The Miracle Begins

I wanted to post a short update as to how amazing the past week has been, and how awed I am by God.  After receiving some promises of donations, but not receiving them yet because of the Christmas mail pile up, I was struggling a little bit with faith.  So, one morning, after waking up to the news of my first donation, I also found out that I would need $7200 paid by January 23rd + the money to buy my ticket.  I was so encouraged by the donation, but then my flesh freaked out when I realized just how much support I was going to have to raise in a month’s time.  I began to pray, asked God for confirmation yet again that this is what I was supposed to be doing, and as I was praying the verse immediately came to mind, “If God is for us, then who can be against us?”  And so, I stood on the promise of that verse for a couple of days.  Then, when I was reading my Bible one night, I was led to read Psalm 27.  When I read verse 14, “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord,” I felt in my spirit that God was saying for me to be brave and courageous and purchase my ticket – even though it would take all the money I had at that moment.

I told my parents, wrote the leaders of the school, and waited for the go ahead to buy my ticket.  It’s amazing to me how God honors our steps of faith and sends us encouragement.  After moving towards buying my ticket, I woke up yesterday with still only $400 from my personal savings and from my visa fund raising.  But, throughout the day yesterday different donations started to come in – I received confirmation of my first donation…and God quickly multiplied $100 into $1600!  Yesterday, I woke up needing a total of $7200, and went to bed needing $5600 by January 23rd (a total of $7,900 by April 15th).  I did get the go ahead to buy my ticket, and so last night I got my ticket and am leaving on January 24th!!!  God is faithful to call us and to provide us with what we need.

Thank you soooo much to all those who have already donated.  It is such a blessing and encouragement.  I pray that God returns it to you a hundred fold!

It’s not over yet though, and I am still standing in faith that God will provide the remaining funds.  I can’t tell you what a growing experience this is for me, but I’m so excited about the testimony that God is giving me, and how He is deepening my relationship with Him and trust in Him through this time.  You can play a part in the miracle that this requires though.  Every donation helps – even $5 or $10 – and it will become part of the testimony of how God miraculously provided. There are a couple of options for how you can help; to make donations, go to the bottom of the “About” page at the top of the blog or check out “Krista’s Creations’ page where I am selling items I make.  The trees are listed as necklaces and earrings, but, someone requested one as a wall hanging….so, they can pretty much be whatever you can dream up for them.  If you would like one for a window or wall and would like it bigger than they are, let me know the size you would like and I’ll make it for you.

Thank you again for your prayers and support!
Praising God for all He has done, is doing, and will do,


For Such A Time As This

There have been many times since we returned to Ukraine a year and a half ago that we have thought, “Who knows whether God has not placed us in Ukraine for such a time as this?”  For example, when we painted walls & ceilings almost daily for hours on end in Bethel House; or served in ministries that needed help or leadership in the church at that moment; or we helped with the huge garden; or Krista helped organize the March of Life; or Bria went to multiple conferences about fighting human trafficking.  Sometimes, it’s hard to believe when you are in a place at the exact time something happens, and all you can do is say, “It’s God!”  Perhaps, though, the thought that we were brought here for such a time as this has never been as strong as it is right now.

As most of you probably know, on our last day in Israel, Mom tripped off a curb, resulting in a chipped cuboid bone in her right foot (one of the worst bones you can damage in your foot) and a whole ton of damage to nerves, tendons, ligaments, etc. around that bone.  Every day we continue to ask God for a miraculous healing, and every day that He chooses not to heal it instantaneously, we trust His sovereignty (& thank Him that it is healing properly “on its own”) and deal with the abnormality of life with Mom out of commission.

Dad helping Mom through the airport when we left Israel, the day she broke her foot

It has taken a month, but we have finally settled into this temporary normal, recognizing that Mom carries a whole lot more of the load around here than we had realized!  Keeping a house clean, taking care of pets, laundry & ironing, cooking meals, grocery shopping, running errands in town,…  It’s amazing how strenuous things you’ve always helped with are when they are suddenly fully your responsibility – even when the responsibility is split 4 ways (between the 3 of us & Dad)!  On top of it, too, is taking care of Mom, who can not put any weight on her foot, and will not be able to for at least another week.  Then there was the discovery that the pumpkins we had picked & cured before we left for Israel were reaching the end of their shelf life and needed to be preserved immediately, as 2 had already rotted (preserving them all took a full week).  Mom is also the head organizer for most church events, including the annual women’s Christmas gathering, all-church New Year’s party, and Christmas service; so we are sent on a lot of errands around the house and into town to get everything ready, as she plans all of our church celebrations, as well as family celebrations.  All of this along with our regular work & ministry means there has certainly been plenty to fill our days.

