Sunday, June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
I haven't posted anything to this blog since 2008. It's time to pick it up again.
As I write this, I am sitting in a large lobby in a Soviet-style hotel in Transcarpathia, the western-most oblast (state) in post-Soviet Ukraine. It's like every lobby in the innumerable Soviet-era hotels in which I have slept across the former USSR. It's stuffy and the wood parquet floor is worn. The old carpets have seen the feet of many Communist party officials. The plants are scraggly and have probably been here since Kruschev's time. The furniture has likely been here since the heyday of the Soviet Union and everything looks like every other place I have visited. It's a creepy, homey kind of feeling. The thunder is pounding, and the rain is relentless. From my seat, I can see the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, along with several golden domes of beautiful Orthodox churches scattered about the ancient city of Uzhgorod.
How did I get here? I am 52 years old, and I am in Eastern Europe with 15 students, my wonderful wife, Jeannie, and my amazing daughter, Hannah. (Actually, they are off with the group today, while I stay at the hotel with a nauseous team member. He is not nauseous; his stomach is nauseous!) My oldest son, Jonathan, is also on the European continent, probably enjoying the summer-welcoming Solstice festivities in Latvia. My third son, Scotty, is home in Oregon with his wife, Annie, working hard towards completion of his political science degree at OSU. My third son, Jeremy, is in Japan, diligently studying at Tokyo’s Waseda University.
So, how did I get here? What are the twists and turns that have brought me to this day? I really cannot explain, nor do I understand all of the events that have led to June 20, 2010; but I can tell you that I am a blessed man. I can tell you that loving and trusting the Father is an adventure that I would never trade for some brief and fleeting pleasure of the flesh. I can look back over the decades and see God’s faithful hand guiding and directing my path to this point. I can tell you about now.
I can tell you about the events of yesterday, when we traveled many hours up into the Carpathian Mountains to a home where disabled and disfigured people were hidden away from eyes searching for the utopian vision promised by the machine of the Soviet Union. I can consider the joy that came from dancing with crooked little Ebolia, seeing her smiles, and wondering why I was granted the privilege of experiencing such a moment in a place so far removed from general society that most people on earth will never even be aware that such a place exists. Why did I get to do that? I cannot answer that question beyond acknowledging that God’s grace paves the way.
I can tell you that December 2009 through April 2010 was the most difficult and gut-wrenching period of my life. I can tell you about my father’s diagnosis of cancer and his relatively quick death. I can tell you about carrying his body of out his home as he left it for the last time. I can tell you about false accusations directed at me that could have destroyed that for which I have worked all of my life. I can tell you about my mother’s nearly disastrous stroke as she drove 65 mph down I-5, nearly ending up in the lanes traveling the opposite direction. I can tell you about my son’s battle with debilitating depression and the pain of watching a child suffer when you can do nothing to change the situation. I can tell you about being threatened with a frivolous lawsuit while simply trying to do something good. I can tell you about all of those things.
I can also tell you about my brothers and me being summoned to my father’s bedside and him blessing us prior to his departure. I can tell you about my family gathering around my father’s bed enjoying songs of worship and communion before he left us. I can tell you about that. I can tell you about friends rising to my defense and trusting me when others accused me. I can tell you about that. I can tell you about my mother’s recovery from her stroke and finding out that though she should actually be dead, God’s miraculous creation of the human body that belongs to her grew a network of supplementary veins providing circulation around a major artery that is 100% blocked. I can tell you about that. I can tell you about my son’s return from the edge of darkness and his courage and might in the midst of a fearful situation. I can tell you about that. I can tell you about God’s grace in the middle of threats of a lawsuit and the prompting of God’s spirit on how to behave in that situation. I can tell you about that. I can tell you that our family was able to find a piece of paradise at the beach where we can hide away and where we can share with others as others have shared with us. I can tell you about an unexpected award that will pay for my daughter’s college education. I can tell you about that.
I can tell you about a lot of things over the last year and a half. I can tell you that in the middle of all of it God’s grace and His reality was clearly evident. I can tell you about a lot of things over the last decades, about travels and blessings and adventures and peace and family and life. I can tell you that I would never trade one minute of any of it. I can tell you that following the Father is the adventure of a lifetime.
So, how did I get to Ukraine, sitting in a hotel room overlooking a beautiful and ancient city? I guess it happened as I tried to follow and know God. I guess it happened by His grace. I really don’t know all of the reasons why I have been allowed to live the life I have been given. I guess I will just do my best to love and follow the Creator of the universe by loving people and following His Word. I guess that works.