Sharing Hope in Jesus

Yesterday morning in my class at the Ukrainian Church, a married couple and their four year old daughter came for the first time. They had just arrived three days before. Less than a week in America and they were already in my class.

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In the morning during my prayer time, I felt led to share Romans 15:13 with the class.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I brought it up using Bible Gateway and shared it parallel English and Ukrainian, I asked a fourteen year old boy who comes with his parents to read out loud the verse in Ukrainian.

As we were studying, I felt led to share the song The Blessing in Ukrainian at the end of the class and then a simple message using Google Translate of:

Step by step Jesus will help you with your new life in America.

My friend Alexey gave me a ride to the coffee shop. He shared with me that the married couple are not Christians yet. So by following the leading of the Holy Spirit and not realizing what was happening, the message of hope in Jesu was shared with them.

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We often do not know what is going on in people’s lives, but Jesus does. He can guide us for what and how to share with people like yesterday the message of hope in Jesus for newly arrived refugees.

It has been awesome to be able to partner with the Ukrainian Church. By teaching the class, it attracts new refugees who may not otherwise come to the church. I look forward to continuing with the classes there.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Doing Homework Is Better Than Shopping?

I enjoy having fun with my students as we study together and using humor as I teach. My thinking is that it is stressful to learn English while trying to make a new life in a new country/culture as adults, so a little humor helps reduce stress. An example? Yesterday afternoon at the Ukrainian church one of the questions during conversation practice was:

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“Which is better walk ten miles in a thunderstorm to go shopping or stay home and do homework?”

100% of my students answered it is better to stay home and do homework. I pointed out that all of them would rather stay home and do homework, so I needed to give them homework. They all laughed shaking their heads no.

Another question- “When did you come to Lincoln?” My answer- I came to Lincoln when I was three months old twenty years ago. They smile seeing my white beard and silver hair.

Another question- “What is your favorite restaurant?” My answer- My favorite restaurant is any restaurant a friend pays for my lunch or dinner.

Just a glimpse into my class at the Ukrainian church and other classes. I was grateful to be with them yesterday afternoon. My friend Alex, also one of the students, gave me a ride, My Jesus car is still not finished yet. Alex will give me a ride again this morning and after class drop me off at the coffee shop to meet with my friend Todd.

Tomorrow my friend Luis from El Salvador will take me to church for our conversation class and join me to worship after class. Then it will be off to lunch, but it will be his favorite restaurant because I will pay for his lunch to thank him for the ride. We have friends from Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela join us in class.

I am so thankful Jesus has blessed me with friends from so many countries. It keeps life interesting and fun.

What are your weekend plans?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A No Doctors Week-Knock On Wood :)

It is Friday and a realization came to me this morning. With the weekend ahead of me, and with hopes of not jinxing it, this is the first week of no doctors since November. No doctors and next week is Spring Break, so I have a full week of relaxation ahead of me. No doctors may not sound like a big deal to you, but after the past several months it is a big deal for me.

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Speaking of Spring Break, I feel the coffee shop calling me for some serious hang out time. Next week will be all about finishing my two books and getting ready to publish. That is my whole agenda for next week.

Back to the no doctors thing. I am grateful Jesus has given me strength to continue teaching and continue my ministry these past months. I can’t imagine living with chronic illness without Jesus. I do not want to imagine life without Jesus.

Just this morning I spent time thanking Jesus for how he changed my life. I was praying over my afternoon class at the Ukrainian church and for the needs of my Ukrainian friends when the thought hit me of how teaching in places like the Ukrainian church would have seemed impossible before I knew Jesus.

The weekend is upon us. For me it is full steam ahead with no doctors. What is your weekend agenda?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

One Year Later- My Ukrainian Friends

One year ago today, life as they knew it changed forever for my Ukrainian friends. Their peaceful lives were upended by the invasion of the Russian military. Today there will be prayer rallies in many places commemorating the one year anniversary.

