore. We were wondering what had happened to her, when one day we ran into her standing in a different spot in town, selling little bunches of wildflowers. We rushed over to her with hugs, telling her how glad we were to see her, but when we tried to give her food she wouldn’t take it. She said that now, since Spring was here, she had a means of earning money for herself (by picking flowers in the forest & selling them), and she didn’t want to take anything else from us, since we’d already done so much for her already. We begged her to take the food and use her flower money for other needs, but she refused. Over the weeks, we continued seeing her at different spots around town selling flowers (it almost seemed as if she was hiding from us), and one Saturday we finally learned the truth. Her daughter-in-law (who gives her no help at all) has scolded her for taking help from strangers, and has told her that now she has a debt to us, and the more she takes from us, the bigger her debt, and she has forbidden Yaroslava from taking anything more from us! Yaroslava is such a soft-spoken, timid woman, and it was easy to see that her daughter-in-law has managed to strike so much fear into her. We tried to explain to Yaroslava that we love her dearly. We don’t want her to see our gifts as charity, but as love. That we look at her as our own family, and that God has provided all of these things for us to be able to give to her and other women like her. But, she continued to refuse, and just kept saying, almost robotically, “Thank you for all you’ve done for me. I will repay my debt to you somehow.” That was weeks ago, and we haven’t seen her since. It’s heartbreaking and maddening to know and love someone like Yaroslava so deeply, and know that she needs help, but not be able to give it to her. And to know that the one family member she does have, does nothing to help and stands in the way of her receiving help from anyone else! Please pray for Yaroslava. Pray that God will stand between her & her daughter-in-law, and set Yaroslava free from the control and fear that her daughter-in-law has managed to put on her. Pray that God will help Yaroslava to understand His love for her…and through that understanding, be able to understand and accept our love for her.
This is, obviously, only one small part of what has been happening around here in the last 4 months…but we don’t want to wear out your eyes with just this one blog post! So, we’ll wrap up for now, but we’ll write another update soon with more news about what God’s doing in us and around us in Ukraine.
We love y’all & always thank God for you! Without your love and support, we wouldn’t be able to be here, and wouldn’t be able to do what God has called us to do. May God pour out blessings on you – 10 times the amount that you pour out!
With love & hope in our Jesus…
Bria, Lindsay, & Krista
(If you would like to financially support our living & working here in Ukraine, tax-deductible donations can be made one of two ways. You can mail a check made out to “Blessing Ministry to Ukraine” (please attach a note to the check, indicating the donation is for Blessing Girls, but DO NOT put our names on the check) to
Blessing Ministry to Ukraine
P.O. Box 1944
Stafford, TX 77497-1944
Donations can also be made online through Blessing Ministry’s blog site at http://blessingministry.wordpress.com/support-2/ (for first-time donations through paypal, please send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, informing us that the donation you have made is meant for us).)