As I write this, I am already several thousand miles down a very strange rabbit hole on my way to Ukraine. I know I have been very quiet about my plans. The truth is, I struggle to find the words to describe the full weight of this reunion trip that my former AIM team and I are venturing out on. 10 years later we are returning to the scene of a series of events none of us can really explain.
Arriving in Ukraine all those years ago I was just a young puddle of clay. I stepped off the plane in Kiev with confident and innocent dreams of changing the hearts and futures of the people of Mariupol Ukraine. But it was there in that city on the Sea of Azov that my heart and future was formed from this clay and given its first true breathe. Through the love and compasion that was given to me there I was gently brought up like a young plant that had been growing underground for years never knowing what it meant to breathe air and see the sun. I broke through the surface and saw myself beyond myself. As more than just a weed on the earth, but a integral part of a garden.
So, with this being the 10th aniversary of our leaving, and with Brandon now living in Kharkov, it seemed like a perfect oportunity to revisit this garden, and properly return to thank the people that we left behind. Little did we know what the world would be like at this particular hour. Several times this reunion, which has been in the works for well over a year, has been reconsidered, and put in jeopardy. Right up until I stepped on the plane in Anchorage there was still the posibility that we would just cancel the whole thing due to the current unrest and impossible to predict future of eastern Ukraine. Would Ukraine even be there when we arrived? I still am not sure.
But that is part of what makes this feel right. Hovering somewhere above the fear, and above the embarrassment of feeling like the biggest idiot on the planet, is the belief that the difficulties of the trip just give it all a clearer purpose. It will not be as fun as we would have liked. And we will likely not be able to do dome of the things we would have liked, in terms of visiting old haunts. But there is some real work to be done now. And there are hearts that hang heavy that were instrumental in changing mine just a few brief years ago. Moments ago. Still just seconds in the past, in my mind.
I write this knowing that there are some that think I’m an irresponsible fool. I include myself first on that list. The possibility for problems are all over the place. But I know we have to try. Even just to fly all the way there to hug the neck of Brandon who has devoted his life to struggle for the Faith full time in the midst of this turmoil will make the cost of this two week trip worth while. I owe it to Ukraine, and I owe it to God. It makes no sense, I’m sure. But when does it ever?
I don’t know what access I will have to stable internet connections along the way. But I will do my best to keep all of you up to date as I go.
I have a blog I have been putting together for the past several months that I have yet to bring online. I have been using it to keep track of stories about my family and have never shared with anyone. I have decided, for the ease of updating the world beyond Facebook on the status of our trip, I will bring it online now.
You can find it at http://www.wherearewehere.wordpress.com The title has always been meant to be an existential observation about living in the moment, and originated as a quote from Lydia, but it will now take on a different purpose, as all things tend to do eventually. Things happen and it changes things.
Thank you all for your love and prayers.