ONE YEAR!!!

One year.  ONE YEAR!  Today marks one year since we landed in Ukraine to start this crazy new journey.    We’re calling today our “Ukraine-iversary”.

I remember the elevator door opening in to the baggage claim at the airport in Kyiv.  I remember looking around and wondering how on God’s green earth were we going to get all 12 suitcases, all 4 carry-ons, all 5 personal items, the guitar, and all four children from baggage claim, through customs, and to the van that we hoped was waiting for us.

And then.  Then I saw frantic waving through the sliding door as it opened and closed past customs.  There were at least 8 friends from Kyiv Vineyard with HUGE smiles on their faces, waiting to help us out the door.  Oh the relief.  Those dear, sweet friends will never understand what the moment meant to me.  We were not alone.  We had loved ones waiting for us.  And that’s how it has been along this whole journey.

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Now some of those who greeted us are like our Ukrainian family.  Now Vasya, the driver who I hoped and prayed really would be waiting for us, is a loved friend who drives us to and from Romaniv almost every single week.

What a journey.  What.a.journey.

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This year has been full.

Full of laughter, and full of tears.  Full of hugs and kisses, and full of loneliness.  Full of learning, and full of humility.  Full of intense joy and intense grief.  Full of being a stranger, and full of absolute belonging.

But most of all, this year has been full to the brim, and then overflowing with blessing.

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God has blessed us this year beyond our wildest dreams.  His goodness has been without end.  This has been the hardest year of our lives, but also the absolute best year of our lives.  There have been days when we felt like the craziest people on the face of the earth, but God has walked beside us every second.

You know what’s exciting?  This is just the beginning!!!  One year is like nothing!  We’re just scratching the surface of the plans God has for the special boys and young people we serve.  The dreams He has been giving us are even wilder and crazier and bigger than before.

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THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU a million times THANK YOU for walking with us on this journey.  Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, your comments, your emails, your financial support, your care packages, your love.

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 We are blessed to have you on the team.

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To celebrate this most awesome Ukraine-iversary we have brought back the BeLOVE[d] t-shirts! 

We will be selling the shirts until the end of the month, and 100% of the proceeds will go toward the transportation of our volunteer teams to and from Romaniv.  They are Jesus’ hands and feet to our Boys and your support helps them (and us!) get there as often as possible. 

Check out the sale at www.booster.com/wideawakeinternational

On the Move

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I started packing today. We’re moving! YIPPEEE!
(That yippee wasn’t intended for the move itself, but more for the end product of where we’re moving to)

On Saturday we are moving to a new home here in Zhytomyr. It all happened really fast, hence me just starting to pack today. Yikes.

When we moved here almost a year ago we moved into a home that suited us really well for this first year in Ukraine. Our current home is super close to Mission to Ukraine, it has plenty of space for guests, it was in our budget, and it has been fine for the past several months. But, we have known all along this wouldn’t be our place to settle down in. It was a stop along the way. 🙂

We decided to start looking for something that had a yard. Oh how we have missed having a yard and a garden!! Our current home has no land or yard at all. Any and all of the land outside our door belongs to the neighbors and is a constant construction zone. We also wanted some place that could be more easily wheelchair accessible. If possible, we really wanted a house, not an apartment.

Last week we looked at two houses and the second one seemed just perfect! So, we’ll move in on Saturday!

Pros:
-It is a one-level house. I LOVE one-level houses.
-It’s really well built and nicely insulated. Ukraine is supposed to have a crazy winter on the way, so this is very good.
-MORE COUNTER SPACE!
-It has a living room! Our current home has a big dining/kitchen area, but no living room. We’ve missed having a couch. 🙂
-It’s cozy and compact. I don’t like a lot of house to clean.
-Here’s the kicker: It has an ENORMOUS space for a garden. I mean HUGE! We thought we would have to move out to the village to get land like this, and we were willing to, but finding it in town is even better! There is a big front yard/driveway and then in the back there is garden space that just goes on and on. We are happy, happy, happy.
-We’ll be about 3 blocks from a small bazaar, which is super convenient for shopping.

Cons:
-We don’t know anyone in the part of town we’re moving to. We don’t know the shops or any neighbors…starting from scratch in that way is kind of intimidating.
-The new place quite a bit further from Mission to Ukraine. No more 3 minute walks to MTU- now it’s a bus ride away. Boohoooooo
-It’s a two bedroom house, so there’s no guest room. But don’t worry, friends! The couch turns in to a bed. We’ll still have room for you!

We’re happy and thankful to have found a cozy place that looks like it can be a real home. We’ll make sure to post pictures when we’re moved in!

Now, back to packing. Yayyyyy…..sorta.