Still wearing masks here in Ukraine

Normally, at this time of year, we are gearing up for Camp 120 on the island. (“Thank you, little virus, for the cancellation this year.”) We may do a “half-camp” with just the folk from our church yet, (in August)… but the chances of that are slimming. In lieu of that, tomorrow, Pris, (brave lady), and I are taking several of the young people out to the island for a few days.

Priscilla’s recovery is going pretty well. She’s still speaking in a whisper and tires very quickly. She also has very tight muscles in her neck and shoulder area which give her “a bit o’ curry” – especially in the nights. But it’s all to be expected, and thus nothing to cause concern. I dare a guess that she won’t be doing as much as she normally does when we go camping.

1594022630463178Elle is happy to be finished studies for the summer. Because of our trip to Australia, we shuffled around her study time a bit and she kept on studying while her friends were already on holidays. Actually, it feels a bit like a lot of kids here have been on holidays for the past several months. Doing school over the internet is one thing in the city, but quite another in villages like ours. Els has again started up the Sunday club for kids from difficult homes. She is reveling in the responsibility and loving the kids. It’s nice to see.

I talked with Mim today. She is still “stuck in Australia”… along with Shane and Jemi, working with “Uncle Josh” doing initial cleans on houses. She says that the earliest she could get back here is August… she thinks. But that is assuming she can get a visa and I think that’s where the rub will be. She is thinking to “detach” herself from heavy involvement in the ladies’ rehab and to give herself more to the ministry to children in crisis and general children’s ministry.

We have been taking the rust out of her car while she’s away. (Today, Pavel, the spray-painter, showed me a couple of new tricks of the trade. Perhaps we can get it to a condition in which it will do another 15 years… that’s likely wishful thinking).

Talking about cars… Pasha didn’t have any problems at the border bringing in a VW Beetle and a little blue Mercedes. Now we just need to sell one of them so that we can repeat the process and bring in another couple of cars. God has been blessing this project. We have started to count our chickens before they’ve hatched a bit and are even talking about expanding the ministry and bringing in more men who need God in their lives. May God give us wisdom!

IMG-1496Right now, we have six guys in rehab.  Interestingly enough, four of them have gone through rehab before and even taught at rehab centres. One of our volunteers was talking with me the other day and said that it’s a bit intimidating doing a Bible study with this particular group of guys. They’ve read a lot of books and spent a lot of time in the Bible… their knowledge outstrips that of half our volunteers. I easily understand the feelings of intimidation.

On Saturday, several of us went to the wedding of Ghenna, who finished rehab with us last year. It was a nice wedding, with both him and his wife giving glory to God for His grace in their lives. The guys who went with me were talking and said that about 90% of the 60-odd guests were former addicts. What a beautiful stat. And there were a number of very special people there.

Every now and again I feel an overwhelming sense of delight at the glory that a particular person gives to God through their demeanor, words and actions. There are a lot of us ordinary Christians in the world, but most of us never really reach the heights of the “uniquely beautiful”… that small percentage who are graced with the ability to somehow exude love and humility and peace. What an interesting thought, eh?  Another one:  Could I become such a person?

Recovering very well

prissThat went pretty well.

The operation went off without a hitch. Pris is walking around… albeit gingerly and with a walker. The doctor wants to keep her in there at least until the week-end… maybe through until Monday. (Ukrainian hospitals just about always try to keep patients in until they are totally sick of the place.) We feel excited at the thought that she may experience relief from the pain and gain a freedom she hasn’t had in many years.

I’m doing documents today… registering us with the local authorities. I’ll go back into Kiev as soon as I’m done and probably spend the night there tonight. There are three beds in her room and I’ll likely be permitted to sleep on one of them if the other patient is open to that.

And six hours later…

Here I am. Pris is doing great. I brought her three different kinds of salads and some borsch which Elle made. She’s happy. We’ve been for a couple of 15 minute walks. She walks like a 80 year old, but it will all come back… for 33 years. Then she’ll be 80. (The thought just occurred: if I survive that long, we’ll be a cute old couple tottering around.)

Surprisingly, the submitting of our documents couldn’t have gone smoother. I couldn’t believe that there was no line of people waiting when I got there! It took 10 minutes to register all three of us… easy, easy. Thank you, Lord.

Pasha left for Germany today to collect the two cars we have there… and buy another two, (less than a thousand Euro per car). Things are going well on that head. Last time he was at the border, he made a big stink about a bribe one of the officers there was trying to get him to pay… and he’s hoping that won’t affect his crossing at all this time in any negative way. We should find out by tomorrow.

igorrrOh!  Igor and Olya had their baby.  What a story they have.  Their lives have been totally and radically changed over the last couple of years… even to the extent that they wanted more children.  I brought Igor into Kiev with me the other day… so that he could share the gospel with the homeless and alcoholics.  His T-shirt read, “I was a drug addict, but God saved me”.  The shirt in this pic says, “Absolute best husband”.

I’m skipping Wednesday night Bible study tonight. The plan is for Tolic to share how the principles you use to understand the Bible affect different beliefs people hold… and to then teach good healthy hermeneutical principles. Tolic is a good teacher who is getting better. That’s exciting.

Thanks for praying for Priscilla’s operation and recovery. She’s going to be on light, light duties for a couple of months before again doing serious exercises. I’m so thankful for the opportunity she has to get this done now….

May God bless you.

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.