From D’Ann Moxley (Dallas, Texas – Park Cities Presbyterian Church): Nothing good comes easy.
Our whirlwind courier trip to Krakow the first week of June came with many airline adversities, but God made it worthwhile with repeated blessings or “God winks” along the way!
The last week of May is called “Mayhem” by moms like me because of the crazy number of awards banquets, teacher gifts, and driving all over town for end-of-school parties. All that, and I was packing the kids for first term camp. In the midst of this chaos, my husband nonchalantly asked: “Do you want to go to Kraków, Poland, next weekend while the kids are gone?”
The question left me reeling. I hesitated. Wait. What? That’s right next to Ukraine. I’m tired, beat down, overwhelmed. Why can’t we go to Cabo? Usually, I’m game for a mission trip and I love adventure travel. My first answer was, “Why don’t you go, and I’ll hold down the fort?” Rex had to ask me three times before I finally said OKAY. Kraków, Poland, sounded a little scary, and I also felt guilty that I hadn’t prayed more for Ukraine. But I’m so thankful God nudged me to say yes.
Rex and I left on a Thursday and were back Monday. We were in Kraków for 36 hours and didn’t even have time to get jet lagged.
On Thursday, we went to Love Field and got in line with 12 fifty-pound crates (plastic foot lockers) full of bandages and supplies. The first God wink was the fact that no one was behind us in line. No one had to watch and wait as every crate got weighed and labeled and as we gave the agent the paperwork for our humanitarian efforts. Thankfully there were Ukraine stickers on the trunks, and once the woman heard why we were taking all the crates to Kraków, she enthusiastically waived the $2,000 baggage fees! That right there was a miracle! It ended up that all four of the Delta personnel were excited to be a part of the effort.
We were late leaving Atlanta, so our Amsterdam flight left without us. We couldn’t get processed in time and even though we ran as fast as we could through the Amsterdam airport, we arrived at the gate only to see the jet bridge pulling away and the gate agents shutting the doors. That gave us 6 hours to catch our breath. God brought to mind our favorite mission trip motto, “Trust and adjust instead of grumble and complain.” God gently reminded us of all the suffering and destruction in Ukraine. It was all in God’s perfect timing setting us up for an incredible 10:00 p.m. sunset we wouldn’t have seen if we’d made the flight. This sunset was another gift from God. As I gazed out my window at the apricots and magentas, I realized why we had waited. God is good.
We were supposed to arrive and have dinner with the missionaries in Kraków but didn’t get there until midnight. We waited for our bags to come until around 1:30 a.m., and after all the bags had made their way onto the carousel, we realized only one crate had made it. As we arrived at the hotel at about 2:00 a.m., fear began to say, “What if we came all this way and the other 11 don’t show up? What if they got stolen? What if they’re confiscated? What if…???” But God kept reminding us to “trust and adjust”. God was teaching me to pray. Anytime I got anxious, I’d just keep asking for Him to take care of us.
And He did. Over and over again. With every little detail.
But… “What if _???” Then, “Oh, yeah!!! We have a great and loving, powerful God who is always with us and takes care of us!
It’s no surprise the rest of the crates arrived at our hotel in Kraków, Poland, the next afternoon. Thank you, God, mission accomplished!
Surprisingly, the next morning we both woke up ready to go. God wink: we were not too tired and had a delicious breakfast at the Amber Hotel with missionaries Beth and Dal Stanton. The Stantons have been missionaries in Bulgaria, Spain, Ukraine, and now Kraków, Poland, where they have been helping with a refugee crisis center.
After breakfast, we took a tour of the bunker in the basement of the Amber Hotel, where Mission to the World (MTW) has rented space. They posted a Ukrainian map there – seeing it was the highlight of the trip! The missionaries strategically plan how to distribute crates to the churches in Ukraine. Eighteen orange flags on the map represent the 18 Evangelical Presbyterian Churches. As an art teacher, I thought of orange confetti, which is usually a symbol of joy. It appeared to me God sprinkled confetti on the Ukraine map, and those churches can be a light in the darkness and spread the Good News. They are rays of hope that spread God’s mercy and healing during this turmoil.
It was no coincidence that the next day we went to Schindler‘s factory. We were reminded again of all the atrocities of the Holocaust. There used to be 70,000 Jews in Kraków and now there are about 300. Most of them were exterminated in death camps, but thankfully Schindler saved around 1,400. We were thankful we could be there to help, even in the smallest way. We so enjoyed meeting Beth and Dal and some of the other missionaries on the team and the drivers. It was sad to see Dal choke up as he discussed the war and the people he knows from the churches that are suffering in the midst of this hell on earth.
When we got to the Kraków airport Sunday morning, the ticket agent told us the flight was full and that because we didn’t check-in online, we would be on standby. Again, we were coming up against airline adversity, so we had to be the first ones at the gate to check-in to see if we could even get on the flight. ‘Trust and adjust’ was difficult because we were annoyed and anxious to get on the plane. But, God had a reason for another irritant! A little girl was in the line behind me waiting for a standby spot. She looked like she was in about second grade (my favorite grade!). I’ve been a teacher for years.
She had on a headband with yellow and blue flowers, and long yellow and blue ribbons streaming down her long brown hair. She was the picture of traditional Ukrainian folklore. I overheard her mom say they were from Ukraine and how thankful they were to go to Norfolk, Virginia, where her sister lived. This precious little one would be safe with her Aunt – another God wink and ray of hope.
It was such a privilege to be a part of something bigger and see God at work in the details and answer prayer after prayer. What a blessing it was to step out of our comfort zone and be nudged to help those in need and all the little blessings along the way. Like Pastor Mark Davis says, “God means to bless you just as much as the ones you go to serve.”
“What makes God so dear to us is not so much His big blessings to us, but the tiny God winks along the way. Each one shows His amazing intimacy with us…“ –Oswald Chambers