# 140 Paetkau News & Notes (2014 05 01)

# 140 Paetkau News & Notes

Situation Update

If you have been watching the news, you have a good idea of what is happening down in the southeast corner of Ukraine. The key to this is that phrase, “down in the southeast corner”. Geographically, it isn’t that far (at least in CDN terms), but in Eastern European terms in is a long ways away. That is part of the reason why we can stay here and haven’t left yet. At times things have been a bit intense, and it has been a very interesting spring for our whole team. The crisis here isn’t one that will be over soon, so our leadership made changes in how decisions would be made. More emphasis was given to the individual families to decide what was doable, what was priority, if a temporary move needed to be made etc. Some of our team members have opted to go back to their passport countries for a time – home services that were already planned were moved forward a bit, things like that. Some of our team members opted to stay longer due to various ministry factors. That is what we have done – we have sat down as a family and decided what our “trip-wires” would be that would cause us to either leave for western Ukraine or to get out of country for a short term. Basically, we are taking one day at a time planning/serving as if we will be here as usual but prepared to depart on very short notice (and I thought we had been flexible before!)

Life & Ministry….
Leanne (sitting in the back seat): “It’s nice that we aren’t going as fast as we did the other night.”

John (driving – leans over to Daniel sitting in the front seat and whispers) “We’re doing 150 kms (93 mph) right now” (which is as fast as we were going but now it is daylight and sunny, not dark and gloomy). We both enjoy the moment.

More on that in a bit…

Ministry and life here are continuing, and through this time of crisis one can see that God is at work in the lives of people. On any given day if you went to a larger city’s central square you would likely find a group of individuals praying together for the country. In Sumy, the local pastors have joined together, coordinating in order to minister effectively during these turbulent times. Here is a short video of Pastor Misha from Sumy Grace Church speaking about the situation here.

Easter in Ukraine….
We spent 4 days in Sumy for the Easter weekend (which were the same dates here in the East as it was in the West). Easter here is a big deal – the entire country celebrates. It always amazes me when I am standing in line at the grocery store and I hear a shopper greet the cashier with “Христос Воскрес!” (Christ has Risen!) and they reply automatically with “Воистину Воскрес!” (He has truly risen!) At times it is probably out of tradition, but nonetheless it shows the cultural roots of the nation.

We arrived in Sumy late Thursday evening just in time to catch the end of the Thursday evening service (Good Friday is celebrated on Thursday evening). One of the questions that we had asked when evaluating whether to stay or go was what would leaving the country too quickly do to our relationships etc. Walking into the church that evening showed us that we had made the right choice to stay. The people here in Ukraine are feeling the pressure, and the average person is feeling very small and alone in the midst of a global crisis. The fact that we are still here in-country was such an encouragement to the body of Christ there. It reminded them that they are not alone, and that you are also standing with them, as we represent not only ourselves but those who have sent us.

On Saturday we had the opportunity to take a quick trip out to Grace Camp to see how things were going out there. They have been working hard this spring doing general maintenance and some renovations. The place looks ready for camp, and has been busy this spring with different events and rentals. Praise the Lord for the continuing ministry there.

Easter Sunday was a busy day for us – 3 services and visiting folks. First service at 5:00 a.m. in Sumy (3 hrs), second service at 10:00 a.m. in a village about 20 kms out of Sumy (2 hrs including lunch), back into town to visit teammates for coffee, and then to the p.m. youth service in Sumy. We were thankful for the opportunities to take part. Here is a video clip of Alicia playing a musical number during the service.

We have had the opportunity to have significant conversations during these times of difficulty. Some have been planned, others have been spontaneous. Most have been in the context of relationships which we have built over the years. For example, when we are able to be in Sumy, we try and connect with friends & neighbours. God gave Leanne an opportunity to share Christ with our neighbour Tanya when we were out for the Easter wkd. Much of life and ministry involves just being there and available.

We have also had the opportunity to enjoy the first shashleek of the season. With Lanae home it was a good excuse to burn a bit of meat. So we sent out an email to the SEND team here in Kiev and said “if your available, come and join us”. Of course, it was the coldest day of the week but it sure was a good day. Here are a few photos

Two days later we all went to the airport and put Lanae on the plane for Toronto. That was a hard day. Lanae spent a few days in London, ON at our Canadian head office, and then went out to Edmonton AB. There she stayed with my siblings (John) until May 1 when she went to Brightwood Camp to begin serving there for the summer.

Poland
Mid March we spent a week in Warsaw with a number of our teammates as a precautionary measure following the “referendum” (which has not been recognized by any country except the one who annexed the peninsula) in Crimea. Things were a bit unstable and leadership felt better to have majority of us farther west for a time. It was good to take a bit of time to step back and evaluate what our next steps should be. (read the story here). Here are a few photos also

Germany & Lanae’s graduation….

Driving on the German autobahn was an experience that I had never dreamed I would have. Average speed – 160 – 170 kms (99-105 mph), and we weren’t in the fast lane. Station wagons driven by moms with a kid in a car seat passed us like we were a tractor out plowing in the field. The kids and I enjoyed the experience and Leanne, well she attempted to not think about the reality.

That was part of our experience in Germany. We were there to spend a few days with Lanae as she finished her year of studies in Germany. We had planned to ride trains through Germany, but connections would be tight and we didn’t relish the idea of sitting on a platform if we missed one as our time was limited. So that is how we found ourselves meandering down the autobahn. Here is a bit more of the story….  Photos can found here.

Lanae’s time in Germany was a tremendous year of growth and learning. We are very thankful for how God has used this time in her life (and ours too). She grew in her faith, made good friends, and had a great experience.

It was a good bridge for her from life and ministry in Ukraine to the next stage of her life. Presently she is in Canada, and will be serving at a camp for kids & teens from difficult circumstances. She will be a wrangler in the horse program for 4 months. Then it will most likely be on to another year of studies, this time Canada. We are trusting God to give wisdom and guidance each step of the way. As part of the program at the camp, Lanae can raise funds towards her next year. Please take a moment to read her letter about her opportunity to serve and her future plans.

So that is where we are at as of today. This month in Ukraine is going to be significant, as there are presidential elections taking place on May 25. That isn’t something that some want to have happen or to have them be successful, so the expectation is that May will be a news making month for problems. Please pray that God will contain those who would spread disorder and mayhem in order to accomplish their goals which are not for the good of the country or its people.

Have a great day,
John
for the 5 of us

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