The first couple of months of 2023 have been blessed and fruitful! Here are a few memorable moments from January and February of this year. Please keep praying, as the 1-year anniversary of the attack is coming up tomorrow!
Here is an explanation of the photos:
1. A short trip we took in Poland to celebrate the New Year together 2. Teaching an online class for local military and police chaplains about how to put together a quality presentation 3. Preaching in the Central Baptist Church in Ternopil, Ukraine 4. A baby dedication that happened while I was there 5. Playing a worship song at that church that went with the sermon 6. One of my classes that I helped to teach at the local seminary in Lviv, Ukraine 7. Prayer on our knees in church for peace and victory for Ukraine 8. Walking with the dog in the park (this is a much bigger blessing than you could imagine—it both helps you to cool off during a heard, stressful week, and she also helps to start conversations with our neighbors about the Gospel 9. Cooking breakfast on a camping stove on the balcony while the power is out in Lviv, Ukraine 10. A good friend of ours getting shipped off to the army 11. A rocket hit a grocery store a few miles from Lviv 12. Preaching at Salvation Baptist Church in Lviv, Ukraine 13. Reading New Morning Mercies by Paul Trip with the family in the evenings 14. Katya translating a class with Dr. Mark MacDonald in the basement of the seminary in Lviv, Ukraine during an air raid 15. David translating a question and answer session for Bobby Watkins at the seminary in Lviv, Ukraine 16. Sleeping in the hallway during an air raid in Lviv, Ukraine 17. Jon Markey, the band Room for More, and the Ternopil Chamber Orchestra at a concert in Lviv, Ukraine—that was amazing! 18. Homemade pizza with family in Lviv, Ukraine 🙂
God blessed David with more opportunities to teach at the Lviv seminary recently. Here is a photo with the class that he helped to teach in January about prayer and worship:
The students were wonderful. There were two different faculties combined into one class group: the Church Ministry Development faculty and the New Church Planting faculty. The former of the two is basically a school for deacons in existing churches, while the second tries to form local teams to plant new churches. Some of the deacons group were from churches that David has worked with or had contact with in the past, so it was wonderful to reconnect with them.
This class is actually a combination of two different subjects: the theology and practice of prayer, and the theology and practice of Christian worship. It’s hard to teach either one of those thoroughly in a single week, so the material is very streamlined and practical. Much of the homework is different protects to put prayer and worship into action. Here are some of the students’ assignments:
25 days of prayer for a particular people group
A full day of prayer by yourself without distraction or internet
An 18-minute presentation in class of a mini worship service with all of the essential elements, though without a sermon
A prayer walk
David and the students watched lectures together by Dr. Jim Ehrhard, a seminary professor that recently moved from Ukraine to America, and David would stop each video at different points, either explaining what Jim meant, adding his two cents, saying where he disagreed, or asking questions for discussion with the students. David has gotten the same feedback twice in a row now from two different sets of students—he needs to ditch the videos and just teach the class by himself! That is very encouraging; however, until he has completed his master’s degree, there will still be a connection between this class and the old video material, as he cannot officially teach the class by himself.
Please pray for the seminary and for David’s students. Every time they come to Lviv, there is a danger for running into a draft officer on the road to the seminary. Ukraine has had heavy losses recently, and draft officers are starting to stop people on the streets or at the train station to give them draft papers.
I was thinking the other day about how to summarize this year. Every month has been some new adventure for our family. Here are a few highlights from each month:
In January we prepared for evacuation, while I recovered from surgery
In February Russia attacked, and we evacuated our family and a good friend to the EU (Katya Snead, Таня Стоколос, Irena Stokolos, and Olya Romanchak + two dogs and a cat)
In March we all got covid, and I did a humanitarian run into Ukraine with a friend
In April we served refugees, and I preached and led worship in refugee churches
In May we took in humanitarian aid and took refugees out to the EU
In June we bought a bigger car in Ukraine and flew to America
In July we were in America, visiting churches
In August we were in America, visiting family
In September Katya and I graduated from seminary and started spending more and more time in Ukraine
In October we translated for chaplains and prepared for an evangelical concert
In November we worked at the Ukrainian seminary—Katya translated for one class while I taught another—and I published a book about Ukrainian holidays
In December we prepared for winter (there’s often no power in Ukraine), I started my master’s degree, and Katya translated at the seminary
Some cool things we’ve learned this year:
Sitting in a line for 62 hours is not too bad if you’re with people you love
Pets are a wonderful stress reducer, especially if they’re well-trained and behaved
You can still get a lot of work done if the power is out and the internet doesn’t work, just make sure your computer is always charged
Always fill up your thermos with hot water before bed, because you don’t know if there’ll be electricity to make coffee in the morning
If the power goes out while you’re cooking, the electric stove is usually still hot enough to warm up leftovers from yesterday
Camping stoves are awesome, and so are sleeping bags and all the other camping equipment and experience we’ve had over the years
A balcony makes a great refrigerator during the winter
Jesus really is all you need, but you really do need Him every day!
For some reason, I feel like this year still has a few more months left in it. It’s hard to believe that 2023 is just around the corner. God, please make this war end quickly, so that by the end of next year, we’ll be able to praise You with all the rebuilding we’ve already done in Ukraine.