Saturday, October 27, 2007

Another Kind of Hunger

The Psalmist wrote, "Why should people say, 'where is their God?' " I want to see what God can do.

One individual has been used by God over and over again. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Esther, Gideon, Daniel, Isaiah, the disciples sent out two by two under Jesus, carried on individual ministries after His death. I want to be just one that God can use.

The steady walk, the everyday happenings are fine, if they include a wondrous, glorious God becoming visible to all.

This week, we're inviting a few other families in for a couple of days of praying, services, family time and seeking God.

A Little Helper

It's Saturday and the vans that we use to pick people up for Sunday services needed to be washed. We had visitors. So all the children pitched in and help, including this little guy.

He brought his own car along with him while he worked!

On the Subject of Food

Not long ago I read an article by another missionary wife, Laura Hausman, where she said cooking in a foreign country was all about substitutions. We've been missionaries in Ukraine since 1995 and various times other missionaries and I have tried to make something that tasted like American cheese cake. Problems: no graham crackers and no philadelphia cream cheese. We've tried other cream cheese that we could buy here and different types of cooky crumbs. Finally I found something that tasted like cheese cake. Butter cookie crumbs and with the regular cream cheese that we've tried before. It wasn't picture perfect but it tasted good!

The beginning of summer was very dry. Onions that friends planted didn't come up until fall after it started to rain regularly. They cleared their garden and shared their bounty with us. This picture shows half of what we were given. They guessed that they had 10 pounds or more of green onions. What do you do to make use of green onions? We had one idea--dry them for use later.

We haven't tried the dried ones in recipes yet. But it seems like they'll be a success.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Where the Map Didn't Show Any Roads

Often we look out our windows and see a white spire shaped a little like the Washington monument rising in the middle of the group of buildings across the river, the southern Boog. A couple of times we have ridden a small ferry across the river to Andreevka where we expected to find this white spire but didn't take the time to find it.

When we got up Saturday, we couldn't do schoolwork because the electricity was off. Everyone was in the mood to go exploring. So we did. With towns and villages all along both sides of the river, it's a little surprising to have to go 25 miles in either direction to find a bridge to cross it. (The ferry was closed.) It took a couple of hours to get to the other side of the river.

We stopped to admire the fall foliage and get a close up of the wicked thorns on the trees.

The next challenge was to find our way through the part where the map didn't show any roads. We could go way back out to a main road or we could rely on what most Ukrainians would rely on, our tongue! There's a Ukrainian saying "Anyone can find his way anywhere with his tongue!" We rode a very short ways and asked. We rode a little farther and asked again. Finally we got back on to a road we recognized.

We went into the village Dimitrivka because Dima was with us in the van. Here's Dima, left and Vova.

We went into Andreevka looking for that elusive white spire. We looked across the river; we couldn't see Nova Odessa on the other bank yet. We were still too far up. We went into the next village. Riding through it on down to the river, the spot had possibilities for becoming a site for youth camp. (Our youth had fun pretending they were fishing. I got a photo of Seth, too.)

We went into the next village, Kovaleevka. Maybe here we would find the white spire. We rode down a main street until we came to a dead end at a memorial complex. "Here it is!" Dave exclaimed, "we've found it!" We got out, admired the monument, scurried around the cows, fed the horses and went down to the riverside where another statue of fighting soldiers stood.

Then we headed home. We had to go another 25 miles south to cross on a bridge again. But we were back in familiar territory. We didn't have to use our tongue! We arrived home a little after dark to prepare for Sunday.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Step by Step

Prices are steadily going up. Heating gas costs three times more this winter than it did last. People ask us for loans and for help. Sometimes we say, "no." We said no to the people who came in a taxi across our small city. They made it sound as if they couldn't do without our loan but had their own money to buy numerous other luxuries. However, sometimes we meet real needs from honest people, like the lady who is at every service when she is not sick.

For the last several years Olya has heated her small cottage with an electric hot plate. Because an electrical fire destroyed her home in the past, she is very cautious with that hot plate. It's plugged in and on only when she is there and awake. She goes to work every day and comes home to a very cold house. She turns it off, goes to sleep at night and wakes up to a very cold house. We told her we would try to help her to have gas heat this winter. We didn't know where the money was coming from. We didn't want to have to get the money for this installation on credit, ourselves.

We gave her enough for the architectural project. That was done. The gas officials gave her a list of what she needed to pay for labor. The prices were unreasonably high but the gas officials put the government stamp on that allows the system to run when it's done. If their crew hasn't done the work, they won't put their stamp on the job. She showed us the list on Wednesday. We didn't know what to do. We simply didn't have it.

On Thursday, another person came to pay back a loan. With what they paid back and what we could get together, we had what was needed to pay for labor.

The next step is buying pipe and fittings. We'll see how God takes care of that one.


We have all kinds of them. Paying our utility bills means that we go to the bank or a local office of each utility to pay them. Often, the lines are shorter at the office so we pay them there. Picking up groceries means a trip both to the bazaar and to a supermarket. There is often a store and a bazaar for every category of need, for example, a book bazaar, a building materials bazaar, a clothing area in the bazaar.

But these are not the only errands. Last Sunday some people came to our services for the first time. In general chatter they learned that we were travelling to Kyiv the next day. They asked to be let off at a bus stop along the way to see an ailing mother-in-law a couple of hours outside of Kyiv. Although it's not always possible, this time it was. We gave them a ride.

