February 2022 News- “Dad, have you seen the woodworking business that Oksana and her husband are doing in Ukraine?” Our daughter, Lindsey asked.
“No, I haven’t,” I replied. “Who is Oksana?”
“I met her at summer camp in Ukraine. I was her counselor. I was 16 and she was 8 years old and her family was in the sponsorship program. We have stayed in touch ever since! She and Andrii have an amazing business making wooden doll houses. I bought a little Noah’s Ark for Churchill (our grandson) and it’s being shipped from Ukraine to your house!” Lindsey said.
A few weeks after that conversation we embarked upon a joyful visit, a wonderful meal, and experienced the woodworking wizardry of Andrii and Oksana Solodovnyk.
One of eight children
“My family had 8 children and EEO found out about us somehow,” Oksana said while talking in her kitchen. “They put us in the sponsorship program. I remember we only had pasta to eat every day but you helped us. And that was the same year I met Lindsey at my first camp.
“Afterward I wrote letters to Lindsey for several years. But I was 8 years old and could not write so good in English. My sister Ira and brother Yura were in the camp too. We loved our other counselors from Calvary Chapel Kyiv and they invited us to go to church. The pastor was George Markey and his son Johnny was in the camp. And Larissa was the first EEO coordinator for our family!
I got baptized at 11 years old and my life changed. We joined the youth group and served in the church. I attended EEO camps until I was 16, and then entered training to become a camp counselor. After college I met Andrii at a Calvary Chapel worship conference here in Ternopil. We got married and moved to this village far away from Kyiv,” Oksana laughs. “We lead worship now with pastor Johnny Markey, (George’s son) who was in the camp the same time I was. When I told him you were coming, he said ‘tell Jeff that I met my wife Stephanie in the camp!’”
A New Wood Business
Andrii and Oksana now have 3 children and a growing wood business. Andrii is from this village and his family and friends from church have worked with them from the early days to help the business grow.
“I worked for another wood company before we started AllWoodenBiz,” Andrii said. “A few years ago I won the first prize of $4000 from a Christian organization in America. Then we tried a Kickstarter campaign to raise start-up funds. That didn’t work but it gave us a lot of exposure. Now we just sell through our store on Etsy.com/shop/allwoodenbiz. The feedback is so encouraging. People even send us photos of their kids with their new toys.”
We did not have toys like this
Andrii continues; “Before I was born my family had an average income. Then Perestroika happened, unemployment, and everyone became poor. My parents decided to end the pregnancy with me because they could not afford to have another child. My mother says it was a miracle that I was born! So in my family, we did not have toys like this.”
We want to bring joy to children
“When our first child was born, I began making wooden toys for her. Our friends and family asked me to make toys for them too. I was amazed at how much joy the toys brought to people. It made us think that maybe we could start a business making things that bring joy to children,” Andrii shared.
In closing, our hearts were full. This young couple who came from poverty, whose lives were transformed, now impact people in their community and around the world. And on Sundays they lead worship with the same young man Oksana attended camp with 25 years ago. God is so good.
Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report ……... (write a newsletter on these things.) Phil 4:8