Update from Lindsay

Today, during the food distribution ministry, I was able to go see my favorite Miss Vira & her daughter, Miss Nadiya.  These women are such sweethearts that it never fails to lift my spirits to go see them.  Pani Vira has been laid up for over 2 months after falling and breaking a bone in 3 places.  It was hard for her at first to not be able to take her daily walk and it was a blessing to see her face light up when we would go visit her.  However, for the past week, it has been an even greater blessing to visit her & see her already bright & perky when we walk in.  It’s good to see her spirits so high & see her beautiful smile!  Today, while her spirits were high and she was looking better than ever, her leg was looking worse than ever!  Her daughter, Miss Nadiya, is concerned that she will have no option but to have surgery, which is always dangerous for a 90-year-old woman.  Please pray with us for Pani Vira’s healing, and that both her and her daughter will continue to be drawn to the Light they see in us.

Visiting Miss Vira (in the bed) and Miss Nadiya (on the far right) 2 weeks ago

Miss Vira was full of beautiful smiles last Sunday

In other news, the process of getting visas and then, temporary residency, so that we can continue to legally do religious work in Ukraine is finally over – after a long 7 months!  The visa process is always an interesting one, but this time has been even more so than usual.  The Lord has proven Himself faithful every step of the way, but I am thankful to be finished with it…until next time, that is! 🙂  Is is so wonderful to have this little piece of paper that frees me to continue working here in Ukraine!  Your continued prayers & financial support, which also allow us to continue serving the Lord here, are greatly valued!

There it is - my much anticipated temporary residency card!

The weather has finally gotten nice.  Almost every day is sunny and the temps are getting up to 80!  That means – it’s gardening season!  It is time for Bethel House to sow & reap literal fruit in preparation of sowing & reaping Kingdom fruit!  Much of last year’s harvest was put to good use while hosting the World Race team and next year promises to hold even more guests as the prospect of completing Bethel House by the end of this year becomes more & more probable.  Mom’s foot has continued to heal after her break in November; she received a great report this week (the master Physician has not only been healing her foot; He placed the bone fragment that chipped off back in perfect position, allowing it to calcify over and look as if it never broke!), but was told to not get ahead of herself.  There are 2 tendons that get badly inflamed if she overdoes it (which she easily does!), and she still needs to give her foot plenty of rest throughout the day.  She loves being in the garden and is excited about working in the garden again, but she won’t be able to push herself quite as hard as she normally does and will need lots of help to manage this massive garden!  I find gardening exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time.  So, I’m looking forward to being in the garden, but your prayers for strength and perseverance are much appreciated!

Without your faithful generosity, we cannot remain in Ukraine.  We are so thankful for those who support us financially and pray God’s abundant blessings on you!  If you would like information on how to make a donation, you can find the details on the About page.  Our greatest needs right now are monthly partners who will help cover our living expenses here and one-time donations for Bria to print out human trafficking awareness fliers (read more here).  Please prayerfully consider how the Lord might have you partner with us.

All for His glory,
Lindsay

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. -Ps. 115:1

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Beautiful People (a blog by Bria)

I love people.  The Earth & the trees &  the skies are beautiful.  But what would this world be without people?  There would be no soul to creation.  No heart.  No breath.  We are all so different…and still all the same.  All made in the image of the One who created us.

Allow me to introduce you to my 2 Pani (Miss) Maria’s

God has given me the precious gift of getting to know these 2 beautiful ladies through the feeding ministry that I take part in with my church family every 2nd Saturday.  Neither one has the use of her physical eyes, and both are forced, through circumstance, to depend on the generosity of strangers for her financial needs…and through both of them, God has taught me priceless lessons about joy, humility, and strength.  As is the case almost any time we love others by serving them – in wanting to bless them, I emerge feeling like the blessed one.  They inspire me so much!  Their spirits are so strong, and despite the fact that they are on the street begging for their livelihood, they have unwavering faith in God & true, boundless joy.  Please pray with me for my Pani Maria’s.  Pray that God will give them strength & health daily.  Pray for the healing of their sight.  And most of all, pray that the faith they possess will grow into a deep, personal, intimate encounter with Jesus Christ.

Now meet Nikki:

I love this girl.  My church has recently begun a music English Club (using English songs to practice English) for students in Lviv, and it’s another ministry that I’m helping out with.  I met Nikki 2 weeks ago, when I gave her an invitation to the English Club while she was sitting in the park near the University.  She’s begun joining us for the club on Wednesday evenings, and she is just wonderful!  Not only do we share a name (my middle name is Nicole, and growing up my mom always called me Bria Nikki), but we also share a love of music and singing.  Nikki is not just beautiful on the outside, but she has such a beautiful spirit.  I am so thankful for the opportunity God’s given me to get to know her (and our other students) through our English club, and to take the love that He pours out on me & pour it out on them.  Please pray for Nikki & our English Club – that we can help these wonderful young people with a better knowledge of English, and also show them the Love of Jesus!

