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Ukraine Mission Update

Every three years the Singing Men of North Central Texas go on mission. Aaron joined the group just after their trip to the Czech Republic and was very excited about the planned trip to Ukraine. He had gone overseas on mission with a choir in Seminary and I had told him that next time he needed to take me with him. We had been planning for a very long time for both of us to go on this trip. We figured the kids would be old enough to leave with Grandparents by that point and we could make it work.

It took some doing to arrange everything on this end, from fund raising to planning with Gram and Grampa to come from out of town for about half of the time (knowing that two weeks was a lot of ask of Grandma by herself). As the date got closer, the fund-raising fell into place. We made extensive instructions for the grandparent caregivers, including medical release forms and directions to school and everything else. Knowing that we were packing for an overseas trip with a dress code and also knowing that we had small children in the house and our time wasn’t always on our own, we started packing a week out. We finished packing just before Bob and Judy arrived on Friday afternoon so we could spend as much time with them as possible before we left.

Our plan was to leave from church and go directly to the airport on Sunday, April 18. The group had several different flights going through two different cities to have us all end up in Kiev. We would stay the night in a hotel in Kiev then get on buses all together headed for Odessa. We would board our river cruise boat there and it would head back to Kiev making many stops along the way. This plan meant that instead of spending half the trip in buses getting from one city to the next and spending every night in a new hotel, we could unpack once and while we slept the boat would take us to our next destination. We would then leave from Kiev back home, with layovers in a hotel in the European city we came through the first time. The two cities our group was being routed through were London and Amsterdam. We happened to be on the Amsterdam flight.

Saturday came and after a while we got the news that the London flight had been canceled due to volcanic ash. Good friends of ours were on the London flight and we were concerned for them, but at that point ours was still good to go. As the day progressed things got worse and worse on the ash front and the flight situation in Europe was deteriorating. We held out hope that something would change and things would still happen because it just seemed so outrageous that all the preparation and all that had gone into this would come to a halt from a mountain in Iceland. By the end of the day on Saturday it was obvious that getting the entire group to Ukraine would be impossible and a priority list of people to fly over to make something work was made and I realized that I, as a non-singer, was at the very bottom of the list. If anything, Aaron might be able to go, but I couldn’t. This was very hard to hear. As much as I had fears going in about leaving my children about going on mission in a foreign country, not getting to go was really hard. I’ll admit to shedding some tears.

But we also soon realized that God was in control. It was for His sake we were going and if He had a different plan, we needed to wait on Him. It was also very comforting to not be remotely in control of the decision making process. We were just part of the group and others had to make the tough calls. We also came to realize God’s provision. If the volcano had started its pyrotechnics just a day later, we might have made it to Amsterdam and been stuck there, neither home nor able to complete our mission. We were stranded at home and NOT stranded half a world away from my children in a place whose language I can’t speak. This brought me huge comfort. I said, “Well, God, I’ll go where You send me and stay where You leave me.”

But the thing that made my spirits lift the most was the decision made by the Singing Men in charge of things. There would be no scrambling to get a few guys on flights. They were going to cancel the whole thing and reschedule for October. Our trip had been planned for April because it was before the “summer” cruising season for the cruise line. We were booking the entire boat for our purposes and it was much easier to do before their busy season, but still not winter weather. The cruise line knew that we couldn’t make it and they weren’t going to hold that against us. Instead we could make our trip at the END of their summer season. The weather would be comparable to what we would have had in April and it wasn’t an entire year later, just six or so months. It was still possible that the trip would happen and it wasn’t just gone forever.

But in the mean time, here we were with out-of-town child care and Aaron had worked amazingly hard to do all his church work for the next two weeks. I had made arrangements with my work to be gone and we were feeling a little emotionally spent. Bob had said to us very early on in the volcano that no matter what, we should go somewhere. Aaron talked with our pastor and he very graciously allowed us a week for spiritual retreat. We did some looking but ended up making a last minute reservation at our favorite bed and breakfast in the Texas hill country in the city of Wimberley. We spent a week together, enjoying nature, reading some “God books” (a book on worship, a book on parenting and we finished up the 5 Languages of Apology book we had been reading), and being together. Then we came home and spent some wonderful time with Bob and Judy. We weren’t expecting to get to spend so much time with them and we are so grateful to them and for them. We did fun stuff around town like taking the kids to the Fort Worth Water Gardens for the first time and going to the recently remodeled Museum of Science and History.

