Winter has shown its face in Kyiv. But as I write, the snow has almost fully melted, and we are actually enjoying moderate weather (around 39°F/3°C) and possible signs of an early spring! However, please remember to keep Ukrainians in your prayers because the Flu has become an epidemic this season with hundreds of people who have already died this year alone, especially in the rougher, war-torn parts of Eastern Ukraine. Thankfully our family has managed to stay relatively healthy this winter!
At the end of January, I was blessed to be able to go to a seminar in Armenia, where Patricia Picavea, the Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries Superintendent of the South America Region (SDMI Super. of SAM for those who like short forms) was able to share with us how she was able to develop the discipleship ministries in Central and South America and how we can do the same on our Field. In the coming years, this will be an emphasis of mine, as I dream to see a stronger emphasis in discipleship (Sunday schools, Bible studies, small groups, etc.) throughout all of our churches in the CIS. Please pray that our churches will develop a deeper passion to intentionally grow into Christ-like disciples!
With the encouragement of some friends, I have also started another small group focused on study Koine Greek - the original language of the New Testament. I have always been an advocate that Christians, particularly Protestants, should study the original languages of the Bible. It has been quite helpful in my sermon preparation and personal spiritual growth. I hope that as I teach, I can communicate the passion that I have for Koine Greek and share some personal highlights that I have gained through studying the language.
Finally, we have recently just registered to give birth in a Maternity Hospital. Although the baby is not due until the beginning of March, we are almost completely ready! (Last night Hannah joyfully helped Ree pack her "overnight" bag, for when Ree is in Labor and Hannah will need to stay with a friend.) Thank you for your continual prayers in this matter. Ree and our son are still healthy and "normal" and we do not foresee any complications in delivery. Ree's mother, Marla will fly in at the end of February to be with us during delivery and first weeks of the baby. Hopefully by the next newsletter a child will be born!
We are scheduled for a short home assignment this spring from April 26 through June 30. We will begin our time at the Intermountain District Assembly where Joseph has been invited to be ordained this year. Then we have plans to criss-cross the country, although we will end up back in the Boise area to fly back out to Ukraine. If you would like more details about our plans and to see if we might be able to schedule a service, or maybe a meal or coffee with you as we pass through, please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org). While we cannot promise that every connection will work out, we would love to connect with as many people as we can.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!
We were so blessed to be able to visit our family in December. The main reason we went to the US was for my (Ree) sister’s wedding, but because it was so close to Christmas we decided to stay an extra week and have Christmas with Joseph’s family. It was a whirlwind trip, full of celebrations and parties, and it even included a few winter driving adventures! But God truly did provide for us, where at two different times we had car troubles but were able to get to where we wanted to go within the same day and with no extra costs to us except for maybe a few grey hairs and a few extra hours on our schedule. Although it was good to see family, one of the major highlights for us was discovering a modular and hourly hotel in the Amsterdam airport on our way back where we spent the most glorious 4 hours of our 6 hour layover in blissful, quiet sleep.
Upon returning to Kyiv, it was New Year’s Eve, and New Years in Ukraine is the main winter holiday where gifts are exchanged, fireworks released, stomachs stretched, and sleep is avoided. Since we were still under the influence of jet-lag, we were able to celebrate quite nicely! ...although, several weeks later we are still not quite on schedule yet.
January 7th marks Christmas Day in Ukraine where we celebrate the birth of Christ and the incarnation. Joseph had a pet project to develop a choir with young adults, and did a wonderful job performing. They are already trying to decide when their next performance will be.
We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our new little boy. I am ready for him to come out of her, but not quite sure she is ready for the extra work he will require. It’s a good thing he still has 7 to 9 weeks left to incubate.
We launched our year of prayer focuses with a special prayer focus email. You can see what January’s email looked like by clicking here. If you are interested in receiving this specially focused email, you can sign up for it here. This is the last time we will mention for the year, so opt in now if you are interested.
