We are in Odessa. Cindy has been busy in trip preparations and getting connected with Katya so I (Bill) am going to write my first post. If I was on one of the homeschooling boards, I guess this post would be titled: “First Post from DH (DH = “Dear Husband” – though all who know me are aware that I am not always so endearing).
We had a great night’s rest in Kiev and a leisurely breakfast Sunday morning before heading out to the airport. Our flight to Odessa went very well and we were met at the airport by Katya and our translator/facilitator, Lilya.
We were then settled in a very comfortable apartment in the middle of Odessa, a short distance from the Black Sea.
Yesterday (Tuesday: Day Two in Odessa) we visited with Kayta’s grandmother (Tamara) at her home and then took her out to lunch and visited a nearby park. It was a beautiful time of connection with this dear woman – particularly between her and Cindy.
In the afternoon we came home for some rest and down-time before heading back out on a walking tour of the old part of the city and our first walk along the port and the Black Sea.
We are very blessed by this experience and God is teaching us new and deep things about his love for those who are helpless and needy. I was reminded of a quote from Henri Nouwen which I ran across recently. Henri Nouwen was a brilliant and decorated scholar at Harvard, but left that job in 1986 to work a L’Arche in Toronto, where mentally handicapped persons and their assistants live together in community according to the gospel. Nouwen remarked about the people whom he served:
“If they express love for you, then it comes from God. It’s not because you accomplished anything. These broken, wounded, and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self—the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things—and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments.” (Henri J.M. Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus (New York; Crossroad, 1993), 27-28)
I am thinking of little Katya who is sleeping in the room across the hallway from me right now.
She is so full of life, and yet I wonder what fears lie inside her young heart? She can’t speak our language. She has experienced abandonment by her mother and father, and is likely experiencing some of that we her grandmother. She will experience it again when we leave on Sunday. She does not eat well and is not in the best health. She is shy and likely takes some level of ‘abuse’ from the kids at the orphanage. And she faces an uncertain future in a foreign land she has only visited briefly on two different occasions. Yet, that sleeping child is teaching me (and our family) how to “let go of [our] relevant sel[ves].” She has become God’s means of leading us into a deeper knowledge and experience of other-world love that comes down from heaven. In Philippians 2 Paul wrote about this love:
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Please pray for us to receive deeper wisdom, insight, and revelation about this love. I need it so desperately in the deep parts of my soul. I was meditating this morning on Proverbs 2:10 in which the writer talks about a times when “wisdom will come into [one’s] heart.” So, pray that this will happen as we pray, serve, love, and meditate upon God’s word. Pray particularly for me as a man, who is naturally selfish and wired to accomplish tasks, missing the higher prioriy of love and relationship.
We treasure this experience and are immensely grateful for those of you who have sacrificed in order that we might be sent.
P.S. – For a slide show from DayTwo go to the following link (note, it will take a few minutes to download this file to your computer – I haven’t figured out how to stream files from this account.): files.me.com/finleyman/764k27.mov