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First Day of Summer

IMG_6934Today is a public holiday in Ukraine.  Trinity.  Our church isn’t big into celebrating all the second tier holidays like Pentecost or Ascension or Trinity.  But we don’t turn our noses up at public holidays! 

Pris and the girls and I got up early today and had breakfast on one of our islands.  It was windy, but still pleasant.  We headed back home at 10:30ish and found our jet-lagged guest still sleeping soundly.

This weekend is wedding number two for our church this summer.  Our Tonia married Sergei at the perfect wedding venue in the village where the reb centre. (Rehabilitation Centre), is located.  And now Larissa will marry an American who came to Ukraine a couple of years ago for a visit.  (He just woke up and realized he was late for a ring buying appointment!  Agh!  Jetlag!!!)

The church is doing well.  I’m humbled as people who are obviously shining with the love of Christ express appreciation for my simple Bible teaching.  I know that my preaching is simple, full of grammatical mistakes in Russian, and western, but if people are hungry for God’s voice, I’ve learned that they will hear Him through the distractions as His Word is taught. 

IMG_6968We keep on losing people as they finish up their studies, (or leave to get married), or go to find a job in the city.  But we also keep on gaining people.  One of the boosts in numbers came from the ministry to drug addicts and alcoholics. 











This ministry seems to be going ok.  I love going out there and talking with these guys.  They’re a special bunch of guys who have been through a lot in life but seem to be revelling in the freedom they’ve found in Christ.  Igor, the cook from Western Ukraine. threw in the towel earlier this month.  He was the one who hadn’t repented of his sin and believed in Jesus and he just gave up.  We were real sad to see him go.  Oleg has joined the group in his place.  Oleg came to us suffering severe withdrawal symptoms.  They were so severe, we put him in hospital for a few days.  He’s at the two week mark and doing very well.  Every time I see him, he looks improved.  It’s pretty dramatic.  (Oleg is the one with head down reading the Bible in the above picture.)

I see the potential for these guys to be a big blessing to our church.  It will be interesting to look back in a couple of years and see if we can notice how they have blessed us.  I, personally, am learning and benefitting a lot from their presence.

Speaking of blessings… we are going through the book of Acts for Sunday’s sermons at the moment.  This last Sunday, we read about a man’s man.  Stephen has my respect.  Filled with the Holy Spirit, knowing the Scriptures, wise, desiring to serve, a teacher/preacher who fearlessly offended those who were accusing him and told them that they had killed the Messiah… yes.  I like this man.  Devoted to God, he most definitely was.  And because he wasn’t a wuss, but determined to present God’s truth, he was killed.  You want an honourable death?  I wouldn’t mind Stephen’s.

The youth ministry is winding down for the summer again.  One of the youth groups has already stopped.  The other continues with locals.  Camp 120 is just around the corner and expectation is already running high. 

IMG_7069Up until a couple of hours ago, I would have said that the car is still a delight to drive.  The picture below is of the mechanics fitting it out with a gas converter.  The experience hasn’t been great so far - post-operation.  Twice, pipes have burst leaking coolant everywhere.  I got a call a couple of hours ago about another burst pipe problem.  This time, most of the coolant was gone, so it was wonderful that the experienced driver stopped driving when he did!  If the pipes can stop bursting, and it continues working fine, it will cut our fuel costs in half - not something to turn our noses up at.  Despite the problems, we are thankful.

God is a wonderful and loving Father.  Never doubt it.  Don’t give an iota of credence to the emotional statements of those who doubt it.  And especially don’t doubt it when you consider that something has gone wrong.  For God is a wonderful and loving Father.

I took a bottle of oil down to my neighbour yesterday who declared that God only cared about the rich and had never done anything good for him.  After talking for 30 minutes, I tapped the bottle of oil in his hands and suggested that maybe God had given him some oil.  Dear old Slavic…  God is a wonderful and loving Father.  May He be merciful and gracious to more of those in our circles of friendship who live in blindness.