And for your enjoyment, here are a few bonus photos:
We Are Thankful!
Over Thanksgiving weekend we were blessed to join together with all the missionaries from around the CIS Field for a time of team building and fellowship. Although we work together, we rarely get to communicate face-to-face, especially with our families.
We would also like to take this time to say that we are thankful for God’s provision on our lives, and all of you, who respond to God’s calling to support us in various ways. Thank you for making this ministry possible.
On the Path of Advent...
November 29th marked the first day of Advent for the Western Church calendar, and it coincided with the first day of SNOW in Kyiv! Besides building Hannah’s first snowman, our family began Advent celebrations with decorating.
Twice a week our apartment is filled with guests from our small group and choral practices. Joseph is putting together a small group to sing “Shedryk” (the original tune and lyrics of “Carol of the Bells”) for Christmas. Of course Hannah loves the extra attention!
Ree and the baby are still very healthy, but everyone is shocked that she has three months left to go. It seems unrealistic that she could get bigger.
For the second half of the month, we will be making a trip back to the States to celebrate the wedding of Ree’s sister and Christmas with Joseph’s family. Please keep us in your prayers as we fly and drive on winter roads.
It may be early, but we want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Years!’
Okay this post isn't about food, but this month we've rolled both October and November into one update!
Happy Second Birthday to Hannah!
In a theme of Sesame Street (more exactly Elmo) we celebrated Hannah's birthday with close friends and family. Hannah even got to celebrate with her grandmother (Joseph's mother)! Of course Hannah was spoiled while Grandma visited, which included a road trip to Poltava four hours away. (Hey, it's her last birthday without an annoying sibling tagging along and wishing it was their birthday...)
If one day (or week) of celebration wasn't enough, Ree's parents came the following week with more presents and continual spoils from Grandpa's soda cup and Grandma's cooking.
Poltava - The Soul of Ukraine
Poltava is located in the middle between Ukraine's two largest cities - Kyiv and Kharkiv. It not only has an ancient history, but is a city of famous Ukrainian writers, poets and artists. For the last three years, our new friend, Kara, has been teaching English and providing a local English ministry in the form of an English Club, a small group and Sunday school class. Teaching English not only equips people with valuable skills, it also helps break down barriers and fears one might have entering a church or engaging Christians. Kara hopes to continue her ministry in Ukraine, and we visited her to talk about how she could help expand her ministry to Kyiv and throughout the country.
Eurasia Regional Conference
For those who may have forgotten, we are in the process of moving from "volunteer" to "employee" status. This means that we have all the benefits of being employees of the Church of the Nazarene, although we must still raise all our own support for living and ministry expenses -- just now, your support goes further!!
As part of this process, we have been given updated giving information. Our new online giving link is: http://web.nazarene.org/goto/sumifamily. And our new check memo is: Joseph Sumi Deputation. This information can also be found on the Give tab on our website.
Join Us in Prayer
We strongly believe in the power of prayer and its ability to sustain and provide for us in our ministry. We invite you to be a part of our ministry by praying with us over the next year. Each month, in the year 2016, we have picked an area of our lives or ministry to focus on in prayer.
There are two ways you can participate in this prayer ministry over the next year: by email and/or by receiving a 2016 desk calendar. We will be sending out an email at the beginning of each month, different than our regular monthly updates, with details about that month's specific prayer focus, photos related to the month's theme, and how you can best pray for it. Or if you would like a more tangible reminder, you can receive a 2016 desk calendar, which would also include the month's prayer focus and a photo related to the month's theme.
You can also choose to receive both the email and the calendar. Just indicate your preference by responding to this email or by filling out the form on our new Pray tab on our website. We look forward to praying with you over this next year!
Summer officially ended September 1st in Ukraine, and the street in front of our house instantaneously grew more crowded and noisy with the start of the new academic year and beginning of Fall. The weather has turned temperamental, reminding us that it can indeed get cold in Kyiv, while giving us "flashes" of warmth every other day.
