Settling In and Making Progress


















First, we are so bad at keeping up with blog posts that it seems embarrassing to write one at all at this point.  So much has happened in 5 months, its impossible to capture it all, but we will try to do so much better - promise!!  We so appreciate your prayers for us and friendship and hope that you continue to think of us and cover us with prayer support as we endeavor to make much of Jesus and all He has done for us in this new home of ours.

Construction Progress
When we arrived, most of the house was complete inside. We needed to hang light fixtures and have some finish work done around the stairwell and baseboards, but all was nearly complete when we arrived.  The outside was another story! With a fence that was half falling down and construction debris everywhere, we have spent the last 4 months building a new fence (brick wall really), adding patio tile and walkways (in an attempt to keep as much dirt as possible outside where it belongs!), tearing down old buildings and cleaning up all the trash.  We still have a little left do accomplish (patio tile will be done next week, the final exterior foundation trim will be added soon, and a trash trailer will be dropped off so we can get all the garbage out of here finally).  Of course there is always something to do outside around the house, so we look forward to spring next year when we can work on grapevines and gardening, perhaps some chickens will be running around the yard next year too.


Threats of War
The threat of war seems to be a cyclical roller coaster of imminent danger followed by quiet calm.  We don't see or feel any of the conflict seen in the news, but we are always on alert that this could change quickly in our region.  We are grateful for friends within missionary organizations who regularly share with us the inside information they receive concerning threat levels and possible reactionary forecasts.  We have a couple of bags packed and can be ready to leave within an hour if necessary.  We hope and pray this will not be needed, but we are ready if so - and will keep you posted if this turns out to be the case!

Family Adjustments
The kids are very happy here for the most part.  They miss grandparents the most and hope that each of them can come visit in the spring and summer as we have talked about.  If things settle down with Russia, they have said that they never want to leave!  Jeffrey was telling Amy goodnight recently and told her, "Mom, I love you.  And by the way, thanks for making me come to Ukraine against my will."  Anna, Gracie and Alex are all enjoying the new life we live here as well.  There seems to be more freedom for them here as young adults.  They go to youth group together on the local public transportation and have begun making friends.  Anna and Gracie both still pray for a really close friend, as the still feel a little lonely and miss this aspect.  Everyone else is doing great also, we have survived a pneumonia episode with Joel (3 day hospital stay), but everyone else has stayed happy and they are all seemingly very glad to be here too.

Language Lessons
We take Russian lessons 3 times a week for an hour each lesson.  Sergei and Ira are our wonderful teachers.  They are so patient with us and we so enjoy learning from them.  Jeff and Anna struggle the most, but do pretty good with reading comprehension.  Amy and Gracie are next in line with progress reading and understanding some conversations and phrases pretty well.  Jeffrey has picked things up remarkably fast and has conversations that impress both mom and dad!!  We are confident that all of us will get where we need to be conversationally, some just faster than others.  Amy takes what we learn in our group lessons from Ira and Sergei and then teaches it to the younger kids as part of home school - so we are all getting a dose of Russian regularly.  We don't have a TV yet, but when we do I imagine that some Russian cartoons will help bring about new levels of understanding in the little ones too.

Ministry Opportunities
1.  Jeff is invited to speak fairly regularly and in a variety of settings. He has opportunity to preach during Sunday morning worship services, nightly prayer meetings, and in orphan camps and ministry meetings.


2.  We participate in youth ministry at our home church, where we help with Wednesday night small groups.  There is need for a group split (it's just too big!) and Jeff will likely take lead of one or two of these small groups in the near future.


3.  Through our church's youth pastor we have connected with a local 'elite' high school where Jeff will be teaching English class 1 morning each week (the rotation will cause him to have 4 different classes of students).  He has been told he can discuss anything he wishes during these four 80 minute class periods, which is a wonderful open door for the gospel and Bible study if there ever was one!  So far we have had only 1 class, with introductions and some 'breaking the ice' interactions.  These kids have studied English for a long time and are looking forward to practicing conversation skills...which should work perfectly with the plans we have for situation-based dialogue practice and Bible reading and discussion.  Most kids here are 16-17 years old, have a Russian orthodox background and are very interested in practicing English - no matter what the content.

4.  The Agape Ministry Joshua house has experienced a re-purposing recently and we have been invited to consider helping to lead a Bible School project with this facility.  The plans are in the beginning stages, but we are super excited about what God may be doing with this possibility and hope to see it develop into a retreat center style school that will serve orphans in transition houses all across Ukraine.  We have a lot of brain storming and planning to do, but hope to see this take root in the near future.

 

5.  We regularly pick up folks from the local bus stop and drive them into the city on our way to running errands and such.  Often it's just Jeff driving with a few others..and while they cannot communicate much, we always have some Russian Christian worship songs playing as we give people this small convenience.  They often want to give us their bus money - but we insist that they keep it, since we were driving to town anyway.  We have met many of our village neighbors through this simple gesture and it's always such fun to help folks in this unexpected way.  As we develop language skills and prepare to one day host a home Bible study, we think that God may be using this season to prepare people to respond to our invitation - we won't be 'strangers' hopefully to many folks by then.

6.  God has allowed us to help people with alcohol addiction find their way to the gospel and a rehab center, we have orphans and teens in our home for the weekends almost every weekend to show them love and family values, we have been able to help with support of military personnel and sharing supplies and the gospel with men on the front lines.   There are so many little things that God allows us to be a part of - we are blessed beyond measure to be his vessels of light and hope in these small ways.

 

               

Taking a walk around our beautiful village.


During cold days we are thankful for the indoor play areas at our local mall.  The kids love the variety of options!

Our church meeting place.  A beautiful building where a more beautiful people gather to worship and pray.


Family and friends...what it's all about!

2 comments:

  1. So good to see all of the pictures and get a nice update on your activities. Thanks for sharing. 😊

    ReplyDelete
  2. What an amazing adventure - we are thinking of you and praying for you

    - The Kiefers

    ReplyDelete

 

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