Thursday, April 23, 2009

Winter 2009

We have had a great semester even though it was full of the flu and stomach virus for several months, God allowed us to have great family time during some long dark winter nights and some exciting ministry opportunities.

We had 4 conferences in Odessa, Zhitomar, Novograd Valinsk and Kramatorsk. The Kramatorsk conference was a joint effort with Brian and Heidi Kinzel from our church so that was a special blessing. We were able to take Katherine and Evan and the Kinzel children Alissa and Gabriel and ride on an overnight train so that was fun and a little exhausting for the adults. The train has little beds for each person, but you can imagine it wasn't a full nights sleep as the train stopped and started all night. We were able to stay with 2 wonderful Ukrainian families. The wives were sisters who live next door to one another, pastor's daughters, who remember their father and grandfather being persecuted for preaching the gospel and they themselves being baptized at night in the river to avoid detection by the government. One of the daughters is married to a pastor who attended seminary many hours from their home in Irpen to become trained to preach the word of God. Brian Kinzel discipled him and helped him attend Shepherd conferences in the United States. The legacy of this family in their community is incredible. Their church is growing and They are a great witness to us of the difference God's word can make in Ukraine. Below are the sisters with Jill and Heidi, the other 2 girls are their daughters.

This is pastor Vilodia in the yellow shirt next to Brian and Mark with his brother in Law and his son.
They were all such great examples of Ukrainian hospitality serving us great Ukrainian food and even better conversation! Below are some men at the conference, it went very well. The couples were very attentive and were so interested that they want to have Mark and Brian come again and cover more material. We taught 4 messages on God's biblical plan for marriage and Mark helped with Q and A! Mark also did an introduction in Russian.

We are really enjoying our Church. We have 3 pastors Alexei and Andrei pictured below, and Brian Kinzel. It is exciting to us to see these men faithfully preaching God's Word in Ukraine where expository preaching is almost unheard of. Sometimes it's the dead of winter and we have no lights or heat so they preach by candlelight, which is kind of pretty. They never get paid a full salary so they work other jobs, study in seminary, preach and take care of their families. Their desire is to Shepherd a Biblically based Church. Their wives are incredible and constantly serve with their amazing skills of making our Little Church beautiful for almost no money. Our music is Pastor Alexei's daughters who play violin and piano along with Heidi Kinzel playing flute. It is beautiful. The Hymns we sing are famaliar to us and we can read Russian so we can sing a litttle.
Our church family is so loving to us and full of young families who love the Lord. Evan loves his sunday school which is taught by Americans who teach in English and Russian and do some really fun crafts for the kids. We are really praying for more Ukrainians to come and for funding for all the exciting ministries we want to offer here in Kiev. Our church is called Word of Grace. Pray for us!

Spencer had a great Junior year academically at Kiev Christian Academy, the missionary kid school he attends. We had a fun time attending his induction into the National Honor Society. He has a tough schedule but is really enjoying the teachers and students. Pray for him as he makes college decisions over the next couple of months! Home schooling the other four is going well. Thankfully Evan, our four year old, really loves letters and has a great memory so his schooling is looking good, a real blessing to Jill who is a little tired of teaching phonics and wasn't looking forward to doing it for the 6th time. God always knows what we need! We love you all and miss you!

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