God working in my life

A lot of things to process after 40 days in Ukraine. I want to say thank you for all your prayers for me, the teams, and the kids. You could just feel God working through all 3 camps and it was just simply amazing.
Spending time with the Ukrainian team was incredible. I consider them to be my second family and I already miss them so much. They are all amazing Christians searching for God’s will and willing to get down and dirty like the kids to show them Gods love. They have taught me a lot of things, just by their actions, attitudes, and willingness to do whatever it takes.
All three American teams were great! I have to admit, I had concers about them, but God had a plan. Each team worked out perfectly for each camp. It was increbile. I honestly don’t know why I worried because God’s got control of everyting. I am so excited about the new relationships that were created and the old ones that became stronger. I am so happy I was able to be apart of their journeys and I am looking forward to seeing how God is going to work in their lives back at home.
How God worked in my life during this 40 days was mind blowing. I learned a lot of things about myself, good and bad. Things that I know I need him to help me with and rely on him through everything. This trip I learned a lot about selfishness and how selfish I can actully be. It wasn’t about how much I didn’t want to leave or how much I was going to be hurt because of how much I miss them it was about Him and His work that I was doing and sometimes I failed to see that. I need to be able to let go of my selfishness and let God have control. After all, it’s not about me and my sucess, but about my faithfulness to him. He also taught me the strength in prayer and how many differet ways he answers them. There were many times when I just prayed and prayed and my prayers were answered which is an incredbile feeling. I also learned that I just need to give everything up to him, whether a situation with a kid or the simplest thing like learing Russian. I just need to give it ALL up to him. I should not worry because He has control, which is way easier said than done. I know that God is going to continue working in the lives of these kids and in my life. I am learning how to let go and let God, to not be selfish, to rely fully on him, and in every situation, wether at home or in Ukraine, to look for His will and to accomplish it. I am so grateful for the things he taught me and is still teaching me and just for this amazing opportunity to serve him by loving His children. I know this is what God wants me to do with the rest of my life and I am beyond excited to serve him.

Last Camp: Barvenok

The third camp was very different than the other two. The conditions were definitely worse and the kids were not motivated. This time I had 9-13 year old boys, kind of like I had in Krivoy Rog, but of course these boys were completely different.
Two boys from that camp to remember are Vasya and Roma! These boys just shined. There was really never a moment when I didn’t see them smiling, and when they would see me they would yell my name and run to me and give me a huge hug. They squezed me so hard sometimes that it actually hurt. When I first met Vasya, he was in all black and had one of his ears pierced. I thought he was going to be a rebel and not really listen during group and kind of shrug us off but I was soooo wrong. He was the sweetest kid with a huge heart. When I saw this in him, I knew he would be one of my favorites. One day I sat him down with Ira and we talked about his life and his relationship with God. His dad is an alcoholic and he has no idea if his mom is dead or alive. He’s been at the orphanage for two years which I think is tough. He is 12 years old and now he has to live in these crappy conditions that he didn’t know before but he has a good heart about it. When I told him a little bit about myself and some of the similiarities between us he opened up more. I told him I knew that what he’s going through sucks, but that God has a plan. And that there have been many times in my life where I have questioned God about what I’m going through and why I am going through it but in the end, God always comes through and is always there for me. After this Cody McMurrin came up and helped me talk to him about accepting Jesus. It was such an amazing experience to go step by step with someone in their walk to salvation. It was so exiciting and we got him a Bible which was awesome! I already miss him so much and seeing his smiling face whenever he sees me and tickeling him in the morning to wake him up. I am so excited to see how God works in his life.
Roma was such a cute kid with such a sweet heart. Him and Vasya were such good friends and spent every minute together. He was forever asking for my camera and taking really good pictures. Unfortunately, I was not able to talk to him about God, which I regret a lot, but I know that God is going to work in his life and maybe even use Vasya to do that. He was also always smiling and forever giving me a hug. I am so privileged that God gave me the opportunity to serve these kids. 

Vovkavinci for the 3rd time!

Vovkavinci for the 3rd time!
  My third trip to Vovkavinci and I fall in love with my kids even more. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely difficult and a faith challenging trip, but God opened doors for me. When we first got to the camp, neither of my two favorite kids were there. Sasha wasn’t coming back and Dima was away playing soccer till the next day. When all of this hit me at once, I was so surprised at how content I was with the situtation. There was a calmness in my heart, which definitely didn’t come from me, and I was ready to make new relationships with different kids. I knew that if my two boys weren’t there, there was a reason for it and I’m pretty sure that reason was to create new relationships.
  This time I was not in Dima’s group. I was in the oldest group which had mainly girls and 4 or 5 boys. This challenged me the first day. I was wondering if I should be in Dima’s group or if it would be better not to be. But I know now, there was a reason for me to be in the group I was in.
  The first couple days at the camp were difficult. Not just for me but for the whole team. It’s a very dark camp and most of the children come from the street. A lot of the kids feel like they have nothing to live for. They waste away their days going to the club, drinking, and smoking.. But by the grace of God, about 14 kids accepted Christ by the time we left.
One of them was in my group. His name is Yanick.
  I don’t think I have ever been as excited as I was to hear that someone accpeted Christ. Knowing that one person’s life had changed because of God bringing our team back to that camp, is mind blowing but around 14 kids? That’s a miracle. Yanick hadn’t been there the last 2 times I had been there because he had been at home visitng his mom and sisters. He has been at the orphanage for 6 six years and now he’s leaving. He wants to be a soccer coach and actually do something good with his life. I cannot wait to see what God is going to do in his life.
  Even though a lot of my time was spent playing volleyball with Yanick or just walking around finding a translator to talk to him about God, my relationship with Dima grew even stronger. When I first saw him I was so scared. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen and how he was going to act. Well, he kind of shrugged off the fact that I was back to see him and didn’t really talk to me the first 2 or 3 days. This, of course, bothered me but with God and prayer I got through it. I just let him have his space and eventually he got over whatever it was and warmed up to me again. Just being with Dima makes me happy. He is worth all the drama, all the layovers, the countless hours in the airport, and all the worries I have about him. You can see God working in him. Dima is trying so hard to be a Christian, but he doesn’t have the positive influence in his life that he needs. One kid told us that when our team leaves, their faith leaves as well. How sad is that? Dima wrote me a note and gave it to me by the end of the camp and it basically said that he is trying really hard to read the Bible and have a relationship with God but that’s it’s just really hard for him. I know God is inside his heart, he’s just having some trouble finding him and trusting in him completely.
  Vovkavinci will forever be my home and comfort zone in Ukraine. The kids there are family and the love that I have for them is undescrible. I cannot even imagine how much God loves them.