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Word Photos

As many of you know, I like photos. I enjoy having a visual record of my experiences, if for nothing more than being able to look back and remember the details of the people, places, and events of my life. My hard drive is packed with digital photos that date back to the very moment I first owned a digital camera, and my latest camera is rather small so that it can travel with me easily. And, if I happen to not get any pics of what is happening, I have a convenient thumb drive hanging on my keychain so I can easily get copies of others. However, I have always been disappointed that I have a huge hole in my archive - I have almost no visual documentation of the summer of 2002 when I lived and worked in the heart of the Eastern bloc of Europe: Kiev, Ukraine.

Resting in some unknown, dark storage room, or perhaps floating around the underhanded black street market, is a 256 MB compact flash card that contains about 650 photographs showing the adventures of six OU student missionaries. Wherever that Kodak digital camera and its card full of memories ended up, it certainly wasn't on that KLM Royal Dutch airplane when we left.

So, what do I have? Nothing but a head full of experiences that totally changed my life. Experiences that are almost unreal. Experiences of the Holy Spirit working in physical, tangible ways. Experiences of a people learning a story they never heard before, of faces straining to understand, and of Ah-Ha moments when something suddenly made sense. Mental pictures of standing atop an old, run-down, tall communist apartment building and looking across a sea of grey sameness that shrouded the horizon. Experiences of crouching through an underground cave, looking over the preserved bodies of ancient Orthodox monks, lit by the thin wax candle I hold in front of me. Experiences of trying to organize a small apartment full of eager Ukrainians who have traveled for hours for the chance of getting onto our reading list, and the disapointment of turning away all those who have lined up down the hall, having just been able to ride the rickety elevator up from the ground floor where they had patiently waited their turn.

What I have realized, in the absence of the visual moments that I captured of all of these things, exist a hole that is waiting to be filled with stories that paint even more vivid portraits of what God did during those seven weeks. And out of this realization comes the obvious fact that these kinds of stories can be told of everything, not just Ukraine.

So, with that in mind, I want to start using this blog to recount the power of some of these experiences, both in and out of Ukraine. Consider it a "special series" that will have installments as I feel motivated. I won't write the first one tonight, but as a preview I will tell you it will be about a special young sweet-faced Ukrainian girl named Lena who taught me a lesson I will not soon forget.


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