You’re not going to believe this…

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I wrote a post (it’s the one about disappointment) about how Katya didn’t get her passport and we weren’t able to go to a conference in Croatia this week… God did a miracle! Katya got a text last night that her passport was ready and that we could pick it up this morning. God is good! We’re going! Praise the Lord!

Here’s the funny part, though… They got her last name wrong! We’re going to change it when we get back. We also had to purchase a whole new set of tickets without a refund from the old ones. That hurts a bit, but we’re just glad that we still get to go.

Please, please, please pray for this conference! There have been so many hurdles to get over – God must be planning something HUGE! All we know is that He is good and He has a plan.

Should I start vlogging again?

This is a bit of a rhetorical question… I already know the answer, because my wife told me: David, you should do it!

I got out of the habit of vlogging about our shortfilm, because the process started to slow down with the milestones that I wanted to feature on the vlog. We are still making great progress, and I’m proud of where we are; however, things are going slower than a “video-topic-per-week” speed right now.

One of the things I noticed, though, is that the videos I made about filmmaking only have about 40-50 views, while the videos that I made about being a missionary in Ukraine have between 100 and 300 views.

I think that means that I should probably change the focus of the vlog and stick vlogging about missionary life and include filmmaking in there rather than focus on filmmaking and stick life in there.

So, what do you think? Are you interested in bi-weekly videos about missionary life in Lviv, Ukraine?

How do you deal with disappointment?

EDIT: God did a miracle! Katya got a text last night that her passport was ready and that we could pick it up this morning. God is good! We’re going! Praise the Lord!

We just had a disappointing situation with a retreat that we were supposed to fly to tomorrow morning (January 5th, 2018) in Croatia.

And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

1 Samuel 30:6

This retreat was a big part of my vision for 2018, but God took it away. I’m choosing to encourage myself in God. Let’s talk about what that looks like.

We bought the tickets, applied for visas, and applied for a new passport for Katya with expedited service back in November. The visas didn’t work out, though, because we found out that Katya would actually need to apply for two different visa’s, one for Poland, which is part of the Schengen Area, and one for Croatia, which is not. (The Schengen Area is a bunch of countries with the same visa agreement in the E.U.)

We thought everything would be fine, because we applied for her new biometric passport in time with expedited service, so we should’ve gotten it before “Catholic Christmas” (December 25th… The “normal” Christmas here in Ukraine is January 7th.)

We waited, checked the status online continually, and never heard anything. We wrote an official complaint, and the officer Katya talked to said that it might be in this week. Well, we went to the office today (like I said, we were supposed to fly tomorrow morning), and they said that her passport wouldn’t be here until about a week and a half from now.

We’re pretty disappointed, but this would be much harder if we weren’t going through a season where God has repeatedly shown us that “His ways are higher than our ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9). I, in particular, love to control; I love to have a concrete plan for where we’re going and how we’ll get there with things I care about. God has been teaching me in these past few weeks that His plans are better than mine and that I should trust Him, even if my plans fail. That’s how I encourage myself in the Lord: I remind myself of His character and His gracious love for me in Christ.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

He really does have a plan! If that’s true, then it doesn’t matter that we don’t get to go to the retreat. It doesn’t matter that the tickets were non-refundable. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know what to do with the next two weeks, because I was supposed to be out of the country. God. has. a. plan. Period.

The verse above (1 Samuel 30:6) talks about how David encouraged himself in the Lord. It’s part of a really cool story where David tried to do something, was shut down, went home to a disaster, found strength in God, and was able to praise God at the end when God saved his whole family and his men. If you’re getting discouraged because some plans of yours failed, go and read 1 Sam 29-30.

P.S. – I’m not trying to sound spiritual with this blog post… I’m processing this through writing and reminding myself of these truths, hoping that others will be encouraged along the way.

When can you drink eggnog?

I (David) was asked to speak this past week about the meaning of Christmas at an English club. I got to talk about my family’s traditions around the holiday season and about what I believe Christmas means for all of us. I started out with talking about how I’m from Texas, which is only one of fifty states. There are so many different Christmas traditions in the U.S. (talk about yours in the comments below!), that I couldn’t begin to expound on all of them, much less pretend to be a representative of what “most Americans do” between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.

I don’t think that our family’s traditions were much different, though, than what you see in movies about American family Christmases. We had stockings on the mantle (which we opened on Christmas Eve), presents around a tree, drove around singing Christmas carols while looking at lit-up houses (are we the only ones that did that?), and had a big meal on Christmas Eve / Day, depending on when the family could all be over.

One of my family’s old traditions centered around eggnog (or “egg nog”, if you like). We weren’t allowed to even open the bottle of eggnog until Thanksgiving Day, which was really, really hard for me, because the mighty nog was my favorite drink growing up. I could down a half-gallon in a day or two. Thanksgiving was also the official start of the Christmas season. We didn’t go “black Friday” shopping every year, though. I don’t think many of us enjoyed that too much.

I also got to share about why we give gifts on Christmas. It’s not just an “eating holiday” or a “seeing family holiday”. Why? Because God first gave us a gift: Jesus. Jesus Christ is God’s gift to us. I shared about how we normally read from Luke about the nativity or another passage.

Since moving here to Ukraine, it’s been harder to keep up some of those traditions. Things like that are meant to be done with other people that also sense the meaning of the traditions. I do enjoy my in-law’s traditions, but there is a sense of “I’m not home” sometimes during the holidays. I miss riding around singing carols, seeing the extended family, rushing downstairs on Christmas morning only to be told that mom and dad hadn’t gotten up yet and that we needed to wait to open all of the presents.

I’m still able to have my eggnog, though! I found a recipe on Allrecipes.com that does the trick. I don’t put the rum in, but I keep everything else pretty much according to the recipe, adding a little more cream, because I like it thick!

Here’s a link to the recipe. It’s called “Amazingly Good Eggnog”, which is a fitting title, I think. I have some chilling in the refrigerator right now, waiting for us to share it with our friends at our youth group new year celebration tomorrow.

So, what does Christmas mean for you? What odd and interesting traditions do you have?

(Here are some pictures of us on Christmas!)

 

David acted in a video for PromoRepublic!

One of the things that I’m privileged to do here in Ukraine to better my contacts in the film industry and gain more experience as a director is acting in local ad’s for startups. I haven’t done it very much, but I’ve already been in three different videos. Here’s the most recent one and probably the one I had the most fun with:

The company that produced this clip is Perfectionist.video

Christmas Cards for Soldiers

Our church just wrapped up a really cool project to bless the soldiers that are defending Ukraine in the East right now. (BTW – please pray for them! This war is far from over!) We sent them several pounds of dried fruits and Christmas cards from our children’s ministry, a local Christian school, and from individuals in the church. Here are a couple of pictures of the stuff we sent them:

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Katya has been getting better and better at watercolor painting lately, and she decided to make several cards for the soldiers herself. I’m so proud of her! Here are a couple more pictures of her work:

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Please keep praying for Ukraine and for the war in the East!