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May08 Angel

18 percent pay cut

I’ve always felt that the financial market is a fascinating study.  Currency fluctuations, being influenced by economy, by current events, by charts, by formulas, by history, by fear and greed… it is truly a complex world!  I remember the days in Ukraine’s history when the local currency was experiencing super-hyper inflation.  Each month, for a period of a few years, money in Ukraine was losing 30% or more of it’s value.  So a car which cost the equivalent of $10,000 in January would cost the equivalent of $16,000in March.  There was great incentive to spend your salary as soon as you got it. 

The last week has seen the local currency drop in value by 18%, (about 50% during the last year).  All those who took advantage of the 24% interest rate offered on savings last year are feeling a bit burnt.  I was talking with some people over the weekend who said that they are so thankful for their gardens.  They will do ok throughout this tough period.  One of them had received a 50% pay cut on top of the incredible inflation (18%)… but they still had the produce from their garden to fall back on.  As is so often the case… when people feel like the pressures are piling on… they will often humble themselves before God.  And while I aren’t going to be cheering on the suffering, I definitely recognize the beautiful way that God works through suffering in bringing us to our knees in humility before Him.  Suffering also gives those who can love an opportunity to reveal the beautiful character of God through helping, giving, loving and speaking words of wisdom into the lives of the sufferers.

Who Wins

photoWell… no real surprises at the election results.  Ukraine is still on a heading towards Europe.  The votes are still being counted, but those who appreciate justice should be fairly content with the results.  May Ukraine see moral progress as we clean up the corruption.photophoto

The ladies enjoyed their weekend away.  Rachel and Abby flew over from the States to minister to the 40 or so ladies who went to Ivankiv, a small town about 3 hours drive away.  From reports by different ladies, they were greatly blessed.  It’s been a pleasure having these two God-loving ladies come for these few short days. 

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: