Now I can see!
I am a man of plans. I have always had a plan. Not just one but often I had two or three, four , and more. Often when I daydream, I am creating possibilities in my head. I have never been one to say “I don’t know what I would do.” However the years waiting to get to Odessa has reduced my vision and dreams to be limited to just one goal…. to get here. Beyond that, dreams became foggy and irrelevant as I thought I may never see the land I was called to. I cried to God in my despair. I learned a lot during this time. The number one thing I learned was I was so busy making plans I never saw his plan.
By now most know of the story of how we got here to Odessa. I was happy but without a plan. I couldn’t see a vision of what I was to do. I did not have a goal to strive to meet. I was glad to be here but ….now what?
Over three months we were here and we were still blind. Then something happened. I found out there was a possibility that we would not be allowed to stay in Odessa. My brain fired off like an old lawn mower that had been in the garage all winter. Huffing and puffing like a 1978 Briggs and Stratton 2 cycle motor, my brain got to churning, “time to make plans!” I was heartbroken that my dreams and aspirations for ministry in the port city and transportation hub of Odessa would end so quickly BUT I was excited I got to make plans and develop a vision for what “MIGHT” be up ahead. I evaluated whether to go back to Atlanta or to move to another country. I had all sorts of variables as I contemplated and researched the possibilities. I am not going to lie to you, it was fun for me! I was excited! Not only was it time to develop a back-up plan, but it was time to put together an exit strategy. I began to think, “I’ve got 8 or 9 days left, what is important to accomplish before we leave?” The time was busy and packed. Some might have even thought “wow, he is excited to leave?” However, I noticed many things when anticipating I might have to leave.
I saw the blessing of having a school for my children to attend. I saw the blessing of having friends in ministry. I saw the blessing of the different strengths of my team members. I saw the blessing of seeing the completeness of the church rather than the incompleteness. I saw the blessing of what a beautiful city Odessa is. I saw the blessing of so many other things that had been an answer to prayer along the way.
We began to identify our core values and look into our purpose as missionaries. We evaluated who we were and what we were doing as we prepared for the impending change. As they say in football, “It was time to focus on the basics” of why we were here and use that to develop a plan for what was up ahead.
We developed vision. Now we can see who we are. Now we can see what we want to do and now we can see how to do it. Our visa registration was approved. We are now allowed to stay in the country for 12 months (pending new law changes). I am so happy I get to live out one of the dreams I had for Odessa Ukraine and we are looking forward to our stay here. The list is too long to post here on how this “scare” of having to leave blessed us. We are so happy God brought us through it the way he did, and we are also happy we do not need to go to Kutaisi Georgia and not Atlanta, Georgia. If we had been denied in Odessa than on Friday night at 11:00 pm we would have set sail on The UKR Ferry from Illichevsk Ukraine to Poti Georgia (not the state but the country).
This month we also celebrated another birthday. Emily turned six on September 9 and we celebrated at a local place similar to Chuck E. Cheese but quieter and not so packed. She loved it. Thankful that the Lord even provides for our children places to have fun and be kids.
Thank you to all of those who have been praying for us in this time and to those of you who continue to support us.
Please pray for our needs to be met, at our current rate we are slowly using our reserves.
Please pray as we continue to chase the campers from the summer evangelism camp. Some made professions of faith and have since fallen away. The discipleship process is continuing for some while others that remained quiet have continued to learn about the Lord and have embraced the church family. Specifically pray for those whose families have become barriers between these young adults and the Gospel.
Please pray for our language abilities. Our #1 goal for the first year was to learn to communicate. Staying true to this goal and not becoming buried by circumstances and ministry has proved tough.
Please pray for the missionaries of Odessa to work harmoniously together and helps us to support and challenge one another on a continual basis.