Our first real update from Ukraine! This may get long – my apologies at the beginning. If it was a perfect world, we could easily write a post every day.
I (Chris) finally arrived on January 26. I thought I would NEVER get here. We made the trip without too much trouble. Overall, my back was “okay” all things considered. Also, my mom and Bud made the trip pretty well. I honestly couldn’t imagine how she would be able to sit for so many hours and still be able to walk. But she was a trooper. She opted out of using a wheelchair because she wanted to walk in between flights to loosen up her joints a little bit.
As far as acclimating to Ukraine, mom and I got here almost two weeks after everyone else did. We found them pretty well-rested and sleeping pretty normally. Mom has started sleeping like she usually sleeps (not all night, but at least the way she slept in the USA). I haven’t been so lucky. But, I’m hopeful that eventually, I will be so tired that I’ll sleep through the night. I mean, a person can’t go without sleep forever, right?
Mary has re-entered life here just like I knew she would. Full force! People were so glad to see her and she has re-entered ministry as though we have never been gone. It’s really amazing. She never ceases to amaze me how she loves people so well. She accepts people as they are and loves them into a relationship with God. What a treasure she is!
Bethany and Seth had mixed emotions, of course, about coming back. I’m telling you – having two places that you love and where you are loved is not all good. It creates weird emotions in hour gut. But they are doing well. We are thankful that someone has offered to pay for their school so they are starting back at Kyiv Christian Academy TOMORROW morning. Mary is going to go into town with them to get the documents signed for re-enrollment. They are thrilled about this! We went school supply shopping this afternoon and they are officially ready to go.
Micah was so excited to be back in our home here. He was happy to see our friends and familiar places. But let’s face it – Micah fits in anywhere and is happy to be wherever he is. He’s a great example of making the most of every situation. We could all learn a lot from him. He’s really doing well and was quite the fellowshipper at church this morning.
Matthew has really surprised us. I guess maturation has really helped him. Even when we moved back to the States in 2015, within a couple of days he was covered with little scabs from pinching himself until he bled. All because of the changes in his life and not handling it well. We have been keeping a close watch on him and are very thankful that he has made the transition with relative ease. We have found a couple of spots on his hand where he has pinched himself, but not a big deal as compared to the last transition in his life.
Elijah is happy. Elijah is ALWAYS happy. Give him a stuffed animal to twirl around the room and he’s happy. He hasn’t had any difficulty making the move. We aren’t really sure how much he understands, but one thing we know – he loves being loved and he loves being around us. His smile would melt an iceberg. What a treasure he is.
Ethan is doing pretty well considering his issues with fear and panic. His face is chapped from licking it (nervousness) and as we have taken him places and he’s been around people, his fear is surfacing as it has in the past, but he, too, is doing better than we thought he would. Before I got here, he was having some issues with being aggressive (as he has had in the past when transitions happen). But it was only a couple of times and was over before I arrived. We are so thankful to God for helping our little man through the transition time. He’s got a bit to go in order to feel secure, but we are just loving him through it and hope that one day, through God’s love for him expressed through us, his little heart and spirit will heal.
Eliana like Eli is pretty happy anywhere. She is happy here. Eliana loves to give hugs and that hasn’t changed. And people here love her because of her very sweet disposition. She’s made all the really hard transitions with ease and this one has been no different. The biggest change for her is that she is sleeping in a room by herself. Even that doesn’t seem to bother her. She’s a delight.
Here’s some pics (they aren’t great, but here they are)
The garage door. Our neighbor repainted the doors and the flowers before we got back.
Elian and her “friends.”
Matthew waiting on dinner. Staring into the kitchen longingly.
Micah wants to be like Papa – so he sits around almost all the time with a computer in his lap “working.”
Bud is liking his new surroundings and is feeling better than he has in a LONG time.
Ethan in his very favorite spot in the world. At the table – eating pasta.
Mom seems to like it here and has been so much help, already, with life here and with the kids. We’re SO glad she’s here.
My beautiful bride.
Bethany getting some dinner ready. She’s turned into a great cook!
Eli and his friend the elephant.
Lighting the stove – not a job for the faint of heart (or people with hairy hands).
Friday night Bible study
It’s been so great seeing our “ladies” and their kids the last couple of Fridays. This week (February 3) we had an ice storm and everything was coated with nearly an inch of ice (we’ve had more since then). We really thought that we would only have a handful of people, but were surprised to have eleven here, plus kids! It was a good time around God’s truth and a special time of fellowship.
We were absolutely thrilled to see our dear Sveta Friday night! This is the lady that so many of you have been praying for. She was saved this past summer and then found out about a very serious brain tumor. She has had her surgery and treatment and is doing so well! It’s not over, yet, but God has done miraculous things. We are praying for her husband now that he will recognize his need of the Lord. Please join us in praying.
Part of our ladies on Friday night. We were waiting for the others to come in after getting their kids settled in the next room. The ladies bring very delightful homemade goodies with them each week.
Many of the previous ministries continue on Saturdays. There is a new one that one of our precious ladies decided she needed to do. Sveta (another Sveta) is marvelous cook. In fact, in the picture above, she is the one that made the delicious bread with apple that is sitting by the pink pencil case. She felt that the Lord wanted her to teach a cooking class for some of the older teens with special needs. So a couple of weeks ago, she started it. Mary and Bethany are going to be part of it. During the time, they sing songs, they read something from God’s Word and have a short lesson and then they learn how to cook a dish from start to finish. Last night they made traditional vareniky (some with potatoes, some with cabbage and some with cheese filling). Mary and Bethany had a wonderful time of fellowship with the teens and wth Sveta.
This is our precious friend Sveta. She is a strong believer and is growing in her faith before our eyes!
Guess what? They didn’t bring a single one home! I guess they were so good they ate them all while they were there.
Kyiv International Fellowship Church
We had a really nice first service at KIFC today in Kyiv (about 20 minutes from our house). This is the international church that I am on the leadership team of. It’s a new church start. Services are in English right now and eventually will be translated to Ukrainian (when necessary). We are so excite about this opportunity. Today, I led worship (as I will do each week) and then Mary and I gave testimony of God’s greatness and kind of told about who we are and shared about our family. It was a great day!
Seth played Kajon with me (it’s a rhythm instrument – like a drum of sorts). He did a great job. Bethany runs the words on the screen. She also did great!
Rick (one of my fellow pastors) giving the a greeting and reading scripture at the beginning of the service.
Well, that’s it for today! As you can see just from these couple of things, it’s been a busy week. There’s all kinds of other things that went on, of course, but these are the big highlights.
Thank you for praying for us! If you want to know more about Ukraine Ministries of Oklahoma, click here.
We bless the Name of our Lord!