Birthdays, Musicals and Volleyball

Every year we begin to prepare for the new season. Not spring, or winter or even summer or fall… but birthday season! From April 15-May 25 we celebrate all of the kid’s birthdays. We sit down with each child and ask, “What do you want for your birthday breakfast and dinner? Is there a special dessert? Do you want a party with lots of people, or just a small one with a few friends?” Each of the kids always choose different things, but we hope that each knows that they are loved and celebrated. Of course, throw into the crazy birthday month an exciting volleyball season, a high school musical ‘The music man’, awards ceremonies, and let’s not forget mothers day…oh and… well let’s just say that it has been a full month!

YWAM Budapest

We don’t often write about our involvement with YWAM Budapest because of the strong focus we have right now on YWAM Kyiv and also the Bible teaching we are doing around Europe. However, we do want to highlight the work happening here in this beautiful city.

YWAM Budapest is a team of staff from many backgrounds, and they are involved in a lot of different types of work. Steve and his wife Barbara are the base leaders and have been here working for 30 years! They have seen tremendous changes over the years here in central Europe and have raised their children all here at the same school our kids are attending (International Christian School of Budapest). They are really wonderful people that love the Lord and love Hungary. The rest of the staff are very diverse, from Serbia, Macedonia, Poland, America, Canada and Germany and of course Hungary (I’m probably missing some).

Some of the good work they do here: They own and run a fantastic cafe called Selah that employs Hungarians and others and functions as a meeting space for churches, organizations and just every day people. Every Tuesday is what they call the ‘Sandwich run’ where they make sandwiches and bring them around the city to the homeless people. This ministry has been going on for over 10 years and Rosie who leads it knows almost every person living on the streets by name. Of course, there is the DTS that runs here, there are art workshops and there is much more work that the staff do, but that is just a little picture of YWAM Budapest.

They have really welcomed Ben and I to be a part of the community here while we are living in Budapest, and while we don’t have much time to contribute to all of the work they do, they are quick to let us be a part of whatever we can be, and for that we are grateful!

1 Year of War

Yesterday we couldn’t help but reflect on the past year. It was a year like nothing we have ever experienced before. As Canadians, we don’t have nearly the same experience our Ukrainian friends have had, but at the same time, as someone reminded us, ‘Your family, too, has been displaced from your home and work.’ True. We are quick to remember that there is always someone that has had it harder (like our close friends who have been separated from their husband and father since February 24, 2022) but it is also important to let ourselves grieve and see the difficult year this has been for our family as well.

We really miss Ukraine, our teammates, and our friends. The work we had been doing there was starting to really build momentum. Our Bible teaching team had reached 18 people and we were really beginning to multiply (not to mention that our entire YWAM team had grown to just under 50 people and all of our ministries were growing and being really effective)!

Now many of our staff have moved on, our team of 18 Bible teachers has shrunk to 13, others on our staff have left, and the 20 students who were going to study the Bible with us last March may never do that (because we were the only Russian option for an inductive study through the whole Bible). If we are able to run the course in 2024, hopefully some students will still be able to, but life changes, and people move on. This brings a particular sadness for us.

But, thankfully that is not all we see. We also see the tremendous faithfulness of God. He has provided for us in every way. We found new ways to serve as Bible teachers in Europe, made new friends, found a new school for the kids, Ben has a new part time job, we have a new house to live in for now. And not only that, but we still have our friends from Ukraine staying with us from time to time. We even have friends from Ukraine living here in Budapest. Plus, we are still VERY involved with all of the humanitarian work going on in Kyiv and surrounding regions.

And so, this was a passage of scripture from Habakkuk 3:17-19 that was very meaningful for us at the beginning of this year and still encourages us today:

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Saviour.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

He has enabled our feet to tread on the heights, and no matter how hard it has been, we will continue to rejoice in the Lord, and be joyful in God our Saviour.

Ready to help

One of our family values is, “We offer to help.” This is one of the ways that Cassie shines! Yesterday I was not feeling very well, but Cassie made sure to come in after school and see if she could help me with dinner or anything else. She really shows empathy and love so easily.

Another example is this photo taken on New Year’s Eve. We do a chocolate fondue every new years eve, and Cassie always helps to cut everything up, get the chocolate ready, and make it all look beautiful! Our family just wouldn’t have that special touch without her!

What is going on with that hair?

If you saw Jay a few years ago, he had straight hair. Now, with that crazy introduction of being a teenager with new hormones, his hair has gone curly, and his biceps are growing, and he even has a little mustache!

He has been playing basketball for the past few months and it is always fun to watch him take the ball down the court, go in for a lay-up, or shoot from the top of the key. He is really growing up in so many ways, but especially in his maturity. He is learning to love those who are more challenging to get along with, and he is finding ways to be himself (silly and fun!) while still showing respect to teachers and classmates.

We are so proud!