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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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,