New Methods!

I’m a big believer in finding out what works best in a situation.  Making a plan that can be duplicated, working out the kinks from time-to-time sure but mostly figuring out the “right and best” way to do something. I’m not a fan of reinventing the wheel just for the sake of reinventing it all the time.

When I taught high school math class there was this one former student of mine who would often walk into class and say “New methods today Mrs. Hill?”.  To be honest maybe I should have varied my instruction more but I felt like consistency made for the best and most effective practice.  (He also always said “It smells like math in here today.”)  I won’t name this guy but if it was you please know that those two comments always made me smile.

I find myself in the world of new methods.  For the past 7 years now Chris and I have had a huge learning curve in our lives.  In case you didn’t know it we had like zero formal training for what we do now for PHA but hey- God equips the called not calls the equipped right? So we spent lots of time and prayer trying to do our best and what we felt was right for PHA.  And for our day to day activities we had methods and plans and patterns that could be tweaked and modified.

And then…COVID!  Like all the world our daily world has changed so much.  So pray for us will you? Pray for our “new methods”.  Pray for us to learn and implement them.  Pray for others to be receptive to them.  Pray for us when we mess it all up and need to start over!  Pray for PHA ministry partners in Ukraine as they learn new methods of serving.

We also have a virtual event coming up that we are calling “More than Conquerors.”  To be honest we are super excited but also super nervous about how all of that will play out.  Please pray for our kids and staff in Ukraine as they share their hearts in this public web-based setting where all their friends can see it too.   Please pray for it as we prepare and for the night of the event on October 20th and consider joining us.

Thank you for your prayers, love and encouragement.  We feel them and covet them!





So apparently it has been forever since we posted a blog but honestly, we’ve just been really busy. Busy is how we like it.  We like the constant travel.  We like meeting with people. We like all the parts of PHA’s ministry that fill our time (well most of them at least lol).

But here lately we certainly feel less busy.  We’ve been canceling trips, staying home and postponing events. At first the “rest” was nice but now we mostly feel the overwhelming desire to be with people.   We miss in-person visits, we miss sharing meals with others and we miss hugs.

It already seems like a lifetime ago that we returned from our last trip to Ukraine, but it was only a month ago.  Thankfully we returned five days short of the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine orders.  One thing that really struck us about that trip was the hugs from the kids. As we visited PHA’s Domik Day Center activities, we were greeted by each kid as they entered with a hug.  Some of the kids we knew and some of them we were meeting for the first time but still they all gave us a hug.  It’s always like that.  No matter if we are in Zap, Poltava or Kamenskoye, as the kids come into Domik we get a hug from each and everyone of them.

We aren’t sure why this trip a new thought hit but it did.  Our kids need hugs more than we can ever know.  They need that positive touch and affirmation that we are happy to see them.  Of course, they always hug PHA’s Ukrainian ministry partners as well and their faces light up when Andrey, Marina, Fedya or any of the others hug them.  When we think of what their lives are like without PHA we think there are a lot less hugs.  A lot less smiles.  A lot less love.

Right now, in Ukraine it’s a lot like it is here.  We talk and communicate in new ways and we stay in touch, but we don’t hug.  We know our kids must miss this even more than we do!  We don’t know about you but when all the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and it’s safe again we plan to spend a lot of time hugging others, touching our faces 😊, and eating Mexican food- in a restaurant- with friends and family!

Prayers over your lives, we hope to see you all again super soon!

-Chris and Christy

The Glory of God

At church last Sunday the preacher asked if anyone had ever seen “the glory of God”.  I immediately thought yes but was afraid to raise my hand for fear of being called on to share.  It was a small church and we were visitors.  It turns out I was wise to be afraid as the preacher called on all the raised hands to share their experiences seeing “the glory of God”.  People shared about sunrises, sunsets, grand babies and oceans.  Where I agree completely with all of them, “the glory of God” is clearly seen in all these things, these things didn’t match my answer.  When the preacher asked his question my mind instantly went to our work with PHA.  God is the only explanation for the success of PHA’s orphan and at-risk youth ministry.  Don’t get me wrong our Ukrainian ministry partners are PHENOMENAL!  They work hard and love harder in what seem like impossible ways.  Chris and I don’t know much about our part of the equation, but we work hard too.  Together, PHA’s staff and volunteers put in countless hours.  But the results we see can only be explained by God’s hand.  He is working in Ukraine.  He is changing the hearts of our kids. One of our kids said it best when he told me “Christy, God changes people.”  This is where I see “the glory of God”.  In the changes in the lives of the kids PHA ministers to.  And it all happens not by our hands but by His hands.


