O Canada!

House next to my parents, my dad, brother and nephew working there today.

We’ve just arrived in Canada.  The weather is lovely and it’s great to see my parents and start to see trickles of our extended family.  We’ve arrived right at the start of wheat season.

Crews combining peas, wheat, bailing and loading straw – this is the life I was born into, before God called me to Eastern Europe as an 18yr old to another type of harvest.

Ukraine and Canada have this is common – large open fields of gold, combines harvesting, tractors and trucks roaming about.  Being raised on a farm has some significant advantages, like always having a summer job.

Brent working hard using those big muscles for something productive!

My boys have benefited from this over the past several years – currently Brent and Tucker are working each day, doing whatever is asked from them, from cleaning large bins, to driving tractors.  Tucker, 14, received was thrown into the deep end today and had to drive a tractor and wagon about 45 minutes away on the highway.

Trying my best to fit it in! Three ice cream cones cost us $10. Still recovering from this fact.

Deb and the kids have been enjoying my parents pool and the many blessings of staying with grandparents – like not having to cook!  It’s no small thing for my super wife to have a break.  She’s been going strong with raising babies and teenagers for 20 years strong.  With only 2 left under six years old, we see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and really enjoying our little girls Abbey and Claire.

lit worship

Collins, Peter and I meeting in Kiev last week planning our next Worship Album

Just prior leaving Ukraine, we had some leadership meetings that I believe will be very important for us to continue developing in the fall.

We are planning to run an Alpha Course in Ukrainian via the Lighthouse Cafe, as well as begin offering a Music Course with our friends at Visible College in Memphis, TN to a select group of university students (a piloting an accredited program online for music production), and we’ve just begun producing our next music production.  Besides this, we’re planning to expand our widows efforts to some new areas, and mobilize more teams to bring the Gospel to the un-reached in rural areas.  So much work, we do pray for more laborers, for God to call and for churches to send.

When we return we also have a wedding of one of our students, and a baptism too!  We are praying for a place to rent in Kiev as well, possibly just a house to start for our family to be part time in the city, and to host a creative student home group – we love what God is doing among the youth in Ukraine and deeper discipleship is on our hearts.

So lots coming up, but before that, we’ve got a very busy next 3 weeks!

You know we’ve been living a while in another country when your kids ask, “daddy, what’s this?”

On Tuesday of next week I’ll be flying to Pasadena, California for ten days of seminar classes with Fuller.  I’ve been racing to complete pre-seminar reading and papers as this past few weeks put me behind a bit.  I’m really being challenged (in a good way) by the material we are studying, and God is gripping my heart in some new ways.

Just finished this incisive, liberating and convincing book by the late Dallas Willard – I highly recommend if you’re hungry to grow in your relationship with God from the inside out. It should be called renovation of the brain.

I’m not a big reader normally, I enjoy studying and I enjoy history, but having to be disciplined to read almost a book per week is requiring more mental horsepower than I’m used to.  Eventually I want to share the books I’ve read which many I highly suggest – I also want to put some of my papers and assignments online as they may be a blessing for some of you depending on the topics and what you are going through in your own journey.  I’m finding less time to blog, but I’m writing more than ever – I pray everything I’m learning finds it’s way both in and thru my heart to those in my sphere of influence.

I’m seeing that I haven’t been as purposeful in my growth trajectory as a long time believer.. I’ve had too many seasons of coasting, busy with ‘good things’ but not seeing enough markings of the Holy Spirit and victorious triumphs in my heart.  This course is showing me in a fresh, inspiring way, that God is much bigger, more powerful and willing to work in my life than I give Him credit for.  It’s intimidating at times, it’s “not easy to want to change” (Willard 2013), but we all want to be moving towards Christ. Our soul is terribly restless when not cared for, ‘eh?’  (Canada 2018).

He’s willing, but I haven’t been.  I’ve needed this type of structure to get me into healthy rhythms of growth again. It’s a strange sensation to be both inspired and exhausted at the same time though, and I do appreciate prayer to find that happy balance.

We’re working on unveiling a new program for Russian & Ukrainian speaking world musicians and aspiring producers. Let’s shape culture for Christ!

I’m doing one course on Missiology and another on Character Development through the end of the fall. By God’s grace I finished my first semester with a 94%.. I think they were being gracious the first semester and going to start turning up the heat though.

This next week we’ll be meeting with the cohort of 30 or so fellow classmates from all over the world – in my small group I have a New York Times reporter, a missions director leading anti child-trafficking ministry, a fellow missionary who runs a cafe and student ministry in Cambodia, and a sharp young lady completing her .PhD.  God has us all journeying together, we all have similar stories how none of us really thought we’d ever be back in ‘school’, yet here we are, trusting God that He has us in a place of specific learning for His ultimate purposes we are trusting.

Youth camp in Ukraine last week for orphan and at-risk kids. MIR sponsored some teams to go serve from Belarus this month.

After California (I’m going by myself), I rendez-vous with Deb, Brent and Tucker in Dallas, and we make our way to our old hometown of Longview, Texas.  There we will connect with our sending church and dear friends.  We’ll be hosting a supporters dinner and worship night on Saturday, August 5th, then I’ll be sharing to Crossroads Community Church that Sunday.

We’ll then head back to Canada, regroup and have a week of rest.. our only week ‘off’ during this trip – then to Pennsylvania with our friends at Life Center church on August 15th.

We will head home to Ukraine on August 20.  Phew.

Clark and his cousin Sienna. We have so many relatives here – it would blow your mind.

We do hope to see as many of you as possible.  Time is so quickly moving on us in general, the older you get, the more real that becomes.  Life moves on, this part of the world feels less and less like ‘home’ to Deb and I.  We recognize less people, and we’re less part of peoples lives so even returning back as a family feels less of an event in general for everyone.

We are praying for ways to encourage you, to share something of Christ, He’s so good to us, to you, and to not be able to at least rejoice together for a brief moment seems a shame.  So reach out, find us if we’re near.

Bruce & Deb

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