Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blessings in Mariupol

A week ago we traveled with our team down to the city of Mariupol, Ukraine. Our teammates, Brandon and Katie Price, have worked with the church in Mariupol before (he as an AIM student in 2002-2004, then both of them as a couple in 2007-2008), so this was an opportunity for them to introduce us to the church there. It was a great experience.

While we were there, we were invited to 2 youth devotionals where we met and hung out with the youth. Our friend, Sasha (who came up to visit us in Kharkov a couple weeks ago), was there and it was encouraging to see him leading songs among his peers. The congregation is one of the largest in Ukraine with about 80 regular members and many of those are youth. The men on the team were also able to sit down with the preachers in Mariupol to get their advice and thoughts on church planting here in Ukraine. Tim Burrow, former missionary in Mariupol, was also there with us, so it was really good to spend some time with him as well as one of the elders from his sponsoring church, Hal Pendergraft.

On Saturday the ladies on the team joined the ladies from church and learned how to make an Ukrainian dessert. It was wonderful to be with them all and I'm anxious to try the recipe on my own at home. This is a picture of me (below, sitting at the table) trying to take notes while the lady in charge rattled off the recipe in Russian. I even tried cheating by looking at the ladies next to me, but even then I only wrote down "6 eggs - cold, milk, flour, boil"-- basically any word I recognized. I tried, right? When they started cooking, I started writing in English and actually walked away with a recipe. Thank goodness they showed us how to do it! It was a lot of fun. Later on that weekend, the minister's wife, Ira, took us to their women's ministry room upstairs and explained a little more of what they do every week. I really hope we can get something like that going here in Kharkov as well.

We were also able to go down to the sea a couple of times which was really fun for the kids. (Here are a couple pictures, one with Silas on the beach an the other of the two Antys and the kids.)

We had a wonderful time in Mariupol and were doubly blessed by the Christians there. On our way home, we stopped in Donetsk to do some paperwork. On Saturday, Katie and Brandon left us to go back to the states. We had a wonderful month with them here. The next time we'll see them will most likely be next year when they move here. Needless to say, we're glad they joined the team and we're looking forward to having them back here on a permanent basis!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Garden Pictures and "Who's the Kindest Country?"

The Garden on Our Balcony

David's garden on our balcony has been taking off. We've been enjoying lettuce these last couple weeks and it's still producing! His green onions are also about ready to be uprooted. He continues to cut off the tops of the cherry tomatoes because they're growing so much and this last week they started flowering, so we'll be seeing little green tomatoes soon! He started 12 cherry tomato plants, thinking they wouldn't all grow, but they did. So the Hindmans and our language teacher, Yelena, got several plants from us that they're continuing to grow. He's also growing cilantro, habanero peppers, and jalapeno peppers. We're so grateful to have our balcony to grow food on, and I'm grateful for a husband who is taking such good care of it all!

"новая Зеландия - страна добряков

Our language teacher brought us an article from our local Kharkov newspaper Today this last week. The title is "New Zealand - Kindest Country." You can guess why she brought it our way! Just in case you're wondering: the United States was rated #83 in 149 countries, Ukraine was rated #82, and Russia was rated #136. They are pretty happy they are rated "kinder and more loving" than the United States. We were excited New Zealand has a good reputation that maybe we can piggy-back on here in Ukraine!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dolphins, Friends, and Russian Songs

Last weekend Brandon and Katie had a friend come up from Mariupol. Sasha came on the train early Saturday morning. He spent all day on Saturday with our team and then left with Brandon and Katie on Sunday evening.

A couple weeks ago a new outdoor dolphinarium opened up in the main park in town. Sasha was a good excuse for all of us to go see the show together. Lucy was still under the weather, so David and I offered to keep Canaan overnight. We picked him up and headed to meet the Hindmans, Prices, and Sasha at the show. It was great and thoroughly entertaining! The show included 4 sea lions, and 4 dolphins performing their best. Two of the dolphins gave up halfway through their routine and their poor trainer left them to swim around, misbehaving, which was quite comical. Who would have guessed we'd have a dolphinarium in Kharkov, Ukraine?!

