The Nelson’s–A year in Ukraine

We have been living in Ukraine for a year now. Time continues to fly by. No more excuses for not updating this blog. Briefly, here is what God has wrought in our world during the past twelve months.

Our first six months, we lived in a three room, 7th floor apartment on the left bank of Kyiv. After twenty-eight years of country living, city living was exciting and challenging. Then in October, God graciously provided a house for us in a small village 60 kilometers from Kyiv. We are getting used to the drive (yes, God also provided a van) and enjoy a quiet, peaceful life away from the rat race in the city.

God also brought a wonderful, young Christian dentist into our lives and supplied money for her support. Jeff Colker who is with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) was impressed to take over Mercy Trucks International’s dental ministry here. http://www.mercytrucksua.org/

He is a fantastic organizer and the dental van is now being used on a regular basis at a couple of orphanages and on other outreaches. Just last week, the CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) Emmanuel Ministry’s clinic finally received all the government permissions to open our dental clinic. Dr. Inna and Dr. Richard have seen patients for two days now. All dental work is being provided free of charge. The focus is on orphans and other poor, under served children. Our dentists have also treated patients from two different drug rehab programs as well as many poor people in villages. We are hoping to find support for another dentist in the near future. I spent several days this week going through the 16 boxes that arrived through MEEST. This house has been an amazing blessing as a place to sort and store the humanitarian aid we receive from America and Canada . Several churches and individuals, Smile Alliance International, and others have sent many boxes for the children and widows as well as for us personally. Some dear friends are moving back to the US and they have been donating huge amounts of food, crafts, dishes, things for Smile House and items for distribution to orphanages. So my role of late is to determine what has been donated and with God’s help find the best place for each item. The picture on the right shows a pastor who is recently took these boxes of clothing and shoes to an orphanage with 300 kids in the Zhitomer region. I really love this work. It’s so fun to be able to bless other ministries, orphanages, widows and those in need with the great items which so many of you have lovingly sent. Thank you for your help and support.

Several times I have had the privilege of introducing people from different ministries and they in turn have been able to work together to provide assistance to those in need. I feel it is such a God thing when this happens. Recenty Gateway to Life in Zhitomer arranged for two wheelchairs through Joni and Friends Wheels for the World ministry. The chairs were custom made and delivered to needy individuals whom our friends at YWAM had been desperately trying to help. It is such a joy to be a small part of this and to watch God at work.

Richard and I are working hard to learn Russian but it is very difficult. This morning I put on my skates to get some exercise. Kids in the village often say hello to us but the adults have been more reticent. Yet when I skate I get smiles and waves. A whole family came out to meet me the other morning and I felt like we are finally being accepted here.

Dr. Ed and Pauline Stuedli stayed with us in March and conferred with the chief dentist in Ukraine, Mr. Suzdaltsev and Dr. Borisenko who have received governmental permission to start the first dental hygiene program here. They have permission to start it as early as this September. We appreciated all the information and help this wonderful couple provided and we enjoyed their visit immensely.The Smile House Project is progressing slowly. The builders are doing a fantastic job. A new roof and addition to the front of the building have been added. Interior walls for the top floor rooms have been built. A recent generous donation is making it possible for the project to continue for the time being. We ask your prayers for wisdom as to how to proceed with this, for us to be aware of God’s will in this matter and for additional funding. It is a huge project and we really believe that God has a plan for this building. We do want to run ahead not go to slow, just let Him lead.

This summer’s plans include helping at some summer camps, several long trips with the dental van, and many outreaches. If any of you would like to join us, we’d love to help you make plans and arrangements. We have room in our home for several people and in time hope to have a team or two come and help us complete the upstairs so teams or individuals can stay here.

This year has been a time for learning to depend on God in many ways. It has been a time of growth and joy. We miss our family and friends in the US but were able to make two trips back. The time spent with our five grand kids, their parents, our siblings, and my mom was very special to us. My internet chats with many of you have kept me sane. And your emails, packages and support are so very much appreciated. We have made many new friends, too. Without the help of our many Ukrainian friends we would not have made it through this year. There has been so much support from the American Christian community here as well. We are going to a couple of study groups each week and enjoy the fellowship immensely. We are so pleased that the ministries here work so well together. God is in the center of all this work and we are very blessed.

The political situation is a mess. Your prayers are desperately needed for this country and its people. The freedoms that they are just beginning to enjoy could so easily be snatched away. It makes us appreciate the freedoms we have lived with all our lives.

May God continue to bless you, may you have the chance to follow your dreams and heart’s desires, and may you find joy in our amazing God.

Vicki and Richard

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