Sunday, March 10, 2013

I can't believe it has almost been 2 years since I have posted on this blog! I post everything on Facebook these days, and haven't even logged in here in more than a year. However, just in case there is someone out there who is still reading this, I thought I would do a quick update... I am in cold and snowy Missouri! I thought that Ukraine was snowy, but we have had our fair share the past few weeks in the "Show Me" state! I was privileged to attend and speak at the St. Louis Holiness Conference a few weeks ago, and it was a blessing for my soul! The Lord was there in a mighty way in the sessions and I praise Him for it! I feel like I was refreshed spiritually and challenged mentally. It was cold outside, with 7 inches of snow that fell the first day of the conference, but it was warm inside and filled with the Holy Spirit!! A few weeks ago, in Kenyazichi, there was a man who was disrupting our church services. He is a former Christian and his wife was attending our church there. He was angry because she was attending, so he began to show up at some of the services. He would stand up in church and try to contradict Pastor Roman Organuk. Pastor Roman told him, "We want you to be in our church, but we can't allow you to disturb." So, this man, angrily left and took his wife with him and won't allow her to come to services. Please pray for this family and for Pastor Roman, because he is still visiting and trying to help this family. The wife has a strong desire to follow God and to be in service, so please pray that she will be strong, and that the man will see the truth as Roman shares it. A big praise from Pastor Roman is that everyone was safe in a minor accident they had this past month. Roman and one of his church leaders, Vova, were driving to a small village to help some people. The roads were terribly icy, and Roman's tires were quite worn because he has not been able to replace them due to the expense. They hit an icy patch and spun around in the road and smashed the passenger side against a large pile of ice and snow that the snow plow had pushed up beside the road. No one was hurt, but the passenger side sliding door and front door have to be replaced. Please pray that they will be able to replace these doors as well as the tires. In closing, sometimes on the mission field, the smallest things can bring you great blessings. I was blessed by a can of Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper is my chemical of choice, and they don't usually sell it in Ukraine. In the past 5 years, I have only found it 3 times, and always at a high price! There was one family that I had been working with for quite some time, sharing the Gospel, and it seemed they wanted nothing to do with me or with the Truth. One day, I felt like the Lord showed me that I had given my all to them, shared the truth, and I just needed to back off a bit. That is a very hard thing to do when you care about someone!! I did NOT feel like God was saying, "Give up on them." I just felt like He was saying, "There are more people to reach and you need to spend your time wisely." Several weeks after I had kind of backed away from this family, one day I had the lady come to my gate, proudly smiling, holding a Dr. Pepper. She had seen it, remembered that I loved it, and spent over $3 of their very hard-earned living to bring me a single can. I felt blessed beyond measure, not because I had a soda, but because I understood that this was her way of getting my attention. She wanted me and my influence in her life. She wanted to know more about God, she just didn't know how to show it. That lady is still not a Christian, however, now she and her family are some of my strongest supporters in the community. Their daughter comes to Kid's Club and often invites friends. When they moved to a new apartment recently, one of their neighbors asked them to the Jehovah's Witness church. Her response was, "We have a church and we have someone who prays for us. We know how to find God." She has yet to attend one service, but she knows where to find God. I just know that one day we will be together, rejoicing at the feet of our Master!! Please pray for her!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Faith and a little TLC

Faith, a friend from PA, came here for 6 weeks to help with summer activities. We worked hard on getting ready for youth camp, but got rained out, so that is postponed until August. A TLC team was to help with youth camp, but instead had to work on plans for VBSs and children’s church. Even though youth camp was a wash (pun intended), we still had a great week hosting a lock-in, making apricot jam, going to Odessa, cleaning, cooking, planning.... It was really great to have them here! The TLC team has already gone back to the US, and Faith will be leaving in a couple of short weeks. =( Sadness!

This summer, in addition to youth camp, I plan to lead 2 VBSs. Please pray that they will not be just ‘programs’ but that they will impact childrens’ lives!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Buses, Trains, & Passport Stamps

I needed to cross the Ukrainian border so that my documents would all be in order so I left on the train Thursday evening, traveled all night to L'vov. The train cars have berths and I was able to sleep, except for a few times when the jostling of the rails became a little too rough! When I arrived in L'vov, I had to wait 2 hours for a bus, so I made a quick dash to a couple of scenic spots in the city.

Returning to the bus station, I got on a bus with a driver who wasn't speaking Russian at all, and had such an accent in Ukrainian that I really didn't understand a word! The trip to Uzjgorod was 6 hours long. This was the kind of bus that stops in every tiny village and the people who get on and off smell like milk, hay, and, ahem... other farm smells. I was very thankful I had a seat, because the driver just kept packing people in. In fact, a few times he had to get out, go around and shut the door because the people inside couldn't get it shut. Once he even pushed on a rather large older lady's behind with one hand, to get her inside, and quickly slammed the door with the other hand! I was very glad when I finally arrived in Uzjgorod and to the Boyd's home. From there, after a good sleep and a nice visit, the next morning, I got on another bus to the last city in Ukraine before Hungary.

I had to go through passport control, and I had been in Ukraine 92 days, so I had to go with the lady to a back room for a conference. Even though I have a visa that is open for 5 years, if I don't do registration, I have to leave the country ever 90 days. The room had a large conference table and there were several soldiers and border officials sitting around the table, and I was the center of attention. If I hadn't been so stressed, I might have sung a song for them, but they already looked a little irritated so I didn't think singing would help. The passport control lady said, "You are going to have to pay a fine." So, I waited. Then she came to me and said, "Since this is your first time, and it is only 2 days over, we can just write an explanation, so you won't have to pay the fine." After signing several pages, they shooed me out to a 2-car train that was waiting on me to head across the border to Zahon, Hungary, happy to be sending this American problem somewhere else.

It was only about 15 minutes before we arrived in Zahon. I wanted to see some of the town quickly before heading back to Ukraine, but all the stores were already closed and there was no one out on the streets, so I headed back to the train station, to get on the next train back into Ukraine. On entering the station on the Ukrainian side, I came to the same passport official, wouldn't you know! She smiled and said, "You came back already?" "Yes," I answered. The she said, "You just went across the border so you could come back to Ukraine for 3 months?" "Yes," I answered. Another passport official standing there, nodded to the closed room where I had been taken before and said, "Should I tell them?" The first lady looked at me and smiled and said, "Why?" and stamped my passport! Woo-hoo! Legal for 90 more days! No encore performance in the conference room!

I headed back to Uzjgorod and got there 20 minutes before the train left for Odessa. I bought a ticket and spent Saturday night and most of the day Sunday swinging to the rythm of the rails heading home. From Odessa, another bus ride to Mykolayiv, then changed buses and got on one to Nova Odessa. I was probably never more happy to see a bus stop in my life than I was to see the one across from my house last night! Three days of traveling in all sorts of situations just to get a little stamp in my passport! Oh, the joys of being a foreigner!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Back to Ukraine

Hello from sunny, ok... not so sunny, Ukraine! I arrived in Kyiv late Sunday night, and on Monday made the trip from there to Nova Odessa with the Drummond family who had come up to meet me.

For those of you who have kept up with my blog from the beginning, you may remember a Ukrainian family that helped me during my first months in Ukraine. Over a year ago, they immigrated to Sacramento, and I had the privilege of visiting them for a couple of days on my way out of the country. The suburb, where they live, has many Ukrainian and Russian immigrants. I spoke Russian, went to Russian stores, and just generally felt like I was already in Ukraine!

The day I left Sacramento, my flight to LA was delayed almost 5 hours because they had to change a tire on the plane. When we finally arrived in LA, my flight to Moscow had already left, so I was booked on a flight the next day. The airline gave me hotel and meal vouchers, so without further ado, I hopped a shuttle to the hotel. On the way there, I called a friend of mine from college, who lives in LA, and she came over, and that made the delay much nicer! Staying up and talking half the night was great fun, but I'm not too sure how smart it was when I was facing 15 hours of flying time the next day! Oh well, I never claimed to be a genius!
The next day, I heading to the ticket counter at 3 in the afternoon, for a flight that left at 7 that evening. The airline had told me the night before that I needed to get there extra early. It was a good thing I did. I spent the next several hours arguing with and running back and forth between the 2 airline ticket counters in 2 terminals. United (my flight to LA) booked me on a flight with Aeroflot, my flight to Moscow. However, Aeroflot was unhappy and wanted United to pay for a new ticket. United said we won't pay for a new ticket because they got me to my destination and 'fullfilled their responsibility.' They finally gave me a document that said, essentially, that it was their fault I missed my first flight. Aeroflot didn't want to accept that, so I had to argue with them about it. At 6 PM, one hour before my flight, I still didn't have a ticket! In all of this, I had been talking, dashing about, worrying, talking to a manager, answering questions, calling customer service, etc, and I hadn't prayed about it. I looked at the clock, bowed my head while I was waiting and told God that I was surrendered to His will. I told Him that it was in his hands if I got on the flight or not. I felt myself relax, and about 2 minutes later the supervisor came out and told me that I was all set, and printed out my boarding passes. If only I had prayed sooner! After rushing through security, and running to the gate, I made it just in time! Praise God for answering prayers!

