A New Season

We alluded in our last news post to a health issue that had we had become aware of with Steven our fifteen year old son. We thank everyone for their prayers for us in dealing with this situation. Steven was diagnosed with Latent TB diagnosis and since then we have spent much time researching the condition and praying about how we should proceed with treatment. We learned that Latent TB is not active TB, meaning Steven is not contagious and does not have any symptoms of TB. He was exposed to someone who has active TB in Ukraine (TB is epidemic there) and his body captured the germs and is "holding" them. At any time in the future, if Steven's immune system is weakened, his body could become unable to hold the TB germs and it would become active and not only would his health be jeopardized but he would then become contagious.

Latent TB is treated with a very strong antibiotic for 9-12 months. Since the antibiotic can cause liver damage including hepatitis, Steven has to have his blood checked every month to monitor his liver functions. After much prayer and investigation of medical options in Ukraine, Jeff and I decided that we could not risk Steven's health by returning to Ukraine where his treatment options are limited and where he would continually be exposed to people with active TB while he was trying to rid his body of TB germs.

Jeff returned to Ukraine and is working with a missionary team from Pennsylvania with the Mercy Truck. After the outreach, Jeff will remain in Kyiv to remove our belongings from our apartment and then will join us in the US. I have been scrambling to find rental housing for us, which is not easy with 9 children. God has provided for us through a ministry in St. Petersburg, FL that rents completely furnished housing to missionaries on furlough or in transition. The only house they have that is large enough to accommodate us was already reserved, but the other family decided that they were not going to have to use it. I found out a few days ago that we could move in this week. This is a HUGE blessing because we cannot stay with my mother any longer and no one in the general public wants to rent their property to our large family.

We are grateful for your prayers for us and particularly for Steven. They have been a source of strength and encouragement as we have faced this challenge. We ask for your continued prayers and support that Steven would respond well to the treatment and that he will be completely rid of the TB germs. Please pray also for the new challenges we face in bringing Jeff back to America, and in God's continued provision for our family in the US. We know that in all things God is in control and we rest in the knowledge that we are in His hands during this difficult time.

Family Update

I have had a busy summer with the Mercy Truck ministry at camps, villages and orphanages throughout Ukraine. We traveled from Kyiv to the north of Ukraine, starting with an orphanage only 15 kilometers from the Chernobyl reactor site. From there we drove to Lugansk in the far east, then to Uzhgorod in the farthest west and to many stops in between. Roughly 2,100 miles (3,400 km) of Ukrainian roads,  towns and villages. We were blessed along the way to have only a few set backs, namely two flat tires, and the failure of two compressors and two dental instrument tables.  Along the way we surpassed our 1,000 th patient for our first year! Praise God for all He has provided! We were able to relieve much suffering and provide material blessings to those most in need. God did much in the lives of our team members as well, stretching us like we've never been stretched before, revealing, teaching and growing us along the way. 

Mercy Truck in Ukraine

Truck Photo 3

Truck Photo 2

Our travels focused on our main objective of children in need at numerous orphanages and orphan camps, a disabled children's center in Mukachevo and a Gypsy village. In addition to the kids, we were also blessed with the opportunity to bring the ministry to a home for the elderly. It was a big change for our team to work on mouths with little to no teeth versus mouths full of "milk teeth."  For more news of the Mercy Truck summer go to: http://www.MercyTrucksUA.org/news

Old Folks 2

Old Folks 3 Old Fokes 1

One of my greatest joys was of visiting the Gypsy village of Sabatano. You might remember reading of my outreach there in the summer of 2005. I was amazed to see how the children had grown and that they remembered me. Not everyone was there, Nina and Joseph who I wrote of two years ago had left with their families in search of work somewhere in Western Europe. I was a wonderful visit and a huge blessing for me.

Sabatano 1

Sabatano 2

Sabatano 3

Greg completed his Discipleship Training School with YWAM in Northern Ireland after his outreach in China. After six months away, he joined the family in the US for a short time of rest. To read of Greg's next steps in his missionary journey to go: http://greg.colkerfamily.org

Forbidden City

"Mmmm Hot Pot is Gooood!"

The news from the US where Pam and the kids are on furlough is,  in a word, "blessed." We were blessed with the support needed to make the summer in the states a reality for them. They have been having a wonderful time of rest and relaxation, and have been refueled for their return to Ukraine. During their time kids are enjoying swimming, boating, art classes, the library, horse back riding, friends, family, familiar food and English!

Lake Wales 1

Lake Wales 2

Amid our blessings, we had a short term medical issue with a severely sprained ankle which took Emily off her feet for two weeks, and a long term medical issue with Steven about which we have been praying  and for which we request your prayers.  We'll share specifics when we have a clearer picture of the best plan for treatment. We ask for your prayers of thanksgiving for all God has blessed our ministry with this summer. Thank you for your continued love, prayers and support for our family and our mission. Blessings, Jeff