Tom and I were delighted and blessed to get an e-mail from our friend Tracy the other day. Tracy and her husband, Zhenya, are missionaries in Kyrgyzstan. Their work is supported by our church, and we came to know Tracy when she was still serving in Ukraine and we were there adopting Natasha. We're so happy to know that she is following our fasting journey from "a distant land." Her e-mail reminded me that excess (large or small) is excess no matter where you are, and we can all spot needs and find a way to give if we just set our hearts and minds to it.
I asked Tracy's permission to share the following excerpts from her e-mail. I was humbled that the Spirit, through our little project in suburban America, has prompted a little ripple of giving in far away Kyrgyzstan. Who would have thought?
Since you are focusing on clothes this month, I thought I would just share some of a conversation I had a month ago with a friend here in church. Gulnara is Kyrgyz and is a teacher by profession, but recently has taken a job as a "housemother" with an international organization that cares for 6 "orphan" teens. One of the girls was complaining because had no pajamas. She just slept in a T-shirt or something. Gulnara answered by saying "well, I don't have pajamas either!" I was so surprised. Partly, this is cultural. Practically speaking, there is no need for sets of cute PJ's. Gulnara got some PJ's for the teen from the give away section at church (some local ladies in the church here started it and it's such a blessing!). I felt so convicted that Gulnara had no PJs that I went right to my closet and gave her a pair of mine that I had been meaning to bring to church for give away. Here I was, sitting with abundance and not realizing that my dear friend, Gulnara didn't even have pajamas!
Another time, recently, we were talking again and she said that the girls didn't have any warm socks. Now, I know that this will amaze you, in light of your first post and the socks that launched the great FFE journey :) Many people in Kyrgyzstan (and in Ukraine for that matter) do not have many socks or undies. They have maybe 5 on average. This was very noticeable to me when I first moved to Ukraine and was at prayer meetings in a studio apartment filled with 40 people who hadn't washed their socks for 3 days, in 80 degree heat. Yes, I gagged and then was rebuked by a fellow missionary. "Tracy, some of these people only have 3 pairs of socks and they don't have washing machines!" At that time in Ukraine, only alcoholics and "outcasts" would not wear socks, even with sandals. Times have changed now and flip flops abound. Anyways, I was again convicted by the conversation with Gulnara and again went to my closet where I had already set aside a bag of warm socks to give away. Why was I so slow to get them into the hands of those who needed them! In one way, I see that our conversations with Gulnara were orchestrated by God. He wanted me to give them the socks and maybe it was a way for Gulnara to see a direct and immediate answer to prayer. For me it was a lesson in being ready to give and to be aware of the basic needs of people around me.So, my prayer tonight is that we would all be ready to give and aware of the needs, so easy to overlook, of those whose paths we cross.