August 11, 2009

Here’s an article posted this week on our family and the July team that came over – click here to read

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[Paratrooper Brent, with his sidekick Clark watching on]

Hello again friends and family.  August has been a beautiful season in Ukraine thus far, our family is enjoying the open windows (free AC!) and fresh produce.  Speaking of produce, we have several fruit trees in our yard which has been a real treat.  I accidentally cut down Deb and kids favorite tree a few weeks ago (seriously, I didn’t know those red berry looking things were editable!), they were collectively upset and I’m concerned they have begun plotting some sort of revenge.  Have you ever listened to the Pineapple Stories by Otto Konning?  They are a series of wonderful messages from a retired missionary couple who planted a church in the jungles of Papau New Guinea many years ago.. among cannibals no less.  Anyway, he tells the story of how he learned to ‘let go’ and trust God with their belongings, especially his beloved pineapples in his garden.  We’re very thankful that only a few things have been stolen (that we know of), but the other day I saw some new kids in our yard, stealing my pears!  MY PEARS!  I don’t really care about the apples and the walnuts, they can eat those all they want.  To make matters worse, they aren’t even ripe yet, they bit into them, then threw them on the ground.  I kindly asked them to not eat God’s pears:)  We have kids over all the time, well, we don’t really ‘have them over’, they come unannounced and in herds.  We’ll be eating supper at the table and watching kids from the neighborhood jumping on the trampoline outside which is only a few feet from our dining room window.  They come to the window like a drive through restaurant and ask “can i have some juice or a cookie?”  We find it amusing and try to love on the kids in different ways, but I do get more nervous when older kids (teens) start showing up and stealing my pears.  They lose their sweetness (the kids that is) around 11 it seems and have that glimmer of mischief in their eye…

Had a great lunch with some friends in Kiev today, they are from two different churches.   They’re both from California, serving as missionaries for the past 5-8yrs or so.  They share a hunger for God and appetite for biblical teaching, especially in the area of discipleship here in parched Ukraine.  Jake has started a publishing company here in Ukraine and has successfully translated and printed several of John Piper’s books, and about to publish a book by Wayne Grudem.  Much needed material that will greatly bless the believers in this part of the world.  We talked together about the possibility of hosting a regional Marriage Conference, designed specifically for missionary and church leader marriages.  It would be a very fruitful endeavor I believe, to host such an event, pour back into the lives of those who are serving here, and may not have many resources or opportunities to sit back and be taught/encouraged.  We talked about possible speakers, churches we knew back in the states, and businesses that may want to help sponsor such an event.  It would be very cool to film the conference and make DVD’s for the leaders to take back to their churches.  In Ukraine, there is VERY little material translated into print, and even less in a multimedia format.  Pray with us about this would you?  If God is in it, we want to see Him clearly exalted, and His church built up… especially in this most crucial covenant foundation.  Deb and I have a heart for marriage and family, and it’s very easy to get excited about pouring time/effort/money and prayer into this.. but we also want to be careful with our time, too many irons in the fire and we will start to drop the ball on things… know that feeling?!

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[Nescafe instant coffee is sold in plastic sealed containers (those kind you can’t open without a hammer), it’s not just coffee, it’s gold!]

On a sobering note, Deb’s grandma is very ill and near death.   Her grandparents live in England (formerly of South Africa) and Deb’s parents from NYC flew over today to be with her in the potential final hours.  This is something that is sort of sudden for the family.  Appreciate any prayer for her family, especially any unbelieving family members present.  Deb’s grandma loves Christ so we rejoice in that.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the rest of the month for us:

– August 23rd: All Church Meeting in RZ. I’m supposed to be sharing at this however I may have been demoted to the role of MC… that means more liberty to showcase my comic ability?  Please pray for these services, this is the last one we had planned in advance, where to go from here?  One church said, “we should meet more than once per month together…”  I doubt the denominational churches will agree to more than once per month, however God has done a miracle thus far with this, so who knows!

– August 24th: Ukrainian Independence Day.  We’re meeting with Andrei Murzin and some friends for a BBQ.. we’re having burgers (sounds American to me).

– August 26th: “Special Children’s Camp”  Our church is hosting an all day camp for the handicapped children in town.  The city asked us a few months ago if we would be willing ‘as a church’ (that is a big deal!) to do something special for these neglected kids.  They are literally outcasts in society here, no school provided of any kind for handicapped children.  Often scorned and the parents blamed for their condition I’m told  (a curse etc.).  Cheryl and Sveta are leading up the day, and have some really neat ideas for this including some horses.  This is also a great opportunity for us to reach into these various families, pray for this outreach please.  The city has asked if we would do something regularly as well, we have not committed but consider this to be a great request of ‘trust’ and opportunity to continue becoming assets to this community, and vehicles of Christian love.

– August 29th: “Home Group Kick Off” We are planning to host a BBQ/Outreach outdoors at Jon & Ruth’s down the street.  This will mostly be a way to rally the church again around Home Groups and get excited about starting again for the fall, but also a way to invite neighbors and we hope to build some bridges particularly in our area of town.  I’m going to invite my neighbors and folks on my street to it.  We’re also going to bring in a gifted musician from Kiev that writes very poetic and Christ-centered music, plays the guitar and sings, that’s the plan anyway.

-August 30th: My parents, uncle and aunt, and cousin from Canada are arriving for a week or so.  What are you planning to do dad?  Do you want a tractor or something ready?  We may go an visit Chernobyl actually, I’ve heard that it’s quite the tour, it really sticks with you.

Updating our PRAYER REQUEST PAGE, check it out!

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