We started a home group Bible Study in our house, based off the NOOMA video series, and already a sizable group has started to regularly come to discuss the meaningful things of life.
Our family also took our first trip to Odessa. We were hosted by Pastor Nabil and his family, for a weekend of fun, festivities, and a chance to celebrate the Hebrew new year, Rash-hashana through a Hebrew concert held in the city. Pastor Nabil is originally from Syria, but moved to Ukraine as a student 25 years ago. He became a Christian after his studies, and in the last ten years, he has been serving the Lord as a pastor in southern Ukraine. He is passionate, and desires to see Odessa and Ukraine transformed and sanctified through Christ. It was a wonderful time to get to know the heart of Nabil and spend time with his family: his wife and year old daughter.
And just a quick update on our move from being volunteers to employed. Again, we still have to raise all of our living and ministry funds but this gives us the opportunity to use our funds for more things like medical expenses or clothing. But with this move, there will be some changes with giving, as in the memo line on checks or the link for online giving. For now, everything is the same, but as we find out more we will keep you updated. And for those who give regularly, we will be contacting you personally with how it might effect your regular gifts and what to do.
Now for the news you have all been waiting for! We are going to have a baby boy! Thank you so much for your support and prayer for our family, especially for Ree and the little one! Pray that they stay healthy, especially as we begin to enter colder months!
And last, we want to tell you how awesome you are! Without our base of support we would never be able to do what we do, and these changes to our status would be very difficult. As it is, your continued faithfulness in prayer and giving are making the transition very easy because we do not have to continually worry about having sufficient funds and we can focus on the ministry at hand. So, again, THANK YOU.
That's right, Hannah is becoming a big sister! We are expecting our second child in the first couple weeks of March. We are really excited for the addition to our family. So far both mom and baby are healthy and developing normally.
We are making another major change to our family this month: we are purchasing a car. With the arrival of the new baby, we decided it would be beneficial to have a vehicle of our own, especially when Joseph is out of town. Almost providentially, a week after we started looking, we were approached with an offer on a vehicle that fit our needs perfectly and was within our budget.
This month we learned that we will be moving from volunteer to employee status for the Church of the Nazarene. This does not change our need to raise support, but it expands how we can use our raised funds. Formerly, we were not allowed to use raised funds for personal expenses beyond food, housing and transportation. Once employees, we will be receiving a "salary" portion from our raised funds, which can be used to meet our personal needs including toiletries (diapers), clothes and medical expenses. We are grateful for those, who continually support us financially! Praise the Lord that we often have exactly what we need, when we need it.
Summer is a busy time for ministry across our Field. This summer, we were only able to participate in one of the many camps. Our friend and fellow missionary from South America Region, Liliana Reza, was the speaker for the Ukraine District Youth Camp. She came all the way from Argentina to share with the 80 youth who attended. Many committed and recommitted their lives to Christ, and we have heard similar stories of positive responses throughout the various camps and VBSs on the Field. Be in prayer for these youth and children as they go back into their daily routine, and their possibilities to serve Christ and regularly connect with a local Body of Believers.
As always, we commit to pray for you, our partners. We are especially praying for those in the Northwest, who are affected by the devastating wildfires. We are continually open to personal connection, and you can contact us through our website or email at email@example.com.
Here, unlike in the States, June 1st is the beginning of summer. Most schools have finished courses, and older students, along with universities, are finishing up with final exams.
In June, I, Joseph, had a chance to visit a church in Nemyriv, Ukraine, which is a small town about 20km from Vinnytsia. There we have a meager, but passionate congregation. Pastor Anatoly is a modest looking man, slightly warn for the years, and easily passible, but inside he has a passion to serve Jesus in all aspects of his life. If you spend an afternoon with the man, you will easily see that he consciously becomes a witness not only in his workspace but even in how he plants his vegetable garden.
