After nearly seven years living in a 775 square foot apartment, God has graciously provided the Steeles with more living space! We’d like to share with you the story of how God recently led our growing family to a new home in L’viv.
When we arrived back in L’viv on February 20, we had one item on our to-do list that overshadowed all the others: find a bigger place to live. Our little apartment on Tychyny St. had been a wonderful home, and was itself a God-send back in 2008 when we found it. But after Kathryn was born late last year, Kelsie and I knew that it was time for a change of address.
For those of you who’ve never lived in L’viv, the idea of moving to a flat with a bit more space might seem straightforward. Sadly, it’s not. While one and two bedroom apartments are relatively easy to find (assuming you’re not picky about their condition) larger apartments are much rarer. Finding a home for an American family of six that was in decent shape, located near the city, and reasonably priced, threatened to be a daunting task indeed, and one that could stretch out for weeks or even months.
Yet nothing is impossible with God. As we have experienced time and again, God loves to lead His children to green pastures, providing for their needs at just the right time in ways that often astound.
So without further ado, here’s the blow-by-blow of how God blessed us with a new home that fits our needs better than we could have hoped.
Monday, February 23
We’d been in Ukraine all of three days. That morning I had a meeting with our attorney to discuss the upcoming renewal of our residency permits. As we were finishing up, I mentioned to him that we would like to begin searching for a new apartment. His daughter, Victoria, is a realtor and he promised to pass along my request. As I returned home to continue unpacking from our trip, I had no idea how quickly things were about to move.
That very afternoon, I received a call from Victoria. She had gotten the message from her father, and now she wanted to know more details about what we were looking for. Location? Number of rooms? Cost? I gave her some general criteria, but emphasized that we were willing to be flexible. We haven’t been apartment hunting for ourselves in several years, and I wasn’t sure what we’d find on the market.
Tuesday, February 24
To my surprise, Victoria called and said she had found a large apartment right in our region that was for rent. When could we come and see it?
Wednesday, February 25
At the agreed upon time, Kelsie and I went to the address Victoria had provided us. It was only about a five-minute drive from Tychyny, and almost across the street from the apartment that ETO rents as our “Ministry Center”!
Victoria was waiting on the street with the owner, and together we went inside. To say that we were surprised by what we saw would be an understatement. We had been told that it was large. Victoria thought it had four rooms? But when we entered, we found that there were five rooms, plus a dining room, and TWO BATHROOMS! (In my fourteen years in Ukraine, I’ve never lived anywhere that had two bathrooms.) Also surprising was that this apartment was actually two stories!
The price was significantly more than what we had been paying, but it was still in the range we could afford. We tried not to look too shocked, and after taking some measurements, we told Victoria we would call her back later that day.
Since the Ministry Center was just a couple of blocks away, Kelsie and I walked over there to discuss our options. We went through our list of criteria and, scarcely able to believe it, found this apartment met almost every single one: great location, lots of space, interior in overall good condition, good plumbing and electrical (good-bye aluminum wiring!), attic area for storage, access to internet, close proximity to parks/play areas for the kids, water tank to ensure all-day water access, etc, etc, etc.
Needless to say, we called Victoria back with a positive answer.
Thursday, February 26
At 2pm, we sat down and signed a one-year lease for an apartment well over twice the size of our previous one. We had been in Ukraine for six days.
Let the “Remont” Begin!
The Ukrainian language has a wonderful little word that translates “remodeling job”: remont. Even the Americans here use the word remont in everyday speech, partly because it’s short and easy to say, and partly because it seems everyone is either doing a remont or needs to do one.
Our new place didn’t actually need much repair, but it did need paint. So for the next week and a half, I worked with my mom and several members of the ETO team to repaint the house.
This brings up another amazing (at least to us) part of this story: all of this happened while my mom was still with us in Ukraine. We had tried to plan her trip such that maybe we could find an apartment and fix it up and move during her stay. For that we allowed six weeks, although at the time, it seemed like quite a long shot. As it turns out, had we known exactly what would transpire in advance, we could not have picked better dates for her trip.
As the painting progressed, we began slowly ferrying our belongings over in Jessie’s van, which he graciously allowed us to use throughout this time.
Finally, the remont was finished and it was time to move. We packed everything in advance, wrapped all our furniture in plastic film, and steeled ourselves (no pun intended) for what promised to be a whopper of a work day.
At Tychyny, we lived on the tenth floor. And the elevator is barely large enough for four people. And we have a piano. :)
Our last move happened right in the middle of CMO, and thus we had lots of help. This time around, I wasn’t too excited about carrying everything I own down 22 flights of stairs on my back. So we hired a moving service.
A few days before the move, two young guys came over, glanced briefly around the apartment, and told us they could do it for 200 grevenas ($8) an hour.
On the day of the move, they arrived at 8am sharp. They worked all day long, helped by me and two other guys from our team. When they finally carried the last of our belongings into the new house, it was past midnight. Exhausted, they told us that it was by far the largest job they’d ever had.
Taste and See
For our family, stories like the one I’ve just told are highlights in our walk with the Lord. They are our own little Red-Sea-crossings, miracles that remind us that we follow a God who is both powerful and kind. He is a Father who loves to do good things for His children.
In the weeks leading up to our move, our family had been memorizing Psalm 34. The first time we went to see our new apartment, Kelsie noticed that it was number 34, a not-so-coincidental reminder to us of the many times we have tasted the goodness of our God. “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psalm 34:8)
An 8-man CMO Team
The roster for CMO this year is filling up quickly! As of this writing, we have six men confirmed to come for the project. Adam, Isaiah, Ben, Joe, Caleb and Emmanuel will be joining Nathan and I in mid-June for six weeks of literature campaigns, film showings, mountain travel and hands-on missionary training.
This will be our 9th CMO project, and while we’ve covered lots of ground in years past, there is so much yet to do! As Christ admonished His disciples in Matthew 9:37-38, “…The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” God is calling new laborers to the fields of Ukraine this summer, and we ask you to pray for them, for our staff, and for those we will reach.
So that you can be more informed as you pray, we would like to encourage you to visit our web site (www.euroteamoutreach.org) and subscribe to our email newsletter. During the off-season, we send emails infrequently, but during the summer there will be updates nearly every week, written by various team members.
How You Can Pray
- Praise the Lord for His provision of a larger apartment for our family!
- Pray for Adam, Isaiah, Ben, Joe, Caleb and Emmanuel as they travel to Ukraine in June.
- Pray that God would open the hearts of Ukrainians this summer as they hear the Gospel preached.
- Pray that God would continue to bless and expand the impact of Bible First in Ukraine, the U.S. and other countries.