This past week, our family hosted a 4-day camp in the Carpathian Mountains. Locating next to Ukraine in central Romania was something I felt was important when the war first broke out and we were determining where to go. Being just 3-4 hours from a few of Ukraine’s borders has proven useful for serving transiting and refuge seeking Ukrainians. It was nice to hop in our van and spend only 8-9hrs total and be with our friends, versus the 16-20hr jaunt it takes from our home base south of Kyiv. Our friends took trains, buses and met us there. For some, it was the first time they’ve been away from home since the invasion, and was a deep, meaningful time for us all.

I enjoyed watching the kids, each day, get up bright and early with a sense of play, and anticipation for the day. They all really bonded well, and it blessed my heart to hear them all laughing, and talking in Ukrainian again. There were some cats and kitties about, so Claire was in her glory trying to grab hold of one, if they let her.

We’re now all back, and about to head for a week, just Deb and I, to an isolated, warm place. It’s been over 2 years since we’ve been away, just the two of us for some R&R. We really look forward to it, yet, there’s a nagging sense of guilt, which accompanies missionaries more than most ‘vocations’, that we shouldn’t rest, or take care of ourselves. I am learning that nagging sense is rooted in a false way, an unhealthy part of me that cares too much what people might think. I’m thankful to get away, thankful in light of my dear friends who can’t. We rest and take intentional steps to bond, reflect, pray, sleep, because we embrace our limitations, and trust in Jesus to restore us that we may enjoy more rewarding fruit.

I don’t like leaving our little girls. They are a treasure, and without family here we’re entrusting them to the oversight of some of our female friends here. The boys are old enough technically to watch them, but watch is about it, they are so easily lost in their worlds, still lacking in maternal instincts 🙂 So Lord watch over our girls, and allow Deb to drink deep of some solitude and prepared food, no dishes, and nearness of the Spirit.

When we return, we’ll be back for just a week before Deb heads off to Spain to complete her final bend in her spiritual direction course. She’ll be 10 days there, with her friends she’s journeyed with for the past 2 years, then back for a week with us in Romania, then we’re off to the US. It’s an autumn of travel, and leads us into a winter of unknown, sort of.

In December we’ll be at our house in PA, connect with our older kids, head up to Canada to see my parents -the first time we’ve been back for 2-3 yrs, all the covid nonsense finally lifted so we’re looking forward to seeing my brother’s families, parents, and extended family for a short visit, and mother’s cooking of course 🙂 Then we’ll head down to Florida 2nd week of January for a week with Deb’s side, and a 50th anniversary gathering for her parents. It’s one of those events you feel won’t happen again, everyone is growing up, families developing families, life just evolves so quickly doesn’t it? We hesitated before changing all our plans to head back to the US this winter, but then realized this is truly a once in a lifetime type gathering, to honor and bless Deb’s parents.

Deb and I have decided to step down from Mir this past month. We stepped into this director role sort of without thinking about it. A charity is a huge blessing to have as a missionary, until it isn’t. Swamped in life over here, and still wearing the hat of US responsibility and vision became a burden this past year. We sense change, deep life chapter type of change and we’re still not entirely certain where we will land, and what we’ll be doing, and when. Yet, we feel peace, after a lot of wrestling, that the Lord has been growing us, forming us, to bring something meaningful in this new season. Regardless of the Ukraine situation, our roles have changed, and we now come alongside more, serving from underneath, resourcing, listening, praying with.. We came away from this retreat with deep gratitude that the Lord indeed takes care of the seeds, the investments of love and friendship. All is not lost inside Ukraine, just changing, and we can trust the divine orchestration of the Spirit.

In the meantime, we have a lot of travel coming up, and decisions unfolding. Thankful for life, and the goodness of God all around us, in us, and emerging even in spaces of suffering in Ukraine.