Wednesday, 11 June 2014


Hello. From gorgeous England, hello.

We flew home about a month ago and it's been a constant exercise in 'why don't you live here anymore?'
Why are you stubbornly sticking to Ukraine? When this country you're in right now fits you like you were born here (because you were), when this nation feels like comfort, when there is such fun and community and love for you here. When you slot back in like you've never been gone. When the children can, and will, talk to your daughter in a language she understands. When democracy is prized here and when the doctors agree with you and you agree with them. When clothes fit you. When you have the freedom to do anything because you can talk to anyone. When it's easy here, why would you be there? Why?

For the first few weeks, we didn't know the answer to that. Some people think we're returning to Ukraine out of guilt, out of a commitment upheld and nothing further. Stubborn.
Some people think we're going back because we love the orphans. Noble.
Some people think we're going back because it's fun. Tourists.

Not sure any of those things apply.

If I was motivated by guilt then I would generally behave better in life. Guilt's never stopped me doing something selfish and it doesn't prompt me to good deeds. If I feel guilty I just get defensive and blame others and sink further into my fortress of judging. Guilt's a rubbish motivator. That isn't it.

Also, don't tell anybody but my heart is not noble and I would one hundred percent put myself before others every time the choice came up. So it's not about the orphans.

Because it's fun? Yeah, Ukraine is all about the merry japes. (That's sarcasm, just to be clear.)

So, then, as we face moving back with an as yet unborn tiny bundle of vulnerability, why would we leave England? Why are we falling in love with England all over again even as we book our tickets back to Ukraine?

I have an idea, some ideas actually, and I'm not going to YWAM it for you. Not going to coat it in glossy sheen as if people only like to give money to happy, confident, thriving missionaries. I could start face book again and spin our lives round and round til you can't quite see what we do but you think we must be very good Christians and come away so very impressed and moved to give. I could lie to you in the name of the orphans/ my vision/ my purposes/ my denial.
Not going to.

The why is complicated and messy, but I'm going to try to explain. To wit: Everything is basically meaningless.

Keep coming back to Ecclesiastes and it's one depressing rant in places. Drinking? Done it. Religion? Done it. Hard work? Done it. Money? Had it. Conclusion: It all means nothing.
So all the fun I'm having in England, all the lovely food and easy healthcare and smooth friendships and driving on the left side of the road, it's all meaningless. There is no eternal, life giving point to life in itself. I think this is the kind of conviction that is only liberating if God shows you it when you're needing it - and I need it now. I need to realise that pleasure and esteem are weightless, pointless, and will not fulfill me or mine. Pleasure and comfort are not in themselves enough to keep me here. The access to takeaways is wonderful but will tarnish quickly should we tarry. Quality family time, while precious, is not a reason to linger. Even our lovely community here would not fulfill, as much as telly tries to convince me that all I need in life is money, friends, parties and a house...even if we had all those things, we would still know discontent. And we could still have all those things in Ukraine. And they would still be meaningless. Because life is not about 'living well' but about living to the full and to me those are two different things.

The reasons to stay here aren't good enough. Don't need a house of my own, don't need lovely furniture, don't need farrow and ball. Don't need play groups or pre school in a language I understand. Don't need iplayer. Don't need ready meals or posh herbs or morrisons dry iced veg. Don't even need pork pies. Don't need country roads bathed in sunshine, don't need running in the rain with Beth, don't need cinema or restaurants in English. Don't need the ten o clock news or Beth's grandparents or not on the high street dot com.
Some of those things are silly, but some of them, like Beth's grandparents, are a treat that it will break our hearts to walk away from. Some of those things we don't need are still very, very nice to have even if it's for this bittersweet two months.
But no, not essential. England's standard of living is incredible - we spent the first week back here going to ASDA repeatedly, for no good reason, just to marvel at the shiny aubergines and cheap home furnishings. But shiny aubergines never saved anybody from anything. ASDA may be my happy place but it doesn't actually make me happy. 

Why don't we stay in England? Because everything is meaningless, so we might as well be in Ukraine. I know it sounds like a crap reason, but to me, it's not. The things that could keep me here are not actually good enough to keep me here.

The things that thread meaning through my life all come from somewhere other than either England or Ukraine. Things like John, Beth and tiny baby boy. We will be together wherever we will be.
Things like knowing that we are still doing what we think is important. I think that looking after Ukrainian orphans is important so I will do that.
Listening to God has meaning, obedience has meaning, and God hasn't told us to quit so we're going back. That gives me huge satisfaction that is very difficult to explain.
Seeing my husband thrive makes me happy, and he is perfect for his role in Ukraine. He fits in Ukraine. Even though the lifestyle comes with huge struggles and sacrifices, he is the man for the job and that makes me happy. Contented in his day to day because I don't know anybody else who could handle what he handles and move with such grace and strength. Ukraine gives him meaning.
Also, trying to stand against injustice is very important and what we do out there tries to change things. That's a pretty good/ God reason to do anything.

So that's kind of it. Not very varnished and not very inspiring, but right now it's the truth. Might get all fired up later but right now content to abide in 'blessed to be in England, blessed to have a purpose to go back to'. Does that make sense? Probably not. Sorry.