All 5 of us have noted, at some point or another, that Dad & Mom would be in a very difficult spot, if they had to go through this alone, and it is definitely God’s grace that allowed this to happen at a time when He had all 3 of us girls here.  As is usual when any home’s routine is violently altered, there have been stressful and tense moments.  We don’t understand God’s purpose in taking Mom through this ordeal, but we can see Him at work  in each of our lives through the days & weeks that have followed.  We are all learning to serve each other more and to be more understanding and patient.  Life continues, albeit a bit chaotically, and we do whatever is needed, thanking God once again, that He ordained us to be here for such a time as this.

Our Mom is an amazing woman who works endlessly & we are blessed to be the ones serving her in this season when she has no choice, but to be served

In each “for such a time as this” moment, we are constantly mindful that we could not be here without your financial & prayer support.  We are so grateful for your faithfulness, and thank God always for you.  If you need more information on how to support us financially, please go here, to the “About” page on our blog.

Please keep us in your prayers right now, for renewed strength each day to serve joyfully and diligently.  Please especially pray for Mom, that she would have a swift recovery & no long-term issues from this injury.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13).

Bria, Lindsay, & Krista

Israel…and the music inside (an update from Bria)


Oh my goodness, there are no words…and there are too many words. What a beautiful, glorious, spiritual, amazing place! I know a blog should be short & concise, but I am completely at a loss as to how to accomplish that when we’re on the subject of my first trip to the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…and JESUS! So, I guess the best way to go about this is to just focus on some highlights…and do it with visual aids, of course (aka photographs). Because, after all, everything is better with visual aids.

First of all: the food! Oh…mmm…the FOOD! The spices, and the freshness, and the colors! I just LOVE ethnic cuisines and spices, and food in Israel is stuffed full of wonderfully delicious spices. And the funny thing is, our budget was so tight & prices in Israel are so expensive that we didn’t even eat in any real Israeli restaurants. Most of the time it was “street food”. But the street food in Israel is so yummy…who needs stuffy restaurants? Featured in the above photo is one of my faaaavorites – falafel. It’s deep fried chickpeas stuffed inside a perfectly soft pita, along with hummus and salad and veggies and all sorts of delicious things. Oh, falafel…how I miss you.

This is Old Jaffa. Old Jaffa is incredible! It’s situated in Tel Aviv, which is this huge, modern, metropolitan city…and then you travel just a few bus stops and you’re back in ancient Israel. The top photograph is Simon the tanner’s house. THE Simon the tanner, on whose roof Peter hung out and where God gave Peter the vision with all the animals on the sheet, and told Peter that the Gospel isn’t just for the Jews, but should be taken to the Gentiles as well. That’s THE house! And the bottom photo is the Old Jaffa port. THE Old Jaffa port through which the materials passed for both the 1st AND 2nd Temples. Aaaand, THE Old Jaffa port from which Jonah ran away from God!

Ah, Jerusalem. After Tel Aviv we spent a week and a half in Jerusalem. Beautiful Jerusalem. I was overcome in that city. I could physically feel in my chest some of the weight of  Jesus’ love for that city and for the children of Abraham who harden their hearts to His love and redemption for them. Every day, when we would go out in the city and I would stand on the hills, looking out over Jerusalem, I could so clearly sense the Lord as He says: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings…” – Matthew 23:37. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. It is His heart…let it be ours!

