Saturday with my Ukrainian Friends

Vladimir was one of my first students when I began teaching ESL in March 2000. We had fun studying together each week. One memory that stands out for me is one morning while we were studying in a coffee shop. My back was to the window, so I did not see what was happening, but Vladimir did. His eyes got real big with a look of surprise. He pointed at the window and I looked to see what was happening. The police were arresting someone. Realizing Vladimir had come from Ukraine that used to part of the old USSR and that people used to get arrested and disappear there, I changed our lesson to rights in the USA.

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Yesterday he was working outside at the church making a gazebo for them to use for barbecues. It has pillars made of stone for support. When he came in, we talked and reminisced about our study times in the past. It is always good to see him again.

My Ukrainian friends are hardworking and have made a beautiful church building. They did all of the work themselves. My Saturday class is in a nice room in the basement.

Speaking of my Saturday class, we continue to have fun studying together. Yesterday we had 18 people come. Each week I am impressed with how refugees who have only been in the USA four weeks, six weeks, etc. are being resilient. I know they have been through trauma and have a lot to adapt to here, but they have great support from the Ukrainian church.

After class, I was again blessed to have lunch. Nadia was teaching Middle School students cooking again and yesterday it was rice pilaf. It was delicious. She is wonderful with the children as she teaches them cooking.

This morning I will be with my Hispanic friends at my church. I called each of them last night. Our room will be filled with laughter, music, and Spanish as we practice English together. Then it will be time to taper down at the coffee shop.

How has your weekend been?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

October Is Here

October is here. It is the month that brings us fall colors in northern places, cooler temperatures, and oddly enough something called pumpkin spiced lattes. Pumpkin spices lattes do not seem to have a place in coffee shops, but coffee shops are businesses, so they want to make money. Have no fear your coffee purist will not allow such a concoction to pass through his lips.

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It was in October 1989 that the beginnings of what God was calling me to happened. I visited a different church to see a Billy Graham Ministries movie- Caught. It was about an American drug addict in Amsterdam who came to know Jesus through a man from India who was there for the Billy Graham world convention for evangelism. At the end of the film, it showed Billy Graham saying, “and do the work of an evangelist.” When I heard that, it felt like spiritually an arrow had pierced me.

I came home after the film and when I walked in the door, the presence of Jesus felt so strong that I dropped to my knees and then laid down on the floor. I kept seeing people who were lost in life. Jesus has given me so many opportunities to share him and his love with many lost souls from many countries since then.

It happened again yesterday at the Ukrainian Church. It was my first Friday offering a class there. We had a mother and her 15 year old daughter join us. The daughter is not a Christian yet. I shared a devotional thought with them that because Jesus was a refugee during his childhood on earth that he understands what it is like to be a refugee.

So welcome October and the opportunities to share Jesus, but you can keep those strange pumpkin spiced lattes. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

That Was Fast- September Flew By

It’s the last Sunday of September already. It feels like I blinked and September flew by. The saying time flies when you are having fun seems to apply. This has been quite the month. Jesus has blessed me with many opportunities this month.

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It started with getting a car earlier this month thanks to generous people. That has allowed me to go to the Ukrainian church to teach on Saturday mornings. We have fun while studying. I love to see their smiles and hear them laugh especially knowing what they have been through.

My morning class started again this month, That certainly adds to time seeming to fly by. It is great to be back with the moms learning English, so they can help their children. They are going to decorate our classroom tomorrow, but something tells me they won’t want my help with that. 🙂

This morning I will see my Hispanic friends at church. We will practice English, sing a few songs in Spanish and pray. This afternoon I will go to a birthday party for an eleven year daughter of friends of mine from Mexico.

With all of this fun I have been having with my friends from other countries, it might be full steam ahead to Christmas. Did I mention there are only 90 shopping days left until Christmas?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

How You Can Join with Me in Helping Ukrainian Refugees in My City

It is exciting for me to be able to help Ukrainian Refugees in my city. This will be at least a one year endeavor of blessings for me.

