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My New Friends

Holly Friesen on March 18, 2010

Well- I am not sure friends is the right word, at this point they are more like acquaintances. They have proven themselves to be somewhat hard to get to know. Just when I think I am getting a better feel for their personality I am introduced to a new facet of their complexity. There are 6 of them, all belonging to a family of cases that you greek scholars may be somewhat familiar with. I am still having difficulty remembering their Russian names, but for those of you who are interested, their English names are nominative, locative, dative, genitive, accusative, and instrumental. We spend time together every day and although I will probably never fully understand all their complexities I do hope that someday there will be a bit less tension in our relationship! More than that actually – I hope that someday we will become quite comfortable with each other. I most certainly appreciate those of you who keep me in your prayers as I press forward in this challenge of wrapping my mind around a new set of grammar rules!

Actually – God has blessed me with some great new friends since arriving in Odessa. I have very much enjoyed getting to know my co-workers and their families. (I have to say I think MK’s – or “kid missionaries” as many within our mission like to call them- are some of the coolest people!) We have had some great times praying together as well as having some fun. I think right now the favorite game among the adults is Settlers of Catan but the MK’s tend to favor Dutch Blitz – I have enjoyed some of both! Lest you think that all they do is goof off, I will try to give you a glimpse into their ministries as well. I need some updated family pictures of them all, but I will give you what I have & update them when I get the chance.


Most of you have heard me talk about Miriam Wheeler, the family practice physician who started the medical ministry here. She has done a great job of checking up on me and helping me get oriented to life here in Odessa and I have enjoyed our times of prayer together - praying for each other and for the medical ministry. I look forward to the day when we get to spend more time working together!

Caleb & Christina Suko are our team leaders. Nikolas (not pictured here) – the newest member of their family just arrived in February. Their other children are Naomi, Mishael, Noelle, and Anastasia. They are currently on furlough & I am staying in their apartment. Caleb also functions as the vice president for the Church Ministries Institute. You can learn more about their family and ministry on their web site www.sukofamily.org.

John & Jacky Taylor are actually part of a larger theological education team, but since they still live here in Odessa they are in a practical sense a part of our southern Ukraine team. John serves as the director of the Church Ministries Institute. To learn more about the institute you can check out that website www.cmieurasia.org. They have three great kids – Jessica, Josh, & Joanna. Jessica will be leaving for college in May and I am really going to miss her! The Taylors have a competitive streak so if you want to play games at their house you had better be on your toes! I have even heard stories about them drawing blood but so far have escaped unscathed!

Doug & Karen Phillips have two kids Luke & Katie. Luke will be leaving for college in May as well.  They are involved primarily in translation projects. We are very excited about the Good Soil evangelism & discipleship material project that is nearing completion. Doug is the resident expert on the public transportation system so he’s the one I call if I need to know how to get somewhere. Karen has introduced me to the Odessa ladies missionary fellowship and I have enjoyed attending those monthly meetings with her.

Ted & Deb Welch have a wealth of ministry experience in Africa and the US, but were the newest members of the team before I arrived. Ted is involved in teaching at the Church Ministries Institute. One of Deb’s ministries is at the orphanage that I visited during my first month here. She is also interested in helping us start a pro-life ministry here. Deb took me on my first shopping trip here in Ukraine and she has been the gracious hostess of most of our team meetings since I arrived.

I have made some Ukrainian friends as well, but perhaps I will save that for another post. I am thankful for the blessing of great team-mates.

…and, overall I think my Russian study is going well. Someday those cases & I are going to be great friends (I can hope anyway!) :-)