Jerusalem was, by far, my favorite city in Israel…and the most difficult. I have NEVER experienced a spiritual atmosphere THAT electrically-charged! The gate in the above photo is just one example. This is the Damascus Gate. The community within the Damascus Gate is mostly Arab, but there were lots of Jews walking in and out of it as well, on their way to the Western Wall for prayers (with plenty of IDF soldiers stationed around to keep the peace!). One evening, we went through this gate to find a place to eat dinner. The MOMENT we stepped through the Damascus Gate, I started feeling WEIRD!  My throat constricted, my chest felt tight like there was a huge weight on top of it, and I kept thinking that at any moment I was going to vomit. We found a little place to eat, and when we’d finished, we walked back out through the gate.  And the MOMENT we crossed the threshold, I felt fine.  All of those weird symptoms I’d been feeling were just immediately gone! And there were numerous places around Jerusalem like that – places with really heavy atmospheres. There is definitely a spiritual battle going on for the hearts of that holy city, and the spiritual atmosphere is almost tangible. PRAY for the peace of Jerusalem…physical AND spiritual!

Speaking of the Western Wall…ta da!  I can’t believe I was really there and got to pray at that historic wall (that’s me in the yellow jeans in the photo on the right).  And yes, I just couldn’t go there without partaking in the time-honored tradition of writing my prayers on scraps of paper and stuffing them into the crevices of the wall.

Of course, no one knows the exact location of the Garden Tomb. But, this particular Garden Tomb location seems pretty probable that it could be the original location…since it’s in a garden…that’s right next to a hill…a hill that has a pretty evident “skull” in the side of it, formed from random crevices. Whether it was here or somewhere else, though, the truth still remains…Jesus is not here!…or there!…or anywhere!  He is risen!

By their actions, even Muslims admit that the Jewish Messiah is real…and that He is coming!  This is the gate known as the Golden Gate.  The gate through which it is prophesied the Messiah (Jesus) will enter Jerusalem when He comes.  The land the Golden Gate sits on is Arab-owned.  And they are apparently so freaked out by the Jewish Messiah prophesies, that 1)they bricked up the entire Gate, and 2)they put an Arab cemetery right in front of the gate.  Why?  Because according to Jewish religious laws, a person that walks in a cemetery becomes unclean, and so therefore the Messiah could never walk through a cemetery.  Right?  Um, no.  Since they acknowledge with their actions that the Messiah is real, don’t they think that it will take more than some bricks and graves to stop Him?

One day in Israel, we rented a car and drove to En Gedi – the beautiful oasis area full of mountains and hills and caves and waterfalls where David wrote many of his inspired/inspiring psalms.  It’s also where David was hiding from Saul in one such cave, when Saul entered said cave to…uh…”relieve himself”, and David had a chance to kill his enemy but instead demonstrated mercy and a reverence for the Lord.

The Dead Sea.  So fun.  Such a weeeiiirrrd sensation. So amazed that I was really there!  Fun side note: it’s prophesied in the Bible that one day the waters of the Dead Sea will be healed and it will be full of life.  Seems impossible, right? I mean, that water is sooooo salty. While I was swimming (aka floating) in it, one teeny tiny drop of water splashed in my eye and the ensuing pain from the salt was so intense, I thought surely I was going to be blind in that eye! But, not too long after we returned home from Israel, we saw a news report about the Dead Sea…how scientists have discovered fresh water springs on the sea floor that are pouring fresh water into the sea…and around those springs they have discovered LIFE (microorganisms)! The waters are healing…just like God said they would!

This is Hezekiah’s Tunnel. This tunnel is not just named in Hezekiah’s honor; he actually commissioned the building of this tunnel!…in the 8th century…BC!!!!! Isn’t that hard to even fathom? And, contrary to this photograph, it’s actually pitch black in that tunnel (the photo is only lit up because of the flash). It’s a very creepy, faith-challenging adventure to walk through the entire 1,749 ft. of the tunnel…in the dark…through water. In the above photo you can see how deep the water was in some parts by the water line on my pants!

One last shot of Jerusalem – the beautiful, holy city of God. I can’t wait to see the new one that He has in-store for us…but I am eternally grateful that He allowed me to visit the original one!

