Saturday, July 08, 2017

Day 3 in Ukraine

It's so strange that when I am going to bed, Mitch is almost waking up, and he is headed to bed when it is still afternoon here. Anyway, it gives me lots of daylight to write a blog post!

Last night Mitch woke up around 3 a.m. his time and struggled to get back to sleep. Finally, around 4:30 a.m. (8:30 p.m. my time) he gave up trying to get back to sleep and texted me instead. We texted back and forth a little while, but eventually he decided to just get up and get started with sermon prep for Sunday morning. I decided it was time to wrangle the kids and send them to bed.

As I headed to bed I looked outside and was surprised to see a full moon rising in the pink of the setting sun.

I asked him if he could see the moon setting, since it was rising here. By that point, it was already blocked by hills, but instead he sent me the sunrise over Zhenya's hothouse...

By the time I woke up about 8 hours later, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a video from looks so fun!

And a good morning picture, also from Victoria...
{AJ is not smiling! Victoria, Mitch, AJ, Heather, and Oxana}

Then Mitch sent me this photo at the end of their day, but not yet 2 p.m. my time...

The time difference is so weird!

A side note from me: 
In Matthew 24, Jesus prophesies about the end of the age. In v. 30 he says, "Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." End-of-times prophecy is strange and difficult to understand. I have enjoyed reading or listening to the thoughts of others on this subject, but I don't count myself knowledgeable enough to weigh in. What I use it to do is to remind myself of how small I am and how little I understand. When I read the four Gospel accounts I am sometimes tempted to belittle the pharisees of that day--"how could they not see that Jesus was the Messiah? How could they not see that he was fulfilling all the prophecies?" It seems so plain to me now. But when I read the prophecies in context in the Old Testament, it seems to be much more complex, especially when it's mixed in with the Psalms or with narrative stories. And when I read prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled, they are even more strange. I wait with eager anticipation for their fulfillment, acknowledging that I have no idea what it's going to look like. How can all the tribes of the earth simultaneously see the Son of Man coming on the clouds when we can't simultaneously see the moon or the sun? I don't have a clue. But I don't have to. Maybe that's not even what those verses mean, but I do think about it a lot. Whatever happens, it's going to be amazing. And we need to be prepared.

In Ukraine, today was a day of rest. Pastor Grigorii warned the team that the rest of the week will be very busy, so they should rest as much as possible. It was also a day full of sweet reunions. Mitch said that they saw Maxine and other camp helpers from previous years. They shared many hugs and greetings as they prepared for VBS. They played even more 4-square and a new board game that Mitch brought along that transcends language barriers.

{Now AJ is smiling!}

Mitch said that he got to talk a lot about bees and honey today, and shared with them pictures and videos he has taken. (If you are an instagram user, check out his instagram account: @honeybeeholder). He said that one of our enemies of the hive here in America is the wax worm. In Ukraine, they capture the larva and use it in a strong alcohol solution to make a tincture for healing. Zhenya and Grigorii's sons had been very sick over the winter and the spring, but they got some of this tincture and it helped improve their health. 

When Mitch shared this story it reminded me of an important way our church--Calvary--can fulfill our role as a sister church to Horol: ongoing prayer for the pastor and his family. They have health issues just as we do, but they often face them with far fewer resources. Mitch wrote:
"Zhenya's back has been hurting. She is always a most gracious host, a wonderfully pleasant servant. She had a MRI recently and she has several hernias in her back. She is not complaining ever, but pastor tells us it is tolerable when she is not moving too much. This week, she will be moving plenty as she goes about serving not only us, but the multitude that pass through the house each of the busy days of Bible camp. The smile never left her face as she rocked her hand back and forth to say 'so, so' in response to 'how does your back feel now?'. May I be more like Zhenya." 
Pray that God's healing hand would be upon them, strengthening them to do the work of the Gospel there.

Mitch also requested prayer for a young boy there who has a blood infection in his foot. He wrote, "It is ugly and swollen, and he is having surgery today. His outer wound is a picture of the needed spiritual change in his life. Pray he would realize the need and allow Christ to be the Great Physician that only He can be."

Tomorrow is our team's first Sunday in Horol and it will be a blessing to be part of the church family gathering there. Their translators will help them understand part of the service. Mitch will also be preaching. He has a lot of anxiety when he has to speak (especially, specifically in front of adults), and he has had to speak every time he goes to Ukraine. So tonight...because by the time I wake up tomorrow, his service will be over...I am praying the scripture that I pray for the pastors in our church:

Jeremiah 1:9 Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth." 
Ephesians 6:19-20 (Pray) also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.
I'm also praying that our team continues to adapt quickly to the time difference and that they will all be able to sleep restfully tonight. 

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