When I grow up I want to be a little kid…

When I grow up I want to be a little kid…

I want to look at my mom and Dad and see my whole wonderful world.

I want to fall down while riding my bike and have my mom blow on my cut and fix everything.

I want to know my dad is Superman.

I want to play and run and have the ground not seem so far away when I fall.

I want to laugh.

I want my worst fear to be being tickled by someone who I know loves me.

I want my big problems to be a spelling test.

I want to cry and not care who sees me.

I want to feel sun on my skin and not think about sunscreen.

I want to see snow and be excited, not worry about how to get to work.

I want to smell rain and not worry about drought or floods.

I want to never wonder about paying bills or for buying food.

I want to have loving touch be my normal daily experience with my family.

I want to love people simply because they love me.

I want to have big hugs from big people (aka adults) and not wonder about their motives.

I want to feel the grass and gravel under my bare feet and not worry about stickers or sharp rocks.

I want to swim in the ocean and enjoy the salt on my lips.

I want to play in the woods and not think about snakes, bears, or danger.

I want to have a vocabulary free of words like hate and war.

I want a world free of worry and full of love…

and more than anything else I want these childhood memories for the PHA Family of kids in Ukraine…



Judge a tree by its fruit

Judge a tree by its fruit.  It’s something I think about a lot.  It’s a simple but powerful way to judge viability and even worth at times.  Sometimes when we apply that very standard to ourselves it can be downright scary.

Christy and I have been involved with PHA’s ministry in Ukraine for about 5 years now.  Beginning as volunteers and winding up being directors for the work.  During that time a lot has changed.  We’ve grown.  We’ve adapted.  We’ve strived.  And we’ve been at it long enough that we should be looking at the fruit of this ministry.  Are we producing good fruit consistent with our goals?

In June we had our third Summer Bible Camp where 96 kids from our ongoing orphan and at-risk youth programs came for 10 days.  For the first time we had orphanage graduates serve as junior counselors.  After summer camp, there was a Christian seminar held at the same facility where two of our orphanage graduates participated and we’re baptized.  Two more graduates were baptized outside of the seminar at their request.  We have kids who are getting close to finishing their trade schools and are preparing for further education and for jobs when just a short time ago it seemed they had almost no direction.  We are seeing our older kids being positive influences on the younger kids.  We are seeing kids who have a positive futures and paths to get to them.

Over the last several years we have seen lots of good fruit from this ministry.   We see baptisms of our older kids on a regular basis now.  Along with these baptisms we are seeing deepening relationships between the churches and our kids.  We see them maturing in their service as well as their personal lives.  This may surprise you but we haven’t seen any of our kids turn in to perfect people, but we do see growing relationships with Christ and that’s pretty sweet fruit.



It seems lessons about love have been coming to me frequently and in a variety of forms lately. It’s humbling when you learn lessons you didn’t realize you needed.

To start, and this is not a new lesson just an observation, there are a few love relationships that have certain necessary components.

First and foremost, as a Christian I love God. To love God means I accept His love, I worship Him, I spend time in His word and I apply His teachings to my life here on earth.

Second I love my husband.  Where loving Chris is easy, love isn’t the only reason I married him.  When looking at the qualities of a spouse one should consider them carefully.  Are they a good person? Do their values and goals compliment yours? And then of course… are they good lookin’ to you? Do you like them as well as love them? Do you respect them? With Chris I found all these qualities and more.

Third is parents. The Bible tells us to love and honor our parents. We should also respect them.  I have always been blessed by my parents and loving them has never been a challenge.  They have always treated me with love and I value them greatly but really I should love them no matter what.

Then there are all the other people in our lives. It’s love for these other people where I have been learning lessons.

1Corinthains says: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

For me, it’s easy to apply these verses to Chris (well at least it’s easy to try to). It’s even easy to apply these verses to my parents and of course most easily is to God.

But what about all the other people in life? We are called to “Love our neighbor”. So here’s what I’ve been thinking about love and neighbors. First when I say neighbor I’m basically talking about everyone other than my husband, my parents and God.

It’s very cool to me that God made us have a need for relationship.  That He also provides people in my life, some friends and some family, that meet this need.  I am blessed to have people I love and also love being around.  With these people I have many, many pleasant memories.  Not everyone in our lives though is someone we “just can’t help but love”.

To love my neighbor, I don’t have to compare them to the same criteria or components as I do God, Chris and my parents.  I don’t have to agree with who they vote for, what they spend their free time doing or even which church they attend (or don’t attend) on Sunday morning.   I don’t have to respect someone to love them.  I don’t even really have to like them. I don’t have to enjoy spending time with them, like the way they look, like the same foods as them, have the same hobbies, love the same things they do or agree with them to love them.

