Alena

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If you remember 3 weeks ago we wrote about Deaf we met on the streets and park of L’viv? In the group we met in the park there was a man who went home and told his 9 year-old daughter Alena about meeting Americans who signed and said they would come back to meet again. According to her grandmother, for the last 3 Sundays Alena has come to the park anticipating these Americans making good on their promise. Yesterday, her dream to meet Americans was competed! Not only meet Americans, but ones she could communicate with!

ImageBack story: God has placed a desire in Krista Blessing’s heart to start a Deaf ministry in L’viv. While here, Daniel and I are reaching out as much as we can to help her get started!  We stumbled upon Deaf in the park, unsure if it was an official weekly gathering we showed up yesterday on faith. Along with Krista, Daniel and myself we recruited Dima, a member of the church, to join us since he has shown interest. As well as one of Bria’s fans, Dima!

 

We show up to the spot we saw Deaf before when I noticed an older couple signing who sold small souvenirs. I began interacting with them, when the woman signed, “You’re the Americans!!!” With this she looked at over at little Alena and said, “Here they are!” At that moment a HUGE smile flooded her face and she ran up and hugged me! It was like we were gifts on Christmas day. She insisted on us all walking around the park together. Upon her grandmothers quick approval, she grabbed my hand and thus began our hour long Russian Sign Language lesson walk around the park; One hand signing, the other in my hand.

 

She is at least third generation Deaf in her family, so the brain on this girl was sharp! So much language, maturity and love! We would all point to things and she would show us the sign. Gave Krista, Dima and Dima some tests and really helped show them the correct way to sign things. ImageOne thing they have on Daniel and I is the ability to read fingerspelling because they speak Ukrainian. Since they learned the alphabet ahead of time, Alena could fingerspell words that we didn’t understand then one of the 3 Ukrainians would sound it out and know the word! It was SO helpful!!! She wanted pictures taken, rode Dima’s bike with Daniel’s help and roller bladed never letting go the grip of my hand.

 

While we were roller blading, the rest of the group sat with her grandmother and learned more. She was willing to teach like Alena. Asked many questions and had many opinions especially about Jehovah Witness’. From what we can understand, they have been trying to make their mark on the Deaf community and we have seen no positive attitudes about their attempts from any one we have met. We did not set out to do any evangelism yesterday, we are just trying to get to know the people, open doors and gain trust. Show them that Krista and others really are interested in their culture and language. Reach out to them and love on them. When we told them we weren’t Catholic and assured her we were not J.W. the only “sect” left is Evangelical. So, that is the category we are under! J She reassured us that we pray to the same God. “It may the Imagesame God but in a different way”, is what I thought.

 

After braiding Alena’s hair and promising her we would be back in 2 weeks, we headed home with full hearts. Krista, Dima and Dima were quite tired from all their learning. Their brains were worn out!! God has really blessed us by opening doors to the Deaf world and we cannot wait to see how he continues it even when we are gone.

-thewoodalls

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There is no deficiency in you

A word from The Lord was given to me before coming to Ukraine, which said, “There is no deficiency in you”. This really hit home because of a few areas in my life, which I will share about later. To think that God looks at me with no deficiency, yet I look in mirror, think my thoughts and go throughout my day and can make a long list of everything wrong and sinful about myself. That is just in one day. Do not let the title cause you look at yourself as perfect, but rather look at yourself through the eyes of Christ. 

Historically, God called people to represent Him that world would consider weak or deficient. Passing over the strong and rich, he focused his work on the humble. People like Noah, Moses, David and Rahab. When God called them they were not rich and powerful or looked at as being anyone of importance.  Noah was an old man with a God-sized dream that no one understood. Moses had a speech impediment. David was a shepherd and Rahab a prostitute.

 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 says, “Think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not may were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.”

He wants us to be humble and acknowledge that we are weak. To find our weaknesses and persevere so that we may, “Finish its work and be mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James 1:4) When we look at ourselves through the eyes of Christ, we see our weaknesses as being the strong hold of how God wants to use us.

