Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background?
I grew up in Eastern Oregon, attended Boise State University, and married a missionary kid from the Philippines that was attending Northwest Nazarene University just down the road from Boise. We were both involved in ministry and eventually headed off to Seminary in Kansas City, where we met the Morsch family. From there, we were sent as missionaries first to the Philippines for five years, then Ukraine for 17, and Poland for 7. Our first three years in Poland, we actually lived in Budapest while our youngest of three sons finished high school. Colleen and I commuted for three years to Poland and eventually moved to Kraków after our son graduated. Presently, we serve as District Superintendent of the Rocky Mountain District for the Church of the Nazarene, which comprises the Nazarene churches in Montana and Wyoming.
How did you hear about Global Care Force?
I heard about GCF from Dr Morsch, then stalked Global Care Force online and read all about it there, and then from more conversations with Dr. Gary.
You traveled with Dr. Morsch to Ukraine in May to assess potential opportunities for Global Care Force volunteers. How did that come about?
We had, from time to time over the last several decades, kept in touch with Dr. Gary. He was the missionary doctor consultant for many years for Global Missions, and we had opportunities that way as well as other meetings. Dr. Gary reached out to me due to our experience in Ukraine and Poland as he put together this survey trip. He asked me to be in charge of logistics due to knowing folks and the lay of the land so to speak! I was in, and we met up in Przemysl, Poland. I believe we had a very good survey trip to help GCF know how their many donations were being used and what would be needed in the future.
You lived in Ukraine for 17 years, working to establish Nazarene churches and multiple ministries. What can you tell us about the Ukrainian people?
Wow…I won’t have enough room to answer this properly. They are exceedingly hospitable, love humor, will go the extra mile or 10 for you, and they have been consistently degraded for centuries though those that degrade them the most came from them; Ukraine and Kyiv in particular, have existed for well over a thousand years. They love their history and role in the world over the centuries. Moscow has existed for roughly 800 years and consistently puts Ukrainians down, even in WW II they would have the Ukrainians run first into the Nazi guns…they were the fodder. On the negative side, they don’t forget easily and can get quite vocal. As a nation, there is a huge drinking problem and has been for a long time. Since the fall of the USSR there has been widespread corruption. All of this to say, they are wonderfully loving and caring people, but they are not perfect!!
Dr. Jim Pettey, who was also on the trip, said one thing he will never forget is meeting an 85-year-old woman in Bucha, who burst into tears when she saw you. She knew you from your time in Ukraine. Dr. Pettey said the moment was extremely moving, and for him served “as a reminder that despite a language ‘barrier,’ people still communicate with gestures, posture, with tone and trembling of voice, with their eyes and tears. We as physicians should never forget what Pastor Skinner knew, that sometimes the best we can offer is simply to let someone speak and provide a compassionate outlet for release of their pain and fear.” Tell us more about that moment.
Indeed this was a powerful moment. Tatiana was so moved and so emotional that she had to just let things go and cry tears of joy and sorrow and relief and pain all at once. As we later spent some time with her, I had time to ask about things she was experiencing, but that moment of first seeing each other was powerful and moving. Like Dr Jim said, just let them speak, give them an outlet. It really poured at that moment!
You probably have several memories that stand out from the trip. Can you share one or two that will stay with you?
We met at the Church of the Nazarene in Kyiv, and many of the original people were there. Word had spread that we would be there. It was so powerful as each person shared THEIR story about the war and what they experienced…just giving an ear to hearing people’s stories is powerful and bonding! I had not seen many of those people for many years. It was so good to just see them and hear them and be with them…what a privilege and joy was provided to me by Global Care Force!
Global Care Force plans to send medical and potentially non-medical volunteers to Ukraine soon. What should they know about the country, the culture, the people?
Ukraine is not Russia! It existed 700 years before Russia, specifically before Moscow was even a village on a measly little river! It is a very complex country, and right now is a complex time. Do not make things simple and one word understandable situations. Ask questions and struggle to understand the complexities of what people are going through and have been going through since Soviet days!
Global Care Force Founder Dr. Gary Morsch believes that serving others transforms your life. Would you agree?
Most definitely!! That is the key or secret or mystery of having a meaningful life and a life full of purpose!!
You have spent your life serving in many countries with the Nazarene Missionaries. What motivates you? What does serving others mean to you?
It boils down to obedience. Obey God, love Him, and love others; that translates into serving. It is 180 degrees different than the power and influence of the world. But, in Kingdom values, serving is the most powerful thing of all!!
If someone is considering volunteering with Global Care Force, what would you tell them?
Travel light, be prepared to rough it a little, and be ready to see needs and help fill them or meet them!!
Anything else about your experience with Global Care Force or Dr. Morsch you would like to share?
It is easy to work with Gary and those that have been putting others first for so long…they just ‘get it’ and have a heart to help…may their tribe increase!!
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