As I look around the dormitory I’m currently calling “home,” items I’ve collected from various countries in the past several years surround me. Sitting on the bed to my left is a hand-painted journal from Nepal, a notebook with koalas on the cover from Australia, and a “Street Comic” pamphlet from my current assignment in New York City. At my feet is my leather overnight bag (also an acquisition from Nepal), a blue and yellow ribbon tied in a neat bow around one of its shoulder straps. Most people would see it and probably not think much of it. But for me, it’s a reminder of my friends in Ukraine – their struggle, their faith, their hope, their determination, their resolve, and their commitment.

Home visits are a regular part of MTU’s ministry in Zhytomyr

Home visits are a regular part of MTU’s ministry in Zhytomyr

I’m grateful for the opportunities I have had to travel the world, to meet fascinating people with their own unique and compelling stories. Few places, however, have left such an impression on me as Ukraine. I have tried to articulate it to my friends here at home, and have struggled to find the right words to say that would express how my heart has resonated with Mission to Ukraine and their dedication to what they have been called to.

Volunteers from Berdychiv, where MTU has a crisis pregnancy center

Volunteers from Berdychiv, where MTU has a crisis pregnancy center

I’ve lived these last three years in a transient community in Asia, constantly saying goodbye to friends. It doesn’t take long in this sort of lifestyle to begin to build walls around your heart, being wary of allowing personal vulnerability, knowing that it won’t be long before that person you confided in will be gone, globetrotting to some new place. You become increasingly grateful for the people who don’t leave, who become a sort of lifeline to some semblance of normalcy.

So I wasn’t expecting to go to Ukraine and make “life friends.” I just assumed that for short-term assignments, I’m beyond being able to experience that level of friendship. I should have known better. What greeted me in Zhytomyr was immediate warmth, care, hospitality, and kindness. I could see right away why the community they serve trusts them so wholeheartedly.

As an organization that is committed to serving families with disabilities, women in crisis pregnancy situations, teens struggling to find their place in an increasingly secularized country, and orphans cast off by society, Mission to Ukraine is influencing their culture powerfully. From sitting in on physical and occupational therapy interventions, to observing volunteers in action in the crisis pregnancy clinics, praying over a potential land site for a rehab center, to simply sharing meals with the MTU staff, I was constantly blown away with the level of professionalism and excellence that the organization demonstrates.

MTU staff love to love on kids!

MTU staff love to love on kids!

I hope that through these stories I’ve been able to share over the past several months, you have been inspired by what is happening half a world away. We live in the midst of uncertain times that are full of pain and sorrow and grief. But that is certainly not the whole story. Mission to Ukraine continues to be faithful to serving the people in their community who need it the most. Please visit their website if you would like to get plugged in to their ministry or be involved in supporting them financially.

As always, Ukraine is in need of your faithful prayers, as winter approaches and they face an ongoing war in the East as well as continued economic crisis. Our friends at Mission to Ukraine remain hopeful, knowing they are being lifted up and supported by people like you around the world.
If you feel compelled, please feel free to leave them encouraging words in the comments section below.

My Countenance is Bright with Laughter

Life has certainly been an adventure…
Click here to read this travel journal…

Pyrizhky, Parks, and Pushkin

Blessed by the hospitality of others…
Click here to read this travel journal…

Solo Dios Basta

He who has God lacks nothing
Click here to read this travel journal…

The Love of Strangers

To be certain, all hope is not lost.
Click here to read this article…

Radiant Joy

Walking into the military hospital…would we be welcomed?
Click here to read this travel journal…

Ukrainian Top Ten!

Just a few observations for your enjoyment today…
Click here to read this travel journal…

You’re Beautiful

We have the power to be a part of providential circumstances…
Click here to read this travel journal…

Loving Beyond

The way you are with others every day, regardless of their status, is the true test of faith…
Click here to read this travel journal…

Dr. Bashek

My plans are never as good as the ones God leads me into.
Click here to read this article…

Occupational Therapy Rocks!

What defines you?
Click here to read this article…

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About the Author: Sarah is a journalism fellow with World Next Door. She has her undergraduate degree in Business Communication from Azusa Pacific University in Southern California and is currently working on her Masters degree in Organizational Leadership. Sarah recently finished a two and a half year assignment working for an anti-trafficking NGO in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she had the opportunity to mentor and lead college students in ministry abroad. She is mildly obsessed with Jeopardy, coffee, running, and the Atlanta Falcons.

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Comments

  1. Ginny said... 

    Reply

    December 18th, 2014 at 6:01 pm  

    I’ve been reading the MTU posts on FB !
    Many thanks for Sarah’s blogs, photos as well.
    I hope to hear much more from her – her impressions of this ministry.
    I have much to learn !

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