 I have never considered myself a good public speaker. I am very outgoing, but never felt confidence in my ability to keep people interested in what I had to say. So often I stumble through stories or jokes, finding unable to get the point across clearly. Some of you may see me differently, but that is the way I have always looked at myself. It is interesting that God would call me to be a missionary then, huh? I remember that conversation with God… it was similar to the one Moses had on Mount Sinai when God called him. “I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words… I stutter and stammer.” (Ex 4:10) God’s response is the promise I go back to every time I feel deficient, “Now Go! I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Ex. 4:12) I ask God to fill my mouth. I persevere through each moment, speaking through faith that God’s promise in James 1:4 is true! Paul tells us, “If you are lacking, then ask God, he will give you what you need generously.” (James 1:5) What I see as deficient God sees as a way to strengthen me and allow me to be used for His glory.

 “Be the kind God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.” (2 Tim 2:21) If you limit yourself to your deficiencies it doesn’t keep you open to allow God to use you in unique ways.

For example, I started writing scriptures on canvas a little over a year ago. I had never picked up a canvas, much less a paint brush in my life but God gave me a desire so I went with it. I wasn’t sure why I was doing it, but a year and 14 months later He had provided over $10,000 for Moldova and a daily reminder of the camp in over 400 homes world wide. The deficiency: I am a horrible speller and not creative artistically. Yet God took what I saw as negative about myself and used it for His good. I was able to bless others by being open to change. It didn’t make sense to me at first, but he made it sufficient.

 Look in your heart and find the weaknesses in your life. What is keeping you from fulfilling God’s purpose? What is holding you back from spreading his love for others? 

God wants to overcome your weaknesses. He came so that we would have LIFE and life more abundant.  He wants you to explore new skills, to get out of your box, to get out there and make the most of your life for His glory.  He loves you so much and made you in His image.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made, there is no deficiency in you. 

 

– Becky

The Beauiful Budapest

Dobre den!

The last 6 days Daniel and I had a short get-a-way to Budapest, Hungary. No special reason to go there except it was the shortest trainImage ride to a major city outside Ukraine. If you have read our blogs over the past two years you may remember our train stories and the accommodations, or lack of. However, this train was by far the nicest! It even had a call button for the attendant, a light to let you know if someone was using the restroom, CLEAN, non- metal ones that were way more spacious!!! It was an overnight train and we got through customs with no problem. It’s funny, they knock on your door say “Alcohol? ImageCigarettes?”. You reply “Net”, while unzipping your bag and they do one of those unimportant checks similar to those done when entering a concert. It makes us wonder if they really care what’s in there?? Probably not.

Budapest is pronounced “Buda-Pesht” and it’s  two separate cities, Buda and Pest, for those of you like me that had no idea. It is an eclectic, artistic and creative city. Everywhere you go there is Imageancient architecture with a modern touch. Each restaurant, bar, grocery store, currency exchange or cafe has it’s own unique style to it. As if someone took the time to creatively place every inch of the place together. I am not exaggerating at all. It made me think of how God created Earth. Every plant, animal and human. All of the geography and water is so intentional. God took the time to make everything perfect and his image. This is how Budapest has redesigned it’s city. The people have made each part fit perfectly in the image of the people who live there.

It is not a romantic city, but rather a place for friends to travel together. It is a hub for backpackers. In fact, when wearing a backpack they don’t consider you ‘tourist’ and won’t bug you about doing tours. They know that backpackers have other agendas than going where everyone else goes. They want to see parts of Imagethe city only the locals know about. Daniel and I are not backpackers but we had the same agenda. We took a tour of the “ruins”. These are places that once were abandoned buildings now transformed to local restaurants, cafés, etc. Phenomenal. During this tour I shared my testimony with a Jewish (none practicing) young guy. Although nothing came of it at that moment, I believe a seed was planted. I left the conversation knowing that his once negative opinion about Christians hitting the Bible over people’s heads was changed. I know he understands that we are simply about loving people and sharing God’s love with them.

