A Ukrainian Worship Leader Left His Guitar Behind

Last night I visited the Ukrainian family I have gotten to know quite well. They invited me for a borsch dinner which is a delicious soup in their culture. The children greeted me with hugs, I joked with the wife about having dinner outside in the snowy night, and the husband and I talked about our ‘dream’ of the wife and one of the daughters opening a bakery and the two of us being the greeters sitting there drinking coffee.

They had other visitors who are family friends from Ukraine. They are a family of a husband, wife, a an ever so cute almost three old daughter. They just arrived here from Germany two weeks ago. The wife and daughter fled Ukraine to Germany first with the husband staying behind to share Jesus with people victimized by the war. Then the husband left Ukraine to join his wife and daughter in Germany leaving his guitar behind in Ukraine. Refugees fleeing war bring only bare necessities.

Photo by Philip Boakye on Pexels.com

He was a worship leader in Ukraine. He led worship in his church in Ukraine and after the war started he would go out to the city center and play worship songs and then share Jesus with the people who stopped to listen.

After dinner we sat in the living room and shared worship music videos. It was a wonderful time of fellowship.

So my new project is to get an acoustic guitar for him. Please pray for me to find one for him.

Thank you for praying. God Bless.

Her First Friday in America

Yesterday afternoon in my English class in the Ukrainian church, we had a new person join our class. She is a twenty three year old woman who arrived less than a week ago. She is living with her aunt who has been here for a while. She was already in the room because her aunt is the one who opens the door to the church for us.

Photo by Mathias Reding on Pexels.com

After class, some of us went out for coffee and she joined us. We talked about the class and how she felt. She shared that she felt shy and nervous at first. One of the things I do in class to make it fun is to throw Hershey’s kisses to them. She shared that helped her to relax.

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Pexels.com

Ester, the young woman who received the violin a few months ago, sat next to our new person during class. Ester and her parents joined us at the coffee shop and talked a lot with our new person. A new friendship was formed.

Our new person smiled and laughed with us at the coffee shop. Less than a week ago, she was in the refugee camp in Poland. Some months ago, she fled the war in Ukraine. Now she is living with her aunt in my city and has already made new friends.

At the end of class, I asked my friend Alex, who is a pastor from Ukraine, to pray for her. She knows Jesus and he is helping her with her new life in America.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The Holidays and Then ………

It is that time of year. The holidays have come and gone. We are in the THEN part of winter as in the holidays happened and then-just boring winter. I had a reminder of it yesterday as I walked out of the high school where I teach in the afternoons. The door to the parking lot faces to the north, so any winter wind greets us in the face as we exit.

Photo by Andrew Patrick on Pexels.com

For a city kid like me there is not much to do in the winter time. If I was an outdoor adventure person, I would probably enjoy ice fishing. My idea of ice fishing is buying frozen fish at the supermarket. 🙂

It is true that Valentines Day is coming, but being single I don’t care about that day. Yes next Monday is Martin Luther King Day, but that is more of an important day to remember a great person from history, not a day for fun. So it is just boring winter now.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Have no fear, however, your coffee purist can still hang out at the coffee shop. I am also waiting for my pastor to read the final pieces I wrote for my book Jesus Understands Trauma and for his feedback. There are also my classes to teach and my refugee/immigrant friends to spend time with. So not all is lost.

I am curious how you would finish the sentence- The holidays and then ………

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

God At Work-My Classes at the Ukrainian Church

The first Saturday that I taught at the Ukrainian church was eight days after getting my vehicle. It was also less than two weeks after my friend Alex came here with his family. Alex was a pastor in Ukraine. Yesterday I enjoyed lunch with Alex and his family after my Saturday class. We talked about how fun it has been to partner together.

Refugees come to my English class for help with English. Alex meets the people who come and shares Jesus with them. Yesterday was a great example of that.

A married couple, Bogdana and Andre, came for the first time Friday afternoon and again yesterday morning. They had just arrived earlier in the week as new refugees. We had a nice moment yesterday after we found out Andre’s birthday was January 5th. We sang Happy Birthday to him and I gave him some chocolate,

After class, Alex talked with them. He invited them to come to the Ukrainian church with him offering to give them a ride. They agreed, so this morning Alex will bring them to worship service with him. They are not Christians. God is at work in their hearts and souls.

I wanted to share this glimpse into my classes at the Ukrainian church because they are possible due to having a good vehicle which I have because generous people donated to help me buy it. Some of them read my blog.

God is always at work and connecting the dots such as me getting a good vehicle the same week Alex and his family came here which resulted in Alex and me partnering in ministry.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Life Change- Decision Made

A few months ago, I shared a post A Life Change about a possible change coming for me. It is a reality now. After teaching in a program called Family Literacy for thirteen years, I resigned from it effective January 31st. I will continue teaching for the college and continue my ministry, so I am not leaving my work with refugees/immigrants.

Photo by Alexas Fotos on Pexels.com

In fact refugees are part of the reason for my change. I felt led to offer a morning class at the Ukrainian church a few mornings per week. I will also teach a morning class for the college two mornings a week, so there will not be a big drop in income.

I am looking forward to this change in my life. It will include one added little extra for me. I will have Friday mornings off. That is something to really look forward to. 🙂

In recent weeks I also felt the need to ease up on my crazy schedule a bit. Starting in February, the two mornings I teach for the college will be in Zoom from home, so I can basically roll out of bed, get ready, and then teach and when class is over, I am already home. The two mornings at the Ukrainian church will start mid morning not 8:30. It may not sound like much, but a little extra sleep will help A LOT.

