Greetings from southern Alberta. A month ago we were standing in the airport in Kiev, attempting to get our bags through the various security checks and onto a plane bound for Calgary. These past two months have been a bit surreal, for so much change has happened in our lives in such a short amount of time.
So where do I begin? Various questions have been asked, and I think that I will use those to help me share this story
What are a few highlights?
* We flew from Kiev to London, England for our connection to our direct flight to Calgary. On our way down the aisle (this plane seats a few hundred people and has two aisles and multiple sections) we noticed people in one row looking at us rather intently. As we drew near, the lady asked, “are you the Paetkau’s?”. I looked closer and recognized them – it was the Jacobson’s, a family who had until that spring served in Crimea and had recently transfered to a new country due to the conflict in southern Ukraine. They too are from southern Alberta, and I know her parents. They were traveling to spend a month in Canada. That was a bit of a shock… When we arrived in Calgary, everyone who was there to meet them helped those who were there to meet us push all of our stuff out to the curb. A huge blessing after such a very long day.
* It is amazing how many Russian or Ukrainian speakers we have met over these days. Standing in line for ice cream, a few people behind are chatting in Russian. We go to a bakery, and the clerk, she just has enough of an accent to make us curious. She is from western Ukraine. God keeps dropping these moments into our routine to remind us and encourage us.
* Reconnecting (or beginning to reconnect) with family, friends, supporters etc. It is great to see people face to face again.
You kind of disappeared, where have you guys been since you got on the plane in Kiev?
We have been on the road till mid September. We landed in Calgary, put our baggage in the garage of SEND missionaries (John & Sharon Wicker) and crashed at their place here in Cochrane. A few days later we went south to Bow Island to reconnect with friends and our home church there. We then traveled north up to the Edmonton area to where Lanae was serving at a camp. While she wrapped up that ministry time we also connected with some of my siblings (John) who live in the area. From there the five of us headed out for a short holiday together before dropping Lanae off at Millar College of the Bible – Sunnybrae campus (near Salmon Arm, BC).
We got back to Cochrane on Sept 13th, and from that point on have been in process of getting our stuff out of storage, unpacking, getting school on track (both Daniel & Alicia have online courses and courses which Leanne teaches that began earlier in Sept) and trying to get our brains around the fact that we are actually here.
How has the transition been?
Well, to be honest, not always the easiest. There are a lot of factors involved. One being that we left Ukraine before we really planned to. Originally we thought spring 2015, and then mid July for us everything changed. Once the “neighbour” to the east crossed our “red line”, we went from planning fall ministries to packing. That was hard. We have seen God’s hand directing us through each step, but it hasn’t been easy. We are thankful to be here, but we all miss “there”. Lanae put it well – “this isn’t right, you’re not supposed to be here yet! The context is wrong.”
So there are days when things seem kind of normal, and then there are days that aren’t. We have been living out of suitcases since early June, and so these past two weeks we have actually put stuff away which has made a big difference. A few days ago Alicia said “it is starting to feel like home.” Those were encouraging words.
Where do you live now?
We are renting a townhouse in Cochrane, AB, which is located just a bit northwest of Calgary. Contact us for more info (see info page for contact info)
What are your plans for the future?
Lord willing, we will be on this side of the ocean for approximately 2 years as we transition our two oldest into their next phase of life. While we are here helping the transition, our ministry role will be two-fold. We plan to be serving out of the SEND Canada office, doing both home service ministry (which we usually do while here) and representing SEND in western Canada as a representative and missions facilitator (coming alongside churches and individuals and help them in the process of seeking what God would have them do in the area of missions). This was one of the reasons why we are living in more central location, as it facilitates travel both for ministry and as we transition kids.
What has been happening in Ukraine?
Well, the conflict in the southeast has continued with various peaks and valleys. We receive news via both our SEND teammates and through Ukrainians. In the area of the conflict, the situation for many is extremely difficult and tragedies are commonplace. Food, water, medicines etc are in short supply and many are suffering. Stories from those who are there or are traveling there to minister, to bring aid etc paint pictures that breaks the hearts of those who hear. Many have fled and are living as refugees in various parts of the country, at resorts, camps, with relatives, with friends or acquaintances. Many ministries have been adjusting, changing their plans in order to serve these who God has brought into their sphere. There are many stories like this – churches and individuals reaching out with the love of Christ and doing what they are able. Providing food, shelter, bible studies, facilitating transitions, English lessons, music lessons, work opportunities etc etc etc. Doing what they can for their fellow countrymen. For example, during the summer over 60 refugees were living at Sumy Grace Camp, many in the process of relocating, finding work, beginning new lives. Now in the fall due to limited facilities for colder temps, there are 25-30. They are living in the conference center building which is winterized. Other ministries are still taking place on site at the camp, such as the weekends when Sumy Regional Bible College meets, bringing 20 students from around the region for two days of studies. Sumy Grace Church continues to work with those who are there, providing food and other necessities as God provides.
Please feel free to give us a call or drop us a note to say hello. We are very thankful for you all. Thank you for praying for us during these challenging times. Please continue to do so.
We will be doing some traveling in the period prior to Christmas for home service ministry. We haven’t been as assertive in booking ministry appointments as we have in the past for the basic reason that we are playing catch up to what has all taken place. So please feel free to contact us if you have an opportunity that you would like us to consider.
Upcoming ministry dates: Oct 24-26 Bow Island EFC Missions conference; late October, early November: John will be taking a course (missions related training) for a couple nights a week.
Talk to you later
4 the 5 of us
P.S. Drop by our fall photos for an a pictorial update of the month – mountains in BC, mountains in our living room…