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We are well.  We’re three weeks out from New Years and five weeks from Christmas.  Surely at some stage in life you stop eagerly anticipating Christmas day… but it hasn’t happened to me yet.  This year won’t be spent with family, but will be spent with a number of young friends who will come down and stay with us over the Christmas period.  It will be nice.

IMG_8483We have a good layer of snow covering the ground and the roads around town are to be navigated with slightly more care than usual.  I’m extremely grateful for the car we have now as we certainly haven’t seen the worst that winter has in store for us. 

I enjoy seeing the gentleness that the guys at the rehab centre show to the new guys who come.  The new guys are nervous and sometimes suffering withdrawal symptoms which can be severe.  They sometimes are rude or self-centered.  The pattern that is set is that grace is given.  And it is something beautiful to see grown men kindly and gently dealing with the weaknesses of the new member.  I see in this true love.

Snow

How did that happen?  Two months since an update?

Well, those two months have seen changes in temperature and the landscape.  As I type, snowflakes are gently falling from a grey sky onto a yellowed carpet of leaves and grass.  Winter’s a’ comin’!  Ouch.

We are fine.  We’ve been dragging around a pretty nasty virus that just wouldn’t let go for the longest time.  It’s only been during the last couple of days that we’ve seen some let-up on that.

IMG_8005Pris and I loved out Israel trip.  We stayed in Jerusalem the whole time, but took a couple of day trips out to the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee.  The two things we came across that made us sense a connectedness with the words or places or characters in the Bible were 1. the Golden Gate in Jerusalem – (on the Muslim cemetery side), and 2. the synagogue in Capernaum in which Jesus undoubtedly spent quite a lot of time.  ’We also appreciated the sense of morality which somehow pervaded the culture/atmosphere on the Jewish side of Jerusalem.

We managed to attend two services of the Messianic Jews while we were there and were encouraged by the thought that a lot of Jews will become followers of Christ before His Second Coming.  What will be the catalyst?

Thanks to those who gave so that this dream became a reality for us.  We’ll value it for the rest of our lives!

Wince

I just talked to a young 30-year old.  I’ve known him for about 4 years.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen him sober.  He comes around every so often and has this extremely intense look about him as though he is trying to control his world through force of will.  He looks you in the eye and in so doing, issues a challenge – “stare me down”.  Today, I was able to suggest that he needed a rehab center… and we just so happened to have one.  Who knows if he’ll end up coming once he’s sober… but I definitely hope that he’ll come.  I’ve long thought that mIMG_1679aybe God was calling him and that was the reason he kept on visiting us.  But I must admit that when I opened the door and saw him swaying there, I think I winced.

The students are due to start studying again officially today– the 1st of September.  In fact, I can hear the loudspeaker and some poor girl singing.  Wow!  Anyway, the start of the new school year means that the youth groups will pick up again and we’ll get a new batch in – some of whom God will call to Himself.  We are losing several of the old guard as they go off to study in other cities… there are benefits of living in the capital where there is work more easily found and many institutes.  And yet, there are also benefits of living here.  But being able to spend years teaching and discipling the students isn’t one of those benefits.

Marie

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Today I remember that I don’t like saying goodbye to my girls… especially when it is goodbye for months.  This is the third time I’ve had to do it and I really don’t like it.  I guess I’m not that different to most of the fathers in the world.

After a delightful two months, Marie left us to go back to Oz.  She will work with Josh for the next six months, saving for her next step in life. 

Jesse is enjoying studying at Brisbane School of Theology and working in the church and community with some quality people.  He feels busy, which is perfectly fitting for a student.   IMG_7473

Monday nights are usually “family nights” at our home.  This last Monday, we went out to the cliff-top at Grebeni, which overlooks the Dnepr River.  It was a beautiful evening for a bbq picnic and we loved the quietness and beauty from this lookout spot.  God has given Ukraine some really beautiful places.