The more time I spend in Ukraine the more I find myself thinking that my Ukraine self is very different than my American self. In America I am more on guard. I am more self-conscious. I am more concerned with other’s perceptions of me. In America I think about germs and smells a lot. I know that seems a funny thing to say but sadly it’s true. In America I worry about silly stuff and get caught up in first world problems.
I think I like my Ukraine self better. In Ukraine I love to make a fool of myself as I dance with the kids at Disco time. In Ukraine I drink tea out of cups at camp that I know have only been sort of rinsed with water and no soap. In Ukraine I constantly get hugs from “stinky” kids and I love it. In Ukraine I eat liver and beets for breakfast and don’t complain (well not too much at least).
Ukraine is a culture where it matters more that you sat and visited with a friend than how you dressed to do it. The more time I spend in this country the more I fall in love with the people here. Their ways, their expressions, and their hearts hold secrets that I feel I can learn from.
I am however still a silly American, but I enjoy my Ukrainian self.
So I’m a guy who likes to plan. Then when I finish planning I like to make a good back up plan. But that’s not how faith seems to work. Faith is exactly that, FAITH. A year and a half ago Christy and I were making plans to transition from our secular careers and a really nice normal life to what our church likes to call upside down living. A life devoted to ministry serving orphans in Ukraine. That’s about the time the future started to become very uncertain in Ukraine. Political unrest gave way to strife and foreign invasion. There goes my plan A and B. I think now we are on plan U, but God has been here all along. It has been amazing to see him “guiding the ship.”
It’s also been amazing to see the plans and dreams that began before the summer of 2013 for Christy and I turn into real actions over the last year. In that time we’ve seen summer camps, relationships begin with orphans, orphanages, refugees and other ministries, and the opening of PHA’s day center Domik. What an exciting thing to see not only the growth of a tree but the fruit it produces. I’d like to say that this gain is all due to the meticulous planning of indispensable people but it’s beyond obvious that it is all due to God. The way He intertwines our lives providing for the right connections, open heats, and the funding to make it all happen. It has no doubt been a leap of faith, but it has also been a path that has been constantly lined with encouragement and the opportunity to be witness to amazing things. To see kid’s lives who are forever changed, hearts that are opening, and people becoming aware of the love of Jesus Christ. That is truly a knowledge that changes you.
Our plans are nothing compared to God in action.
Howdy! Our names are Chris and Christy Hill. We have been married for close to 12 years now and in 2012 God changed the pathway of our lives. As many of you know we went from typical careers in construction and teaching to orphan ministry in Ukraine. We often share information with others about the work we do in Ukraine but seldom do we tell the story of how it all started. How we went from a chicken coop to Ukraine…
We were living “typical-normal” lives. We were living in Cameron, TX where Chris was a superintendent for a construction company, and I was a high school math teacher.
We do not have what we would consider to be a typical missionary background, if there even is such a thing. I had always been drawn to missionary work and had spent years trying to convince Chris to get on board with the idea. His answer was always “I’m not a preacher, what would I do?”
In the summer of 2012 mission work was particularly on my heart. I shared this with Chris and he suggested that we pray about it and ask God to reveal His will to us. So we prayed, a lot… and then we went to church a week later. There in the church bulletin was an announcement from one of our elders, Kent Dale, about a Ukraine mission trip. We knew the Dale’s from earlier years, the trip was in June when I would be out of school for the summer, it was only 10 days and Chris had enough vacation time to go. All of these things made the trip doable for us but God spoke louder to us than just the scheduling. The announcement said that they needed people to help build a chicken coop. Now a chicken coop might not seem like the words of God to just anyone but to us they did. First off Chris is in construction, he has built me many chicken coops over the years and this was a way for him to be effective without being a “preacher”. To me, chickens have always been a part of my life. I have raised them, loved them, hypnotized them, majored in them in college, and worked with them at the A&M Poultry Science Farm. You’ve heard of a “crazy old cat lady”… Well my mom is a “crazy chicken lady”. And the connections to chickens just go on from there. We felt like God had just hit us over the head and made it obvious that He wanted us to be a part of this trip.
So we went to Ukraine. We learned of the problems that face older orphans and knew it was something we had to help with. Now we work full time in ministry with a nonprofit, Program for Humanitarian Aid. We travel to Ukraine frequently to help and serve. While we are in the States we share the story of the work and fundraise for this ministry.
We never got to build the chicken coop. God just used it to get us there.
We hope you will follow us and pray for us. We want to use this blog as a way to share our stories, experiences, successes and failures…