Catching Up

It's hard to believe it's been nine months since our last update! A lot has happened since then, so I'll do my best to bring you up to speed, without getting too long-winded!

Leaving Ukraine

We were already planning to come back to the States for a furlough in March, and when the rumblings of war with Russia began to get louder in late January, we decided that the better part of wisdom might be to leave a bit earlier, just in case. So we wrapped up all our affairs, put our belongings in storage, said our goodbyes, and left Ukraine on February 15. Nine days later, we watched in disbelief as Russia invaded the land we had called home for over a decade.

Sojourning in America

We spent our first month in America in Houston. One of our priorities was to spend time with Katelin's grandfather, who subsequently passed away while we were in Colorado. God also provided a place for us to live in the Houston area that would come available in July.

We then flew to Colorado, where we reconnected with family and friends there. Among other things, we purchased a van, which has served us well. One of the highlights of our time in Colorado was attending the wedding of my youngest brother, Joseph. Right after the wedding, we were able to take part in Rocky Mountain Outreach, a spin-off of Carpathian Mountain Outreach (CMO), that is organized by a group of CMO alumni.

At the wedding

Handing out wedding programs with the cousins!

It was then time to pack ourselves up once again. Katelin and the kids flew to Houston, while I drove there with our stuff. It took a couple months to get completely settled in to our new house, but it has been nice to have a place to call home.

Our Team

When the war broke out, the Steele family evacuated to Slovakia. They would like to return to Ukraine in the spring, and they hope to have acquired Slovak residency by then, which would allow them to return to Slovakia if things take a turn for the worse in Ukraine.

Serhii Chepara was not allowed to evacuate because of a law preventing draft-eligible men from leaving the country, so his wife, Natallia, and their children left Ukraine on their own and eventually wound up in Germany. For a while, Serhii kept our on-the-ground ministry operations going, but was then drafted and is currently serving in Odesa.

Tanya Gerasimova is a good friend of ours and the newest member of the team. She has filled in most of the gap that Serhii left when he was drafted.

Remember Denise Hutchison? (Except that she is Denise Ireland now!) When she got married and left town, she had to stop running the correspondence course. But now, people can take the course online, and most of our students do just that. So when Serhii got drafted, Denise jumped back into the fray and is helping Tanya with the grading of the online students.


Bible First: Thanks to Serhii, and now Tanya and Denise, Ukrainians are still able to study the Bible via our correspondence course, Bible First.

Good and Evil: Back in 2018, we printed five thousand copies of Good and Evil. At the beginning of the year, there were still two or three thousand left, but they were quickly distributed once the war began. We were approached by another ministry, which offered to finance the printing of fifteen thousand copies of Good and Evil, if we would handle the printing and distribution. About two weeks ago, the books were delivered to a storage location just outside of Lviv. Pray that God would bless the distribution of these books, which will likely primarily take place via different organizations and churches that are providing humanitarian aid to those impacted by the war.

Book delivery

The books are stacked at the storage location.

Web Development: Bible First is currently available online in Ukrainian and English. However, there are three other languages that are in the final stages of completion: Spanish, Russian, and French. We decided to start with Spanish, as it is the one that is the closest to being ready to go. Josh Steele and I have been working on that recently, and have made good progress.


Leaving Ukraine for an extended period of time was hard, especially for the kids. For them, Ukraine is home, and it is where their friends are (or were). The good news is that America has become more "homey" over time.

Regarding our family's future, the big question is if and when we will return to Ukraine. The short answer is that it's too early to say. The long answer is that while our furlough would be over next summer, the war in Ukraine has complicated things. There are a couple things I will be keeping my eye on: the Steele's potential return to Ukraine in the spring, and CMO. If the Steele's return to Ukraine goes well, it will likely be followed by a CMO. If there is a CMO, I plan to be there for it, and it would double as a scouting trip for our family's potential return.

I think that's about it! That was a long update, but we had a lot of ground to cover. Thanks for continuing to pray for our family and ministry, and hopefully the next update won't be so long in coming!

Our family

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December-January Update

I'll start with family news this month because it's the most exciting! We are now a family of seven! Eric was born about a week after our last update. Katelin's mom made it to town a few days before the birth, and was a huge help the entire time she was here (about a month). Both the labor and birth went well, and I was able to be present at the birth. Eric is a healthy baby that is already about 50% bigger than he was when he was born, and while he's not the easiest baby we've ever had, he's also not the hardest! All his older siblings adore him, and have stepped up to the plate to help out with the extra work that a new baby brings.

It's Eric

It's Eric!

Of course, there's also the document side of things. With only a few minor hiccups, I was able to get Eric's Ukrainian birth certificate, on the basis of which we applied for his Consular Report of Birth Abroad (which will function as his American birth certificate) and passport. Thankfully, a consular official from the US Embassy in Kyiv came to Lviv for a visit, and we were able to submit all our paperwork to her, which saved us the overnight train trip to the embassy in Kyiv. We recently received Eric's passport, and we are all set to travel!

