Today in Kiev I was approached in the parking lot by a mother and her newborn baby. It’s not uncommon in Ukraine, especially in larger cities, to be approached by begging veterans, mentally and physically handicapped for money. The mother looked pretty rough, probably an alcoholic or drug addict. How do I really know? All I could see was this tiny baby wrapped in blankets, sleeping peacefully as though their entire world was safe and secure. It’s a difficult situation without the language barrier, but when they are pleading for money, holding the baby out for you to take it, and your response is ‘I’m sorry, I understand little’, it doesn’t satisfy. I managed to talk to her a bit actually, she had a surgery during labor which has prevented her from producing enough (or any) milk for the baby. Again, who knows what is true, and what is not. We talked about the Lord, how He loves that little baby and she must take care of it before God. Though she was using this precious gift as an instrument of manipulation, I had compassion and had to give her some help. She lit up and appreciated the few dollars that would probably allow her to go home for the day.Last month a group of us from church were able to contribute towards a bed for a young man who has been bed ridden for several years. He damaged his spinal column while diving in a shallow river. Once you encounter physical problems of this nature, the ‘system’ here discards you, you are sent to a cold, permanent hospital where you waste away your remaining years. This guy has only been outdoors twice in the past 3 yrs (or something to this effect). He can move his head and his arm slightly and stares all day at the wall and his cell phone.A snapshot of the type of humanitarian and social needs in our new culture. It’s hard to know how to help sometimes. Money can’t fix everything, but it sure helps:). God give us wisdom among such needy people.
We are visiting our home church in Longview, Texas in a couple of weeks! October 30-Nov 4, Deb, Broderic and I are leaving the crew behind in RZ and taking a whirlwind tour visiting friends. I’ll be visiting with our guys at Cypress and taking a quick day trip down to visit Matt & Paula Mason in New Orleans. The timing for this we feel is perfect, we are highly anticipating some great fellowship (and food … cough). This will be my second time back since moving here, and Deb/Broderic’s first trip back in 1 1/2 yrs.. can you believe it?
We are meeting every week with our home group, been studying apologetics. Every other week we are hosting a ‘husbands’ meeting that coincides with the ‘wives’ meeting down at the Gollans. Next week we are planning to join the Pentecostal church for a ‘fall/thanksgiving’ type service. Our church has also started the monthly (lead by Cheryl and Sveta) ‘special needs’ monthly gathering for the town. Also working on some missionary housing, helped to purchase some land and been busy with paperwork and organizing the workers.. we have unofficially started a construction business:) We have 4 full time ukrainians and a few vendors as part of our team… been employed for a few months now. Housing is a real need in this town, and opportunity perhaps. Most of my russian vocabulary derives from construction materials and procedures:).
The city has been trying to organize a series of ‘business leaders’ meetings. This is a huge first step towards the business community finding a ‘voice’ and partnering with the city. For decades the local government has been seen as a deterent and evil, and under communism we know it was. There is still a lot of corruption in Ukrainian politics, overtly so. I could give you some examples that would help you to understand the magnitude, but I’d better not. I was invited to attend these meetings, and the first one was quite an experience as they shouted and engaged in debates over the price of milk, taxes, and then tried to vote in a leader (through yelling). I feel very privileged to be a part of this evolving community, finding it’s democratic legs so to speak.
Thanks for checking in, and hopefully we’ll get to see you soon!
Bruce & Deb