Thursday, June 23

Family and friends gather around as students receive diploma.. Ukrainian style!

Today we enjoyed watching some of the students at our local college graduate. Kolya and several of his friends that we’ve been able to build relationships with and share the gospel message to on several occasions over the past year are moving on. Unfortunately many of the students are entering an extremely depressed economy and will be looking far and wide for any sort of sustainable income.

I took a few videos of the graduation, the little kids performing is especially cute. If you listen to the little yellow girls that pop out one-by-one from the lady with the dress, you’ll hear them each ‘squeeeeek’ a high pitched bird noise, adorable!

At one point during the ceremony a group performed a song with lyrics which basically said, ‘our russia’, and was an ‘ode’ to the motherland. It was very bizarre to hear proud Ukrainians sing about Russia, but nobody seemed to mind. There is a unique relationship with Russia in Ukraine. You’d think there would be a strong distaste for the nation that enslaved them for 70yrs, but for many they are brothers and sisters, sharing common ancestry and a rich heritage. I need to be careful to not import the ‘cold war’ feelings of the US and super impose them upon these Ukrainians, it’s much more complex.

You can pray for something that happened today with the kids on the trampoline. 3 kids that are continually causing issues were not respecting the trampoline nor the rules we have in place, so for the 15th time I told them to obey. They didn’t listen, put their dog on the trampoline, so I shut the trampoline down for the day and told them to go home. Suspecting they might retaliate I watched from behind the curtain and to my big surprise.. they were dismantling the springs and one kids was putting them in his pocket. I guess they figured if they couldn’t play, ‘ain’t nobody gonna play.’ I raced out and caught them in the act, one kid got away but the other two I detained, quite aggressively, and in my overly frustrated Russian asked them why they would do this? I then, again rather aggressively, directed them off my property and came back inside to my wife who had watched the entire episode. The problem with some of these kids is that they prey on kindness, and have virtually no authority in their lives. As I type this, I have a feeling they might be sneaking around in the woods looking for a way to ‘get us back’ for denying them access to the trampoline. Pray for me, I’m not angry at the kids themselves, we have a fondness and desire to sincerely help start making better choices. I’m very frustrated at the parents who don’t care (the police have already visited them), and a culture that is producing vagabonds by the dozen. Pray we make progress with our Russian this summer and not relapse on the little we’ve learned this year. It is vitally important to communicate with words principles of honesty, respect, and trust with these kids. The last thing I want is be a poor witness for our incredible Savior, today I may have taken some steps backward with these particular kids, I’m at my wits end! I know they have a conscience in there somewhere, as miserably hardened as it may be. Pray for Bogdon and Denise who are always at the center of issues, that we would love them properly. They are 12 and 14, though they look 8 and 10, they smoke, under fed, and come from a family of 15 kids. Please ask God to help me as well when my anger reaches ungodly proportions!

Thanks,
Bruce & Deb

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