|Hope sitting at a very unique table|
On Wednesday the 2nd, Denise went with Olya, our good friend and Russian tutor, to visit an area of modular housing that was set up for refugees from the war in the East. Each family who lives here can tell stories that will break your heart. One mother said that when they left the war torn area, her husband left them and went to Russia instead. The government of Ukraine does very little to help these refugees, so they rely on help from others.
|Modular housing for refugees|
On Saturday the 12th, Denise and Hope stayed home, while I (Phil), along with Ruslan, traveled to the Kirovograd oblast (state), which is just to the west of ours. We stopped in Kirovograd to pick up four guys, all friends, including my dear friend Alexei (pastor in Kirovograd) and Sasha (my translator). Together we headed to the village of Smolino, which is where I was fishing last June. Back then, they did not have their own building, so it was great to see their fixed up place. They had guests from a church in a neighboring village lead worship and the guys from the rehab center in that village also came. At the end of the the service, we had two ladies come forward and repent.
|There was a great turnout for Saturday evening's service|
|Hope went to church in her 50's style outfit on Denise's birthday|
Sunday morning was a great service at the church in Kirovograd and we enjoyed some good fellowship before and after the service. We have many friends in this church, including our special friends Lutfia and Eddik (who came back to Christ last year after walking away from God and battling drugs again), along with their two kids. Eddik was sick, so I did not get to see him. Their son, Adam, was glad to see "Uncle" Phil again, and asked me if he could sit in our car behind the steering wheel. Naturally, I obliged.
(Update from Phil - I recently saw Lutfia at a conference and she said that Eddik is struggling again. Please pray for him!)
|Mama and her dog, Princess Rose the 3rd (who is almost 6 months old here)|
|Denise getting ready to blow out the candles|
|Not all the guests are visible, but here they are enjoying cake, ice cream, and punch|
On Saturday the 19th, we left Krivoy Rog about 9 AM. It started to snow just as we were preparing to leave and, within a short time, it was snowing so hard that we could not see very far. The heavy snow only lasted about 20 minutes, but it did snow off and on all weekend. Thankfully, it never amounted to much.
We arrived in the village and the church that we had not been to before just before 12 noon. There I (Phil) would be doing a three hour teaching seminar - but with worship and fellowship, that left just two hours of actual speaking time. They really seemed to like what I shared from the life of Elijah.
We left the church and drove to home of one of the families from the church. This would also be the place where we would be spending the night, so we got lots of visiting in. In the morning we got ready, ate breakfast, and headed to a different village for service.
|The sanctuary and people who gathered for the service on Sunday|
|They gave us a bouquet of yellow roses and a souvenir from their village|
|Always glad to pray with one of our "boys"|
|Denise praying with of the ladies|
|Phil leading the two young men (on his right and left) in a prayer of repentance|
(Update from Phil - when I talked to our "boy" recently and asked about his two friends, he said that the first young man had changed most dramatically. He quit smoking, started learning to play guitar with a man from church, and attends church regularly. Praise God!!)
We thought that next we would be going to eat lunch, since it was about 2 PM and breakfast had been a long time ago already. But the pastor said that there would be a leader's meeting in about 15 minutes. And, that meant that Phil would be speaking for that meeting, being the guest speaker. Obviously, we did not know anything about that. Since I (Phil) did not want to preach another message (and did not think that they wanted to hear another message), I simply shared from my heart about a few things, answered some questions that they had, and had Denise share something. Thanks to our "boy", who asked if we would sing something, we ended up singing a couple of songs as well.
|During the leaders meeting, some of the kids did some crafts and gave them to us|
|With our friends at the youth service in Poltava|
On Tuesday morning, Phil met a friend in downtown Kiev for lunch. We had a great visit and got caught up on some of the recent changes in his life. It has been a transition time for him and it was great to catch up with him.
We all three met up again and headed to the dentist for Denise and Hope. They chose a different dental clinic which is larger and where most of our friends go for dental work. It is harder to find and not near a metro stop, so we went by car and finally found it. Because they both need to return for further treatment, they will need to come back to Kiev in the next month or so. We just have to determine when that will happen.
When they finished, we headed to the Evangelical Theological Seminary (ETS), where Phil's dear friend, Pavel, is studying in a modular doctoral program. This was the week that he came to study, so we intentionally planned our trip to Kiev so we could spend time with him. You know that our relationship is special when they named their second son after Phil.
We took him to a music store where he was able to buy something he needed for his church. Because we were near one of Denise's favorite restaurants, we decided to eat there, instead of looking for something else. The Tennessee Steak House is an interesting place. The bathrooms are so small you can hardly change your mind in them, let alone turn around. They play music from Nashville over the internet. The menu has American names for things, but most of them are Ukrainian style dishes. However, they have really good steak (and most anything else that we have tried). You just have to remember to tell them you do not want the shot of Jack Daniel's when you order the steak with that name. What a great time we had catching up with him. We wish it was easier to visit Belarus!
|Pavel and Phil|
Just one metro stop from where we used to live in Kiev, there is a new Domino's pizza. It is probably just as well that it was not there when we lived there, as Denise would never have made pizza for us. There we met a friend of Phil's who had studied at ETS when we lived in Ukraine before. They got to know each other the times that Phil stayed at ETS when he traveled to Kiev from Krivoy Rog. He moved back to Kiev last fall and is engaged to be married. We enjoyed a fun visit with he and his fiancee, and look forward to keeping in touch. We did a little more shopping and it was time to call it a day.
|Had a great visit over Domino's pizza with these two|
Next stop was Kirovograd, because Phil and forgotten his pillow there a couple of weeks earlier. When we arrived at the church there, a men's home group was about ready to begin, so they wanted us to stay so Phil could share something. We dearly love our friends there, but we were really tired, so we only visited a short time (which is really hard to do when they want you to have tea, etc.) while Pastor Roma looked at their building. We dropped Pastor Roma off near McDonald's and we made it home about 8:30 PM, exhausted after the long day but thankful for another safe trip!
|The worship band for our service|
|Valentine (who volunteered to help with my object lesson) and Sveta (translator) with Phil|
After my message, one young lady gave her testimony of how God changed her life. Then the pastor's husband gave his testimony about how God delivered him from his sinful life and he gave another opportunity to repent. The two young ladies that came in late went forward and gave their lives to Jesus. Praise God!
|Pastor's husband preparing to lead the two young ladies in a prayer of repentance|
The next day, on Sunday the 27th, we returned Pastor Oksana's church, this time with only Ruslan, because she was hoping that some of the guests from Saturday evening's service would come. Unfortunately, none of them were able to make it, but we still had a great service!
When we entered the church, Valentine greeted me almost immediately. At the end of the service yesterday, he asked me to pray about a need that he had. He was excited to tell me that had already provided a partial answer to our prayer from the evening before. God always faithful!
|Just one of the young ladies that we prayed for at the end of Sunday's service|
|Buildings like this usually are homes for pigeons,|
but this one also has a place for the older men to play cards and talk
Man cave, anyone?
|While we live in a house, most people around us live in one of these apartments|
The smaller building is a kindergarten/daycare
As always, we are thankful for the privilege of serving here in Ukraine and in Krivoy Rog. Thank you for praying for us and for following our journey!