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I arranged for a young woman from my church who is a paramedic to come next Saturday to meet a young woman from Ukraine that was a paramedic there. It ties in with a theme I have with new refugees who are high school or college age-“You Dreams Are Not Over.”

If you would like to be a part of my ministry with Ukrainian Refugees, there are two ways.

PRAYER- Please pray for me for wisdom, energy, and empowerment by the Lord. Please pray for the new refugees I meet from Ukraine for their new lives here and for open hearts to hear about Jesus.

Another way you can be involved is my Amazon Wish List. The name is Matt’s Ukrainian Ministry. I have set it up for all items to be delivered directly to House of Prayer here in Lincoln NE. I will update the list as needs arise, but have the initial items needed on the list now. The link- Matt’s Ukrainian Ministry. Shipping Address- Matt/House of Prayer Church 1333 Morton St. Lincoln NE 68521

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

My First Saturday with Ukrainian Friends

It was my privilege to meet ten refugees from Ukraine yesterday during our first Saturday together. It was more of a time of letting them get to know me and assessing their English levels, so I can plan our future lessons. It was good to see them laugh as we studied.

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Of the ten, five were from one family. The family has two daughters and one son. The two daughters are 20 and 19. One of them completed two years in a university in Ukraine in psychology. The other one had just graduated high school a few months ago. I encouraged them that their dreams are not over and that with Jesus they can have a good future here.

The family just came here on Labor Day, five days before I met them. Realizing that, I asked the twelve year old son if he was nervous about starting school here. He nodded his head yes. I encouraged him that the teachers are nice and will understand he is learning English. We talked about how he can learn step by step.

Before we ended, one of the men said we should pray, so I asked him to pray for us. It was the perfect way to end our lass time. I am looking forward to this new adventure with my Ukrainian friends. The class would not have happened if I had not gotten a new to me vehicle Thursday.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Small Change I Hope Will Make a Difference

In June 2021, I started taking methotrexate for Psoriatic Arthritis/Psoriasis. I read comments by people on Instagram who take it and referred to the methotrexate hangover, which is not feeling like doing anything the day after. So I took it on Fridays with the thinking that Saturdays can be spent at home if need be.

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The opportunity to help Ukrainian refugees on Saturdays is something I believe God is calling me to do, but then there is that methotrexate hangover thing. So I made a small change. I injected Sunday afternoon. My thinking is that this small change will allow me to help the Ukrainian refugees on Saturdays with worrying about being out of it due to the medication.

I tried it this past Sunday due to the holiday yesterday to give me a trial at it. My thinking is that Mondays I can teach in the morning, come home to rest, and then teach online Monday evenings.

Chronic fatigue is something I always have to factor into my decisions including the after effects of methotrexate. That is just part of life while living with chronic illnesses. I am so grateful Jesus gives me strength.

I am looking forward to this Saturday and spending time with my new friends from Ukraine.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Saturdays Just Got More Fulfilling- My Ukrainian Friends

What I am writing about today reflects how much the Lord has changed my heart over the years. I used to be such a diehard college football fan that I not only made sure to watch my team every Saturday in the fall, but would also watch other games. I planned my weekends in the fall around college football. My favorite team went from being one of the dominant teams to a team struggling just to have a winning season.

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As that happened, my ministry with refugees and immigrants began to take off. Over the years before COVID shutdown, that included many cultures. Returning from COVID shutdown, I began to focus on Hispanics because I speak Spanish and have ideas for possible future ministry. However, that is on Sunday morning.

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Beginning Saturday September 10th, I will be going to a Ukrainian church I helped in the past to provide English Conversation practice for the new Ukrainian refugees in my city. I am looking forward to meeting with them, helping them with English, and having it connected with a church that shares Jesus and the gospel. I won’t plan anything else on Saturdays except to meet with my friend to practice Spanish and be flexible for other opportunities..

My Saturdays are about to become much more interesting. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.