Friday, November 30, 2007

Patching Spots

When the store installed our new window they chipped away plaster to make it fit.

When Dave put in our new screen door, the first bolts didn't contact the thick stone that our house is made of and the plaster just fell off.

The roof has leaked a few times when the rain has been heavy. We think we've fixed it. But when water gets to an adobe type plaster it drops in globs down from the ceiling.

Because we don't know the all the secrets of Ukrainian plaster, we hired a Ukrainian to fix these places. Here Alyosha is working on a spot close to our stairway.

Popular Person

The smaller children clustered around Katrina and her quiet-seat bear last Sunday. I liked the warm picture it made.


The American ambassador to Ukraine was listed as one of the most influential people in Ukraine for 2006, just under the conflicting heads of two branches (Moscovian and Ukrainian) of the Orthodox church.
Diesel fuel which used to be the cheapest and now is fast climbing to be one of the most expensive fuels, is now at $3.80 a gallon and is expected to go up to $4.50 by New Year's.
The current president of Ukraine has declared it to be a "criminal" act to deny the famines that Stalin caused in the 1930's in order to bring Ukraine into submission to Communist collectivization.

Special Birthday Moments

I got an email from a person who wasn't a relative nor close to a relative who had found out when my birthday was!!! How? I decided to check it out. Sure enough our friendly co-missionary had announced to the world I had a birthday!!

My birthday was very special this year. A big thank you to all who helped make it so special.

Special moments of my birthday . . .

  • When I heard from my children in the US through phone and computer,

  • When I heard from so many friends and family through email, (I was quite surprised)

  • When Dave, Seth and Katrina fixed a special meal,

  • When I got gifts like a plant stand to put in the bare entryway,

  • Like a frog planter to put flowers in, in the summer,

  • Like a card, that wished me a "chocolate birthday,"

  • Like a new cup for the hot chocolate that tastes so good and warm on a chilly morning,

  • A gift that stands apart from the rest is still in the making. . . a quilting frame

I've been making a quilt for the fun of the art, to make it reflect Dave and me uniquely and keep my mind on God's faithfulness. I got it to the quilting stage, basted it and tried to start quilting. It started bunching up anyway!! It wouldn't work. I carefully stored it in a bag and wondered when I would ever get it finished.
Dave bought the materials to make me a quilting frame on my birthday and the very next day starting working on making it.
I doubt it will ever fit in a suitcase to go back to the US. It's a pity because it will be one of the most special gifts I've ever received.
All of these came together in one special message that all these people cared about me.
Thank you so very, very much.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What Would You Do?

No one takes a real interest in him. He's not the best student, so it doesn't really matter to the teacher if he shows up at school or not. His mother is alone and doesn't care much about where he spends his days as well.

He shows up at our door on a school day. He rings the door bell and asks to come in. He plays computer. He plays games with Allona and Vova. He eats when we eat. He doesn't want to leave the house until we leave or close to dark.

You and I know that without an education he has no chance at jobs. I tried to tell him that today. We could tell him he couldn't come in. Then he'll find some other place to go that might not be as healthy for him as our place.

What ideas do you have? How could we motivate him to go to school? when school to him is drudgery, mocking and boredom?

What would you do? How can we reach Maxim for God? Is there anything we can do to give him a future?

We are so very thankful for God, who He is, His love, and His faithfulness. We're thankful that He can do what we can't do. We're thankful that He is wise enough to make the best choices in all circumstances. We're thankful that He sent His only Son to a dark, cruel, weary, dirty world.

We are very thankful for you!

Here Seth is at our Thanksgiving dinner. It was a mixture of cultures like much of our lives. We found a six-pound chicken! We had ham. Green beans and corn are not everyday items here. So we had them for Thanksgiving. We had a Ukrainian treat that Allona and Vova love, shuba. Shuba is made from chopped fish, grated beets, potatoes, onions, carrots and mayonaise. Katrina brought ham rolls and macaroni and cheese. Ham rolls were part of Thanksgiving traditions in her family. Macaroni and cheese is another American staple that is not too easy to come up with here. We had lettuce salad with all the trimmings. Lettuce is only found in the bigger supermarkets at $3 for a small head. We had jello salad, mashed potatoes (eaten heavily in both countries!!) and gravy. For dessert we had "pumpkin" pie, made from butternut squash and two types of cake. Homemade rolls are part of Thanksgiving for my family.

Olya's Heating

Thank you for praying! The gas workers did come! They decided that mounting the wall heater and the meter weren't part of the labor that had already been paid for and demanded another day's wages before they would begin work. They finished their part and told Olya that if her pipes were painted and the ditch dug a little more, her gas would be turned on Monday.

We didn't know about the digging until she came in to help us, all tired out already from trying to dig a ditch.

Dave and Seth were there the next morning and finished the digging. It's what Jesus would do.

Hopefully, her gas will be turned on and she will have something more than her hot plate to heat her home with Monday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

We Want to Do This, TOO

The game to learn the memory verse this week was to mix up parts and see how quickly they could put them in order, each child holding a part of the verse.

The older girls competed against the older boys. Seth timed how many seconds each group took.

One little guy was in tears because he couldn't participate.

So, we called the little guys up front with Dima A. to help them. Notice the upside down and turned-around papers.
But they did it! with help, of course!

Jesus said, "let the little ones come to Me." We pray this will be a good beginning. We want these little lives for Him.

Thanks, Dima!

The children begged, "Can we please come to your house between services? Please? It's boring for us at home!"

I gave in because I knew that their houses are quiet and they really don't have much to do. Our house when the children come is FULL of noise and activity.

But everyone was hungry . . . what could I fix for an impromptu meal for fifteen people? ?? I decided soup would be about the quickest. . . peeled potatoes and chopped onions, threw in a couple bouillon cubes, chopped the individual-sized meat loaves, left over from lunch, put in the cauliflower and cheese, also leftover, add a jar of beans and we had soup. Three people asked me if they could help me in the process. One peeled potatoes. One sat and waited for me to give them a job. Dima said, "Call me when you need me."

When I told them it was ready, Dima said, "But you didn't call me!"

We finished eating. "Dima, now I have a job! You can do the dishes!"

"No problem," was his quick reply. He rolled up his sleeves and began to work.

Thanks, Dima!!


The city water meter is outside. Water freezes when it gets cold. How do you insulate the pipes yet make it so that when the inspector comes to read the meter, you don't take half a day to get the insulation out of the way in order to read the meter? Our idea was to put a bean bag chair on top. One slight problem, those don't exist in Ukraine except in exclusive stores with expensive prices. What next?

We can buy panels of styrofoam. The styrofoam breaks up into beads. The beads can be put into sacks. Voila!! A substitute bean bag. . . it just takes time . . . and effort.

Here's Dave working on the project.

Here's his hands that he tried to keep in the bag in order to contain the mess.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Who Will Carry the Light?

Everything is in place for Olya to have her heating system installed. The gas utility told her last week that they would be able to come this past Monday. She just needed to call and confirm that on Monday morning. They said that they were too busy. They can come a week from Wednesday. (hint . . hint. . . give us some money and we might move faster . .)
Please pray.

We got the registration we needed to live legally in Ukraine. BUT a legal residency would make life a lot easier. Our lawyer checked in the main government office in Kyiv and was told it shouldn't be a problem. However, in the office where we must present the documents, it is. Within a week or two, he may attempt to talk to the people in this office. Please pray.

The churches in Kenyazachee and Osikova and their pastor, Ramon need prayer. We can't explain all the reasons. Please pray.

Other workers are needed in Ukraine. Some seed has been sown. God is working. But He works through people. We can't be here forever. Katrina can't be here forever. Who will join us in prayer? Who will carry the light to Ukrainians who are living and dying?

If you follow politics, you know of the regressing situation in Russia. When we visited our friends, they told us that two weeks ago in Ukraine some people were beaten for trying to evangelize. Who will keep the prayers going up so that the doors remain open? Who will carry the light while the doors are open?

It was sometime back. A Bible School challenged the American church to send out laborers into God's harvest. God's Spirit was present. The young people sang their last song, its words based on the appeal of a pastor in a needy country. We asked them to copy this song for us. The words are lying on our desk today and express what we think pastor Ramon feels at times.

