Last week, in our quest to find a space for our family this coming year, Deb and I visited a couple of available rental properties in the Cluj area. As a larger family, finding houses or apartments that have more than two bedrooms isn’t that easy. Cluj is also an expensive city, second only to Bucharest in Romania for cost of living. We had a team from the US coming for 5 weeks the next weekend, so with a looming timeline, we weren’t exactly panicking, but we were definitely praying!

We ended up looking at only three places, the third place was like a miracle for us. Firstly, it was plenty large enough for our needs with 3 bedrooms plus a basement apartment which initially was going to be rented separately but the landlord changed his mind and included it. Secondly, the price was $250 more than we have budgeted, so we offered what we could, and it was accepted. Thirdly, its perfectly, for us, outside the city but close enough (10 minutes by car) to the center where we have regular meetings. Fourthly, I’m not sure why I’m numbering these, but the owner couple are super nice, down the street, and speak english really well having lived a few years in the US themselves. Finally, the views, stunning, inspiring, and both Deb and I are genuinely thrilled to have space to walk, pray, and I even have an office, something we were also hunting for separately for both my own work and Deb’s spiritual directing.

So thank you God for caring for us, and blessing us so specifically. We, for the first time since the war began, feel ‘at home’. It’s a strange feeling. Last year was so chaotic, and jarring for everyone, everything just felt like a dream, one that you want to wake up from. After our time in the US this past winter, we started to sense not only that our family won’t be fully returning to Ukraine even if the war ended tomorrow, but that this coming season God was opening doors for us to re-root, and begin a new chapter.

New chapters are scary. When you are young, at least for us, new chapters were fun, exciting new adventures. As we approach 50 years in this journey, we’re taking stock more carefully to number our days, to live more intentionally into the present moments, seeing them for just how precious they are. Less is more, we don’t have former grandiose visions of saving the world for Jesus, we are increasingly content (Deb more than I admittedly) with going deep in relationships with fewer, investing in what’s in front of us, rather than potentialities. We still have vision, but the vision is related more to being shaped by God’s love, and being more vulnerable, more true, more integrous and whole than it is what we can do outwardly with our skills and talents.

Anyway, we found a home. We’re renting it for the next 11 months, and have no idea what this coming year will entail exactly, and what God has for us, but we’re grateful for the friends, neighbors, and coming season with our 4 youngest, who are growing up fast and journeying through change with us. We’re also really happy to have Broderic and Kristin just across town, at the guest house. Hopefully they will be able to raise enough support by the fall for their own place. We’ll be, Lord willing, releasing that space as we transition away from refugee care to new things in Romania and Ukraine.

As much as we relish the new space, having been here now just a few days, we don’t relish the visa process. In Ukraine, we didn’t have to worry about visas for the past 10 years as we have permanent residence there. In Romania, it’s back to the drawing board for us. We have to leave the country this week, to Hungary by car, and return with new stamps to begin the process again for another year as ours expire on May 1. Tomorrow night, Clark may have to stay overnight as did Broderic for their visas at the mall, to make sure we can be seen Wednesday morning at immigration. We hope and pray all goes well, in the next 24hrs we’ll need to get insurance, health certificate, pay for stamps and lawyers, then if all goes well, drive on the weekend to Hungary.. it’s a bit risky that we’re leaving, we could be denied entry back into Romania, as the law is not so clear in our case. Such is life with visas, a throw back to our early days in Ukraine.

Next week there is a story being published with Radio Free Europe on our family. I’ll post it here. I want to try and write more and blog again now that I have a stable place, with stable internet. I thought I should at least give thanks, and if you read our blog still, say thank you as well for praying, supporting us, we are so thankful for the friendships and ways God has provided for us through the past 17 years, or however long its been.