Our hearts are heavy with the continued uncertainty in Ukraine. We’ve postponed our return trip now twice. Our return tickets are currently planned for this next weekend. Will we return? Just myself? How can I be the most useful to the Lord? Things only look to be intensifying and I can’t imagine taking our family back until we see signs of stability.

We’ve run across several missionaries on this trip down the east coast, and receiving texts through the day from friends seeking the same sort of ‘inside scoop’ that will allow us all to get back to living.

It’s been quite disorienting for many of us who are used to planning more than a week at a time. Clark, our 16yr old said the other day something that hit home for all of us, “I just want to get back to living.” We may look and talk like Americans, but after spending 14yrs in Ukraine, we feel quite at home in Slavic culture. You’d think we’d embrace a seeming unending ‘vacation’ here, but our lives are suspended in the air, and it’s becoming more challenging by the day.

Until then, for us missionaries, it’s like we’re a bunch of airplanes unable to land, without a runway assigned. We’re each learning to trust in the Lord in the present moment, each day, in fresh ways. All the while, our hearts just want to land, be home, and do life with those we love and are investing in together.

It sounds shallow compared to those in Ukraine right now, without any options to head to safety, whatever that is. Their lives are not only on hold as well, but the immanent ‘doom’ that is the nature of fear, is very real. We can pray, we can trust the Lord knows our plight, but there’s a place of faith, of deciding what to do for our families, and ministries we are stewards of. God has made us each in His divine image, with the capacity to will to the left, or right. We listen, we ask, we knock, but we must move our faith into the realm of the material world, and trust the goodness of God that He will grant us the capacity to listen well, and move in wisdom. These decision for many are being made, I read about them, I know many of them, I feel for them deep in my heart. They are not easy, they are not all the same.

Holding patterns. This is part of the evil of war, and the threat of it. The unknown, the uncertainty. Lives upended, rhythms altered. Will we return to our known? Will we gather once again with those we love, in the living rooms we laughed and cried together in? Will we know the peaceful walks in our neighborhoods, the same sunsets? We take these questions for granted in times of stability, but when the parameters of our reality are pressed upon, out of our control, we’re forced to reckon with our faith in new ways.

We are sojourners, but if we’re honest, do any of us really want to be? Yes, our homes are eternally in the heart of God, but this present world is precious, revealing the aroma of heaven in our places of community. Those relationships, and the symbols we value together, are the closest thing we have on earth as it is in heaven. We hold out hope that we will soon be back in those blessed, imperfect spaces.

Until then, we encircle in these holding patterns, actively trusting, willing, yet uncertain.