ImageOn the first full day we walked about 4 miles, hiked 3 hills and claimed over 1000 steps. We were tired to say the least, but saw the full beauty of Budapest (while avoiding tourists :)). We spent one day exploring the zoo, which turned out to be much more like a science museum and zoo in one. I got to get licked by a giraffe and Daniel was looking like lunch to a young lion. Super fun. Makes us wish we were kids again.Image

Our final day we went to the thermal bath house. This is the oldest public bath house in Budapest. It has 16 heated pools located inside and outside, cold pools for you to polar plunge after time in the saunas, herbal steam rooms, and more. Imagining people hundreds of years ago bathing where we got to swim, lay back and “bathe” is really cool! Is that weird?? Who cares! We got lots of rays, sweat like silly and saw too many European bathing suits… Enough said.
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We were supposed to go camping this weekend with the young adults at church but due to rain, it was cancelled. Thank you for your continued for camp in August. We will update you on that as we get information. For now, back to lviv, and jumping back into ministry! Thank The Lord for safety, time together and for making all things beautiful!! Ecclesiasties 3:11

Image In love, thewoodalls

The Daily and the Deaf

The Daily

Hard to believe we have been here for 2 weeks already! Before leaving, we worked hours preparing all the little things that had to get done, running countless errands, planned and attended events to make sure we could see everyone before leaving and finished the school year off right! Being here, yes we have been busy, but in such a different way. The way of life in Ukraine is much more laid back. I have felt stress-free and relaxed amongst the work accomplished. Since we have written you last, Daniel and I ventured to the farmers market to buy groceries and stock up on strawberries. By stock up, we mean, hundreds of little guys to be prepped and frozen for the rest of the year. This is the time they are at their cheapest.

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 I have began working on canvas for 12 rooms in the home here. Each room is named after one of the sons of Jacob. Each room will have a beautiful hand painted piece made in Israel along with a canvas having a different Bible verse special to that room! Although written in Ukrainian, God has given me the ability to do it well… I honestly don’t know how, so all praise be to HIM! Daniel will begin working on a few custom pieces of furniture for the home including a coffee table and some bed side tables. We have been back out to the garden one time and what I have learned so far is roots run deep. It is hard work!! We also have visited the orphanage!

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Thursday nights is the young adult meeting, which Daniel and I have been given the opportunity to lead for the summer. Last week, we shared our testimonies and presented the message of salvation and gave the option for anyone to receive Christ. No one did that evening, but we believe seeds are being planted and the Lord will begin to turn their hearts towards Him over time. This last week Daniel spoke on “Love” or in Ukrainian “любов”. A great message of how to love those around you even when you don’t want to or they don’t deserve it. He opened the floor for people to share about when they have the hardest time loving people and when it’s easy. It was a great discussion! Many of the struggles they experience are ones similar to what we experience; injustice, when someone looks down on you, hurts you, when you are tired and the one they kept referring to where bad drivers 🙂

Daniel encouraged the group this week to take notice to the times you find yourself not wanting to love “your neighbor” and check your heart and do what Christ did for us, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Therefore how can we not show love? Love is the greatest of all things.

Deaf Camp

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God opened the door for us to visit a Deaf camp about an hour outside of L’viv. Before we came, the Blessings met with the director of the school and told him we were coming. He was very open to us visiting! Going to this camp, all we knew was that there were going to be Deaf students and that it was at a government run camp. Upon arrival we saw many children! A teacher at the school met us and took us to the cafeteria. We were still unsure, who is Deaf, who is hearing…. so Daniel just began signing and one boy stood up and give us a formal ‘hello’ (in sign) walked over to us and shook our hands! (He is the boy in the picture just below with the long sleeves on sitting next to Becky). It was so sweet! We still didn’t know who was what, so we went outside and waited for them to finish. One by one they came downstairs. Due to government funding, they only allowed 13 Deaf to come to this camp. We learned later that they picked the 13 based on the severity of their home life. The kiddos who were there were orphaned, have alcoholic or abusive parents, etc.

After lunch is a required rest time, so we all went to one of the rooms and sat around and talked, played games, including some fun camp games called “Elephant” and cards. As soon as they saw Daniel’s iPhone 5 they were taken! One had never seen one like it and it took everything to get them to not fight over it. They took videos and pictures. Really loved the slow-motion feature 🙂

This camp was for all the boarding schools and orphanages to come for 21 days. We saw a large group of mentally and physically disabled children. Which was neat for us, because we can’t seem to find them in Moldova! So we were so happy to see that they have a chance to come to a summer camp! Speaking with the teachers of the Deaf school was the most encouraging thing about our trip! These teachers love the children so much! You can see it by the way they talk about them, interact with them and share with us about how their school works. Those who do not have parents will be taken in by the teachers during holidays and breaks. One teacher told us that they would be open for Bible studies to be taught or even if we wanted to take them out to the park one day to just get them out and about! Sadly, we are not here during the school year, but maybe one day 🙂 Maybe God is opening up another door for us in Ukraine. As far as I know none are adoptable at this time. The parents can visit once a month and still keep rights which is so sad. The girl in the picture with Becky above has a mother who only comes around to make sure she gets the monthly stipend from the government. But wrote the morning we got there that she wasn’t coming to pick her daughter up. Please be in prayer for parents and kids. Like we wrote above, LOVE is the greatest of all things.

