May Update

Bible First

When our team first wrote the 20 lessons of the Bible First correspondence course, the way we intended them to be used (and the way we still use them) was to send them out to the student as the student completed the lessons. But after we released the materials for purchase in English, we learned that a lot of people were using Bible First for family devotions, Sunday school classes, etc, and so there really wasn't as big of a need for the lessons to be split up as we had envisioned. In addition, one of the common complaints we get is that the lessons are too expensive. Recently, it was suggested that we could print all the lessons as one book, which would likely allow us to make the Bible First lessons available for 20-30% less!

All that to say, our latest project is to reformat the Bible First lessons for print in the new unified format. We are also in the process of correcting typos and such that have been found since the last printing. It's going to be a big job, but we believe that the new format will be a solid win all around.

CMO Zoom meeting

A Zoom meeting of most of the guys that had planned to come to CMO. Some of them are planning to get together for their own outreaches in the States.

Residency Permits

Despite the coronavirus, we recently received our new residency permits, on the very day before our old ones expired! We are good to go for another year!

Coronavirus

Thankfully, most of the news on the coronavirus front in Ukraine is good! So far, Ukraine has been able to avoid an initial spike of cases similar to what happened in China, Italy, and New York City. As of about a week ago, the government has started gradually relaxing the quarantine restrictions, and while cases will likely rise, hopefully they will do so at a manageable rate.

Katelin and kids in masks

Our new normal.

Family

For weeks, the kids have been waiting for the day that the parks would reopen. There was at least one letdown, when we were expecting a slight rollback of the quarantine, but it got delayed. But about a week ago, the long-awaited day finally came! The next thing we are looking forward to is being able to see our friends again. Facetime and such is nice, but it's just not the same!

April Update

Bible First

When our team first decided to create a web-based version of our Bible First correspondence course, we anticipated that it would alleviate a lot of the pain points of running a correspondence course through the mail. What we did not anticipate, however, was that Bible First Online would come of age in the middle of a global pandemic, when many traditional methods of evangelism would have to be set on the back burner, temporarily at least.

As I write this, we have upwards of 40 students studying the Bible online, and regardless of what of what happens with lockdowns or curfews, God's Word will continue to go forth! (As long as the Internet stays on, anyway!)

Spanish

The Spanish Bible First text is ready to go! The interface still needs to be translated, and various other things need to be taken care of, but at least the text of the lessons is ready to go!

Spanish lesson

This is a screenshot of one of the Spanish lessons in development. As you can see from the "Read/Quiz/Activity" links above, the interface is still in English.

Carpathian Mountain Outreach

While we'd like to move forward with preparations for CMO and hope that things will be better in two months, it is looking more and more like that is just hoping against hope. With that in mind, we have decided to cancel CMO 2020. Lord willing, and the (coronavirus) creek don't rise, we will be back in the saddle for next year!

Residency Permits

We are currently in the process of renewing our residency permits. We recently submitted our last round of documents, so hopefully in the next week or two we will have our new residency permits in hand!

Coronavirus

I'm sure everyone is tired of hearing about the coronavirus, so I'll try to keep this brief. The bad news: as of my last update, Ukraine had 3 cases of coronavirus, now it has 3,764 cases. The good news: Ukraine has been able to slow the rate of infection, and so things are progressing slower than they did in places like Italy or America. Unfortunately, it's possible that things are much worse than they seem, as Ukraine has only done a tenth of the testing (per capita) that the US has done.

On a practical level, most everything is shut down here except the essentials, like grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and the like. Public gatherings of more than 10 are not allowed, so no church, school, etc. All the parks and playgrounds are closed, but the good news is that we can still go on walks.

Family

Not surprisingly, we are going on a lot of walks these days. We continue to homeschool, but I guess that should go without saying, as everyone is homeschooling now! For the time being, everyone is happy and healthy, and we hope to keep it that way!

