how to deal

In July, when Josh announced that he was ready to return to Texas for good, I knew that I was in for some emotionally hard times.  I had my dream in my grasp, and then it was suddenly threatened to be taken from me.

This experience was not my first.  It happened once before in 2001.  After attending a missionary training school in the Czech Republic, Josh and I returned home to begin pursuing full-time mission work in Ukraine.  After looking into it a bit more, Josh decided that the timing was not yet right for us to go do full-time work.  I was devastated…so much so that I allowed myself to listen to Satan’s lies about worthlessness and discontentment.  I didn’t have a career or a plan of what I was going to do.  I became bitter and angry towards my husband for taking away my dream.  I felt like a horrible person and hated myself, my marriage, and my situation in life to the point that I became suicidal.

So when Josh mentioned that he wanted to come back home to Texas this summer, after only 4 months in Ukraine, I remembered all that I had gone through 7 years before and knew there was only one thing for me to do if I was going to survive this 2nd heartbreak – run to the throne of God and allow him to carry me through this fire.

As Josh was contemplating the move, I drowned myself in scripture, worship, and prayer.  From those moments with my Lord, I received 2 very distinct and profound words:

1.  Proverbs 14:1 – The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her own hands. This verse has hit me harder than any other verse.  Through it I came to realize that no matter what decision Josh makes (at the time, whether to stay in Ukraine or return to Texas), success will ultimately be on MY shoulders.  If I want my “house” – my marriage, my relationship with God, my ministry – to stay strong and thriving, then it is completely, 100% my responsibility to see that it stays strong.  It is MY actions, MY words, and MY attitudes that will determine the outcome of any situation.  As the head of the household, Josh is to make the decisions that he sees best.  But it is my response to his decisions that make or break my “house”.

I really had two reactions to Josh’s decision to come home:  fight it with all my might to stay in Ukraine, or submit to his decision and return quietly.  Which one would build my house and which would tear it down?  I chose to quietly follow.

2.  No matter what I pray concerning the entire exodus back to Texas, I hear one phrase over and over again, “It’s going to be okay.”

And it has.

Love letter

Josh surprised me with a love letter today.  Before we were married, and early into our marriage, I received love letters all the time.  Lately, they’ve been only given in the inside page of birthday or anniversary cards.

I told him I was going to write the whole thing for you…but it’s too special to do that.  I will give you a taste though…

It’s difficult to put my love into words, but you captured my heart a long time ago and still do.

He continues with 2 pages of putting his love into words…poetry, really.

Yes, my husband is amazing.

a personal letter from Josh

Dear Friends and supporters:

I’m sorry to let you know that Lindsey and I have decided to return home to Texas. During our time here in Ukraine, God has made it clear to me that I am not called to full time mission work. However, we understand the importance of missions and will continue to participate and support them. I know that this is disappointing for many of you and hard to understand, but know that I love the Lord and want to follow his leading and not my own.

Having been here just over 3 months, I’ve had a lot of time for self evaluation and meditation on my motives for coming here. First, it is clear to me that it wasn’t because I have a calling for full time mission work, but rather I was trying to please Lindsey and the love she has for the Ukrainian people. Secondly, I let the money be a large deciding factor in us coming here. When we first began pursuing our mission work, the funds quickly started to accumulate. During this time, I still felt unsure about coming to Ukraine, but I saw the growing funds and let it lead me. However, just because the funds are available doesn’t mean you start building a building without first establishing its foundation.

On coming to this conclusion I have had to ask a lot of hard questions and make some hard decisions. I honestly believe that God brought me here to reveal these things to me that I may better serve him. Had I known what I know now I would have not pursued this path as hard as I have, but sometimes this is how we learn. I hope you will forgive me in my unplanned misleading when I told you that I was called to be a missionary. Lindsey and I both strongly love the Lord and want to serve him wherever we are, we’re just trying to figure out exactly where and how to serve him.

Upon our return home on August 13, I will return to my career as an electrician. Lindsey will continue full-time mission work with Sons of Salvation in their administrative and communications department. She will also help lead and facilitate short-term mission trips worldwide as needed; her first assignment being in the Bahamas in October. We both will serve in church ministries as well.

As far as our funds are concerned, we will no longer need any more continuing support sent for our work in Ukraine. The funds we have already received will continue to be used in Lindsey’s ongoing mission work with Sons of Salvation.

Thank you for your understanding and prayers as we are making this transition. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via email, as we do not yet have a USA phone number.

With my deepest gratitude,

Josh Parks

language barriers

Josh wrote a little bit on his personal blog about some of his frustrations with the Ukrainian language, and some of our experience this week. Here’s an excerpt:

Wednesday evening our neighbor came up and knocked on our door. She is Russian and was trying to explain something to us (In Russian). All I could understand was “No gas, …tomorrow…9am…..11am….” Which is all I needed to know, but she was very frustrated I could tell because of our confused looks. They are doing construction on our building and needed to repair some of the pipes.

Yesterday, I had another fun experience. We visited a orphanage as a possibility for future ministry. We took our tutor, Snezhana, to a nearby town (1 1/2 hour – bus ride) where we met her friend and met with the assistant director of the orphanage. Snezhana translated for us. As we were leaving, I thought I would impress my tutor and our new friends by saying “it was nice to meet you, and thank you” in Ukrainian. The assistant director smiled and said something to Snezhana, to which they laughed. She said that we need to learn the different dialects of our region (Transcarpathia) because she isn’t Ukrainian. But Snezhana was pleased.

