It’s hard to believe that a year ago, our family had arrive in the US for the holidays, were settling into our new place in PA. The providence of God amazes me, humbles to think that without knowing, we were not just investing in a future space for our family, a home base for growing young adults and emerging grandchildren, but an immediate haven for our family as well.

Our new bread oven at Lighthouse Cafe – received this week! We are searching for a high power output generator to power it this winter / spring as we look to provide free bread to our town. A ministry that works with orphans swapped this industrial oven for our pizza oven – I’m finished with gas in Ukraine, such a corrupt system.

Now, as we prepare to return to the US again, this time from Romania, our hearts are filled with so many mixed emotions. We haven’t been ‘home’ in Ukraine as a family now for over a year. Boxes are being packed here, stored for the next few months as we head back over to the US and Canada to reconnect with family, recharge and consider what’s next for 2023. The day has been spent sending over funds to friends at Lighthouse, prepping for energy sustainability through the next few months as Russia continues to bombard the power grid, anticipating a crushing blow to the economy, ability to survive and political will of Ukrainians.

This week we ordered 10 beds for construction workers in Boradyanka who are continuing to repair houses so they can sleep near the sites.

This week, thanks to Dima and Slavik, the fireplace was installed at Lighthouse and is now crackling with heat! We have plenty of wood stored up and stacked for this winter, enough to share, and Lord willing more coming. We have 4 generators among our community, and have sent funds to help keep them running – Currently, they are needed upwards of 10hrs per day. Some days less, but I personally don’t believe we’ve seen the worst yet. Winter is here, suffering is now upon the vulnerable and we’re getting calls and requests now from friends in Kyiv to come to Romania to our refugee house.

Guys got creative and paid a utility truck to help finish off the top of the fireplace.

Families don’t want to be separated. Young families with kids, doing their best to hold on, nobody wants to be separated from husband and daddy to a foreign place, dependent on others, it’s miserable, frustrating, humbling. Instead of focusing on quantity of individuals helped, I am feeling peace to just really focus on blessing, deeply caring for a few families, some grandmas, and trying to do what we can do keep extended families together.

Club 180 meeting each week, now with a fireplace on the main floor to add to the pellet stove in the main room. Should be toasty now!

We’re excited to see our kids, they are all up north now, Broderic and Kristin with Byron at our house in PA with Tucker and Brent. Bronwyn is happily married up in Rochester with Logan, just a 3-4 hr drive away, which is so great. So we’ll be all together, near, and appreciating the freedom and safety of the US. Yet, daily, our friends, their needs, their safety, on my mind and heart. We have resources, thanks to the generosity of hundreds of people over this year, but money can only do so much, and I’m not about to throw it into the wind. In the end, the testimony of Christ in our town matters, the love of Jesus in the hearts of our friends is what will have lasting influence through this moment in history.

We hired students to cut, stack and prepare wood for winter.

Lighthouse, through the leadership of those still there, continues to offer free coffee, hot drinks, and snacks. The youth at Club 180 meets each Wednesday evening, now, thankfully by the fire! Believers are gathering for food and times of encouragement at our house each Saturday. They are leaning in to one another, being strengthened by the faith shared in suffering solidarity. It is suffering, lives upended, routines and what is ‘known’ has been calibrated to adapt to the whims of Russia’s terrorizing. Air raids, alarms blaring, folks have adapted, focused on making it through another day, feeding families, warming houses.

Some of the prepared wood in our mission building.

Today in prayer her in Cluj, I realize I don’t have a clue what is next, or how to prepare. We’ve done the best we can, I think. I wish I would have bought more generators when they were available.. but we just received a donation last week, just as Russia launched a devastating attacked which caused folks to rush and buy all available generators in country. I feel like it’s too late now, more attacks are coming, and Russia’s goal of crushing the people’s defiant will is here. How much does freedom cost? In western countries we’re forgetting the fierce power struggle throughout history when freedoms are given to a select few at the top. It costs thousands of lives, perhaps hundreds of thousands. It costs harsh winters, freezing homes without water or heat. It costs families torn apart, and death of loved ones you never got to say goodbye to. It costs trauma, and generations that will be impacted by the cycles of fear, sleeplessness, high blood pressure, and other mental anguish.

Ahhhhh – warms the heart! They now meet for prayer as well, warming the soul each week in the mornings as well.

I will go and enjoy my family, my undeserved freedom purchased by others. I will be among those that have forgotten the cost, and complaining about problems Ukrainians would give their lives to exchange for. Indeed, they are.

I am thankful, sad. Praising God for his goodness, and lamenting that this evil is seemingly going unchecked. I will enjoy my kids and grandchild, and be mindful of our friends, our community, our home.