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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

People in the Mariupol church

There are more people I met than I can possibly go through in one blog. But I'll do my best!

This is Amy and the preacher, Alexander. He goes by Sasha and is unusual for a Ukrainian...he has a great sense of humor! He and Alisha were always cutting up, him in broken English and her in indistinguishable Russian. He was constantly getting on to us for reading Harry Potter since it is a pagan book about sorcery. He was kidding of course, as his wife revealed later that he LOVES the Harry Potter movies. :)

Speaking of her, this is Irina, Sasha's wife. She cooked for us every day and tried so hard to communicate with us. The last Thursday I was there, she had all of us over for dinner and cooked an amazing meal of Ukrainian dishes. She was a real servant to us.

These are my boys...and one girl. We did a VBS the last week I was there and we had 4 children come. Anton, Edic, Slavic and Oksana. Anton came and read with me everyday to work on his English (out of children's books, of course) and Oksana helped us clean, set tables and do work like that around the church almost every day.

I also spent a lot of time with the teens of the congregation. They helped us with VBS (since I don't speak Russian) and hung out with us alot. Here are Valja, Vanja and Sasha (along with Americans Rebecca and Elizabeth) in the "Calming the Storm" Bible skit.
Besides these people, there were so many more. The church bldg is connected to "the center"- an orphanage of sorts. We did many things with the people there as well. Here is a group of us at the beach on the 4th of July. We had a blow-out celebration complete with hotdogs, potato salad and fireworks. Everyone kept telling us "congratulations on your country's birthday." Funny stuff. :)

Needless to say, I have many more pictures and people to show, but you get the idea. We had a large group taking care of us and hanging out with us when we weren't reading English or VBSing. Lastly, I wanted you to meet Tim Burow. His family were missionaries in Ukraine for 6 years with our church. They just moved back last fall to Arlington. I never really knew much about him, but am thrilled I got to be with him so much these past weeks. He is so dedicated and diligent, but is the silliest, goofy gus around! He always had us laughing (despite many things going wrong..more on that tomorrow) and would invent games with us (like Lazyball) and cook dinner for us, not to mention going to the store for food twice a day, everyday. He's great and I hope my congregation appreciates what we have in him and his family.

That's it for today! I'll finish up Ukraine tomorrow and then tell you about my trek around Italy with Amy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ukraine pt 1

My time in Ukraine went by very slowly at first. I was there to teach English, and very few readers were coming. My first day I had one. She never came back. My second day I had one- who returned over and over and I feel was my reason for being in Mariupol those 2 weeks.

Her name is Maria and she is Russian Orthodox. As we read through the book of Luke and discussed in broken English what we found in the text, Maria and I became friends. She was familiar with the stories in the Bible, but did not understand them fully and was full of questions. I found myself being able to share my faith for the first time in a long time with stranger.

On my last day there, Maria wanted to take me somewhere- her church. I thought this was a fantastic idea, as it gave us lots of one on one time to talk AND I would get to hear more about her religion in the process.

We spent the entire morning walking through town to this massive church, unlike anything I'd seen in Mariupol. It was in a giant courtyard overlooking the city. Look at the diffenence from the Church of Christ we worked at.

Maria and I ended our time together by finishing the book of Luke and exchanging gifts. She gave me a pitcher and two small cups made of clay that are used to serve coffee or tea. They are each hand made and a Ukrainian villiage is carved into the sides. I gave her a Bible and a Dave Crowder Band CD.

In all, I ended up with 4 readers. Svitlana only came the one time on the first day. Jayne came once (she was my friend Emily's student who I took for just one lesson.) Juleo, a recent high school graduate, came twice. She was very interested in being in tourism, but knew there was no market for it in Mariupol, so is going to university to be a customs/passport officer at the border. And Maria, of course, was my one constant reader. Our days were spent sitting in the foyer reading, talking with church members, or walking to the market to get drinks. Not what I had expected, but still an enjoyable trip.

More tomorrow on the people of the church in Mariupol, Ukraine.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

News to come...

Hello all! I am back from my 22 day adventure of Europe and am anxious to tell you all about it! However, I have literally over 1000 pics to sift through, not to mention deciding how to consolidate all that's happened into a blog that is short enough you might actually read it! So...I've decided to break it into parts. I will post once a day for this entire week and you can choose what parts you care about...hopefully all of them!

But the short of it is- my trip was amazing and I am so thankful to have been able to go, even though it meant heartbreakingly missing my husband. I will send more tomorrow, but until then, here is a pic from my time in Ukraine.