Thursday, December 18, 2008

Part One of Our Holiday in South Africa

We are having so much fun we have been neglecting our communications with people! :) I know most of you don't mind, though I'm sure a few of you are wondering what is going on with us.
For those that need a quick update here you are. We are currently in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. We were gifted this trip earlier this year, and the earliest we could go was during these Christmas holidays. This situation worked out great for us, because it is cold in Ukraine right now! But here in SA it is warm and sunny. I got a sun burn the first day out here (don't worry mum, I am not forgetting the sun block).
We have had some good time seeing the sights of SA, the uniqueness of the country, and the people. But some of the best parts of the trip are the opportunities we have to be involved in encouraging the workers and Christians here. As we are visiting the AIMers here, we are also getting to tag along with them in some of there work here. I have had opportunities to preach and teach and we both have spent time encouraging our brothers and sisters. We are so grateful that we could meet other Christians here and spend time with them! It's a good reminder of what we will be experiencing together in heaven one day... something we can't have now because of the huge land masses and bodies of water separating us.
But on top of that we have been able to participate in some God's creation here in South Africa. We took a short trip to Cape Town and along the way stopped at a bridge to jump off! I have now jumped off of the World's tallest bungy jump. I have a little certificate to prove it. I have a little video below of the jump as well. (The scream you hear is one of joy and excitement, not fear).
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After the jump we continued on to Cape Town where we stayed the night before jumping on a boat the next morning to look for Great White sharks. On this trip we saw hundreds of seals, a whale with her calf , penguins, and .... GREAT WHITE SHARKS!!
My wife was nice enough to brave seasickness and she also allowed me to jump in a cage to watch Great Whites! It was amazing. At first I didn't think the trip would be worth it, but as soon as I jumped in the cage a White Shark showed up and hit the bait right in front of the cage. It came so close that you could touch it! I'm not exagerating it at all, I know it was close enough to touch because after it missed the bait, I reached out and touched it! You might think I'm crazy, but it is probably your jealousy because I touched a 2.5 meter White Shark. This is a short video of the second time it showed up. (I'm in the cage you briefly see.)
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There are many things that we can tell you about our trip, but we need to stop for now and get this posted. Thanks to all for your prayers... we've been safe and are really having a wonderful time here. We'll update you again soon on more adventures we're having!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Enjoying Life!

Hello to you all! It's been awhile... we've been busy! But, it's time for us to update you on what's been happening around here. Life has been good here in Kharkov-- God is so good to us!
It's hard to believe the holidays are already upon us. We went out a couple weekends ago and shopped for a Christmas tree and decorations... it turned out great! I'll have to post a final picture of the tree later, but here's a few pictures of the process. As you can see, our nephew Canaan helped us out. My parents sent us a few decorations from the states as well with the Jarboes, so that helped make things more festive around our place.
Last Saturday we had a bunch of people into our home for Borsch soup. It's a very common Russian soup that's delicious (main ingredients are cabbage and beets -- see picture below). A good friend of ours, Valeri, came over and cooked everything for us! Valeri is a chef (see picture to the left), so it was the best borsh we've had yet! Here are a few pictures of that day. That same weekend, our team was blessed to have a visit from Eileen Ench, a missionary in Rostov, Russia. We were able to visit with her about her work and just encourage one another. She even taught us a few children's songs in Russian, so we look forward to implementing those into our Bible Classes on Sunday morning! Further down are a few more pictures of our guest that day. We had the whole team over, plus Andre (in the picture with Eileen and Dougle) and Luba (in the picture with Eileen). Our house was packed, but we had a wonderful time together. :)
We are also excited to announce that we've found a permanent apartment! It's a very nice place, nicer than we were anticipating, in fact. We signed the agreement and will move in on December 29th. We're so thankful for many of you and the prayers you offered up for all of our apartment searches. Our whole team has now found apartments and are within about 10 min walking distance of one another, plus we're in the center of the city. God truly blessed us with exactly what we were hoping for! Please be praying for us and for our new landlords.
We're leaving today, Thursday, and going on holiday to South Africa! We were gifted this trip back at our graduation and are finally able to go on it. We'll be visiting a friend, Lindsay White, who is working down there with the Adventures in Missions program. While we're there, we'll be doing many touristy/holiday stuff, but we'll also be spending time with the local congregations in Port Elizabeth. David will be speaking at 3 different congregations while we're there. We're excited about going and spending Christmas there. We will return to Kharkov on December 27th.
We hope all of you are doing well. We appreciate all the comments, encouragement, love, and support you send our way. God bless!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Yesterday was our first Thanksgiving here in Kharkov, Ukraine. This holiday was greatly anticipated by all of us. The girls were all determined to have good food (and plenty of it!), so we searched many stores to find the needed ingredients. In the end... it all came together wonderfully and we had great food and a great day together.
Each of the girls took 1/3 of the cooking responsibility and cooked at home. Our ovens here are pretty small, so we had to divide carefully. Carrying hot food to our place ended up being quite the challenge... it took more than one trip for each family. Fortunately, we were the hosts, so we didn't have to transport anything. :) We set up two tables in our living room and borrowed chairs from a friend. It was a great fit and all worked out well. We ended up finding turkey breasts at a store here, so we ate those as well as a small chicken. The only tradition we missed out on was the sweet potatoes, but it wasn't missed too much with all the other food we had! We also cooked 6 desserts and a cheeseball for the day. Needless to say... we're still enjoying the leftovers! :)
Our whole team was together, plus Branden (see picture to the left), a Canadian we met on the plane ride over to Kharkov from Vienna. (Yes, Thanksgiving is a tradition even in Canada... they just celebrate theirs at a different time.) After eating, we all played a few games together and just enjoyed the day. In the evening we had our small group and our friend Valera came for that. It was a long day, but went by quickly!
We thought of many of you all throughout the day. We each missed being with our families, but thanks to email and Skype, we were able to communicate a little hello! We hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful. We do thank God for blessing us so richly... it was wonderful to spend a day enjoying His blessings and thanking Him for all He has done and continues to do!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Visitors and Turkey Hunting!

Hello! We know, it's been too long since our last update and we're very sorry! So, we thought we'd take a moment now to update you on a few highlights of this last week!
Visitors from Lubbock!
This last week brought a wonderful treat our way from the states. Our good friends and mentors from Lubbock, Jay and Sherry Jarboe, came to Kharkov for a 3 day visit on their way to Germany. They were able to stay at our apartment, then hang out with the whole team during the day. It was such a good visit! We were truly blessed and encouraged by their presence here. Each family took a day to have everyone over for a meal, plus each family was able to have alone time visiting with the Jarboes about how things are going, etc. The Jarboes worked in Mexico City for many years doing mission work there, so they were familiar with what we would/might be experiencing and were able to really spur us on. They have also been working with all of us since before our team formed, so they have an intimate knowledge of who we are. During their stay, we were also able to get out and see a couple sites in Kharkov, but in doing this, we realized we really don't know that many places to take people to yet! We've only been here a little over a month, so we barely know the sites ourselves! Guess we have some homework to do before our next visitors come! :) The first two pictures are of the guys and girls at the statue of Lenin. This one to the left shows Sherry reading to Malachi and Canaan. Both Jay and Sherry were wonderful with the kids, becoming their adopted grandparents for the time they were here!
Turkey Hunting
Well, like many of you, we are also currently trying to prepare for the holidays just around the corner! Thanksgiving is next week and we are all really excited about having our first one here in Kharkov. We really do have so much to be thankful for and are excited to spend it together as a team, even though we're all apart from our families. In preparation for the day of feasting, we've been shopping (for spices, bran, turkey, etc.)! David and I happened to see a turkey in the grocery store near our house about a week ago. Neither of our teammates believed us when we tried to convey the size of this big bird, and two days later it was gone. The Hindmans questioned whether it was actually a turkey because they seem to be so rare here and asked, "Are you sure it was a turkey, not just a big chicken?" David's response to that was "It was either a big turkey or a small emu!" Since that first spotting, we've been keeping our eyes open for another. Today, Lucy and I ventured out for the pure purpose of finding a turkey. We also picked a rainy day to do this, so that made it even more interesting! We were successful-- sort of. The same store David and I had seen the first turkey at had another... and it was big, just like the first one we saw. Too big, in fact! This time, however, we looked at the price tag and weight. This fowl weighed 14.7 kg (about 32 lbs!) and was going to cost about $65USD. First, we weren't sure if we could justify all that money put into one turkey. But, it was also so big it would only fit in Rob and Denyce's freezer and they would have to clear out everything else to make it fit. Then we had to consider whether our ovens were big enough to cook it in... and that didn't seem very likely. So, we did find a turkey... just didn't find the "right" turkey. All the other stores didn't have any and we weren't even able to find turkey parts. We'll keep our eyes peeled the rest of the week, but a small chicken might be the main course this Thanksgiving! We were blessed by another missionary couple we know here who kindly cooked and pureed some pumpkin for us to use. Since we cannot find canned pumpkin here, we were going to have to do this chore ourselves, but they saved us a lot of work! We're still searching for bran and have found the majority of the spices, but are still looking for a few. Shopping can be complicated when you have to translate everything from Ukrainian. (Yes, for those of you who are wondering about that, we are learning Russian because it is what everyone speaks here, but all the signs, items in the grocery store, etc. are in Ukrainian... it just makes it more of a challenge!)
Regardless of what we find or do not find, we will have a great Thanksgiving together next week and we're excited about it!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Our Sunday morning

One of the joys of being here in Kharkov is our Sunday morning assemblies. Our team has been meeting together each week as a church here in Kharkov. We have a total membership of nine people (ten if you include Maximus). If you have ever visited or are currently worshiping with a smaller group of believers, you understand how exciting the little things can be. The smallest voice of a child is heard throughout the whole auditorium, if one person sings a note off key everyone knows it, if you doze off in the sermon the preacher isn't the only one who notices, or (my favorite) if you show up a little late - church service doesn't start without you.

Meeting with a smaller group also demands that every member is involved in every Sunday morning. All of the men have an active role in some portion of the service. Prayers, preaching, reading scripture, song leading, and communion thoughts keep all the men active in worship and never a spectator. Preparation of the Lord's Supper, teaching the children in Bible class, hosting the assembly in your living room, and keeping the children involved keeps all of our women active in participating in our church services too.

Every Sunday is a blessing to each one of us. We are excited to come together as the body of Christ. And we are especially excited as our team's Sunday morning assembly will be reproduced next year as we start to plant churches throughout the city! What we are doing now as a team we will be doing again next year with people we have met and helped bring into a saving relationship with Jesus. We are excited to see how things transform amongst us and how God prepares us further for the great works He will do in Kharkov, Ukraine, and all throughout Eastern Europe.

We wanted to share some our Sunday morning with you as well. For this year at least we will be meeting in English, but as we start working amongst the people here we will be worshiping in Russian. To start us in that direction we have been learning songs in Russian and singing them on Sunday mornings. Here is a song from last Sunday, see if you recognize it. You might also hear the children of the team joining in (or getting distracted) as we sing.


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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ups and Downs!

We’re slowly settling into life here in Kharkov, enjoying it all very much! On our way to language school, we took some pictures, so here they are. The leaves are really nice right now and we’re enjoying all the fall colors around us. Tuesday seemed to be the popular “rake leaves” day because we saw people everywhere raking leaves. There was even a machine (see picture below) that was out in the big park in the center picking up the leaves. It’s nice when the leaves are raked up because walking can be tricky if there are leaves everywhere. As you can see (in picture further down), their sidewalks aren’t always nice and smooth… there are plenty of drop offs to trip you up. The leaves do a good job of hiding those particularly from me. I seem to find the uneven surfaces all the time… and I walk with my eyes on the ground! I just laugh and then remember that snow isn’t going to be much better... I will then have to account for ice as well! :)

Last week I had a head cold which I kindly passed onto David. Oops! Just as I think we’re both finally about over that, David took a turn for the worse last night. The McDougles also got the bug, and they are currently all passing it around their house, so keep them in your prayers as they get well and also pray that we don’t pass our bug onto the Hindmans! The weather has been a pretty steady temperature of 40-50˚F, but we’re still waiting for the heaters to be turned on inside our apartments. That means most evenings my toes freeze, reminding me I need to bring the heater in whichever room I’m in and turn it on! :) The heater was definitely a good investment!

This week we’ve been having a bit of trouble with our electricity in our apartment. Since we moved in, we’ve kicked the breaker off several times just getting used to how much power we can have on at one time (for example you can only have one electric thing running in the kitchen at a time... I found that out the hard way when I turned the oven and our electric kettle on at the same time). But, when we go to flip the breaker back on, it sparks and sizzles a lot at us. David has started using a wooden spoon to do this now because it looks pretty scary. Well, Wednesday something popped while we were cooking in the kitchen and we can no longer get power to one wall of the kitchen. So, that means the oven is inoperable at the moment. Fortunately, we were able to buy matches and we can still use the stove! Hopefully that will be taken care of soon, but we’re not holding our breath for it to be done quickly. As of yesterday, the Hindmans had become our internet and oven resource! But then late Wednesday evening, the electricity went out in our whole apartment (we think for our neighbors as well)... and it's still out this morning. So, I made my little trip to the Hindmans to cook up a little something for David, bringing with me the stuff in our fridge that had a potential to go bad quickly. As of today, the Hindmans have become our internet, oven, fridge, and electrical resource! Please be praying we can get all of this sorted soon!
These two pictures are of our apartment building and the courtyard across from it. We live on the second floor.

Language classes are going well… we’ve had two full classes now and have learned quite a bit! It all seems very basic and is very basic, but we’ve begun! It’s pretty comical to hear us try to repeat what our language teacher says. Our tongues aren’t used to the letter combinations they use yet! We are happy with the teacher we found at the International House (she does speak pretty good English which is great), and we have another one trading off with her throughout the week. Should be good! Rob Hindman is also taking Russian with us, so that is nice to have an extra person in there learning at the same time!

Thanks again to you all for your prayers and encouragement. We’ve been so blessed by the comments you’ve been leaving on our blog, the emails you’ve sent, etc. etc. It keeps us excited knowing you’re excited about what we’re doing. Keep them coming!

These last two pictures are inside our apartment building and our apartment door. Hopefully we’ll get a video up soon of the inside of our apartment! Be watching for it!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

First Week in Kharkov

Today marks one week for us in Kharkov, Ukraine! It has gone by so fast but we feel that we are settling so well. We both are starting to feel at home here as we learn and settle in to our apartment. Everyday something exciting happens or we discover something new.

This picture is of our team together on Sunday. The Hindmans are on the left and the McDougles are on the right.

A favorite event for David now is grocery shopping; the grocery stores and the little shops remind him of the supermarkets and dairies back in New Zealand (even though he can't read any of the product labels). David came to the Ukraine with the impression that they didn't have any of the same foods, so when he goes and finds something he recognizes, it is like finding a lost treasure and he gets so excited he tells everyone about his find.

Olivia has loved being close to the other families on the team. We are all within 5 minutes walking distance (if you have no kids to slow you down) of our teammates! When our team moved apart from each other at the beginning of the year, we didn't realize how hard it would be to be a team, but not together. Now that we are together again it is a lot easier to function together, as a team. It has been great to become reacquainted with each other, and a close team once again.

For the first time this last Sunday, our team met as a church in Kharkov, Ukraine. It was a great time of praise, communion, and worship. As we worshiped together, the reality of what we were a part of became clear and we all got excited. We were sent here, partnering with many of you, to be the Body of Christ in a city filled with people who have yet to know the Good News. This Sunday was only the beginning of what God is doing and will do through his people here!

This picture is of Malachi Hindman (back) and Canaan McDougle (front) playing at our house in the train tent we brought with us.

Of course over this last week we have discovered many things which remind us that we are not in heaven yet. There have been some good things and bad things. To our blessing though we have been able to view everything with a humorous attitude. Once we hit culture shock that attitude will probably become scarce, but for now, we are loving even the difficulties.
I'll share some of the good and bad sides of the things we have come across:
  • There are supermarkets with everything we need... but we can't read what any of the products are.
  • The apartments all have radiators in every room... but for some reason the heat hasn't been turned on yet.
  • Our apartment has indoor plumbing... but the bathroom floods if we use a lot of water.
  • The kids on the team are together again... but one of them is sick, so they can't play together.
  • The people smile and look friendly... but we can't talk to them.
  • I was able to bring my computer here from USA... but I blew it up when I plugged it in.
  • Computer stores sell replacement parts... (no bad side, it is all good! My computer is fixed.)
  • Our apartment is all set up for internet... but the building is not; no internet (for now)
  • We have been able to meet with a Russian language tutor... but she spoke no English
  • There are many things that are different we will need to get used to as we make Kharkov our home. With time, those differences will fade and we will hardly notice what really stands out right now, but until then, we doing our best to enjoy it all!
Thank you all for your prayers. From all the horror stories you hear about people moving to other countries and having so many difficulties in the move, we expected it to be tough. But, because of your help in prayers and supplications we have had one of the easiest moves possible. Thanks be to God and to His Body!

