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Thick and Fast

“Things” seem to have been happening thick and fast around here this last month.IMG_1367

   On the family front… 

Angel has her license.  She studied up a storm in the weeks prior to the test… in Ukrainian, no less.  God blessed for the testing day and she managed to pass.  No suggestions were made for bribes or anything like that… something that is a welcome direction in the police force.

She is nearly finished school and should do so in the U.S..  She left last week to help look after some little nieces while an aunt introduces a baby into the world in a few months.  Her health is much improved and the periods of suffering are for shorter periods of time and less severe.  Manuka honey has been her very good friend these last few months.

Come July, we will join her and most of the other Bible family members for a 50th wedding celebration that Pris’ parents will hold in Ohio.  Pris is pretty excited.  We’ll be seeing Angie again, but also… the last time we were together in America was over 20 years ago.  We will get to stay with some special friends from Pris’ teen years, which will be a delight and be seeing her brothers and their families.  This last couple of weeks, I managed to figure out dates and flights and was again surprised at how cheap it is to travel when compared to 28 years ago when I first left the shores of Australia.

   On the country front…

Two strange birds

conf rehab fotoEight of us went to a conference on Saturday.  It was the first one we were involved in organizing for central Ukraine and we invited volunteers from eight other rehab centres to come.  Looking over the hall and seeing God’s grace in the lives of these guys and girls was amazing.  The unusual thing was that in this picture, Marie and I are the only ones who weren’t addicted to drugs or alcohol.  That’s a fact.  Actually, I just realized, I took the photo…  Marie is the only strange bird pictured!   

To my surprise, the conference was pretty much perfect.  Rather than have several sermons or Bible studies, we had one sermon and the rest of the day was filled with questions and answers that touched on rehab ministry.  The super-happy guy up the back had just been released from prison and was still high from freedom and the love of his Christian family.  (Most of these guys have spent time in jail.)

Steady as She Goes

IMG-1928That’s how I feel about the ministry right now.  Sure, we’ve had a few incidents with a couple of different people and situations; but by and large, things progress steadily and to God’s glory.  Thankfully, the horses and sleigh in the picture is not our permanent new means of transport.  An old friend from the village let us come and enjoy the unique experience for a bit over an hour in January. 

We had a close call a couple of weeks ago when one of our guys didn’t come home after work and we discovered him the next morning drunk and penniless, having spent his paycheck on gaming and grog.  He assured us that he had made up his mind to go home to his family and nothing we could say would change it.  Normally when someone who has believed in Jesus says this, we don’t argue, but encourage them to go, warning them of what they can expect as a child of God in rebellion to Him.  My heart breaks when I see someone leave like this… and I sincerely hope that I never get used to it.  Kolya went home, was rejected by his parents, found a friend to live with for a few days, and then, prodigal-son-like, turned his thoughts towards “home”.  We encouraged him to come back and took him back into basic rehab – probably for a couple of months.  It was good to hug him again.

The Holidays are nearly over

famoThe clock has just ticked past midnight, signaling the start of Orthodox Christmas on the 7th.  For the second year running, we joined most of the protestant churches around Ukraine and celebrated on the 25th of December this year.  Amazingly, it just didn’t seem quite right.  I proposed changing the date of New Years as well… but the joke went down like a ton of bricks. 

Jesse joined us for Christmas and invited a couple of friends from Oz to join us.  It was pleasant spending time with them and experiencing their love for Christ.  Jesse is still with us and leaves in 10 days or so to go back to the life of a student at Brisbane School of Theology and minister in a church in Brisbane.