In our lives, we get to have friends and family that compliment us, that we enjoy spending time with, that we care for deeply and of course love. But to love someone we don’t have to have all of that.

I don’t know why but when I think of love for my neighbor as “criteria free” I feel a weight lifted from my shoulders. I don’t have to think. I don’t have to analyze.  I. Can. Just. Love.  Thank you to the people in my life who have shown me how to love this way. I am trying daily to heed your lessons…



Things I never thought I’d do…


So I had plans for things I thought I would do in my life.  Things that sounded enjoyable and comfortable.  But more than that I had plans for things I wouldn’t do in my life.  Here is a short list in no particular order that you might find entertaining of where I was wrong about those plans.

Ask for money- I loathe it, but I value the work that is happening every day in Ukraine.  If we could make it happen on our own we would, but we need your help as well as God’s to make it happen. So we ask and we ask often.  It has become one of the main roles we fill but it is a role in the bigger picture of PHA’s ministry and the bottom line is it takes funds to do this valuable work.

This many crafts- This may come as a surprise but I’m not usually very crafty.  I don’t really know how to make things from popsicle sticks and my paper roses look about as much like a rose as they smell like one.  I never took art in high school and I think I now know why but crafts give me the chance to relate to kids.  A place to start building trust and relationships.

Dance in a tutu- Nobody wants to see this….except a bunch of laughing Ukrainian orphans.  Anything for the children right?  I don’t mind being a laughing stock.

Preach- I stand by my long time claim to not be a preacher.  I don’t even like public speaking but I find myself on a regular basis doing what many might claim to be preaching.  It goes in the same category as asking for money.  It’s just part of it.  We should all be prepared to give an account and that includes me.  And shouldn’t our faith push us out of our comfort zone?

These are just a few of the many things I never planned on doing but have and will continue to do.  I’ve often heard that God has a sense of humor and I tend to believe it so make your plans and prepare to have them changed.  We can’t wait to see what’s next!


The stuff you can’t deal with in Ukraine.


Our trips to Ukraine are blessed, exciting, rewarding, and most of all busy…

We stay up late, have Bible camps, attend meetings, plan, spend time with our Ukrainian family, with our PHA family of kids, orphanage directors, refugee centers, local churches, local Christians, random Americans we have connected with who happen to be there when we are, cook American (by that we mean Mexican) food, pray, love, go over financials, hear needs and get up to speed on the ministry.

All that to say time flies by often too fast and so many things come at you in one day it’s hard to stop and think. Actually stopping and thinking about all you hear, see, and experience is the absolute last thing you feel you have time for.  One, just one of the many things/ situations is enough to drive you to your knees, make you fight through tears and pray for days without ceasing.  And each trip it seems we are met with a countless number of these “situations,” these “stories”. You want to tell others. You want them to know “what our kids go through”, “what our Ukrainian family has to help with daily”.   But you can’t. You can’t show the emotion. Take the time. You can’t stop leading the team or being the face of personal relations for PHA or the shoulder for the PHA Family.

You want to explain all the “behind scenes” stuff to the rest of group but you can’t. You can’t stop, you can’t take the time to process you can’t.  You want to take more time.  You want to actually sit and visit with the elderly refugee lady at church longer, the kid who just graduated from the orphanage longer, your Ukrainian family longer.  But the day fills and fills…

And then you get home.  And all of a sudden it hits you…

The kid who gets abused (you know the name and have hugged them). It’s one thing to know the theory, it’s quite another to have it confirmed. The kid who made more bad decisions.  The same kid you thought had come through the flames.  The kid who you know got beat when they returned “home” from summer camp.  The unkind words spoken to those you love. The misunderstandings you wish you had taken more time to explain.

How to share the story, how to keep it confidential, how to use it for Gods glory….?

You hear- “I’m glad you are home.”  Where “So am I” would be the appropriate response it’s not the one you can honestly give.  “I’m glad you are home” comes with love but even though it’s nice to be home your heart is still there. Still needing to hold and pray and love.  To sit and listen and try to help those who help daily.  But your job, your real mission is here.  Sharing with others what goes on there.

So you share the stories and you pray.  You plan to go back… And it all starts over again.


What all does it mean to “Be Family”?


What does it mean to be family to you?

At PHA we often say that through our Transition Program we strive to “Be Family” for the kids in our ministry.  Sometimes that means a hug and a shoulder to lean on.  Sometimes it means food, clothes, and a roof over their head.  Sometimes it’s offering guidance and encouragement through the trials of life and there are certainly many for orphans in Ukraine.  All these things we foresaw when we started this program and we planned to deal with them as best we could.  What has been truly amazing is all of the unforeseen parts of being a family and these are the things that really make you look in the mirror and hit your knees.  These are the things that test our young family bonds.

