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A Titanium wife

IMG-1413Well… here goes:

We just got back from a day in Kiev. Pris is officially in hospital awaiting an operation which will replace three discs in her neck on Monday morning. We were told to leave a bag on her bed and come back Monday morning. OK. We don’t need to understand why they do it this way. We just need to go home with three titanium discs firmly in place sometime next week.

She will write a bit later on tonight about this:

What an amazing few weeks!  If you aren't particularly interested in medical stuff, you might want to skip the next few paragraphs.

As some of you know, my right side has had pain issues for years (from neck problems), slowly increasing in intensity along with the increasing of age!  This has brought a lot of good about in my character and life and habits, (including exercise which has helped to keep the pain in check much of the time). 

This year we were able to pursue some treatment after quarantine lightened at the Institute of Vertabrology and Rehabilitation.  They were amazing, but each doctor referred me on until we ended up at a neurosurgeon's office.  This neurosurgeon evidently has the reputation of sending patients away if there is a hope for some other more conservative treatment fixing the problem. With me, he simply said that I needed surgery and should not wait too long because the pressure on my spinal cord could cause permanent damage soon because my neck is unstable. 

We were not hugely surprised as over the recent years we had been urged to consider surgery.  I think both of us feel peace and even joy facing surgery - even though the surgeon did not promise miraculous results.  He is confident that the three implants will relieve the spinal cord and give stability, but nerves are funny things and can be completely relieved of symptoms or still cause hiccups.  We pray for the former of course.  :)

Two different couples heard about the decision to pursue surgery and wanted to help cover the cost!  We were greatly encouraged and felt as if we could move ahead.  So a few days ago Daniel ordered the implants, (Ukraine has an amazing and different system for medical treatment.) I successfully passed the covid-19 test, and today was admitted to the hospital (with a weekend pass to go home) and did all the pre-operation tests.  Very early Monday morning we will return there for the surgery.  One of the nurses quietly told me on the way out that this doctor is the best and he is the one they try to send their loved ones to if a need arises. 

We feel guided and sheltered by God.  A friend and I are trying to 're' memorize these beautiful verses this week:  "You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off"; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:9b-10

Thanks for praying for me and this body I am in.  I think that is probably why I have such peace.

Whatever the outcome next week, may I still be useful to God and His kingdom.

 

After we left the hospital, we were able to pick up our temporary residency permits. It is always a beautiful experience when you go somewhere in Ukraine to “do documents” and it takes you less than 10 minutes with no hiccups. We fairly danced out of that office! Three weeks ago when we were there, we were told that we didn’t have a “notarized” translation of Elle’s passport and would have to leave the country with her and get a new thousand dollar visa if we couldn’t get back to the office before closing time with a copy. We phoned around and finally found someone who could do it and made it back with a couple of hours to spare in the end. 10 minutes in and out is bliss.

The boys out at the rehab home are doing well. We ended up making the decision to take Max back and he returned earlier this week, only to leave again today. It’s very unlikely we will take him back again. If he comes to an end of himself and seeks help, we will send him to another centre.  It’s the sad nature of this particular focus.  Some guys do not see God… and will die in their sins.  The other lads seem to be doing well.  They’ve just spent a couple of days gathering hay for our sheep to live off during the winter months.  Oh!  They are also already enjoying the produce from the large garden they planted… and sharing it around.

It looks as if the freight project is finally doing well. We have already had two buyers commit to buying the two cars you see in the last blog post and which we started advertising yesterday. Pasha is gearing up for another trip to Europe next week to get two more cars… and we will repeat the process. Praise the Lord for His mercy and guidance!

It’s now 11:00. I just got home and had a cold shower after working up a sweat helping a friend and his new wife move into their home. (8 people working together make light work of unloading a van full of stuff.) Tolic went through rehab with us and is now studying in seminary. He’s going to preach in a couple of weeks and I look forward to it edifying and encouraging me. I’m reminded that God is Almighty God when I look at Tolic’s life. What a change God has wrought!

“The world is yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to Him.” I love spending time with men and women who are challenged by that thought. “Consecration to God…” May He be glorified greatly because of our consecration to Him.

Doctors and Cars and Picnic and Mushrooms and Mother

Well this has been an interesting day!

We just got back from a trip to the doctor in Kiev. Pris has had several rough months with her chronic neck/arm/leg pain. We decided to try again to find a solution and approached a few different doctors… ultimately today ending up with the man who we hope will be the best man for the job. In consultation with a neurologist, the neurosurgeon decided that the degradation in Priscilla’s neck is such that she needs to be operated on soon.

