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Mundane windows

IMG_0132A mundane start to this blog:  Talk about windows.

The long-awaited window has arrived. I’ve been hoping to put a door and window in our kitchen for a few years and had kept my eye out for a second-hand one. I gave up on that thought earlier this year and decided to order one new. I had half-a-thought that I would get it in for Priscilla’s birthday, which we celebrated yesterday, but was tardy on the ordering and it only arrived today. It will change things up well when I do get it in though and the pull will definitely be there to get it in over this next week. I’m surprised…  I’m excited at the thought!

Pris continues the rehab for her back. As I type, we we are in Kiev for a strange procedure that the doctors have suggested we “resort to” on the off chance it may make a difference. (She is having her blood taken and treated so that the red blood cells are removed, then injected back into the places of her back and right side which are seized up.) We trust God and His perfect will and are hoping that it is to use this to give more relief.  (She should be out in about an hour, so I think I’ll have this finished and sent off by then.)

Life continues with regular unexpected experiences. A few days ago, our car served as a livestock transporter. Mitya and I picked up some more goslings for the two guy’s homes in the village and then brought back three sheep to be used as a lawnmower at Tolic and Natasha’s in Rzhyshchiv for the summer. The sheep were by far the trickier and smellier cargo. (Advice: if ever you transport sheep in a car, tie up BOTH front and back hooves.)  And if you just though that you’d never find yourself in that sort of situation, let me know when you’re coming for a visit and we’ll see what we can organize! 

God continues to show grace to the guys in the two rehab homes we have. However, after the last few weeks, it doesn’t feel as if things are going that well for us with the third stage guys. Three different men have been lured away by their weak flesh and the siren call of their old life. I think at least two of these guys are probably a part of God’s family, and if God chooses to show them mercy, there will come a time when they will seek God and His kingdom again. It’s still tough to see this happen though! The disappointment at losing a few guys who we loved is somewhat tempered by the knowledge that there are several men who are giving a lot of glory to God and encouraging us… but still.  I hate the negative goodbyes.

IMG_0129Once a week now, I am going out with one of the guys to talk with people in one of the nearby smaller villages. It’s been several years since I went out specifically and regularly with the intention to share the gospel with people and it’s been wonderful to get back into it. It goes without saying that we don’t do it for the warm fuzzies… but honestly, both of us return home feeling as if we can’t wait for next week!  We are praying that more people get the vision and start doing this in other villages.

We are well recovered from Covid… as is everyone in our church. Interestingly enough, the people who suffered the most were three men who were close to 50… me included. Sergei, “camouflage cap,” was one of the three and is a happy watcher when work is going on.  :)  This covid enemy sapped our strength, took away our sense of taste/smell, and gave us a heavy feeling in our chests as we felt the lack of oxygen. God’s mercy was evident though as none of us needed to go to hospital – something for which I’m deeply thankful.

imageWe’ve come to the end of our first term of taking in kids after school. Numerous people in our church have given of their time and resources to help from 5-7 kids with their homework several days a week and simply spend time with them. Jemi has done an excellent job of organizing everything and it’s definitely been wonderful for these kids. On Saturday, they went to the zoo in Kiev and according to Elle, loved every minute! Most of these children come from homes of local alcoholics and it is our prayer that God use this in their lives to draw them to Himself.

The kindergarten for church littlies has also had a good start. I’m not sure where God will take this ministry, but it will be interesting to see exactly how He plans on using it.

Oh! I meant to add at the end of the last post… “not really 1000 bottles”. Of course, not 1000 bottles!

May God bless you!

Bundaberg GB in Ukraine

IMG-0008We have lift-off… and are now doing our bit in carrying the little covid-19 virus to other parts of the globe, country, town and neighbourhood.

Last week, I started to feel seedy. On Sunday, it was confirmed when I lost all ability to taste anything, that I had covid, but we went and did a test anyway. The tests revealed that Pris, Elle and I all have it and we’ll miss celebrating Ukrainian Easter with the church as we wait out a quarantine period. We’re in pretty good company, as about 20 people in our church are sick with it right now, (none of us thus far requiring hospitalization). I sure don’t envy those who do hard yards on this virus though. I feel as if I’ve been breathing through a thick blanket for far too long… and I don’t have one of the heavy cases.

An incredibly ironic thing happened this past week. Before she got sick earlier this week, Ellie was in a supermarket in Kiev strolling along an aisle when her eye was caught by a truly astounding sight - Bundaberg Ginger Beer in Kiev! (I got her to buy 1000.) The irony is that for the first time in my 29-odd years of living in Ukraine, were I to open a bottle, I wouldn’t be able to taste it. It will keep.

IMG-0005We have been getting in wood for next year for our home as well as the church building. This truck and trailer got delivered yesterday. Our men will set-to over the next few months sawing and chopping and stacking… and I’m hopeful that we will have enough wood for the whole of next season.

As you can see in the first photo above, we went out for a walk along the cliff-tops on the edge of Rhyshchiv this morning. The comment was given that, “God has truly put us in a beautiful place in which to live!” Spring on the river!!!

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Christ IS Risen

fffggTo those in the Western World who care about such events: “Christ is Risen!” And you are risen with Him.

In this day and age, I fear that many of us read too many words for us to be sensitive to the vitally important ones when they broach the horizons of our mind. My spirit is “dulled by the glut”.

Carefully worded: I am risen with Christ in that I am no longer dead in my sins. I am drawn to God. I take delight in worshipping Him and want to glorify Him and do what pleases Him. Why? Because I am just so wise and good and clever? Rubbish. God has given me the gift of making me alive with Christ! Ripper! Talk about a privilege and a half!

Good news, ladies and gents: Christ is risen!

Quintus John Gollan

QShould you prefer it, you may now refer to me as “Grandpa” anytime you like. I’m the proud owner of a new title which speaks of a quite delightful happening in our family overnight. Jesse and Daniella welcomed “Quintus John” into the world of the breathing on Friday the 26th. They are thankful and happy parents.

Quintus, if you find this and read it in the future, know that I prayed for you on the day of your birth that you would give much glory to God through this life He has given you.  You will be asked by Him to sacrifice.  Don’t fear it.  Go bravely into the unknown and revel in the sacrifice!  What a privilege to do that for the One who is as incredible as our Lord Jesus Christ is! 

We are all hopeful that this new little family will be able to come back to Ukraine in a few months. Providing visas and permissions fall into place, they plan to be here in June and stay for several months to a year. We feel as if it is another totally unexpected gift from God… and are so looking forward to it.

 

Quarantine again… (A rather severe change of topic!)

About 300 people are dying from Covid each day in Ukraine right now… and we keep on hearing of people we know who have contracted it. This week, the first person in our church community, (Andrei), had a test for anti-bodies done… and was surprised to hear that he’d already had it. Considering this news, we feel as if it is nigh on 100% that we basically all contracted it during the winter months… as many had symptoms at around the same time as Andrei did. If we are correct in our assumptions, then we can be grateful that no one had a severe enough case to require ICU care.

Quarantine doesn’t really affect us that much as a church, but I’ll still be glad when we again dispose with masks at services.

Pris continues to do physio in Kiev. Her neck is doing well. This new phase of physio is for her right side which has bothered her for years. She has just gone through a couple of weeks of fevers and migraines associated with readjusting the muscles – quite an ordeal! Last night she was bemoaning the feeling that she hasn’t been of much use to the Lord for the last few weeks. Perhaps. But I got to thinking that a person can still give a lot of glory to God without leading Bible studies and counseling people or helping with different tasks. My giving glory to God is not dependent on my “output”. It’s dependent on something else. Anyway, Pris is seeing some improvement and we are grateful.

Elle has started taking photos as she walks around town and suggested I put one or two in the blog. They are worth sharing… so here we go:springnika elle

IMG_2099Our daughter, Miriam Angel, would love to come home at the end of May. Because of covid there are several hurdles that need to be overcome. Please pray with us that if it is God’s good timing, He would make her path smooth, and that we would accept His will with joy. She has been seeing major relief from the health battles she has gone through – something that also gives great relief to the hearts of her parents.

We have opened our second men’s home. A couple of weekends ago, I moved the two ladies we had allowed to stay on after rehab into a room in town. (They are both doing well. God has shown them mercy and they’re growing in the Lord and glorifying Him.) We already have five guys in the former “ladies’ home” … and no doubt will add to that number over the next couple of weeks. Please continue to pray that God will bring men here in whose hearts He is at work, and that in His mercy and grace He will draw them to Himself.

 

 

 

 

Max is back… his fourth time. Often we send people wanting to come back to us to another home. Max is an exception. It’s encouraging to see a different light in his eyes now and notice a humility that holds promise of good years ahead.

During the last big snowfall/freeze, we “lost” our van. Mitya was driving by himself on a straight road and slid off the side into some trees. Thankfully, he just experienced a “shook-up” and not a “busted-up”. The van, however, has flown off to… “Van Heaven”. It served us well for the last four years and was on its last legs as it was. But still, it is missed. We were able to get $1000 for it… and have put that into savings towards a new one. We would be thankful for your prayers about that. Right now we go out to the village to pick the men up, (whenever they need to travel), in a few carloads which works fine… but is a stop-gap measure.

IMG-2067IMG_2102We’re at a bit of an interesting phase regarding finances. Over the last year, we’ve had just a few thousand come in towards the expenses for the homes we run for addicts… and our latest figures show it costs us about $8,000 a year for one home. We’ve basically exhausted the money we had for repairs of the church building, too. I share this in case anyone is feeling as if God has blessed them financially and is wondering how or where to sacrifice for His glory. 

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We are about to start an after-school day-care next week and will start with the kids from the crisis families we know. Recently two of them had their alcoholic mother die… and were sent away to an orphanage. Four of them that regularly come to church are still here though and we’ll start with these two lads and two girls – feeding them, helping them with homework, playing with them and doing a devotional with them. There are many more in our town, but we chose to keep the numbers to four for the first few weeks. I’m excited at the step… and to see Jemi giving of herself with enthusiasm so that this takes flight… as well as to see the number of people from our church who are willing to serve in different ways to love these kids.

Cheryl has been running a kindergarten type program in her home three mornings a week for the kids with Christian parents who come to church. She will likely move that down to the church building within the next couple of months… if we are able to complete the room for that as well as finish the plumbing. Cheryl does an amazing job, and the children are learning good character as well as some English. The parents sure appreciate that her standards back up what they are wanting to teach at home, too. God is glorified.

I’ll finish up hoping to hold your attention for a moment longer…

We are worshippers of God. We have just gone through the book of Hosea as a church and been reminded of the way the Israelites were worshippers of God. They were like most of us in that they weren’t full-time worshippers. (God accused them of being adulterers.) My point in mentioning this isn’t to heap more condemnation on our very worthy heads, but to remind you of a simple and beautiful truth: You are a worshipper of God. What a privilege to understand your calling! You give Him glory by worshipping Him in the minutes of your days.  When I see Christians doing that, it’s a mighty encouragement. 

May you and I worship the Only True Loving God well!