So, we are now in the process of submitting the claims for the Cancellation Insurance. We have to get all the money back from this attempt and then we will work on making the arrangements for October. This is a less friendly time of year for a music minster to miss two weeks as it is right in the middle of Christmas music preparations and so forth and we don’t know yet if Gram and Grampa can make a return trip. But we know that God is in control and He will make a way if He wants us to go. And if He doesn’t, clearly He has ways of stopping us. :)

Ukraine Mission

Family & Friends,

It is our sincere hope that this letter finds you well.

Our purpose in writing this letter is to share with you an opportunity that God has put before us! This coming April 18th, Aaron and Theresa will be traveling to the country of Ukraine with the Singing Men of North Central Texas to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Beginning in the Black Sea port city of Odessa, we will travel the Dnieper River, sharing Christ in six major cities, ending in the breath-taking capital city of Kiev. Two factors will make this mission endeavor a unique experience…

First, the Singing Men will be partnering with Michael & Jan Gott. Based in Keller, Texas, the Gotts have spent 22-24 weeks a year teaching evangelistic English seminars throughout Ukraine. They have lined up concert venues every day in some of the largest churches and concert halls in the country. Michael Gott will bring a short evangelistic message following each of our concerts.

Second, instead of driving long hours in buses over questionable roads, the choir and our mission partners will travel aboard a Viking River Cruise Ship on the Dnieper River. We will unpack one time, travel up-river as we sleep, and eat almost all meals onboard. If you would like to join us as a “mission partner” please contact me immediately, as rooms on the ship are limited.

Aaron joined the Singing Men of North Central Texas in August of 2008, and has really enjoyed the monthly concerts around the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. This group of current and retired Music Ministers is passionate about pursuing genuine fellowship with each other and being on-mission for God, both in North Texas and around the world. Previous mission trips have taken place in Brazil, China, and the Czech Republic.

Theresa is looking forward to her first international mission trip, and is excited about her role in ministering to some of the English Language students. She will practice vocabulary words and converse with about 3 or 4 students before each concert. Then, she will attend the concert with the students to discuss its purpose and flesh out the message.
You have the opportunity to be a part of this trip as well! We ask that you prayerfully consider supporting us in three ways...

1) Invest in this specific mission project, financially. The total cost of both of us going on this mission is $5,000. Any amount would be helpful AND received with gratitude. Please make checks payable to South Hills Baptist Church and write the words “Ukraine Mission” in the memo line. You can mail it or hand deliver to either our house or the church (see below).

South Hills Baptist Church
7350 Granbury Road
Fort Worth, TX 76123
Aaron & Theresa Kenagy
8704 Shavano Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76123

2) Pray for this mission endeavor (before, during, and after). All those agreeing to join our prayer team will receive an email each week-day (a total of ten) we are in Ukraine, sharing where we are, what we are doing, and give specific prayer requests. This will also be our venue for communicating with you once we are in country!

3) Share with other believers about what God is doing through His people. We are both humbled and thrilled that God can use us, as we rely on Him, to accomplish His mission here on Earth. In the very auditorium where Khrushchev once extolled the virtues of atheistic communism, we will be declaring the majesty and compassion of Jesus Christ! Furthermore, Baptists in Ukraine are ready to do follow-up work, and they are with us, heart and soul. Visit the websites below to learn more about this mission endeavor so that you can encourage fellow believers with what God is allowing us to do.


May God bless you as this new decade dawns and His mercy and compassion continue to be new every morning. Great is HIS faithfulness!

Aaron & Theresa Kenagy

Can You Read the Writing on the Wall?

This morning our church had a big worship arts presentation, if you will. Instead of having a sermon, the choir, ensembles, soloists and a drama team presented the message. In lieu of a Christmas program this year, we did this non-seasonal presentation in mid-November. It’s nice to change things up now and then and it takes a little of the Christmas stress off of people. As you might imagine, a morning of this nature is a busy one for the Minister of Worship, and for his wife, who is a member of the choir AND the newly formed drama team. In order to pull this off, we had rehearsal before Sunday School and it was a very early morning for all of us.

