Rich seems constitutionally designed for the traveling life. He is thriving and truly sorry to see this journey edging towards its ending. I on the other hand have moments where I just don’t want to stuff my underwear into a little bag one more time, and can’t wait to get back to my own bed/garden/kitchen/dog and most of all daughter, sister, mom and friends. But, I share that feeling of ambivalence about our journey’s nearing its end in more ways than I had imagined. Our time in Ukraine has gripped my heart in a way I would not have predicted. The country is really suffering, between the drastic devaluation of their currency and the upheaval of thousands of people who left Crimea and other regions for cities within Ukraine. They live in fear of war escalating. But their resilience shines through everywhere. I have been so moved by the stories we have heard and the people we have met her, and have been delighted to find so much openness to the gifts, care, and encouragement that we bring, even in our leaky, cracked vessels.
While Rich has come to Ukraine a few times, many of the current IFES staff are new and young, and so didn’t really know us. But they have taken risks on us with their university contacts, and with the Christian students they serve. Events on campus have gone well. They have invited us back for more visits here before we go: their English camp, which is also an opportunity to explore faith, and likely another gathering as well. We are finding ourselves surprisingly willing to contort and flip our schedule to make those return visits possible. Somehow, in the midst of all the instability here, it has struck me as I’ve sat in classrooms filled with students who’ve come voluntarily to a lecture on leadership, and lingered with eager questions, that these young people are the hope of this nation. And the courageous staff-workers who serve them—without a doubt they are, too.
So, my goals for the last twelve weeks of our journey are to stay open, to persevere through the weariness with the multiple beds and the endless repacking process, and to continue to bring encouragement and hope. We hope to have a final itinerary for the coming weeks nailed down soon. Pray for discernment as we negotiate a few changes. Please pray for the health of my sister Ruth, as she has had two hospitalizations in the last few months for low sodium levels in her blood. As our hearts have connected powerfully with Ukraine, it feels challenging for me to shift emotionally and invest in two countries with very different challenges, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, so I ask for prayers to be able to do that.
Rich and Lisa Lamb