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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.

We haven’t had any more fires, but I did have a grandfather from the village ask if we were saving up for a fire-truck.  (Good on ‘im!)  The temperatures aren’t really conducive to putting a new roof on the shed and we don’t have the money for it anyway, so we aren’t using it at the moment.  There are thoughts about making the second floor a useful living area, perhaps for children from mom’s going through rehab to stay in/use.  We’ll see what happens with that idea.IMG_1085

A more serious trial we have gone through though is Igor losing his arm in an accident at work.  Igor and his wife were the couple, (former drug addicts), who stayed with us about a month ago.  He was working at the factory in the village and while cleaning a big mixer, managed to catch his arm on a blade and nearly get sucked in.  Thankfully he was able to jerk back, but ripped his arm off in the process.  The lady in the picture is the one who tended to him as he sat on the factory floor.  She and her husband (the director), have been touched by Igor’s faith.  Anyway, he’s getting towards the three week stage and will have another operation on his stump soon to take away some of the bad flesh.  It’s a tricky situation on many levels, of course.  Not the least is him being around drugs in the hospital and needing something to deaden the pain he constantly feels!  We have someone with him all the time and he is regularly heard giving testimony to different people of God’s goodness to him.  Today, we realized that he needs something practical and productive to do.  He says that he’s heard enough sermons in the last few weeks to last him a while.  We’d love to find something else for him to do but so far are still searching.  He has a unique opportunity to continue to be a strong witness, so if you would pray for him specifically about this, it could be important.

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We’ve had snow on the ground since mid-December.  So last week, when I took the kids a couple of hours drive south to the snow slopes for a ski, it was a pretty fun time.  There aren’t too many positives from living in a country that doesn’t have balmy winter temperatures, but just in the last two years, we have discovered that skiing is one of the awesome positives.  Another one is getting to “build” from snow.  The kids formed “Maximus” outside our kitchen window the other day, “the coolest snowman ever”, Pris says.  And our yearly igloo also came together.  Fun things like this also only happen in the winter.

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Valera is back with us after his several month stint in hospital with TB.  It’s so interesting watching the physical changes that take place when the guys get off alcohol and take care of themselves a bit better.  The kitten in the photo is one that the lads picked up from somewhere.  I walked in the other day and noticed that it had found a warm spot in a boot on one of the kitchen radiators.  Valera somewhat reluctantly agreed to pose for a photo.  He’s doing well.

Pasha has had the van in Latvia the last few days.  He actually just sent me a message saying that he’d broken down… right outside three mechanic shops.  It seems that one of the belts snapped due to a bearing disintegrating.  He’s thankful for God’s mercy and looking for God’s will in having him break down there.  Maybe he’ll figure it out.  The business seems to be making a bit of money… if God chooses to bless us with safety and a motor that keeps working well, our expectations about earnings should be realized and we’ll have some money to put towards the running costs of rehab.

0-02-04-6f0a3724a439c1c9a90d31fc4e57b76b820334eed65e1533f1e58aa77809d133_51d3bc18The church enjoyed New Years Eve again this year.  We had about 80 people gather for Christmas and slightly less for New Years, I think.  We packed out our ministry centre and enjoyed seeing the creativeness of different people exemplified in the costumes they made.  Our family, (and two ring-ins), dressed up with a Beauty and the Beast theme.  I still don’t know all the names of the different characters, but I know that Pris was the beauty and I… the beast. 

 

The last photo I’ll include here is a real nice one.  We gathered together several couples from our church not long ago and went to a sauna in a nearby town.  It is located on a small lake with a forest as a backdrop.  (The location had a definite Narnian feel to it.)  Several of us enjoyed the dips in the lake to cool off and we all really enjoyed the fellowship.  We all agreed that we could very easily do this once a month…  (Sauna’s in –10 Celsius are wonderful.)  As a shepherd of souls, I hate the statistics about divorce that are reported about Christians.  I feel it’s a real danger.  In Ukraine, the divorce stats are through the roof.  I’d love it if God kept our church from being polluted in this way by the world in which we live.  Strong and beautiful marriages are such God-glorifying things.

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