Love you all!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We're Off!!!

We just wanted to write a quick post to let everyone know that today is the big day! We move to Kharkov, Ukraine this morning around noon from Dallas/Fort Worth. We fly from Dallas to Washington DC, then to Vienna, and finally arrive tomorrow in Kharkov. So, please keep us in your prayers as we travel and start this new adventure in our life!
We're also saying goodbye to friends and family this morning, so keep that in your thoughts as well. Jacob (David's brother) and my mom were able to come to Dallas with us, so please keep them in your prayers as they travel back today to Lubbock.
We'll let you know as soon as we can that we made it there! Thanks for all your support and prayers and we'll talk to you again soon!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Just A Few Days Now

It has been a good couple weeks since we've posted. Needless to say, we've been busy getting ready to leave! For the last two weeks we were able to be in Lubbock with Olivia's parents, mostly getting ready to go, but also seeing a few friends and supporters there.
Sunset's Missions Sunday
Last Sunday, October 5th, was Sunset's missions Sunday. We were so happy we were able to be there for that day. Sunset is very mission minded and the whole weekend was centered around missions-- all over the world as well as in their neighborhood in Lubbock. The elders at Sunset also did a send off for us and the Hindman family that Sunday. The McDougles skyped in later and had a short interview with the rest of the congregation, which was a big success! By the way, Sunset exceeded their goal they had set for missions, so please join us in praising God for what he is doing through the Christians there!
No More Wisdom
Olivia was scheduled to have her bottom wisdom teeth out in the first week we were in Lubbock. They came out great, thankfully, which we are so thankful for. But, while she was getting those out, David had his teeth checked and found out he needed all his out as well. So, the following week (this last Tuesday), David headed in to get all four wisdom teeth pulled. Olivia was worried because we weren't finished packing and still had a lot to do! Thankfully, David's teeth came out easily. Olivia dropped David off at the dentist then started to go run errands, but those plans were quickly changed when David texted for us to go home and grab the video camera! We made it just in time for the last tooth to be pulled, which was also the hardest to pull. Only David would not only watch the dentist do all the work in his mouth, but ask to have it taped! This picture of the teeth are of Olivia and David's wisdom teeth together. David's are the red ones, and Olivia's are the "cleaner" looking ones. The dentist had saved hers because they had such a big crook on the end. We found out later that it was amazing they came out so easily without breaking... we feel sure it was because of all the prayers offered up!
Packing and Re-packing
In the last 2 1/2 years we have been married, we have moved a total of 7 times. This move to Kharkov will be our 8th move, and the first apartment we move into will only be a temporary apartment for a couple months until we find a permanent apartment in the area of the city we'll be working in. This means by the end of this year, we will have moved a total of 9 times in less than 3 years! You would think it would be easy for us to move now, with so much practice, but this move has definitely been the hardest yet! As many of you travelers know, there is a new baggage weight limit for international traveling. In years past, we have been able to have up to 70 lbs per bag, but they recently changed that policy to 50 lbs per bag. That twenty pounds really made a difference, and needless to say, it has been quite the feat to pack it all up to go with us. We are very fortunate to have heard of a good shipping company to ship boxes to us. They are very reasonably priced and will deliver to our door in Ukraine in just 6 weeks. So, after packing and re-packing, we have it down to 8 boxes being shipped over to Ukraine and 6 bags we are checking in on the plane to take with us! We are looking forward to being able to settle into an apartment we can stay in and not move from for a few years!!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ten Things!

One of our good friends has a blog that she writes 10 things she's thankful for every Tuesday. I love going there and reading it and I felt inspired by her to do the same this week. We have had so much going on the last few weeks, and it seems like every day we're getting busier. Time is flying by, but we are enjoying every minute of it! Ok, enough chit-chat and onto how God has blessed our lives recently:
  1. I am so thankful for the last few months we have had with Legacy and the new friendships we have started that will continue even after we leave. There are many who have gone above and beyond to encourage us and find ways to continue encouraging us while we're on the field.
  2. I am thankful for family. It was so good to have time with a few of them this weekend (and yes, even the ones we've adopted!). I'm also thankful for having family on both sides who are so supportive of our moving to Ukraine! And I'm really thankful to be going to the field with my sister and her family as well.
  3. I'm thankful for our nephews (this includes our teammates boys). Canaan, who is almost two, pretended to talk on the phone for the first time this last week... and of all people, he pretended to talk to me! :) For being so far away, this really fills my heart with joy! We were also able to enjoy Malachi and Silas who were here over the weekend. We're thankful to be going with all of them to (as Malachi would say) the "U-train!"
  4. I am thankful for the beautiful house we've been blessed with while we've been here in Fort Worth. It has especially been perfect for all the company we've had!
  5. I am thankful that we have all our support we need to go now. What a huge blessing from the sacrifices of so many.
  6. I am thankful for being able to bargain shop in these last few weeks before we leave. I'm not sure how many "deals" we'll come across in Ukraine... and since I only know how to count to 8 in Russian, it might be awhile before I could even recognize them!
  7. I am thankful for a wonderful husband who is letting me pack almost whatever I want so I will be comfortable in Ukraine. He's a wonderful support to me and I'm so thankful for all he does!
  8. I am thankful for both our liaison team and prayer team that has just been formed at Legacy. These people are going to be a huge blessing for us while we're on the field!
  9. I am thankful for the time we'll have in Lubbock with friends and family the next couple weeks.
  10. I am thankful this new work we're about to embark on is not up to us.... We are truly thankful to simply be servants of a mighty God who will use our feeble efforts to accomplish His will in Kharkov. It is a great task ahead of us, but we have an even GREATER God who is behind us, beside us, in us, and working before us.
Wow, this list could go on and on. But, those are some of the top few that came to my mind. I'm also posting some pictures of the last few weeks we've had with friends and family. Keep us in your prayers as this Wednesday will be three weeks until we move to Ukraine. We still have visas we're waiting on and we're trying to find temporary housing right now.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Those Christian Missionary Daredevils

This last week Olivia and I had the opportunity to do a little shopping at a half-price book store. Liv needed a cookbook as well as a couple other books to take to the Ukraine so we went shopping. On our way out Liv spotted a book that I wanted to add to my library, it is called "The Daredevil's Manual" by Ben Ikenson. By the title I could tell this was a marvelous book that would make a giant contribution to my library and even add a little (more) excitement to our marriage and also our ministry in Ukraine. It is obvious that I could not pass up this amazing resource. Just imagine the wonderful outreach I could do while balancing a running lawnmower on my chin in a city square! I couldn't not buy it!

As I took this treasure home to read and study I came across something that was very amusing to me and I wanted to share it with you. I know (because I have heard comments) that some people are shocked that I am going into missions. Most of those people are shocked because they know some of the life experiences I have had. Not the bad life experiences, but the seemingly reckless and crazy life experiences, the adventures I have been on, and the dangerous situations I have put myself into. How could I, who enjoys a touch of adrenaline, go to the mission field?

I guess that is a valid question. I mean, what is a person like me going to do? The mission field is obviously a place where boredom is prevalent, the uneventful is consistent, the commonplace is commonplace, where life is normal, and nothing exciting ever happens... Not from what I understand. I'm thinking that a little bit of the daredevil mindset has to be present in the heart of every missionary.

In the introduction to this book it explains how the daredevils have been around for ages. They are the men and women who do things which amaze and awe the crowds, how they dare to go to the edge and teeter over to what seems the impossible. To many, it is a liberation as they break the restraints of the physical and cross over into the "spiritual".
"Part showman, part shaman, the daredevil is as old as the devil himself. Many of the exploits featured in this book originate in ancient India and the Middle East, where elite spiritualists performed mind-boggling feats that spoke to the strength of the Human will and a seemingly supernatural mental acumen. Some of the oldest stunts include sword swallowing, walking over hot coals, hammering nails into one's own face, incredible displays that are still performed today.
The modern descendants of these early spiritualists are today's biker babes and madmen motorcyclists, brick-breaking and karate chopping Christian missionaries, knife chucking reverends, ...
" (The Daredevil's Manual, pg. 12)
That's right, according to this manual, modern day missionaries are our daredevil's. Along with other slightly crazy people, they are the ones who venture to the edge of what is comfortable, what is normal, and teeter over the edge to what may seemingly be impossible. Through their courage and daring nature, people are awed and in wonder at the amazing feats and accomplishments.

To become a missionary, to do something of this magnitude, to pursue a life with this stress and pressure, "daring" is a pre-requisite. Some may call us foolish, some may call us crazy, but to them I would quote my sister-in-law and say "Of course I'm crazy, I'm a missionary!"

"We are daredevils of Christ" - 2 David 5:20a

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Good Luck Missionaries!

Recently Olivia and I were privileged to go to Club 56. We had a blast!

Club 56 is what Legacy calls their 5th and 6th grade bible class. We were invited to share with this class some info on the city of Kharkov, more about us, as well as our plans for church planting there. It was our first time to present to a bible class on the city of Kharkov, and we enjoyed every minute of it! For the last few years Olivia and I have done various presentations on New Zealand to children's Bible classes and we love it, but this time we got to share about a place we will soon be living in rather than a place we have been.

It was fun to laugh with the kids about some of the differences in the Russian language (soon we will be crying because of these differences). We shared pictures and stories, and even some chocolate we had brought back with us from Ukraine. We shared our dreams of establishing churches in Kharkov, and helping people to know the God who created them.

It was truly a blessing for Olivia and I to share these things with the Club 56. We were blessed even more this last week as we received from one of the teachers a stack of cards and letters written by the class wishing us good luck, encouraging us, and letting us know that they are praying for us!!

We have been blessed to have so many people around us who encourage us, and especially lift us up in prayer daily. Thank you club 56 and thank you to all the rest who are supporting us as we get ready to go!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