I woke the children, got them dressed and gave them toast for breakfast and cups with milk and put them in the car. They are actually much better at mornings than I sometimes am and they greeted this new and different approach to life fairly well. They had eaten some of their breakfast in the car on the way over, but it’s a short drive and they still had food to eat. The 1st through 3rd grade Sunday School room has a TV in it, so I sat them at the table with their breakfast and turned on a 321 Penguins episode. I checked in on them and they were doing fine. I came back in the middle of rehearsal to find that they had finished their breakfast and the movie and so quietly got curious about what was available to the older children. For as many times as I have told them that it is never okay to draw on the walls or the furniture or themselves but only on paper, I came back to discover they had done just that.

I was so mortified I could barely react. I just took them by the hand and brought them to the Worship Center and sat them down just in time to hear Aaron say we were going to rehearse my big skit. Aaron looked at them and saw the marker on their faces and said, “Oh, they found a marker!” I said, “No, they found ALL the markers.” I was shocked and disappointed in them and in myself for leaving them in there. I pulled it together and did our skit. Aaron checked out our children’s attempt at being Michelangelo. He told the choir, “They found the most permanent markers they could find and wrote all over the wall!” and the choir thought it was hilarious. They did a good job of trying to assuage my guilt. Our friend Delissa took care of the children, cleaning the marker off their faces and escorted them to their room, after letting them apologize to the teachers in the room they had redecorated, allowing us to continue to rehearse.

The really ironic part is that the Sunday School lesson the 1st through 3rd graders had this morning was about the time in the Book of Daniel when the finger of God wrote on the wall. One of the students said, “Oh, that’s why the room is decorated that way.” Well… Our phenomenal pastor’s wife, who is one of their Sunday School teachers took it all in stride, even thanking our children for their creative illustration of the lesson. Needless to say there will be some cleaning or even painting in our future.

Costume Pictures

We wanted to show you how our kids will be dressing tonight for Halloween. Aunt Nen had found a cowgirl costume for Esther a while back and bought it, even though it was too big. It was just the right size for this Halloween, though. And we decided if Esther was going to be a cowgirl, perhaps she could be Jessie, the Yodeling Cowgirl from Toy Story 2 and Ethan could then be Buzz Lightyear. We found one for him and he's thrilled. He's finally getting the saying down right. For a while he just said emphatically, "Beyond!" The "to infinity and" part is starting to come through.

But, when he's dressed as Buzz, he does NOT want to be called Ethan and corrects me when I call Esther by her name rather than "Jessie." Which is cute until I'm in a hurry or one of them is misbehaving and then it's "Don't argue with me." or "Whatever your name is."

Buzz Lightyear Jessie the Cowgirl
Buzz Lightyear
Jessie the Cowgirl
Happy Toys
Happy Toys

The Toy Troubles

During nap time yesterday, in between moving laundry and unloading and loading the dishwasher, I engaged in the great toy round up. I collected all the toys that had been carried to the far reaches of the house and returned them to their brethren in the play room. I put all the toys in their containers and found the playroom floor again (they had been left alone to play a few too many times and chaos was reigning). I packed up a Sterilite of toys to be taken out of circulation. Now, before you start bringing up Toy Story to me and telling me they will get lonely in there, I will remind you of the short that goes with that: Tin Toy and all the toys hiding in fear of the baby under the couch. Sometimes they just need a break. And more practically, the toys are so much more exciting and new when they haven’t seen them in a while.

I put up all the blocks. We have a bag full of megablocks (lego type for little ones) and a bag of more traditional wooden blocks, only made out of foam. They hadn’t actually been building anything with them, just dumping them out and spreading them all over the floor. What amazed me about that was how hard it was to get the blocks back in the bag they came in. It’s not like we had acquired more long the way, and yet… In compensation, I got out the puzzles. Trading one set of toys that require keeping all the little pieces together for another. I also retired some toys that were broken.

And just when I felt good about the toy situation and felt I had regained control of my house from the invading army, Grandma came in the door with more! Oy!

Now That They’re Talking...

My children have said the darnedest things. This past week there have been some cute stories:

Yesterday when Aaron was home for lunch, Esther put on his shoes and worked very hard to come to the living room where the rest of us were. Later, Ethan found the abandoned shoes and decided to put them on. Now wearing his Dada’s shoes, Ethan announced to me that he was going to church. I asked what he was going to do at church. He said, “Help sick people.” I can’t tell if he wants to grow up and be a doctor, or if he wants to be involved in “spirit healing.”

Yesterday I was making lunch in the kitchen when Esther comes up to me and tells me she’s scared of cars. I was confused and was about to start into a spiel about staying on sidewalks and holding hands while crossing streets and in parking lots when Ethan comes around the corner with a Matchbox car in each hand. Suddenly this seeming non sequitur makes sense. Ethan is pointing the nose of each car menacingly and making a hissing noise. I said off-handedly, “Well, princess, I guess you’d better run.” She dutifully took off running while Ethan’s cars hissed around the house. Any time she would stop running, or he would catch up for whatever reason, Ethan would say to her, “Princess, you’d better run.” When relating this story to Dada later, Ethan corrected me and said that the cars didn’t hiss, they shushed. Quite why cars shush, I’m sure I don’t know, but there it is.

This morning I took the kids out and about to get some things done. The first thing we did was go to McDonalds to play. The kids were still playing, but I knew the Cool Cuts was now open, so after they had both gone down the slide I asked if they wanted to go get Ethan’s haircut, play with the trains and watch a movie. You would think that they would say no, and want to stay and play. It is a tribute to the Cool Cuts that they were eager to go. As I was putting on his shoes, Ethan assured me, “I don’t get scared of my haircut.” And sure enough, he was very brave and didn’t even cringe from the clippers. The not-quite-two-year-old next to him wasn’t quite as brave.

As we were driving in the car and Ethan told me there was a fire in Bolt. If you have seen the film you know that the climax of the movie revolves around a fire on the set. Ethan has been fascinated with firemen and fire trucks for a while now. We were talking about what the firemen do. I said they use their trucks to spray water on the fire and they use the ladders on their trucks to get to people who are up high and can’t get past the fire. I also said they take people to the hospital if they are hurt. During the course of his hair cut, Ethan pulls out the fire truck he brought from the train table (don’t ask me) and the lady cutting his hair mentions it. He tells her that firemen help people who are s___ She looked at me and I asked him, “People who are sick?” and got a non-committal answer. Then I asked, “People who are stuck?” He said, “yes!” And you wonder if they even listen...

Amusing Anecdotes of Late

Baby “Summerlyn”
Our good friends recently had their first child, a sweet girl they named Summerlyn. Our friends are Tio and Tia to the kids and this is the first baby born in close proximity to the twins since they have been aware of life around them in any significant way. We’ve talked about the baby in Tia’s tummy and that Ethan and Esther used to be in Mama’s tummy. We prayed for Summerlyn while she was in the NICU and even visited the hospital while Tia was in labor (though we didn’t know that at the time, or I would not have brought children to a Labor and Delivery Room). We have visited Summerlyn at her house and she has come here to visit us. She is big time in their world.

Grandma has purchased two different baby dolls for Esther. One is just a doll and the other makes noises and came with a passy and a bottle and a key ring toy. Yesterday we were playing in the play room with the first doll, which they have had for a long time (and has never been named), and Esther declared her “Baby Summerlyn.” Ethan tried to argue at first as this was NOT actually the real Baby Summerlyn, but eventually got into the spirit of pretend. Esther laid her down and declared that the baby was sleeping (or sweeping as it sounds from her). When she declared this, Ethan announced that if she was sleeping then he and Esther were going down the hall to “talk” and blew kisses and said goodnight and urged Esther to join him. Esther was too busy mothering “Summerlyn” to leave with him, but I was amazed and amused. We put them down and leave so they can get to sleep on their own and therefore be more able to get back to sleep on their own when they wake in the night. Ethan was doing what we do. He’s quite the little mimic.

I told Esther where to find the bottle and she went and got it and I showed her how to hold the bottle and the baby to feed her. She thought this was a great thing and made little sucking noises for the baby. She used a baby wash cloth as a burp rag and held that baby to her shoulder like her life depended on it. “Summerlyn” came to the lunch table and sat in Esther’s lap while she ate (at least until Mama declared her too much of a distraction from eating). Esther in full mothering mode is a beautiful thing to behold.

