I've been putting this post off for a few days now (also my computer broke, but I should have had this done before that happened). It's not going to be my last blog post, but it is the last one for DTS. I'm readjusting to life back in the States fairly well, but I also miss Vinnitsa and all my people so much that it hurts. This is my wrap-up post. This brings it all to an end. Five months ago, I left for one of the greatest adventures of my life. It has been an amazing five months, filled with a whirlwind of laughter, tears, incredible people, powerful ministry, learning and growing. So much happened in such a short amount of time, I can't believe it's only been less than half a year. On the other hand, it seems much, much longer. So what all did happen to me during this DTS? I'm glad you asked.
This was the DTS where I fell in love with a beautiful country called Ukraine. The language, the food, the weather, the people; in short, the culture. In this time I fell in love with the story of the Bible and the author behind it. I grew closer to God and discovered the plans He has for my life. But the biggest change I think you'll see is that, during this time, I fell in love with myself again. I accepted myself for who I was created to be and understood how loved I was.
On this trip, I became a missionary. I loved on some amazing Roma kids and children at multiple orphanages across Ukraine and Poland. For a brief time, I was able to make them happy, to let them feel special. Their sweet faces will never leave me. God's given me this amazing passion to share His love with those who the world calls "the least of these." This is what God has called me to do; I know beyond a shadow of a doubt. I became a missionary, just like I always dreamed, and I loved every minute of it. Something happens when you step out in faith into your calling, when you discover that, oh wait, you can do this. Something changes when you actually hold these precious babies in your arms and look into their eyes. I can't ever get away from that. I'm glad I don't even have to try.
I miss Ukraine already but I am glad to be home. I'm grateful that I get so much time this summer to spend with my family. God has called me to be a missionary, but first, there are some things I need to take care of here. I need to invest in relationships with my family and my church. I need to go to college and get some training so I can help the kids who have special needs. There are things I need to learn here before I can apply them there. I will be going back. I just don't know when.
Most of you probably know the story of Esther. But did you ever notice the timing of her story? Unlike in the movie adaptations, whether it be VeggieTales or One Night With The King, a lot of time passed. In the 3rd year of his reign, King Xerxes called for Vashti and she refused. Xerxes met Esther and proclaimed her queen in the 7th year of his reign (Esther 2:15-16). But it was only in the twelfth year of his reign, Haman cast lots to decide when to kill the Jews (Esther 3:7). Five whole years passed before Esther realized she was called "to the palace for such a time as this." (Esther 4:12).
I am currently in my own time of waiting. In fact, it will probably be around 5 years before I can move back to Europe permanently. Until then, I will continue my training. I will continue seeking the Lord and being open to His direction and guidance. And I will, of course, continue loving on kids and going on mission trips. This is a new and different phase of my life, College Phase. Tomorrow, I have orientation at Trevecca Nazarene University. New place, new friends, new home. It's a little bit scary. But one thing that God has taught me, especially since I came home, is that He will always be there for me. He is the one thing, the only constant that will continue to follow me through all stages of life. My Ukrainian/YWAM life of the past few months will never fully intersect with my life here or my Trevecca life. But God does. He is the only connection, the only friend who follows me wherever I go. And that is really good news.
I have attempted to condense five months of this amazing experience into a six and a half minute video. Please enjoy!