My Hands Reach Out to You


The battle is fierce and I am low,

Trying to make it on my own

Fighting a battle with strength almost gone

Lord, I feel I'm all alone


My hands reach out to you

My heart is crying

May my voice call to you

My people are dying

I need workers

Won't you be willing

Please come today

Do not delay


My hands reach out to you

So many have come and now are gone

No one to see the work go on

Lord, I cannot do the work by myself

Please could you send me someone else?

Cars and Contrasts

Car shopping. Guys usually love it and ladies sometimes do. Over here, it's a bit different. One used car lot appeared in Kyiv in the last year and a half. The three most common means of hunting a used car are: 1) Buy the magazine (catalog-size, now) where there are thousands of ads for used vehicles. Everything from a Zaporozhitz for a few hundred dollars to a McClaren for half a million, and from a small sports car to amphibious army vehicle is listed. 2) Go to the auto bazaar open on Saturday and Sunday. People bring their used cars to sell to a large parking lot. Buyers look them over and listen to them run. The deal is normally finalized in another place. 3) Have a knowledgeable mechanic find a vehicle in another country and import it.

No, we don't need a car. But Katrina is going to need one. She has to know how much money she needs to buy a car. So Saturday we went to the auto bazaar. The closest one of any size is in Odessa.

We got on the road early so that the slow farm and factory trucks wouldn't hold us below the speed limit on the narrow highway to Odessa. The day was gloomy with 80 % chance of rain. The chilly, windy rain began falling as we got near to the auto bazaar.

Sign showing the entrance to the auto bazaar

Because Dave had noticed a good-sized crack in one of our tires, we stopped to get tires outside of the bazaar. (We had no spare.) The salesmen walked around with umbrellas.

Katrina looked at cars, chose a type that she would like to get, God providing. She was wet and cold. Seth and Dave were wet and cold. We skipped looking at the souvenirs and headed in the direction of a store.

While we were driving to the store, we noticed this limousine.

We live in a town of 14,000. Probably less than 1/2 of the population have inside toilets that are used regularly. But just a few hours away people drive around in limousines. Limousines go through our town on rare occasions, but not this big.

We left Odessa to visit friends who live on the border of Ukraine and Moldava. They were waiting for us at the gate. They had grilled shishkabobs, mashed potatoes, fresh tomatoes, two kinds of fish and crayfish almost ready for us in spite of the drippy weather. (See Katrina's site for a picture of the crawdad.)They shared their photos and took time out to visit in spite of . . . a married daughter who dropped in for a few minutes with the grandchildren, a hired hand who stopped by and was fed, a sister and a brother-in-law who got stuck in the newly-dug gas trenches and dental appointments. We sang "Amazing Grace" for them. They sang one about a mother admonishing her son to pray every day for us, their jaws still numb with local anesthetic. With warm good-byes they made sure that we didn't get stuck in the gas trench and we headed home.

When we got home, we saw that we had had visitors. Here are our gates. We didn't know what the word meant. We looked in the dictionary and made a guess. But at 10 pm, it was too late to call anyone. We tried to clean it off with a kerosene-type liquid, it wouldn't budge. The rain was heavy enough we couldn't use the few cans of white spray paint we had. It had to stay for Sunday.

Sunday the weather was worse. Snow was mixed with the rain. We called and found out the word meant "push-over."

It could have been a lot worse.

We had Sunday morning service. Our church people gasped when they saw the gates. One or two mentioned that the word was a curse word. The weather caused the electricity to be off and on.

Every other week people stay for lunch. We served rice pilaf, green onion salad and apple pie to sixteen people. Dima couldn't get another bite down and left his dessert on his plate!

Because of the icy weather, the afternoon and evening services were cancelled. We began to alternate short prayer meetings with family activities to fill the rest of the day.

Monday morning, we bought some acetone that took the grafitti off our gate.

So you see the contrasts that hit us on every side, the rich, the poor, our friends, people who are angry at us, people who come and people who stay away. Yet in all these things, we are more than conquerors, not because of who we are or what we do but simply because God is on our side. We're counting on Him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


This pair of boys is waiting for Katrina to come home. They are in the tree because of a "ferocious" dog named Morris. For the background story, see Katrina's site . . .

This picture was taken on a main street in Nikolaev when we went to get groceries. In case the picture can't be read, the tagplate says California. It's on a moped.

