Sweat and Tears


Project build-a-playground-in-three-days is complete.
On Sunday, my team and I lead the church service in the village, had a real traditional lunch with some Kazak believers, and did a grand opening of the playground in the village.
Every day seemed to go by so slow because it was so hot and dusty, we worked from dawn to dusk and by the end we were dying to shower and crawl into bed. There were many obstacles to overcome, the construction plans changed constantly, and there weren’t enough adequate tools. But despite the chaos, we somehow pulled it off and the ratchet plot of land was completely transformed into an awesome place for kids and even adults to hang out.

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On the last night we were all together, our mixed team of foreign volunteers and local believers debriefed and shared our thoughts on how the project went. We all sat around the table and there was lots of laughter and even a few tears. But there was so much love, relief, and thanksgiving in the room. Each shared his or her impressions of how our work together was and I heard the phrase “praise God” so many times in four different languages. I wonder if it will be the same at the heavenly marriage feast, laughter and thanksgiving, relief and joy, only Christ will be sitting among us and we will see Him smile and His laughter…
Earlier at the local church, I was asked to share a short testimony. I thought I would share a time in my life when God helped me through difficulty. It didn’t make any sense at the time but in hindsight I realized I wouldn’t be where I am now, and wouldn’t have all the blessings I now enjoy, if it hadn’t been for the hard circumstances that I had gone through. I wrote down my notes and mentally prepared to stand in front of an audience I’d never seen before.
With a mixture of apprehension and confidence, I approached the microphone when the time came and took it in my hand. I went through my short introduction of who I am and where I’m from, and began my story, when suddenly I choked up. I had absolutely not planned crying through the rest of my speech after that. But I shared my heart the way I felt I should. I told the church to keep hoping, keep trusting, and believe that as Romans 8:28 says, God works all things together for the good of those who are called according to his purpose.
I wasn’t even sad, but I was overcome with the waterworks, flowing down my face and nose, I sniffed obnoxiously into the microphone at full volume across the auditorium. I was unable to stop my shaky voice and long pauses between my carefully chosen words as I gathered composure. I finally finished and went back to my seat in the choir loft, my head down so as not to be seen in such a mess.
I was embarrassed and felt odd because I just couldn’t hold it together, even though the subject wasn’t worth crying for. I didn’t know why I cried. After my participation, another team member preached, one sang, and one shared a poem. The whole service was both convicting, moving, and spiritually encouraging. A service that impacted me in a way that hasn’t happened in a long time.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][rs_space height=”10px”][rs_image_block image=”6639″][vc_column_text]The table where our team shared sweet fellowship. A few of the local women we grew fond of.[/vc_column_text][rs_space height=”20px”][rs_image_block image=”6642″][rs_space height=”20px”][vc_column_text]After the church service, some of our dear local ministers.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][rs_space height=”20px”][rs_image_block image=”6645″][vc_column_text]

Our diverse and beautiful team

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After the service, a little girl from the congregation came up to me and clung to my side like a monkey. She told me her and her mom were tearing up by my testimony, then another person came up and said the same thing. And another. Then my team members told me that the tearing-up was contagious with them too. I was surprised because I couldn’t see their faces since they were sitting behind me in the choir loft. My team members all agreed that the tone of my testimony set the mood for the rest of the service. Praise God! It was something that showed my weakness, my ugly-cry, something I didn’t plan or expect, but God used it.
Why is it that God uses us when we are most humbled? Consider the following exerpts from Philippians 2,
“in humility count others more significant than yourselves… Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant”
Humility was the path through which God used Jesus to save the world.
Humility is the path by which God makes Himself known through His followers.
His power is made perfect by our weakness, because when an observer sees the power of God in a weak person, they see the power of God and not the ability of the person. They see the ability of God in the person, and therefore God gets all the glory. May it always be so.
And as they say in Russian, “это я на деле узнала”.

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  Support Emma Petruk


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