XENIA — It’s been a long journey for Cynthia “Cymp” Stemple — literally 5,052 miles from Xenia to Kyiv — but the busy coffee shop owner and volunteer says “she wouldn’t change a thing” from her missionary years in western Ukraine.
After a brief training period in Moscow, Stemple and her husband, Scott, were newlyweds when they decided to continue their ministry work with Campus Crusade for Christ in Kyiv. It was the fall of 1992, communism had fallen, and they felt Ukraine (the size of France), would be a good place to settle.
“We went to university dorms and talked to students about various subjects and tried to answer their spiritual questions,” Stemple, who is the owner of four local Coffee Hubs and the operator of Hope Hub at Emerge (located at the old career center). “For the first eight, nine years, we had Ukrainians work with us because they knew the culture and the people. We raised our own financial support and asked churches to help us,” stated Stemple, who also visited Kyiv Polytech Institute (over 30,000 engineers) and helped teach English to students.
Stemple loved the culture there and how the Ukrainians loved to be outdoors.
“We often would have picnics and cook pork on a skewer over open coals, like a shishkabob,” she said, describing the climate as chilly (like living in Upper Michigan). “Summers there are way too short. People tend to forget that Russia invaded Ukraine years years ago. They took the port. Putin is on a power trip, he wants the old Russia back. He says Ukraine is a puppet of America, because of their ties to the west.”
“Our kids played basketball at school,” Stemple added. “Our daughter Mallory, was a great dancer, all four kids played basketball. Morena was 10 when we adopted her. We had three children when we adopted Morena. There’s a lot of orphans there and we wanted to help in some way,” stated Stemple.
According to Stemple, Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe (more than 50 million people). Hryvnia is the currency of Ukraine while the religion is orthodox.
“We have friends that are like family in Kyiv (central Ukraine) and L’viv (western Ukraine). My favorite memories were the people of course. It was a beautiful country with mountains, a coast, and beautiful farmland. Went to the Black Sea many times,” said Stemple who also visited Greece, Italy, Hungary, Poland, and many other countries during her twenty years overseas.
Stemple, who speaks both Russian and Ukraine, is broken-hearted over her adopted country’s situation and is encouraging Americans to send humanitarian aid.
Reach Karen Rase at 937-502-4534