We go in again on Monday to hear some more details about that and maybe even get things moving before the end of this month. Thankfully, we have complete confidence in the perfection of our Lord’s will, but would also appreciate prayer for wisdom as we make decisions on Monday. If you join us in praying… thank you.

clip_image002clip_image004Pasha bought a couple of cars just south of Berlin today. He also put down payments on two others. I told him before he left that if we got a cabriolet, we would both put our sunnies on, turn the music up and cruise through the streets of Kiev looking like two cool drongos. I laughed when he showed me this car…. A beetle cabriolet, even if it is black, is a bit too feminine for any dude to look cool in.

The two cars in the first picture are the two needing the least attention… and will go on the market immediately.

We will finally meet back in our building this Sunday. I’d be interested to hear the opinions of Christians around the world regarding the blessings, (if any), they noticed from not meeting together with other believers for worship in one place…

We really enjoyed our “back-together-picnic” last Sunday. The weather was peachy. We had good fun playing different games and sitting around chatting.IMG-1385  By the end of the day, most of the church had turned up and I’m sure anyone walking by was fascinated by our service in the field.

We have an old friend coming back to Rehab tomorrow. He and his wife were with us for a couple of years but left to go back to their old city after finishing rehab. I don’t know what his future holds, but if God gives him the grace to repent and be renewed in his mind, I would love to see him stay here… for a long, long time… stretching into forever. He’s not slept in three days because of drugs and his mind is barely able to focus. He is travelling by what we call “Bla Bla Car”. (A driver collects several passengers from a point in one city and drops them off in another city – several hours away.) Our tired friend has to call me from Kiev and somehow get to the bus station from which busses leave for Rzhyshchiv, (that will be a fun challenge). From there, I can talk to the bus driver and arrange to pay the fare when they arrive in Rzhyshchiv. I don’t look forward to meeting him… but do look forward to God healing his heart once again. May it happen!

IMG-1384Who likes mushrooms?  The lads are gathering these right now like they’re gold.  And these particular ones are actually quite valuable.  A couple of hours gathering reaps them a day’s wage.  And what they don’t sell… the poor sods then eat.

My dear mother turns 70 in a couple of days. 70 years… of reading God’s Word, walking in fellowship with Him, loving others in His Name, and giving Him glory. Hm… Nice work, gracious Lord! Thank you for such a mother.  And thank you that she didn’t make me eat mushrooms.

Love to love

viber_image_2020-05-30_11-08-23Watching the functioning of people’s hearts never ceases to fascinate me.  Why do people do what they do?  What stops them from doing something else?  What tips them over the edge so that they do something they were only considering doing?  We’ve been looking at the subject of love recently as a church because of the question Jesus asked John in the last chapter of his gospel.

Perhaps you’ve noticed already… those people in our lives who have the reputation of being especially loving are the ones who sacrifice for others. 

I’ve noticed that some people are so full of themselves that loving others doesn’t come easy.  Even when they do something for another, the motivation is “what they get out of it”.  (At times, I fall into the category of being “full of myself”.)   The substance abusers who come to us struggle more than the average Joe with this sickness.  But the rest of us sure aren’t immune to it!

Recently, we read of the Christians in Ephesus who were characterized by pretty impressive credentials, but they had ceased to be characterized by the most important credential of all.  “Lord, be merciful to me and protect me from this malady!”

We’ve moved a few more guys into the third stage and they are living in Rzhyshchiv right now.  Petya, (standing), is one of those.  Two of the guys who’ve been with us for a few months left during the last two weeks.  Max was one of the two who left.  Sadly, he decided that he was disappointed in God.  (At least, that was the reason he gave for wanting to leave.)  I was sad to see Max give up.  If he is God’s child, he’ll probably be back, but I guess that’s something we will discover as time goes on.  Igor, (of one-arm fame), was really broken up about it.  I know people are wired differently, but I recognize a deeper and softer love in the man who suffers when someone leaves and goes back into the world.  I appreciate Igor.  He is giving an amazing amount of glory to God.  (Update:  Max has already called and wants to come back.  We probably won’t take him back, but may see if another centre can take him.)

Back to Igor…  something he does is reach out to the drunks in the town.  He called me a couple of weeks ago asking if it would be ok if he invited them around to his place for a meal each week.  I said that this wasn’t really a question he needed my blessing for… but he insisted that I tell him my thoughts.  I immediately thought, “His wife is going to give birth any day.”  Then: “Quarantine is still in place.”  “He and his wife, Olya, are already doing so much.  Maybe this will be too much.”  I said, “I just thought of a few reasons why this wouldn’t be a good idea right now.  But you know what…  it is often inconvenient to sacrifice for others.  Igor, God has put it on your heart to do.  GO FOR IT!  Love them!”  And this is what he and his small family are doing.  They’ve had a few nights so far when people have come by and heard teaching from God’s Word, been loved and fed.  Wonderful!

Igor and Olya are the ones who were arrested in Turkey several years ago and deported.  Igor was off his head going through withdrawal by the time they got on the plane and Olya says that it was nightmarish.  He was like a raging bull.  By the time the plane landed, everyone was sitting up the back of the plane as far away from him as they could.  He was incarcerated immediately upon landing for a few years.