Eric's fans

Eric sleeps a lot, so the siblings have to soak him up while he is awake!

Furlough Prep

As mentioned in our last update, our family is leaving for a longer furlough in a few months. We will likely be leaving either the end of March or the end of April. Unfortunately, our residency permits are expiring at the end of March, so staying until April would entail going through the entire renewal process, just for that one month. Pray that God would give us wisdom about which way to go.

In the meantime, one of the more complicated parts of our return to the States has already been taken care of: Katelin's harp. We packed it all up and Katelin's mom took it back with her, and it arrived without incident!

Katelin's harp

Here's the harp, all packed up with warning signs in three languages. (And emojis for anyone who doesn't understand any of them!)

Steele Family

Our partners, the Steeles, are currently in the States on a short furlough. They will be returning on January 17. Pray that they will be able to get all the necessary negative Covid tests they need, and that their return trip would go well.


I'm happy to report that we finally got our legal issues with Bible First Online sorted out, and several people have already signed up for coaching accounts! For me personally, the things currently on my plate are proofing chapters 10 and 11 of By Divine Design and taking care of all ETO's financial reports and statements that have to do with the closing of fiscal year 2021. Not the most exciting job, but someone's got to do it!

A Change of Pace

When I was growing up, our family rubbed shoulders with a lot of missionaries when they would come home on furlough. For whatever reason, most of those missionaries were on a “four years on the field, one year in the States” schedule. Fast-forward to today, and my family, not being sent out of a missions organization, has always had the freedom to set its own schedule. As our family has grown, the time between our trips to America has lengthened, but our furloughs have stayed about the same (anywhere from 3-6 months). While there are various reasons for this, one of the main ones is that we have always stayed with our parents. And while this does have a lot of advantages, not having your own space to be a family is hard, and we have always looked forward to getting back to our own home in Ukraine.

Cozy in the living room

All cozied up in our living room.

All that to say, we feel like it’s time for us to take a “real” furlough. On the one hand, Ukraine is our home, and there is much about it we love. On the other hand, there are aspects of life in a foreign country that are draining, and we feel like the best thing we can do for the emotional health of our family is to take a step back for a bit.

So what will this “real” furlough look like? In the spring of 2022, our plan is to pack up our belongings in Ukraine and put them in storage. We will then fly to Colorado, attend the wedding of Nathan’s brother, and travel to Texas, where we hope to rent a house in the vicinity of Katelin’s parents, likely for a year. One other note of clarification is that while the word “furlough” generally implies a break from work, our furlough will be more of a break from life in Ukraine than a break from ministry. A large portion of my ministry responsibilities can be done remotely, and I am optimistic that the physical distance between us and Ukraine won’t slow me down much.

And what about once our furlough is over? Then what? It’s quite possible that we will be all rested up and ready to return to Ukraine, pull our stuff out of storage, and pick up where we left off. But that’s not the only option. It’s possible that God is using this situation to move us in another direction, perhaps in a direction that we haven’t yet anticipated. Regardless, we are simultaneously apprehensive and excited about the changes the next couple years have in store for us, and we would appreciate your prayers as we move forward and seek God’s will for our family.


Things are about to change! Katelin's mom is supposed to arrive tomorrow, and the baby — around Thanksgiving. Our days of being a "small" family of six are numbered!

Regarding the birth, everything is looking good. Katelin and the baby are healthy. I'll be tested for coronavirus when Katelin is admitted, and assuming the test comes back negative, I'll be allowed to be at the birth. So we'd appreciate your prayers that everyone would be healthy and for a good labor and delivery!

Ready for a new brother

Ready to meet their new brother!

October Update

Nothing super exciting to report on this month, just lots of nice, steady progress on different projects!

By Divine Design

The translator and I finished Chapters 8 and 9 last week. Just three more chapters to go!

Bible First Online

I'm still working on adding answer keys to Bible First Online. Meanwhile, thanks to all the traveling and speaking the Steeles have done in America recently, there are a bunch of new people that are excited about using BFO in ministry!


The Steeles were not able to renew their residency permits before leaving for the States, so they had to cancel them and will need to start over from scratch. This means applying for visas while they are in America, and then applying for new residency permits once they get back to Ukraine.

At present, I have been working with our attorney and local church in Ukraine to get the letters of invitation and other documents that the Steeles will need to get their visas. Pray that all would go well!


It's starting to feel a lot like fall. School is in full swing. The trees are changing color. Little by little, cold weather gear is working its way out of storage and into everyday use. First it was hats and mittens, then it was winter coats and warm socks, and now there is a pile of snow pants in the house. Thankfully, it's not quite cold enough for the snow pants yet!

Ready for winter

When the cold weather does come, we're ready for it!

On the baby front, everything is looking good! The baby is now head down, and will hopefully stay that way. Just five weeks to go! Katelin's mom, Patricia, is planning to come for the birth. Our current prayer is that she would be able to come, and that she would arrive before the baby!

Peaceful lake

Enjoying a peaceful moment at a local lake.