On Sunday our whole team (minus Lucy and Max since Lucy was still sick) went to XT3 (Hetezay) to worship with the congregation out there. The service is in Russian, so David and I struggle to understand little fragments of what they are saying. Nevertheless, it's encouraging and we're all worshipping the Lord together.

Later in the afternoon, after Dougle and Lucy fed us all enchiladas, we all sang together. Sasha brought song
books up from Mariupol for us to use and then led us all in singing. It was really good to sing together in Russian, even though we weren't perfect at it, sometimes stumbling over the words and/or tune. In 2002, Brandon met Sasha in Mariupol when he was an AIM student. Brandon worked with him while he was in AIM and Sasha became a Christian. When Brandon and Katie went back to Mariupol again in 2007-2008, they worked with Sasha more, training him to be one of the leaders in the youth group. Today, Sasha is helping "train" us in Russian songs-- what a neat story. We pray stories like Sasha's will come out of the work we'll be a part of here. We know God has amazing plans for the Sashas, Natashas, and Nicolays here in Kharkov!

During our singing together, Brandon and Sasha even taught us the Russian version of "The Sea of Galilee" so I thought I'd share it with you here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's Been Awhile!

June is flying by around here! We are enjoying hotter summer days (especially hot for our teammates who don't have air conditioning), but we're loving the sun and enjoying all the time we're getting outside. There's something about summer that brings the Ukrainians to life and it's wonderful to be a part of it.

Team Time
These last two weeks we've had our teammates, Brandon and Katie Price, here in Kharkov with us. They left yesterday to go down south to visit Mariupol, Ukraine (to the congregation they worked with for several years). On Thursday, our whole team will travel down to Mariupol and spend the weekend with them. It will be good to go see a different part of Ukraine, meet other Christians, and get to know the people who Brandon and Katie call their family. After our time with them, we'll all come back to Kharkov, making a day stop in Donetsk, Ukraine to register visas and inquire about car registration. We hope to get a car pretty soon, we just need to figure out how to put it in our name.

Our Time with the Prices
We were blessed to have Brandon and Katie stay with us for the first week of their visit here. During that time we really got to know each other better. David and I are very excited to have another couple around our age coming here. They also attended our language classes during the week and our teacher Yelena took right to them. Katie also taught me how to make вареники [ver-en-ik-y], a Ukrainian pasta dish. Вареники can be filled with many things, but we filled ours with potatoes and cheese, then another batch with berries. You boil them on the stove for just a few minutes, then serve them warm with sour cream. Even the berry filled ones are served with sour cream (with a little sugar) on top. It was delicious!

Scouting the City

For the last couple weeks we've been walking around different parts of the city. We enjoy where we're living now (the center), but all hope to move to a different part of the city this next year. In the center, we feel like we're in an apartment building that is mostly surrounded by businesses. We hope to find a place that has a "neighborhood" atmosphere where we can become a part of a community. So, our team walked around four different areas of the city we were interested in, and two of them appealed to us all, so that is great. I'm including some pictures from our walk. We wondered how strange we must look to people-- 8 Americans and their kids walking around!

Care Package!

I also wanted to mention we received a care package from Legacy a couple weeks ago!! Denyce and Lucy both came "shopping" in my pantry as well to grab a few goodies. It's so nice to have fun foods around. The box contained food, books, fun toys, lotions, and medicine too. The medicine came just in time as Lucy has been sick with a horrible head cold and I got a minor version of it as well... it was nice to have American medicine we already know and trust on hand!

I'll stop writing so this post doesn't become too long. I still have a few more things to share, so I'll be posting again soon in a couple days. I did want to mention our teammate Brandon's blog. He's posting a picture a day and so far they've all been of their trip to Ukraine. Most of the pictures are common things we see around here, he just does a great job capturing it. His site is: