Hello lovely people,
Thank you all for following this journey God is taking me on and supporting me through your prayers. I’ve been in Ukraine for two weeks, but it’s felt plenty longer than that, so I feel it’s time to update you all with what is going on.
Settling into Kaharlyk
I left the UK at the end of September armed with a kilo of spices and a half litre of Sriracha hot sauce ready to embrace the land of cabbage and buckwheat. To be fair, the food is more varied than I had exaggerated in my head from my last time in Ukraine. It’s also nice to be able to fill a basket of shopping for a fiver and regularly get a takeout coffee from over the road for less than a quid. So, all in all, the food so far has not been the sticking point I had predicted it would be.
Besides the food there are several things I am really thankful for so far: Since arriving we’ve had many days warmer than usual, around 15-20C, which has been so refreshing from my previous experiences in the humid summer heat; My two previous trips to Ukraine and an exchange semester in Italy have taught me a lot to soften the culture shock this time. After all the stress of getting ready to move, it’s so nice to finally be here and not have to rush the everyday in the way that you more often need to do on a short-term trip; And finally, it was such a joy last Sunday to be able to simply go down to the cricket field for a casual training session in the setting sun. It’s the kind of thing I’ve dreamed about doing for a long time.
My accommodation is in the church, which is currently undergoing a refurbishment to its front side. I found it a little challenging the first week staying in the basement with limited access to a kitchen. I’ve since moved upstairs where I now have possibly the world’s shortest commute to church since I am less than fifteen steps from bed to pew. OM Ukraine has a nice office space and I’ve enjoyed being in the church through the week meeting the various groups who use the building as a community space. It’s currently unclear whether I will be able to stay in the church long-term or if I should move into an apartment in town. Both of these have pros and cons so is really something for which I would appreciate your prayers.
My language learning has been OK so far. The church has been so kind in welcoming me and giving me much opportunity to try and try again with saying the most basic things. I will soon be connecting with a tutor based in Kyiv who will accelerate my learning. I’m also looking for ways to engage more in the life of the church such as playing sports, doing kids ministry and hosting families for food. Please pray for opportunities for me to serve here and for progression in language learning since it is so important that I can express in words the hope I have in Jesus to those around me.
With regards to COVID, its awareness seems alarmingly absent from everyday life, apart from wearing masks in shops. It is brilliant, however, to be able to attend completely unrestricted church services for the first time since March. As you can see below (and in more detail here), the number of positive cases in Ukraine has accelerated recently approaching 6k/day. Although, the testing capacity has increased from around 8k/day average in May to 28k/day so far in October, in that time the positive test rate has upped from 6% to 20%. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks.
In other news, Ukraine ensured further uninhibited access to the Scotch Whisky market by recently signing a Political, Free Trade and Strategic Partnership agreement with the United Kingdom. This extends all sorts of current freedoms beyond the end of the Brexit transition period in January 2021. You can read more about the agreement here.
Pyrolysis Project Update
Our workers have been working hard this past month to build and test a fractional distillation column to separate the conglomerate wax mixture which is produced from the initial pyrolysis from plastic waste into its constituent parts which includes much more valuable fractions such as diesel (see photos below). The results so far have been encouraging but there are several steps ahead before the fuel is marketable.
We are working with OM USA as they develop a virtual intern program which has formed since COVID cancelled all the summer mission trips. It should allow students to work remotely on projects with OM so they can use their skills to advance God’s kingdom from home and at the same time consider if they would like to pursue this calling with a trip to the field in the future. We have several project ideas and interest from several students so prayer with setting this up and partnering with the right people would be appreciated. If you read this and are interested in a project with us (in business and engineering and more), please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Trip to Cherkasy
Finally, I would love to share with you a short trip I made to the city of Cherkasy which is 120km south-east from Kaharlyk on the Dnieper river. I joined my friend Theresa for a few days of her five week trip which takes her all over Ukraine. I met Theresa and her family in Ukraine in 2017. They have a huge heart for the orphans and those with special needs in Ukraine and so have adopted Ukrainian orphan twins.
Theresa travels to Ukraine several times a year to teach mums, carers and doctors Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy techniques to enable their kids to flourish and be dignified as those made in God’s image who are infinitely precious to Him. It filled my heart to experience the hope present in the room as I witnessed so many people, mums in particular, absorb Theresa’s teaching and flood her with their questions. I could see how desperate they were to give their kids the best chance in life. One of them told Theresa that her presence was like “living water in the desert”. Theresa was able to offer her hope in the One who really can give Living Water.
Ways You Can Pray
Give thanks in prayer for:
All the blessings since arriving such as the weather, decent food, experience from previous trips abroad and playing cricket.
Progress with the fractional distilling of the fuel as we move steps closer to a marketable fuel product.
Theresa’s awesome work teaching ABA therapy that is spreading fast throughout Ukraine impacting the futures of many kids with special needs. It brings her so many opportunities to give God glory as she is often asked about the motivation for her work.
Please pray for:
Guidance over the long-term accommodation plan whether it is best to stay in the church or move into an apartment.
Opportunities to meet people whether by playing sport, doing kids ministry or hosting families for food to aid language learning little-by-little each day so that I may communicate the hope I have in Jesus.
Setting up the virtual intern program that God would lead us to partner with the right people.
As well as your prayers 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: