Unexpected Encouragement (from Krista)

Rather than writing a long blog about all that God has been teaching me through this past week and its events, I decided to just post a video of the testimony I shared in church today. This whole ordeal is something I am becoming more and more grateful for, because God is using it to deepen our relationship so much.

All throughout this journey, God just keeps reaffirming His promises to lead me and to provide for me. After considering various options, we felt the best option and the path God was leading me down, was to go to Holland for the next 2 weeks. I have a friend there who has graciously agreed to let me come stay with her starting tomorrow, and after that I will go with her to stay at some other friends’ ministry house. He has also blessed me with the joy of being surrounded by friends, as there is a team from Gateways Beyond (the discipleship school I study at) that is in Holland right now. With how fast this all came about, it wasn’t feasible for me to fly straight to the States, so we felt God saying to take a couple of weeks to just soak this all in, regroup, and make plans for the next few months. So, tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. I will be heading to Holland!

Another testimony of His goodness came this morning at church. During the sermon, someone passed me a note saying, “This is for you. I will be praying for you and may God help you in everything.” Rolled up with the note, was the equivalent of $1.20. It was given by an older lady who I know does not have much. I was stunned. Just minutes before I was sitting and talking with God, wondering how on earth He was going to provide for my airfare and living expenses. And He immediately sent me a note saying, “Don’t worry. I will provide. This is just a seed to show you I can provide through ways you would never expect, and it will multiply.” With faith building in me, I began to say my goodbyes to my beloved church family. As I hugged another lady, she said she felt like God told her to sow a seed, and put $2.40 in my hand – exactly double what the first lady had given. By now, I’m beginning to get teary-eyed. I couldn’t believe how my church family was blessing me, and that this was the way God chose to have a seed of provision planted for this season! As someone else came up, I again felt something being pushed into my hand as I heard the words again, “I just wanted to bless you with something.” By now, I’m not even being able to look at what is being given, I’m just putting the gifts straight into my pocket. After that, another couple comes up and also says they felt God saying to bless me and that He will provide for all my needs! I couldn’t believe what was happening! We left church and I began to share with my family. I realized I still had no idea how much was in my pocket that God had provided. I pull it out and find that He has multiplied $1.20 into $110! Beyond just the financial, I was so blessed by their encouragement today as well. So many came and shared how God has used me in their lives even in just the past 3 months I have been home, or about how they also feel that God has something waiting for me or for me to do or someone for me to encourage, wherever it is that He is taking me for this next season. It was encouraging to be reassured that these past 3 months here were from God, and this sending out is also of Him. I left feeling so full of joy, faith, and anticipation for what He has in store. I am so grateful for the beautiful church family God has blessed me with. They are so special and I believe that God is about to release something in them for the seed they planted today…and I can’t wait to see what it is He does!

Through this all, God has been teaching me that no matter what happens, even if it’s something that seems ‘bad’, He is good! He doesn’t just ‘do’ good, He IS good. He has shown me how much He means to me, how much I need Him. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t leave Him, because He IS my life. Thank you so much for your prayers and your continued prayers and support through this journey.

With a grateful heart,
Krista

Unexpected Changes (from Krista)

Well, this isn’t the blog I expected to be writing when I got home, but here I am….back home with no visa. For those of you who follow our facebook page, the miracle didn’t happen as we expected. For those who aren’t on facebook and don’t know what’s happening – Bria, Lindsay, & I went to Poland this week to get my visa to be able to stay in Ukraine. Here’s a brief overview of the last 5 days:

On Monday we arrived and went to the consulate, where I was told my documents did not meet the requirements. I argued as much as I could that these were the documents my family used, but the man wouldn’t budge. He told us to come back at 2:00. I was so frustrated, because it is no secret that this man strongly dislikes all Americans and gives them trouble when they apply for visas. My plan had been to go in and threaten to join a group of Americans who are working towards getting him fired, or to give them a good report of him if he didn’t give me the run-around. But, I was not feeling released to go that route. We went back at 2:00, still nothing.

That night and the next morning God just kept speaking ‘love’ to us three girls. Loving others. Loving those who give you trouble. I was reading through Colossians this week, and was reading chapter 4 that morning. The whole chapter talked about loving those who are ‘outside’ and letting our speech be seasoned with grace. Lindsay was led to Psalm 134, which she encouraged me to read. As I read those passages, my eyes were opened to see this man through spiritual eyes. I realized, He doesn’t have the love of Christ in His life, so why should he treat others with love? I also realized one day he will stand before God, and without Christ, it’s not going to be a good meeting. Suddenly, I didn’t care about my visa anymore (at least not in that moment), all I cared about was him seeing God’s love for him. I mean, how will he see that love if the Americans who are requesting ‘religious’ visas go out and sign a petition to fire him? So, we went to the embassy again. Again, he told me he had no new information from Lviv and couldn’t issue my visa. I told him, “I promise I’m not trying to get you to give me a visa, but I just need to tell you that God loves you. And whether you give me the visa or not, He told me to tell you that. I hope you have a wonderful day and are blessed by God.” Again, he said come back later. He called that afternoon and said, “come tomorrow at 9:00 and I’ll give you the visa.” We went back…but he said his boss told him he couldn’t issue my visa based on the documents I had. I would have to wait until I could get new documents, documents that Lviv refuses to issue because they say they are unnecessary.

We talked to our lawyer in Lviv, and he said to go to another Polish city with a Ukrainian Consulate, submit my documents and I should have no problems. So we went this morning, again to be greeted by the words, “I cannot issue you a visa with these documents.” That was our last option. The lawyer said, “That’s it. She just has to come back, get her things, and leave for 3 months.”

Basically where we’re at is: there are 2 laws (basically one law, with one different word in each one) and the various government offices are using them against each other. The consulates use one law requiring documents from offices in Lviv, but those offices use the other law and refuse to issue those documents because they don’t see that they are needed. Nobody will budge,so I’m left with no options but to wait until the laws are clarified or somebody budges. Both offices could give me what I’m requesting (the documents or the visa), but neither one is willing to.

The only thing I can see in all of this, is that God has plans for me somewhere else right now. While it is frustrating because it is an unplanned extended trip, I have peace that this is God leading me to where He wants me. We (my family and I) feel that this is God preparing me for the future. I know He uses all things for His purposes and none of this is happening without Him seeing it. I am so grateful for the lessons in faith and love, and seeing others through His eyes; and I’m excited for whatever it is that He has for me.

Please pray as I prepare to leave in the next 3 or 4 days. Pray for peace and for God’s leading as to where I am to go (there are a few different options I am praying about and considering). Also, this obviously presents some unexpected costs – both travel and living. If God puts it on your heart to help support as I step into the unknown that God is leading me into right now, all help is appreciated (please see the ‘Support’ page at the top for information on how to send donations). And as always, prayer is invaluable! I will keep y’all updated as I have more details.

Blessings,
Krista

Prepared In Advance (from Lindsay)

The first English class, when I was 16 – September 1998

On September 28, 1998, I was 16

The final English class, when I was 19 – spring 2001

years old and filled with nervous excitement, as I faced 15 children & 2 adults waiting for me to teach them English.  Over the next 2 1/2 years, I did my best to help them learn English.  There was a lot of trial and a lot of error, and I often felt completely inadequate, but I loved it!  I had 4 faithful students who stuck with me to the end and gave me the joy of seeing them speak more English when it was over than when it started.  That experience showed me that I love teaching and, while I have had many opportunities since then to teach different things, I always hoped God had been using that first class to prepare me for the future, when He would give me another chance to teach English to children.

He has done just that!  It started this summer, when our next-door neighbor asked me to tutor their 8-year-old son in English.  Knowing how much I already have on my plate, I told them I would consider it.  I prayed about it that evening and the next morning, asking the Lord to let me know if this was something He wanted me to do or not.  That next day, as I walked home from the garden, a woman stopped me on the street and told me she wanted to send her grandson to me for English lessons, because she certainly couldn’t help him in that area!  That was my answer; I knew the Lord was opening the door for me to teach English again.  Knowing that I definitely didn’t have time for individual tutoring, I decided to offer to teach a small class, accepting 10 kids as students.  I let some of the summer busyness die down and presented my plan to our next-door neighbor last week.  She was very excited by what I shared with her and is passing a sign-up sheet around the village, so that I can start the class this Tuesday.  The class will be for one hour, once a week.  They have a wonderful English teacher at their school and I am impressed with the English the little boy next door already knows; I hope, though, that I can help my small group of students become even more established and prolific in their knowledge of English.

I am so excited by this opportunity and am looking forward to our first class, thankful that God has prepared me in advance for this task!  Please pray for me – for creativity, patience, and love in teaching, that I would teach well, and that the kids would learn well.