Gleb came for a day!  (We’ve only had 6 guys who have stayed for a day or two over the past three years.)  Gleb knows a lot about the Bible, but his heart is bowing down before a different god… and by the second day, the siren call of that god was all he could hear.  The boys weren’t disappointed to see him go.  Bogdan said that God used Gleb in his life to disgust him with what he used to be like.  Now there’s an interesting “positive”!

We finally got one of our boys back from the TB ward.  I wrote about him recently.  He just came in today.  Also, we are trying to get “Andrei” to come to rehab.  He is a big guy who used to fight professionally.  He’s been doing drugs for four years and is “hitting bottom” – a real healthy place spiritually.  If you would pray for him, we’d appreciate it.

IMG-1319Priscilla here: It is raining beautifully!  That is so nice for all the gardens.  It reminds me of the old songs, ‘Showers of blessings’ and ‘Count your blessings’. 

Some of my blessings:

  • *quarantine—it has purified my heart regarding enjoying God even when we cannot assemble as a church family.
  • *zoom meetings--which allow us to stay in touch and still worship and pray together;
  • *Dan--who has seized spare moments to repaint and fix our bedroom (hurray!!);
  • *helping hands-- to transform our yard from a meadow to a garden;
  • *Ellie--who dug up beautiful wildflowers to brighten my heart and yard;
  • *our “Tea and Teaching” group -- which has some women eager to grow in Christ (since I am keen for that too, it is a joy to lead that group);
  • *the fact that Jesus seems even closer and more dear when the pain of my right side is relentlessly intense;
  • *God’s Word-- which whispers Truth and beauty into my soul. 

I have been reviewing Habbakuk 3:17-19 10x a day for a few days.  Here is a succinct paraphrase: ‘Though life is not perfect and even though it has deep sufferings, I will TAKE joy in God my Saviour!’ That is a deeper kind of joy!  I think of blessings as ‘sparkles of grace’ from God.  I hope you get to stop and notice the sparkles of grace in your life  Smile.

Happy Birthday, Pris!  You get more beautiful with each passing year!

I like Zoom

The leftovers after Sunday church during the COVID-19 blessing:IMG-1212

As we well know and often forget, there are many times in life when we suffer loss and end up being blessed. The story of Abraham and his nephew on the mountain just before they separated affected me a lot when I was a child. For some reason, the lesson really drove home to me that not all that looked good was beneficial and not all that felt difficult would result in loss. As per Romans 8:28, God blesses His children - no matter what things look like or how we feel about the blessings. And so, taking these “things” into consideration, I’m happy referring to COVID-19 as a blessing.

Zoom. I like Zoom. Admittedly, we are only three weeks “in”… but I think most people have enjoyed the novelty, the randomness of the breakout groups, and at least being together like this. Ukraine seems to be lagging behind much of the world in terms of numbers of infected. I’m guessing we have at least another month of no church meetings… maybe more. The COVID-19 stats on Ukraine are very “vanilla”.

Max prayed a prayer of repentance this week and it looks like he put his faith in Jesus. He’s taken longer than most to get to this point, but hey! He’s there! Mitya was saying that it seems as if he has a peace now that wasn’t there before. May God continue to have mercy on him as he grows in faith.

I just printed off a number of different Bible verses for the lads to memorize. I’ve seen lot of people read and even memorize God’s Word resulting in no discernable spiritual development. Their souls have not been purchased by IMG-1192God. However, I know that to the one who loves God and continues walking in submission to Him, hiding God’s Word in our hearts can only result in blessing. One aspect of our men’s home that I love is that the men get soaked in God’s Word daily. It’s so good!

Dima is doing well. He’s spent just about all of his adult life in prison, (26 years out of 47), which leaves some deep scars on a man’s soul… but he is now pursuing God… and cooking for the guys. I went there a few days ago to find him home alone, cooking and listening to a sermon, (a healthy choice). The other men were down the street cleaning up and cutting firewood. I asked him where he’d rather be... and he answered, “Well, someone has to cook, and I guess it’s nice when the guys say that the food tastes nice… but I’d much rather be outside working.” It’s a good sign when these guys voice their desire to work.

Pris is enjoying the discipling times with the ladies. Of recent days, they have been looking at the connection between worry and lack of faith/trust in God. I was encouraged as I read some of their testimonies last night. God is at work in their hearts!

Every now and again, I remember the millions and millions of people around the world whom God is leading “back towards Eden”. We will never reach the perfection that Adam and Eve experienced, but our praise-worthy God is surely changing us into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Am I growing in Christ? Am I giving God more glory than, say, 5 years ago? To Him alone be glory, yes! And an enormous group of people all around the world is being changed, just as those ladies are being changed. To me, that’s impressive.

IMG-1105I’ll sign off wishing you many moments of being impressed by our God!