This morning I rushed home through the mud after walking Addy and Ezra to school, in a hurry to study up on my Russian prepositions before our language teacher arrived for our lesson. Jed and I sat at the kitchen table, sipping coffee and quizzing each other on the genitive case, while attempting to keep Seth out of the snack cupboard. It was all very romantic and life-saving. Not. Hehe.
Oh we have those glorious moments that we expected- like the moment when Jed walked in to the Romaniv orphanage and saw one of our bedridden darlings sitting up in a wheelchair for the first time in at least a year. We have those times when things are really clicking at Mission to Ukraine (MTU) and we know we are meeting a need that really helps their organization. But, honestly, those are not the majority of our moments these days. The majority of our moments these days are plodding along with language so we can at least speak coherently with two-year olds. J We have many moments of attempting to talk with the other moms while waiting to pick up their kids from school, moments of chatting with Babushkas (and pretending to understand all they say after realizing they don’t understand that I don’t understand) at church, moments of having Ukrainian friends over to our house to eat and live life together, moments of cutting out shapes for the MTU preschool class, moments of trudging through our muddy streets and moments of cramming for our Russian lesson…many moments of normal life. Yet we remember that each of our lives is made up of many normal moments- all accumulating to form this one life we’ve been given.
These moments, this time of digging deep into Ukrainian culture, loading our brains with Russian verbs and prepositions, and relationship building is all forming the foundation of Wide Awake in Ukraine. Who looks at the foundation of the house when it’s all built and looking pretty? Not many people care to look at the foundation, yet it is the most important element of that house. Who cares if the house boasts a sweet exterior paint job and a perfectly manicured lawn if the foundation is crumbling? Yikes. Things might be fine for a while, but when the wind starts to blow or hard times come, the foundation, the things unseen will be what bears the weight.
The dream God has put in our hearts for Ukraine’s most vulnerable is not a quick dream. It’s not a dream that can be accomplished lickety-split and we’re out. We are well aware that this dream seems rather impossible, and actually IS rather impossible without our God. Ukraine is not ripe for this dream, yet God called us here for this time in space, so here we are. We know that even now He is softening hearts and opening minds. We actually see Him paving the way and clearing obstacles from our path. It’s crazy. This is a dream that may take the rest of our lives. If so, so be it. Here we are Lord.
With the long-term in mind, we focus on the foundation: language, relationship, trust, cultural awareness. We’re digging in deep here and trusting God with the results. As much as we’d love to just walk up to the laying room of the nearest orphanage and ask them to hand over their sickest, we also see what a disaster that would be. So we do the next thing. We work on being FULLY present in our town and with the people in front of our faces. We learn Russian and Ukrainian though our brains threaten to combust. We learn to love the Ukrainian people and work to find out how they see the Gospel.
Picking out paint colors will be fun someday. Our hearts yearn for that day. But for now, we dig the foundation. Thank you for joining us and helping us tackle the “unseen”. It’s all the more beautiful a journey because of your love and support.
Kim Johnson is a Co-founder and currently winning at the language acquisition race at the Johnson house.