We bought this package of maraschino cherries because Dave especially likes them on pineapple upside down cake. If you don't buy something you want when you see it, you might not get it because you might not see it ever again.

But there's something amusing here. This package of cherries is being held in a vertical position. They are wrapped only in plastic wrap. They are not dripping. In fact there is no sign of moisture anywhere. However, the label declares that they are "cherries in syrup."

Praising God on One of "Those Days"

We were trying to reformat a computer needed for school. Not much was working right.

An hour into the day, a pretty major discipline problem interrupted our homeschooling.

On the way to church, one teenager starting hitting another hard in the back seat.

At service in the evening one teenager was trying to make it look like her knee had a reflex type of tremor. Two others tried to copy her. Another pair had uncontrollable giggles and one of the pair was making faces trying to make others laugh during service. Concentrating on the message and translation was a challenge. Keeping anyone's atttention otherwise was a challenge.

On the way home another fight was very near the surface.

Others got out offended, slamming the door with a tremendous bang.

It was one of "those days."

I was brought up short in the morning when I read a devotional how God could be amazed at man's unbelief in spite of all that God had done for man.

Throughout the rest of the day, I thanked God, that even though it seemed everything was going wrong, He was just as faithful as on a "good" day. We know He is working even when Satan fights or when we could be discouraged about one of those days. We know God is triumphant.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Family Retreat

Most of the summers we've been here, we've had various activities for the children and youth. However we've been noticing that the adults could use some encouragement as well. We decided to try it . . . a retreat for families. Because of our own limitations, it would be just for two days.
The next question was how to care for a crowd and interact with them at the same time. We could prepare two meals ahead. We asked an acquaintance to fix another meal. We called to invite three families, Organuiks, Shevalenkos and Goncharuks. One family, the Organuiks, couldn't make it. Two said they could. We began to prepare.

The Shevalenko family

Then the father/husband of the Shevalenkos had other business that he couldn't put off. His wife and children still planned to be at the retreat. Monday evening we called to confirm arrangements with the Goncharuk family that was supposed to still come as a whole. They had gotten the dates mixed up and couldn't be there the first day that we planned. What should we do?

the Goncharuk family

Flexibility!! We changed from two days to one and a half. We put the retreat on the days that the second family could come, took some time off to refresh ourselves and prepare.
Wednesday morning had Dave running to the bazaar for last minute supplies and then to pick up the Goncharuk family and Katrina Randolph, our co-worker.

We had a morning service, separate time for the ladies and men, lunch, time to play with the families and an evening service. Katrina and Seth had a children's service and then games with the children while the adults were having their service and discussion times.

Katrina, Seth and the children

Meanwhile our cooks worked on lunch for the second day. At the end of the day we all felt like this little guy who fell asleep on the chair while the grown-ups talked. Exhausted!

The second day our morning service merged into the time for the men and the ladies but our guests said our topic was important and they wanted to continue it. The topic was raising children. A couple of our hometown children showed up with nothing to do while on school vacation. They came in and joined our group.
Lunch was a special event, prepared carefully with top Ukrainian quality. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Here are our cooks. Vika Vozain and Tanya Anastasova

The last task was to transport everyone home. We finished that at about seven in the evening. The retreat is over. Please pray with us that God will use it. Then the spiritual benefits will go on.

Potato Manna

Our family really liked the Children's Story Hour story about the little girl who prayed for peanut butter manna when her family was lacking in food.

We haven't been lacking in food!

However vegetables have very seasonal prices. Leaf lettuce that cost 1 grivna this summer now costs 3 griven and may be 6-10 griven in the winter. Because the prices will go steadily up until the next crop is harvested most Ukrainians buy several hundred pounds of potatoes, cabbage, maybe carrots, beets and onions to have on hand during the winter months. It saves a lot of money. The cheapest we've bought potatoes recently has been 1.70 griven/kilo.

In the back of our minds every time we bought groceries was the idea that we needed to get potatoes, maybe carrots and cabbage as well. But it didn't fit in the budget.

To our surprise and pleasure a Ukrainian family told us that God had put it on their hearts to share the potatoes that had been given to them.

This is what we got. It should be enough! Thank God for His provision! Thank God for "potato" manna.