Admin: Susi Hackman is from Pasadena, Maryland, where she is a member of Galilee Lutheran Church and an ongoing short-term missionary to Ukraine for Grace Independent Baptist Church in Crownsville, Maryland. She is an ’empty-nester’ with two grown children and have been married for 25 years to an awesome husband. Formerly in the military, she also adds the Russian language to ways she is able to serve.
How did I come to be here in Krakow? Melanie was originally scheduled to provide the childcare for the MTW Crete conference, but was asked to assist in Krakow when the sudden need arose. Melanie is a mutual friend. I had been in constant prayer over how to help with the war and was not surprised when Melanie, a longtime friend of 20 years who had inspired my first mission trip to Ukraine, texted out of the blue on March 24th saying she was in Poland working for MTW. In a matter of 24 hours, I could not stop thinking about Krakow and asking myself if this was a mission God wanted me on. We shared with the parents [in Krakow] that I was available to come and said I would work, “with whomever needs love and possibly Russian.” After a few texts and prayers, Melanie texted the official invite on April 2nd to come for 2 months and finish the work she had so lovingly begun. My husband, John, agreed and together we watched God work to cover the expenses. Two weeks later and with $5,000 raised for mission support, I left for Krakow with two full suitcases of medical supplies purchased by MTW.
On April 2nd when Melanie texted me conveying that the MTW families were indeed asking me to come and support them for two months…. I went to work (a part time position as a delivery driver for Chick-fil-A) excited about the reality that God was actually asking me to go on a mission trip. Only a few minutes after getting a resounding, “yes” for approval to take a two month leave of absence, I was back on delivery. Taking off at the green light, my car was slammed into by another vehicle which was going 40 mph. The crash was loud and sudden, and I didn’t see anything except the confusion of green air bags swinging as my body pressed into the seat and seat-belt. I had rolled on my side and back, and the car was totaled. After a few minutes of regaining composure, I was able to exit the car without so much as a scratch much to the surprise of the onlookers. The young man who flew to my door side after the crash to help me watch me step out and with his mouth agape, said, “You are a miracle! You rolled and you don’t have a scratch!” I replied, “That’s my God!” He asked me what church I went to and I said I hoped to see him there!
It is impossible for me to ponder the many ways and whys God put in my life to bring me here to Krakow at this very point in time. What I do know is that my Lord and Savior is in control of my life at all times. I will trust Him forever and praise Him forever. It is my deepest desire that you will join me.
What is my role in Krakow? I support the missionary families on the Krakow Crisis Team by serving as a Bible/reading teacher and childcare provider for MTW missionary children who are displaced as well by the war. The families relocated to Krakow from Ukraine and elsewhere. I work and room alongside Nancy Moriarty who filled this urgent need with Melanie Lee, a former Krakow Crisis Team member who both also hail from my home state of Maryland.
These two wonderful sisters in Christ started a tiny morning school in Krakow – creating a wonderful environment where the children come Monday to Friday 9-1 pm, then babysit in evenings when requested. They spend the mornings in a predictable and comforting routine which provides much needed stability to the families allowing moms and dads to do the urgent and serious work on the Krakow Crisis Team.
A typical school day – We begin with a student-led prayer followed by a student of the day recording the weather and reminding us of the week’s color and shape by adding new items to our large paper Mr. Shape. This is followed by Bible time and storytelling with coloring and presentations of the drawings to one another (public speaking). Lastly, we sing our school theme, “Make Me a Servant” as well as other traditional VBS kid songs. Nancy takes the older children to the “schoolroom” with the desks and chairs and instructs them in individual math and reading. In addition to several books, she has two laptops for various math practice games. I keep the preschoolers and have monitored free play with books from the library, puzzles, play dough, imaginary play with the doll house, dinosaurs and animals, etc. We meet up again an hour later after our snacks for another song and then repeat the routine. I routinely add in a crafting (We made a shape garden) or a playful science activity (the water cycle and playing a game we call, “Hydrogen and Oxygen” a fun tag game of elements combining to make water and change states of matter) – this is where I gleefully inculcate a love of God’s creation and we marvel at his majesty (I was a middle school science teacher by profession). We end our day usually by a 20 minute “Daniel the Tiger” video to allow time for potty breaks and packing up for lunch.
The weather this spring in Poland has been truly gorgeous and we have gone to many different parks within a 15-minute walking distance where we lunch on a bench followed by free play and lots of running and playing. Nancy and I collapse at 1:30 and then prepare for the next day as well as tutor English for another family’s two daughters, ages 10 and 15. Our relationships with the children and their parents are based on a common love for Jesus, and both have grown to trust us and have expressed a love for us and the school.
Nancy and I are blessed to see the disruption of the war fading into the children’s past and witness the joy of the serious work of just being a kid. The children are aware that their home is Ukraine and often draw the Ukrainian flag or colors. They say they miss being there and are patiently waiting to return “when mommy and daddy say we can.”
Lastly, I am pleased to be able to use my Russian language skills to speak with many families from Eastern Ukraine as well as stumble through the Ukrainian conversations.
At first, I was very concerned speaking Russian would be problematic and even perhaps traumatic. I simply ask permission to use it and the reception has been very positive. It is beautiful to be able to encourage and pray with displaced Ukrainians in the city of Krakow – both out and about on the streets of Krakow with Nancy as well as through the weekly local PCA and MTW coordinated church functions like the Tuesday evening Bible study and Wednesday night children’s night at the Help Center.
This weekend I will help to host a ladies luncheon, lead the reading of the gospel of John in Russian and lead a discussion with several women who speak both Russian and Ukrainian. When we speak in God’s Holy Word and about it, the love of Jesus comes through and everyone is very grateful for the attempt to bridge the communication gap.
Supply Chain Support: The funds raised (approximately $10,000) have allowed me to assist MTW in their supply chain support to Ukraine (See: Mobilize Crates and Aid For Ukraine). We purchased over one and a half tons of food as well as sleeping bags for drivers and displaced persons that went directly to the MTW folks in Ukraine with further distribution as far as the gas can go to villages near and far.
In addition, a great surprise for me was to meet up with a missionary friend from CREW whose wife and tiny son were displaced to Krakow as well. The three of us had served together on two separate occasions in Mlachivka, Ukraine (Chernobyl Region), on summer Vacation Bible Schools. A—- was able to leave Ukraine for a 3-day humanitarian supply run, visit his wife and son and go shopping at a big box store for another 1 ½ tons of food which he then drove back to Lviv in his church’s bus for further distribution. The joy of picking out a crunchy cereal for the children and a chocolate bar per family as well as the essentials of canned meats, quick cooking grains, bouillon, pasta, instant soups, and more… Well, my heart is full of gratitude to the Lord for allowing me this privilege of sharing the church’s financial support and prayers to those who are truly hurting and in dire need.
A— and his wife and church as well as MTW are all very grateful and we thank all prayer warriors and financial supporters for their love. Truly our God is awesome!
There was much I needed to thank God for and didn’t want to not give him the glory for this amazing mission trip which is the healing balm God knew my soul needed. I am forever grateful for MTW and the MTW Crisis Response team in Krakow!