So I’m sitting here and I can’t seem to find words to express my emotions. I can’t believe we are on the last few days here in Ukraine. This trip has been such a roller coaster of emotions to say the least.
Even after being here for almost a whole week it still seems surreal to me that I am actually here. This trip has been on my heart from the minute I heard about it last year, and ever since, I have anxiously been counting down the days. In the months leading up to the trip I think I experienced every emotion I could. And as we got closer to our departure date I became more nervous and more anxious. I was also extremely scared with everything happening in Ukraine, turkey, and Russia.
I am sitting here at McDonald’s (of all places) waiting for the van to come pick everyone up from our ‘fun night out’ with our new Ukrainian friends; I can’t help but smiling at this beautiful mess that God has created. No amount of planning or descriptions could have prepared me for how much I have been changed.
I’m trying to choose a story to help give even the slightest glimpse of the way the Lord has been moving here in Ukraine, and it is close to impossible to just choose one.
I could tell you how much love we have been shown as soon as we stepped into the airport in Kherson and then the church. And that is nothing compared to the love we have received from our host families.
My home is with Mama Valia and sister Dasha. I have never experienced such selflessness or kindness in my entire life. My family has gone above and beyond to make Summer and me right at home. Walking into the house the first night We were given slippers to make sure our feet stayed warm. Dasha makes all of our meals and won’t let us help with any cleanup. Our outfits are checked each morning before leaving for the day to make sure we are dressed warmly enough- which we never are- so we are always having to add extra coats and scarves. Mama Valia even makes midnight pharmacy runs when needed for my stomach. (Which is an extremely fun experience to try to translate into Ukrainian stomach issues… Trust me on this one). My favorite part of the day is eating dinner at home and then cuddling up with Dasha and Summer and talking until mama tells us to go to bed.
I could talk about our days in the clinics, villages and hospital. Some days were busier than others, but each day we were able to see God work. In Ukraine, the average time a patient gets with a doctor is 7 minutes. Patients were completely surprised when the team spent time with each patient and then prayed for each one. These patients were so appreciative when sometimes all we could do was listen to them through our incredible interpreters [my interpreter Anton is amazing. He is going to be such a great doctor] as much as we wanted to help, we didn’t have to tools or medicine that everyone needed. I haven’t felt so helpless in my nursing career as I have over here. I will never again take for granted the facilities, equipment, medicine that we have in our American hospitals.
One final story to share: after clinic in one village one day we went to the local church and had our lunches prepared by the pastors family. Before we ate, the medical team went to use our hand sanitizer, and the pastor’s wife gestured that she would wash our hands. She had gone to the well to get us clean water to pour over our hands while we rubbed them with soap. As she poured clean water over a big basin for each team member, I remember being at such a lose. It may have been the most humbling experience of my life.
As you can see, I could write for days and days, and show you every picture that was taken, but none of that could ever accurately depict how much of God’s love was shared this week. I have been shown time after time that God has a bigger plan for me through my experience here. I feel I was placed in my host family because of only reasons He knew about so that I could also experience His love and healing, especially through my sister, Dasha.
My heart will never be the same after this medical mission trip. And I will forever have a passion for Ukraine and it’s extraordinary people. So these my words when words will never be enough.
Until next time Ukraine…