Sleepless and Sick in North Carolina

We're back in the States for two months, but we're not off to a great start. Justus, jet lag, and sickness do not go well together!

UBI's fall term came to a close on November 15th. For the next two months, the students will be working closely with their home congregations putting into practice many of the things they've been learning. It's a time for rest as well as for ministry, both for the students and the staff.

Sending the students off on their last day before break…

After the students left, I continued to work on my upcoming classes. I also led Bible class one Sunday, taught the youth group one week, and Katie, Justus, and I helped our congregation distribute some aid to the displaced families of eastern Ukraine.

The team…

Justus would ask which kind of soap they would like, then would give them the opposite of whatever their choice was. Every single time.

Katie invited the weekly women's Bible study group to meet in our home one evening, where she shared a lesson from the Psalms. Everyone really enjoyed it, and now the plan is to do that quarterly.

We did make a quick trip over to Kharkov to visit our church family and friends. (You might recall that the last trip we made was overshadowed by the sudden death of one of the kids in the youth group.) It had been nearly a year since we moved away from Kharkov, and so we wanted to visit and see how everyone was doing.

I met with the leaders of the church. They shared their successes and trials, and I tried to encourage them in their work. The prison ministry is going well, and soon there will be five baptisms there. The youth group is growing, and at least two of the teens are very eager to be baptized as well. We visited several friends, stopped by the youth club, and I preached Sunday (and Katie unexpectedly taught the children's class). It was a packed five days, but it was a blessing.

On November 21st, we left Ukraine for another long trip to the States. None of us was particularly excited about living out of our suitcases again, especially considering it hadn't even been five months since we arrived to Ukraine. But this trip is important, and so we packed our suitcases once again and flew away.

On our way out of Europe, we spent a week in Germany. As we've done for many years now, we attended the Euro-American Family Retreat in Rothenburg. It is always so encouraging to spend time with fellow European missionaries, and this year was no exception. This was, however, our first time to attend with a toddler, so I can't say there were as many meaningful conversations as there have been in the past.

Justus was his friendly and energetic self, and it didn't take long for everyone at the retreat to know who he was. He attended Bible class with the other children, and on the last evening they all got up to sing a song they had practiced. Not surprisingly, our little boy hijacked the show.

We also spent a few days with the Heinicke family, our good friends from Munich. They have hosted us several times when we've traveled through Munich. They are so hospitable and go to great lengths to make us feel at home. They also have four children, and the youngest daughter is just a year older than Justus. The two of them enjoyed lots of playtime together.

On Friday we flew to Charlotte to spend a week with Katie's mom. The flight went well, but both Justus and Katie were starting to feel sick. By Saturday afternoon, Justus had developed a pestering cough and runny nose. This, on top of the already-awful jet lag, has kept him from getting very much sleep, and that's not helping him get better.

Still, he's not letting the sickness keep him down (even though he should). He is having a wonderful time with Grandma Vernice, asking her a hundred times a day, "Grandma, will you play with me?" It's so nice for them to have this time together.

I'm spending this week finishing up the presentation about our work at UBI that I'll be sharing at several congregations, as well as continuing to work on my upcoming Hebrews course. We'll be in the States until the end of January. Here’s our schedule:

  • December 6–7
    Santa Cruz, California

  • December 8–20
    Reno, Nevada

  • December 21–January 2
    Placerville, California area

  • January 2–9
    Dallas-Fort Worth area

  • January 10–23
    Broken Arrow, Oklahoma area

  • January 24–26
    Charlotte, North Carolina

  • January 27
    Leave for Ukraine

We look forward to seeing many of you soon and sharing about our new lives in Kyiv. We love you all and wish you a very Merry Christmas!

—Brandon and Katie

Justus asked me if he could take off his clothes because he wanted to be in the jungle. I had no idea what he was talking about but told him it was fine. He took off his clothes and started running around the house like a crazy man. When he told Katie he was in the jungle, she said, “Like your Mowgli book?” Turns out, yes, that’s exactly what it was.