By | Fundraisers, Village Ministry | One Comment

cafeWe are just about 2 weeks from flying back to the village. We can’t wait to be back at our house, to see our friends and the kids in the village! And we have some exciting things planned. Lord willing, we will be having our grand opening of the café in Ivanivka! We hoped this would happen in February, but we hit some roadblocks we did not anticipate. Sasha and Dusya have been working hard to get things ready there – painting, planning, and paperwork – to get it to a point for us to be able to open up in the first week or so of June.

The other thing we are planning is a carnival for the kids of Ivanivka. The village has about 1100 residence, many of whom are kids. We have been able to meet and begin relationships with some of them, but are very excited for a big outreach to get to know more of them. We are hoping to use the grand opening of the café to help advertise and bring people in for the carnival. We will have games, prizes, candy and lots of fun!

Please be praying for our goals as our whole team will only be together there for about 2 weeks. We’re going to be working hard to get a lot done in a short amount of time. Be praying for acceptance in the village, no more hold ups with paperwork for the café, team unity, relationships with the people of Ivanivka, and finances. We are so incredibly thankful to those who have already donated. We’ve had money, candy, toys, clothes, and hygiene items already given and we are so grateful! If you would like to help, there is still time. We would like to bring some American candy as the kids are always very excited to have something American. We are also collecting American coffee and tea for the café.

If you would like to give towards specific items (some will be purchased in the states and some in Ukraine) here are our cost estimates:

-bag of candy $5 (5 more needed)
-coffee $10 (10 needed)
-tea $5 (10 needed)
-game supplies $20 (5 needed)

We are also working to offset the cost for our 3 team members’ flights to and from Ukraine, as well as other supplies and general needs in Ivanivka. Any sized gift would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much! Be on the lookout for updates and pictures as we get ready and working!


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This winter, we have plans for continuing and starting new ministry in the village of Ivanivka. We are getting ready for our whole team to be back for New Years and kicking off 2017 with new outreach, building relationships, and community development in Ivanivka. With Thanksgiving just past and Christmas and New Years right around the corner, we are praying that you will join with us in our planning and excitement for giving and loving the people of Ukraine. Our goal for the end of 2016 is to raise $5000. It may seem like a lot, but this will help us fill in the gaps where we need it for general ministry and launch us into all the outreach and events we have planned – a New Years event, gifts for the orphans and village kids, renting facilities for outreach, travel cost for our team, and more.


The newest and biggest goal for 2017 is opening a cafe in Ivanivka. We have the opportunity to lock in a permanent facility for bigger ministry outreach. This of course in a big cost, but it will provide jobs for the village, be a community facility, centrally located and will allow us the opportunity to reach out to even more of the village people. We hope to also use it as a space for church in Ivanivka, and create a safe space for kids to come. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

We are so thankful for all of the help you give to OAU throughout the year. We are excited to finish this year strong with your continued support. **UPDATE** Facebook is waving all fees and the Bill Gates Foundation is matching donation made through Facebook up to $1000 per fundraiser today! So please use this link to our Facebook Page and donate there!

Donations of any size toward our $5000 goal can be made via the PayPal button below or by mail to us and PO Box 1148, Oakley, CA 94561. We are incredibly grateful for each and every one of you and the ways you allow us to serve in Ukraine.

TUESDAY TALES – 11/02/16

By | Fundraisers, Prayer Requests, Tuesday Tales, Village Ministry | No Comments

img_0012For months, we have wanted to do a harvest festival for kids in the village. But we ran into problem after problem ranging from not being able to get permission, no where to do it, and dates not working out for people being able to come and help.

As Monday got closer and we had a few of the regulars over, we got to talking about what they planned to do on Halloween. It was clear we needed to have a safe place for them to come. Now that being said, we at that point still did not have heat, just the one room that was being heated from a small wood burning stove. We cleaned what could and just decided to make some food, have a few fun costumes, and have games with candy. We had 6 kids in our one-stop room and it was a blast. The night started with kids finding costumes, played some crazy games, and end with Captain America (who was the hit of the night), reading them John 3:16 and giving them a challenge to memorize it in Russian and English with the promise of prize next time we meet.

img_5895As thankful as we are to just have a little room that is literally everything from where we sleep, cook, clean, hang out, and now do ministry, it was clear that night that it would be really helpful to get some running water in the house. Because we had little kids, there were multiple times we had to stop the festivities so they could bundle up to then trek outside to use the hole we call a bathroom. When they are only able to come for a couple hours this hurts the flow of our activities.

We couldn’t be more thankful for all the help, prayer, and support from those of you who are so faithful to give. We hate to feel like we’re asking often, but we need your financial support for our all-purpose house. Since we run every part of our ministry from here, it would be incredibly helpful for us to have running water, a toilet and a shower in our house. Please don’t think we are just trying to make our house fancy. If it was just us, we’d be fine with no plumbing. But seeing as this has become our home base for all ministry, and it’s cold now, we’d really like to make it a functional place to serve the people of Ivanivka.

