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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.

The Lie

The lie… not always insidious, but definitely always distasteful.  The poor sod who believes the lie… not always a drongo, but always deceived… and so always somewhat to be pitied.  I hate lies!  I’ve managed to break that 9th… probably quite a few times during my days on earth.  But I suspect that my love of the truth and hate for the lie has kept me many a time from wading into that morass.  God doesn’t approve of it – so neither do I.

To flip the subject:  It’s amazing what we will believe simply because we were informed of the “facts” and they fit our political world view or affirm our family allegiance.  For most of us in our town of Rzhyshchiv, the Ukrainian army can do no wrong.  They are “our boys”.  For many in the east of Ukraine, they hear stories of atrocities the Ukrainian army has committed, (including that a Ukrainian fighter jet shot down MH17), and they naturally believe those stories because they “fit their world-view”.  In many instances, we believe what we want to believe.  The wise man; however, has learned to take note of the details and has been trained to think logically, and will often recognize falsehood. 

I don’t feel all that wise at times.  Knowing when I’ve been lied to isn’t my weakest suit, but I know I’ve been deceived a lot of times, too.  Wouldn’t it be good to carry around a pocket lie-detector?  Someone should invent an app for that!  Anyone want to be a millionaire?