Sometimes it’s not easy to be upbeat. Sometimes being in ministry is difficult and emotionally challenging. Dare I be vulnerable? Do I have the right to feel sad and lonely? Can I share in my blog the struggles as well as the joy? I probably shouldn’t in case my mother reads it and begins to worry. Or what if someone is thinking about ministry and it discourages them? But if I only share the joy, I am not telling the true story and that is important as well.

In all the books I read about God’s provision and leading, things always seem to happen where you can see the Father’s exact leading. But in our life, this has been a struggle. How does a person know what God wants? How does one do His will or even seek to know it?

So today, I am sharing a struggle. We have been living on the left bank in Kyiv and I like our apartment even though the landlord still has a lot of stuff in it. With our things, it is crowded. Yet I realize that there are many people who live in Ukraine that have so much less room and so many more people in their space. In December, I felt God was showing us that He was going to help us find a house which we could buy. That had not been one of our original plans, but through a series of circumstances, it looked possible. The practice had not sold and we felt we could not even think about buying until this happened. Just before we came in February, the sale of the practice was final. The house God had shown us was still available and we thought it might be where we were being led. But the day before our arrival it sold for cash. We had asked God for guidance and though it was disappointing we knew that this was His answer.

So, we moved to Kyiv in April and God provided us with a great apartment, in a nice neighborhood. We can see how difficult it would have been to have moved here right to a village. It has been a huge blessing to be near the Youth With a Mission base where we have been welcomed and supported emotionally and practically as well. So we have been very happy and content here. I hadn’t thought about a house for a long time. In fact, I have been getting so I like city life and its advantages. The main problem is getting to the other side of town, the Smile House project and Mostysche Orphanage—it is 56 kilometers from here. We have looked and looked for a vehicle that we can afford but so far it has been a frustrating experience.

Then on Monday, through a series of events, it looked like we were supposed to go house hunting again. I wasn’t really enthusiastic but agreed to look. Our new and dear friends, Ted and Virginia, offered to take us in their van and our friend, Svyatislav, who is working in the real estate industry, went with us. The two places we looked at were horrific and close to $100,000 each. (The picture on the left is the shower setup in the first house we looked at for $85,000.) But the agent mentioned that there was another house in the village for sale although the owner’s were asking $140,000. We knew that was beyond our price range but thought we might as well look. As a renovation of an older house, it was the nicest we have seen in this country. It was extremely clean, about seven miles from Smile House, had a garage and a lot of land. The second floor was not yet finished but it would be perfect for storing all the SAI boxes and there was another out building for storage. It had its own well and on top of it all the furniture was included. I didn’t want to even get my hopes up because I knew it was out of our price range. If our dental laser had sold, we might be able to do it but it was still more than we could spend and still have enough to live on. The agent said it had been for sale for awhile and the owner was willing to reduce the price.

So, we went home and prayed about it. We only want to do what God wants us to do. I tried not to think about it and to be stoic about the whole thing but then I began to see so many things I liked about the house and many advantages to it. Yet, we both said that we were not here for our pleasure or benefit. We are here to serve. This is not about us. We prayed for direction from God either through a word from a friend, Godly council, the Bible or any other way He wanted. Nothing! In fact, the past couple of days my email inbox has been very, very empty. A friend from America did call but about something else, and there has been total silence in all respects. The amount of $125,000 came to Richard’s mind and stayed there.

We viewed the house on Tuesday afternoon. Thursday, Svyatislav called and said that someone had stopped at the house without an agent and offered the owner the full price. The owner had worked with the agent for quite awhile and said he would sell us the house for $135,000 so she would get her commission. We knew that was impossible and we offered $125,000 and told them we just couldn’t go any higher. We were stretching our budget to offer that much. We know the house is worth the asking price (two years ago houses were about 1/3 of the prices they are now) and it is only fair for the owner to get it. It was nice that he offered it to us for less but we have to be obedient. We have had no confirmation and the price is out of range. So. . .

No, it doesn’t make it easy. The hardest part was that I was happy where I was living and I had not been thinking about a house. Then this all came up. It would have been better never to have seen it—just like at Christmas time. Why? Why do I have to be tested like this? On top of it all, I realized that yesterday was exactly a year from when our house sale in Cle Elum had been finalized. Perhaps, I have never grieved for what we have given up. Is that why I haven’t been able to stop crying since yesterday afternoon? Perhaps I have felt in my heart that it was wrong to grieve but you know, I think God wants us to be vulnerable. It isn’t always easy to give up a lifestyle. The hardest part is giving up the family connection—getting to see our children and grandchildren. The things aren’t as important and I don’t know why this has hit me so hard because it really doesn’t matter where we live, just that we do what God wants us to do.

I guess to conclude this, I must say that we are still willing to go anywhere and do anything that God asks us to do. He did answer—it was NO. It is not easy but it is okay. Our purpose here is not for our comfort or our good but it is to glorify God’s name and to be His instruments. I may not ever understand what this is all about, I just have to be willing to put one foot in front of the other and to say, YES.

Update as of August 23, 2006. The realtor called yesterday still wanting to sell it to us for $135,000. It was tempting to go ahead and say Okay but we have done this all our lives–paid more than we said we would and it took us into deep debt for many years. God gave us the grace to say NO–we can’t go above $125,000. So she said she would show it to other people–apparently the offer for $140,000 didn’t materialize. It’s okay. God may still let us have it for the price we can afford and if not, He has a better plan. I feel there was a victory of sorts since we stuck to what we knew we should do. Thank you God for the grace to do that.