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!