Monday, May 28, 2007

Pray for Ukraine

I am back in Prague - and glad to be - but will my heart always be in Kyiv? Right now it is. You may or may not have heard of the recent political upheaval going on in Ukraine. You can get some good information and insight through the BBC news site - (click here for just one story, but they - of course - have many on Ukraine - )and through this blog my friend tipped me to -

I just remember standing on the streets of Kyiv during the Orange Revolution and being so full of hope. We were out there day and night, snow, cold...whatever. We were helping to hand out food, Bibles, Christian books...people were kind to one another, talking to one another...the streets were filled with protests and the "tent-city" but it was because the people were filled with hope! They truly believed things could change and that THEY could really make a difference.

This video by Maria Burmaka makes me cry when I see it now and think of how we felt then and how things seem now. But then I am reminded "from where comes our hope" - "from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth".

This summer will be a Franklin Graham Crusade in Kyiv, people will be coming from throughout Ukraine to hear the message of hope proclaimed once more. Please pray for Ukraine! Pray that people would come to know the saving grace of God, but also that Christians would stand up and once again protest! Not politically, but spiritually! That they would stand up against apathy, complacency and compromise and be on their knees before God and ask Him to once again fill Ukraine's people with hope! But not hope in a leader, or a political solution, but hope in God and His mercy. That Christians, filled by the power of the Holy Spirit would walk in righteous in their everyday lives so that it would be a wave that grows and grows and grows and eventually envelopes the country in righteous and the blessings that follow. Not through lobbying, etc. but through love, grace, mercy and the power of God's spirit.

I pray that there would come a time that NEVER again would I hear from or about Ukrainians, in response to questions as to"little sins" that "oh our people are just that way"...."its just our mentality"..."our pastors haven't taken a stand from the pulpit on this so people just don't know better"....I am not condemning Ukriane...I love Ukraine...and I still believe she and her people are better than such compromising answers! But these are the things I have heard from believers in response to questions about "little sins"...those "little foxes that ruin the vineyard".

And this isn't just Ukraine...this is all of us....myself first in line. Do we really think that little compromises won't eventually affect everything around us? Why is the Church in America so often weak and appearing no different than the world we supposedly claim to have the answer for? Could it be that we, the people of God, have lost our sense of holiness? I don't mean "don't do this, don't do that.." but rather a sense that what we do affects the whole picture. That we ARE a Body, interconnected spiritually and physically and that weakness, sickness, etc. sooner or later spreads to the whole body and affects us all.

Ok...Danny Foote may not give this rant an A+, but what is happening in Ukraine just touched a nerve in me that made me think of the bigger picture...

Ukrainians, my dear beloved friends, watch the video and remember and cry out to God to once again fill your country with hope...hope in God and His redemption! I am with you in my heart and soul...

Friday, May 25, 2007

"Take me to the river.."

I just returned from Ukraine where I attended our national conference, where once a year all of our sister churches throughout the country get together for a 4 day retreat outside of Kyiv. The highlight for me is always the baptisms.

Just as a marriage ceremony doesn't make two people love each other, it merely celebrates their love and declares it to others; so baptism doesn't save but merely makes a proclamation of faith to both the seen and unseen world and celebrates the passing from death into life for those who are in Christ.
And like a wedding, these times are filled with joy, celebration, music and love! (The only thing missing is the food!)

Here Pastor Alosha Satenko baptizes his daughter Marguerita. :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the Dumpster in Kyiv...

I haven't posted anything here in awhile, so although this is a weird subject, it's the only thing I knew I could get out without much thought. I just returned from a week in Ukraine (it was WONDERFUL...more on that later...with thought) and while I was there I had a funny trash incident. (I've actually had a lot of funny trash incidents in Ukraine, but that's another posting. :) Or for the sit-com, right Michelle? :)

After being a month in Prague I went back for the Calvary Chapel national conference and to gather up the rest of my things in Kyiv. (I could only bring so much with me in the car / on the train when I moved here).