Ok, are you ready for a cool story? Because there is a very cool story that goes along with this photograph of this beautiful flower. It all started when I moved back to Lviv over a year ago. There’s a very large hardware/building store in Lviv, called Epicenter. When I moved back last year and went to Epicenter for the first time, I saw a huge photo of a flower hanging from the ceiling in the home & garden center. It was one of the most beautiful flowers I’d ever seen – almost too beautiful and perfect to be real. I asked the workers what kind of flower it was, and nobody knew. (I guess they don’t actually sell that flower, they just like the photo so they hang it in their store.) Anyway, I’ve enjoyed looking at the photo for over a year, but was frustrated that I could never find out what kind of flower it was. Fast forward to Israel. After Jerusalem, we hopped on a bus and headed to Haifa where we had reservations to stay at a Christian hostel called Bethel (for those who don’t know, my parents’ ministry home is also called Bethel!). We arrived in Haifa, found the hostel, and as we walked up to the gate, what do you think I saw? – A huge tree FULL of these beautiful, perfect little white & yellow flowers! I found out that they’re called Plumeria, and when I looked up their meaning, I discovered that one of its meanings is ‘creation’. Then, fast forward to a few days later in Haifa, our family was meeting with the wonderful rabbi of a Messianic congregation, and he informed me that ‘bria’ is actually a word in the Hebrew language that means ‘creation’! How incredible is that?

On the Sea of Galilee! Thank God, no huge storms attacked our boat on this day…instead, we had the most perfectly gorgeous weather.

Walking up the hill where it is believed that Jesus gave his beautiful Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are they who…”

Yes, that says what you think it says. Megido. This is the valley where the last world war is going to happen. The whole earth is going to come to war against Israel in THIS valley…which isn’t that hard to imagine, seeing how so many nations are turning against her. I just can’t even fathom the awfulness of what’s going to happen here, though. The Bible says the blood from that war is going to fill that entire valley and be so deep that it will come up to the chest of a horse! My mind can’t even wrap around that.

But I am so glad to know that it won’t end there! I’m so glad to personally know the one, true God who, no matter how people reject Him & hate Him, still loves the world and still offers the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, as the payment for the sins of every single man, woman, and child who will accept His gift with nothing more than love & gratitude and a willingness to follow Him. No matter how or when this old earth ends, there will be a day when we will be with Him, face-t0-face forever, with no more evil and no more pain! But in the meantime, He has given us the life that we have for a reason. We don’t have to wait for His Kingdom…He wants us to bring His Kingdom down to Earth…and He’s planted in every single one of us gifts with which we can bring His Kingdom into the chaos of our world.

For me, that gift is music. Over the years, I’ve neglected that gift & reduced it to the category of nothing more than a hobby. While in Israel, though, God was able to get my attention, and forced me to look all the way back into my childhood and admit that music was the very first gift that I recognized and received from Him in my life. It was also the very first dream I had – when I was a little girl, music was the only thing that I wanted to do when I “grew up”.  But then I did “grow up”. I became too “mature” for music. In my mind, it was a silly, childish dream, and not a worthy or legitimate calling or ministry. So, I decided that music would only be a side project – something that I only invested time or money in whenever I had those resources left over from my “grown up projects”. But God helped me see that I had become just like the servant in the story of the investments (Matthew 25:14-30) – I was the servant who buried his gift, instead of investing in it as much as he could. Thank God for His undeserved mercy! I’m so thankful that He exposed my heart to me…and that the Holy Spirit gave me the faith I needed to dig up that gift. I have once again, just like when I was a little girl, received the gift of music that God put in me when He first created me – and I have received it with joy and gratitude, and have dedicated myself now to investing my full heart, mind, and strength into it so that God can use it for the purposes that He intended for it from the very start!

And not only did God rebirth this gift in me, but once I was obedient to embrace it, He sent confirmation after confirmation so that I would have no hesitations about embracing it fully. While we were in Haifa, staying at the Bethel hostel, there was a piano in the common room.  I haven’t had access to a piano since moving back to Ukraine, so when I saw that piano and was told that I could play it anytime, it was like the heavens opened and the angels sang! Within a day of being there and worshiping the Lord from that piano, I had already written a new song:

Also staying at the hostel at that time, was a young South African missionary.  He has a very difficult and draining ministry in South Africa, and had come to Israel for a time of rest.  One evening, he and my folks were sitting on the porch off of the common room talking, while I was playing and singing.  He wasn’t feeling well that evening, and excused himself from the conversation to go to bed.  My mom told me later that she offered to tell me to stop playing, but he asked her not to.  He said my music was so beautiful and peaceful, it made him feel better to listen to it!  I don’t think there could be a higher compliment.

There were also numerous times when the young men who volunteer at Bethel would ask if they could come sit and listen while I played, because they enjoyed my music so much!

