Live From the Ukraine 2006
Our trip is near it's end. The last two days have been especially busy and touching with our visit to the orphanage and final moments with our student friends. Some relationships grew deep very quickly, and our time with everyone has been precious. Throughout our ministry here we have experienced so many wonderful interactions, heart wrenching moments, and most importantly good relationships that have earned us the opportunity to share Christ. God is not foreign to these people, but in many ways he seems far away, inaccessible, and not their friend. We have continually proclaimed Christ as Savior and Lord for all mankind by sharing his great desire to have a personal relationship with each and every person. Using Rick Warren's Booklet "What on Earth am I Here For?" we have introduced not just an idea or church doctrine but a real hope for people to discover their real purpose.
I shared with everyone that we did not come here on our own. Many people and friends have contributed to this trip and many more of you are praying for us and those whom we meet. As a team we pray that you will engage the Lord in your personal relationship in a deeper way. Allow Him to take you to the edge as Pastor Ron says, "If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room." Allow Him to be Lord of your life.
In about 48 hours we expect to be arriving back home. Our travel back will begin shortly and access to this forum will cease. So for now we bid you well Добрый День (good day) . We all look forward to seeing you soon.
Word of the Day "Shepherd" Psalms 23
Hello Cornerstone! I'm so thankful you're recieving these messages. We started this day just like every other day. Olga, Betty and I are staying in a different apartment. They get up earlier, and I sleep in as late as I can. Then we walk about a mile over to the apartment where the rest of the team is at. In case you didn't know, in the Ukraine, the first thing you do when you walk in is to take your shoes off. Then we catch our breath because of the 5 flights of stairs. Then we have something to eat together and have our devotions and discuss what we will be doing in the day.
Today we went down to their large outdoor market to purchase items for our visit to the orphanage. When we came back to the apartment, Natasha had a wonderful lunch prepared for us again! Then it was off to the orphanage.
About a half hour out of town we entered the orphanage, greeted by a child running alongside our van with a big smile on her face. We met the director of the orphange. Then we went to a room where we saw where the orphans lived, slept, and played. We shared a little about ourselves, and the teachers shared a little about themselves. We did a craft with them. They were wonderful to work with. Then we headed outside to a big field to play soccer in knee deep weeds. While we were on the field the kids started doing acrobatics, and I have no doubt they were saying, "LOOK AT ME!!!" in Russian.
Mark's youth and agility came in very handy in keeping up with the children playing soccer. I'll let you guess who was on the sidelines. After we were wore out (really Mark) we passed out some watches that we brought with us, and they were extremely excited. We also left 2 soccer balls with them as they had none. Just then it was load up time, and we headed off to our english class for the evening.
This last night of class we gave them Rick Warren's "What On Earth Am I Here For?" booklet from his "Purpose Driven Life". At the end of class, Ron shared his testimony. They really listened intently. Class was over but we couldn't get them out because they had so many different questions for all of us. It was a great way to end the night. Then we headed back to the apartment, had our wonderful dinner again prepared by Natasha, shared the events of the day, and we saw God's victory in so many ways this day. Without your prayers and support we could never be experiencing these victories. So we thank you very very much. Добрый День
P. S. Hi Jim, Colin, Carter, and Cole
Word of the Day "Victory" Psalms 124:8
Trusting in God throughout life is sometimes easy when you see the potential results at hand. As a short term missionary I won't begin to say anything that presumes I know what it requires of a missionary to trust God. Our morning starts with Yulia who wanted to pay us a visit this morning after visiting with her and all of her orphans the evening before. She poured her heart out, her experiences, devotion to the kids, and struggles. What she was asking for was some spiritual food, to be refreshed, and to know there were people with her who would care and pray. Please pray for Yulia and her children. I cannot describe the trials and events that led these girls to this refuge of hope and care.
Afterword, Nadia came by to visit, a real servent in the Simferopol church who is loyal and trusting in God for so many things. We had a wonderful meal, and the afternoon took us to the Marble Caves in the mountains of Crimea. This was and is the only time we will break from our ministry routine.
We enter the caves and walk deep into the bowels of the earth, which brings me to Mark. This may not be fitting for a church web page, but it's an honest example of trusting God. A half hour into the tour and deep below the surface, like a small child, Mark said, "I have to go to the bathroom." We thought he was kidding. He said, "I have to go to the bathroom NOW!" The tour guide finaly relented to his need and an immediate departure. We did not see Mark again until we arrived back up on the surface. Let's just put it this way, the picture explains it all, and Mark is now minus one sock.
We arrived back at Simferopol at school number 8 for our english classes. Every day the students bring more and more friends. Relationships are building between us and the kids. We even livened up the break time with some good ol' country line dancing led Betty. The fun and enjoyment of that break opened their ears to hear some personal testimonies of what Christ has done in our lives. An evengelistic message is rare in this part of the world, and virtually foreign to the ears of these students. We are blessed in our fellowship, fun and the Spirit led time that we share with them. God is doing amazing things right before our eyes.
God wants us to trust him in all things, through the serious and the sad, through the mundane and the humorous. Today we had them all.
Please see the webpage link for Yulia's Orphanage
Word of the Day "Trust" Proverbs 3:5-6
Greetings from the Ukraine. We had a very full day today. Our first adventure was in two taxis to Perevalnya. They drive really crazy here! We're lucky we made it in one piece. One thing I noticed on the way was the Police Officers were pulling over random cars to check their papers. This is why we need to carry our passports with us at all times. We were met in Perevalnya by Maxim and Tanya, and they escorted us to their apartment. The apartments are very small with barely any furniture. There was a lovely smell of cat urine as we came up to the apartment complex. We all assembled in their small living area, and Maxim brought in stools and chairs for everyone. Pastor Ron asked what prayer needs they had, and we prayed for the needs they requested. Tanya fixed us a very nice snack of bread, cheese and tea. The mother and daughter of a family that attends the church at Perevalnya came over to greet us. We were on a tight schedule so after our visit we walked down to the bus stop to catch the Marshrutka back to town. God provided the bus the second we got back to the bus stop.
We walked back to our apartment to pick up items we needed for the English club. 20 minutes later we were off to go to the school. We were sitting outside the school building as the students arrived, and one of the students Sabina shared with us some pictures of her childhood. It was really special that she felt comfortable enough with us to share those pictures with us. Mark was sitting at the end of the steps with his laptop when the children noticed and it became a great item of interest to the school children coming out of the building. Dari arrived and we all went into our classrooms.
More students joined Mark's class, and today Peggy got to instruct. Pastor Ron, Pam and myself observed while Peggy instructed the students. Her explanations brought laughter from the students several times. In the other class, John was teaching the beginning students, and trying to explain american money which they found very interesting. They seemed to enjoy the class very much.
As soon as class was over we were off and running to Yulia's apartment to visit with her and her adopted children. Many other girls came from other orphanages to visit also. The girls laughed and giggled and joked with each other trying to tell us about themselves in english. They are just like our teenagers at home. I was asked to teach them a country line dance so I got up and a few of them stood up with me and went through the dance instruction. A few of them caught on to the dance very quickly, and seemed to enjoy what I taught them. We stayed there until around 9:30pm and headed back to our individual apartments to have a restful sleep before we hit the road the next day. Peggy fell asleep the minute her head hit the pillow, and I did too. I'm beginning to have a special love for these people and see that they really need the Lord in this country.
Word of the Day "Share" Romans 1:14-16
Yes, all 8 of my girls showed up tonight. One of them even brought a friend. Not to mention, they found me positively enchanting. So I think Pam owes me an apology!
This morning we headed back to the university to pass out flyers for the english class later in the evening. I found that many of the students are very similar to American students. After that we headed back to the apartments for lunch which was made by Sasha's wife Natasha.
The church in Simferopol has two pastors, Sasha and Dari. Sasha is in some of the pictures below in the yellow shirt. His wife Natasha has been cooking meals for us while we are out doing ministry, and they are absolutely FABULOUS!!! She is an amazing cook, and all the ladies in our group have been forcing her to write down her recipes. They have a son Igor and a daughter Vicka. Vicka is hilarious! That little girl makes me laugh so hard. The other pastor Dari is just as funny. Dari and I became instant friends because we both are pretty much goof balls. Although nothing has made me laugh quite as hard as watching Dari try to help Pastor Ron with his russian alphabet. Don't worry, I got some of it on film!
During the afternoon we met a couple, Maxim and Tanya, who will be moving to help at the Perevalnya Church. They are newly married, and Maxim has recently graduated from Bible college. They have felt God calling them to move to Perevalnya to grow the church there. This is a total answer to prayer for us and the people in the Perevalnya church! How amazing it is that we were able to be here right when this happened.
Tonight my english class went really well. Everyone is starting to get to know each other better, and the girls are feeling more comfortable speaking. I took a picture of two of them and am going to superimpose their mouths with mine and make them have a conversation in english like I did with Pastor Ron a couple weeks ago (ala Conan O'brian). They have no idea that i'm going to do it so it should be really funny to see what kind of reaction they have.
Getting back to the apartment was interesting. We got into a Marshrutka, a small 12 passenger shuttle van, which was fairly new and probably the nicest one we had been in up to this point. However, at the next stop people started pouring in. When we got to our stop there were probably 30 people sitting and standing in the aisles. Trying to get out was a new form of twister. Peggy, John and I were in the very back, and we couldn't even see the door let alone get to it. Masha, one of the girls in the class, got scared that the van was going to leave without us getting off (we did too) and started yelling, "Mark! Mark!" I still have no idea how we finally got out of that thing. John compared it to being born again and going through a birth canal.
After the class I tried to help my new friend and translator Olga with making a poster on the computer. I told her that it would be no problem. I've been telling her this for several days now. However tonight when she gave me her Word document with the text to go in the poster I realized her definition of poster and mine were two totally different things! When I opened the Word document there was 30 pages of medical research!
So we are one week into this and have a ton of work left to do. Please continue to pray for us for adequate rest, to accomplish our goals in time, to have safe travels, and to continue to form relationships with the people so that we might have an opportunity to share Christ with them.
Cornerstone Youth! Don't forget the See You At The Pole Rally is on Tuesday the 26th!!! Take Care.
P. S. Mark is burning up the thesaurus.
Word of the Day "Ask" Matthew 9:35-38; 10:1-6
Today we saw Jesus... in Natasha cooking two Ukrainian meals for us in our apartment... in Olga serving us even on a day she went to work... in Dari patiently trying to teach us Russian and seeing his love for the University students... in Sasha coming to open our door when we got locked out of the apartment... in helping us teach english to University students. Although only about 12 students attended they were eager to learn and share and get to know us. John did a great job teaching beginners, and Mark did an great job teaching the advanced students. Interestingly, Mark had 8 beautiful girls in his class. I'll let you know if they come back tomorrow. Keep praying for us ...especially Mark!
P. S. Ha Ha Ha. Very Funny
Word of the Day "Jesus" Philippians 3:13a
The Lord's day was truly a great day. We began our day with a 15 mile van ride to Perevalnya. At 11 am we enjoyed our first worship service. The congregation met underground below a 8 story apartment building. In a very real sense it was an underground church, but thankfully, there was no persecution involved. We waited for the congregation to arrive, and a few minutes after 11, one lady walked in with 2 of her children. This was the church...only 2 people came. Yes this is a difficult ministry because this church has no pastor or adult leaders that live in this community of 25,000 people. We were encouraged because the lady, Olga, had such a great burden for her community. Sometimes 5 people show up, and we were told that tomorrow a young couple who are Christians are moving into the community to help the church. What they really need is a full-time national pastor. We had a chance to encourage this lady and promised to pray for her and give support financially.
In the afternoon, after having pizza together at a really great upscale restaurant we prepared for a second church service. Pam sang a song, Mark gave a testimony, John gave a greeting, and I did my message on trusting God in difficult times. This congregation was a little bit larger. Maybe 15 people came to worship God. Their songs were very beautiful, and even though we couldn't understand them we recognized the tunes and could sense the presence of the Lord. This congregation also struggles with growth and is learning how to attract and win people to Christ. Pastor Sasha works during the week as a construction worker and tries to maintain the congregation, disciple them, teach them how to reach their neighbors, and grow in maturity.
Later that evening we returned to our apartment to begin planning for the following day which includes teaching 3 levels of english reading classes to university students. This will be a major challenge since we have never done this before, and our word for the day has been "Faith". Tomorrow we will have a chance to put it into practice in a big way. Stay tuned for the results of tomorrow's ministry.
Word of the Day "Faith" Hebrews 11
We arrived after a 16 hour train ride to our home base of Simferopol. We explored the city to get acclimated and visit some historical sights to understand the culture and people. We have had several opportunities to share the Lord including Ron sharing Christ inside the local Mosque! We observed a "Moscow Day" celebration of all Russians next to Lenin's statue at the center of the city. In our walk around the city we saw both new and old. As we were walking back to home base we wandered through an area centered around a 700 year old oak tree. There was a vender with a crocodile, and Pastor Ron was challenged by the lady to hold the 4ft croc in his arms. The team is doing very well physically, mentally and spiritually. We are well prepared for our task at hand that begins tomorrow morning.
Word of the Day "Wonder" Psalm 139
Word of the Day "Strength" Phillipians 4:13
We have arrived! After 24 hours of travel we are finally here in Kiev, Ukraine! Everyone is doing great and we will keep you posted throughout the trip. Also don't forget that we are going to try to do a live video feed from the Ukraine on Sunday morning. We are on a dial-up connection here and have been having problems with getting dropped, but hopefully everything will go great. Keep us in your prayers!
Word of the Day "Light" Genesis 1:1-10