It has been pretty full-on since New Year, and very encouraging with the exciting news that my mate Samuel, from Scotland, has arrived to work here for a few months with us at OM on the Pyrolysis project (more on this later).
In the past month, we have had the privilege of experiencing much closer to a standard Ukrainian winter: Lots of -15C and lots of snow. With all the snow, I was able to fulfil a very long held childhood dream of building an igloo – we even managed to get a photo on one of the rare cloudless days:
Trips to Rzhyshchiv
It was very encouraging this month to twice go to Rzhyshchiv (don’t even bother trying to pronounce it), which is a small town close-by to Kaharlyk but on the banks of the Dnieper River. We have a couple from OM working there with an amazing youth ministry both with the youth at their church and reaching out to youth at a local trade school which has a rough reputation.
The first trip was for New Year which became an almost 24-hour party. As you can see in the photo below, it was quite a gathering and I am thankful for the blessing it is to be able to meet in such numbers during COVID. Although it is obviously challenging to communicate through a language barrier. I am thankful for the guys who were there from the church’s drug rehab centre. Their patience in really wanting to listen to me stumble through every sentence and offer to repeat themselves when I didn’t understand was a boost I really needed in my Ukrainian language learning.
And so, after the main New Year event, we headed home at 5am for what became another 12 hours of games – they have seriously impressive energy levels and I took a long nap. Here also is a photo of a few of us playing the classic Settlers of Catan later on, which thankfully, like laughter and good food, transcends language barriers.
The second trip was a few weeks later where Samuel and I went together for the weekend. We were treated to the full Rzhyshchiv experience including their joining in with their youth group and church service, walking on the ice of the Dnieper river, cooking Shashlik (Ukrainian BBQ) next to a frozen lake and a trip to a Ukrainian sauna.
I can see clearly how God has used these trips to Rzhyshchiv to show me how many other exciting things He is doing in Ukraine so close-by to me. It has helped me question why I am in such a hurry to get back to the UK after this year. God is helping me see the balance between the different but good opportunities to serve Him whether I stay in Ukraine or go back to the UK. Please pray God brings clarity as I continue to seek the best option for the future.
I have started meeting up with some of the youth in our church and their friends each Tuesday so they can practice English and I practice Ukrainian. We are playing a game called “Voproshki” which simply involves rolling a coloured dice and picking the corresponding coloured question card. Each colour is a different category of question e.g. The future, faith, childhood, etc. and it really helps with directing our conversation to relevant and recurring vocabulary. It is also a good ice breaker for new people who are joining us.
It has also thankfully been an environment where the faith question category has been welcomed and created some fruitful discussion. Please pray that I would be able to share the gospel despite my limited ability to do so in Ukrainian. I am, however, thankful to see some concrete progress in my Ukrainian language ability but of course, there is still much work to do.
Pyrolysis Project Update
So as I’ve already said, my mate Samuel from university has joined us to work on the Pyrolysis project for a few months. He is in his final semester and will be doing his Masters chemical engineering project investigating how to produce fuel from the wax products from our current pyrolysis process. He has been straight to work, first working with us to build a laboratory for him to work and do the tests he requires for his project. It has been very encouraging for me to now live alongside him in the church and be able to hang out regularly. Here is a photo of our growing team for our Friday Sushi lunch recently:
Elsewhere in the Pyrolysis project, our virtual intern program continues to develop momentum. Our two interns have progressed well through their projects providing great support to us in the areas of managing PET plastic waste (commonly used for plastic bottles) and beginning work on automating our reactor. We are also walking through Andrew Scott’s book Scatter which is helping them consider how God may be calling them to use their professional skills to advance His kingdom in the future.
Over the Christmas break we received a flurry of new applicants and so are preparing for new virtual interns to start soon and for some interns to come in-person in the summer. As always, I would love to hear from if you are interested in getting involved with our Pyrolysis project, either virtually or in-person. You can see our current intern projects through the OM USA intern site (by clicking the image below). Please get in touch with me directly.
Ways You Can Pray
Give thanks to God for:
The concrete progress I can see with learning Ukrainian.
The times of encouragement in Rzhyshchiv, seeing another place where God is at work in Ukraine.
The arrival of Samuel and the encouragement he is to me and the project at large.
Please pray for:
Fruitful conversations and gospel opportunities at the Language Cafe.
Clarity as I continue to seek the best option for me to serve God after this year.
As well as your prayer support, your generous financial support is always welcome. If you are feeling guided to support me financially, you can do so directly through the OM website through this link: