Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

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.