Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hamm Prayer Points – Nina’s Miraculous Journey – 22|05|08

God is so very good!

It has been almost seven months since Lena left to bring her mother Nina to Canada for a six-month visit. There were of course many highlights to Nina's visit, but there was no time more memorable than her past eight weeks. When Nina was admitted to hospital on March 16, we couldn't have imagined what would come next. After Nina's life-saving emergency triple by-pass we quickly recognized God's hand in leading Nina here, in having her extend her stay (she had been scheduled to return in early March) and in surrounding her with a community of His people.

God provided for Nina's needs in miraculous ways. Through the incredible donation of the surgeons (providing all their services at no charge), through the generous reduction in fees from the hospital and through the overflowing kindness of friends, family & strangers (correction: brothers & sisters in Christ whom we simply have yet to meet!).

We are thrilled to share with you that we have received over 99% of the needed funds for Nina!!! Here are the actual figures:

Total Expenses: $14,582.44 Gifts Received: $14,480.00

Nina's expenses grew somewhat from the time of her surgery due to follow-up examinations and tests. While we do not anticipate many more expenses in her remaining two weeks, there may be a few minor ones. Regardless, we want everyone to know that Nina's expenses have now been covered and that any additional monetary gifts received will be used for Nina's future care.

On Monday, June 2 at 12:20 in the afternoon, Nina will depart from Winnipeg and head for her home in St. Petersburg, Russia. Lena will accompany her and then return the following Monday. Before that, I will leave on a nine-day trip to Missouri for the A.C.E. International Student Convention. Our family would covet your prayers for the next 12 days as we prepare for our journeys, travel and cope with each other's absences.

We have one final related note to share with you. It was just over five years ago that we put out the call for people to invest in an apartment for Nina. Many of you will recall that Nina had been living by herself in Omsk while we, her only family, resided in distant St. Petersburg. As a family we did not have sufficient funds to obtain a home for Nina, so we asked for people to help. More than two dozen families & individuals answered the call and provided enough money for us to bring Nina to St. Petersburg. Now, five years later, their investment has grown substantially. We are happy to report that Nina's apartment is worth approximately 2.5 times the 2003 purchase price! We will be contacting our "investors" very shortly to share specific details about the apartment investment.

For all that God has done for Nina (and her family) through you, His wonderfully kind people, we offer our heartfelt thanks!

Kevin, Lena, Sonia, Maya, Deena & Nina

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hamm Prayer Points – Nina Update #2

April 16, 2008: Greetings, Friends! Thank you for your prayers over the past while. Three weeks to the day Nina left the hospital, she's back…

Here's the latest news:

  • Nina has been resting & recovering at our home in Portage la Prairie for the past three weeks.
  • For the past week Nina had experienced increasing pain in her lungs, resulting in coughing fits and shortness of breath. She also had a low-grade fever during this time.
  • Yesterday (April 15) Nina was blessed by the visit of her Russian nurse from St. Boniface hospital. Svetlana (who hails from St. Petersburg!) called Nina several times over the past weeks. Svetlana drove from Winnipeg to Portage la Prairie to give Nina an unofficial "check-up". After listening to Nina's lungs, Svetlana urged us to take Nina for an x-ray as soon as possible.
  • This morning (April 16) we consulted with a number of knowledgeable people and decided that it would be wisest to take Nina directly to Emergency at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, where she had the bypass operation on March 19th.

So here we are at St. Boniface again! We will update you on the situation as soon as we are able. Later...after spending nine and a half hours in the Emergency room, Lena & Nina finally left with some good and not-so-good news. It turned out that Nina's nurse was correct—fluid was building up in her left lung, causing it to collapse. The doctor on duty prescribed medicine that should alleviate Nina's condition within two weeks (it's a pity that the doctor in Portage who examined her last week didn't notice it then). Thankfully, Nina's blood work & AKG revealed that she is otherwise fine.

We have some news to share about Nina's financial situation as well. So far (and the bills will continue to grow after today) Nina's & our combined expenses are just over $14,000. This is a far cry from what it could have been! Thanks to the kindness of Drs. Warrian & Peters, and the mercy shown by St. Boniface General Hospital, the money owed by Nina is far less than it could have been. We praise God for His blessings! Of course, $14,000 is still a lot of money for anyone, especially for a foreigner whose pension is barely $125/month.

