Hello!…gasp…choke…sputter…(that’s me coming up for air)
We’re alive! Oh my, it’s been a doozy of a summer. Awesome? YES. Nevertheless, I can’t deny the dooziness of it. Wow.
Now we’re here in September, coming up for air, hoping you still remember us and will forgive us for being absent in this space. You will? Thanks!
Addy and Ezra started school last Monday and I’ll be honest, it’s been rough. We transfered them to a Ukrainian Christian school here in town and the school itself couldn’t be kinder and more caring. It’s just all around extremely difficult. There’s no way around it. We are in the trenches and it stinks. BIG TIME.
After the first couple of days I emailed a few of my homeschooling Mommy friends from back in the US and basically bawled my eyes out over email. “Please tell me I’m not ruining my kids’ lives by making them do something this hard.” “Please tell me this will get better.” “Please send me multiple boxes of chocolate and can you somehow figure a way to get a DQ Blizzard here intact?” (kidding…)
I was teary-eyed dropping them off the first day, I prayed all throughout the day at home, and then cried to their teacher (I know, humiliating…I couldn’t help it! Poor thing didn’t see that coming ON THE FIRST DAY) when I picked them up in the afternoon. Oy.
They want friends. They want to understand. They want to speak. It’s just so stinkin’ hard. They’re in first class again because they don’t speak enough Ukrainian, but the Director said if they begin to speak more, that after Christmas break there’s a chance of them moving up to second class. I know in the US they would be put at their grade level according to age, but that’s not really how it works here. There aren’t other foreigners, so the school is just deciding what to do with us on a minute by minute basis. They are so gracious to take on the Johnsons. It takes a village! Hahahaha….waaaaaaahhhhhhh.
The school system and inner-workings are just SO different here. Know one knows what we don’t know (everything) so we often don’t know what’s going on…or we don’t even know that we don’t know what’s going on. From school supply lists to parent communication to bathroom rules to class schedules- it’s all different.
We realized about two days in to the school year that it is absolutely necessary for us to get the kids a tutor. We avoided it last school year because our family was just so much in survival mode, the thought of someone else coming to our house and the thought of making the kids study more after getting their brains fried at school seemed like family abuse. 🙂 But, we are determined to not just survive anymore and we’re feeling like we can start to really dig in in some ways that we hadn’t earlier. It’s time for the tutor.
We had one name referred to us by a good friend, so we contacted that girl and found out she is willing to teach the kids! She will hopefully be able to come to our house after school Monday through Thursday for an hour each day to help Addy and Ez with their homework and get them speaking more. The kids are less than excited, because when they get home they just want to play (I don’t blame them!), but we are trying to explain to them how much this will help them in the long run.
That tutor can’t start until the end”ish” of October and we had no idea what to do in the meantime. We really felt the kids need help ASAP. Well, guess what? On Monday the kids’ teacher at school asked if she could keep them for an hour after school each day to work with them on their Ukrainian!! Oh my word. When she offered I almost cried again (but decided it would be best to get a grip). I am so extremely thankful that she cares and wants to help them. Praise God for such a loving teacher!!!! So, she will help them until the tutor can start and we’ll see what happens then. We’re bitin’ the bullet baby. Please pray with us for miraculous results! I’m hoping that this extra time alone with their teacher will really help them get more comfortable to speak out at school.
I started doing some homeschool Kindergarten with Havalah and Seth last week too. Hava is super eager to learn to read, so we’re focusing on that. Later this month they’ll start going to a little private preschool for 1.5 hours twice a week. I think that’s just enought to get them some language exposure and time with other little kiddos. So, they’re pretty excited about starting that! It’s literally a 2 minute walk from our house, so I’m pretty excited about THAT! 🙂
I’ll tell you what; this parenting-in-another-culture thing is not for the faint of heart. It has shown me, and is showing me daily, hourly how much control I like to hold in my own two hands. I like to be in charge. I like to fix things. I like to make people happy. I put my trust in myself and my ability to make things better.