Then, during our meeting with the rabbi in Haifa (the one who told me about my name in Hebrew), he prayed for me & my sisters, and during his prayer for me he started praying for my music and creativity, and that I would step into where God’s leading me with no hesitation! (I had not told him about what the Lord had been putting on my heart!)

God also reminded me of a prophecy that was spoken over me way back in 1999 – that He was going to use my music in Ukraine, to bless the Ukrainian people and spread His glory through this country.

And right after we got back from Israel, I received an email from a friend in Nashville with whom I’d started recording some of my songs before I left.  After a long hiatus, he said that he was finally able to start work on my songs again, and that hopefully we could have them finished in the near future and be able to release them as an EP (a mini album).

So, like I said before, it’s as if God hasn’t just revived the gift and dream He’s given me, but then He’s been putting exclamation points all over it!

You may be wondering, though – “ok, that’s all great, but what about slavery? Where does that leave your calling to fight against injustice?”. Well, that was my first question, too, and so I asked God that very thing. And here’s what I felt like He spoke to my heart: The gift of music that He’s placed in me, and the renewed calling to give that gift everything I’ve got, does not negate the passion He’s put in my heart against injustice – namely, slavery. They are not mutually exclusive of each other. Instead, he’s put them both in me, intending for them to go hand-in-hand. The music He’s given me is not for me. It’s not for the purposes that the world uses music for – for fame and fortune. It’s something that He gave me to be used for HIM…for His Kingdom. To share His love and the good news of His Son, Jesus, and to bring His Kingdom to Earth – a Kingdom which includes justice and freedom for every person.  So, I don’t know exactly what this is going to look like, but what I’m feeling is that, through music, God is going to give me a much larger platform & a much more effective voice to speak out against slavery than I would have if I tried to work outside of my gifts and do it in my own strength.

I am giving my all to the music God has given me – to recording and sharing my own songs, and also giving my all to the ministry of worship that He’s given me in my church. And while I’m doing that, I’ll also be aware and obedient to any and every opportunity He gives me to speak out His heart against slavery and oppression.

So there you have it. The impressions & stories & lessons from my first trip to Israel, in a nutshell. A very large nutshell.

Thank you so much to each one of you who supports us financially and with your prayers & encouragement. YOU make it possible for us to follow God and be obedient in whatever He tells us to do. Seriously, we couldn’t do this without you! You enable us to minister and follow our callings.  And I pray that someone else is doing the same for you. And I pray that I and my sisters are doing the same in someone else’s life. Because really, that’s what God’s family is all about!

As always, may God bless you a hundred times for the blessings you give out!  We love you & bless you in the name of our amazing Savior, Jesus Christ.

In Him…and FOR Him…

Lindsay’s Life

An update from Lindsay:

In mid-October, I had the opportunity to teach a 2-week English club with Campus Crusade for university students.  Campus organizes this club twice a year and always looks for Americans to teach the classes.  I enjoy helping whenever I am able to.  This is the first time I have been able to commit to it since coming back to Ukraine and it was a great joy.  I co-taught with another missionary here in L’viv, and our class averaged about 25 students, who had a beginning knowledge of English.  It was a great group of students, and I pray that the Lord will bring much fruit from the time He gave me with them and Campus’s continued relationship with them.

Then, we had our 3 glorious weeks in Israel, which was an overwhelming blessing.  We were able to visit Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Jerusalem, En Gedi, the Dead Sea, Haifa, Capernaum, Tiberias, and Nazareth.  It was quite incredible to walk in the land that God chose for His people and the city (Jerusalem) where He has put His name.  Seeing how the Arabs and Jews live together, leading normal lives, yet knowing there is a tension beneath the surface that could explode at any minute, was fascinating.  I could feel the Lord’s love for both these groups of people and my constant prayer was for their salvation.  At the same time, I could feel how strong His heartbeat is for the Jewish people, His chosen people.  The Lord was constantly bringing to mind the passage in Acts 5, where Peter and the apostles are brought before the council.  The council wanted to put them to death, but up steps this respected rabbi (who is still revered in Judaism today), Gameliel, who says in verses 38-39, “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”  For 2000 years, no one has been able to overthrow Jesus’s followers and yet, many Jewish people still cannot see that this is of God!  Lord, let the scales fall from their eyes, and hasten Your return, when all Israel will be saved!

