Having been re-ticketed, and obtaining a flight approved car seat, we were excited to return home. Brianna had been wanting to see a few more sights in Kiev before we left, so Sunday night I gave the approval for some early tourist stops IF we could be all packed and ready to go the night before. As she seems to thrive with clearly defined outlines, she went to work as soon as we got home. She finished in time as we were already working toward that end and we all went to bed.
Throughout our whole stay in the Ukraine we managed to stay perfectly healthy except for the first week when a few of us had some tummy trouble. Tonight though a number of us had sniffles and runny noses- the onset of a cold. Our usual response to this is raw garlic (I know what you're thinking, but it really does work) and honey, so we all dosed up and prepared for the day ahead.
We woke up with a list of places to go that was within walking distance of our apartment and after having some more garlic & honey and breakfast thanks to Brianna. Some of the pictures are below, and it was a beautiful day to tour.
We needed to be back at 11:40 to be picked up by our driver but we accomplished all that we set out to do in good time. As we ascended the steps of the underground mall/subway, we approached a young man that I had noticed many times before in the same place. A beggar. He was bent forward, leaning on crutches and holding out a paper cup for money. Maybe 30 yrs old? I had always been puzzled by him, thinking he's young... why doesn't he just go get some help & get a job somewhere? I walked past him almost with disdain, not like all the other begging people who I simply just tried to avoid eye contact with. To some of these we would drop some grivna into their cups as we traveled. He seemed different though.
I don't remember all the events that happened next, but as we came up those stairs by him I stopped right in front of him, reached into my pocket and gave him whatever came out. I don't even remember how much it was, and I'm kinda glad I don't. His eyes met mine and I said to him the only words of hope in his language I knew "Esoos tebja ochen Ljubet" meaning 'Jesus loves you a lot' (thank you so much for giving me these words Anja!). Words came out of him that I couldn't understand but what was felt was sincere thanks. Maybe he had seen me before as well as we have traveled by him many times, thinking "those rich Americans... can't even spare a dime for someone truly in need". I felt a wall come down wishing for more that I could tell him, but neither of us able to communicate past our abilities. I pray for him, this nameless man that he would truly know Jesus, and how much He loves him.
We arrived at our apartment, and began to load up the van, but not without saying good bye to some friends who live there, leaving our leftover food (it's not as bad as that sounds) and a Russian New Testament. We drove away to pick up Heather and Helen saying good byes to apartments, subways, buildings places that we sadly may well never see again.
After gathering the ladies and the accoutrements, we hurried on to the airport, saying goodbyes to other places and things we had been familiar with over the last 7.5 weeks. Just prior, Heather got to express thanks to some of the hospital staff with New Testaments, and we left the Hospital and orphanage a gift of a brand new suction unit. Kindly our driver took us through McDonalds for an ice cream cone to finish the last leg of our stay in the Ukraine. Strangely, I remember arriving in Kiev in a very similar way.
As we got to the airport and went up to the desk, we were met by the Air France supervisor, who almost seemed as if she was expecting us. She helped us check bags, get our boarding passes and wheel us down the hall to our security check point where we would be on our own to get to the gate. This is where we said good bye to our dear facilitator Helen who had become much more of a friend and champion to us and Katia. Not without tears, we thanked her for ALL her tireless help beyond what was expected, gave her some gifts and said good bye. I'm sure we were more than she had ever anticipated, and wished could give her more to express our thanks. We will be staying in touch with our now dear friend.
I stepped forward with all the passports and documents for travel and presented them to the border control officer. A middle aged Ukrainian woman (Irina something), she looked through everything thoroughly and when she came to Katia's passport paused a little. She asked for the medical documents and birth certificate for her and I handed her a stack of papers wrapped in plastic. After sorting and finding what she needed she sat down and read. Having crossed the Canada/US border many times, one of the things you come to dread is the officer that takes much longer to do his job; and she was taking a long time. There was a page of Katia's conditions and medicines we were traveling with that was written out by hand by one of her Ukrainian physicians that she was combing through in front of her. I started to get a little warm, knowing we were holding up the line of people behind us, and anticipating questions in another language I couldn't answer, our Helen being out of reach. She started rubbing her eye, put the papers down and put her head in her hands. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, but I think this lady was crying! She didn't make any sounds but would not look up for some time. Eventually she gathered all our documents together and handed them back to me. Anticipating we were getting released, I started looking for one of the extra New Testaments in Ukrainian I had been given. I handed it to her, and in english said "it is a gift for you". She took it willingly, and I pray now that she will read it.
So many times I beat myself up that I didn't say enough when telling someone about my faith, or that I wish I could say some great truth when sharing the gospel. I know that I will probably always feel this way to some degree, but I read recently about Christ himself giving a testimony, and what it entailed:
Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before[d] Pontius Pilate made the good confession 1Tim 6:13
He didn't give a pat witness, and to me seems a little incomplete in content (compared to what I might say)as I look over some of these words of Christ. But what the scriptures don't say is what was already going on in the heart of Pilate, that Jesus spoke directly to that and made him be amazed and earnestly desire to free this man... even by his silence!
14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Matt 27:14
When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” 12 From then on Pilate sought to release him. John 19
I don't know what has been going on in the hearts of the people we got a chance to meet and speak to, but I pray we can be a part that will lead them to a vivid faith in God. I must be faithful to bring Jesus to them and His Words in times when I am unable to share more. I pray for good, lasting fruit in the lives of the people in Kiev!