Greetings from Lutsk, Ukraine!

Internet options have been very limited the past several weeks. At best I have short connections on extremely slow dial-up lines. Sending photos and other attachments has not been easy for quite some time. In addition, I have been busy with a very full schedule. I left Ternopil with Natalia for Kiev and the next portion of my outreach. I was blessed by the efforts of many of the base staff in Kiev who provided me with a broad introduction to several of the ministries of the base. My time in Kiev began with a very pleasant surprise… I would be staying on the newly acquired Venezia.

The Venezia is a floating hotel, restaurant, bar, disco on the Rusanivska Strait off the Dnipro River. It is obvious that for many years the Venezia was a popular destination for tourist and locals alike. YWAM Kiev was able to purchase her at the beginning of this year and have begun extensive renovations. (Needless to say, the bar and disco are no longer functioning in their original capacity, however the mirrored disco ball still remains, should the need every arise!) The restaurant kitchen is capable of providing the large meals frequently required for the many schools and visiting outreaches to YWAM Kiev. Much to my surprise, I was taken to my room onboard and found a real full sized bed, mattress and all, and an air conditioner (though the breezes on the river kept the ship at a very pleasant temperature.) And my favorite part, a private bathroom with shower and hot water 24/7! Praise God!

My pleasure over the accommodations was quickly surpassed by the joy of learning about the vision for the base and individual ministries. Let no one ever claim that YWAM Kiev is short on vision! YWAM Kiev operates independently with its own mercy ministries and schools, but in addition, it is the hub for the other three bases in Ukraine. I was able to meet with many of the individual ministry leaders and learn of their operations and vision. These are an unbelievable group of dedicated individuals and families, touching practically every aspect of life and society in Kiev. Though Russian is the unofficial predominate language in Kiev, I was pleased to find not only several native English speakers, but several of the non-English staff have a good handle on the English language.

The ministries are doing phenomenal things with amazing blessings from God evident in each. There are Street Kids Ministries, Mother's Care, Orphan Ministries, Family Ministries, Counseling Ministries, Orphan Transition Ministries, a new Pregnancy Crisis Counseling Ministry just to name a few that pertained directly to what we feel is God's call on our family. These ministries are on the front line of work being done in Ukraine. For example, the first and only ministry to be given full legal guardianship of teen orphans as part of a new discipling program, a first of its kind government approved post orphanage transition program to help teach and prepare these teens who have never been on their own how to function outside their orphanage life, an AIDS training program that is aggressively sought by orphanages and churches throughout Ukraine, pre-marriage, as well as family counseling in a country were every other marriage ends in divorce. Add to this the presence of one of the largest University of the Nations bases offering and ever growing list of schools. The staff needs for these ministries and schools and the needs I've already seen at the other bases are staggering! I am repeatedly reminded of Luke 10:2 and the need of workers for the harvest. Not a day goes by that God has not repeatedly revealed why we were called to Ukraine. What a far distance both figuratively and literally He has taken me from only months ago when we were asking ourselves how God could possibly use our family. It would be easier to list where God could not use our family!

I now find my journey has brought me to the beautiful town of Lutsk in Northwestern Ukraine, a city over one thousand years old, with its own 13th century Castle.

Here I have been working with one of YWAM's newer bases, planted two years ago. In fact I got to be the very first resident in the new base office (unfortunately no hot water!) Once again I find myself surrounded by vision and capable, dedicated men and women carrying it out all for His glory. After speaking at a Baptist Church one night I was whisked away to the home of the Weight family, American missionaries from upstate New York, who have been serving here in Lutsk for two years. What a blessing to meet a family who has experienced a journey we are just beginning. They shared many wonderful stories as well as a list of things we had better bring from home like a 220 volt dryer, peanut butter, maple syrup, chocolate chips and brown sugar… the list goes on. They shared valuable advice on the transition and culture. Their two children ages 12 and 14 told me that they both now consider this "home" and that they have grown to love it here, though it was not always easy.

Soon I will be headed to Glukasive to serve a local church, and then back to Kiev to continue my work there and to wrap up meetings with various ministries.

Where only months ago I was full of concerns and doubts over how we could serve in Ukraine and why He would call us here, now I must wade through countless opportunities. I continue to meet missionaries from all over the world sharing in His call to serve in this amazing country.

I am accumulating information on housing options and cost for the many things we will need to settle here. My goal is to complete a study and to determine a monthly budget so we can better communicate what our financial needs. Upon my return I will be visiting and speaking to churches, groups and individuals to raise support for our mission. Please keep our family in your prayers, specifically for our discernment of God's leading on where and when we are to move to Ukraine to begin our cultural adaptation to our new home.