Prayer Requests

Day 13: Last day in Ukraine

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.  

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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 2: Staff Retreat, hanging out with kids, and volleyball!

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Our first day started with an awesome breakfast at HOM. Our team quickly hit the ground running as we split into two groups. Pastor Adriel and I got our staff retreat materials together and left to an off-site location with the HOM staffs. Crystal and Daniel stayed behind and began to prepare the materials for the teen's workshop and children camp prep that is happening on Friday and Sat.

 * Vasya and Adriel leading worship.

* Vasya and Adriel leading worship.

Our staff retreat is one of the highlights for our team and the HOM staff as we provide a breathing room for worship, devotion, and discussions. It is a blessing for our team to be able to read the scripture and worship in songs together with our brothers and sisters here. For most of us, it is a glimpse, an experience, of the Church unified across all racial and ethnic boundaries. Regardless of our difference in language, it is incredible to hear the excitement as we contemplate God's word.

During the morning, we spend some time looking at how we can grow our vision by looking at the cycle of grief and the cycle of grace. In the afternoon, we looked at asset mapping as a tool for organization and community development. One of the most critical moments in our staff retreat is a time when our team stopped talking and gave them space to discuss and reflect among themselves. It is vital from our perspective that the HOM staff can pursue their mission from God not by what we think they should do, but that our role is to provide various tools, space, and encouragement as they confidently seek God's directions and opportunities. We want to be their cheerleaders! 

 * Team building games are LOVED by the staff here! 

* Team building games are LOVED by the staff here! 

During the evening a few of us play a few games of football with the children at the centre, but after our dinner, our team left for the Mercy campsite for 2+ hours of epic volleyball matches! Crystal was able to play for the whole time which is a blessing as the weather was beautiful. 

Our team ended off the night past midnight as we debrief on our day and the day to come. Confident to say, we all slept very quickly last night. 

 * Football game late afternoon with some of the kids. Quite a few new kids we met today!

* Football game late afternoon with some of the kids. Quite a few new kids we met today!

Day 1.2: Arrived!

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We have arrived! 

After a delayed flight at the Toronto airport due to an "unfit-to-fly" plane (which turned out to be a nice break before we have to sit for another 8 hrs on a plane), a medical emergency that happened to a passenger five hours into that same flight, a piercing light from another passenger's desire for nature light for reading when the whole plane was asleep at 4am EST, and a curious airport custom agent who seem concerned about the bullhorn megaphone in one of our box... We've made it, and all our luggages have made it too.

We are excited to get started tomorrow with the staff retreat and camp prep. We spend the evening unpacking, getting things organized, and realizing things we forgot like my laptop display adapters. We even had time to practice a few camp songs for an hr before our bodies reminded us to sleep. 

As to the weather? It's the nicest cloudy 23c-25c I've experienced on arrival in Budapest. The weather this week in Uzhhorod is cloudy with a few showers, its perfect! Next week could be a mixture of sun and cloud. We do hope there will be good weather days for the kids to have fun outside during the camp though! 

A thanksgiving item: Pastor Adriel felt better after we landed in Toronto and he spends some time "getting it out of his system" aka. #YYZ washroom. After that, he slept really good all the way to HOM. 

Pray that our team will get adjusted to the time and environment quickly. We are all looking forward to hanging out with the kids, youth, and staff tomorrow! 

 Every trip there is always a photo of our team sleeping in transit... 

Every trip there is always a photo of our team sleeping in transit... 

 Unpacking and reorganizing our luggages after dinner! 

Unpacking and reorganizing our luggages after dinner! 

Let the meetings begin...

The team's intensive planning sessions have begun and we are excited to be heading back to Ukraine this year. Along with VBS and Roma day camps we are looking forward to evolving our discipleship / leadership trainings for the youths. Here are some updates and prayer requests:

  1. Our flight tickets are booked! We will be leaving on the afternoon of July 17th and will be returning on Aug. 3rd. Thank God for providing an efficient and cost-effective itinerary!!
  2. Look for our Supplies Board in the chapel foyer starting on May 10th!! Be part of a child's camp experience by purchasing one of the many supplies we need!! 
  3. Our team will be sharing in the Joint Cantonese / Mandarin service this coming Sunday (May 3rd.)!! Pray for words of wisdom and prayer support from the congregations.
  4. Continue to pray for the planning and direction of this STM. We want to make the most of our times in Ukraine, not just with programs but in relationships. Pray that God will give us discernment in using His time wisely.