God's Building at Legacy

Olivia and I were able to celebrate a huge milestone with the congregation here in Forth Worth. God has blessed the Legacy church of Christ with abundant growth and fruitfulness. Over the past 50 years this congregation has been growing and growing! This growth has forced them to add onto buildings, move locations, and build bigger facilities. Legacy was even forced to go to two services because it could not accommodate the whole congregation. This last Sunday morning was a change-- at the completion of its new auditorium, the whole congregation was able to meet together in its entirety.
If you venture down to 8801 Mid-Cities Blvd, you will see an enormous auditorium, a building filled with classrooms, offices, kitchens, storage, and all the other facilities that make a congregation function in its day to day ministries. But, even though there is beautiful lighting or the color schemes are dazzling, even if you notice the sound system or the heated baptistery . . . the building is just an empty shell. When we look at these amazing features and cool modern facilities, we have to remember that in the grand scheme of things this building is insignificant compared to the real building God created.
Now , if you venture down to 8801 Mid-Cities Blvd. on Sunday morning, you will notice the truly beautiful building we call the church. Scripture refers to each member of the church as a living stone which is built up to be a spiritual house, a place where worship and service and spiritual sacrifice is offered up to God. It is not the physical attributes and upgrades which make a church amazing, it is the body of believers who serve and worship there. Without them you only have an empty, useless shell of a building.
That is the beauty of the church God created! Many people around the world are not able to meet in a beautiful building of wood, brick, or stone. Many people do not even have a property set aside for the use of the church; nevertheless, everywhere throughout the entire world the beautiful spiritual building of Christ can be seen and experienced as each of his living stones is fitted into place to create the most amazing, exciting, glorious building that has ever been built.
In the Old Testament we read that Mount Zion (the church) will be established high above all mountains and it will be exalted, and all the nations will flow into it. They will not only flow into it, they will also invite others to come to this place as well. We may build the beautiful auditoriums and facilities, but it is the glory of God seen on his mountain and in his church that makes the nations flow into it. All glory and honor is due to our God who has created such a place that we can come encourage, worship, serve, and truly feel closer to our Creator . . . a place where we can be built up into what we were created to be.
We invite you to one day attend a Sunday morning assembly at the Legacy church of Christ. When you go you will find a building of people who love and care about each other, people who are seeking to grow in their faith and obedience to God, a people set apart to proclaim-- throughout the world-- the excellencies of Him who saves. It is a building of people that will amaze you and encourage you as they express the love they have received to everyone they meet.
We have been greatly blessed to be a part of this congregation. And look forward to spending more and more time with our brothers and sisters here. Below is a short video of our time together in worship and fellowship as we celebrated the completion of another resource given to Legacy as we serve the living God.


video

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Few Highlights of Our Week

Well, it's about time for us to write another update here on our blog. We've had several things that have happened, so we thought we would share a couple highlights with you!
First of all, David and I have now both had the opportunity to speak at Legacy. David taught one of the adult classes this last Wednesday night and Sunday morning. I was also able to share a little about myself and our plans at a lady's function Tuesday night. Usually, after we open up a little about ourselves, others feel more welcome and share their own similar stories. It's a blessing and the more we get to know this congregation, the more excited we become because they are so encouraging and have really worked to make us feel a part of the family.
Another highlight was last Saturday. We were invited to spend a day at Possum Kingdom lake with Dale and Tina Bankhead (see picture to the left) from church. We had a great day with them-- wake boarding, tubing, playing on the jet ski, and just enjoying the fellowship. They were even kind enough to take us out to Hell's Gate which is a really nice area of the lake. There are cliffs on either side of the lake with very nice houses all around. We just stopped and had dinner there, it was the perfect spot! That whole day was a well needed break, and so good to get in the water again! I must say, though, the next day we were both really sore. But, it was worth it!!
And finally, if you didn't know, our family seems to attract brown recluse spiders, this is great for David, but not so for me. We came to the conclusion that we were finding more than the normal amount of these little guys in our house so we decided to go ahead and get some professionals to come and get rid of them for us. But before we did David wanted to have a little fun with it. I hope you enjoy his video.

video

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Exciting Week!

This past Wednesday evening, Legacy Church of Christ put on an "Old Fashioned Pounding" for us and the other missionary couple here, Corey and Emily Mullins. Now, I must let you know that when David first heard they were giving us a "pounding," he thought we had done something wrong. I suppose that's what you think when you grow up most of your life in New Zealand. :) Well, after our "pounding" Wednesday night, we drove away with a trunk full of groceries! We were amazed at how much food we received, it was such a blessing. Our pantry is stocked now (especially with peanut butter, jelly, canned corn, beans, and spaghetti sauce!) and we also received several gift cards to buy perishables. I can't tell you how overwhelmed we have been with Legacy's generosity. Now, if we can only find a night to cook with the food-- members keep signing up to have us over!! We are really excited to be here and be a part of such a great congregation.
Today is our last day of preparation before the Global Missions Conference here in Fort Worth. We are fortunate to be here in the area for the conference this year. Over the last few days we've been working to put together a booth for our team and we hope it attracts others who are interested in spreading the gospel to that part of the world. David is also facilitating a Ukraine Mission Team interest group on Thursday night. During that time we plan to share more information about our team, but also promote the other cities that we visited for our survey trip. Because we were able to visit the locals in those areas, we want to voice their plea for more mission workers to come and aid them. We've spent a lot of time getting it all together, but we're close to the end. As most of you know, we already had a booth, team brochure, personal brochure, business card, website, etc. for Moscow, Russia. But, now that we are going to Kharkov, everything must change!! This new endeavor has been really good for us and we feel that we are not only learning a little more about Kharkov, but it is becoming "our own." Soon we'll be able to share our excitement with others.
If you are planning on going to the conference this week, we hope to run into you, but please stop by our booth or come to our interest group on Thursday! For more information about the Global Missions Conference you can visit: http://www.globalmissionsconference.org/
Finally, if you haven't subscribed to our blog, please enter your email address in the top right corner of this page. This will email you every time we post a new thing on our blog! Thanks for all your comments and visits, they greatly encourage us on our journey as we prepare for Kharkov!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

We've Made A Decision!