But in a month you have to start buying can't wait a month for your can opener...for example. Also, now that I was actually out of Kyiv and had shed the tears, I realized that I didn't really need that half burned out candle with the wick broken off so you can't light it :) ...because although I had brought it with me when I first moved to Kyiv and as well as it still holding a great spicy, musky aroma it also held 8 years of memories of sitting by it's light (before the wick disinigrated) at holiday's with friends, during winter months to try and make a freezing flat more cozy, or in the morning hours as I read my Bible or prayed...that although it reminded me of all those things - it WASN'T all those things, but merely a touchpoint of those things. If I threw it away, I would still have the memories.

Fairly obvious for all of you, I'm sure, but for this confirmed pack rat, it was an epiphany. Long story short (if not already too late for that, ha!) I threw a BOAT LOAD of stuff out, gave even more away, and overall re-packed all my stuff to make it more compact and orderly for the eventual (God willing!) move here in the next month (I'm sure that's going to warrant a posting, too!) :)

ANYWAY...I'm throwing the last load in the dumpster and I see that this Babushka is going through the stuff I threw out earlier...only about 15 minutes before! In her hand she is holding a picture of me standing with some of my friends that used to work at the US Embassy in Kyiv, Peace Corp, other NGOs, etc. It is Christmas and we are at the US Ambassador's residence.

I just looked over and saw her holding the photo and said "Oh, that's my picture of my girlfriends and I. Please give it to me." She answered "Of course, with pleasure!"...handed it to me and I walked back to my waiting cab...said goodbye to my loyal friends that had brought me lunch and seen me off and rushed to the airport for my flight back to Prague.

I don't know why I thought this was post-worthy...just funny. Kind of surreal. :)

Here's something else that ended up in the dumpster once. :) This was actually just a joke as we were packing up to drive from Kyiv to Hungary for my initial move here. Spot didn't think it was quite so funny and meowed fairly pitifully while I took the picture. :)

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I have been priviliged to meet some of the most amazing people over the years. I count that as one of the biggest blessings in my life. Kind, smart, talented, educated, accomplished, interesting, thoughtful people... truly they leave me humbled and blessed that I know them.

Eunhyong and her husband Yong are two of those people and I will write more about both of them later, but today is about Eunhyong.
She has gone back to Korea to await the birth of their first child and Yong is still here persevering in torturous Czech langauge studies! (I start in a few weeks! yikes!)

I didn't know Eunhyong for much time, but I am so glad we met here in Prague. Before she left she had some of us over for a traditional Korean feast! It was incredible and there will be more on that later. But for now, here is a poem I wrote for Eunhyong. It is meant to be about three things: Their anxiously awaited baby, our friendship with Yong and Eunhyong, and God's love for their little family. Emily Dickinson I am not, but it was fun to have the inspiration of this sweet woman to motivate me to write a poem. I miss you, Eunhyong...your sweet smile and your laugh. :) Praying for you and the baby, and for Yong, while you are apart.

Cherry Blossom Petal
The palest pink
Barely there,
but - Oh so there!
Full and sure and glowing
overflowing with the bloom of spring.

And in this bloom
the seed of love -
by Heaven’s plan and Man’s desire –
waits quietly,
its beauty yet unfolding.

Hold fast – Oh Little One!Hold tight – you Tender Gift…
Hold to the Tree of Life.
Its root is deep.
Its soil rich and fertile.
She will not let you stumble.
He will not let you fall.

Winds will blow,
and seasons shift…
your time is yet to come.
Through it all,
that you may know –
as the petal to the bloom,
as the bloom to the tree –
your life in us
and ours in you
for all eternity

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

WHAT: ministry examined

As usual, "Preface Woman" that I am, this is actually a very long preamble to "WHAT" (as in what I am doing here in Prague!) which will come at the end of this posting. Then in my next postings I'll move on to WHO, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW... in some sort of coherent order :)

But for now, I had a few thoughts about "ministry" and WHAT the heck it is. :)

As I mentioned earlier, as far as "program" ministry, we only have a Monday night Bible study at this point. But that is not to say that we are not busy! :)

I remember a long time ago I spoke to a short-term missionary in Ukraine that said that she was just "so bored!" in Kyiv because there was no ministry to do! All of us misisonaries who were there were swamped! I knew right away that probably Kyiv wasn't the place she was called to. :) Why? Because she wasn't "good enough"? No way! But because when God has "called" you to a place....whether through circumstances beyond your control or those of your choosing based on what you perceive to be His leading...and whether that be your family, your classmates, your workmates, your neighbors or complete strangers and foreigners as we foreign missionaries experience....whatever the situation, when you are there you see needs all around you!

