Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Settling in Colorado

So, we have been in America for over 6 weeks. What a transition it has been!!! Life in the States is so different from life in a small Ukrainian town. The pace of life, the cost of living, overabundance of choices are all things we are adjusting to. We miss our friends and church family in Ukraine, but we look ahead to all that God will do here in America. Here is a brief rundown of our journey over the past month and a half...

As we were preparing to move to America, we sought counsel as to what our transition would look like. We were advised to take some time and connect with our home church and those who supported us over our six years in Ukraine. This was great wisdom and proved to be time well spent. We spent one month with individuals and groups sharing our hearts and giving glory to all God did in and through us. We reflected upon His greatness and power in spite of our weakness and encouraged others to follow Jesus and trust Him. What comfort and security lie in knowing we have a God who is for us and not against us. One who is working and has a plan and a purpose for our lives. One who directs and equips us to finish this race. Looking back we were and are so blessed to have many of you as friends and partners in our journey of faith. You partnered and weathered the storms with us and we thank you!
Jaden with the bearded dragons
Sharing with supporters at church
Smores at Mimi and Poppi's

Enjoying Memorial Day with friends

After one month in Arizona, our real transition the place we would settle and call home. Aurora, Colorado would be our final destination. Christy flew ahead of me with Justin, Jeremy and Josie to get our apartment in order. I followed a few days later with a moving vehicle and some personal belongings. Jaden and our dog Cadence accompanied me in the cab for our 2 day journey. Oh yes, and we brought along 5 lizards (1 Chuckwalla, 2 desert iguanas and 2 bearded dragons) who all seemed to do fine riding in the back of the moving van. It was a long trip but Jaden and I had fun counting the number of rattlesnakes we saw on the side of the road. We arrived safely and began to settle into our new apartment.
Moving Van with my 56 Bug

As I sit in my apartment, I look around at all the things the Lord has provided. From couches and beds to a dining table and chairs, the Lord has truly blessed and taken care of us. We came with literally nothing and have watched the Lord work through people to come alongside us and take care of our needs. We are literally starting over, and are blessed and thankful in how God has worked. Our new pastor, (Ed Taylor from Calvary Chapel Aurora), has kept in touch with us over the past three months. He has encouraged us, prayed for us and let his congregation know our needs. Christy and I have really been refreshed attending services and meeting new friends we will soon minister with. We are excited about ministry here and what future doors the Lord will open. As for now we just want you to know we value your prayers and continued financial support as we settle. We have signed a 9-month apartment lease about 10 minutes from the church. We are still waiting for our van and house to sell in Ukraine. Please pray about continuing to support us through the end of the year.

The Lord gave me a verse back in Ukraine about trusting him with this new transition.
Isaiah 41:9-10  I have called you back from the ends of the earth so you can serve me. For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. 10 Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Thank you Lord for your promises!

New Job
Christy and I have started working with her mom's business. Jackie stages homes in the Denver area and hires us to move and set up the furniture. I have been working on sprucing up Jackie's business with a new logo and brochures. Hopefully this investment will increase business as well. I am enjoying getting into graphic design again but do feel like I have a lot of catching up to do. My computer is outdated as well as my software but I am doing my best with what I have. If you know anyone who wants to donate towards this, please let me know.

Our Kiddos
The kids are adjusting pretty well. They really miss their friends in Ukraine. The time in Arizona was blessed as they spent time with Mimi and Poppi and the cousins. But then they went through another goodbye as we headed to Colorado. They are continually praying about meeting new friends and seek to befriend kids in the apartment complex and at church. We all have been enjoying swimming everyday in pool here, and we have already visited the zoo and Science Museum. Jaden will start soccer this week and I have volunteered to coach his team. Please pray that the Lord would comfort their hearts and bring in special friendships for each of them.
Our Little Scientists

That sums it up!!! Thank you for your prayers and support. May you be encouraged as the Lord answers our prayers and guides our lives for His glory!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Farewell Party

We are so thankful for the six years we have had serving with the church in Kaharlyk, Ukraine.  It is hard to say goodbye to all the people that have touched our hearts.  Last night, the church put on a going-away party for our family.  It was a sweet time of remembering the great times we have had here.  Here are some photos from the evening...

Party in the newly remodeled coffeehouse

Prayers for our family

Josie's friends don't want to let her go...

