A last day anywhere is sad, unless of course it’s the hospital or prison.
A last day in Vinnytsia is always sad.
There are so many wonderful people here. So many people to say ‘good-bye’ to. So many people to miss.
The last time I let Ukraine, I didn’t come back for 4.5 years. I would have never predicted that it would have taken that long to return. I know that everything happens in God’s timing and His perfect plan, but we are still left to wonder. Saying good-bye is still hard. And I still cry.
I think back on my last trip there. It was so different from this one. We were helping our friends Misha and Natasha lead an English camp for University students. We also did some orphanage ministry. It was a good trip. We met a lot of people. Our hearts were exposed to a lot. But when I left, the feeling I had was, ‘well, that was fun.’ We didn’t lead anyone to Christ. No one made any huge life altering decisions. We didn’t SEE any fruit. I guess I thought it should have been more… impactful? At least I expected to see the impact.
But you don’t always see it. And sometimes when you see it, it comes after a long time of waiting. This is what I am learning.
Yulya was a young girl who came to the English camp. She was quiet and reserved, but I felt drawn to her. I don’t remember any deep conversations we had. But I did remember her face. And I did pray for her. Michelle told me that she had gotten saved a few months after we had left. I was excited.
Over the years I heard her name in passing conversation. I wondered about her life and what God was doing. I never dreamed that God would give me more time with her. But He did. And this past week I got to see some beautiful fruit.
I know I have mentioned before how special it was having her translate for me. But I want you to understand. The last time we said good-bye there was no reason on earth that we should say hello again. Even after I heard that she had received Christ, I never imagined that God would cross our paths again.
But that is how God usually works isn’t it. And he usually waits until the last minute to let you know.
My friend Natasha was supposed to be my translator. I was so sad when I heard that she was not able to do it because of her back. And when I heard that Yulya was going to translate for us, I still didn’t make the connection. I don’t think it hit me until we were saying good-bye today.
She is such a precious young woman. Like each of us, God has walked her through some difficult times. But unlike a lot of us, she is persevering. And not only gritting her teeth through it, she is growing step by step through God’s power and grace in her life.
I was so blessed and encouraged by her presence and hard work. She had a hard job, talking for everyone, but she did is so well. We were like two dancers completely in sync, not missing a beat. That is so crucial, especially in this ministry. Communicating and being understood is so important. There is no room for mistake.
So I am encouraged, even though I am sad. Saying good-bye doesn’t always mean good-bye. It means see you later… and that is what have said so many times today. It’s not good-bye, it’s see you soon.