Every day we have visitors in our all-purpose living/bedroom/kitchen/closet-room. Having running water would allow us to cook and clean dishes for these visitors. We currently wash and rinse with well water in tubs on a table in our everything room. A toilet will help in moments like at our harvest festival so kids don’t have to bundle up in the cold to walk out past the fence to the hole we dug for a toilet. Running water would allow for a washing machine to help wash clothes, sheets, towels, blankets not just for ourselves, but also for people like Dusya. She has more than once told us how washing is the hardest thing for her all year, but especially in the freezing winter temps. And a shower? I think you know why a shower is necessary. 🙂 And realistically it isn’t gonna cost that much to make it all happen – around $1130. The break down looks something like this: Shower – $600. Toilet – $60. Sink – $120. Pipes – $50. Digging for drainage, piping, water pump – $300.

If you are able to contribute to these needs, please use the PayPal button below, or by sending donations to us at PO Box 1148, Oakley, CA 94561. We are so, so thankful for any amount you can give to help support us with this specific need!


By | Fundraisers, Prayer Requests, Village Ministry | 2 Comments

img_9928Got another visit from this sibling duo today. This is literally how they are sitting here at this very moment, watching a movie on our couch/bed as I write this blog from across the room. They came in today with a few embarrassed requests that quickly turned into a full list of things they need. Vika in her same dirty pair of gray pants and worn out, too-small shoes. Tolik in his same outfit as yesterday, and little canvas tennis shoes in the 30-something degree weather today. They both need new shoes, pants, warm socks, beanies, basically a new wardrobe. We are going to be in Sumy tomorrow (to celebrate Sasha’s birthday actually!) and will hopefully have time to purchase a few of their needs. If you would like to contribute to helping with these purchases, we would be so thankful for your help!

TUESDAY TALES – 10/26/16

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This img_9915past year has been full of changes and sometimes we haven’t fully understood where God was taking Open Arms. Except we knew it was the village. This summer was different than we expected as we thought we’d be able to do a lot more ministry in the time we were here. But it turned out to be a lot of time spent working on our house and preparing for future ministry. Not even fully understanding what we were going to use the house for, but knowing that we needed to fix it.

This past week has given us a glimpse into why God lead us to buy this house, why we’ve been fixing it up. Not to be cheesy, but the phrase that has been coming to mind all day has been “if you build it, they will come.” Today alone we had 2 unannounced visitors at different times throughout the day. First Tolik came by because we had offhandedly given him an invitation a few days ago. As we sat on the floor playing cards and dice games, he opened up about life at home with his mom.img_9894He shared how he wishes he was still in the orphanage. A couple hours later, we got another knock on our gate from his sister, Vika. She was also tired of being at home and was looking for a safe place to hang out. It was nice to have Tolik and Vika, as well as Dusya and her kids all over for a few hours this afternoon. Even though we were all confined to one room due to lack of heating in the house. We are super thankful for our little woodburning stove that heats at least the one room! Even as they all were leaving a few minutes ago, they asked if they could come back again tomorrow.

Today is just a small example of why we’re doing all the work on our house. We are so thankful to all of you who have blindly and generously contributed to allow us to be here and do the work we need to! We would not be able to have these moments like today without you. This week are are working on getting gas to both heat the house with and cook with (a real stove and oven!), as well as water piped into the house. 20161026_191856This will be an amazing improvement for us here! If you would like to contribute to help pay for these continued improvements you can use the PayPal link here. And if you would come alongside us to pray for us we would be so very thankful! Especially as we work on gas and water this week specifically and spend time with kids and friends here. And also as we plan and try to organize a harvest festival day next month.


By | Fundraisers, Prayer Requests, Tuesday Tales, Uncategorized, Village Ministry | One Comment
After years of visiting the village, we thought we had a good idea of the need for kids and family support. Since moving there, it seems like sadly, that’s all we can see.You may remember this video about brother and sister, Vika and Tolik, that we posted a year or so ago.

IMG_9024We met these adorable siblings at the Pravdinska Orphanage and quickly learned that their mom lived just a couple houses away from the orphanage. Depending on the mom’s sobriety and level of neglect, the kids bounce back and forth between their mom’s house and the orphanage. This summer we ran into Tolik a few times walking around Ivanivka and were able to chat with him a little. We were worried about him a little based on his physical appearance.

We recently found out that Vika and Tolik (in 5th and 8th grade) are no longer at the orphanage and are both attending the public school in the village and are living with their mom and step dad. To tell you the kind of heart that Tolik has, we’ll share a little story of what recently happened. Tolik was buying school supplies that he needed. It was clear that he didn’t have enough money to get all the things he needed. But he didn’t let her know that, IMG_9498and made sure to let her pick the giant white hair bows that she wanted. Thanks to Dusya and her initiative and discernment, we’ve been able to contact their teachers at the school to find out what they need. It has been made clear that their mother is unwilling or unable to pay for their needs (things like notebooks, pe clothes, lunch at school, and other necessities). Vika actually just told Dusya that they haven’t been eating because no one has paid. This is obviously breaking out hearts and we are looking for sponsors to help pay for their monthly needs. If you would like to help support Vika and Tolik with a one-time or monthly recurring donation, please use the PayPal button below. Checks can also be mailed to us at PO Box 1148, Oakley, CA 94561.

There have been other factors that have come into play with these kids and our heart in wanting to help them. If you would like to know more about how to help and pray for them, please contact us for more info. Thank you so much for joining us in loving these two and many others like them.


By | Fundraisers, Uncategorized, Village Ministry | No Comments

image Moving to the village has had a slower start than we first anticipated. We of course understand now that it will take time to build the trust of the people of Ivanivka and that is what we have slowly but surely been doing. We have thought for some time how we would like to somehow get involved with helping the school that most of the kids of the village attend. Dusya’s daughter, Vala, is there and we have been able to go to her classroom before to bring sweets for her class. But we have been thinking and praying about more involvement. Yesterday we received word that they need some new windows before winter arrives. They need three big ones for of the classrooms, which happens to be Vala’s class. We really would like to help and think this could be a great opportunity to be more involved. It will cost about $450 total for all 3 windows. If you would like to be involved and donate you can click the button below. Thank you so much in advance!


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image-56ae40384411d18e8cac91443beb13d7641dbf1be0d924ac8fd7d1bcaa550533-Vimage-536edeb6981c8b256f55f862e4dc521ce1d3ab25fe5e1b2a5d4e15700955f651-VSummer is fast approaching and that means our team is getting ready to head back to Ukraine. There have been many changes this year, some good and some hard. We recently made the decision to move from the city of Sumy to the village of Ivanivka, where we recently bought a house. This is the same village where the Pravdinska Orphanage is. We have loved Ivanivka for going on 10 years now. We have seen so much need and are excited to help where we can. This is going to be a HUGE change seeing as our house has no running water, functioning toilet, or kitchen. Who doesn’t love camping for an extended period of time?? But on a serious note, we are looking forward to the opportunity to be next to the orphanage and also love on all the people in the village.

image-7f24b9176d4ae6f4900e82e54ecee5c54e200fcc478904c80d86050d8c02eb07-Vimage-a5e4a049fe07c56304161772edba8a9391d729a7048fed4ff445081501e2d4b3-VThere is a lot that’s on our to-do list for the house in order to make it a livable home for our team, as well as a good space to run ministry. Some of it will be work we do ourselves, some we plan to hire locals to help us get done, and some things will just be a series of purchases we need to make for improvements.

If you would like to contribute by purchasing or giving to any of these needs we would be so thankful for your help! Below is a list with estimated costs of some of the specifics we already know we need. Donations can be made with notes for specific items.

image-58c5ff0a74862d15e50e635916fae618908d50072a758f59765dc8b135d78e64-Vimage-cfca50a5597908d16eb16dfd34e1fb269e8d829e5b45026eb77ee2234e5d476a-VSome of the items we need are:
New windows ($400)
Garage roof (estimated cost $500)
Kitchen items:  hot plate ($40), hot pot ($50), table + 4 chairs ($165)
Outdoor items like tented bug net ($345), weed whacker ($100)

imageOf course this is not an exhaustive list; there is always more need than we can put in one place. (We did post the longer list here). And sorry in advance for when we get to the village and realize all the other things we need and ask for later. We are so thankful for any help you can provide and we can’t wait to keep you updated on how our summer village ministry goes!


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If you’re coming here, you’ve probably read our other blog about our house and summer village ministry. If not, go check that one out first. This is just the more extensive list of some of the things we need in the our almost-100-year-old house in Ivanivka to help us run better ministry/make it livable. Some items are necessary, some are more of a wish list for improvement that we don’t necessarily need. But here it is, listed with estimated costs. We’ll be updating this list as items are donated and we figure out what else we need. If you want to donate for a specific item please put a note on your check or use the PayPal donate button below and leave a note in there. (The * means it’s items we’d be better off buying in the states and bringing with us.) Thank you so much! Read More


By | Fundraisers, Orphanage Ministry | No Comments

We’ve gotten a couple of emails from the orphanage director at Pravdinska this week. One was to tell us that their school has been named one of the top 200 schools in Ukraine. Congrats to Pravda! They are, of course, very honored to be added to this list. A book is being published called, “Leaders of Ukraine – The Best Schools.” The school is hoping to get a copy, but it will cost them about 3500 grevna that they don’t have in their budget.



One of the Pravdinska kiddos


The other thing the director wrote us about was to ask for help with their garden. Every year they plant flowers all over to beautify the orphanage grounds. It does look amazing in the spring! They are also needing to plant vegetables in their garden: tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and beets. We would love to be able to help them with both their spring planting and the book honoring their achievements. They need about $200 for both things. If you’d like to help with the cost you can give here or by mail (PO Box 1148, Oakley, CA 94561). Thank you in advance!