Well guess what? I can’t control my kids’ happiness. I can’t make kids at school like them and seek them out. I can’t make Ezra bold. I can’t make Addy not lonely for a girlfriend. I can’t demand the school put them with kids their own age. I can’t fix the fact that they want real friendships and have almost zero ability to make them right now. I can’t make them happy that they are here in Ukraine instead of with their cousins in the US. I can’t snap my fingers and make things all better. Things are just hard right now and all I can do is trust.
All I can do is trust that the God who spoke so clearly to us to move our family to Ukraine has not forgotten our children now that we are here.
All I can do is trust that God loves my kids more than I ever could and He knows their deepest needs- and He will meet those needs. I get focused on their wants- but God is able to meet their needs.
He knows them. He created them. He knew when He was forming them in the womb that they would live here in this culture, with these people. He is able to give them everything they need to THRIVE here.
I get so focused on ensuring their happiness that I lose sight of what’s really important.
What is the most important? Sleepovers and sports and theater and homeschool co-op and too many friends to count? No. Those things are awesome, and not wrong, and I miss them more than I can say. But those are not the most important things.
What is the most important thing? The most important thing is to say Yes to Jesus. The most important thing is to listen to the voice of the Father and walk with Him. The most important thing is seek first His Kingdom. The most important thing is go where He says to go, to do what He says to do- to know HIM. The rest is gravy.
Our joy is to be found in Him. Oh my, not that we can’t enjoy the fun things available in life! I’m a fun girl. I love to have fun, to do fun things, to be with fun people. God knows that about me and He knows that about my children. He’s a loving Father- He loves to love His kids. But seeking happiness for my kids instead of seeking Jesus with them is second best.
So, I tell myself these things all day while they’re gone at school. I tell myself these things after I tuck them in at night. Saying yes to Jesus is worth it. It’s not always easy, and sometimes it can be fairly painful, but it is worth it.
I see how our kids are absolutely in love with the Boys at Romaniv and I get a glimpse of how it is worth it. They adore the Boys and think they are wonderful and beautiful and special. They know little things about them- their likes and dislikes, their habits. When they see a person with special needs out and about in town they get almost giddy, so great is their love for that population. Their eyes have been opened to brokenness in the world and they have felt the joy of being used by Jesus to bring about healing. All of that shapes them and forms them, and I am thankful.
Thank you for loving our kids and praying for them. May no thing stand in the way of them fully becoming who God has made them to be. So be it.
According to the second to the last paragraph, your kids’ education is already complete in the most important “subject”…not to mention the kind of Jesus-following they are learning from their parents. They will make friends because they are friendly, they will get the language within 6 -12 months because they’re kids, the academic knowledge will soon follow, these challenges will mature them greatly and in a year you’ll marvel at what God has done. In homeschooling my kids with life happening and interrupting and derailing my best-laid plans , I realized if I was trying to follow the public school model (which is so ingrained in us!), we could not keep up. But if I measured using God’s priorities–that depth of trust and committment and love you talk about–well obviously you are succeeding! Love you Johnsons!
Hi Janet! You are so wise and you are so right. Thank you for helping me readjust my priorities and my perspective. I should print this out and stick it on my mirror or something. Ha! Really, I needed this. Thank you.
Kim, praying for you. I don’t know much about you or your story, but I know the feeling that grips your heart when you drop off your kids at school. Praying for your children that they will persevere and that the relationship they will build with their tutor will be so good that they’ll look back with hearts filled with thankfulness. Will be praying for the tutor that God will give her great wisdom and inspiration to make learning so. Much. Fun.
Becky Griffiths Salem, OR
Wow, thank you Becky!!! That is my prayer too. Thank you for praying for us!
