Monday, October 8, 2007

Ukraine 7 – Days 8-10 (October 6 to 8)

A lot has changed since our last wave of posts. New city, new living quarters, new driver/interpreter, and new challenges.

October 6
Ruslan (previously I’ve been calling him Rooslan, but this is likely a better transliteration) picked up Malcolm and us on the 6th to take us to our new city of operations: Ivano Frankivsk. Along the way, we stopped to take a couple of pictures of a giant stork nest atop an old church, and of two storks standing in a field. Parents, take hope! We also took some pictures of trees with mistletoe formations. If only some of them had been on trees leaning over the highway. But alas, no excuses for kisses with Helen were provided! Oh well, Christmas is coming.

Ruslan dropped us off at our new living quarters. We’re staying in the second floor of a massive house owned by a man named Roman. Roman is a writer, and he has published at least a dozen books. I’d love to give you firmer figures than that, but he no speak English, and we no speak Ukrainian, so communication is difficult. At first I was a little uncomfortable staying in such a gigantic home. I’ve seen so many people living in such poor conditions, why should we westerners come here and live differently? I was beginning to miss Flo’s humble apartment in L’Viv.

After meeting Yaraslav and Halia, however, and getting a better feel for the situation here, I began to feel more at ease. Yaraslav and Halia are a wonderful Christian couple native to Ukraine. They are set apart full time for the Lord’s work. They had us over for supper the last two nights, and already we think the world of them. They live simply and with integrity. Yaraslav is a great sharer of the Message. Unfortunately, though, his health has been poor of late, and we would have been too much of a burden for them had we stayed in their apartment, so it’s better for everyone that we stay at Roman’s. Besides, Roman’s house might be expansive, but his charge is not expensive. Our expenses for the week here will be less than one night in a clean hotel.

We also have a new driver / interpreter. Vadym is his name. He’s a young man with a storied past. He’s very proud of his wife of close to two years, and his daughter of five months. It’s nice to see this young Christian brother forsaking his previous lifestyle and dedicating himself instead to his family. He spent a few years working in England, and Helen claims to have detected a faint British accent. I’ll have to try set him up to say “tomatoes” or “garage” to validate her claim!

October 7
On Sunday we were picked up at 10:30 by Oksana in a taxi. She’s an English teacher who has worked as an interpreter for the group in previous years. She took us down to the park area where we first walked for 3-4 km around a beautiful lake. Then we went into the nearby park. Very impressive brick/cobblestone walk through towering trees. We walked in the direction of the city centre, and by the time we got there, we must have walked another 2 km or so. We then went for lunch at Best Pizza.

Apparently, Oksana has been translating a booklet for a Christian named Louis. I talked to Oksana about the possibility of translating some books into Ukranian. I’d love to be able to pass out thousands of books by David Gooding, John Lennox, and John Piper in the schools and universities. I want to pursue this when I get back to Canada. God only knows what He might do with books of this calibre circulating amongst the upcoming generation in Ukraine.

We didn’t have any meetings on Sunday. The reasons are complicated, and they don’t need to surface here. We are expecting to hold meetings in Yaraslav’s apartment soon, i.e., this week. Helen and I missed joining with the Christians back in Austin as we normally would on a Sunday. There is something joyful about belonging to a community (assembly) of Christians. Who says church is boring? Going to church might be boring, but being a church is altogether different!

October 8
Monday came, but Malcolm didn’t. He had gone through a rough night, and he did not feel well the whole day, so we left him in bed. Please pray that he will recover soon.

We went to a warehouse today with Vadym and purchased supplies for ten families, whom we will visit over the next few days. After checking up on our patient (Malcolm), and dropping off some drugs for him, we had lunch at Yaraslav’s and Halia’s, and then began to visit homes. It was a little daunting for me, at least, to go visiting without Malcolm, but I knew that a greater-than-Malcolm was with us! We visited a mom with six kids. From what we could tell, they all sleep with mom and dad in one room; the other room is the kitchen. They were very grateful for our little help. We shared with them that the reason we had come from Canada to Ukraine was summed up in John 3:16 (which was written on some pens that we gave them):

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes
in him should not perish but have eternal life, (ESV).

With a message like that, could someone please remind me why I’m so hesitant to share it with others?

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