Saturday, July 31, 2010

Prayer Requests

Wow, the past 10 weeks have just flown by and I can hardly believe that in just three days I'll be on my way to Ukraine. God's hand has been so clearly behind all of this and I truly feel like so many of the events over the past four years of my life have been leading up to this trip... I am anxious to see what God has in store for me over the next six months. (If you're not a regular follower of my blog and would like to read more about why I'm going to Ukraine, or, if you are a regular reader and just want a little reminder, please read this post and this post).

Anyway, I wanted to post some prayer requests for my upcoming trip:

1) Health and safety – Although it's not Africa, Ukraine has it's own health and safety risks. Working with hundreds of kids every week will naturally expose me to many germs and I know that last winter orphanages in Ukraine experienced a significant outbreak of the H1N1 virus. In addition, the roads in Ukraine are generally in poor condition which can potentially pose threats while traveling. Please pray that God would protect me as I travel around the country and to and from the orphanages each day and that He would strengthen my immune system to be able to fight off any illness.

2) Language – In the Congo, I learned firsthand just how hard a language barrier can be. In the area I will be in in Ukraine, people speak mostly Russian and there is little to no English. I am happy to report that I know more Russian now than I knew Swahili before I arrived in Congo but that really doesn't say much :) I am finding the Russian language quite difficult and although I will have a translator with me in Ukraine, I really want to learn enough to be able to communicate on my own. Please pray that God would give me the motivation, discipline and ability to pick up the language quickly and that I would not be hindered by the language barrier in my ministry to the kids.

3) Companionship – Another thing I learned in Congo is that a language barrier can be very isolating. In fact, probably the hardest thing for me in Congo was not having anyone to talk to, to share my heart with, etc. and the thought of going six whole months like that is at times quite daunting. Please pray that God would provide a friend(s) who I can laugh with, cry with, pray with...

4) Open doors of opportunity – Ever since I first started praying about going to Eastern Europe, my heart has been drawn to the neglected, truly 'unwanted' children. I long to hold and to love children who spend their days simply laying in a crib, children like the ones posted about here. The problem is that often these children are often not allowed to be held, visitors are not permitted to spend time in the rooms where they are. Please join me in praying that God would give me favor with the staff at the orphanages I will be volunteering at and that He would grant me unique opportunities to not only hold and love these children but to be used by Him as a catalyst for change, showing the staff just how precious these children are.

5) Strength in the midst of brokenness – I get the sense that emotionally, this trip is going to be harder than anything I have ever done before, especially if God allows me to do what I truly want to do. My heart's cry continues to be, "God, break my heart with the things that break Yours". I don't want to become numb to the pain of this world. I want to love these children the way God does and I know that that will bring great heartache. Please pray that I would allow myself to be broken by the brokenness that I see and that, even in the midst of it all, that God would daily give the strength I need to keep going.

Thanks for praying!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Alright, you convinced me...

Thank you to all of you who donated stuff for me to Ukraine. You may remember that I said that I had one extra 50-pound bag to bring with me... Well, I received so many donations that I decided to spend the $50 it costs to pay for an extra bag.
So, thanks to your generosity, I am taking with me:

36 tubes of toothpaste...
120 articles of children's clothing...
226 toothbrushes...
255 pairs of socks...
2,060 vitamins...

On behalf of the children of the Ukraine, THANK YOU!!!


Friday, July 23, 2010

This Time, I'm Prepared!

Six months ago I arrived in Bideka, Congo at the orphanage I would be working in for the next three months and I discovered that they had nothing to play with... absolutely no toys or games except for one rubber ball which busted about a week after I arrived! I had brought a few things with me but as time went on and I struggled desperately to find fun things to do with the kids, I cannot count the number of times I thought to myself, "If only I had know... I wish I had brought..."

Well, I've learned my lesson and this time, I'm going prepared...

balloons, bubbles, frisbees, Canada tattoos, stickers, face paint, sidewalk chalk, skipping ropes, jacks, barrel of monkeys, pick-up sticks,
pin the tail on the donkey, twister, snakes and ladders, card games, puppets, balloon animals and soccer balls!

Total cost... $189
All the smiles, laughter and fun that this will bring to the kids... priceless!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Plan or Purpose?

As I've been sharing with people about my time in Africa and my upcoming trip to Ukraine, the question I get asked most often is, "So, you'll be in Ukraine for six months... then what?". The answer: I don't know. At this point, I really don't have a plan for what the next years of my life are going to look like. Sometimes I wonder if that makes me look irresponsible, unfocused, etc. but earlier this week a friend said something that really stuck with me... "Just because you don't have a plan, it doesn't mean you don't have a purpose." That is so true. Although I may not have a plan all laid out, God has given me a purpose - to be a tangible expression of His love to forgotten and unwanted children around the world. The truth is, while I do have occasional moments where I wish I knew what I was going to be doing eight months from now, the majority of the time I feel really great about not having a plan. Following Jesus one day at a time has been such a freeing experience for me as I no longer have to worry about what the future holds, I just leave it all in God's hands. I have never before been so certain that I am in the center of God's will for my life and there is no better feeling than that. I may not have a plan but God has given me a purpose and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."
Proverbs 19:21

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Little Things...

As most of you know, food was a real struggle for me in Congo but whether I'm living on rice and beans in Congo or enjoying a variety of delicious African and Western food in Uganda, the one thing I always miss when I am in Africa is dairy. Dairy is pretty much non-existent in Africa (so much so that when I met with a nutritionist in Congo to discuss our children's diet, she started off the conversation with "so, you know the three food groups..."). Yes, in the city you can buy things such as milk, yogurt, cheese, etc. but it is fermented and as far as I'm concerned, milk that does not have to be refrigerated is not real milk. This has always been hard for me since dairy is my favorite food group hands down... I love milk and yogurt, cheese is my absolute favorite food (including the less-common cheeses like feta) and I love everything chocolate, especially white chocolate! Anyway, during my last week in Africa, as I was desperately craving real dairy, I was catching up on the blog of an adoptive mom who had spent several weeks in the Ukraine picking up her two little girls. Here's what she had to say... "Yes, for all of you who mentioned the yummy dairy here, you are so right. I am not such a fan of dairy, but this country sure does make excellent yogurt. Oh my goodness, and their white chocolate is to die for (not really). Chocolate is dairy too, right? And they make the best feta cheese I have ever had..." I just about jumped up off my bed and cheered! After four months of no dairy, it sounded like I was going to be heading to dairy paradise... I just love that God cares so deeply for us, even taking care of the little things.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Collecting Specific Items for Ukriane

Happy belated Canada Day to all you Canadians out there! Yesterday was my first time home for Canada Day since 2005 so I went to the parade and fireworks and did my best to be festive… :)

Anyway, people have been asking me if I am going to be collecting specific items to take with me for the children I will be working with in the Ukraine so I wanted to give you the information you need to know in order to help out in that way. I asked the missionary I will be working with about the needs that they have at this time and these are the specific items he requested…

- Good quality (like new) children's clothing
- Children's socks
- Children’s toothbrushes & toothpaste
- Children's multiple vitamins

Due to the fact that my own personal luggage will have to include both summer & winter clothing, coats, boots, etc. I will only be able to bring one extra 50-pound bag with me for donations. For that reason, I will only be accepting items from the above list. If I receive more than I am able to take with me, I will be donating the surplus to local organizations such as the Salvation Army, etc.

If you would like to donate any of these items or if you have any questions please e-mail me at ambassadoroflove@live.ca

The deadline to get these items to me is July 25th