Katya has had hypothyroidism for several years now, which has caused problems with her general health and energy level. The doctor told us last week that it was time to finally remove the troubled organ. She went to see a surgeon for a pre-surgery interview today, and the actual operation should happen before the end of the month. Please pray for us – we’re both a little nervous.
We’re still not sure how much the surgery and other medical expenses will cost; however, most of the estimations that we’ve seen are about $800. If you would like to help with that, please click here to go to our donation page.
Katya recently put together a women’s retreat for the ladies of our church. One of her teachers at seminary, Kim Burkett, came and talked about “Biblical womanhood”. It was a huge blessing for all of the women there. The crowd was small, and they all wore masks, because of covid, but the atmosphere was lively and they all had a good time. I (David) helped with the children’s ministry, and I had an opportunity to see Katya leading different parts of the retreat, including some teambuilding activities. I’m so proud of her! She would like to put on another one in a month or two, depending on how the situation with covid goes here in Ukraine.
2020 was a hard year, not just because of COVID or the election. Many other things happened this year that were “out of the ordinary.” The biggest of those was when our pastor stepped down in early august. However, it’s also actually been a good year. Our church team has been almost forced to grow in so many ways. We’ve become closer to each other than we have ever been – really. I’ve never felt so confident that our team would accomplish the stuff that it sets out to do. We really enjoy each other’s company, both when working and when just hanging out.
We still don’t have a pastor…
We still don’t have a solid plan for 2021…
We still don’t know the basic direction that we want to take the church…
But we do know two things for certain:
1. We’re going to stick together until God says otherwise.
2. God is working.
Because of all of that, I’m actually very thankful for 2020, even though it was a really hard year to get through. I have more hope today for what God is doing in our church than I did at the end of 2019.
Thank You, Jesus, for getting us through 2020. I’m sure that You’ll get us through 2021 as well.
I couldn’t be prouder of this team. They overcame AMAZING odds and, with God’s help, put on a camp that will still be talked about years into the future. Each one of them deserves a medal in my book – they’re all heroes. As many of you know from the last newsletter, our pastor stepped down at the beginning of August, and there were huge doubts that we would be able to put on a camp at all… especially from me. Katya and I got sick, we were all emotionally drained, and many things had to be put together at the very last minute. However, I’m now sorry that I doubted them and God. We have a wonderful team here at our church, and God is using them in incredible ways.
Ruslan, our pastor who stepped down, was always the camp director. Whenever he wasn’t at camp for some reason, he usually put me in charge to keep things running. However, this time, both Katya and I were sick, so we had to sit out the first few days of camp. Katya got better before I did, so she was able to go; however, I was delayed a few more days as I wasn’t feeling well until camp was almost over. That meant that Slavik was our camp director – and he did amazingly! The kids love and respect him. He stepped up in ways that we didn’t even expect and is now one of the key leaders in our church.
Most of our conversations about the Gospel and spiritual things happened around the campfire in the evening. The kids at camp this year were especially open to talking about Christ and their daily walk with God.
We had many different quests and games that all of the campers took part in. In this picture, Nicholas (“Mykola” in Ukrainian) is tasked to paint a picture using anything but his hands.
God blessed us two years ago with a much-needed renewal of equipment for camp. We have new tents, including a large one for evening meetings and rainy-day activities.
Olya, Slavik, and Katya were the main leaders of the camp, as David was home sick for most of the time they were there.
One of the many fond memories from this camp was a long hike to “The Rocks of Dovbush”, an old hiding place for Ukrainian patriots in many different wars. The entire trip was about 14 miles and took the entire day; however, there were amazing views and the campers are still talking about it!
Our dog, Candy, is one of the campers’ favorite parts of life in the mountains with us. She takes part in almost all of our activities, including games, dancing, waking the campers up in the morning, and protecting the camp territory.
The Carpathian Mountains, where we have our summer camps, are one of the most beautiful parts of Ukraine.
Google Maps told us to go down this “highway” to a lake while on part of our trip back from the summer camp. The road is actually much worse than it looks, and it’s a miracle that we didn’t get stuck in Slavik’s little car, a Deo Lanos. This is the point that we decided to turn around.
If you’re on our newsletter list, you probably know that our pastor stepped down at the beginning of August. (If you would like to read a newsletter update about that, please click here.) The team has been doing amazingly, though. I’m so proud of them! I’ll have another update about that soon.
I was thinking a few days ago as I was talking with Slavik, another one of the leaders at the church here, about how this situation is demanding maturity from all of us. It’s really an example of how hard things force us to grow and even can be good in the end. I used an example of a kid without training wheels, or about the first time that you drive a car on the highway by yourself after getting your license – there’s no one there to tell you where to turn, when to stop, or what other cars to look out for; you’re on your own.
That’s a bit how we feel as a team in a way. Pastor Ruslan was always the center of every decision, the go-to in almost every ministry. When he left our team, we all flew into high-rev fifth gear ministry-wise, because we all knew that, if the church was to survive, we all need to make sacrifices. There have been several situations where we missed that almost GPS-like guidance from him, where we didn’t really know what to do or how to make our own way, but God has been faithful – He’s led us through them, and He’ll continue to lead us into the future.
Please pray for us and our team. One thing you can pray for in particular is the next sermon series that I’m working on. It’s hard not having someone over me to bounce ideas off of, to say that I’m going the right direction or not. Also, even though I’m over the preaching team, I’m not the pastor. In a way, I need to convince the rest of the team that the direction I’m going to take our pulpit is the right one, without the full authority or credibility to do so. We should be having a meeting about the new direction tomorrow, so please pray.
As with any new situation, there’s a lot of unknown territory here, a lot of “what if’s” and “what now’s”, but God is faithful. He’ll lead.