A Ukrainian Worship 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.

Back To The ER?

Pericarditis is swelling and irritation of the thin, saclike tissue surrounding the heart (pericardium). Pericarditis often causes sharp chest pain. The chest pain occurs when the irritated layers of the pericardium rub against each other. Pericarditis is usually mild and goes away without treatment.

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I found out yesterday that .8% of people who have cardiac ablations for irregular heart rhythms develop pericarditis. Guess who developed it. If you guessed me, you would be correct. The fact that I developed something that only .8% of people develop makes me think I should buy a lottery ticket. 🙂

The pain was intense, so off to the ER I went. The nurses were wonderful. One nurse felt I should stay overnight because she saw my discomfort but the doctor’s orders were for me to go home.

I had worship music in my spirit and prayed while I was alone in the room. Yes Jesus is always with us even in the Emergency Room.

They gave me medicine to take and it started helping. I managed to sleep last night.

Hopefully there won’t be anymore surprises for a while. 🙂

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.

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.

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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.

Question for My Doctor

Last Friday afternoon, I had a appointment with my cardiologist. I found out I was back in what he called heart flutter rhythm, which means I will have a minor procedure done in the coming weeks. It was not exactly the kind of news one wants to receive two days before Christmas, but at least as my cardiologist said, it is the best problem to have with the heart because it is easy to fix.

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My appointment finished in time for me to make it to the Ukrainian church to teach English for refugees. We had a good time together My plan was to go home after the class, but I found out that the children and youth of my friends in my class were singing in a Christmas program that evening, so I stayed to listen. It was a blessing to listen to them sing especially considering their children had just fled the war with them only a month or months ago.

Back to my appointment and a question I had when he told me I would need a procedure. My first question was about recovery time. I told him, “my concern about recovery time is how long it will take because I am helping Ukrainian refugees and need to know how long I would be away from them.” My concern was more about my Ukrainian friends and friends from other countries than it was about me. I was relieved when he told me I would be back to work a few days after the procedure.

Anytime I find out something medical that is one of my first thoughts. How will this affect the people Jesus has called me to serve?

Living with chronic illness has meant needing to make adjustments. Some are easy such as letting my friends from other countries know about my need to gluten free foods. Some are a hassle for me personally but do not affect them such as which day I inject my once a week medication knowing the next day will be low energy day for me. That has been my reality for many years. That is why one of my first questions was how long will the recovery time be.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

My Christmas- Diverse Cultures- 1 Jesus

Singing Christmas songs like Joy to the World and listening to bible verses being read such as Luke 2:10, “Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” have a meaning for me that is a concrete reality. This past Christmas was an example of that.

It started on Friday after my English class at the Ukrainian church. I planned to come home after class, but my friends told me the youth were singing in church that night, so I joined them. It was a blessing to watch the children and the youth sing Christmas songs in English and in Ukrainian.

Christmas Eve started off with having lunch with my friend Luis from El Salvador. Then we went to my church for Christmas Eve service and were joined by Alexey and Ruslana from Ukraine. As we sang songs such as Joy to the world and listened to Luke chapter 2 being read, I thought about the blessing I had of sharing Jesus with diverse cultures and Christmas Eve was one such moment. Christmas Day I went to the Christmas service at the Ukrainian church and then had lunch at Alexey and Ruslana’s home.

In the past Jesus has blessed me with sharing Christmas with friends from many countries such as Brazil, Bosnia. Belgium, China, Congo, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and more. So when we sing songs like Joy to the World and listen to the angel’s message of good news for all people, the all people part gets my attention.

It all underscores for me that there are many cultures in our world, but there is one Jesus who loves all people and died for all people, so they can have forgiveness and eternal life by believing in Jesus.

As I sat in Christmas Eve service with Luis, Alexey and Ruslana, that was my thought as we sang Joy to the World. I was there with friends from two other cultures celebrating Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.