At the park

Enjoying a warm spring day at the park before the quarantine kicked in.

March Update

Bible First

Bible First Online is chugging right along! So far, we haven't found any serious bugs in the system, and we are hoping it will stay that way. Josh is continuing to work on improving BFO, and smooth out BFO's rough edges.

Spanish

My main project at the moment is converting the Spanish Bible First text to the format it needs to be in so that it can be used in BFO. Twelve lessons down, eight more to go!

Meeting Our Students

Our trip to Rivne to meet our students went well! We met Maria, Petro, and his wife, Halyna. We had some good conversations, and Josh was able to share the Gospel. (We aren't really sure if they are saved yet.) Hopefully our meeting was an encouragement to them to continue studying God's Word, and the next time we go to Rivne, I think our new friends will be happy to see us!

Rivne group

Left to right: Nathan, Serhii, Joshua, Petro, Halyna with Hosanna, Maria, and Rebekah.

Carpathian Mountain Outreach

On the one hand, things are shaping up for a great CMO this summer. The applications are coming in, and we have a great team lined up to go. On the other hand, Ukraine just today announced that it will close its borders to foreigners for two weeks because of the coronavirus. So while it's possible this whole coronavirus thing will have blown over by June, if it doesn't, well, all bets are off.

Family

Since everyone is talking about the coronavirus, I guess I'd better do so as well! If I wanted to portray the situation as very bleak, I could say that the number of cases in Ukraine tripled overnight. On the other hand, Ukraine is currently in much better shape than a lot of places, with only three reported cases so far (up from one yesterday). So it's really not so bad. We are sitting tight, eating healthy food, exercising, getting our rest, and trusting God and our youth to carry us through on the outside chance that one of us even catches the bug.

Outside of the coronavirus, life continues as usual. Melissa's piano skills are coming along nicely, Lydia's reading is really taking off, and Briana has been enjoying getting to "do school" with the big girls. (Katelin has been trying out a new curriculum that has worksheets for the little ones.) Jonathan has become quite the talker, and it seems like he learns a new word about every day or two! His newest word is "oc-pus" (octopus).

Day girls

The pretty Day Girls enjoy a pretty day

February Update

Bible First Online

At long last, Bible First Online is live! Just last week, we decided we were ready to open the doors to the outside world. First we had one confirmed user, then we had four, and as I write this, we have ten! A couple of users/students have already read through Lesson 1, completed their quiz, and are ready to move on to the next lesson. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are thankful that so far, things have gone as well as they have!

Our lower-level goals in developing Bible First Online (BFO) are to make it easier for our students to correspond with us by reducing our dependence on paper lessons and the (sometimes unreliable) Ukrainian postal system, as well as to reach the demographic that prefers to do everything online. But our higher-level goal is to open BFO up to other individuals and churches to use in their own ministries. There are only so many of us on our team, and we can only reach so many people. But once we open up BFO to others, the sky's the limit!

Spanish

On that note, we have some friends that are excited about the possibility of using BFO to reach Spanish-speakers. Now that I've finished with the English and Ukrainian text, the next step is to convert the Spanish text into the format it needs to be in to work with BFO.

Meeting Our Students

As I mentioned in our last update, we've been trying to meet with some of our students, face-to-face. Serhii has organized another meeting for this Saturday, the 15th, but this time in the city of Rivne. Be praying that all will go well, and that God would bless our meeting.

Carpathian Mountain Outreach

The deadline for applying for CMO is just two months away, and we already have two confirmed applicants, one application in the mail, and another verbal commitment. CMO 2020 is shaping up to be great year! Pretty soon here, preparations will begin in earnest, so your prayers would be appreciated!

Family

Not much to report on here. We've had a happy, fairly healthy month that unfortunately only had only one snow that was (barely) enough for sledding. That said, our heaviest snows tend to be in February and March, so there's still hope!

Stroller kids

If we can't use our sleds, we'll go with our strollers!