Yeah!!!!! It is our pleasure to share with all of you the decision we have been working on for the last couple months.
After our extensive survey trip, much prayer, discussion within the team, and seeking counsel and approval from our sponsoring congregations, we have made the decision. We are moving to... (drumroll) Kharkov, Ukraine!
It was a hard decision to make because we saw a big need in all the cities we visited. But, we are all happy about the decision and the new location we are headed.

Here are some facts about Kharkov we thought we would share with you all:
  • Kharkov is also spelled Kharkiv (Russian: Харьков). (The English spelling -ov is the Russian pronunciation and -iv is the Ukrainian pronunciation.)
  • Kharkov is pronounced something like (but not exactly, of course): "HARkov."
  • There are about 1.6 million people in Kharkov with 4 churches of Christ that we know of with around 100 members combined.
  • It is the second largest city in Ukraine.
  • Kharkov is known for it's universities-- there are 250,000+ students in Kharkov.
  • The city is primarily Russian speaking.
  • Kharkov is near the Russian border.
  • The city was a former capital of Ukraine.
  • Kharkov has a metro system with 28 stops and is continuing to build more.
  • The climate is nice: average temperature in Jan: 44⁰ F and in June: 68⁰ F
As we find out more information, we'll try to let you know! Thank you all again for your prayers and support as we looked for another city after Moscow. We have truly been overwhelmed with the encouragement we have received. We are very excited about this new location and know we will grow to love it more and more. We are now officially the Kharkov Team!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We made it back!

The rest of our stay in the Ukraine was very exhausting! The rest of our time in Odessa was rushed, but long enough to get what we needed. Like Kharkov, we were able to drive around the city and see a few neighborhoods as well as the city center. We went to a language school and inquired about their classes they offer, and it was very impressive. Odessa is a very beautiful city, full of life and abundant ministry opportunities. It is a tourist city with a vibrant night life along the beach front.
On a side note: While in Odessa we met an interesting fellow from America, who was over their hunting... for a wife. When we met him, he thought Olivia was a local Ukrainian and asked if she had any friends that would like to get married. It was an eye opener to see a lack of surprise in the face of Nana (a local Christian that was showing us around). Apparently there have been a few girls in the church that have left over the past years because they have married Americans and moved to the states with them. Odessa has two marriage organizations, which is very different.
From Odessa, we went to Simferopol where we met two members of the church there. The full-time worker and his daughter picked us up and took wonderful care of us while we were with them. His daughter did the majority of the translating for us while we were there-- a good and needed break for Dougle. (Dougle did a tremendous job on the trip translating for us. We wouldn't have been able to do even a fourth of what we did without his help!) The minister was able to visit with us about their city and the work he saw that needed to be done there. A large part of their work their is working with the local orphanages. It was very exciting to hear how well this ministry was going. The following day, the daughter cooked us a 4-course Ukrainian meal-- it was so nice! They also took us to the Crimea American College where were were able to visit with the director about the city and we also drove around Simferopol. The city itself was located in a river valley, which enabled us to drive to various locations and see the whole city at one time. There is also a large Tatar population in Simferopol, which was interesting for us all.
Sevastopol was our next and final stop. We took a taxi from Simeropol to Sevastopol which took just over an hour. It was a nice drive, and as we approached Sevastopol, we saw the beautiful Black Sea. Before we let our taxi go back, we had him take us around the city, which was... interesting. A large number of their roads there were dirt roads! Olivia got a little sick as we drove around (she gets car sick pretty easily and the bumpy roads didn't help). We had him drop us off in the city center which was vastly different than the rest of the city. It was very nice and well taken care of. You see, this city has been destroyed about 3 times in war and was almost completely rebuilt about 40 years ago. The city was filled with a lot of military, both Russian and Ukrainian, and we saw the different countries flags grouped together throughout the city. (If you get a chance look up online some of what is going on in Sevastopol between Ukraine and Russia, it is interesting to see a tension between the two countries over this strategic port city). Although we had just under two days in this city, we weren't able to accomplish as much as we would have liked there. The two church workers were out of town, and we weren't even able to meet with the language school we found. This was sad for us, but we were also so exhausted, we were able to take a nap before we all started heading back home. It ended up being a blessing! The lack of local help in Sevastopol made us appreciate further the blessing we had in the other cities with Christians who were able to help us in our survey.
After we got back to Simferopol, we all went our different ways. Phil and the two of us went to Kiev to fly out. We were able to spend most of the day looking around that city and just enjoying the sights. It was a nice treat after our trip, we really enjoyed our day there. The next morning at five-thirty, we left for the airport. After all the trouble we had getting to Ukraine, we were a bit worried as to whether we would have similar trouble on the way back. Fortunately, we had no real problems which caused any missed flights or delays. It was a long day (23 hours of traveling... and for almost all of it we were awake), but we made it in late Sunday evening!
Well , now is a good time to end this post, but we will be writing brief note about each city and a slideshow of pictures, so look forward to that. Thanks to all of you for your prayers as we went on this adventure! God truly blessed our trip and we all feel like it was a success-- we are now more encouraged about moving to Ukraine and are getting closer to deciding on a city!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kharkov and Odessa

