Imagine trying to make a sandwhich, only every ingredient from the loaf of bread, to the butter, mayo and meat are packaged in something entirely different from what you are accustomed to. We’re in survival mode this week. We’ve moved out of the Gollans where we were fed every meal, and are now staying at Gaven’s, who lives about 3 km away (we are now metric, sorry Americans!). Here’s a picture of his house, they’ve done a nice job of fixing it up, it reminds me of an old school house. His well is very deep and attracts the neighbors. If you have water around here, it’s a public right to take from it. The kids ran in the house a few hours ago exclaiming, “a lady is stealing Mr. Gaven’s water!”. Gaven is a wonderful brother who’s from Australia as well, he works daily out at the strawberry farm, a business/outreach venture some of the local Christians are trying to get off the ground. It’s nice to be on our own a bit more, we were spoiled this past week (thank you pris!), but it’s time we were pressed to figure things out.
I thought it would be interesting for you to see some of the food items, thank goodness for pictures on some of the labels! Although you can’t always go by pictures. I thought I found chocolate milk (oh the thought!) in the dairy section of a small grocery store… only to have my hopes dashed by Daniel, it was a flavored creamer of some sort he promised was disgusting. I’ve been trying out my limited Russian and successfully ordered a vanilla ice cream, though my request was ‘anything chocolate’. So with Russian letters covering the labels, and pictures you can trust only sometimes, the first few months will be an adventure in cooking and eating. The milk is in these odd shaped bags, juice is in these oversized juice-box type containers. We already miss the ‘family-size’ products.. portions are so small. I guess if you have one, or at the most two children, these sizes are proportional.
We’ll be here for a week, then off to Kiev where we’ll be renting an apartment for up to 2 months until our house is finished. Deb and I feel very blessed as we have seen the Lord answer prayer with immediate solutions for renting, and folks like Gavin allow our family the run of their house. While our heads spin in logistical confusion at the different way of life in a small Ukrainian community, we feel the prayer and love from our friends, and the Lord’s enabling as a result.
Here’s a picture of Sundays fellowship, about 20 came. Some new visitors are coming, not sure their spiritual state. Most of the believers here are in their 20’s. Deb and I pray that the Lord will use us to reach more middle age families, bringing some balance to the ‘youth group’ feel. We had three nights in a row this week of fellowship with the church, each lasting from 5pm – 11pm. It has been mostly group discussion, led by Daniel. I’ve been jumping in with scripture and thoughts as well, these people are fairly reserved and when they do share, the proverbial ‘rabbit trail’ is a challenge like in most group dynamics. As we build more relationships with the few Christians here in Rz, we are reminded how immoral a culture can get without the Lord. Many girls have been abused, continuous stories of alcoholism in the home. Theft is also a big thing the church deals with, just this week Jon and Ruth who bought a fixer upper house down from ours and plan to move here this summer and serve, had their house broken in to and about $1000 worth of valuables stolen. If you leave things out in the yard, it will disappear and if someone comes to the door, it’s common to be asked for something (water, food), then while you are gathering it, they steal from you and leave before you come back. As much as we enjoy the weather and Christian fellowship, it doesn’t take long before you remember we’re in the middle of a spiritual battle.
Daniel and I have begun discussing some of the churches leadership structure, core values/mission and important things of this nature which will help shape the many outreach and short term trips that will be coming up. Already we have 3 possible 2009 trips on the table from the US, and the sister city arrangement with Kilgore, Tx to keep us busy. We’re going to try and meet with the Mayor this week and discuss some more things with him concerning building space, along with the sister city topic. Please pray for wisdom, and for favor as we seek to be pro-active and step out in faith for many of these things. There is a desire in some of the people here to start a Coffee shop, but also there seems to be a real need for a food joint of some kind, a Pizza Cafe seems to be something that people respond to conceptually… and I’ve talked a bit with Bo about this as a possible first project downtown. It would be a great project for groups to come help get off the ground, both with construction needs, management training, and maybe some interns to come and serve in the summers. This type of project would be an asset to the community, while providing an atmosphere (that isn’t a bar) for young adults and families to gather. Lord willing we’ll be working up a business plan and budget to present to the City, there is a ton of red tape standing between this concept and reality, but God is a big God right?
Lastly, please pray for Dema, he’s a wonderful brother in Kiev that serves with Andrei and the Association of Missionary churches. I’ve felt a kindred spirit with Dema and have appreciated his heart, though we’ve always needed an interpreter. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer this week and it’s too far along for any surgery. They have two children I believe, and are greatly used by the Lord. Join with their church and family for God to heal him.
“Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand.” Prov 19:21