Thursday, May 26, 2011

Father and Son camping trip

Our men's ministry is heading to the great outdoors. Our local church is holding a Father and Son fishing trip this weekend. The last count I heard, was that 80 had signed up. William is more than excited about this camping trip. After all it is is his first, with his dad, and they are going to sleeping  tents! He has been counting off the days on his calendar since May 1, but it wasn't until today that we finally let him start packing. These are the things he packed: his calendar, underwear, a book about squirrels, a small globe, a notepad and pen, a very large stick, plastic sword and wooden mace. I went ahead and tucked some clothing in the backpack while he wasn't looking. They will be gone Friday and Saturday. Hopefully this will be a time of father/son bonding and also a time bonding with the new guys who have started attending our church, but have yet to make a decision.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

up to my elbows in honey

Tomorrow is our quarterly get together for ladies in our small group that have still have not accepted Christ as Savior or have just recently been saved. Four times a year we celebrate birthdays for the ladies in this group and showcase a particular culture and that culture's cuisine. In the past we've had Turkish, Polish, American, Japanese and tomorrow we will be learning about Jewish culture and sampling some Israeli cuisine.
So what does an Irish-American Missionary to Ukraine have to do with Jewish cooking? Obviously not much, expect that the woman who was supposed to be making the dessert had "had something come up" so for the last few hours I have been boiling things that resemble pretzles in honey syrup.
I hope I've done this right, the recipe was very vauge with instructions like, add flour until you obtain the right consistency. Considering that I've never tasted or seen these babies, it's hard to know what the right texture is.   However, after dunking cookie  #112, I'm finally done and now I'm discovering honey in the most unusual places, like behind my ear and below my knee. Despite a rather indepth cleaning I feel my kitchen will probably be sticky for days.
I trust it's worth it. We usually have about 40 ladies attend these thematic birthday parties. They are encouraged to invite their friends and it's a great way to meet unchurched gals that might be interested in attending a Bible study. I don't know what the program will be. Last time it was Japanese themed and we tried out  sumo wrestling. Other than spinning a dredel, I'm afraid I don't know many Jewish games. So it should be fun and informative. I hope my kosher cookies are edible.

Last prayer group

We pushed the patio table closer to the lilac bush, so that the strong old fashioned scent of lilacs would drift our way as we drank tea and fellowshiped. Yesterday was our last prayer group for this season, and we had an intimate time of fellowship as each of us shared about answered prayers and ways that God has changed our life and our walk this year.
This preayer group is too personal to me to reduce to it figures of souls saved and candidates for baptism, although we have had more than one over the course of  these past nine months. God had done more for this group than I could have dreamed or imagined. I have been humbled by the way He has blessed me and taught me through such a unique combinations of ladies. To see these ladies accept Christ as their Savior, and help assist them with their first steps in their Christain lives has been amazing. It was hard to say goodbye to everyone. Of course we'll see each other on Sunday and in the weeks to come, but this group bonded in a special way and I will miss the weekly prayer and encouragement I recieved from these gals. And I will thank the Lord daily for allowing me to be apart of this incredible work.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Hottest Spot in Ukraine

No offense to the house of Windsor, but Ukraine did not stop last Friday to catch a glimspe of the royal wedding. Instead Ukrainians were in a frenzy of preparation for one of thier biggest holidays of the year. The first weekend after Easter, most of Ukraine celebrates a holiday known as "hrabki" based on the word or graves. Each plot in a Ukrainian graveyard has a usually rather elaborate tombstone bearing the deceased photograph, in front of the tombstone stands a small metal picnic table and bench enclosed by a short metal or wooden fence in accordance with the families social status. Friday and Saturday are spent cleaning and preparing the gravesites, then on the first Sunday after Easter a long line of cars and an even greater flock of pedistrains make their way to the local cemetary to honor their dead.
They carry baskets laden with bread, meat, cheeses, cutlets, eggs and of course vodka. A little after noon the deceased's family sits down at the picnic table to "share" a meal with their loved one. There are large brass bands that roam the graveyards and for a price will play a somber tune for you lost relative. It's  a time of mingling visitng with neighbors and coworkers, because pretty much anyone, that's anyone there. After the meal, and much drinking, a considerable amount of food, as well as customary shot glass filled with vodka is left at the picnic table for the deceased. Although no one really believes that the dead eat this food, it is an act of tradition and supersitition, a compromise made between paganism and Orthodoxy nearly a thousand years ago. Folks are afaid to offend their loves ones or bring bad luck upon themselves, even the staunchist of atheist will leave a small bag of candy for his lost ones, "just in case"
This is a holiday not to be missed, even in the large modernized city of Kiev, traffic jams near cemetaries made it almost impossible to pass thorugh the city this week. In our own small town our church has the unique blessing of being located on the main road to the cemetary. The protestant of Ukraine do not observe this holiday. However, for several years now, our church has used this stratigic location to reach the community. We have a small rummage sale to "lure" the cemetary crowd in, as well as refreshments, (for the living, not the dead).  It has proved to be a great opprotunity to reach people along their path of disilluisionment, and to get them reconnected with the truth.