Stories in the Missional Journey of Bruce & Deborah Crowe

Ice. Mission. A Beautiful Thing.


A few weeks ago I posted how we’d love to get an ice machine for the Cafe.  It’s rare to find ice served with anything in the former Soviet Union.   We Americans, we love ice.  We care not about the volume of liquid in our drinks, only that hot drinks are hot, and cold drinks icy cold.

Now that's a banner!  Now to figure how to connect it to the side of our building.

Now that’s a banner! Now to figure how to connect it to the side of our building.

Ukrainians however feel ripped off if their cup isn’t filled to the brim with the beverage they’ve ordered.  We’re so used to ‘free refills’ in the west that we give no thought to jam packing our cup with ice.

Ukrainians also have some interesting beliefs when it comes to cold liquids.  If a drink is too cold, many still believe it can make you sick.  If you are already sick, a cold drink must be heated up to at least room temperature.  I remember our neighbor boy Svyatik when he first started hanging out at our house would pour a glass of juice from the fridge, then stick it in the microwave for :30 seconds because, “I don’t want to get sick.”

Alyosha holding up the first cube at the Cafe.  A wondrous site!  Might be the only ice in town.

Alyosha holding up the first cube at the Cafe. A wondrous site! Might be the only ice in town.

Not all Ukrainians believe this, but many do.  Mom’s especially will ask us to heat up their juice for their kids.  We’re paying electricity to keep drinks cold in the fridge, then we’re paying electricity to heat them back up.. buries head.

Things are changing though.  I think the Internet is ushering in not just new thoughts (science, medicine, history), but new products and variety of things for folks to try.  It gets really hot here in Central Ukraine, especially in the July-August months.  People get hot, no matter where you were born!   More people are ‘drinking’ cold things.   They’ve always loved ice cream (anytime of the year).   The same mom will give her kid ice cream without concern.. but not cold juice..

We now have an ice machine and it’s hooked up and working at the Lighthouse Cafe!  A family member saw our post and generously donated it.  Thank you, maybe your cups always be filled with ice!  So now, we’re embarking on Iced Tea, Lemonade, and Iced Coffee.   We’ve also started serving freshly squeezed juices.. can you tell we need pizza?

We made some signs out front with pictures.  Ice isn’t going to save the world, but it’s going to help keep them cool in the summer and hopefully help us increase sales so we can pay our bills.

IMG_1222The more unique and fun we make the Cafe, the more word is spreading.  Just today we had some backpackers come through town and they stopped in.  Oleg here in the picture was amazed that such a place existed in the middle of a small town, in the middle of his country.  He’s a blogger, and wanted to take our picture.   He spoke english pretty well, and he wanted to know why we didn’t serve beer – he admitted alcohol was used by the ‘powers’ above to keep a generation in a stupor – but he also saw our dilemma – ‘you have to sell beer to make money in this country’.   He’s correct there.. we’re not making money like the bars may be – but we’re building many relationships and investing in our town’s future.  I told him, “It’s not all about money is it?”  He immediately reached for my hand and shook it with vigor.

I can’t tell you how cool and satisfying it is to meet all sorts of folks downtown – politicians, ministry leaders going to other villages, my kids teachers, and everyone in between.  The vision to be a ‘Light’, or point “to the Light’ in Christ is evolving into something special.  We’re using facebook more among the Ukrainians – word is spreading a bit about our events and network of friends online.

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This coming week we are hosting an English Night.  It’s purposefully geared towards some families, friends downtown we’ve met and continue to form friendships with as a family.  We wanted to do something ‘as a family’ that would be meaningful – and centered around something fun.  It’s not going to be a school or even involve much technical teaching, more conversational, watching some movies, playing games in English.   Pray God sends us folks we can encourage, and be encouraged by.  We’re going to try this for the summer months and see where it takes us.


This week our family, and the Cafe was featured in our small town’s gazette.  What’s interesting, is that the Mayors office manages this paper – what goes in, what is highlighted is either paid (by outsiders, like political things) or something approved or ‘encouraged’ by the city.  It’s not quite ‘free press’, but it’s come a long way.   Several months ago the Mayor encouraged us to ‘promote’ more of what we are doing – He said it would be helpful for more folks in areas of influence to understand what many of the foreigners do here.

Several missionaries from our town and region make a positive impact through kids camps, marriage classes, refugee assistance and generally being light as the body of Christ.  I thought of the scripture, “Let another man’s words praise you, and not your own”.. as the Mayor encouraged us to ‘toot our own horn.’  I let it be, and thanked him for his encouragement.  Then last week, our friend at the paper came and she asked to do an interview for an article… a full page dedicated (the paper only has 4 pages) to the things we’ve been able to do this spring and the general heart of our family to sow seeds of hope – hope being found in God alone.   I am going to try to get someone to translate it and will post it for friends and family.  I had a friend verbally translate but honestly in Ukrainian I can only understand maybe 10%.. but it sounded like a good article 🙂

Prayer Needs:

– Claire’s hospital/health documents for residency have been completed but now we wait for Kiev to return them back.  This completion could take 2 weeks to 2 months.. we have no idea.  Please pray they are completed expeditiously and correctly – we want to try to get Russian visas this summer but everything hinges on our baby girls documents at this point.

– Will be sharing this Sunday to some youth leaders in Kiev.  Pray God gives me His heart specifically for this team and deposit something encouraging.

– We have one week left with the YWAM team.  Our family is looking forward after 2 busy months to getting re-established with some new patterns now that kids are out of school.  We still have some events this week though, including one more ‘all night worship’ night this Sunday night.

– Please pray for this fall.  We have several things in play, including continuing to pray/muse over the start of a discipleship school.  We have some possible starting students, and some people interested in joining us, as well as ministry partners that need some more exploring.  It’s a huge thing for me personally, the commitment, the timing – It’s been on my heart for years, the formation of a leadership development/training school or course.  Expedited discipleship, particularly towards mobilization and evangelism.

We really appreciate prayer for wisdom, for relationships, for the finances and all that would go into embarking on this trajectory.  It’s not a matter of ‘if’ for me anymore, just when and how.  I’m seeing more of the how, and it’s exciting – but the when needs some confirmation.   Lord give us faith and continued favor!   We need your prayers!!  It seems crazy but we feel we need to get our family mobile, but also the timing is near to start something more structured here – maybe it’s a matter of preparing our family to take teams for outreach as part of the school – in any case, we pray and thankful for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

– Lastly, if you’d like to support us financially, do it!   We have pressing needs.  If you’d like to email me separately I would be happy to share more in detail.

May God remind you to pray and think of us, and Ukraine/Russia each time you fill that cup with ice.  May God refresh us all with His presence too.


Bruce & Deb

1 Comment

  1. mom

    So enjoyed reading the update, a lot to take in! So glad to see the article in the local paper, I pray skeptic’s there will read and welcome you even more into the community and see that you have made your home there and aren’t going anywhere. Then for them to see the picture of this huge family all together that they’ve seen over the years what a witness that is! Look forward to our short visit in August…hugs to everyone, love you all ….mom

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