Many of you have asked how you can help, and many have helped already! Several families provided meals during our first week back home, many visited & brought cards & flowers, and a number of people have given money to cover expenses. Nina's most immediate need is money to cover the medical bills. As of this writing, another $13,500 is required. Some have asked about receiving a donation receipt for monetary gifts, but that is impossible for us to provide since we are private citizens. We are deeply grateful to all who offered or provided assistance to date. Please continue to pray for God's provision to meet this financial need, whether through the giving of God's people or through other means. As well, we covet your prayers for Nina's continued health improvement in both body & spirit!

Thank you for standing with us,

Kevin, Lena, Sonia, Maya, Deena & Nina

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hamm Prayer Points - 25|03|08 [Nina Update]

God is so very good!

Thank you all for your faithful & fervent prayers over the past week. We just arrived home and Nina is settled in her new “home” in our living room. Here is a recap of the past week (and a bit) and how your prayers impacted Nina’s life:

Sunday, March 16: After two days of increasing pain and discomfort, Nina asked us to take her to the emergency ward at Portage District General Hospital here in Portage la Prairie. After numerous tests and time spent under observation, an angiogram was scheduled for Nina in Winnipeg.

Tuesday, March 18: After waking up feeling quite ill, Lena received a call from the hospital that Nina was set to depart for Winnipeg by ambulance at 9 a.m. Lena quickly prepared for the trip and accompanied Nina to St. Boniface General Hospital. After waiting until the afternoon for the angiogram, the test finally revealed that Nina’s heart was in desperate shape.

Wednesday, March 19: By noon, doctors at St. Boniface had met and decided that an emergency bypass operation was the only recourse for Nina. Her heart could not survive any further delay. Surgery was scheduled for the evening. I joined Lena in Winnipeg after taking Maya & Deena to my parent’s home. Lena & I arrived at the hospital at 10 p.m., but the surgery went later than expected. Shortly after eleven one of the nurses met with us to assure us that the triple-bypass operation was going well. Just before midnight the surgeon arrived and gave us the complete details. The surgery had gone very well and Lena was able to see her mom just after one a.m. We returned to my uncle & aunt’s home by 1:30 for some much-needed rest.

Thursday, March 20: Lena had to return to the hospital before 9 a.m. so that the nurses could communicate with Nina. We spent much of the day at the hospital, but in the evening we were thrilled to discover that a Russian-speaking nurse would be taking care of Nina for the next 12 hours. Lena & I enjoyed our first restful night in a long while!

Good Friday: Lena seemed to be getting sicker instead of better, so after checking in with Nina, Lena spent the rest of the morning waiting in the emergency room, trying to see a doctor. By lunch time Lena had been given some medical attention and was headed for an afternoon rest (once again a Russian-speaking nurse was caring for Nina). After the rest, my Dad & Mom brought Maya & Deena to visit us. Lena hadn’t seen the girls in three days, so it was a happy reunion for all.

Saturday, March 21: Another day at the hospital, with word received that Nina may be discharged as early as Monday.

Easter Sunday: Lena & I were able to attend the early service at Fort Garry M.B. Church before being summoned to the hospital so that Lena could interpret for the physiotherapist. Lena had to spend the afternoon & evening with Nina, but was able to come downstairs for a short while when our girls (this time including Sonia) came for a visit and supper.

Monday, March 22: Another full day at the hospital, but the end was near—Nina would be released the next day if all went according to plan.

Today: Shortly after 9 a.m. Lena & I met with the hospital administration to find out what Nina’s bill would be. As an out-of-country patient, Nina was expected to pay a substantial fee for her week at St. Boniface, plus whatever the doctor & anaesthesiologist would charge. After asking if there was any way for the amount to be reduced, we were asked to detail our & Nina’s situation. After we explained, the gentleman in charge looked thoughtful and said that it may be possible to reduce the amount by 40-odd percent, providing we could put the details of our situation into a letter for the hospital. We happily assured him that we would, and thanked God for apparently providing a way to reduce the huge bill. As we waited for Nina’s surgeon to meet with us before the release, we wondered what the rest of the bills might be like. After the doctor had given his okay for Nina to go home and had answered all of her questions, Lena asked him if he would be willing to see Nina once more before she left for Russia. The surgeon asked Lena to follow him to the consultation room, closed the door and told her, “I understand that your mother has no medical insurance and that you will have to pay for all of her expenses.” Lena nodded. He continued, “I talked with [the anaesthesiologist], and we decided that we would not charge you anything.” Lena was speechless! Finally she thanked him and told him that this was an answer to the prayers of many friends and family. It truly is! Shortly after that Nina was on her way to Portage la Prairie. We have so much to thank God for! Here are some of the answers to prayer that we have received this week:


  • My Dad & Mom—they took care of Maya & Deena during our time in Winnipeg and also brought the girls to visit us on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
  • My Uncle Hank & Aunt Lynn—they provided a home for Lena & I during the time Nina was in St. Boniface.
  • Pastor Ramsy—he visited several times with us at the hospital and prayed with Nina.
  • The nurses & staff at St. Boniface who cared for Nina.
  • The doctors, nurses & staff at the Portage hospital who cared for Nina.
  • The surgeon & anaesthesiologist who donated 100% of their effort to giving Nina new life.
  • The willingness of the administration at St. Boniface to consider reducing the amount owing for Nina’s care.
  • All who prayed, visited, sent cards and helped in tangible ways!