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My concern has been for the refugees fleeing the war. Their homes destroyed and lives in danger they fled to Poland. My city is home now for many Ukrainian refugees. Several months ago, I felt led by Jesus to connect with one of the Ukrainian churches in my city to help new refugees with English classes and find other small ways to help.

For the past six months, it has been my privilege to meet many Ukrainian refugees. This morning in our class, we will have a birthday morning for three of my friends who have birthdays this week, We have shared many meaningful moments over the past six months.

It has not been a solo endeavor for me. People from my home church have donated gift cards to a local supermarket that I gave to the families to supplement their EBT cards for food. Fellow bloggers have donated supplies for my class. People have donated for a violinist and for a worship leader to have instruments. Many have prayed for my Ukrainian friends.

It has been one year and more refugees are coming to my city. They would have much rather preferred to be able to stay in their beloved homeland and homes living peaceful lives, but that is not their reality. My desire is to continue to help them in the small ways that Jesus leads me to.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Ukrainian Worship Leader Left His Guitar Behind BUT Has One Now

A few weeks ago I shared about a Ukrainian worship leader who had to leave his guitar behind when Hheleft Ukraine in my post A Ukrainian Worship Left His Guitar Behind. A generous person read the post and donated a guitar for him to have.

Nicolai came here with his wife and three year old daughter. He stayed behind in Ukraine for six months to share Jesus with Ukrainians fleeing the war. He reunited with his wife and daughter come to here.

Yesterday we met at my church’s office for him to receive the guitar. He was thrilled.. He tuned it and played a few songs. A picture if s is worth a thousand words. so here are the pictures of him opening the box and . holding the guitar.

He has a guitar now and can start helping with worship in the Ukrainian church here.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Coffee Time-Helping A Woman In Trouble

Yesterday evening after my Friday English class at the Ukrainian church, I was joined for coffee by my friends Alex, Ruslana and their daughter Ester at a coffee shop in my city called Telegraph Mill. The barista who helped us was kind to my friends, so I shared with her that they are from Ukraine. I found out she is an education major currently student teaching at a school that has a few Ukrainian children.

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While I was enjoying coffee with my friends, the barista came to our table to ask if I speak Spanish. A woman in the coffee shop needed help. I went over the her table and spoke with her in Spanish. The poor woman did not know her address or a phone number to call for family. She seemed confused. My suggestion was to call the police hoping an officer who speaks Spanish would come.

Two officers came but they did not speak Spanish, They asked me to translate. The poor woman had a difficult time tracking with any conversation. They asked me to ask her if they could take her to our People’s City Mission. She agreed. It was a relief she agreed because the People’s City Mission will know how to help her.

Such moments of interaction, of showing a bit of kindness, are part of why I am so grateful Jesus has led me to my ministry and work. It is also why I am grateful he led me to study Spanish thirteen years ago.

Jesus knows our future and how it all fits together. He knows how we are wired. When he prompts us to do something, there might not be immediately visible reasons, but we trust in him remembering the truth of Ephesians 2:10:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The Logic of a Six Year Old Boy

During conversation practice with students, we take turns asking and answering questions. That might be a time my sense of humor comes forth such as telling the students I was born in 2000. Last Friday when I said that along with that I am 22 years old. my friend Azari told me I wasn’t. He told me I am 25 years old.

Azari is a six year old boy who comes to my Friday class at the Ukrainian church with his mom. He knows exactly where the snack box is and likes sharing snacks with the adults. So what was his logic behind thinking I must be 25 and not 22?

In his six year old mind, I have a beard and men cannot grow a beard until they are 25 years old. The color of the beard does not matter just that I have a beard, so I must be 25. I thanked him for his astute observation that I am 25 and gave him some chocolate.

Children are a blessing and valued greatly by Jesus. He blessed children while on earth such as we see in Matthew 19:14:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 

I enjoy seeing Azari each Friday afternoon, I wonder how much longer he will think I am 25?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.