When I arrived at my house, I found it scrubbed and polished, with welcome home gifts and signs. It feels good to be missed! At this point, I'm trying to get into a routine. So far, most of my time has been spent calling on friends and the young people. One good friend informed me that I am now Ukrainian, not American, and as such, cannot leave Ukraine ever again! ;-) Pictures to come soon!

With eternal hope for Ukraine....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Update Coming

I know it has been a long time since I posted, but an update is coming soon. I promise!! I am working on getting a new visa, and hoping to be back in Ukraine in a few weeks!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

That’s Life--August Newsletter

As most of you know, I’ve been in Ukraine now for 2.5 years. A lot of life has happened in the past couple years. You’ve heard the phrase “that’s life”? It is a popular phrase in Russian, and I agree with it. There are a lot of times that I’ve felt overwhelmed and remembered that it’s just life.

Last year I broke my leg, and my mom couldn’t be one up on me, so in January she broke hers. My aunt helped her for several months, and after she started to walk, it broke again because it wasn’t healed properly. So, in July she had another operation and they put a rod in her leg. She has been in a nursing home for rehab since that time. I returned to the U.S. to help take care of her and my handicapped brother. My aunt was still willing to help, but she was tired, and I felt my responsibility weighing on me. My mom will be in a wheelchair at least until the first of October, and I plan to stay here until she is managing on her own. At that point, I would love to return to Ukraine, if possible. For now, I need to take care of my family. That’s life.

‘Natasha’s’ is 9yrs old. Natasha is a poor student, but can’t blame her. Her parents are alcoholics, and her dad beats her and mom. She goes with mom to bar and sits until mom is drunk, so she can walk her home. A life like her parents is all she foresees….Does it look like she has any hope? There is hope in Jesus, but how can you show people in those kinds of situations this elusive thing called ‘hope’? All too often, it is easy for us to simply say, “That’s life.”

We can show hope by love. If we love people and show Christ’s love, we can give them hope. If we have a burden for people, we will love them. Sometimes He gives us hard people to love. Some of the people in my life seem so hopelessly lost, yet I have so much love for them. Who did Christ love, and who did he criticize? Do we as a church have that kind of love for people? We have a commission to reach the lost and hurting in the world around us, and in the world across the sea, and in all parts of the earth. Do we see them as hurting children; do we love them? And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. There are times when I feel overwhelmed and discouraged. There are times when I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. In my humanness, I don’t like that. I start to feel frustrated, and impatient. And in those times I have to pray, “God, give me love. I’m not feeling very loving. This person hurt me. This person criticized me. This person just frustrates me. I don’t feel like loving today. Please give me love. So fill me with Your love, that I can show hope to the hurting around me, so that they may have faith in You. Help me to see through Your compassionate eyes, and not to simply say ‘That‘s life.’”

I Corinthians 13
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Youth Camp 2010

Our youth camp was July 5-10. It was a good week, but hot, and on the last day it poured rain, so it made getting back to pavement somewhat of a challenge!

Pavement at last!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Kid's Club Ulanivka

Every other week at children's service in Ulanivka we seem to have a couple more kids. This week we had 19. Praise the Lord! School is finished now, except for exams, so the children in the village really look forward to Kid's Club. Last week, our memory verse game was to hunt for the words to the verse, and put it together. These are a few pictures of the hunt.

Chisinau, Moldova

I can hardly believe it, but my time to cross the border of Ukraine was up again last week. I took a quick two-day jaunt to Moldova, so I'm legal again for three more months! I went to the capital city, Chisinau, which was nice, but really didn't seem much different from Ukraine.
A beautiful park in the city center, my favorite place.In the middle of a field, there was a drive-up rack and a man was working on his car. A little grandma who was crossing the Ukrainian/Moldovan border on foot.

Odzere Lubvee

One night some teens and I went exploring and found Love Lake, a small heart-shaped lake in the middle of nowhere. It was a beautiful evening!

May 9th

May 9th is a big holiday in Ukraine. Here are a few pictures from the celebration in Mykolayiv. The celebration included...
decorated war ships
and actors as statues, among other things.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Letter from a Child

I recently received some letters from a children’s Sunday school class in Oklahoma. The following letter completely made my day!

We are learning about who obeys God and who does not. Steven obeyed God and he got killed for it. I hope you obey God?

Hmmm. What exactly is she saying…. ;~)