  • That Nina’s body will continue to heal as it should.
  • That we will be able to extend Nina’s Canadian visa so that she will have time to recover before flying home.
  • That the remaining medical bills (ambulance & Portage hospital bills) will not be too high.
  • That God will continue to provide for our financial & material needs.

What’s next? While we wait for the final medical bills to come in, we need to ask to have Nina’s visa extended, reschedule her flight back to Russia and likely book another flight so that someone may accompany Nina back to Russia. We will update you further once we have more details.

Thank you all once again for your faithful prayers during this time. We have felt so blessed and covered by God’s grace & mercy. Nina was so thankful for all who visited and made contact with her—even when there was no one to translate for her she understood the love that can only come from God’s people! I’m certain that when she is able, she will express her gratitude to you in her own words.

May God bless you all for the love you’ve shown to our family!

Kevin, Lena, Sonia, Maya, Deena & Nina

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hamm Prayer Points - 19|03|08 [Kevin & Lena ask for prayer!]

Nina's Heart

As most of you know, Lena's mother Nina is visiting us from Russia. She arrived in November and plans to return to St. Petersburg in mid-April. This past Sunday (March 16th) she was taken to the local hospital here in Portage la Prairie after complaining of shortness of breath and heart pain. She spent two nights in intensive care before being taken by ambulance to St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg for an angiogram (Lena accompanied her to Winnipeg). The tests revealed that Nina has severely-blocked arteries and is in need of emergency bypass surgery. The doctors deemed it necessary to proceed with all speed, so as of this writing Wednesday afternoon she is being prepped for surgery and will undergo the operation shortly.
  • Please pray for Nina as she is quite anxious about what has transpired in the past few days. As nice as Canadian health services and staff are, Nina cannot understand what they are saying so it is a bit frightening to her.
  • Pray also for Lena as she has had to remain by Nina's side most of the time to translate for Nina. Lena has been suffering from a bad cold during this time, further complicating matters.
  • Pray for the surgeons and nurses as they perform the operation.
  • Pray for Maya & Deena who have been sick since Sunday, and are a bit distressed by the absence of family members during this time.
After I finish this letter I will head to Winnipeg to be with Lena & Nina. Maya & Deena will be staying with my parents during our absence. We will all appreciate your prayers during this time! Thank you & God bless, Kevin, on behalf of Lena, Sonia, Maya, Deena & Nina

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hamm Prayer Points - 09|10|07


We trust that our Canadian friends had a blessed time of thanksgiving with family.

September has been a busy, exciting month for our family. We had just a few weeks to unpack and get settled in our new house before Sonia moved to Brandon to begin university, Lena began working at Reflections Café and I started my new job at Lighthouse Christian School. All in all it has been a great month, even considering all the completely new experiences for us all.

As you know, we are continuing to transition out of our ministry with Mennonite Brethren Mission and Service International (MBMSI). Beginning in September, we are no longer serving full-time with MBMSI. Instead, from now until the end of this year, we will be representing MBMSI at various mission events and church services (details following). As we fulfill our ministry responsibilities and as we complete the changeover to life in Canada, there will be some ministry expenses. MBMSI will cover our entire September-December ministry expenses as well as provide us with some additional funds to help cover the shortfall that we experienced in our final year of service in Russia.

We want our donors to know that MBMSI will continue to accept donations on our behalf until December 31, 2007. Those of you who have your donations withdrawn automatically will see withdrawals cease at the end of the year. We would like to assure you that your donations will continue to be used to support our ministry. Of course, since we are no longer full-time with MBMSI, some of you may wish to reduce or discontinue your support at this time. If that is the case, please feel free to contact us or MBMSI direct at 1-866-964-7627. For those of you would like to see your support continue until the end of the year, you need not contact anyone—MBMSI will no longer accept donations with our project code attached after December 31.

Thank you for your continued prayers, and please feel free to contact us about any questions you may have!