Although encouraged and enlivened by my comprehension in the use of the Russian language, I have been humbled by the words of Duane Elmer in Cross-Cultural Servanthood, about what it means to be a servant in ministry. In an attempt to be "slow to speak but quick to listen," I headed off to Central Asia, where I had not spent much time before, on a "listening trip," visiting three churches and learning how they live, worship and most of all how I could possibly serve them best. It was also the first time I was in 113° F (45° C) weather!
At the end of the month (and partially why this post is late), I attended the long awaited CIS Nazarene Youth Conference, where 110 youth, leaders and pastors from over six different countries gathered in Tsaghkadzor, Armenia under the theme of Unity (Eph. 4:4-6) to remind us what it looks like to be one Body under Christ. When the article on this conference is published on the Eurasia Region, I will mark a link from our Facebook page. You will also be able to read it on our CIS Field website.
Ree and Hannah, have spent a majority of the summer in Kyiv, working on Church finances, keeping the home together, and transitioning Hannah from sleeping in a Pack-n'-Play to a full-size bed. This will be useful when we leave, as a family, for Ukraine Youth camp next week near Odessa.
After a three month trip in the States, we came back to our apartment in Kyiv, unpacked and started the re-adjustment process all over again. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for missionaries to leave on Furlough for an entire year! We settled into Ukrainian life without too many hiccups - only got on the wrong bus once or twice.
Since we've been back, our main focus is preparing for summer events, such as the CIS Youth Conference. Please keep this event in your prayers as it gets closer (July 2-5, 2015)!
We are also excited to have our friend and colleague, Liliana Reza, come and speak at the Ukrainian Youth Camp at the end of July.
Hannah has grown up into a toddler - a miniature dictator who at a whim turns into a lovable cuddle-bug! Her favorite things include swinging at the park, "playing" piano when mommy plays and walking her baby-stroller down the street.
We would like to thank those who faithfully support us and our ministries. Please continue to keep us in your prayers and stay connected!
The end of March signified the end of our three-month furlough in the United States. We are touched by all of the congregations, groups and individuals, who welcomed us, and we thank each and every one of you for the ability to share what God is doing on the CIS Field and in our life. Although we are the end of our trip, we continually pray that God was able to stir the hearts of God's people into action and participation in God's reign. The culmination of our furlough was on Easter Sunday as we celebrated our Lord's resurrection with my family in Seattle; A week later, we were able to greet our brother and sisters in Kyiv on a sunrise service (which is also when the Orthodox Tradition celebrates Easter)!
Paise God for our safety in travels, relative healthiness on the road, and the peace and security that God has already given us half of our goals!
We have returned to Kyiv, Ukraine, from where we will continue to work for the foreseeable future. After a few days of adjustment to jet lag, we are back to work! Please keep us in your prayers and stay updated through our blog and Facebook page. There is a lot that God will do this summer, and we want to keep you involved!
P.S. Hannah is already 18th months old today!!
We are over halfway through our time here in the US. This last month we have spent over 70 hours in a car with more than 3000 miles across a multitude of states. We've visited 12 churches, battled sickness, visited longtime friends and were able to take in a few sights along the way. Here are a few of our highlights from this month.
We met in Houston for the annual CIS Partnership. Every year there is an opportunity for people to meet missionaries and nationals on our Field to learn, in greater depth, news, prayer requests and opportunities to get involved. Thank you to Houston Living Word for hosting. It was also great for us to visit others in the Houston area and gain new partners!
Some of you might be wondering how we are doing in raising partners and funds to keep us on the field. As we said previously, we plan to return to Ukraine and minister on the CIS Field for the next 4 years without a long break. In the last few months we have been able to add over 12 new giving partners (known), as well as a multitude of new prayer partners; we currently have more than half of the total amount we need for the next four years raised! Praise God!
- Continue to pray for our safety, health and endurance as we finish up our time in the US.
- Praise God for his faithfulness to provide for our financial needs.
- Pray for the CIS Youth Conference in July and other events this summer.