I wanted to give an encouraging word to you in this brief account of how we fared financially. Many of you contributed hard earned money to help us travel and provide for Katia while we were in the Ukraine. Seeing some of these gifts come in was humbling, as I know it must have stretched your finances. Knowing this made us very cautious in how we spent overseas, and that this money wasn't really ours to spend any way we wished. However, we did our best not to be wasteful as we knew we were to be good stewards of this money.
While we were abroad, all the money that we were given to us was carried on our persons (in concealed fanny type packs) all the time. It felt a little disconcerting to carry so much money with me at one time, especially knowing we kinda stood out as foreigners in almost every way and could be an easy target. I was constantly aware of my surroundings and alert.
In the back of my mind I would often wonder, so what would happen if we ran out of money over here? Prior to coming we had carefully estimated how much meals, lodging, and fees would be. This was at best though an estimation, and Helen was able to give us some good advice here. Still, day to day I wondered. Our first apartment was more than we calculated and the second was more in the range we were looking for. Cooking our own meals helped saves some dough (yes I intended that) and thankfully when we did have to eat out, one of our favorite restaurants was very reasonable, feeding all of us for about $15. Still I wondered, and we kept daily records of what we spent and what we had left, writing them down in a little book. This was a great exercise for us, and felt like we knew the "state of our flocks" very well.
Fast forward to when we landed back in the US, I hadn't had a chance to do the accounting for the last 2 days of travel, but I was telling a friend at dinner that I wouldn't be surprised if we were within a couple hundred of what was allotted for the trip. When I finally got to add up what was left, after re-imbursing a friend who had purchased some things we needed, we were within $5. Five dollars (I'd be happy to show anyone our little book if you're interested)! This took into account our pediatric doctor visit when we returned, but was pretty amazing to me to realize this. We started out with about $12,000 when we first set off. I thanked the Lord for not having to be in a place of need while overseas, and for answering our prayers for help and provisions to do what He called us to. He is so good to us, so faithful! God had precisely calculated every dollar given by every person for this trip. It became evident to me that no one gave more than they needed to and to those who gave a little, it was just as necessary.
So, please know we are grateful to you all, and words fall short in expressing our gratitude. You played a vital part in bringing this little girl home and you speak the gospel to the world as loudly as any of us do (see verses below). God will (and maybe already has) supplied all your needs, just as He has (and is supplying) ours. The gifts you have given will not leave you short, but will bring fruit, if not now, in the future. This is our prayer for you... a bountiful 'horn of plenty' spilling out for you in every possible way in your lives from God Himself!
You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (2 Corinthians 9:11-15 ESV)