Posted on February 17, 2021
Bible First Online
The Bible First Online project continues to move forward! The folks in our Pioneers group, as we call it, are moving through the Bible First lessons and some of them are moving over into coaching roles. To that end, we hosted another Zoom call where we demonstrated the coaching side of BFO. We are excited to see what some of these Pioneers will do with BFO in the future!
In the mean time, we have a steady stream of new students into the Ukrainian side of Bible First. In the last 30 days, we've received requests from 16 people to enroll in Bible First! Also, it's interesting that 75% of the requests were to study online, as opposed to receiving paper lessons. (When someone fills out our enrollment form, they can choose between paper and online.) It's exciting that we finally have the online version of Bible First for the people that prefer to do things online!
Despite the cold and snow, our trip to Kyiv to renew passports went well. This morning, I was notified that our new passports have arrived at the US Embassy in Kyiv, and should be delivered via courier in a couple days.
Next month, we will start the process of renewing our residency permits.
In the past ten days, we've gotten more snow than we have in the whole rest of the winter combined! Initially, the kids were excited, but now I think everyone is looking forward to spring. We can't complain, though. Despite all the cold and snow, our utilities have remained on, unlike friends and family in the States.
For a while, the girls were numbering their snowmen. But I think we may have lost track!
Posted on January 21, 2021
Bible First Online
Earlier this month, we were finally able to do the initial release of Bible First Online! About 30-35 people tuned into a Zoom call where we explained how and why we use Bible First Online (BFO) in ministry, and went over some basic details of how BFO works on a practical, day-to-day level.
Most of those people have since signed up as BFO students, and are getting acquainted with the student side of the BFO web application. In a couple weeks, we are planning to do another Zoom call to explain the coach side of BFO.
So far, we've gotten a lot of positive feedback, and people are excited about using BFO in their own ministries. On our part, we are also excited about putting this tool that we designed for our ministry into the hands of others!
Part of life in a foreign country is keeping your documents current. Melissa, Briana, and I all need to renew our passports, and we'll be taking a trip to the US Embassy in Kyiv early next month to get that taken care of. It used to be that a consular official would come to Lviv from time to time, and we could handle passport renewals without having to make the almost-300-mile trip to Kyiv, but for now that isn't an option due to Covid.
We finally got some good snow, and we've all gotten in some decent snow time. Right now, everything is melting, but next week, there's more cold and snow on the way. Looks like we have more sledding in our future!
Making gingerbread cookies.
Posted on December 17, 2020
Bible First Online
Due to sickness in the Steele family and our family, we've had to push back our beta release of Bible First Online until sometime in January. Still, preparations continue! Lately I've been writing documentation and recording screencasts to help the new users understand how to use Bible First Online. (And I've learned a thing or two about screencasting in the process!)
This is the first Bible First screencast I made — a short demonstration of the signup process.
The number of daily new cases of coronavirus in Ukraine peaked about three weeks ago and has been in decline since then. Something tells me that the coronavirus isn't done with Ukraine yet, but for now, we'll enjoy the respite.
It's birthday month! We celebrated Briana's birthday earlier this month, and Melissa's is just around the corner. Katelin and the girls recently finished a unit study on the oceans that they have been working on for the past few months. To celebrate, we've decided to visit a new aquarium in town, which is the only one in Lviv, as far as I know.
Yay for snow and sledding buddies!
Posted on November 19, 2020
We all know that God is our Heavenly Father. And we know that God is a Good Father. But why is He a Good Father? One of the reasons is because He lets us help Him with His projects. As any parent will tell you, kids love to do grownup stuff. Give them the choice between "cooking" with plastic food or cooking real food with Mom, or "fixing" things with play tools versus helping Dad fix something with Dad's tools, and they'll take the real stuff any day.
The Bible says that God was/is "reconciling the world unto himself". Missions isn't something that man came up with, it was God's idea. But then the Bible says that God has "committed unto us the word of reconciliation". God didn't have to do that. I'm sure He would have done a much better job of it. I'm sure He has to be very patient with us as we make messes, and sometimes do more harm than good. But because He's a Good Father, He decided to let us get involved in His grownup stuff.
A couple months ago, when the above thoughts popped into my head, I realized that one of the best things I could do for my children was to let them be a part of something bigger than themselves. Because we live in an apartment, taking the kids to the playground is part of our routine. On Saturdays, I sometimes take the kids to the playground so that Katelin can have some downtime. So we started taking stacks of Good and Evil invitations with us on our Saturday outings. On our way to a playground, we stop in a few buildings and put the invites in the mailboxes. We mark off the buildings on our map, and the next time, we do different buildings. The girls enjoy it, and even Jonathan has gotten in on the action! It doesn't take long, maybe fifteen minutes. After all, little attention spans are short! That said, a couple days ago, we got our first request for a Good and Evil, and we were all pretty excited!
Working together to put Good and Evil invitations in mailboxes.
Getting back to the idea of missions, some might think that missions is something that we have to do. Maybe some assume that it's something that our church or denomination requires. But in reality, getting to do something with your Father isn't something that you have to do, it's something that you get to do. And hopefully my children will one day choose to do the same.
Jonathan follows his sisters to the next building entrance.
Bible First Online
Our goal is to do a beta release of Bible First Online to a group of friends and acquaintances sometime next month, with a public release to follow sometime next year. The BFO application is mostly ready to go, so most of what needs to be done is in the realm of preparing promotional and support materials.
Covid cases are spiking in Ukraine, as they are in many parts of the world. Today's number of new cases was a new record: 13,357. That may not sound like much, but adjusted for population differences, that would be about the same as 100,000 cases in the US. That said, Ukraine's medical system seems to be holding up decently well, and things continue to be calmer in our part of Ukraine.
Katelin and I recently celebrated our 11th anniversary, and we celebrated with an overnight getaway. We left the kids with a babysitter, and I think they had about as much fun as we had! Katelin and the kids also regularly call Katelin's grandfather, who lives alone in a nursing home, and can't have many guests because of Covid. Thanks to the regular calls, the girls are probably closer to their great-grandfather than they ever have been. The girls are also hoping it will snow soon, although Katelin and I would prefer a bit more fall weather before winter sets in!
Nothing like a good old-fashioned romp in the leaves!
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