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Elle and Pris

Pray

LATEST UPDATE:  Sergei and Daniel have been released.  We are short on details at the moment, but know that they are home.  I’ll let you know more once the details come to light.

 UPDATE:  The separatists have informed the family that they have “arrested” Sergei and Daniel for crimes related to their support of the Ukrainian government.  They are being held in the old Customs Department Building in the city, Krasnodon.  From what we know, neither they, nor the church have actually helped the Ukrainian government troops in any way, but if they could have given them food or shelter back during the days of fighting, they probably would have. 

The separatists don’t exactly have a good track record when it comes to humane treatment of prisoners, so if you have given some time to praying for this family, you may want to continue with this in mind.

 

Sergei and Lena

Daniel, Kristina and Sophia

A few hours ago, Sergei and Daniel were taken from their apartment in Krasnodon on the Russian/Ukrainian border.  It is supposed that “the separatists” were responsible because their computer and some folders with church documents were missing as well.  (No other valuables were missing.)

Sergei is a miner who loves Jesus and was the assistant pastor in the Good News Church in their city of 50,000.  The church has about 100 people in it.  The separatists took over the church building and are using it as a barracks.  The pastor left the city several months ago and Sergei is overseeing the church.

Thanksgiving

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(This is an image from the town where Alyosha is stationed.  Children taking shelter in the root cellar… is not something I’ll likely ever see in Australia!)

Last night, we celebrated the holiday we call “Thanksgiving”.  Very simply, it involves gathering together, eating and thanking the Lord for His blessings.  The ladies in the church decorated the room incredibly and I felt as if we had opened up the winter season with a festive occasion.  About 50 people celebrated with us which made for a full room, but it was another special night for us all.

The older I get, the more I appreciate what God does for me/us.  … at least, that’s what it feels like.  I am so grateful for His blessings.  “Abundant life” is what Jesus came to give.  I look around me and see people suffering.  I see people who have lost hope.  So many people are hurting.  But what I’ve also seen is that those who suffer and hurt with their trust in God intact, (recognizing his blessings), seem to still have some sort of gratefulness and peace about them.  That observation in no way denies that they suffer or hurt; rather it acknowledges the Giver of Peace.  Trust in Him and it makes a beautiful difference.

We still enjoy our guests from Eastern Ukraine.  I’ll introduce you to them:

Is This Life Normalized Now

Ukraine truce hangs by thread as shells rock city of DonetskI’m back home.  The flights were good.  My luggage arrived with me.  And I even slept a bit on the flights.  Pris and my girls met me at the airport… with flowers and hugs.  After 30 hours of flying and layovers, I was feeling pretty seedy, but managed to last until 11-ish before my eyelids refused to stay open. 

I arrived back to a full house.  Not only did we have five extra’s from the east, but also a house full of students from the tech college.  As has happened most years, we generally start off the year with lots of students.  But this year we seem to be getting a bumper crop, (about 60 over the two nights).  This year, studies have been cancelled for the winter months due to the crisis in the country, (affecting gas supplies – heating of most homes is facilitated by gas furnaces), so this year, we will only have time with these students through until November.  It is likely that they will have four months off over winter and only come back near the end of March. 

We are planning a sleep-over on the island in two weeks, followed a week later by two nights away at a camp-site.  I’m keen to see what God is planning to do over this next couple of months for these students.

The Unexpected

The unexpected so often happens.  Trusting God when the unexpected is inconvenient or unpleasant has a basic requirement:  that you know Who He Is.  I’ve noticed that those who feel like they can’t trust Him… just don’t understand that He is almighty and loving. 

A lot has happened since our last blog post.  Our lives have been turned upside down by the unexpected and unpleasant and inconvenient.  And yet, because we know who God is, our hearts are at peace.

Two weeks ago, my Father had a brain haemorrhage.  As soon as we found out, my sister, Jemimah, and I began to think and plan to come back to Australia.  God’s hand was on our trip and we arrived back here three days after his haemorrhage.  Our lives have been pretty much lived in the ICU ward and waiting room for the last week and a bit. 

Dad is doing well.  Time is yet to reveal how much the haemorrhage has damaged his brain and what sort of damage was done, but he is speaking, joking, walking, reading… albeit a lot slower than he was two weeks ago.  Yesterday, the docs took out what we’ve been calling his “brain drain” (hose sticking into the top of his head draining away liquid accumulating above his brain).  And today, they are comfortable enough with his improvement to suggest moving him out of ICU into a regular ward.  So, even though he isn’t “out of danger” yet, he is improving and seems to be improving rapidly.  We are thankful to the myriad of people who surrounded us and him with prayer throughout this.