And last, but not least, meet our World Race team – Childlike Prophets:

This is a great group of people!  If you haven’t heard of the World Race, it’s amazing.  It’s like a mission trip to the max.  11 countries in 11 months.  CLP has spent the last month ministering with us here in Lviv, and we’re only country number 9 for them.  They still have Romania & Moldova to go after us.  They have given endless energy to helping us with everything from building Bethel House, to leading home groups, church services, and English Clubs.  And of course, hosting a group of 7 people in our home & ministries for a month requires endless energy from us, but God always gives us every ounce of strength that we need for every single ministry we follow Him into.  On top of doing regular ministry, we’ve been fixing endless meals, doing endless cleaning, and driving endless carpools…and loving every minute!  Here’s Lins in the kitchen, which is pretty much where she’s been living for the last month:

God is so good.  All the time. He gives me this beautiful life, with all of these beautiful people around me, and I desire nothing more than to know & follow my beautiful Lord.  Thank you, through your prayers, support, & financial sacrifices, for making it possible for me to follow Him here, in Ukraine.  You are beautiful people.

Love, and blessings, in Jesus‘ Name.

All for Jesus…
Bria
blessinggirls@gmail.com
(for info about making financial donations to our ministry, click here.)

Called for a Purpose

This past week, we talked each day about who we are, and what our life purpose is; how to live knowing the call of God on our lives. Aside from the teaching aspect of the class, we had a lot of practical writing assignments as well. We wrote down things we’ve done in the past, things we enjoy, things we feel called to. After all that, we had to write a life purpose statement. This week was eye-opening for me. You’d think that would be a relatively easy assignment, but as I got ready to write, it was harder than I thought. I’ve realized this past week that I have been so afraid to fully trust God and step into whatever ministry He has for me. I couldn’t see how He could fulfill certain dreams if I did. Basically, it boils down to a lack of trust, trying to fulfill my own dreams. Wow. What a realization to come to.

Over the past month, God has been doing so much in me, showing me so many areas in my life that haven’t been right – which were most of the areas I thought I had figured out already. It has made me even more grateful for this season. I am becoming more hungry to grow in my relationship with Him, and more hungry to fulfill His calling on my life. I have been so afraid to step into certain things as a single woman, but now I realize that God wants to grow me before I get married, so that I can be fully grounded in Him and knowing who He has made me to be. It has brought me such a deeper contentment and peace in being single right now. God has specific plans for my life, and I can’t wait to see them fulfilled!

Second year is such a deeper level of learning. While we actually have less classroom/teaching time than first year, it feels like we are learning so much more. The teaching we do receive goes so much deeper and goes to a much more personal level. I feel like it is really strengthening my identity in Him, helping me to understand more who I am in Him, what He wants to do in me, and what He has in store for me. This season is priceless, and I know it is preparing me for the future even more than I realize.

I am getting so excited as we enter our last few weeks of classroom training and prepare for outreach in Ethiopia. Never did I dream I would get to go to Africa, let alone 2 times! God goes beyond our dreams! While my fees are fully paid, you can still support this trip in other ways. Prayer is always a practical way to support. Right now our leaders are making the plans for the trip, working out all the logistics, and I’m sure they’d appreciate your prayers. As far as financial support goes, we are hoping to take 45 extra suitcases with us – 1 for each person on the team – full of supplies to give away there (toys, medicine, and practical items). We don’t have time to wait for packages to be sent, but you can donate finances that will be applied 100% towards the purchase of these items for the Ethiopian people. And the final way you can help, is by supporting another student’s outreach fees. There are still a number of my own classmates who don’t have all the finances they need, and I can only imagine what a blessing it would be to them to receive donations from outside of their own circles. I never thought I would be in a place of being able to help them, but after God so miraculously provided my funds, I now find I am able to help by presenting their need. If you would like to donate to either of these needs, you can do so directly by mailing checks (payable to Gateways Beyond International) to:

PO BOX 6040
Spokane, WA 99217
USA
(please be sure to specify the area of donation on a separate note attached to the check: Ethiopia 2012 Aid, or GTS2 Outreach Fees) 

or by donating online at:
http://www.gatewaysbeyond.org/donate.php 

If you donate online, please specify donations for Ethiopia 2012 Aid, or for GTS2 outreach fees.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support.
Many blessings from Cyprus,
Krista

PAID!!!

Tuition: paid in full. Outreach: paid in full. That’s the news I got this week! Over the past month while I was in Israel, with pretty much no internet access to know what was going on back home, God provided the remaining funds for me to pay all the school fees!!! He is so faithful! I really felt through this time that God was growing my faith, and thought that I was going to have to wait until the last minute to see the finances come in. But, in His love, God provided the needed funds in less than 4 months time! I really can’t thank you enough for all the financial support you gave, and for the prayers you prayed on my behalf. You are sharing a part in all that God is doing, and I pray that you are seeing the blessing returned in your own lives.

