A September to Remember

It’s hard to believe that September 1st marked a full year since our family got on a plane bound for the U.S! Since then it seems as if we’ve experienced one continual round of travel and moves. We little imagined some of the difficult things that would happen, but we’ve also seen God’s faithfulness in so many ways.

Last year on September 1st, 4am: Waiting at the L’viv, UA, airport for departure to America. A lot has happened since then!
“His faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” The beautiful view from our terrace in Slovakia.

I haven’t given attention to this blog space in awhile, so I thought it would be fun to revive it with an update on life, family, and our summer activities.

Ukrainians

We’ve recently been ministering to Ukrainians via hospitality. Everyone, even the younger ones, has been involved: shopping, cleaning, preparing food and games, or entertaining the guests.

It’s been rewarding to watch my kids work for a cause, endure awkward moments, and practice friendliness.
With Artem, Irina, and their 3 children (one not pictured)

Many Ukrainians have only Sundays off, so after morning church we clean the house and prepare to spend the evening with a new family. It makes for a very full day; we have to mind our P’s and Q’s if things are to go smoothly! So far we have hosted two families from the Donbas region, their homes and cities inaccessible to them now.

Lots of little ones at the kid’s table
This was our second visit with Sergiy and Nadia and their girls.
Smachnoho! (Ukrainian for “Bon Apetit”)

Joshua has done a lot of driving for Camp Zilina, helping to move Ukrainians into more permanent living quarters. In some cases he drives them to the train station so they can begin their return journey to Ukraine.

Putting the new blue van to good use
Loading up in the parking lot at Camp Zilina
The van looks kinda small next to these two big guys. 😉

In July our family sang a concert to a group of about 80 Ukrainian kids. We included titles like Baby Shark and Peace like a River, Ukrainian patriotic songs, and also some songs about trust in God and his love for us. The kids were a good audience and eagerly accepted Good and Evil books at the close of the concert.

Singing outdoors in a Slovak schoolyard
This team is happily holding up their Good & Evil books!

We are excited that our church now has several Ukrainian families visiting regularly, and it’s a privilege to get to know them and help with translation each week.

With a Ukrainian mom and daughter, Irina and Olena, at church. Our Slovak friend, Kati, is on the right.

Jen’s Visit

A highlight of our summer was having a visitor from the US! My friend, Jennifer, stayed with us for about 2 weeks in August. We took walks, drank coffee, played games, and even made a trip to a nearby castle. Thanks for a great time, Jen!

Coffee Time!
Slovakia is called “the Land of Castles”, having more castles and chateaux than any other country in the world!
Sitting in the castle garden, with a view to the moat.
Jen introduced us to a detective game called Scotland Yard. Hosanna is determined to capture “Mr. X”!

Kids & Family

Abigail will be 17 in a few short weeks! She stays busy with math & science (she loves her biology course! Is that even possible?), creating pencil drawings, and writing engaging emails to friends. The highlight of her summer was participating in a Christian Camp as a Ukrainian translator.

Some of Abby’s recent drawings
Sweet Sixteen for a few more weeks
All smiles because Abby is HOME from camp!

Rebekah especially loves helping with the younger children. She makes them breakfast each morning, reads to them (they recently finished The Silver Chair, by C.S. Lewis) and helps Kathryn with her school work. One of her favorite things to do is to play Wingspan. With Rebekah’s brain for details and facts, she has mentally catalogued nearly every bird in North America while playing that game.

Playing Wingspan with my parents
French toast is up!

Hosanna makes friends everywhere she goes, and has recently befriended a girl next door named Kika. Slovak language doesn’t deter Hosanna a bit, and since it is somewhat similar to Ukrainian, she communicates just fine. Hosanna loves reading and creating. She recently got a whittling knife and began wood carving.

Playing Uno with Ukrainian friends at church
Hosanna recently upgraded from ukulele to guitar. She has worked very consistently to learn chords and has even composed her own song!

Kathryn’s new love is playing Sorry! She also enjoys practicing piano. We recently got her started with a piano-teaching app, and she fell in love with it from day one. She is reading really well now too!

When you’re 7, everything – even hopscotch – is better with rainbows!
When Jen came she brought Sorry with her. It’s been a hit!

David recently began kindergarten work and loves having schoolwork to do like Kathryn. He is often outside with Kathryn and Mia creating houses or forts, and also enjoys playing with his robot, Botley.

Shout out to Aunt Lissette for helping us get David’s kindergarten books to Slovakia!
Playmobil for the win

Mia has been a book-lover from infancy. She simply loves being read to! For her third birthday she received a book of fairy tales which has been well-loved indeed. Mia likes playing outside with her siblings or playing with playmobil.

PSA: Wiggling your toes improves concentration.
Mia turned 3 on July 22nd!
She was tickled pink when we sang “Happy Birthday” to her.

For myself, I have been studying Philippians, doing workouts from Walk at Home and The Body Project, and growing in courage on practice drives in the blue van. *Ahem* Atomic Habits, by James Clear was an instructive and inspiring read for me in August, and I’ve also really enjoyed Mothering by the Book, by Jennifer Pepito.

With my dad on Father’s Day, a definite highlight of my year!

I’ll end with a challenging thought that has been with me over the last month: pray about everything and give thanks about everything! (From Philippians 4:6) And it comes with a reward – “the peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

2 thoughts on “A September to Remember”

  1. I love this post, Kelsie! God certainly is stretching you all, but I’m excited for all the new adventures. Love you! Mom

    Cathy Steele

    “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” III John 4

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  2. Hi Kelsie! I hope this post finds you well. I always enjoy “catching up” on y’all. Thank you for posting this update! If you don’t mind me asking, what is the piano app you’re using for Kathryn? Sounds like a great tool!

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