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Posted on January 3, 2022
I'll start with family news this month because it's the most exciting! We are now a family of seven! Eric was born about a week after our last update. Katelin's mom made it to town a few days before the birth, and was a huge help the entire time she was here (about a month). Both the labor and birth went well, and I was able to be present at the birth. Eric is a healthy baby that is already about 50% bigger than he was when he was born, and while he's not the easiest baby we've ever had, he's also not the hardest! All his older siblings adore him, and have stepped up to the plate to help out with the extra work that a new baby brings.
Of course, there's also the document side of things. With only a few minor hiccups, I was able to get Eric's Ukrainian birth certificate, on the basis of which we applied for his Consular Report of Birth Abroad (which will function as his American birth certificate) and passport. Thankfully, a consular official from the US Embassy in Kyiv came to Lviv for a visit, and we were able to submit all our paperwork to her, which saved us the overnight train trip to the embassy in Kyiv. We recently received Eric's passport, and we are all set to travel!
Eric sleeps a lot, so the siblings have to soak him up while he is awake!
As mentioned in our last update, our family is leaving for a longer furlough in a few months. We will likely be leaving either the end of March or the end of April. Unfortunately, our residency permits are expiring at the end of March, so staying until April would entail going through the entire renewal process, just for that one month. Pray that God would give us wisdom about which way to go.
In the meantime, one of the more complicated parts of our return to the States has already been taken care of: Katelin's harp. We packed it all up and Katelin's mom took it back with her, and it arrived without incident!
Here's the harp, all packed up with warning signs in three languages. (And emojis for anyone who doesn't understand any of them!)
Our partners, the Steeles, are currently in the States on a short furlough. They will be returning on January 17. Pray that they will be able to get all the necessary negative Covid tests they need, and that their return trip would go well.
I'm happy to report that we finally got our legal issues with Bible First Online sorted out, and several people have already signed up for coaching accounts! For me personally, the things currently on my plate are proofing chapters 10 and 11 of By Divine Design and taking care of all ETO's financial reports and statements that have to do with the closing of fiscal year 2021. Not the most exciting job, but someone's got to do it!
Posted on November 16, 2021
When I was growing up, our family rubbed shoulders with a lot of missionaries when they would come home on furlough. For whatever reason, most of those missionaries were on a “four years on the field, one year in the States” schedule. Fast-forward to today, and my family, not being sent out of a missions organization, has always had the freedom to set its own schedule. As our family has grown, the time between our trips to America has lengthened, but our furloughs have stayed about the same (anywhere from 3-6 months). While there are various reasons for this, one of the main ones is that we have always stayed with our parents. And while this does have a lot of advantages, not having your own space to be a family is hard, and we have always looked forward to getting back to our own home in Ukraine.
All cozied up in our living room.
All that to say, we feel like it’s time for us to take a “real” furlough. On the one hand, Ukraine is our home, and there is much about it we love. On the other hand, there are aspects of life in a foreign country that are draining, and we feel like the best thing we can do for the emotional health of our family is to take a step back for a bit.
So what will this “real” furlough look like? In the spring of 2022, our plan is to pack up our belongings in Ukraine and put them in storage. We will then fly to Colorado, attend the wedding of Nathan’s brother, and travel to Texas, where we hope to rent a house in the vicinity of Katelin’s parents, likely for a year. One other note of clarification is that while the word “furlough” generally implies a break from work, our furlough will be more of a break from life in Ukraine than a break from ministry. A large portion of my ministry responsibilities can be done remotely, and I am optimistic that the physical distance between us and Ukraine won’t slow me down much.
And what about once our furlough is over? Then what? It’s quite possible that we will be all rested up and ready to return to Ukraine, pull our stuff out of storage, and pick up where we left off. But that’s not the only option. It’s possible that God is using this situation to move us in another direction, perhaps in a direction that we haven’t yet anticipated. Regardless, we are simultaneously apprehensive and excited about the changes the next couple years have in store for us, and we would appreciate your prayers as we move forward and seek God’s will for our family.
Things are about to change! Katelin's mom is supposed to arrive tomorrow, and the baby — around Thanksgiving. Our days of being a "small" family of six are numbered!
Regarding the birth, everything is looking good. Katelin and the baby are healthy. I'll be tested for coronavirus when Katelin is admitted, and assuming the test comes back negative, I'll be allowed to be at the birth. So we'd appreciate your prayers that everyone would be healthy and for a good labor and delivery!
Ready to meet their new brother!
Posted on October 19, 2021
Nothing super exciting to report on this month, just lots of nice, steady progress on different projects!
By Divine Design
The translator and I finished Chapters 8 and 9 last week. Just three more chapters to go!
Bible First Online
I'm still working on adding answer keys to Bible First Online. Meanwhile, thanks to all the traveling and speaking the Steeles have done in America recently, there are a bunch of new people that are excited about using BFO in ministry!
The Steeles were not able to renew their residency permits before leaving for the States, so they had to cancel them and will need to start over from scratch. This means applying for visas while they are in America, and then applying for new residency permits once they get back to Ukraine.
At present, I have been working with our attorney and local church in Ukraine to get the letters of invitation and other documents that the Steeles will need to get their visas. Pray that all would go well!
It's starting to feel a lot like fall. School is in full swing. The trees are changing color. Little by little, cold weather gear is working its way out of storage and into everyday use. First it was hats and mittens, then it was winter coats and warm socks, and now there is a pile of snow pants in the house. Thankfully, it's not quite cold enough for the snow pants yet!
When the cold weather does come, we're ready for it!
On the baby front, everything is looking good! The baby is now head down, and will hopefully stay that way. Just five weeks to go! Katelin's mom, Patricia, is planning to come for the birth. Our current prayer is that she would be able to come, and that she would arrive before the baby!
Enjoying a peaceful moment at a local lake.
Posted on September 23, 2021
The Next Generation
What is a missionary's job? Ask 10 different people, and you'll likely get 10 different answers. Hopefully most of the answers will have to do with reaching people with the Gospel. However, this is just the first step. What happens when the missionary, for whatever reason, stops reaching people? The whole operation grinds to a halt. You see, a missionary's job is not just to reach others, but then to teach that first generation to reach the second generation.
Bible First has long been one of our main tools for reaching that first generation, but I'm happy to report that Bible First is now being used by the first generation to reach the second generation! We currently have three Ukrainian Bible First graduates that have become coaches, with more on the way! Once someone finishes the course, we ask them if they are interested in becoming a coach. If so, we teach them what they need to know, and get them started.
Please be in prayer for us as we move into this new season. Reaching the first generation is something we have been doing for awhile. Supporting the first generation as they win the second generation is something new.
In addition, work continues on other fronts, like the translation of By Divine Design and web development for Bible First Online. Always plenty to do!
When the Steeles left for America earlier this month, they lent us their chest freezer. Katelin has been working hard to fill it both with produce for the winter, and meals for when the baby comes. I'm sure we've royally blown our grocery budget for the month, but no doubt it will pay for itself in the end!
Speaking of the baby, we have just two months to go. We had a good meeting with the potential birth doctor a few days ago, and everything is going well, with the exception that the baby is still not head-down. There is plenty of time left, but we would still appreciate your prayers for an upside-down baby!
Speaking of the second generation, here the second generation is learning how to help in the kitchen!
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