Not in Kansas Anymore

I just checked weather.com, it’s 95 out here in Kiev region of Ukraine. This whole week has been a scorcher.  I forgot how hot a car could get without AC, on dark black pavement in congested city traffic.  As I type this I’m a bit overwhelmed to say the least.  I don’t have time to write anything, we’ve been without internet for what seems like eternity.  I use internet to stay on top of work, it’s now on top of me.  When so many things transpire in a weeks time, I have no idea what to write or how to communicate the stuff that is both going on around us, and inside of our hearts.  I should try though, as I know you all will be faithful to pray according to the needs, and it’s our Savior and Lord that sustains us in tough times. 

So here goes:

Registration:We have submitted the mound of documentation to the authorities which will allow us to stay here legally for the duration of our 1y visa.  I’m not sure why they make you get a visa and THEN make you go through this process, but we have to nonetheless.  Poor Alex has worked non-stop for 2 weeks to get the right stamps and signatures, he’s run into road block after road block and been a tremendous blessing to our family as the Christian organization we hoped to work with has been on vacation and not entirely interested in helping us work with them… in their minds it’s more of a ‘favor’.  I was hoping there was more of a organized missions program and desire, after all we aren’t over here for the cheese. This is discouraging, but encouraging when God supplies someone like Alex, who is not associated to any church that we know or anyone we know for that matter, bends over backwards to help us in a time of need.  God provides, but doesn’t always make things easier, in our case He provided Alex to guide us through the bureaucracy.  We will know Tuesday of next week if they approve our extension, if they don’t, we’ll go from there.. in Ukraine you don’t assume anything will go as planned.

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House:we are moving in this weekend!  The phone line is still not ready, which gives us internet and allows me to work.  I only realized this week that it’s entirely our responsibility to both dig and lay down all the wiring to the box down the street… way down the street!  We’ve employed some strapping young men to dig for several days, but they ran into some really hard ground and I saw the situation did not look good… if we wanted phone/internet before Jesus would come back… so we ordered a tractor from a neighboring town with this cool digger thing… it completed the job in 20 minutes.. unfortunately it also tore up our neighbors phone line.  Everyone just lays their own stuff and it’s not uncommon to have your phone/gas interupted because someone down the street is digging around… anyone here of city planning ’round these parts?  Crazy.  So, now we have to figure out how to dig under the street, in two spots… this is also our responsibility I’m told, maybe I can find some gophers like the one from Winnie the Pooh.

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Gas/Hot Water:we have neither of these at the house still. The gas guys eventually showed up at the house after 3 weeks of delay, only to write down a list of what we needed to go buy first.. which included piping, fittings, and essentially everything they needed to finish the job.  I shouldn’t be surprised at this, I knew the mechanics around here also require you to bring you the part for your broken vehicle before they fix it.  We rushed downtown to buy the parts in a record time (thank you Kolya!) only to find the gas dudes were off to another job, and said they’d be back tomorrow.  I stayed over in RZ with Broderic to make sure they got what they needed… but they called and said they were on another job and wouldn’t be back this week.  They are lucky I couldn’t hit them on top of the head with one of these pipes:).  I’m sure we could bribe them to do the job faster,,, or do it at all, but I do appreciate the precedent that would start and would trickle to other missionaries and those that aren’t as high maintenance as the Crowes:).

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{Gas man counts how many parts we need for the job, and writes on paper}

Container:This was a bit of good news in the whirlwhind we call life over here.  The shipping line called and in broken English notified me the container would be arriving this Friday!  I’ve learned to not get too excited about good news.  It’s a confusing mess at the moment, 3-4 different shipping companies pointing me to different folks and asking for documation that the other has…. Once again Alex was able to call and help make some sense to the situation,,, all in all it’s about what I expected.  The container is NOT going to simply dump off at my house (door to door.. woops,,, they meant door to port:).  The container has to clear customs which will be interesting, I’ve got to sign a bunch of stuff and pray the port folks don’t charge ridiculous sums for bringing in our own stuff.   We’re very excited it’s here, but it will be a process to get it to our house, and we appreciate the prayer for patience and to display Christ to each party we talk with.  If we can get my truck (which is going to be another interesting set of hoops to go through) by the 20th, we can return this car rental which is costing us way too much monthly.  It will also allow me to get a trailer and haul off the still abundant amount of glass/brick/wood/nails/garbage in your hard from all the work.  We look forward to turning the kids loose in the yard… they do after 3 months of apartment life.

Cassie:  no complaints there, what a blessing and what timing the Lord has!  She arrived just in time for Deb and I to run around and pick out needed materials for the workers and several other needed quick trips to stores.  She has cooked almost daily, helped clean and mother the little ones while we run around the country side.  Right now she’s in Kiev with some of the kids while I just dropped off Deb and 2 kids at the house in RZ.  Our car is so small we need to make several trips.  She will be a real light and blessing to the girls here, and I’m sure be stretched and conformed into the image of Christ in ways she never imagined too.. isn’t that neat!  I know she misses the internet, she blogs all the time and has been writing but not able to post… when we do eventually get internet, i’m sure you will all be bombarded with her novels and stories which we all love….

I could keep writing, so many mishaps, so many long lines… ridiculous processes, one step forward, 5 back.  This is the nature of Ukraine and most of these former Soviet block countries, they are recovering from antiquated methods and robot like obedience to procedure, they do not adopt new patterns or ways of doing this with any form of excitement:).   This is the most difficult area right now for us, we are growing closer to Christ, our marriage is strong, our kids are thriving, but adapting to this culture is tough!  We aren’t going to change the culture, and the sooner we learn to flow with things the better, at the same time I see many weaknesses in the culture that bleed into the Christian mindset.  God is a God of victory, and desires His church to press forward and reach out to the lost, He can save souls if we do our part with passion…. this type of mentality is hard to find… the culture lulls you to sleep, relax man, take off your watch… however scripture tells us to ‘number our days’ and if I wanted to enjoy life I wouldn’t have inserted our family in this crazy place!  So God give balance, patience, wisdom and increased joy through these little trials.

As I type this, a babushka just came and took water from Gaven’s well, ha!  Everything is shared, if you leave your gate open, it’s inviting people into your yard.  Leave your door open, people will assume you are inviting them in.  One girl came into Gaven’s when we were staying here and I was doing the dishes (only time I did them, don’t worry guys), I promptly ushered her over to the sink and put her to work.. she didn’t stay very long ha. 

Ok, this was long, and I must run.  Not sure when next post will be but please pray we get this container sorted out… that would be a wonderful next post “we have our stuff!” … or “we received our stamps!”, or “we have internet at the house now!” or “we have gas/hot water”… any of those will work.  It’s a pivotal time for our family with many things converging as we try and get settled in for the long haul in this new land. 

 “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him” – John Piper

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

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