Thanks for this, Kim. Needed it today. Was just talking about becoming Team Leaders at one of high schools here in Salem for YoungLife (oh so much less a commitment than moving my family to Ukraine!!) and was talking yesterday to my husband about the big impact it will have in our lives, and can we do it and is the commitment level of it realistic? He told me exactly what you just reiterated for me: it doesn’t matter what we realistically “have time for”. What matters is that we are saying Yes Jesus, we WILL serve you. Thanks Kim. Prayers are always going to your family and you’re thought of often – even from those of us around here who don’t know you well. Be encouraged that you are being great examples of saying “Yes Jesus” – even to those you have no idea you’re touching. Love to your family!
I love you all very much and my Grandmother’s heart goes out to you. You are so open and honest, Kim. Thank you for sharing. I am not in another country, but sometimes I wonder who I am AND WHY I AM HERE. Many people my age speak a “different language”. I am a fun girl and I like to have fun with others and bring joy in their lives. Then God tells me I am his daughter and he loves me and I am OK, just the way I am.
We were an Air Force Family for 23 years raising 5 children as we moved from town to town, State to State and Culture to Culture. God provided for us even when the schools had different ideas and ways. Even resenting military families at times. (I have a lot of stories to tell). Since reading your post I realize that our children became each others friends and sometimes even BFF. Thank you God for providing all they needed even when I thought it was bad.
Hang in there “girl”, GOD WILL PROVIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!
LOVE U ~ GRANDMA PAT
Oh Pat, thank you!!!! I love your perspective and I always appreciate your prayers. 🙂 Jed was just remarking the other day how he loves that this is bringing Addy and Ezra closer together- Hava and Seth too! Thanks for your testimony. I appreciate it!!!
If you are concerned about their falling behind in their education, you can work with them at home using https://www.khanacademy.org . It will carry them as far as they want to go. Check it out.
Children of missionaries have great advantages over most children who don’t have the opportunity to life through the eyes of others. You answered your call much more prepared than me.
Blessings of Love and healing,
Mark and Sveta
Thanks for that resource Mark!
Perhaps you have thought of this, but If I may the first thing that leaped out ti me, do your children need to go to school ? They do not have to learn Math or History or Science in Ukrainian. They can just learn it in English if you home school them. You can instead outsource Ukrainian to a tutor for perhaps 3 days a week ? This way they will also see progress in subjects and grade level and get fluency in Ukrainian because of one on one attention ?
You are an inspiration. Whatever you do, I am sure your children will eventually be trilingual and learn the math, grammar, history and science they need to.
Hi Alice 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts! Yeah, we have really debated about the school thing, but finding a really good tutor is so hard. Plus, they really do desire to be around other kids. I don’t think we’ll keep them in school all the way through, probably just till they have a good handle on the language. So much to think about!
Kim, I just want to encourage you that as a parent the best gift you give your children is the following of yours and Jed’s calling and convictions. I was raised in a very strict environment and religion. I hated and questioned so many things but as an adult and even a child their was a deep respect for my parents in kiving out totally what they believed even though they were way more strict than other parents at church. I jbow that your situation is different and challenging in different ways but my parents raised three kids who totally follow God to the best of their ability then each of us have 2-3 kids who love and serve God in the best way they can. There is a richness in following our Lord even when its tough but I believe believe your children will do the same and don’t be surprised qhen they are called to do something even harder than yoy are. I feel God gives us a parents a platform to live off of so our kids go further than us. That’s been ny prayer for my girls and my parents for me. So, your in a hard place but that’s the best and only place to be when your called. GOD ALWAYS WILL COVER YOUR KIDS AND YOU AND JED when you are in his perfect will.
Wow Eileen. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! It is encouraging and true. I needed to hear it and remember it. I’ll come back to these words again I’m sure! THANK YOU!
HUGS my dear… BIG HUGS… it is hard but you know you & your family are exactly where God has designed you to be – yes designed – because to be designed is a deliberate action which requires serious thought processes… God knows, He has you all in His Hands… and yes, it will get better… just in HIS TIME!