Hello dear brothers and sisters! It's a pleasure to write to you from Ukraine. It's been almost 7 weeks since we moved to Ukraine. These past 7 weeks have been full of different challenges and blessings. In the midst of all of them, we are so grateful for your prayers and your support. I want to share just a few highlights from the last 7 weeks.
Several months before the move have been hectic. There was so many things to do and accomplish before the move. From selling our belongings little at a time, organizing our documents in the USA, to getting our documents for Ukraine. (My passport came a few days before our move). The travel was long and exhausting. There were some challenges along the way, but nothing major. It took us about 24 hours to get to Ukraine. Then we spend the night near Kiev so we can get a little rest before driving to Sarny (About 6-7 hours with stops). We are thankful for your prayers, and God's protection during the flight and drive to Sarny.
FIRST 3 WEEKS
We had three weeks to adjust before summer church camp. It took several weeks for all of us to adjust to the new time zone. Right away we moved into the apartment we rented. We live in the center of the city, pretty close to the church. The apartment is smaller than our apartment in the States, but we don't feel it. It's on the second floor, so we don't have too many stairs to take, but it's a little bit challenging with strollers. The apartment has two bedrooms and one living room. Everything is pretty old inside of it. We spend weeks trying to get it fixed up a little bit. The owners left some old furniture. (Really old and dirty). We got bitten by something at night, possibly bed bugs. Little by little we asked the owners to remove the old furniture. We slept on a blow up mattress for a while, until recently our mattress that we ordered came in, and then two beds. This week was the first time we all slept in our beds.
There is a ton of details we can write about, it might just be easier for you to come visit us :). There is a problem with drinking water. The water is often pretty rusty, not often that we can get fully clear water from our sink or shower. Plus, we found out that some of the locals got the water tested, and were told it has a full package of different contaminants, that make it not suitable for drinking water. So we get gallons of water from a near by filter machine. More on this later :)
I preached several times in the first few weeks, and started meeting with the Friday group weekly (about 25 people attend).
SUMMER CAMP 2021
This year we chose the topic of "Two Ways". We talked about the wide and narrow ways that Christ described in Matthew Chapter 7. We had about 95 people total in the camp, including staff and the team from USA. We were extremely blessed by team from USA. We were pleasantly surprised to see each one of them find their ministry in camp. We had many blessed conversation in camp, and opportunities to share the Gospel. During and after camp, almost everyone got sick with some type of stomach bug. The church saw it as God's way to work in our hearts.
Life here is definitely different, and takes some time to get used to. Some people told me that visiting Ukraine and living here is completely different. There were correct. There is a-lot to get used to. Each aspect is not super challenging, but all of them combined, make living here different. For example, there are times we don't have water at the apartment (not often). We have to get clean water to drink and cook with. There is a lot of dirt and sand in the city. A lot of which comes inside the apartment. Prices are pretty high here compared to the salaries. Gas is about $4 per gallon, and milk reaches up-to $4.70 per gallon. And the list goes on and on. But despite all of these aspects, God has been very good to us. We are learning that all these challenges do not subtract from our joy we have in Christ. We are adjusting to our new life, and learning to be grateful for all that we have. We are very thankful for all the financial support that made this move and our ministry here possible.
THE CHURCH IN SARNY
We have been blessed by the church in Sarny. There is a lot to learn from this small church. Their simplicity and family atmosphere is sometime to treasure. There is about 70 people that attend the church (35 members including us). The services are simple, yet very effective. There are 6 men in the church that are members. And not all of them are able to be at church consistently. Many of the women that attend come from broken marriages, or divorced/widowed.
The church building is 110 years old. It fits about 60-65 people. At times we have people sit in the hallway (different room) and listen from there. There was a project started to expand the building a bit, but it requires a very large amount of money. Plus, building on to a 110 year old building, might not be the best idea. Please pray for wisdom in this area.
There is a women's group that started back up this past week. I hear lots of good feedback about this group. Also the youth ministry is starting back up after a break. There are two young brothers that took on this ministry, and have been growing in it. There two brothers are also the brothers that lead our church services. Please pray for their growth.
Thank you for your ongoing support, prayers and encouragement. I can't imagine this move without all our friends overseas. We cherish and love you!