Breathtaking views. Rustic cabins. Incredibly agile cows. Horrific road conditions.
Our family just returned from a relaxing and memorable getaway with all but our two oldest with our new friends at www.ture.ua – I highly recommend them if you find yourself in Ukraine looking for inexpensive adventure.
While most of you will be fed images of poverty, war and the general distress that is current Ukraine, it’s important I think to see the natural beauty and general harmony that a large portion of Ukraine enjoys every day – and fights for.
This was our first venture to southwestern Ukraine into the Carpathian Mountains. I wasn’t expecting much – we’ve seen the Rockies, been to Ireland and fairly recently stood atop some of the Alps highest peaks. The Carpathians hold their own quite wondrously. So much of the mountain range is undeveloped, making the experience surprisingly refreshing, organic, earthy. You feel as though you’ve stepped thru a portal into an era where thoughts linger as far as you can see, and time is no longer your master.
Pictures will do more than I can write. I’m still assimilating many encouraging, and challenging ‘inspirations’ I believe were from the Lord during my visit. I need to connect with nature more often – after all, it declares His glory, and who doesn’t need to be reminded of that?
Kids had a blast. We went rafting at least 4 times. Even Abbey braved the chilly white water. Deb and I once got caught on two large rocks just before a fairly large step down. The massive flow of water easily submerged our kayak, leaving us pinned between the rocks and the pressure from the water. It wasn’t life threatening, but it was enough to impress me – the power of nature is to be respected!
It took about 10hrs of actual driving. 80% of it was fairly normal driving conditions. The remaining 20% however were not for the faint of heart. We are already excited to return Lord willing in the Spring when the rapids are at their highest as are adrenaline levels.
Thankful we were able to do something so adventurous without the logistical work of leaving the country. They even fed us 3 times per day and provided a guide – Rustik, who spoke english fairly well and enjoyed practicing it. He was affectionately referred to as ‘boat man’ by Abbey during our stay.
We hope to visit with Rustik again as he is coming to Kiev to do his residency (physician) this fall. He reminded me of the potential every culture has in its young men – full of vigor, hope, and such potential. We are praying for him and his lovely girlfriend Katya who was the cook at the camp, and also studying medicine. The people made the trip even more special – thank you if you are reading this!
We’ve now returned to Rzhyschiv and back from another English night. We have this little crew of 5-6 kids that come every week – then a handful of visitors, plus our kids. They are eager to learn, but mostly I think enjoy having something to do. We mix it up, keep it fun, and have some ice cream at the end. Deb and Sveta are teaching a lesson, and we’re getting to know more of the parents – albeit slowly. There are some difficult situations with some of the families.
Been enjoying lately a resurgence of podcasting/teaching. I highly recommend Tim Keller from Redeemer Church in NYC. Most english speaking Christians have heard of him and perhaps read some of his books. He’s a gifted teacher/apologist that tackles difficult topics in an easy and enjoyable format. If you want something meaty and inspiring, check out the following sermons:
Losing My Religion – Why Christians should drop their religion – click here
Hell: Isn’t the God of Christianity an angry Judge? – click here
Sin as Slavery: click here
I’ll close by asking you to join us over the next two weeks as we commit to prayer for the fall and some events/decisions to be made. We’ve returned hungry to see God work miracles, and continue to show Himself in ways that encourage faith, and impact souls. The God who made those mountains, formed the wildlife and shaped the skies that blanket them is wise, wondrous, creative and loving – and I would add, challenges each of us to believe Him for more – He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we could ask or think.
Thank you Jesus for life and this adventure you set us on. I pray you are touched somehow by the love of God today and awakened to His reality even more!
Love the update, boy has brent ever gotten tall, he’s going to go past you by the end of the summer! Makes me even more excited to come in a month…love you