Eternal Home?

Seems like an eternity we’ve been working on our house here.  It’s been close to 12 months since the start of the project… an empty concrete shell.  As I step back I’m amazed, but also exhausted.  I haven’t done hardly any of the physical work besides the painting, but I’ve had to be ‘involved’ every step of the way, from daily trips downtown to our local hardware store (I am their best customer), what goes where, type materials, where to get stuff, and then it’s not in stock.   I think this is why you hire general contractors..  The guys working on the house don’t have vehicles, so you can imagine renovating, or in our case building a house and depending on your personal vehicle for everything, keeping things ‘going.’   All the while attempting to maintain a productive week.. after-all I didn’t come over here to develop my building skills (non existent previously).   We need to develop some pictures and have an album for visitors to see just how far the house has come.  I look at any building (almost) now here locally and see potential.  It will be thrilling to stop working on this house, get the basement finished for hosting groups/visitors, and invest in other areas of ministry.  Anyway, we give God thanks for helping us through this transition, we feel as though as we coming out of it and beginning to function in this culture on our own.. still learning Russian, now 4 days per week in the mornings.

We have had people ‘in’ our home since we moved here, every day, and that’s not an exaggeration.  We were so accustomed to privacy and ‘personal space’ in Texas, even your closest friends you only would see 1-2 per week at the most.  Between the 2-3 guys working on our house daily, to the mid week fellowship, guests for dinner (announced and unannounced), we’re learning to relish the occasional quiet night with the family. 

Our kids are adapting, and growing.  We can’t believe our littlest Noah couldn’t even walk when we moved here, now he’s climbing and jumping around with the rest of them.  The kids have these little cars they sit on and scooch around on.  The main floor of the house has tile so they can really motor.  Their little friends come over to visit and each grab a set of wheels, it becomes as noisy as rush hour as they all bash around (preparing them for Kiev driving).  We have a daily visitor in Svychek, an 8yr old (i think) boy who adores Brent.. the three (brent, tucker and Svychek) play together in a psedo-english/russian language of their own.  I think they are teaching him more english than I’d like, but it’s been great for them to have a friend next door.  It took a while, but Svycheck is now sitting and eating with us, he’s been very nervous, and not particularly fond of our food…  from what I can tell we eat way MORE food on average than any local Ukrainian, so I’m sure it’s an adjustment for him as he watches the Crowe family devour.  Who knows, maybe these little dudes that hang out at our house will be impacted over time, and begin to ask the important questions.  We prayed our house would be a place of joy and usefulness to the Lord, I think these prayers are being answered.  Pray for the children in this community, they are exposed to many of the same things our children in the West are, but I think it’s even more prevalent and available.  It’s not a topic that is easily approached, or accepted here but we want to do something about it.  May God peel back the blinders to the reality of sin and it’s lasting impact, especially on the fragile and innocent mind of the young.

My wife, well, what can I say about Deborah.  Since her blogging came to a halt a few months ago, I’ve felt it necessary to include more of the kids and family type updates.  Deb enjoys emailing and staying in touch with friends, but I think she came to a crossroads (not the church) where she had to decided ‘all in’ when it comes to embracing responsibility here and doing all things unto the Lord.  Juggling too many things, and not doing them all very well.   It’s been such an adjustment and responsibility, some things had to be put on the shelf.  As much as we, and she would rather upload pics and share funny stories, our family is running at 100% and working with the kids daily, getting a rhythm down with food preparation, and having a personal devotional life.. oh, and dealing with the extra things I throw on her plate (hey Deb, tomorrow Bob is coming from Boston for a week.. where is he going to sleep, seriously… hehe)…. I’ve been so proud of my wife, she has chosen her God first and the investment in our children/home/marriage as priority.  As much as facebook and blogging would be an enjoyable escape for her, she has been a disciplined trooper and a woman that others admire for doing so.  She’ll not like me saying some of these things, but I honor her, and thank Christ for the helpmate, He gave me one wonderful woman.

Our dog.  No, we don’t have one, or a cat. 

We are working on several ministry/mission items right now.  We have a Medical Team from NYC coming in April, we are putting together a business plan for a coffee shop/internet cafe downtown to present to some folks, and much more.  Svetlana my assistant is helping to register my house in my name (currently not) and also a non-profit organization here in Ukraine, a counter part to the recently registered 501C3 Missions Network that we completed recently in the US.   We are starting as a church, small groups soon, and some other things that are exciting to see progress, branching out both in outreach and leadership development which will be critical.  We are finishing up Drive Thru History on Thursday nights, it’s been nice to build relationships and hang out among the missionary community.  We have another new couple that just moved here this week, he’s from Scotland, she’s from Poland.  Why are so many foreigners moving to RZ? 

I just finished a staff meeting with Cypress, every Monday morning I get to chat with everyone at work, talk shop and someone gives a devotion.  It’s good to have the ‘tie’ to the US, the mindset is something that you easily forget (which is sometimes good!). In the west time is money, and if you aren’t efficient you are wasting money and potential existence as a business.. and resulting livelihood.  Here, time is treated like a never ending river that flows, it’s there, there’s plenty of it, enjoy life.  The two worlds crash when I interact with my business and friends at work.  Our clients demand action, quick response, high levels of customer service, and here they’ve never heard of those two words “customer service’.  The business ‘motto’ here is ‘just be glad we have it, no wait, we don’t, come back tomorrow.’  A reminder how frustrating things are here to get done, but at the same time how ‘me’ centered the West has become, a sense of over importance prevails because of marketing, “have it your way” says burger king,,, mmm, boy could I go for one of those.  It’s no wonder in Ukraine they sit and eat dinner for more than 15 minutes, or it’s considered offensive if you stop in to visit a friend and don’t stay for ATLEAST an hour… time isn’t money here.  The trade off?   Burger King, convenience, customer service, and efficiency.  If I could only combine both worlds… maybe that is for the world to come.  In the meantime, people need the gospel, and I need to eat.  Jesus said His food was to “do the will of the One who sent me.”  Jesus, come on, why so hard?

Our home church in Longview just completed a time of increased prayer.  We are benefiting from those prayers, in all sincerety we have more joy, and vision moving forward for the things God desires.  It can get very tiring without the Lord, there have been many times we’ve wanted to give up.  You are holding us up when you pray, don’t stop.  We are unashamed of our need for you, your friendship, occassional note by email, and prayer support.  This is the intended method of missions, co-laboring together and it’s cool to be a part of it with you.

No pictures, we look the same.

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