Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Christ arose!!"

Do you know the right answer? It's stlll used in Ukraine today by Orthodox, Baptist and atheist alike in honor of the Easter holiday, April 27th, 2008.

"Indeed He is risen!"

Among other things that make Easter, Easter to this country is a special bread called "Easter." Easter and Passover are the same word here. Easter eggs have a more major meaning that make some believers refuse to dye them. Eggs were painted, blessed and placed in parts of the home where the family wanted a special blessing. People will get up in the middle of night to stand in line at the Orthodox temple for a blessing on their bread and eggs the first thing in the morning.

Here is the Ukrainian Easter bread and eggs in front of little Angelina.

I'm so glad Jesus let the corn of wheat of His life fall into the ground and die. I'm glad He endured the emotional pain when His very best friends, deserted Him, denied Him and sold His life. I'm glad He endured the public pain when the crowds He had fed and maybe healed cried "Crucify Him!" and the soldiers He came to save, mocked Him and whipped Him with the metal studded thongs. I'm glad He endured the overwhelming spiritual weight of our sin. I'm glad that in the midst of all that pain, He still heard the one cry for help from the cross beside Him and reached out to rescue, beyond His own pain.

Our group this Easter morning.

I'm glad for the hope the Resurrection represents for those trapped in the living grave of sin. . . We saw a man walking on the shoulder of the highway, his face covered with blood. Probably he had fallen in his drunken state and the gravel in the shoulder did the damage to his face. He could have a beautiful new life, no matter how strong the chains of sin. I'm glad for the hope represented for those who surrender their life's essence to Jesus' hand to see it wither, turn brown and completely die and then rise again in flowering, fruit-bearing beauty. I'm glad that even death could not hold our Saviour! What can hinder His glorious power? Nothing except our unbelief! Even then, God declares He will be faithful when men are unfaithful.

Our Easter memory verse.

He is risen!! I don't know how to convey the meaning of the resurrection to other people. I'm praying that the same God will give the annointing needed for others to thrill with the victory, the hope and the new life of the resurrection. Happy Easter!

Mnoga Monday

Mnoga in Russian means "much" or "many" On Mondays I try to work on a grateful attitude.

Things I'm grateful for that start with B--hmm-m. This is what I wrote down while Dave ran into the grocery store to see if they had popcorn this week.
1. Bathrooms--something very important to know about, where the clean ones are and where it's better to stop by the roadside
2. Bazaars--where bits of everything can be found for a little bit less than in a store
3. Beans-- a blessing in a place where meat is the most expensive buy on the grocery list
4. Brevity--short and sweet and hard to beat!! my favorite kind of conversations, to the point
5. Beauty-a breathtaking sunset, the bright upturned face of a child, the blossoms of a spring flower. Here's a sunset on the river behind our house.
6. Brown sugar--not a European product that makes cookies taste a lot better!
7. Boats--I love to paddle in a small boat or canoe out on a lake.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

For years we've noticed elderly women here who can't walk in an upright position. I haven't seen women like this in Romania, Poland or America. I don't know if it's caused by osteoporosis or too much digging of potatoes. Dave calls me a "camera spy" trying to catch pictures. But this time I did it. It took two tries. The first time she stopped to adjust her load, just the moment I snapped.

I'm glad I serve a God who cares and calls "come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." I'm glad serve a God who is worthy of all my trust and obedience.

Here's a part of a poem from Streams in the Desert that speaks of trusting.

When the frosts are in the valley,
And the mountain tops are grey,
And the choicest buds are blighted,
And the blossoms die away,
A loving Father whispers,
"This cometh from my hand";
Blessed are ye if ye trust
Where ye cannot understand.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Reward Week

This time's activity didn't take half as much preparation but the children thoroughly enjoyed it. We had a smaller group so we took them ice skating. The Bible principle: let him that standeth take heed lest he fall!!! : ) Seriously, it made an appropriate spiritual lesson along with the verse in Jude, about God being able to keep us from falling. The children are working hard on learning verses for the next time.

Mnoga Monday

That first word in Russian means much or many. I thought about things that I was thankful for and wanted more flexibility than Tuesday Ten's Thursday Thirteens or Friday Fifteens!!! I'm not sure I can think that far but I thought it would be good to try to list some things that I'm thankful for.
1. Attitudes of friendship--I'm thankful for friends who care on both sides of the ocean. Several in Nova Odessa have made special efforts to let us know that they are standing behind us after another close friend stole heavily from us.
2. Arms of God--the song says "when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay." I'm especially thankful for the times when He calls my name . . . lets me know in a very definite way that He knows where I'm at and that He is fighting for me.
3. Apple pie--don't like 'em raw, but apple pie is very good!
4. Active, atheletic(?) kids--yeah, I know this one stretches it the "a" a bit but it's better than "burnt blotchey potatoes" for "b" in scattergories!!
5. Answers to prayer--the ones that have come, and the ones yet to be.
6. Adobe Pagemaker--that's the program I do newsletter layout in, and have ever since Kansas. It's like a comfortable dress, just fits.
7. Authors--if authors didn't write, I'd have no books to read!
8. Abraham has always inspired me with his awesome faith--taking out on a journey to where? wherever God leads in the next step.
9. Appreciation--a couple sets of our kids' parents told us the other night when we were checking with the parents that it was OK to take the children with us on an activity--"You can take them anywhere. They'll only learn good from you." That was like Rolaids for indigestion . . . a sweet opposite to the distress and pain of the problems of the break-in.
10. April flowers--the bright red of tulips and flowering bushes and trees are so refreshing. I enjoy just looking at them wherever they are.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Bethany Rose (Drummond) Morford tagged me . So

10 years ago I was on furlough in the US, trying to find churches interested in Ukraine.

Today's top five things on my to-do list

  1. Help Allona and Vova get through seven lessons in Switched on Schoolhouse
  2. Go to Nikolaev to turn in registration documents.
  3. Fold laundry, wash a couple more loads, hang it on the line.
  4. Clean my room
  5. Make progress on deputation slideshow

I really enjoy snacking on popcorn.

IF I were a billionaire, I would

  1. Pay off our debts
  2. Build a retreat for couples involved in ministry in the US and in Ukraine.
  3. Finish installing better windows in our house, add showers in both bathrooms, convert the old Ukrainian cottage into a guest residence, put new roofs on our buildings.
  4. Find out what was and wasn't replaced in another missionary break-in recently and replace everything possible; help them with some sort of security system.
  5. Go with my family to the US once a year to keep in touch with our family there.
  6. Support several other missionaries. . . pay expenses for summer teams and work groups

My three worst habits are:

  • leaving cabinet doors open
  • interrupting
  • not paying close enough attention

I have lived in these places

  • Nova Odessa, Ukraine (5 yrs)
  • Kyiv, Ukraine (2 -3 yrs)
  • Middleburg, PA (1 yr)
  • Osikova, Ukraine (4 yrs)
  • Lishnya, Ukraine (1 yr)
  • Independence, KS (6 yrs)
  • Shoals, IN (25 yrs)
  • Cincinnati, OH (4 yrs)

I have worked at these places:

  1. missionary under Holiness Pilgrim Mission
  2. nurse at Geisinger
  3. missionary under Evangelical Bible Mission, English teacher
  4. nurse at Coffeyville Regional Medical Center, KS
  5. typing and layout, manager's assistant at the Religious Press
  6. nurse at Bedford Regional Medical Center, Indiana
  7. nurse at Dunn Memorial Hospital, Bedford, Indiana
  8. Proofreader, odd jobs at Old Paths Tract Society
  9. nurse's assistant at Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes, Indiana
  10. peer tutor, Vincennes, Indiana

I would like to know about these people:

  • Sis Hoffman in the Dominican Republic
  • Laura Hausman
  • Tim Calhoun family

PS. Bethany, can you let the Calhouns know they are tagged . . . just in case?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I asked for suggestions on relaxing . . . the kids were digging up their own garden space and came across some worms. "Hey, let's keep these. We could go fishing!!"

Bingo!! A way to relax that doesn't take much money.

So Monday, our day for relaxation, after Dave had run couple of errands and the children had done a couple of chores, we set out. The spot that I thought might work back through the cliffs, the gulleys and the "John-the-Baptist-type" wilderness back to the river was already occupied. So we set out on another winding trail. We found a spot where no one else was.

I wanted to get a family picture to bring back to the US at the end May. I had forgotten our tripod. So it was a challenge to think of ways to prop the camera so that it would be in the right position and not fall. I got some pictures but we're all squinting at the sun.
After about four hours of getting a few bites and no fish, everyone except Vova was ready to leave. The top of Dave's head was sunburned. But we had all enjoyed our time at the river. Maybe we'll get the fish next time!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Suggestions, Anyone?

We don't have a solid holiness church here to go to, to brainstorm. We don't have a board of directors on the spot that we can call to a meeting to debate what we can or should do. So since internet is making the world smaller, we'll throw out some questions here.
1. Do you have good ideas for ways to relax or for stress relief, family style? We're running out of inexpensive ideas.
2. What do you do to take care of your business matters in a society where your communication is possible but difficult, where people cannot trust their own countrymen much less foreigners? The business takes long hours, requires enduring frequent scoldings (maybe just because a clerk is in a bad mood, not because anyone has done something out of the way) and it's hard to delegate when only about one Ukrainian in a thousand feels that white lies are not okay.
3. What do you do in a church setting where even "Christian" families are taught that "white lies" are okay? that the end justifies the means? We can show scriptures which oppose it but it looks like we're the only ones who believe this way, that others interpret the Bible differently.
4. What do you do to establish a feeling of unity with others of like faith, when hardly anyone who believes in biblical living is around?
5. What do you do to maintain friendships in a society that thrives on offenses, where making one person happy often means offending someone else? . . . and it's not possible to do or be everything with everyone all the time?

Little Timothy Shevelenko

He's getting close to being a month old, already. Seth took a picture of him the first time he made it to town for service


The skies are gray. We've had rain and more rain. It's hard to go outdoors without stepping in mud. Things aren't going like we would like them to go. We need to rebuild the chimney at Katrina's. We have to have a special permit that normally takes hours in offices and money to pay for it just to rebuild the chimney. We buy pizza in a restaurant inside a large store. We can't eat quite all of it so we buy a box to take it out. At the cash register of the store, the cashier is ready to make an issue of us having the pizza box that costs twenty eight cents that we would have had to climb over a counter in able to steal it when we're trying to pay for over $100 worth of groceries. Fortunately we found the receipt. Our children are tired of school and it shows. The list could go on . . . and I know you have a list, too.

But we're doing our best to lean. I'm trying to take lessons from the wild flowers that could consider that the weeds and grass are literally choking the life out of them, definitely increasing their stress, but still they bloom.

Here's the beginnings of wild flowers that are blossoming. The storks are finding sticks amidst the mud to build their nests.

Here are some blossoms on an apricot tree blooming in the damp weather as well.

I'm trying to take lessons from the research made into businesses that came out stronger when the times got tough. According to author Jim Collins, they faced the facts, even negative ones but still believed that they could win. He gave the example of Stockdale, a prisoner of war, who went to all lengths to maintain communication and courage when he was captured. Stockdale said that the prisoners who didn't make it out were the ones who counted on being out by Christmas or by Easter. The prisoners who returned stronger and better were those who faced the facts that they didn't know when they would be released but believed that they would win.

Just the other afternoon I finally had the chance to go visit our neighbor who lost her husband not long ago. I had promised her at the time of her husband's death that I would come back when the hullabaloo had settled down and it was all quiet and lonely. She gave me a cup of tea and khava--that's a sweet candy with peanuts in it, made from the leftovers after the oil is pressed out of sunflower seeds. She's a nurse on the surgical floor in the local hospital. We did find something to talk about. Among other things our outside cat migrated to her house when we spent six months in America. Now that we are back, he splits his time between the two places and we share the cat!! She invited me to come back . . . it seems to be the beginning of a special friendship.

So we are pressing forward. God is fighting for us whether we see His working or feel good about what is going on around us. We want to lean on Him and bloom just like these beautiful bits of spring.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

This, that and the important

Here are some of the building cranes at work building new apartment buildings in Nikolaev.

Here is a building in Nova Odessa that had smoke coming out of the chimney. I would like to think that it was heated for animals but in the near-spring weather, I doubt that anyone would bother to heat for their animals.

We've noticed again and again how poorly streets and roads are drained. This is an example from a recent trip to Nikolaev.

Most of the traffic police in Nova Odessa have stopped us often enough that when they start to stop us, they recognize us and wave us on. Today we were stopped by the police just around the corner from our house. They had a tractor stopped as well.

We had a stove that was given to us about the time Seth was born. We had it shipped to Ukraine on the first container with our other belongings. It lost a leg in the journey. It was too big to fit in a Kyiv apartment, but once we moved out of the apartments into the village, it has served us faithfully ever since. The last few months it has been "capricious" (that's the way our Ukrainian friends would say it). Sometimes the oven would work. Sometimes it wouldn't. This last week, it wouldn't, not even one day. The week before that it would, one day out of seven. So we got another one and are giving this one away to another family who can use the stove top.

But more important are the lives that we are trying to reach for Jesus. We are just now entering the Easter season in Ukraine. Orthodox Easter is on April 27th. So this Sunday we had about the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the children made donkey puppets out of socks.

Here are Andrei and Petya, brothers with their little donkey puppets.

Here is Nastya, a little new sweetheart from an unchurched family that we are glad to see coming! She really liked her donkey!

Here is Tolic. His nickname is "pipsqueak," but he's a special one. He, together with one other teenager, never want to miss a service. He has a very tender heart. He's full of enthusiasm and energy, sings all the songs loudly off-key. But who knows what he kind of leader he may become for God? Now that could be quite important!

Dima is the teenager that comes. Recently we were having a Bible trivia game and he knew answers that hadn't been mentioned in any of the services. That means he's not only been coming but he has been reading and remembering what he reads!! Thank the Lord!

Good News!

There's some really good news!!! God is working miracles in our former co-workers' lives so that they can return!! Jason and Joanna Sturtevant have been accepted by Arms Around the World to return to Ukraine. AND it looks like God has found them buyers for their house in America so that they can soon be on deputation and packing for Ukraine. They plan to live in the house that we left in 2001 in Osikova, near Kyiv. Here's most of their family when they came for youth camp a couple years back.

No Good Words

Another week has gone by and it's hard to put it in words and pictures. If you've wondered about the absence of important "people" pictures and events in the recent days, it's been that a lot of it has been a subject too sensitive to touch. We've still been grappling with the situation of the robbery and the person who broke in being close to us and dealing with this person and the police. We've spent quite a bit of time in their offices with paperwork. We've still been trying to pray and think our way through the situation where those responsible to act in Dennis behalf have refused to act. We asked our new police acquaintances what to do. They had some astonishing but possible suggestions and so far with lots of "flurry" they've been carried out.

We've been told to expect all kinds of visitors from government agencies to start coming at any time. So we've been trying to bring order to different areas in our house. I was really glad to find a leftover piece of linoleum to replace another piece that was full of holes! We've been straightening closets, giving away items that had been sitting around and so on. Any housekeeper knows what the word "special company" does to her to-do list!!