“When they saw Him, they worshipped Him, but some doubted.” Matthew 28:17
I led devotion today, using scripture from Matthew 28 to be a reminder that our commission is to come and tell others of the good news of Christ. Sometimes people will not believe and certainly we will become frustrated, but I wanted to encourage my team members that we are not the ones who save people, and for that reason it is not necessarily meant for us to see the fruits of our ministry.
At camp, we had around 35 to 40 kids. Our memory verse for today was Jeremiah 33:3. I find myself becoming a little frustrated with them because several are troublemakers and just pick and choose what they want to participate in. We try to use prizes as incentive for them to participate and at least learn the memory verse. It is beginning to work a little, I just hope it plants a desire in them to learn the Bible on their own. I have to keep reminding myself that even though they may drive me crazy at times, they deserve my love and they deserve to be shown God’s love just as much as the kids who behave very well.
After camp was over and we finished with lunch, Volodia and Ruslan took Craig and Ray to visit a couple of men in the church. While they were gone the rest of us had nothing to do, so Nastya (our other translator), Pam, Robert, and I walked to the river with Vasya. It was so nice down there, and Vasya didn’t even get in the river—it was very nice of him to show us the way and make sure we got back okay. The river felt so refreshing, even though it was actually a little too cold to swim, and I collected a few interesting rocks to bring home to have a little piece of Ukraine with me.
When we came back, we had supper and then waited for youth to arrive at church—we weren’t expecting anyone since no one came the previous two nights, but to our delight, there were about 7 or 8 who showed up. Many already knew a good bit of English, so we played some games, went over the words we had from the Bible story, and then had snack. We asked the kids what they liked for snack, and they wanted chips, so I went to the store to get some chips—I borrowed someone’s bike to ride to the store—some got a kick out of that. Altogether it was a good day.
“And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of good conscience toward God.” 1 Peter 3:21
In camp there were close to 45 kids…still trying to keep my patience. We made angel necklaces for crafts and then had ice cream afterwards. It was more difficult to be active in the camp because it is terribly hot. We are outside in a field, basically, with little shade other than under the porch where we hold Bible story. It is very humid and the sun is surprisingly strong for 10 am! In the afternoon, I had a little rest time before we went to Lesya’s house. Lesya is a young girl who has been helping to cook for us. Her 24th birthday is today and she has invited us over to celebrate with her. When we got there, her cheeks were beet red from working so hard to prepare the meal—on her own birthday! Everyone kept teasing her and Ruslan about marrying each other…poor girl ;) She had several cats and one kitten, so I was more than happy to be there. There was a lot of delicious food, including a cake with a bottom layer of angel food cake, a middle layer of chocolate, and a top layer of yellow cake—wow it was tasty.
There were a few more youth tonight—maybe 14 or so. We reviewed the words from the Bible stories and made crafts, and then went over a few more normal conversation words in English with them. They were all pretty enthusiastic about learning the words from the Bible stories, and when we made hats they wanted everyone to sign them. When we were finished with youth we went joined the adults in their discussion group and one man told Craig that he was ready to be baptized and join the church—this was good news for us and encouragement to Craig that God is truly working in these people’s lives. It was another good day all around.
“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Mark 14:17-18
Ray led devotion today again, bringing up the point that maybe our expectations for God are not high enough. We pray for miracles to happen, and then when they do, we’re shocked that He would actually do something amazing for us. As if He isn’t capable of still performing miracles. He reminded us that we should expect great things to happen when we’re on mission, because God can certainly make great things happen.
It was my last day of Bible school here in the village, and an especially trying one. On the way to the school, we crossed paths with an older boy who just wanders up and down the street. He has a mental disability and cannot communicate properly, so we never found out his name. When we passed him, I took off my angel necklace and gave it to him—he was way more excited about that than any teenage boy in America would have been. We asked him if he wanted to come with us, and he followed us to the school—and stayed with us the whole day! Even though he wasn’t able to communicate and possibly didn’t understand what we were teaching about, it was nice that he stuck around and at least had some interaction with people. It seems like he doesn’t have that on a normal basis. On a more negative note, we had a soccer ball hidden from us twice, the kids planning to “find” it later and take it home with them. The first time we recovered it, and the second time we thought we would have to leave without it, but as we were leaving I noticed the kids climbing into a shed from a hole in the roof and pastor Volodia went to recover the ball. These kids are rascals…they do drive me crazy but I still can’t help but love them. I just hope that the church will continue to reach out to these kids after we leave.
Valik and Nadya came to pick me up from Torchinovichii to bring me to Borislav today; we had lunch with the Scism team and then left. When we arrived in Borislav, we went straight to the church and were just in time for the closing assembly at the day camp there. The kids came in—157 of them! And we sang songs, prayed, and had some Bible study review before the kids were given snack at the end of the day. It was so nice to see people I haven’t seen in a year and to be back in a really familiar place.
When we got back to the seminary, I got settled in and we had devotion at 9. Hayley held devotion, referencing verses that speak about our double lives. Sometimes we act very “church-y” when we are at church or on a mission trip, but then outside of these types of settings we shut up about our faith and act very hypocritical. This was a good lesson for me to keep in mind when I go home—here I am across the world, sharing my faith with people I’ve never met, and when I get home I just pray that I have the same desire and strength to witness to people.
I am so happy to be here at the seminary, where I have easy access to communicate with home and convenient living conditions. It’s like being at home away from home. I am able to talk to my parents and Mike easily, and I will definitely enjoy it while it lasts.
We had breakfast at 8:30 today and had cereal—yay! I love a traditional Ukrainian breakfast, but I have missed just good ol’ milk and cereal…milk mainly.
Today was the last day of the day camp for the Nixon team, even though it was the first full day of camp for me. I was given the task of helping with the youngest group of kids—this was interesting because no one in that group spoke English! I was able to help a little, but mainly I was an observer, seeing how the camp was organized. Demetryk is in the group I led around. He is a young boy who was adopted last year by Nadya’s sister and her family. He is 8 years old and has cerebral palsy, so he needs to either be held up as he walks very slowly, or be carried around. He is the most adorable child. He doesn’t mind being carried, and today I had the privilege of carrying him—when he is being carried he likes to snuggle with his carrier, and he was stroking my hair. It was the sweetest thing. Just goes to show that you don’t have to know the language a child speaks to love on them.
We went through rotations, which for my group was Bible study, music, sports, lunch, crafts, and Bible study before the closing group assembly. We handed out gift bags for the children that the Nixon team put together, and after the assembly we had snack and the kids went home. Then we gave the leaders their gift bags and all gathered together for a group picture—so many were in this picture!! Afterwards we hung around a little longer than usual to get pictures of everyone who helped us and to just spend a little more time with everyone. It has been a good day seeing how the camp works. I am very excited for the rest of the week.