Singing one of my original songs

Everyone signed a Ukrainian flag for us to take home

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April Newsletter 2012

We are down to our last two weeks here in Ukraine! It feels surreal that we will be packing up our family and moving away. Our emotions are up and down; excited yet sad. We are enjoying our last days, visiting friends and saying goodbyes, reminising about old times, dreaming about what lies ahead. All this reminds us that this is not our home!!! Just as we are awaiting our departure from Ukraine, we have an even greater departure ahead when we go home to be with the Lord. Hebrews 12:28 says, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." We want to continue to press forward, with our eyes on Jesus, with our hope in His future promises. The Lord's love for us is so great and so amazing! His mercy has taken us this far because of Christ, so it is with full assurance that we will press on trusting him for whatever lies ahead. We thank you for your partnership in our mission and ministry here!!!

Here is an update of the happenings this past month...

A few of us from the youth group celebrated early in the morning as we have the past few years. We gather on an old gravesite on a hill overlooking the lake. It was cloudy so not a good sunrise, but we enjoyed our time together rejoicing in the finished work of Christ! Later at church Wayne preached an Easter message and we enjoyed a church potluck afterwards. We truly love gathering with our church body here. They have enriched our lives and grown along with us in our faith. God has really blessed us with so many wonderful memories!

Samaritan's Purse Outreach
It's been six years since we started distributing Samaritan’s Purse Box Christmas presents. In cooperation with local government social services, we make a list of children with special needs, orphans, children who lost a parent and needy families. To start with we had 40 kids. This year we had 203 children come! For this event we split them up into different age groups and sing songs, read Bible stories, do crafts and games. After having some snacks they get their presents. As usual, there is a lot of excitement amongst the kids. We serve coffee and cookies to the parents while they are waiting for their kids. It is a big step for them to even step into our building! So, by serving them and blessing their kids, we are are trying to breakdown barriers. We pray that the seeds we sow will grow. And all glory be to God!!!

Bibles for Orphans
We would like to share with you about a project our friends in Chernigov are involved in. Since it deals with orphans, it is close to our heart. In Lumine Media is a Christian Publisher located in Chernigov, Ukraine that prints gospel-centered Christian resources in the Russian and Ukrainian languages. They have started a project to print and distribute The Jesus Storybook Bible to all of the orphans in Ukraine. In Lumine, in partnership with Ukraine without Orphans Alliance, will print the bibles in the Ukrainian language and distribute them through the Alliance’s network of over 100 churches and 30 Christian organizations already working in orphanages in every state of Ukraine. For only $3 you can help them print and distribute 1 bible.
Visit to find out more...

Wayne gets his bowling machine!
While in the States, Pastor Wayne was given money to purchase a bowling machine for the Cricket Ministry he has started in Ukraine. Say What??? For most Americans, the sport of cricket is not very familiar. But for our pastor who is Australian, it is a passion. And he has started a cricket club in our town that competes in Kiev against other foreigners, mostly from India and Pakistan. The Kaharlyk Cricket Club proudly boasts of a team comprised of mostly Ukrainian players, something unheard of in Ukraine. Wayne's vision is to use the sport of cricket to gain access to many young peoples lives in our town. The mayor of Kaharlyk has caught the vision and has given a plot of land for a cricket field. It will be exciting to watch what doors God opens and how He can use sports for kids to bring glory to his name!!! Check out Wayne's blog for more information.

Prayer requests:
1. Our house to sell. (There is a lady from our church who has agreed to buy our house, although it will take a few months to close.)
2. Our van to sell.
3. Traveling mercies (We leave Ukraine May 1)
4. Adjusting to life in America
5. Grace and Peace during this transition

Here are some fun pictures from way back when...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Moving back to America!!!

Over the past six months, we have been praying and seeking God as to the direction of our future here in Ukraine. We moved to Ukraine six years ago, with the vision of coming alongside Calvary Chapel Kaharlyk to help and serve in any way we could. That included ministering to youth, elderly outreaches, building projects, and working with orphans, just to name a few. In the time that we have lived in Kaharlyk, we have seen the Lord do many amazing things and we have grown in so many ways. But now, we are announcing to you, our supporters, friends and family, that we have made the decision to move back to America.

This has been an incredibly hard decision to make. It has been made with many months spent on our knees in prayer and after many long discussions with Pastor Wayne, Danny and my family. Basically, we feel that we have fulfilled the mission that we set out to do. The 3-5 years that we committed to has passed. So, the question is whether the Lord has called us to stay long-term or not.