Hello and yes, we finally made it here ty Ukraine!! We had no problems on our flight from Vienna to Kiev, thank goodness. After we made it to Kiev, we took a taxi to the train station and after about 1 hour and 15 minutes of trying to communicate in Russian and try to find the right place to buy tickets to Kharkov, we finally had our tickets. We left Kiev about midnight and arrived in Kharkov that next morning around ten. It was such a blessing to finally be there!
Rob and Dougle were there waiting for us, along with two men from the church. We hit the ground running and for the next couple days, we flew around the city. We were so blessed to have two Christian brothers (Valerie and Robert) helping us around the city!
The city itself was big with some nice looking parks, but funny enough we only noticed one mowed lawn in the whole city. The city is not known for its beauty, but the people there we thought were friendly and there were lots of them. Kharkov had a small, but good metro system, which was very convinient.
During our stay, we were able to meet with an American baptist missionary couple who had been living in Kharkov around 8 years. From them we found out some useful information about the city. Things like the fact that there aren't many expats in Kharkov (so being forign will be a novelty that may be an advantage if we work there). We also learned from them that the university population in Kharkov, which is a very large population (250,000), has not been reached by any church group they know of. Dougle and Rob were able to meet with a realestate agent who was able to recommend significant areas of interest in Kharkov to the team. We were able to visit each part of the city that was mentioned, which was great-- we videoed and took lots of pictures!
We were especially pleased to come across a supermarket called Target, it was great to find out that we would have access to a lot of the foods we were halfway expecting to do weithout. David was excited to even find New Zealand Green Lipped mussels in the frozen food section. The city of Kharkov that was a really good size, it is the second largest city in Ukraine and doesn't look like it will be losing its position any time soon. There is lots of growth as more apartments are being built and Metro stops keep geting added on, spreading further and further.
Overall, we were a little disappointed that Kharkov wasn't as aesthetically appealing as we had imagined. There were a lot of dirt roads and run down looking apartment buildings everywhere. They also do not mow their grass, so most of the city is overgrown. It did have really lovely trees everywhere, so that was nice. There is a lot of potential for it to look nice, and who knows maybe part of our service to the lost could include caring for a park where their children run around playing. Though the city was ugly, it was pleasing to the eyes to see the mothers out with their children and the people out everywhere going to and fro, maybe searching for their creator.
After spending those three days in Kharkov, we left on Saturday evening to go to Odessa by train. We left around 6pm and arrived at 8am this morning. So far, we have been able to meet with a group from the church of Christ we attended this morning, plus a lady from another church of Christ here in town. She was a big blessing and has helped us most of this afternoon. It has been so good to meet with so many people at all our stops. We hope to get a better view of the city tomorrow and hopefully meet with a man from the Christian church here in town who can hopefully give us more information about the city here. We will post more about Odessa in the future.
God has been good to us all on this trip! We have met so many different people and have really been able to get good looks at the places we are interested in. On the train ride to Odessa, our team came up with a "Likes and Dislikes" list about Kharkov. We have been able to have really good discussion and prayer time together. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we travel. Also, please pray that our bag gets to Ukraine soon. It was for Lucy and it still has not arrived-- so we hope it is found soon and doesn't end up back in Dallas with us! Thank you to all for the comments and encouragement. It was a shot in the arm and we are so thankful for all the prayers and support behind us. Please know we thank God for you! We'll post more when we get a chance-- most likely at the next stop... Simferopol, Ukraine!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kharkov or Bust!

Hello from the airport in Vienna! Yes, it has been about 2 days since we left Lubbock and we have yet to make it to Ukraine. As you can guess, we've had a few problems with our flights! We started in Dallas and in our flight to Washington DC we were re-routed to Richmond, VA due to bad weather before we finally made it to Washington DC, 3 1/2 hours late. Needless to say, we missed our flight out. After waiting hours in line, we finally got booked for Boston where it looked hopeful that we could get a flight out the next day. We reached Boston, but didn't get into the hotel room until 2:30am due to re-arranging our flights out of Boston. (And do I dare mention that we didn't eat for 22 hours due to all these delays?) At 5:30pm the next day (Tuesday), we left Boston for Paris. The flight into Paris was 10 minutes late, and even though we ran all through the airport to get to our flight, we missed it. We actually watched them take the boarding tunnel off the plane. We were so close! From Paris, we flew out to Vienna, but upon arriving in Vienna (after 2 hours of talking to frustrated ticket agents), we have come to the conclusion that we were not going to get to Kharkov today. Right now, our plan is to fly instead to Kiev, Ukraine and then take an overnight train to Kharkov. We should arrive there in the morning-- 2 days later than expected. (That means we will have been traveling for a good 72 hours!) We are exhausted and all of us have about 10 different tickets in our hands from re-booked flights! David is just reading his book at the table and keeps waking himself in time to keep his head from slamming into the table. :) Lessons learned: 1) Next time we go to Ukraine, get the most direct flight possible and 2) Next time we're in these really neat cities, make time to actually leave the airport to enjoy them! Please keep us in your prayers as we still try to make it to Kharkov. Thank you all for your prayers this far-- we know it has helped us keep in good spirits! We will make it to Kharkov... or bust!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Survey Trip to Ukraine

Well, we have finally joined the many other missionaries in creating a blog page to try tohelp us keep all of our friends and families informed as to what is going on with us. We hope that this page will make you feel like you are experiencing everything with us.
This morning we are experiencing a few different feelings. The main one is exhaustion! Right now we are packing our last minute things and getting ready to rush out the door before we board the plane to go to the Ukraine.
As some of you may know, our team (well, part of it at least) is going to go to Ukraine for the next two weeks and scout out the land before we move there. We hope that seeing these places first hand will help us to make a more educated decision forwhere our team will move to and work. This trip has spurred us on to get going on this page so we can share what we find with all of you.
Our aim is to post information about the four different places that we will be traveling to, sharing some of what we discover so that you can comment and be a part of this process with us. Let us know what you think!
Finally, please keep us all in your prayers as we travel around. Mike McDougle, Rob Hindman, Phil Jackson (from Missions Resource Network), and the two of us will be going on this trip together for the next two weeks. Thanks so much!