Greeting to readers around the world from Ukraine. I hope this Easter holiday has found you well, joyous and rejoicing in the.
Spring is FINALLY upon us. We’re eagerly awaiting the blossoming Sakura (Japanese Cherry Blossom) trees. I, Haley, am personally awaiting the return of my fiancé from America. It was his first time to see his family after sixteen years! And the first time being in my homeland.
Easter was highly anticipated in all of our churches. Kam’yanytsya service, in the village that I live, began at 7am, followed by a 10 o’clock service in Uzhgorod (the neighboring city) then to Perechyn city, where we serve and work with the Roma and followed by the afternoon service in Kam’yanytsya. Spending the day serving and praising the Lord with all of our hearts, souls and strength was amazing. In America we typically went for a quick, one hour service and then off to eat and hunt Easter eggs. But in Ukraine the service can run more than two hours. For some of you, you’re thinking that’s crazy and no one is listening.
But they are.
As I sat in the church I prayed and cried and cried and prayed over each and every heart. That the Holy Spirit would be pouring over everyone, anointing, recusing and redeeming us all. Though even as I prayed for this I did not expect to see an immediate change. Talk about being double minded.
Back up to the Good Friday service, and I witnessed a devoted member of our church taking communion for the very first time with tear filled eyes. Maybe this sounds like nothing, but it meant everything to me. To see that God has reached out and touched this member’s heart so deeply that they were lead to unashamedly admit to being sinful and remember the body and the blood of our savior.
Easter Sunday came and I headed to church with my soon-to-be father-in-law. He introduced me as his daughter-in-law and I saw people being excited to know me simply by my relation to him. Not because I myself am special but because he is. It reminded me of how people see something amazing in each of us because of our relationship to God almighty. That being a daughter or son is only significant when we consider who the father is.
In Perechyn the Roma and I all donned our nicest dresses. Nastya, the girls and I giggled and compliment makeup and hair and dresses. After only ten months of working closely together we already feel like family. I know these things seem oddly trivial, but they fill my entire heart. To be so intimately, deeply connected with one another in the name of Christ Jesus. Much like the first year in Lviv taught me that painting nails is a good opportunity to spread Christ’s love, in this new setting, shopping for deals on skirts and complimenting lipstick colors do the same. Regardless of how insignificant it seems.
Jesus came down from heaven to be one of us and work alongside us. I am doing my best to integrate here, but unlike Jesus I have it much easier. I am openly welcome and so lovingly invited into the homes and hearts of people.We worshiped our Lord outdoors. On the dusty ground with the sun beating down on us but our joy never wilted and our spirit’s did not falter. God has been good and with two little girls, sitting on my lap, belting out the chorus to a Roma worship song I have yet again discovered another part of Christ’s great love for us.These two little girls have actually agreed to be flower girls in my upcoming wedding. (Yay!)
I would have never planned this life for myself, even if you told me the rewards. I would have picked and chosen what I wanted like toppings on my froyo. I would have kept this glorious day and traded you the dark, and haunting winter months.
But we don’t get to do that in life, do we? We don’t get to keep the pretty pictures and burn the evidence of our bad days. And honestly I praise God for that. I praise God that even in my weakness and darkness and stumbling and pain, he has found beauty and something worth redeeming. That I would be so honored to hold these little girls hands and incorrectly, incoherently sing along with Easter worship. That I would get to be a part of it at all.
We have quite a few prayer requests for you all:
- For Braden Flannery-my four year old nephew who was recently diagnosed with stage 3 lymphoma. The tumor is currently surrounding his heart and crushing his lung.
- For Diana and Lilia-that with their upcoming cancer checkups the doctors would tell them they are in remission still
- For the church-our Church is in desperate need of remodel, repair and furnishing. We have a great dream to see this place expanded and open
- For our students-that their hunger to learn would never cease and that they would know the Lord in every moment
For our leaders- for wisdom, patience, kindness and understanding
Lastly I would like to thank our hardworking staff at Stoneworks. For holding my hand and navigating me through the financial reports and communication. I cannot thank you enough for your extreme patience.
For my partners at Stoneworks whose stories encourage and inspire me. Thank you this Easter for spreading the news of Christ.
For my family in Ukraine and in America for praying and loving me.
For my amazing supporters and friends who provide prayer and financial support to allow me to live here and do what we do with love.
For Nastya and Ruvim for their perseverance and patience with me when I’m more of a mess than a leader.
For you, for reading, loving, praying and standing with us.