The Israel trip was incredible! We had the opportunity to serve at a number of different ministries, blessing them and being blessed in return. One week, we served at an African woman’s shelter. It is run by amazing people who serve and give so much of their lives for this ministry, so it was a blessing to be able to serve them for a week. Another week, we spent our days on a goat farm. They are understaffed and are busy working 7 days a week. That was definitely a highlight for me on the trip. As we went above their expectations of what we would be able to do, it was such a joy to see the blessing it was to them. We got to see a number of kids born while we were there, which was a beautiful thing to see – messy, but beautiful. We were also able to serve a B&B run by friends of the community here. The founders of Gateways were also in the process of moving houses while we were there, so we were able to give back to them and help them in their move.

One of the most special moments, was when we had dinner with an Arabic family. After dinner, we had a special time of worship and prayer with them. While we were praying for them, I felt impressed to wash the husband and wife’s feet. For a minute, I questioned it, but couldn’t shake the thought and really felt like it was from God. I got the ok from my leaders, got a bowl of water and some towels, and began to speak to the couple. As I told them I really felt like this was actually Jesus wanting to wash their feet to honor their service for Him, the wife stopped me and said, “What did you say???” I said it again, and she began to cry and laugh. Just the day before, she had been at a Bible study, and the preacher had talked about Jesus wanting to wash their feet. It was such a beautiful time, as Jesus allowed me and one other person to be His hands in washing their feet. They have such a gift of hospitality and serve God so much, and you could just feel God honoring that in them.

I feel like the last month has brought a lot of change and growth in me. God has really begun to reveal and clean out some things in my life. I feel He is doing a deep work in me, lovingly and gently chipping away at all that doesn’t belong. He is bringing me into new levels of freedom and confidence in Him. I am growing in vulnerability and trust – with family, leadership, and friends. I am so thankful that God has allowed me this season of study and growth. This year really is going beyond what I could have even imagined.

Again, thank you all so much for all that you have given to make it possible for me to follow God in this season and receive all that He has for me. Many blessings to you and your families.
Krista

Be here now.

Hey y’all.  It’s Bria this time.  Gosh, time flies when you’re having fun.  I feel like I just wrote a blog not too long ago, and then I see that it was actually over a month since the last time we talked.  yikes.

As Lins mentioned in her last post, we are hosting a group of 7 World Racers in our home for the month of April.  There were 10 of them, but sadly 3 of them (leaders) had to move on this morning to visit the other World Race teams currently serving in numerous cities around Ukraine.  It’s crazy how much you can love & miss people whom you’ve only known for 9 days.  That’s just how it goes in the family of God, though…and I LOVE it – the way He brings people together and crosses our lives with each other.  It’s beautiful.

Thank God we are still left with 7 incredible people in our home, though, and we are being so immensely blessed as we are getting to know them & as they work alongside us here.  One of the things I would love to do with them while they are here is some abolition ministry.  For almost a year I’ve been working on developing a little handout, detailing the stats about slavery in Ukraine and the Ukrainian victims around the world, tips on how people can protect themselves & the ones they love, help information for European and surrounding countries (should anyone find themselves in a dangerous situation), and the most important – the Truth that God loves them, created them, & has a purpose for them.  I’ve still got quite a bit of work to do, but I’m dedicating my focus and time right now to trying to get this finished up before they leave at the end of the month, so that they can work with me to distribute the flyers around the city.

There’s one more important piece to this puzzle, though – and that would be you.  Even though we live miles and miles apart, you are still a VITAL part of this ministry in Ukraine.  I can have all of the ideas I want, and even spend all of my energy trying to make those ideas happen…but without being able to work a job in Ukraine, I have no financial means to fund the ministry ideas in my heart.  Every.single.dollar that you have given to enable us to minister over here is a treasure to us…and they…and you…do not go unappreciated.  I will do my part to get these flyers completed while this amazing group of Racers is here serving with us.  And I believe that, through you, God will open the windows of Heaven and pour out the finances that will be needed to print up the flyers (donation information can be found at the bottom of this page);  To turn all of this digital information into something tangible that we can put into the hands of Ukrainians, and…not to be all dramatic or anything…but it is very possible that even just one flyer could save a life.  I pray that lives…and souls…will be saved!

We love you.  We thank our Lord for you.
Thank you for reading.  Thank you for serving with us in Ukraine through your prayers and gifts.
And to finish off this post, my prayer for you is something that I’ve been praying over myself for months:

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, Lord,
so that we may grow in wisdom.
-Psalm 90:12

…and as a little added bonus – one of my favorite quotes:

“Now we should live when the pulse of life is strong.
Life is a tenuous thing…fragile, fleeting.

Be here now! Be here now! Be here now!”