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 In Christ, thewoodalls

Allow God to Surprise You!

Dobre den! What a full week! To start, God is good. God also answers prayers! It’s crazy to think that we serve a God who listens and answers. There are times in life when we pray, pray, pray and struggle to see any results of our fervent (feverish at times) prayers. This week has been an amazing overflowing of those back-logged prayers that have been offered up. Sunday morning, Pastor Mark’s sermon was “Prepare to be surprised”. This subject can be disappointingly mundane without prayer and willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to guide your heart and steps. Little did we know that this sermon would be one of the stepping stones God would use to bring us into that place of being ready to “expect the unexpected” in our lives.     Image Before we left home, one of the things we had been asking God for was opportunities to minister to the Deaf community here in Ukraine. Since Daniel is a CODA (child of Deaf adults) and we are both interpreters, it is highly unusual that we don’t find Deaf people almost everywhere we go, thanks to our Deaf radars! Long story short, a mere hour after asking God to bring Deaf people into our path,we ended up meeting two groups of three Deafies that we chatted with! The first group ended up inviting us to come to their church and eat lunch with them afterwards with some of their friends. Guess where we were today?? Experiencing Gods answer to our prayers in a church with a priest who signed, a CODA interpreter and a Deaf individual who also helped interpret for the congregational responses with about 30 Deaf. If that’s not awesome, I will officially retire that word from my vocabulary! We went to lunch with 7 people from the congregation and got to know them and learn their life stories. What an awesome privilege! To think that it all started with a simple prayer that turned into an opportunity, that produced relationships with REAL humans. God is good! How many times in our lives do we give up, thinking that God is too busy to listen to our tiny little prayers, when in reality He has already gone before us (Jehovah Jireh- my provider) and prepared the way.

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We want to encourage you today with this: Never give up on God, because he definitely has not given up on you. If you have prayed for something to happen for years and years-DO NOT GIVE UP!!!! Mom with a son or daughter who isn’t living for Christ-NEVER GIVE UP! Student who has no idea how to even start paying off those college loans-DON’T GIVE UP!!! Who ever you are, what ever your situation is, know that God hears you! Keep praying. Your answer may be just around the corner. 2 Timothy 2:13 says – “If we are faithless, God remains faithful, for He cannot disown himself.” Even when you feel like the only thing you’re doing is treading water, keep kicking! In John 16:23-24 it says; “Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” So, Rejoice! God is good and his mercies are new every morning. Great is HIS faithfulness!! Everyday we have something we can find joy in. Some days it’s easier to point out than others, but it is always there! Go ahead and Thank God ahead of time for answered prayers and prep yourself for the joy you will experience when it’s found.                                                                   

Blessings in Christ,

The Woodall’s

What are we doing in Ukraine?

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When God called us to Ukraine this summer we were not sure on what He had in mind for us to do while there. After talking with the Blessing’s over the last year, a good list of ministries was complied which included weekly visits to an orphanage, leading the young adult ministry, odd jobs around Bethel House and a few others. Daniel and I prayed about it and decided to come with no expectations. God has given us different kinds of gifts and didn’t want to limit ourselves.  We continue to pray and believe that we are simply “Here to Serve”, meaning whatever it is the Blessing’s need of us, we will do. That is the only way to define it.

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In the last 7 days, we have visited an orphanage, worked in the garden, began and completed varies jobs around Bethel House, yard work and lead the first meeting of the young adults in their church (which was a great success) The garden is something so new to me in particular! Each person who owns a plot of land for your home, also gets a gardening plot! We worked out there for about 2 hours, hoeing and pulling up weeds after 5 days of rain! Lots of ants, which is the only thing that isn’t fun about it 🙂

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As an extension of their home, Bethel House, is in its final stages of being completed. It will be used a conference center once completed. Today we worked specifically on priming walls, floor trimming and yard work. Daniel spent a lot of time out there weed-eating and making the yard look beautiful all around the house and outside their fence!! I mowed the grass.  A much bigger yard than at home! (Mom you should be proud) Thankfully the temperature is still low, about 75 degrees.