For us to stay long-term in Ukraine, two things would need to happen. First, we would need to really learn the language. We started out well when we moved here, traveling to a language school in Kiev twice a week. But with the birth of Justin shortly after we moved, language lessons were put on the back-burner. And we never quite got back to the rigid schedule that is needed to learn the language. We have not achieved a fluency that would allow us to minister to Ukrainians in a more in-depth way. Because I am such a relational person, this is hard for me. (One thing I would add, though, is that God is so gracious and He has repeatedly used my inabilities and weaknesses, such as not speaking Ukrainian well, for his glory!!!) It is clear to us that the amount of time needed to study and become proficient at the language would not be best for my family at this point in time.

Secondly, we would need to have a long-term vision for staying in Ukraine. It has been so cool to look back over the past 6 years and see what doors God has opened up for us to minister. We just needed to be open and allow the spirit to guide and He would show us the needs even in the smallest ways, like driving babushkas home or giving someone needy a loaf of bread. We have dabbled in many areas and been blessed beyond measure by the ways God has worked. However, God has not confirmed in my heart a clear vision of ministry for the long-term. This is another indicator that it is time to move on. The church here in Kaharlyk is becoming more unified and mature and it is our prayer and desire for the Ukrainian people to step up and serve in many of the areas that I did as a missionary. This is the goal, for the members of the church here to step up and take an active part in service...being the hands and feet that God intended them to be.

We can already see the ways God wants to use us in America. It is our desire to be a bridge for the people in America to the work happening in Kaharlyk. We want to be a voice for Wayne's ministry and vision for community transformation. This could mean leading short-term trips, speaking at churches, helping raise support and assisting Wayne in future trips to the US. We are fully behind Wayne and Danny and the work in Kaharlyk. We want to continue to be a part of helping spread the vision of all that God is doing in this little town!

So, what happens next? Our plan is to fly home to the US on May 1. So, we have about 8 weeks left living here in Kaharlyk. Our house is up for sale here, however, the market is not good. If it does not sell, we might rent it out and try to sell when the market picks back up. We plan to stay in Arizona for 4-6 weeks. During that time, we would like to travel to the churches and individuals that have supported us over the years and give a debriefing of our time in Ukraine. After that, we plan to move our family to Colorado. This is the place that the Lord has been leading us to move and settle. We do not know all of the details yet, but we trust that God already knows. We have seen how He has led the way for our family to move to Ukraine, and we are so excited to watch what He does in moving us back home!

Prayer Needs:
1. For our breaking hearts: This is going to be an extremely painful process over the next 8 weeks, saying goodbye to the people that we love so dearly. It is also a hard thing for everyone in the church to understand, why we are leaving. It will be difficult for us to let go and also for them to let go of us. Pray that God would fill us with His peace and help us to look to Him in our grief and sadness.

2. For the finances to make this move, from the flights, to renting a place in AZ, to hauling our stuff to CO...and basically to start over from scratch!!! We sold everything to come here. We are asking our financial supporters to pray about continuing to support as we make this transition. We will need to get settled and find employment which could take a few months. Please pray and seek the Lord as to how you can be involved in our transition.

3. Logistics - kids finishing school, getting rid of all our stuff, selling items, cleaning, packing, visiting friends...etc.

4. Youth group - the group is in a state of transition right now and the leaders have been praying about what direction God would like it to take.

5. We are looking for a place to stay in AZ for 4-6 weeks and a vehicle.

We will continue to send out our newsletters and keep you posted on how the Lord guides us in this transition. We look forward to sharing about all God has done in our time in Ukraine!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It is FINISHED!!! Praise God, after 2 years, the coffeehouse project has finally come to a close. There is still furniture to add and cabinets to install, but it's ready to be used. May this place open doors for ministry, fellowship and outreach to the community. This Sunday we will open it for the church and celebrate with tea, cake and cookies.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kaharlyk Day Children's Festival

Our church was invited by the city to put on a children's festival at the celebration of Kaharlyk's Birthday. We set up stations for the kids including face-painting, cookie decoration and evangelistic bead bracelet making. We thank God for another opportunity to make relationships with the children and parents in our town and we pray that He would continue to use us to impact the community for His glory!