We need to “Be Family” when our orphan kids go to jail for terrible decisions.  Teens are teens in all countries and just like in America, Ukrainian teenagers are not known for their decision making skills.  They often lack maturity and forethought.  This is amplified when children grow up in situations where all decisions are made for them.   Where they rarely learn responsibility.

We need to “Be Family” when they show up at our doorstep with nothing in tote but their new baby.   When they don’t know how to cook or clean a home they certainly don’t know how to raise a child.  When they are overwhelmed and not even able to care for themselves let alone a child.  Trying to help them make the best decisions to move forward after many bad decisions is a huge part of this work.

We need to “Be Family” when we often play catch up with medical care that has been neglected for years due to the lack of resources.  Orphanage funding for dental work, broken bones and other health items are often in a great shortfall.

We need to “Be Family” when we find ourselves paying to bury birth parents because there is just no one else to do it.  No child should have to think that their parents were just discarded like an animal.  So we make sure that the one person who should have made certain that this precious child of God never had to see the inside of an orphanage gets a proper burial.

But is that truly any different from your family?  You stand in the gap during their time of need and you sacrifice so they don’t have to.  Thank you for “Being Family” to these children through all of your prayers and financial support.  We thank God that He gives us the opportunity to show His love and share His word.


Roller Coasters


Roller Coasters…

Their ups and downs.  Their hills and valleys.  The climb to the top that ends the last few feet before the fall with the “Tic, Tic, Tic” of the cars making the most difficult part of the climb.  Excitement, fear, and anxiety are all followed by fun, amazement and a sense of release and freedom.  And of course this process just repeats itself until the ride is over.

The journey of this ministry often makes us feel as if we are on an emotional a roller coaster.    Ups, downs, hills, valleys, good things, praise then the “Tic, Tic, Tic” gets into your head again.

Here comes a problem.  We can do it.  God we trust you.  Oh no it’s getting steeper, the hill is getting harder to climb…“Tic, Tic, Tic”.  Wow! We made it! God you are amazing!  You always prevail! Thank you!  And then another hill.

Another “issue”.  We are half way up this time.  It almost seems as if God is pushing us up the hill.  He’s providing.  But what if… “Tic, Tic, Tic”.  And then…Blessings!  An amazing story from the field.  A picture of a smiling orphan child we love reading her Bible.  A life forever changed.  A check arrives in the mail from a supporter.  A church calls to say we can talk to their missions committee or tell their congregation all about what it is that PHA does in Ukraine.

We are coasting!  This is great! But what about…“Tic, Tic, Tic”.  What do we do? What’s our plan?  What’s God’s plan?  What is HE saying? We aren’t sure…“Tic, Tic, Tic”. And then like the brightest light in the darkest dark we see it.  His hand.  His way. His will.

And so the emotional roller coaster of this journey continues.  Ups and downs.  Hills and valleys.  Worry and praise behind every door and around every corner. Every day.

And through it all faith grows.

Well it’s a new year.  On one hand it’s been 16 years since PHA was granted official nonprofit status.  On the other hand it’s the 2nd year since PHA made some big additions.  Domik, our day center, has been open for over a year now.  Our Family House has been open since last summer and is providing a Christian home for some great kids in their time of need.

God’s blessings have been overly abundant during the last two years.  He has taken the dreams He gave us and turned them into a reality.  A reality where children’s lives are being changed.  A reality where they have a real chance to come to know Christ.

And now, that reality will begin to include two new cities.  As of January 16th PHA is officially serving in Poltava and Kharkov.  In Poltava an energetic young preacher named Fedya Chernichkin is joining the PHA Family.  He has already demonstrated a love for the Lord and a passion for serving children in need.  Tanya Belokonnaya, who has served with us since Donetsk, is now living in Kharkov with her new husband, Vanya and is beginning to serve at orphanages there.  We stand amazed that God has not only blessed the work of the last year but is giving us more opportunities to serve as well as the resources to do so.

Through all of the blessings over the past year the emotional rollercoaster continues to be a part of our work.  Daily there are challenges.  Daily there are blessings.  God provides.  Faith grows.  Without the up hills and battles it seems the downhills would not be as sweet.  We need Him.  It is His work.  It is His will.  He chose us to be along for the ride and we are humbled.

We hate the “Tic, Tic, Tic” that the devil wants us to hear.  So we cover it in prayer and we draw closer to Him.

-Chris and Christy