It is really hard losing someone close to you. Some days are definitely harder than others. Today I went through a box of memories that my mom kept and I came across three poems / words of wisdom that must have meant a lot to her because they were kept in the box. These poems really seem to capture my mom’s spirit in life.
Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed… the motion of a hidden fire that trembles in the breast. Prayer is the burden of a sigh, the falling of a tear, the upward glance of an eye when none but God is near.
A Smile- A smile costs nothing, but gives much.
It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give.
It takes but a moment, but the memory of it lasts forever.
None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it.
A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and it is the countersign of friendship.
It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad and it is nature’s best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give you a smile: give to them one of yours as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.
If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith.
If children live in an industrious home, they learn how to work.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with acceptance and friendship~ they learn to find love in the world!
|#1 When are you going back to Ukraine?|
|Our flights back to Kyiv, Ukraine are on January 9, 2022.It has been very good to be home in Winnipeg during this past summer and fall. Many memories were made. Angela’s mom passed away near the end of October and we were all able to be with her during her final days. That was such a huge gift. We continue to grieve, and we are thankful to be able to be together with my dad and the rest of our family during this first Christmas without my mom.|
|#2 What have you been doing these past few months?|
|Ben – I have taken the opportunity to this fall to complete one last course in communications for my bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies with the University of the Nations. This course has been offered entirely online and over 70 students from all over the world have been joining together for 4 hours every weekday for classes over Zoom. In addition, we have had small group cohorts twice a week, book reviews and multiple assignments. Between this course and staying up to date with my administrative work for YWAM Kyiv life has definitely been full.|
Angela – One of my dreams over the past few years has been to write a book for SBS graduates on how to adjust back into life after graduation. Finding quiet hours to write has been challenging in the midst of work in Kyiv, but during these past three months I have had the opportunity to finish this resource. Currently it is in the final proofing stages and will be available to order on Amazon hopefully before we head back to Kyiv. Also, I have been in contact with our team in Kyiv and have continued to function in a supportive role with our Salesforce software.
|#3 What happened with the work you do in Kyiv while you’ve been in Canada?|
|We have a phenomenal team that has grown over the years. The entire YWAM staff in Kyiv is now at just under 50 and our Biblical studies teaching team is 17 people. Sonya Yakovenko (Local Teaching Team) and Japhin John (SBS Leader) have graciously shared the leadership load of our team during this time. We had initially asked them for just the summer, but when we found out about my mom, they were quick to say yes to continuing the leadership responsibility until the New Year. We could not ask for better leaders!In addition, our entire team has really gone above and beyond. They have taken on many of the teachings that Ben and I would have done in DTS’s and SBS’s both in Ukraine and around Europe. One of our very active ministries (Aqueduct- a twice a week Bible course) is led by Cassie and Garrett Speck and our wonderful team of 17 have picked up so many of the teachings we would have done with them.This doesn’t even mention the people who have covered some of our more administrative/organizational leadership roles in the areas of accounting and media. We are so grateful that we work with such amazing people from all over the world (our teaching team alone comes from 7 different countries).|
Last year around this time Cassie decided to try an online school that is based in Alberta. The basic concept is that each course (math, science, social studies, and English) has four lessons that need to be completed each week. Some students do all four courses each day, and some do one day of math, one day of English etc. The fun part of this method is that we have been able to supplement Cassie’s other classes like piano, russian and health class during the daytime rather than in the evenings. Also, we can go work in a library together or go to a coffee shop. It has been so wonderful to have so much time with her this past year. Probably for grade 9 she will go back to her regular school, but for this past season, it has been just so life giving to get to spend so much time with Cassie!
The Boys are both in the same school here in Winnipeg that they went to a few years ago when we were home. It has been fun to watch them reconnect with friends. They both really enjoy school, learning and friends. I am amazed at how these boys excel in their learning and also in the way they express love to all of us in our family. Every night the kids yell from one room to the next “I love you!” to each other. I am so grateful that while throughout the day there are definitely arguments, by the end of the day we can all still say, “I love you!”
Out for a walk yesterday here in snowy Winnipeg. As we spend our next two months here, we will be focused on finishing up the book Angela wrote for SBS graduates, Ben will continue to work on his online communications course (he is in a live online class 4 hours, 5 days a week- that is a lot of zoom!) and the kids will continue to finish this semester of school here in Winnipeg.
We will also continue to grieve. My mom was a big part of all of our lives. She was always engaged with our family and we are going to be forever grateful for that. It leaves a big hole in all of our hearts now that she has passed away. For these next two months before heading back to Kyiv, we will spend time with my Dad and all of the rest of our family and be thankful for each moment we have with each other.
At the beginning of the fall I was reading Romans, and a passage that the Lord really highlighted to me, which has stood out and reminded me again and again that I can depend on Him for hope, joy and peace is this:
So we continue to grieve, but still with deep hope, joy and peace, even though there is sadness and tears.
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone”
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me — not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”
A poem variously attributed to Henry Scott Holland or Henry Van Dyke
We are thankful to be home in Winnipeg with family for this season. There is much to be thankful for. Too many things to list- but I was reminded last week in church that we give our first fruits to the Lord- in faith that He will always be faithful to provide for all of our needs. These first fruits may be financial, but they can also include the things we hold most dear to our heart- we give them also in our hearts and release them trusting our Lord will be faithful to provide what we need.
We had travelled back to Winnipeg for the summer and due to some different circumstances have had to stay for the fall. Thankfully, our children are flexible 🙂 Cassie does online school so she can really be anywhere. Jay and Kai were happy to go back to the school they went to when we were home on furlough last time. Yesterday was their first day and they were both super happy to:
#1 Bike to school!
#2 See old friends
#3 Bike home from school!
They gave their day an 8 out of 10 which says a lot for going to a ‘new’ school again after having been away for 3 years.
Yesterday I was visiting the school’s blog site and I came across this encouragement from the principal. I thought it was quite insightful:
I remember visiting The Manitoba Museum years ago and seeing the Living Prairie display. Among the many exhibits I saw a sample of prairie grass that was collected after a long drought years ago. What caught my eye was how the small tuft of grass was on display about 25 feet above the floor, followed by its root system that stretched right down to where I was standing. The plant had continued to search for water by sending its roots deeper and deeper into the earth, not only helping it survive in the short run but also providing it with an anchor system of support that helped it weather future storms, high winds, floods and other calamities.
Perhaps the current situation of ever-changing health protocols and the increased sense of anxiety that these create can serve a similar purpose for people of faith. When our daily routines of interaction and community become altered and interrupted, it can drive us to develop a deeper connection to God and His word. When our church community drastically changes, we can still make a connection with God through a deeper devotional life – that source of comfort and guidance is still available to us. And when we feel we are at our wit’s end, prayer can take on a more vibrant role for us.
About a month ago, our team met together to pray and revisit our mission and values. We wanted to really think about what we do, and how we do it, especially because our teaching team has grown to 16 people, and we have many new people this year.
Here are the results of that day.
A few years ago the kids decided to start their own business (along with some urging from mom) selling things like cards and keychains with a Ukraine theme to people that come through YWAM Kyiv. It is pretty low maintenance because they just put out all of their stock on a window sill near the dorms with a jar for money. When they start running out of stock or are walking by they grab the little bit of money in the jar and we input it into the spreadsheet. Hopefully everyone is learning a little about how to run a business.