 

Last night we discussed a few other ministries we will begin while here including reaching out to the young married couples in the church and an English Club for adults (using the Bible). Our plate is full, but keeps things entertaining! Praying God will use us to our full potential!

 

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Many people are still concerned about our safety here. We feel incredibly safe. There is a big misunderstanding due to what the media shows in the states, and even here in Ukraine. In L’viv, we are hundreds of miles away from any opposition. Here, there are no riots, no discrimination against language use (Ukrainian or Russian), waving Ukrainian flags, wearing Ukrainian colors, no protests. Mom you’re not going to like this, but Daniel and I spent the day in the center yesterday on our own and it was full of tourists and citizens who are not afraid to love their country out-loud!  We will continue to be watchful of the east, but at this point we are in no immediate danger.

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Much love, thewoodalls

Above all, Love.

 

 

Dobre den friends! The weather has finally made its way back to warm and sunny! Daniel and I were amazed at the amount of rain and no flooding!  We are guessing the dirt roads just soak all the water up! Today was a special day for a few reasons. One, it was our first time to go back to the orphanage we visited last year, anticipating to see some familiar faces and second we celebrated my dad’s life with a homemade Chinese dinner!

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Due to heavy, unexpected traffic in the city, our time was limited at the orphanage. We are only allowed to be there at specific times due to their schedule, but we made the most of what we had! The orphanage is age 0-4, and we played with the 2 year olds today! There are about 10 total and know how to keep themselves entertained with the limited toys at hand. Don’t get me wrong, they are not lacking in toys, but some are very old and when you think of 10-15 kids sharing, I can see how monotonous life can become for a 2 year old. Thankfully, the woman watching them was very kind! The Blessing’s have told us terrible stories of some workers there yelling at the children and forcing them, at age 2, to sit in their chair and not move or make sounds for long periods of time. Many times in the winter when they cannot go outside, the workers will put them in their high chairs and force the kids to sit there for long periods of the day, with no play time. The purpose of us going is simply to love on the kids. To get on the ground, roll around and simply interact with them. 

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They absolutely loved Daniel! There was one who was mesmerized by his phone and wouldn’t let any of the other kids touch it. Another one let Daniel fly his around like an airplane! It’s the little things in life you know? It is good for them to be exposed to men since all the workers are women. Some kids are a little nervous at first!

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Please pray for homes for each child. Pray for good workers who will love and care for them with grace. At age 2 you can already see some hardness in their hearts. Pray they feel God’s love daily. What a blessing to have people in each of our lives who we can show love to. It doesn’t have to be in an orphanage in Ukraine. It could be your neighbor, someone you work with, one of your children’s friends who need an extra dose of love. Ask God to show you who you can love on today! 

The Word says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

-thewoodalls

“On the first day…”

“On the first day(s) He [rested]”… thats what the Bible says right? 🙂

Dobre den friends! There is not a lot to post since we have been taking a short 3-day sabbatical due to schedule, weather and jet-lag.

The day we arrived (Thursday) the World Race team of 15 were leaving after a 30-day stay in the Blessing’s home. We were able to have a short fellowship with them at a pizzeria and have a prayer send off. That evening and the following day was filled with recouping and getting the house back in order! Daniel helped take bunk beds down, put our bed together and some quick ‘man-ly’ jobs around the house. I did a little cooking… if you consider watching eggs boil in water and then cut when finished cooking! Lindsay, the middle daughter and Krista, the youngest, are phenomenal cooks! The next evening Daniel and I prepared a meal, so I can see us taking turns over the following months. Hopefully I will learn a thing or two!

This morning at church we received a warm welcome from everyone! Many familiar faces from last year. We look forward to serving their young adults. There will be a meeting weekly and we will all go camping at the end of June!

Looking forward to jumping into ministry this week. Thank you for all your prayers. We feel so safe here. A man stopped Mark (Father of the house) and asked the reason we are here, he explained, the man’s reply (paraphrased), “Ukraine needs people like them, who are still willing to come here in a time like this.” That is not to lift us up, but to give you encouragement that we are welcome here, it gives the people hope. Don’t stop praying for the situation in Ukraine.

Here is a sweet video from the church.