The Princess Bride
The other day we were at the Botanic Gardens taking pictures of the family. This was a request by Grandma. She wanted a family portrait. The Fort Worth Botanic Gardens are a beautiful spot and we were by no means the only people there taking pictures that day. There was good light for pictures and it wasn’t TOO hot (but VERY humid). There was a bride there taking her bridal pictures (just her and the photographer). Esther looked at this woman in her beautiful white dress and declared her a Princess. Aunt Nen didn’t argue the point as in some ways brides are princesses (and the dress was certainly princess-worthy). She had to have heard, but did not say anything. I wonder what the bride thought…

It is our routine to pray before nap time and bed time, but we don’t tend to pray before we eat. I have reports that they do pray before snack time at church. It’s so fun to hear stories of what they did at church… While I was preparing lunch yesterday, Grandma called to tell us that the surgery for her friend fighting cancer did not go so well and to keep praying. When I had everyone’s food at the table, I told the kids we were going to pray for Grandma’s friend and we did right then and there. Ethan repeated after me (without my prompting) and Esther gave a hearty Amen (complete with sign). This morning at breakfast Ethan told Dada that we prayed for Grandma’s friend and that he wanted to thank God for his food. We put our hands together and invited Ethan to pray. He tried, but then asked Dada, “You say it.” Ethan repeated after Dada and we thanked God for our food and our family. Aaron looked at me and said, “no matter how they act up today, remember this!”

There are times they try my patience, but they do wonderful, precious things too.

Mini Mini Golf

The other day we came home and found the neighbor practicing putting in his front yard. The kids were fascinated and then thrilled when he offered them each a practice golf ball (the orange plastic numbers with holes more like a wiffle ball). They were elated. Ethan tried to help himself to the neighbor’s club, but he wisely told him no. That night I went to Walmart and what did I find but a kids set of golf stuff…on SALE. We got it out the other evening and Dada had great fun photographing the event. We had two clubs, but only one tee, which seemed absolutely necessary. There are many principles of the game they still lack, but they sure had fun.

Pictures from August

I wanted to share some of the pictures we have taken this month.

One nap time, Dada decided they were too precious and took some pictures.

As I was watching my children cavort in big kid underpants for the very first time, I thought it ought to be documented. I also got some discreet pictures of potty time itself. Ethan perched on the big potty and Esther on the little potty is a frequent thing…and sometimes Mama sitting on the edge of the bathtub while one or both of these occurs for an amazingly long time. :)

The other day we went to Rosa’s Café to celebrate the birthday of one of the church staff members. The new “customer service” lady met Ethan and Esther and decided they needed a special thank you for coming. She brought a small thing of bubbles and a police badge for Ethan and a tiara and earrings for Esther. That afternoon Ethan didn’t want to nap and just after I told him he’d be in serious trouble if he woke his sister, he woke his sister. Ethan was duly scolded and put back in his room. I gave Esther a little time to see if she’d go back to sleep, but alas no. She and I hung out and I got to have a fun photo shoot of my little princess.

As The Summer Winds Down...

An apology and some explanation is needed. Mama and Dada have a new hobby/obsession. We've joined facebook. Please believe me when I tell you that we didn't mean to. It wasn't until the 1000th invitation from friends that we finally succumbed. If you wish to know in general what we're up to, not with particular baby updates or anything, feel free to look either of us up on facebook. (Everybody's doing it) Here's a little update on the "winding down" of summer.

Potty training is in high gear and it's neck and neck. At times, Ethan seems to be able to predict when he will need to use the potty, and at other times, he shows absolutely no interest in sitting on the potty. However, he will only go potty on the big potty. He's not at all interested in the little toddler potty.

Esther is her own individual. She enjoys just sitting on her potty and producing very little. Her only motivation, at this point, is the Mike & Ikes that we give them every time we have a successful potty time.

At mealtime, both twins are sitting on normal chairs, with children's place mats, eating with grownup utensils, but using plastic cups with lids and straws. At the end of most meals we will take their lids off and they will drink the end of their juice/milk out of a cup like normal. It's about a 75% chance of spilling, but it's worth it.

Mama is getting more and more hours of "at-home" work. Dada enjoyed his Singing Men of Texas retreat/rehearsal. We had a lovely house-warming party put on by our church. And next month we will celebrate our 3-year anniversary at South Hills Baptist Church. Dada is looking forward to spending a little more time outside as summer winds down and fall approaches. I also can't wait to finally organize my garage, as it is currently a complete disaster.

Hope to update again soon...