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Thank you for your continued encouragement and prayers. There have been quite a few positive comments this past week or so from information in these emails which has been uplifting for the team.
The general situation in Lebedyn has not changed significantly. There have been less explosions in the area, but still many air raid sirens and today schools were closed, yet again.
As always, the week has been busy reaching out to many people. A lot of soldiers have been in contact and Bohdan has been connecting and praying with them before they go to the front line. Sadly, this past week has seen many funeral processions in the town as the bodies of those killed on the frontline defending Ukraine return for final farewells from family. This seems to be a growing occurrence which is quite concerning, especially to the military families based in Lebedyn.
Bohdan and Musical Sergey were invited to speak at 2 separate conferences, one in the city and the other a regional event. Both were for teachers who lead extra circular activities after school and are based within the arts. This means dance, singing, music, painting, acting and even chess. They were asked to explain the meaning of Easter and its relevance to the arts world. Bohdan explained that it would be great to see Ukraine win the war, but the greatest win was when Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death. This is why we have so much to celebrate at Easter. He was encouraged by the response they gave at both events. There is still one more meeting to do this week. As the picture above shows, all who were there were handed packs of seeds to help them grow food, as all of them stated they are finding food is difficult currently.
The bakery is now up and running, and on Thursday baked 150 loaves of bread to give away to families. This number will grow. (see picture above).
Many of you remember Larisa who runs the orphanage we have helped in Sumy. Bohdan still visits regularly as the number of children who now live there continues to grow. This week Larisa has been in touch quite a bit to say that firstly, the children are very unsettled and wanting to go home. They found that 3 children escaped from where they were staying in Austria trying to get back home to Ukraine as they missed it so much. They are all safe now. Secondly, the orphanage in Sumy has had several problems including their boiler breaking down and needing replacing. It is a large boiler but without it there is no hot water or heat. We have agreed to send funds to have this replaced. It is Larisa’s hope that they will return to Sumy from Austria in the autumn. It was a year ago this last week she escaped with the children.
I have mentioned in the past few updates that aid is getting harder to obtain and many have been praying for this. This week I was introduced to an amazing lady working with several mission organisations who distribute aid. They have agreed to come to the Centre on Monday with vans of aid, to visit the villages and area to distribute more help. They hope to have medical supplies and a doctor on their team as well, so this is a massive answer to prayer.
Next week will be very busy as it is our Easter camp week. Just under 100 children are booked in and they will be fed, looked after, and told the Easter story. It is their first week of school holidays. Please pray for the team, for all the preparations, and for safety through the week.
The work still grows with the children and teenagers. The extra Bible study homegroups have grown so much they are now running two, with one run by Alla. Alla will be leaving us and going to Germany on April 10th with her family, so please do pray for the team as we need to find a replacement fairly soon. We have now 8 people being baptised over Easter which Bohdan is encouraged by.
Over recent years we have had a large minibus to use for getting things around. Such vehicles are not great now as the larger the vehicle, the greater risk there is for it to be attacked, and it therefore has been largely sitting in a garage unused. Laws changed and we only have one person that can drive this and that is Pastor Sergey. This is not ideal, so we have decided to sell this and try and obtain a smaller minibus, plus another large car (7-seater) to help with the work. We need to have the right vehicles to get us to the outlying villages to provide the help and ministry. We are costing this out as it is not an ideal climate to buy and sell vehicles, but we need to change what we have to make us more effective. Getting this right will mean we can do so much more.
Finally, Bohdan has asked if we can pray for his children, especially Lubomir and Zoryana. Lubomir is down with a stomach virus as most of the school are. However, Zoryana has not been sleeping well at all for some time, and they went for her 9-month check. They are sending Zoryana to a specialist paediatric cardiologist as they seem to think she could have a heart problem. Please can we continue to pray for the family.
My thanks again for your continued support and prayers.
Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn