Day 13: Last day in Ukraine


On our last Monday in Ukraine we visited some of the children in the rural villages as well as one of the Roma settlement in the city. To be able to see where these children lives helps us to have a greater understanding of their challenges and pain. When we hear a story of how children saved their drunk mother from drowning by keeping her head above water in a watery ditch, it is truly heart breaking. Our hopes and prayers is for the gospel to reach deep within these family's lives and also into the system that enslave them. 


An important thing I've learned is that it is sometimes easy to show and display the needs and poverty of a people group versus their strength and assets. But by doing that, we may inadvertently lower their dignity and value. If our mission is to participate in the restoration of humanity's relationships with God and our value as being made in the image of God, we will need to shift our focus toward the other's strengths and potential as opposed to what they don't have or what they can't achieve. The depth and width of what Christ has done go beyond our broken spirit and individual salvation, it is big enough and powerful enough to change the world, and with it, the transformation and reconciliation of political systems and social structures. 


On our last evening together, we had a great evening of fellowship with board games while children played out in the field. It is interesting to see how everyone comes together to form this community. Their desire to fellowship together is not a program, but it grows out of a commitment and love to be together. They are not together because of services rendered; it's not because there is a children program while parents meet, or a great speaker for the meeting. But there is a deep desire to serve and love one another as a family. As I consider what it means to have hope and faith on this trip, I am challenged in that maybe my hope is too small and too narrow. If my hope is based on a narrow view (N.American perspective) of what family and community mean, then I may have missed out on the rich meaning of being adopted to into the family of God. Reflecting on my time spend here from my first trip in 2009 to today, I've learned from HOM and their families of what being adopted into a family means, and that a community that flows from the love of Jesus is absolutely powerful even in the midst of darkness.


As we take photos with some of the youths we've seen grown up, we give thanks to God for how He guided their paths. We pray for all the little ones that they too, will know the loving presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and that one day, we can gather together to share what God has done in their adventure with our saviour.  


Prayer Request:

  1. We will be leaving for Budapest tomorrow, please pray for a good journey home. 
  2. Pastor Adriel has developed a dry cough that's not getting better. Please pray that he will have rest and healing. 

Day 12: Last Sunday


On our last Sunday here, Pastor Adriel spoke at their church from Luke 7:36-50 about how we are to love much because we have been forgiven much.  It was a very hot day and there was a short power outage during the service and then one of the A/C started to fail (ice coming out). 


After the first sermon by Pastor Adriel, there was an amazing hour-long worship presentation by a youth choir from a church 500km away. This was a glimpse of what worship will be when all tribes and nations gathered as one. I thank God every time I get to worship here. 

On the ceiling of their church is Rev.3:11, and it is a reminder that Jesus is coming back soon.  


During the afternoon, Daniel and Adriel left for a church youth event where Adriel led a session. It was a great opportunity for him to get to know the lives of youths in Ukraine. 


Back at HOM, there was another birthday celebration for one of the teacher there!


The kids loved the Spot-It game!

Day 11: Camp evaluation, partnership dialog, and a visit to the Mercy Farm


On Saturday, Daniel and Crystal led the teen leaders in a debrief and evaluation of the children camp. It is encouraging to hear their honest comments and experience as to help one another grow in their leadership. The HOM staff also spent the morning meeting with Pastor Adriel and myself in reviewing our relationship in the past 12 years and what we can focus on together between SCCEFC and HOM. We were excited to see how the Holy Spirit was aligning both our communities vision and we are looking forward to bringing the discussions back to our church.

We brought some Canadian chocolate and candies for everyone to try!

We brought some Canadian chocolate and candies for everyone to try!

One of the HOM kid combined his crafts!! Genius! 

One of the HOM kid combined his crafts!! Genius! 


In the afternoon we visited the Mercy Farm. This massive undertaking includes a cafe, vegetable market, kitchen (including flash freezing to deliver food to remote villages), hydroponic greenhouses, storehouses, and hectares (30?) of farmland. There is a huge need for workers and business professionals here as many workers often leave for another EU country for higher wages. The farm pays quite well here in Ukraine, but it is difficult to compare to other European countries.


During one of our meetings Vasya and Valera brought out the recorders from the first ever camp with our church. They bring back many great memories for everyone. 

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Day 10: Last day of camp!


Last day of camp!

We can't believe the week has passed so quickly! We thank God for how our teen leaders led the children throughout the week, and also for the stories of how some of the children were able to accept the good news of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we wonder if their experience here at the camp is only temporary, but I was encouraged by young adults who were kids in our previous camps as they recalled joyful memories that had an impact in their lives. It's impossible for me to know the effectiveness our camps and workshops, but I do know that we are called to be faithful in planting the seeds and trusting God to transform their lives and their situations. 


Every morning, all the children are provided a breakfast as many do not have such meals at home. While the breakfast sandwiches are being distributed, there are usually dozens or more bees flying around it. The teen leaders just waves them off and the children continues to fight through the buzzing bees for their food. 

Craft station: Cross craft...

Craft station: Cross craft...

... and a card to send to a parent or friend about what they've learned at the camp.

... and a card to send to a parent or friend about what they've learned at the camp.


The final epic event: Raft ride (with leaders pushing them)! 


As the camp ended, the kids says good-bye to all their teen leaders. We prayed all the relationships build throughout this week will continue to grow. 


As we cleaned up the camp site, Captain Mark and Romper sailed down the river into the sunset. 


A short nap before dinner ... and then volleyball.


For our last dinner at the camp site, Valera made his famous bogush soup. This soup is unmatched anywhere on the planet; it's epic in taste, ingredients, and texture! 


Today we also celebrate Ivan's birthday! He's a model of endurance and faithfulness for many generations after him.


Our awesome teen leaders! Bold and courageous! We pray they will continue to grow in the Lord.


After we moved back to the HOM centre, Daniel highlighted the lunar ellipse that was happening. "It only happened 120 years, and mainly in this part of the hemisphere...." He repeated it 5-10 times; he was that excited.

Day 9: Camp day 4


The fourth day of the camp is about finding rest in Jesus. In the midst of busyness and checking off our to-do lists, all of us can easily dismiss our need for rest. Even in our time of rest, we sometimes try to find it in things than in our LORD Jesus Christ. It is encouraging to watch a lot of these youths take to their time of rest and solitude with the Word each day. We pray that they will continue to find rest in God as they weave through the complexity of adulthood.

Making pillows in the craft station!

Making pillows in the craft station!

Bible story time!

Bible story time!

Watching Romper the otter and Captain Mark!

Watching Romper the otter and Captain Mark!

Today is Craft Mania day! There were three stations (plus one secret station) of crafts for the kids to make at the end of the day.

Today is Craft Mania day! There were three stations (plus one secret station) of crafts for the kids to make at the end of the day.

Vasya made use of leftover ice for snowballs!

Vasya made use of leftover ice for snowballs!

After all the children left, Vasya led the youths on a short hike! They have so much energy! 

After all the children left, Vasya led the youths on a short hike! They have so much energy! 

Many of these camp leaders were part of our camps as children throughout the past 12 years. We are tremendously thankful to be a small part of their lives, and we pray they will continue to walk with the LORD and reflect the relentless love of Christ to their community.