Friday, 7-8-11 “Ello!!” *Tammy and Jessika, I actually did not find your card until Saturday when I unpacked my bags—sneaky!! But I know you put it in there on Friday so it is the title for Friday… J
“He is not here, for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew 28:6
My handwritten journal entry for this day is four pages long…so I’ll try to I can’t believe today is the last day here in Rasosha; I am leaving tonight to go to Vinnitsya and take the train from there to L’viv. In L’viv I will meet up with the Scism team and go to Torchinovichii. In camp, about 80 kids came, or at least that is how many snack bags we handed out. The lesson was about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, so the craft was a cross made to look like a stained glass and afterwards, everyone received an Easter egg with candy. I was trying to take as many pictures as possible so that I could remember all of these beautiful faces. It was a very long day with all the things we had planned. At one point I was concerned about the time because I knew I needed to pack, and finally I was given a peace by God that the packing would happen and I shouldn’t let that worry get in the way of enjoying my last day with the kids and the team. When we finally got home, very late for lunch, I stuffed as many things in my suitcase as possible before lunch. In camp, we had over 100 kids show up. I have seen a lot of progress in some of these kids from the start of the week. There is a girl, who I have mentioned before, not by name, who I believe has some serious questions and great potential in her life. I gave her a note of encouragement, and I saw her discussing some things with Pastor Leonid. I hope her interest continues and that her questions are answered. At the end of the night, Pastor came to us and asked us to pray with four girls who wanted to repent. It was so amazing to be part of this moment in their lives. None of them had a Bible in their homes, so we will make sure they are given a Bible to keep and read.
Soon it was time to say goodbye, and I am such a baby when it comes to doing so. I cried many times tonight…when we got back to the house it was a mad dash to finish getting ready, but then once we slowed down and had dinner I was tearing up again, telling Viktor and Anya how much I enjoyed staying with them. Just before Pastor Leonid came, all of the team members showed up to say goodbye—it was a full house! Viktor and Anya gave me a mug with a picture of the church on it, and Inna gave me a figurine of a girl with pigs—haha! Great tokens to help me remember this week. Finally we had to load up the van and leave—very difficult. I know I will never forget my time here this week. Once we left, it was a FAST, bumpy ride to Vinnitsya. We met up with our translator and boarded the train—difficult to go to sleep because it was so very hot. Long day…
Saturday, 7-9-11 “New Beginnings”
We got off the train this morning around 8, and were met by Ruslan, who I actually met a few years ago in camp. He also brought Pastor Volodia from the church here in Torchinovichii; we went to a grocery store and then to the airport to wait for the team. The Scism team and the Nixon team arrived around 12:30, and just before that Valik, Nadya, Marina, and Stepan arrived from Borislav to pick up the Nixon team. I was so excited to see them! Even though I enjoyed Rasosha so much, it was nice to come here and see people again that I already know. We loaded up and headed to Torchinovichii, which was about a two hour drive. Close to the village, we stopped at a grocery store in Sambir for cold drinks, tea, coffee, and bread for the week. At the house church where we are staying, we have three beds in a small office for the girls and four in a larger room for the guys. They are definitely tight quarters. It is a good thing God put together a small team. We were fed dinner outside, and though it was very good, it was also very hot and difficult to eat a lot. We all tried to stay up as long as possible and finally gave in around 11 and went to bed. Even though it was a long day, it was slow as far as things to do, so there is not much to write about.
Sunday, 7-10-11 “Be Fruitful”
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5: 24-25
This morning’s devotion was about the Fruit of the Spirit, which fit perfectly with the bracelets Mama sent from home. Each has a different piece of the fruit of the Spirit, like love, joy, peace, patience, etc. Everyone should wear one each day to be reminded of this passage and the importance of showing the fruit of the spirit. We had breakfast and unpacked some boxes during our down time before church, which is at 3 pm here. This community is greatly influenced by the Orthodox Church, so the Pastor wants to give people who go to that church an opportunity to also go to the church here. The Orthodox Church beliefs and traditions are comparable to the Catholic Church--not to offend anyone, and I believe many Catholics personally have beliefs in common with me and in line with the teachings of the Bible, but I do not agree with many practices of the Catholic Church…it is the same way here. We heard a sermon from a man in the church as well as Craig, then after church all the people who came to church met afterwards for tea and desserts. It was good fellowship; our team members shared our testimonies and we were able to talk to people in the church. It was interesting to sit and fellowship with them and share backgrounds. Many of them have beliefs rooted in the traditions of the Orthodox Church, so it should be interesting to see how further discussions go this week. I am looking forward to finding out more about the Orthodox influence on this area.
Monday, 7-11-11 “Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!”
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-22
Today our devotion’s passage reminded us that we should become like those to whom we are ministering; understanding their background and being careful of how we are perceived when we are here. Our actions are the most effective witness while we are here, since there is a language barrier that sometimes hinders our words. This was fitting for this area, because we must keep in mind that these people do not come from the same backgrounds as us and we should not expect them to change their entire belief system in one week.
Today was our first day of camp; we had about 30 kids who came. We met in a school down the road from where we are staying and we will walk there every day. The kids learned about following God’s instructions with the story of Namaan. They were given memory verses printed in Ukrainian and English, and were encouraged to memorize them for prizes on Tuesday. When camp ended, we walked with the children to a store to buy ice cream for all of them. We told the lady who owns it that we would be back every day, so she will hopefully keep it stocked.
This afternoon we went to Sambir to buy groceries for two families who are in need; on the way, Volodia stopped at a place that had exotic animals—we still have not figured out why they are there. We were not charged admission, but were able to walk around and look at the animals. There were ostriches, sheep, reindeer, goats, horses, cows, lions, bears, wolves, and badgers! Sweet. We went to the store and bought non-perishable food items for the families and then came rode the bus back…can I just say it was a tight squeeze. Interesting, to say the least. However, on the walk back to the house, we passed a girl who had a bag of kittens! She let me hold them and for a moment I was in heaven.
Tonight we met with the church people to discuss salvation and to find out their beliefs on the subject. We found that many of the people have differing views from ours on what it means to be a Christian and follower of God. As I said before, many attend the Orthodox church and hold on to the belief that they can become righteous by their own works. Needless to say, we are in disagreement and we are trying to show them scripture to help them understand that only by faith can we be saved. No one will ever be righteous enough to enter heaven on their works alone.