"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything,
but I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do."

~ Helen Keller

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 6 - A Day of Thankfulness and Gratitude

Today was the last day in our 6 day count down. For some reason, going into it I knew in the back of my mind that this maybe the last day I see some of these kids. Now back in my hotel room, that reality has struck me pretty solid. The schedule tomorrow is such that many of the kids may still be in school at the time that I arrive and also when we leave, so this thought is very much a possibility. I would have really liked to have gotten a single group photo, but the logistics of getting everybody together was just not in my control. I do hope, however, that I have captured everybody's presence and that we have something that Vova can referred to when remembering them.

If there is a single word that could describe today, it is probably gratitude or thankfulness. I wanted to thank the custodians for all their help so I gave them both appropriate gifts that I picked up in the market. I also delivered some of the gifts that were passed on to me from another family back home as well as one final addition to the Playstation collection: a memory card. In a word, today they weren't just happy, they were thankful. I too was thankful in that they have given to me just as much if not more than I ever to them. I believe that years from now, when Vova and I look at the pictures and videos, we will both have some very good memories to share.

In Genesis 1 God created man on the sixth day. In the sixth day of our six day count down we celebrated the creation of one of God's men. One of the boys has a birthday today: he is now 13; and in some cultures 13 is the age that a male will officially transform from a boy into a man. While it may not seem like much, I wanted to make sure he received at least one gift for his birthday. So this morning I went to the market and found something personal that would also represent a remembrance of today's celebration. When I gave it to him he was very thankful and I could see that he had glimpse of what it's like for someone to care about him. While I cannot predict the future I certainly hope and pray that his future turns out to be one which includes God and another one of God's families. That same hope truly goes out for all of these kids. I believe that God has something special in mind for each of them, and I hope that my presence here has furthered His plan in that respect.

Tomorrow we will leave for Kiev as I bid farewell to the small little town. While I am not the most seasoned traveler, I have visited a number of locations throughout the US and Europe. Sure I remember the sights and the special places, but none of them have made as much of an impact on me as possibly this small forsaken spot in the countryside of Crimea, Ukraine. Maybe it is the many people who have helped me during my stay; maybe it is the comfortable daily routine that I find myself following. Either way I will remember this place for a very long time, and those memories will forever cause me to know that God is always with me.

The six day countdown is over, but we still have a couple more things left to attend to before we can come home. Thank you again for all the support, and keep us in your prayers as these remaining matters are completed.



  1. Jeff,

    God certainly has been with you this trip! I think you are right, that in the future, when things get tough, you will always be able to look back to these times, and be reminded that God IS with you, and always will be! In the Bible, God gives remembrances to His people ("Moses, remember when I brought you out of Egypt...Mary, remember what the shepherds said about your son...") and now, "Jeff, remember how very real I was to you this week." What an amazing thing, that God has brought you closer to Himself in the unassuming tiny little town of Jonkoi!


  2. Dear Twila and Jeff,

    We shared some disappointment a week ago when Jeff’s plans for Vova to stay with him were changed unexpectedly and without his input. I know Jeff was hoping for some “alone time” with his new son during these days.

    I am seeing something happening in Jeff’s reports that may be far more valuable to the father/son bonding process than “alone time”. What I am seeing is a father who has gently come into his son’s world, bringing care, provisions, gifts that delight his son’s friends, food to share and celebrate together, creative and resourceful acts of kindness to his son’s friends, and a deep joy and thankfulness for life that he is sharing among the boys. What I am seeing are daily lessons from a father to his son showing “this is how we live our lives in your new family, this is how I want to share life with you when we get home!”

    Jeff, you kept your eyes on the goal when the circumstances changed, you worked quickly through your personal disappointment, and you have recorded here an amazing account over the past week that is a quiet testimony to your servant’s heart and your thankful spirit! Thank you so much for sharing your journey so we can witness something truly wonderful together with you.

    In a little village in Judea two thousand years ago some cosmos-altering events took place. I have seen some eternally consequential demonstrations of God’s love through you this week in a little village in the Crimea. Thank you!