To fully grasp the awesomeness, read Part 1 here.
On Christmas morning Jed and our friend Oleg headed over to Pastor Pavel’s office to start working on the invitation letter. The goal was to get that letter written and submitted to the Ministry of Culture before December 31st so our letter *hopefully* wouldn’t end up on the bottom of someone’s stack once the offices opened back up after the New Year. Like I said before, the Ministry of Culture “generally” takes about 3-4 weeks to write their letter of approval, and January is FULL of holidays in Ukraine. New Year is the big deal here, then they celebrate Christmas on January 7th, then there is some other kind of celebration on the 13th…so time was not really on our side.
Jed and Oleg sat down with Pavel and got started on the letter. Then Pavel remembered he had a friend at the Ministry of Culture. “Let’s call him and make sure we’re doing this right.”
Well, he called up his friend and the friend told them to just come on over right then and he would help with the letter. In Ukraine, if you get an invite from a government office to “just come on over” you better snatch it right up because it might never come again! 😉
They got in the car right then and drove over to the office. Remember this is the office where our invitation letter would be submitted for approval (which could then take several weeks). Pavel’s friend proceeded to help them rewrite the letter to make it worded the best way possible and then decided to just write the approval letter right there and then. I mean, they were sitting right there…why not? HA! He wanted to make sure he got it all right so he called in the man who provides policy clarification for the Zhitomir region. Every region interprets the laws differently here, so this guy is key to our visa success. Policy-clarification guy comes over and helps them finish the letter of approval. While that’s being written he suggests they just write all the letters we’ll need when we come back from getting our visas. Remember once we leave the country to get our visas and return to Ukraine we have 45 days to “register” with the local offices. That registration includes lotsandlotsandlots of documents. Well, Pavel’s friend just sat right down and proceeded to write every single document for our registration that could be made ahead of time. WHAT THE WHAT??????????? I’m gonna estimate that that act right there saved us approximately 57 trips to the office + 58 hours of headache. Jed was sitting in that office holding back tears, astounded at the goodness of God.
Once all the letters were written and stamped Pavel’s friend said he would hand-deliver them to the lady in the office who gives the final approval. “Otherwise it may take weeks. I’ll just ask her to approve them today.” He walked out of the room to her office, but she wasn’t available. No worries, he left the papers with her with her word that she would inform us as soon as they were signed.
All of this took several hours and several cups of tea and coffee in the government office. Four people spent their whole day going above and beyond to help us. Our friend Oleg told Jed “This just does not happen. All the right people being available and in the same place, willing to help is like a one in a million chance in Ukraine.”
Two days later we got a call that ALL the letters were signed, stamped, approved, and ready to be picked up. A process that should have taken 3-4 weeks took exactly 3 days. Not to mention all the documents we’ll need later on that are already done. That will help us tremendously when we return with our visas! God’s care for us is astounding. I don’t even know why we were shocked by this, I mean this has been His way with us along this whole journey. He has been over-the-top faithful at every point.
This miracle has a second part that is just icing on the cake. So, way back when, in like August of 2012 some friends and I were advocating for an orphan here in Ukraine named “Heath”. Remember that? Heath is now home with his family in Texas (AND I got to meet him in person in Kiev last month!) but during that advocating time I “met” another woman, Sandra, who was fiercely advocating for Heath. Funny thing is, she was advocating for him all the way over in Switzerland at the same time as us in Oregon. We became online friends bound by our mutual love for Heath and the fatherless. Sandra has been a big encourager to us as we prepared and moved to Ukraine. One time she mentioned how awesome it would be if we would come to Switzerland at some point to share about Wide Awake at her church. I thought “Oh yeah, that would be cool, but it’s not like we’d ever just randomly be able to pop on over to Switzerland!
Fast forward to this past fall. Sandra emailed and said that she talked with her pastor, and the leadership of the church was interested in hearing more about Wide Awake and they would pray about supporting us as a church! We gave them letters describing Wide Awake and they voted to take us on as a ministry to support! Well, guess what just happens to be in the same city in Switzerland as Sandra and her church? A UKRAINIAN CONSULATE! Soooooo, with documents and passports in hand we will head to Switzerland in a couple of weeks to obtain our visas, visit Sandra, and share Wide Awake at her church! Are you kidding me???? God, you are too ridiculously amazing. Why are we your favorites????? 😉
Did you know that you’re His favorite too? My dad taught us that we are each God’s favorite. If there was no one else in the entire world He still would have sent His Son JUST FOR YOU. Maybe 2013 was a really hard, painful, and trying year for you. Maybe you ended 2013 feeling forgotten by your Father in Heaven. Maybe you have no clue what I’m talking about. Let me just tell you that 2014 is a time for you to discover or re-discover God’s great love for you. You are His favorite! You are not forgotten. Consider the children in Ukraine that He sent us to love. They lay in cribs, limbs stiff and contorted, lame from lack of use. Some have never felt the grass on their feet, never felt the sun on their face. By all appearances, they have been completely forgotten by God. How could a good God allow that kind of suffering? Guess what? He’s not allowing it. He loves them and cares for them so deeply that He uprooted our family, comfy in our middle-class wealth, and planted us right here to devote our lives to their care. We are no great gift. I’m not saying we’re are the answer or that we’re super special, I’m just sharing how we get to be a part of God’s demonstration of love to them. Each of those is His favorite- NOT forgotten.
You are not forgotten. God has good plans for you. All you have to do is say Yes to Him. Living for yourself will only bring disappointment. Let 2014 be a year of YES. You will not regret it.