So there it is my not so big news, but something big for me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Their First Christmas in America-My Ukrainian Friends

How life has changed for my Ukrainian friends. Two years ago life went on as normal with no clue as to what would happen a few years later. Last year at this time, there were perhaps murmurs of Russia invading. Now here we are ten months after Russia invaded. In fact on Christmas Eve, it will be ten months to the day.

Photo by Mathias Reding on Pexels.com

One year ago, my Ukrainian friends had no idea they would be celebrating Christmas in a new country as refugees. Yesterday afternoon I used bible gateway on the projector to have one person read in Ukrainian from Matthew 2:13-15 about the angel warning Joseph to take Mary and Baby Jesus and flee to Egypt.

Then I used Google Translate to share with them the thought that Jesus was a refugee as a young child, so he understands how they feel. I shared with them that Jesus being a refugee is part of the Christmas story.

Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on Pexels.com

This is their first Christmas in America. I am sure if they had their choice it would be for Ukraine to have never been invaded and their lives be safe in Ukraine, but sadly that is not their reality. They are fortunate to have a good church full of Ukrainian speakers to help them.

The Ukrainian church I am partnering with to provide English classes for them is having some special Christmas programs in Ukrainian. So they will have that blessing this Christmas.

Please pray for my Ukrainian friends during these weeks of holiday celebrations and for me as I serve them and seek to help them.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

December Is Here

December is here and bring on winter. I am ready for snow, I want to see what it is like to drive in the snow in my new vehicle that is a SUV. I am ready for snow days off from school, so I can stay home and watch movies.

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

December is here and goodbye to November. I do not want to go through a month like last month again. I had bronchitis most of the month and then there was that short hospital stay.

December is here and bring on Christmas Break. I am so looking forward to having a few weeks with nothing to do except meet with refugee/immigrant friends and do some writing.

December is here and hopefully it brings opportunities to share Jesus with my refugee/immigrant friends, The best part of Christmas for me is the way it opens opportunities to share Jesus with friends from other cultures who are curious about Christianity.

December is here. Are you ready for winter, Christmas, and a new month?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Special Deliveries Yesterday

Sitting at home is boring. It is funny how when life is going normal for me, I am so busy that I wish to have a day at home. But now freshly out of a hospital stay and with Thanksgiving Break, staying home is the last thing I want to do. 🙂

I am thankful for two special deliveries yesterday. The first was a drop off by the director of the Family Literacy Program I teach in. The students in my morning class made me get well cards. One of the students also made a plate of food for me. The director stopped by to drop them off for me along with a gift card to my favorite burger place in town.

Yesterday evening my new friends from Ukraine, Alexey and Ruslana, dropped off some food for me. I only told them I was sick without going into details. It was great to see them even if only for a few minutes. They are new grandparents with their first grandson being born last week here in my city. I am not sure if I will let my Ukrainian friends know I was in the hospital to have my heart shocked back into rhythm.

Cards made by hand, food so I don’t need to cook, and friendly faces are nice. However, I think I am feeling good enough for a visit to the coffee shop today. I had my day at home. It is time to get out for a little while. 🙂

Tomorrow I am invited over to a friend’s home for Thanksgiving. I like the start time of 4pm I can sleep late. If you are in the USA, what are your Thanksgiving Day plans?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Story from Ukraine That Got to This Teacher

As a teacher, one of the stories I heard at the Ukrainian Appreciation Dinner that really got to me was when Tania Synia shared about her work as a photographer and one encounter she had. Tania had a photography studio in Ukraine before the war. She focused on weddings, families etc. After Russia invaded, she stayed in Ukraine to photograph the effects of the war on people.

She came to one town to a school that had been destroyed. Two boys were getting into the school to look for books. They were excited to share with Tania that they found books they could study biology with. Most kids try to get out of studying, but being deprived of school due to the war gave the boys a desire to have their education continue. Tania has a website where she shares her photos. It is tetianasynia.com.

More stories to come. I am still on the mend. I do nebulizer treatments at home four times a day. That is a first for me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Refugee Father Blessed by His Son

Last night I was blessed to be at the birthday party for my friend Alex from Ukraine. Amazing to think of how quickly we have become friends. We met five days after he came to my city as a refugee with his family on Labor Day this year. He has only been here for two months.

After we had dinner, there was a moment that caused everyone to tear up. His oldest son had been doing odd jobs for cash and saving his money to buy a cell phone, but he had a change of heart. He asked one of the men from the Ukrainian church, who has lived here many years, to help him go buy something for his dad. He decided to buy an Apple Watch for his dad instead of a cell phone for himself.

As the man who helped him to go to the store to buy it shared the story, it was a poignant moment. When Alex’s son gave him the gift, it was obvious how much he loves his dad. It was a moment that I will never forget.

When I think about what they have been through, it gives that moment even more meaning. They fled the war in Ukraine having left in March. They lost so much when they had to flee and their home in Ukraine is destroyed. They left not knowing where they would end up and how things would work out for them. My friend Alex loves his children very much, His children look up to him. They have stayed together through it all and kept their faith in Jesus.

It was out of love and that experience as a family that his son gave him the gift.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.