— Kevin, Lena, Sonia, Maya & Deena


Here's a brief summary of what we've been doing over the past weeks:

  • Sonia has been studying hard in the Fine Arts program at Brandon University. While it has been a blessing living with friends, there is considerable distance for Sonia to travel each week, and with many evening classes it's been a challenge to get around by bus. Sonia is also looking for a part-time job to help pay for transportation and room & board.
  • Maya is enjoying grade one at Lighthouse Christian School and was excited to be able to go on her first field trip of the year. Maya was also thrilled to be able to begin ballet lessons here in Portage la Prairie!
  • Deena has been attending dance lessons as well, and has also been participating in the "Family Literacy" program at the local library. Deena is happy to have both "dance school" and library school" to attend.
  • Lena is now working two days a week (full-time on Mondays and part-time on Fridays) at Reflections Café here in Portage. In addition to caring for Deena, the remainder of her week is spent working on making our home (even more) beautiful and working on the Graphic Bible translation project.
  • Kevin is enjoying school! My new job as the Vice-Principal/Senior Learning Centre Supervisor at Lighthouse Christian School is going very well. It's wonderful how God has provided exactly the right job for me at this time!


  • We thank God His provision and blessings in our lives. It has been an amazing year for our family—one filled with uncertainties, change and blessing upon blessing!
  • We are very thankful for our faithful supporters who have helped us through this time of transition.
  • Our apartment sold in St. Petersburg for a very fair price. Even better, the money was transferred safely (and promptly) to Canada!


  • Please pray for Sonia as she continues to adjust to university life. Pray that she will be able to find a job & good friends!
  • Please remember Nina in your prayers. Lena's mom has applied for a temporary resident's (tourist) visa to Canada. Please pray that the decision-makers in the Canadian Embassy in Moscow permit her to visit us in Canada this autumn/winter.


  • ...that Lena & Deena are going back to Russia? It's true! They plan to fly on October 24th to St. Petersburg to be reunited with mother/babushka Nina. Lord willing, they will return in about a week's time with Nina by their side. This trip is no small deal, but is necessary to help Nina and also to allow us to bring more of our stored belongings to Canada. Please pray that it will work out well!!!


Kevin & Lena Hamm are former missionaries with Mennonite Brethren Mission and Service International, assisting with Christian Camping International/Russia as they are able.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hamm Prayer Points - 03|09|07 [Back to School (for the first time)!]

Here we go! Tomorrow, September 4th, is the ole' back to school for most, but for Sonia, Maya & Yours Truly it's a day of "first time to school".

Please pray for Sonia:

  • As she settles in to her first official night after moving into her own residence
  • As she travels within Brandon on her own
  • As she attends orientation and pays for tuition and materials at Brandon University
  • As she meets and joins a church family
  • As she looks for a part-time job
  • As she makes new friends
Please pray for Maya:
  • As she starts Grade One
  • As she adjusts to a more structured form of education
  • As she battles a bad cold
Please pray for me:
  • As I begin my first day as Vice-Principal at Lighthouse Christian School
  • As I learn my responsibilities and try to fulfill them
  • As I get to know the students
  • As I supervise the academic progress of the senior students
As well...Please pray for Lena:
  • As she cares for Deena during the day
  • As she continues to adjust to life in Canada
  • As she takes training for her new part-time job at Reflections Cafe
Thank you for your prayers!!! — Kevin, Lena Sonia, Maya & Deena

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Hamm Prayer Points - 08|08|07


Greetings from between the cardboard boxes...

Tomorrow we will get the keys to our new home! This means we can make some final decisions about what additional work needs to be done. Sunday at noon we will take official ownership of the house and will make the big move. We've been packing non-stop since our return from our trip west.

For those of you who are coming to help with the move, Lord willing we will begin loading and unloading (lather, rinse & repeat, etc.) Sunday just after 12. We will have a moving van and several other vehicles, so mostly we'll be in need of strong backs to carry boxes to the various floors (all four levels) and some help setting up Maya & Deena's furniture. Of course, if you would just like to stop in and say hi (and take a peek at the house), you are most welcome too! For last minute details call me at 872-3802.

Please keep us in your prayers as we finish packing, move in, settle in, and as I begin my school training (August 13-17). It looks like a few more busy weeks for us until the routine of school & work begins in September. We will try to update you on our upcoming presentations and other news as we get settled.

Thank you for your continued prayers and help!

— Kevin, Lena, Sonia, Maya & Deena


Kevin & Lena Hamm are missionaries with Mennonite Brethren Mission and Service International, assisting Christian Camping International/Russia.

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