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!)


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!


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!

January Update

Bible First

Meeting Our Students

For a long time, we have felt it would be a good idea to reach out to some of the Bible First students and try to meet them face-to-face. One such meeting finally happened, thanks to Serhii Chepara, who has been helping us run the Bible First course. He picked a city, Lutsk, set a time and place, and invited our students to meet with us.

We weren't really sure what to expect, but three of our students showed up, and we had a good time getting to know each other. They gave us some feedback on the course, what they liked, what could be improved, and we shared some of our plans for upcoming changes to the course.

Nothing earth-shattering happened at our meeting, but it was nice to put a name with a face, and we went home encouraged. We'd like to do the same thing with our students in other cities, perhaps starting with Rivne in the next month or two.

Friends in Lutsk

Left to right: Abby, Josh, Nathan, Serhii, Oleksander, Oksana, Lyuda, and one of Oksana and Lyuda's daughters.

Ukrainian Bible First

One of my main projects continues to be preparing the refreshed Ukrainian lessons for print. Fourteen lessons down, six more to go!

Bible First Online

Unfortunately, we didn't make our self-imposed December 31 deadline to begin using Bible First Online, but we're getting close! We haven't given ourselves a new deadline yet, but hopefully soon!

A New Team Member

Allow me to introduce the newest member of the team, Kade Bloom! Kade attended CMO 2019, and decided he wanted to come back and work with us full-time. His current plan is to stay for one year and see how things go, and his main goal for now is to learn the language.

Carpathian Mountain Outreach

It's the middle of January, and that means that CMO is just five months away! We haven't made the official announcement yet, but the info for CMO 2020 is up on the CMO website, and registration is open. I know of a lot of people that are interested, so apply ASAP before we run out of room!


I'm happy to report that Lydia's eyes continue to improve, and it is looking very unlikely at this point that she will need a second surgery!

Now that Christmas is over, our family has finished our "month of celebrations", with Melissa and Briana's birthdays, and Christmas, of course. Now it's time to hunker down and hit the school books! We are still enjoying a warmer winter, which is nice for Jonathan, who plays outside almost every day. I'm sure the girls would like some more snow, however. At least we've had one good sledding snow so far, and I'm sure there are more to come!

Party time!

Melissa opens one of her gifts.