Hello friends and family,
Soon Kelly and I will be departing for a mission trip to Ukraine, spending about one week in the country. We will be flying out on May 28th and arriving in Kiev Sunday afternoon. Upon arrival we will catch our breath for a few hours and then climb aboard an overnight train that will take us to Kramators’k, which is located about 60 miles from the Ukraine/Russian conflict zone. Our team has not been able to visit the House of Grace family since the summer of 2013 so we feel it is very important to spend time with Maxim, Lena and the kids. The last time we traveled to Kramators’k with our team, we flew into Donetsk to the new, beautiful airport.
Although there had been rocket attacks back in February 2015, currently Kramators’k is occupied by Ukraine. This map gives you a general sense for the location of occupied territory in rebel control.
We are praying that our time with Maxim, Lena and the family will be fruitful and filled with new opportunities to learn from each other. I am excited to see their garden and any outdoor projects that may be in construction or on the drawing board. I wonder if they are still interested in getting chickens or rabbits? We will talk with them about their dreams for the home.
We are aware of a much needed construction project to repair the leaking roof. The kitchen has black mold as a result of the leaky roof. We also will be assessing the need for a much kitchen refurbishing. Lena’s gift of hospital will flourish and multiply with a new, modern kitchen! As it it, Lena can be found cooking for the 7-9 boys everyday, as well as a weekly meal for 5-8 girls who join them every Sunday!
We will be exploring possiblities and opportunities for a 3rd transition home…
keeping our hand open for God’s will and listening.
Our plan is to also visit with our friend and ministry partner Peter and his wife Tamara who lead a large church in Sloviansk. In addition, I am looking forward to connecting with Natalie’s sister, Nastia, and her family. They live close by and are about a 1-2 hour bus ride away.
We will take a train back to Kiev the evening of May 31st and rest up at our sweet friends home in Kiev. Bright and early the next morning we will be picked up by our dear friend Alex B. from Good Samaritan Ministries. (GSU). We met Alex and his wife exactly eleven years ago, during our adoption trip to adopt Luke and Rhya and have been close friends since! He is our trusted friend and ministry partner who we always try to visit when we travel to Ukraine. Alex and his wife, along with his staff, have huge hearts for the least. Whether they are serving widows, orphans, single mothers, those living in poverty or addicts, GSU shows the love of Christ through actions and deeds. In the past we have supported the big “widow” home as well as offered financial support to the rehabilitaion center.
Our newest partnership with GSU that just began this past winter is a program that offers a holistic approach to caring for refugees as a result of the conflict. Refugees that are displaced within their own country and have not crossed any boarders are actually called Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s). Our newest partnership will focus on caring for a displaced family from eastern Ukraine that will move to the small village of Andrushvika, just outside of Zhytomir. Kelly and I will be visiting the village and community, but most importantly meeting the family that is part of this pilot program. If you would like to learn more about our dreams for this model of helping, please see the this IDP – Finding Home paper I wrote in graduate school.
Kelly and I will also visit with our sweet Yana as well as a quick visit to see Andrei and Oksana who run Last Bell Ministry and have coffe with Liz M. We will also visit Rhya and Luke’s family who live in a poor village home outside the city of Zhytomir. Alex B. continues to help us to care for our extended family by purchasing groceries, offering rides to church and an occassional trip to McDonalds.
From Vinnytsia we will head back to Kyiv to see our long time friends from CBN/Emmanual and the Shoemaker cast. We will also be making some new connections by meeting with The Salvation Army leaders to share our experiences of orphan care together. Our final stop will be to visit with our friends from ICCL (International Coalition for Christian Leadership). We also plan on bringing home loads of matrushka dolls and other Ukrainian souverniors to sale at Christmas in Berthoud this year!
Wow…I’m exhausted just reading this! We are so blessed to have the opportunity to serve alongside our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.
I am priveliged to be embarking on another missionary journey, with my heart and hands open to learn, listen and be part of God’s Kingdom work!
Please keep us in your prayers for physical strength (many suitcases to carry filled with donations!), emotional strength, health, endurance, patience, rest and safety.
My prayer is that as we GO we put on the whole armor of God and be the hands and feet of Jeus!
Thank you for your support and prayers!
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV