# 135 August 2013 Paetkau News & Notes
“That looks a lot like our Sumy regional pastor’s daughter. But why would she be here in Odessa at the conference center?”
One of the questions that we found an answer to while on holidays after our SEND Ukraine Area Conference in Odessa. More on that story in a bit. First I need to go back to the end of July and the beginning of August and tell a few stories of our transition from Sumy to Kiev.
By July we had been moving/transitioning for what felt like quite some time. We had been sorting, packing, moving, unpacking etc in stages over the period of a couple months. So by July I was ready to just “slip out of town” without a lot of notice. But that would not have been fair to our friends, the church, or our family so I wasn’t sure how it would all work out. This is when that which I had been teaching and preaching to others I needed to put into practice. A thing called trust.
One major problem was that at the end of camp, we had our family, Rachel Guenther (SEND Mk who was out for the summer doing ministry) the stuff we had at camp, Lanae’s bike and a cat that needed to make its way to Kiev. We checked out modes of travel (train etc) but they weren’t feasible. So I was going to need a vehicle to haul everything. As I was pondering this, I was also pondering how to “sneak away” because I was just tired of goodbyes. God convicted me on the latter, that it was a selfish route to take and that I needed to complete the transition properly. So I resolved myself to that, but I was still at a loss on how to move us. This is how God answered my reluctant prayer.
I was sitting with one of our leaders early in July at Kids camp, and he began to ask a few questions – what would be our last Sunday etc. I explained how the plan would look through the next few camps: during the next camp (Teen Camp) Leanne and Daniel would be in Kiev 3 days, Alicia, Lanae & myself at camp; during the following camp (Disabled Camp) Alicia, Daniel & I would be in Kiev 3 days, Lanae & Leanne at camp; then Saturday (July 27) would be a clean-up day and Sunday morning would be our last Sunday in Sumy before our official move. His next question was “how are you getting to Kiev?” “That I don’t know. I have a dilemma.” I explained the situation, and he gave me a solution. One of the fellows in church had family coming from America a few days the week following our departure, and he needed a larger vehicle to bring them from the airport in Kiev. We would take the van in with our stuff, and a few days later he would pick it up and bring it back to Sumy. Praise the Lord! Problem # 1 solved.
Problem # 2 was getting through our final Sunday. Again, God surprised me, for as events unfolded it became a very special day that we will all remember with great fondness. The interesting dynamic here was that we were leaving, but we are still involved in ministry in Sumy. So our relationship was going to change, but we would still be there, and see them occasionally. I spoke from Ephesians 3:14-21 to remind both the congregation and myself that this was about Christ and not us, and that He was doing and going to do great things. Therefore, rejoice! We knew that they were going to have a prayer of dedication for us to our next step of life and ministry at the end of the service. We were prepared for that. What we weren’t prepared for was the surprise. After the concluding remarks/announcements, Pastor Misha said that they had a presentation that they would like to show. Earlier that week he had asked one of fellows to put together a photo tribute to our family, pictures of our lives and ministry here in Sumy over the past 13 years. He had pulled together photos from a number of sources including our website. We sat and cried as the years went by on the screen. It was such a testimony to the grace of God, and His goodness. God had given us the opportunity to be deeply involved in so many ways, and to be part of His work in a number of lives. As we reflected, we saw so much that our greatest impact wasn’t because of our gifts and abilities, it was just because we were there and we shared our lives and were part of their lives. We are so thankful for how God saw fit to use us in that way there. We were then called up for prayer, and after some more concluding remarks the service closed. We spent time talking with people, just wrapping up this period of life.
Back to the ministry center, get changed and get the last stuff out to the van and off to one of our leader’s home for lunch. The leadership of the church and their families had lunch with us there. Another time of great fellowship, sharing, encouraging, reminiscing, and prayer. Then we all climbed into the van and begin the 5 hr drive to Kiev.
I am thankful that I didn’t slip out of town. That Sunday was the perfect way to wrap up that period of life and to bridge into the next stage. Praise the Lord.
Of course, the police couldn’t let me make this last trip without taking part. We on the freeway only 60 km’s from Kiev and going through a section known for its checkstops, so I was being extra careful. But the guy pointed the black and white stick at me and pulled me over. He told me I was speeding and sent me over to the “guard shack” to receive my paperwork etc. The fellow inside asked me which vehicle I was driving, and then looked at the screen on his computer, and at the monitors on the wall. They had photo radar set up and there was the van in its glory, but right beside me (in the inside lane) was a Mercedes. The guy said, you can go. “Go?” “Yes, go, that is all.” The light went on in my tired mind – the Mercedes was the speeder, not me, but you can’t pull over a black Mercedes so…… Ok, I’ll go. I walk to the van and climb in. Everyone says, what happened? Nothing, we get to go. Sigh of relief. Then I try to start the van. It doesn’t start. Something with the ignition contact. Great. Now what? Well, we need a tow, and there happens to be a car right in front of me who had also been stopped. We get out and start to dig around looking for the tow rope. The cop who pulled me over came and asked what was going on, and I explained. “Do you have a tow rope?” he asked as he looked skeptically at the stuffed van and the way that we were trying to dig under the seats where it should have been. “Yes, but it isn’t where it is supposed to be….”. He goes to the car in front of us and tells the guy to give me a pull (everyone has a tow rope in their car – it is as necessary as a spare tire) and get us all out of there, you’re all blocking the intersection! Well, he is the one who pulled us over at that spot. A little tug and van started up, a thank you and away we went to complete the journey to Kiev.
A week later we travelled with our SEND Ukraine teammates south to a camp located on the Black Sea near Odessa for our annual conference. It was a good week together with the team. They all left Friday night, and we stayed on for 5 days of holidays, planning to rest, sit around in the sun, enjoy the water and the beach etc. There were other groups renting the camp for conferences etc, but we didn’t see how that would affect us. That was until Monday morning when I saw a girl that looked awfully familiar, and until I walked around the corner and met a number of individuals from the Baptist Union national leadership whom I knew and finally, our regional pastor from Sumy. The national leadership and all of the regional pastors and their families were here for a conference. Oh joy. There goes the opportunity to be anonymous and ignore everyone. It turned out better than we expected after our initial shock, as we were on a different meal schedule in the dining hall etc and there was lots of beach to go and disappear on. At the end of the week we rode an overnight train to Kiev, and later that same afternoon Lanae & Alicia rode the train out to Sumy for the weekend to see friends and attend a wedding.
Once we returned to Kiev it was busy getting ready for school etc. Daniel is attending KCA (Kiev Christian Academy) and Alicia is studying online through Potter’s School and taking piano lessons. Lanae was helping us get the rest of the stuff unpacked and put away and preparing to leave for bible school. Getting settled, figuring out the where, what & how etc definitely added to our days.
As Leanne and I sat and talked through all that had taken place, one comment that had been made on our final Sunday stuck in our minds, and it captures our ministry. One of the photos in the presentation was of when Daniel was 2 years old and I was kneeling down, tying up his skates. Pastor Misha said that photo was his favourite, for it showed what we had done for him and for the church there. “Thank you for tying up our skates, for serving here and being an example as individuals and as a family of how to follow Christ. Thank you for serving with us, for walking with us, for helping us, for helping me to learn and grow.” That had been our desire, and God had answered our prayer. Was there and is there still more to be done in Sumy? Yes, of course there is. But we knew that it was our time to move on, that God was leading us on to the next step & stage.
Leaving Sumy was a lot like when we left Canada for the first time. We were leaving a place that we loved. We were leaving people, a church and ministries that we loved. The future was murky, with many questions that we could not answer. What was ministry going to look like? What would it be like to live in Kiev? We were leaving a small city of 300,000 where everyday you ran into people you knew and moving to a city of 4-5 million and to an area of the city that we weren’t familiar with at all. Just as when we left Canada, we had to leave the questions and the desire for answers with God, and walk forward in faith.
Our partial transition as part of this stage of helping Lanae & Alicia as they begin the next part of their lives (further education etc) from Sumy to Kiev was a good thing. In a year or two we will be transitioning to North America for a year or two to facilitate the girls. It has been a healthy step, for we have expanded their horizons while still helping them stay connected to their roots. To the five of us, in Ukraine Sumy is home. We can live in other parts of the country, but Sumy will always be home. Alicia especially struggled with the idea of moving. We are so thankful for how God has worked out different details over the past few weeks which have given everyone hope, and have shown us that yes, this is the right thing and a good thing. It has been a good change for everyone. Well, almost everyone. Calvin (our cat) doesn’t appreciate the fact that he can’t just go out as he used to in Sumy. When the weather is good in Sumy we would take him out our door, down the 5 flights of stairs and let him out onto the street. Eventually either we would go get him or a neighbour would let him in the front door and he would make his way back up to our apartment. Pretty good life for a house cat. Now we live on the 9th floor and his freedom isn’t feasible if we want him to live. Oh well, everyone has to make adjustments.
Have a great day,
John4 the 5 of us
Below is the presentation that was shown our final Sunday in Sumy.