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

My favorite place in Israel was definitely Nazareth Village.  Nazareth today is a bustling city, but then there is Nazareth Village – a rebuilt, working 1st century village, as it was when Jesus grew up there.  In fact, it was discovered that the land Nazareth Village is on was a large farm during the time of Jesus, outside of the center of town.  Everything is replicated to be as it was in the 1st century, except for an actual 1st century winepress that they discovered on their land.  Our guide through the village was amazing – a believer so passionate about Jesus, he wants everyone who comes to the village intending to discover some history, to discover a living Lord instead.  He walked us through each part of the village, explaining the things that surrounded Jesus as He grew up, and showing how these things influenced His teaching & life.  With each explanation, he so vividly expressed the passionate love of Jesus for each person.  It was truly an experience I will never forget!

My heart is so connected to my parents’ ministry here in L’viv and the vision of Bethel House – to help Jewish people as they immigrate to Israel.  One thing that was never far from my mind as we traveled throughout the country, hearing Russian all around us from the multitude of Soviet immigrants, is that there are people God has called to that land and He wants to use Bethel House to help get them there.  It made me even more anxious to see this house finished!  I am so excited that it is in the final stages of construction, and if God will provide the funds, it could be up and running by next summer!  I have been so blessed to be here, helping in these final stages of construction, but I am most excited about the construction being completed and being a part of the ministry becoming a reality as Jewish people pass through this home on their way to Israel!  Lord, hasten the day!!!  Dad & Mom were able to have numerous meetings with ministries and congregations in Israel, which was very exciting.  A large part of the ministry of Bethel House involves networking – ministering to Jewish people here in the love of Jesus, their Messiah, and connecting them with people in Israel who will continue to minister to them in that same love once they arrive.

The whole reason we initially started thinking about a trip to Israel was because we had to leave the country anyway to get new visas.  On our first day in Tel Aviv, we went straight to the Ukrainian embassy to turn in our applications, only to be told that we had the wrong documents.  The visa laws recently changed here and we had asked the local government offices here in L’viv what documents we needed and had gotten everything they told us.  Apparently, though, they did not have the right information.  On our return from Israel, we were able to re-enter Ukraine on 90-day tourist visas and, at some point in this 90 days, we will have to go to Poland with the correct documents and try again.  Please be in prayer during this process that we will end up with the necessary visas.  Please also prayerfully consider making a financial donation towards the visas. We went to Israel expecting to pay $200/person.  We have since learned that the fee is even higher – $379/person!!!!  Despite America & Ukraine having a reciprocal agreement (an agreement that Ukraine will charge Americans for visas what Americans charge Ukrainians & Ukrainians definitely don’t pay that much for a religious visa to America!), this is the official price Ukraine currently has for visas, and we are trusting the Lord to provide for this unexpected higher price.

In Israel, I continued to feel led in some exciting directions the Lord might be taking me, and I am continuing  to pray through those things and see what doors He might open.  Your prayers for wisdom and knowing the Lord’s leading are greatly appreciated!

I am also very excited about the things God is leading Krista to – specifically, going to Cyprus again for the second year program at Gateways Training School. I would also request, with her, that you prayerfully consider making a financial donation to help her in this new season (to read more about her needs, go here).  The Lord has led and He is able to provide, but it will truly require a miracle.  Please pray about how the Lord would have you be involved in helping Krista go where He is leading her.

The Lord is good – ALL the time!  It is such a blessing to walk with Him through this life and discover the beautiful things He has in store along the way, and it is such a blessing that I am able to be in this season of life as He provides through your faithful generosity, and responds to your faithful prayers.  I am so grateful!  May the Lord greatly bless you!


To Gateways….and Beyond

The long-awaited Israel updates start now! We’ve decided to each write our thoughts from the trip, so there will be 3 updates over the next few days.

This was my 3rd trip to Israel, and it was just as amazing as the previous times. Everytime I’m in Israel, God gives me even more love for the people and the land. I do believe that one day He will allow me to spend a prolonged period of time there. Even though I had already been to most of the places we went, there were a number of new places that I got to see – and new experiences at the places I’d already been to. Getting to travel to Israel with my family was something I’ve hoped for since the first time I went in 2008. God knows the desires of our hearts!

I think I’ll leave the details of what we saw and experienced to my sisters, since I’ve already written about them before, and I’ll share what God spoke to me during our trip.