When we returned home from our outing, our landlord was coming down our stairs. We haven’t seen or heard from her since February when we paid for our first 3 months rent. We knew that she would be by soon for the next three but were unsure when. She is Hungarian, and of course speaks, you guessed it, Hungarian! She quickly had me go with her to the attic area. She showed me that our cistern (water storage device – we only have city water certain parts of the day and the cistern is what we use when the city water is shut off) was leaking and that the surrounding overflow was full of water. She used a lot of sign language to explain that we need to let our sinks run to drain all the water. After about an hour we had drained all the water and refilled the cistern. She told me to check on it to see what the problem was or is. This was a very fun experience trying to figure out what the heck she was saying and interpreting all the sign language.

Needless to say, I have a lot to learn here.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOSH!

Today, Josh turns 29!  He is the most amazing husband and companion.  Happy Birthday, Josh, i love you!

On our way

Tomorrow (Feb. 22) at 4:10 pm our flight takes off for Ukraine.  Actually, it’s not that simple – we have layovers in Memphis and Amsterdam, and end in Budapest; only to then take a 6 hour train ride into Ukraine in order to catch a taxi, which will take us into Mukachevo, the town we are moving to.  Phew! In total we will be traveling almost 24 hours!

This 10-day trip is our final preparation trip before moving full-time!  Our goals are to establish our housing, language studies, and other small but important details that go into moving.  We will also be meeting with local pastors and other organizations.

Please be praying for safe travels and that we will accomplish all that needs to get done.  It’s really a lot to do in just 8 – 10 days.

Thanks for your continued support!

Back from the Bamboo Curtain…

As many of you know, I just returned from China where we were preparing for an upcoming mission trip during the Olympics. First of all, let me say thank you to all of you supporting our mission’s endeavors and for all the prayer for our work.

We accomplished a lot of our goals and now have a better understanding of the culture having actually been there. Please pardon the vagueness and for the lack of details as I describe some of the things we will be doing. I don’t want to reveal who we will be working with or where for the security of those already in the fight for China’s salvation.

China is very aware of the Christian’s attempts to spread the gospel and they’re quite intolerant. It is illegal to proclaim the gospel publicly in China, but if someone asks you about your faith you may share it with them.

We will be working with the Chinese in practicing their conversational English. One way we do this is talking about our culture and some of the holidays that we celebrate. Having a conversation in English with a Chinese person about the real meaning of Christmas, is one subtle approach to evangelizing this country. Also, by comparing a traditional Chinese wedding vs. a traditional Christian wedding is another. You can read more about evangelizing through English Here.

During our trip we made arrangements that will provide the kind of atmosphere where we will be able to do just that. We will also be doing some public outreach that we pray will open up the doors to sharing Christ. There is the possibility that those who go on this trip will actually get to stay in the homes of the Chinese people we will be ministering to.

Aside from all the preparations being made on this trip, I got to see just about all the amazing sites Beijing has to offer. This is truly a beautiful city. Amidst the huge buildings and flourishing businesses are the landmarks that define this country. There are temples all over the city and tons of sites to see.

Here is the list of places I saw: The Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, the Capital Museum, Tiananmen Square, and the Olympic Village and all the Olympic Facilities being built. Not to mention the Beijing Opera and a Kung Fu and Acrobat show.

I know… I know…it doesn’t sound like mission work but it really was all for the cause. We are going to be leading some groups in August and there will be some site seeing involved, so we needed to determine what the best ones to see were. This is a hard decision because they were all amazing.

If you are interested in going please contact us soon. We need to know how many people are going so we can facilitate everybody. Please let us know before the end of the year.

For photos from Beijing, click Here.

 

Tuesday morning phone call

So, I finally received another phone call from Josh this morning.

The first thing I noticed was that He sounded stuffy and groggy. When he left, he already had a slight cold, then he explained that the air quality is horrendous, the smog is thick and stifling, and it’s had an ill effect on his breathing. Imagine breathing in a place like this:

 

Beijing smog

More smog

Other than that, they are staying busy from sun up to sun down doing both ministry meetings and some cultural adventures. He claims He visited the most beautiful place in the world yesterday: The Summer Palace. And, since most of us are in Dallas, where beauty is minimal, I leave you with a picture from The Summer Palace…let it be your happy place!

Summer palace lake


Monday night update

Well, I wish I could write you a really cool story/update about Josh’s time in China.  But, alas, I can not because I have not talked to him since Saturday afternoon, other than two small text messages saying he loves me! :)

So, we’ll just have to be patient to hear his stories and see his pics.

Until then, your continued prayers are appreciated.

1/2 Day One

The plane skidded to a stop at the Beijing airport around 6:00 pm Saturday night (5:00 am for us). After a “real Chinese dinner”, Josh and his companions headed straight for the hotel, settled in, and tried desperately to sleep through the cool night. But no matter how tired their minds and bodies felt, they could not sleep well because according to their natural clocks, it was midmorning.

Josh said the plane ride was long, but not too uncomfortable. However he never slept for the entire 15 hour plane trip. As they flew over Siberia, he watched “Hairspray”. :)

Currently, it is around 6:30 a.m., Sunday morning. (5:30 pm Saturday for us). This day’s agenda: Attend a Chinese church and then spend the afternoon at The Great Wall. *Sigh* Yes, I wish I was there….one day…

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