Another fellow had asked us at the beginning of the month when we were headed to Kyiv. A mission there was supposed to give his church some humanitarian aid. He needed a trailer to pick it up. Could he ride along with us sometime? We let him know we were going and that he could go this time. We spent from 9 am to 2 pm on our business. We spent from 2 pm to 4:30 on his business.

Then we visited Ramon and Nadia, the pastor who works with us in the area and headed home.

A couple days later we got another call. "When is convenient for you to help me?" an older man needed to move a small fridge from one place to another. That's what Dave is doing this morning, helping move a fridge.

No, doing errands are not the core of our ministry. But the new family who went to Kyiv with us rode back on the bus. They got back Wednesday during the late afternoon. We picked them up around 6 the same day for the midweek service. They wanted to come. They left service on Wednesday asking if we would pick them up on Sunday.

Relating to people where they were is what Jesus did. Helping with errands is relating to people where they are.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

One-of-a-kind Minutes

Yes, I know, the word unique means one of a kind. But I liked the sound of one of a kind better. Our last week had several one of a kind minutes.

We waited for the men to come from the hardware store with the window to install it. Allona, Vova, Seth and I were doing school. When would they come? "They're here!" Seth announced when a truck and a moped came to our gates. Instant excitement filled the air. How would the workers remove the old window? How long would it take? The two men had a jack hammer that made short work of the plaster encasing the old window and window sill. They leveled the new window, set it in and anchored it to the stone walls. Then they had a special gun, not the manual pump type, to squirt foam insulation into the cracks around the frame. They left as quickly as they came. We were left with one less item on our to-do list and a new window.

We arrived in Mikhailivka where we have children's services. A week before we had just given them our kitten that we had nicknamed "special" in Russian. Was the kitten alive? They had two dogs, geese and cows. The kitten was pretty small in comparison. The kitten greeted us with a "meow." It wasn't long before we saw that she was quite comfortable in her new home. She had even found a substitute mother!! just the size of her own.

For the games this week, Seth chose Bible charades. One group chose to do the story of Zaccheus. But they had no tree. What should they do? They chose the tallest person in the group and covered his hands with camouflage cloth. Seth was their tree. Zaccheus climbed up and down and the children guessed the story. Then someone told me that Seth was the tree . . . then it made sense.

On the way home, I noticed the bright yellow field flowers. We stopped for a minute. Vova and Dave both picked some. Later I picked a few more closer to home. We arrived at the house. I put a bowl of water inside a basket and stuck the best of the flowers inside. They didn't last even a day. But I enjoyed the bright splash of color while they lasted. It was my "fall decoration" for one day.

A new girl came with a friend last week. She said she would be back. But it's same all over the world, you never know how much a person really means it when they say those kind of words. She did come back. She was at the morning service and Kids' Klub. Katrina snapped this picture during craft time. Here is Ina.

It's not every day that someone comes back. It's not everyday I stop to pick a bouquet of flowers. It's not everyday that Seth becomes a tree. Hope you enjoyed these, oh well, I'll say "unique" this time, minutes.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

Mary, Mary quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With . . . and
pretty maidens all in a row!!
That's what I thought about when these girls started peeping between the morning glories climbing the fence.
Here's Allona, Marina and Nelya.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Red Tape and Excitement

Thank God for who He is. Thank God for His answers to prayer.
The evening service ended on Sunday night. Dave left to take people home. In about ten minutes he called home. "The police asked me to follow them to the police station again. They say I'm breaking the law by not being registered. I tried to tell them that with a visa I'm allowed to be here six months. I guess I'll be awhile."
(Our friend and lawyer had brought the last of the documents needed for registration on Friday. We had tried to turn them in but the offices weren't open on Saturday.)
It's not too comfortable to be going to the police station in a foreign country because they have a problem with something that you've done. Dave tries to be very careful to do what's right. Still, he and all of his passengers began to be a bit stressed. This is probably the third time the police have called him to the station for the same reason.
The ones of us at home began to pray.
It wasn't too long before he called back. "I'm on my way. And you won't believe it, they actually apologized for delaying me this time!"
Other things have been happening. Dima has started translating for Dave. Sometimes Dima finds words he doesn't know and he has to learn them as he goes. But Ukrainians understand what is being said a little quicker when someone one with normal grammar and accent speaks. It's also a good learning experience for him.
A new teenager came Sunday night with one of her friends, who has picked up her attendance recently.
Katrina is here! She had her first youth service last Wednesday. This week she is teaching the English classes. We're trying to find her a Russian teacher.
The first potential teacher we visited has a family member who is very sick. She teaches at public school as well. By the time she gets her husband to the hospital every day for IV's, takes care of him at home and teaches her own class, she is simply too busy. We're trying to get contact information for another possibility.
Please pray for this teacher's family member. He says he wants to live. The doctors say there is no hope. He has contacted us several times to ask for prayer. When we offered to pray with him in his presence, he refused but there must be a hunger, conviction or concern there for him to contact us.
AND today we went to passport offices here and were registered. The wait to see the person who needed to work with our business wasn't as long as it is sometimes . . . an hour at two different times. It's taken several weeks to get the documents together that were requested. So the next time we're stopped by the police, we won't have to be led to the police station while they learn that the Ukrainian law actually does say that we were legal to be here. We asked about getting a permit for long term residence. The lady told us we needed to talk to her boss but thought that it was possible.
Our lawyer had an interesting story to tell. In another area, in another situation a judge had asked him for a bribe. He contacted authorities and delivered the money as was asked, but it was videoed like an undercover sting in the US. Now that judge has been taken to court by the prosecutor in his area and our lawyer has been called for a witness. The day did not go well. Our lawyer was taken to task more than the corrupt judge who was on trial.