You see the student who seems to struggle just to get out of bed in the morning and you wonder what is going on at home...just as my dad saw some of his students during his years as a teacher. You see someone lying in their hospital bed without a single visitor, no family members, no church members, no co-workers, and you feel helpless and sad for this person...just as my mom saw many of her patients over the years. You see your co-workers function at work burdened down by the baggage at home. You see your neighbors wrestling to keep peace at home, or food on the table or....whatever. You see these things. You see people...and you feel something. Anger. Hurt. Pain. Loss. Frustration. Guilt. Responsibility. A desire to help.

***Side-tangent on feelings...
(Not all the feelings are good, not all are pleasant and not all are "right" my vocabulary that means factually lining up with the reality that I know to be true through the revelation revealed in Scripture. All feelings are "real" and are not to be denied. But not all feelings are true and therefore not to be necessarily followed or used as a basis for decision making. ) ***Back to our regularly scheduled programming. :)

In my opinion, when those feelings line up with the facts of Scripture and you do something...whether it be have compassion, pray, give a cup of cold water, baby-sit for someone, say a word kindly, go the extra mile...THAT is ministry. :) I absolutely LOVE that the word for ministry in Russian is taken from the root word of "to serve". So ministry is serving. :)

Serving up forgiveness instead of bitterness. Serving up grace and mercy instead of judgement and hate. Serving up generousity instead of stinginess and greed. Serving up patience instead of selfishness. These are the ministries I am interested in. These are the ministries I want to see in my life. And they are happening all around me. :) Many of my friends and acquaintences who have "day jobs" :) are involved in more ministry than those of us who have made the work of the Gospel our vocation. (I still say that parenting HAS to be the hardest ministry in the world!)

Yes, of course, there are unique callings and giftings....teaching the Bible, praying for people with the knowledge of God's heart and with the insight of the Holy Spirit, using the gifts of the Holy Spirit to encourage, heal, proclaim truth, correct, discern, etc...these are things usually unique to the Church, but definitely not necessarily exclusive to vocational ministers (such as myself).

"SO-o-o-o" are thinking "WHAT the heck are you doing? Wouldya' get on with it already, Cara?" :)

I am spending a LOT of time letting God do some pretty intense filing of rough edges off of me. :) These are coming about through a lot of prayer, fasting, worship, meditation on God's Word as well as human instruments in my life. It is all good. :) So this is ministry. Ministry to God.

I am spending a lot of time getting drinking tea, listening, talking and just getting to know the girls in our fellowship. :) And as I get to know them I see needs. Hurts. Lies from satan believed and the damage done in their lives. Lies of God's inability to heal, to protect, to defend. Lies of unworthiness to be loved. And God has blessed me to be able to pray with them, share TRUTH with them, see Him heal them. This is ministry.

I am spending a lot of time learning about my team and how God has made them. How can my gifts and skills bless them? Encourage them? Enable them to do what they have been called to do more fully? This takes time. Patience. Grace. Communication. They have given me all of these things. :) This is ministry. For all of us. And I think God is pleased. "Behold how good and pleasant it is when the brethren dwell together in unity". :)

As far as more conventional things...we had a "tea" with the girls recently. I think Martha would have been proud. See it all on our team blog at I just today taught a few English classes and when each class member went around the room to say about themselves...after the ladies had said about their jobs and families, my one male student said about his work then said "and I have no family anymore. My daughter is in London somewhere and I haven't talked to her for 5 years and my son is somewhere here in Prague and I don't know where." :( Please pray I might somehow encourage him. I might somehow show him God's ability to heal in even the most hopeless situations. We will start a girl's Bible study next week and I am looking forward to that! Please keep that in prayer, too!

Ok...enough of this epic blog, more soon...shorter....I promise. :) LOVE you all!