Before the trip, I had prayed and asked God that He would give me some clear direction for what I needed to be doing when I got back home. While I know He called me back to Ukraine for the past year and a half, I was also feeling like there was something ‘new’ coming. I didn’t know if that involved a new ministry in Lviv, or if it involved packing my bags again. For the past 3 years I’ve packed up and moved a lot, and God has been speaking to me about being His bond-servant and teaching me what life as a bond-servant looks like for me. He’s been speaking to me about not making any plans of my own, just living each day as a servant whose plans are made by the Master. He’s asked me to be available to pack and go wherever He wants me to. This summer that included two week-long ministry trips to other parts of Ukraine.

So I left for Israel asking and expecting to hear from God. As we entered our last few days there, I didn’t feel like I had any concrete word from the Lord, but I was feeling like He wanted me to have a season of studying. As I began to think about what I would want to study, someone we met with prayed for me, and told me they believed God was saying there is learning that is yet unfinished in my life. That was it, the seed was planted – maybe God wanted me to return to Cyprus for the second year program of the school I was a part of in 2009.

I began to pray about it, asking God for confirmation – because I was a little terrified by the thought of applying, since the school starts at the end of January! I told God He’d have to make it very clear if He wanted me to apply, and He did. Most of the confirmation He gave was personal and would take way too long to explain the history behind it. But suffice it to say, He made it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is what He is asking of me. One short story though – during one moment of doubt, literally 2 seconds after I voiced my concerns to my family, a commercial came on tv and said, “Cyprus, in your heart.” Don’t you just love God’s grace and love to always help us through our doubts….even if that means speaking through the television!

So, that’s what I’m moving forward with – returning for the second year of the Gateways Beyond Traning School (GTS) at the end of January. I am fully convinced that God wants me to be in full-time ministry, and I believe that these 19 months in Ukraine were from Him. I have learned a lot, grown with God, and been a part of some amazing ministry opportunities. But, I also believe that, before God leads me to take the next step into the ministry He has for me, He has some more growing, teaching, and maturing He wants me to do. During my first year at GTS I grew so much, I experienced an intimacy with God like never before, and I learned a lot. I believe that He wants me to complete what I started in 2009 before taking me further into full-time ministry.

For those who don’t know about the Gateways school, it is a 5 month school that consists of 3 months classroom training with various teachers from around the world, 1 month serving in Israel, and 1 month of ministry and outreach in another country (during my first year we went to Ethiopia, the past 2 years they have gone to Europe – so who knows where God will take us this year). Also, unlike last time, I will have internet access this time – so I will be posting updates and letting you all know what’s going on and all that God is doing in my life.

Now for the part that is growing my faith. The school will cost around $10,000 – that includes round-trip ticket to Cyprus, tuition, housing, food, trip to Israel, and outreach trip. After fund raising for my visa for Ukraine, which I no longer need at this time, I have about $200 saved up. I know God can do amazing things, so I’m confidant that He will provide. There are a couple of ways you can help though:

1) Probably the biggest need at this time is one time donations. Every amount helps! The need is urgent, as I will need to pay most of the fees before I leave at the end of January. The outreach fee is about $2200, and that needs to be paid before April 15th. But, the sooner I can pay all the fees the better. Donations can be made here.  Please be sure to NOT put my name anywhere on checks or the online donation page.  For checks, you can attach a separate note, and for online donations please just send an email to to let me now about your support.  Thank you in advance for any support – prayer and financial!

2) The second way you can help is if you have flyer miles you can use for someone else. Last time I went to the school, someone was very generous to use their miles to purchase my ticket – which was a huge help! So, if there is one person who would like to help with airfare in that way, please let me know.

I have also been making necklaces to sell, and if you would like to buy any, you can find them here.  Right now, I have one of each necklace, but if you would like to order more than one of the same kind, or if you order one that is already sold, I can make duplicates (there will be slight variations since they are handmade, but they will be very close). I can also do custom orders, so let me know if you want something you don’t see. I will be adding new ones at least a few times a week, so check back often!

I am so excited for what God has in store the first 5 months of 2012 (and beyond that as well)! I have committed my time at Gateways to be a time of complete consecration to God – no distractions, just fully throwing myself into what He wants me to receive and to give.
Preparing to pack again,