Wow. Three weeks ago today, I departed Nashville for a two-week journey to Ukraine. A year ago, if someone had asked me what I would be doing this summer, I probably would have told them a lot of awesome sounding things and would have likely said “I can’t wait to see what God is going to do,” but going to the other side of the world was not in the plan. The only explanation that I have for my experience in Ukraine is God. God put it on my heart, God put it onto people’s hearts to pay money out of their own pockets and bank accounts, and God organized it so that the rest of the team could all end up at the right place at the right time, so that He could do something awesome. God made it possible for me, a goofy, 19-year-old screw-up, to share my faith on another continent where I don’t even speak the same language as the people who live there. I went in thinking that God would do something great, but those two weeks far exceeded my expectations in every way.
Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into. I really didn’t know two of our American team members at all going in, and I had no idea what the mentors we were going to be working with were like. It was pretty great being able to become fast friends with the rest of the team, and I will not soon forget my experiences with them. After our arrival, we were informed that about 75% of the kids were going to camp so we were going to be left with about a quarter of what we thought we were going to have. This was discouraging to say the least, but God would soon show us that He can work with any number. The smaller amount of kids was an advantage in some ways because there was almost a one-to-one ratio of our team to the children. The amount of attention each one received was greatly increased and God was working in the circumstances. I don’t believe God controls every circumstance, but one thing God showed me is that He is working for the good in every circumstance. When life gives God water, He makes wine.
I kept a journal during the two weeks, and writing about my experiences and how God was working in those really helped see the glory of God. Here is an excerpt from my journal one night:
“God has certainly been working on me this week. I have experienced His presence in so many ways. I came here with so many expectations, and so many hopes of what it would be like, and nearly all of those have fallen through. God has shown me that He doesn’t follow an itinerary. I so often try and see where I can fit God into my planner for the day, but He should be my planner!”
-June 14th. 9:37 pm
I was so excited to see the work that God is doing over there. So many times my ego leads me to believe that I take God’s work here or there, but the truth is that God is already there, and He is at work, but He does give me the opportunity to live in his glory, and to join in the people already at work in the Kingdom.
God has blessed me so richly with this experience. I believe that sometimes we end up in places and situations that we would never expect to be in so that God can transform us into people that we would never become otherwise. God is always at work in our hearts and in the world around us. I cherish what God has done and is doing in my heart, and hope and pray that He will continue to mold me, so that I will live in Him all of my days.
“CHRIST IS ALL, AND IS IN ALL” (Col. 3:11b NIV)