Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Day 7 of trip, Day 3 of VBS Kids' Camp in Ukraine

Today was a great day!!

First off, someone made sure I got these photos from the American meal. They love me. :)
 {This plate of corn dogs Victoria is holding looks so good that now I want to try this recipe here when Mitch gets home. Great job, team!}

{Gathered for the American meal.}

Now on to today. Thank you for your prayers for the weather. Storms were forecast for today, but they didn't hit until after camp was done. Pastor Grigorii said that it was good to get rain for the farmers. Then Mitch said, "God kept the storm from our harvest, and brought the storm for the farmer's harvest." Pastor added, "Our harvest is more important though." Even more children came today, for a total of 170!


 {Nazar, the pastor's second oldest child, with water and juice for snack today. Mitch said, "He is the one that drives us around in the van most often. Victoria was a bit shaken up on the first few car trips." LOL. Mitch also said that he is a very nice young man.

{Victoria leading "Follow the Leader"}


{The next set of pictures are of the morning exercise before camp}





 {Playing an Army-Navy variation}

 {Victoria helping lead the camp assembly}
{This song has a part in English!}


 {Feed your partner a banana race (while both of you are blindfolded)}

 {Heather giving her testimony. Mitch said, "Heather is great with kids! It is wonderful to see her using her gifts to explain salvation and encouraging many kids to follow Jesus."}

 {"Heather talking to the campers about the Ten Commandments and encouraging them to follow Jesus.}

Side note: Speaking of the Ten Commandments, I read a little article today where one of the "Fast Money" questions for Family Feud was "How many of the Ten Commandments have you broken this month?" The top response was "one". Interesting. The article called to mind James 2:10.

{"Pastor serving more of Zhenya's wonderful food after another exhausting day of camp."}

Tonight they had Men's and Women's nights at the church. The women met inside the church, while the men met at the pastor's house right next to the church. Thanks to Pastor Grigorii's oldest daughter, Oksana, for sending me these photos! 
 Heather, and "the tall Oksana" translating

The theme at Women's night was encouraging one another. Our team brought journals to decorate, plus fingernail polish as a gift for the ladies. Mitch and Heather did need to go into town to pick up more supplies before the evening began. He wrote, "Heather and I just returned from shopping together. Just the two of us made the trip without any Ukranians or translators." He said that "charades" worked well for helping them find what they needed when they had to ask for help! In the end a couple of the leaders (Oksana for one) didn't get a journal, but they had exactly enough for everyone else who came to get one. We are thankful for God's perfect provision!



And for the Men's group...
 Mitch called me this afternoon while he was working on putting together their Bible study. He wanted to use Isaiah 40:3 as a starting point for his study, and wanted to talk about the idea of how to actually make a well-worn path. He borrowed an illustration from C.S. Lewis and compared a poor soccer player, who makes a lucky shot once in a while, to a disciplined player, who is good because he has been well-trained. Then he pointed to the Bible as our playbook. Before they had the Bible study, he met with both AJ and Pastor Girgorii. They went over the passages of scripture and worked through what to say.
AJ said that tonight went much better than last time (2 years ago), and even better than Sunday. Their preparation ahead of time helped him to be more at ease with translating, and even his blood pressure stayed under control. Thank you for praying for them!

Mitch was encouraged by AJ's brother-in-law Roma who said, "I can tell that you are a good teacher." Roma also has a friend who is a bee-keeper. I'm still hoping that Mitch would get to talk to someone who keeps bees in Ukraine. :) Our gift for the men was a new pair of work gloves. Just as they finished the Bible study and people were heading home, a thunderstorm took out their electricity...after, not before. :) 

Now I want to share a story that saddens my heart, and Mitch's heart. I debated whether I should share it, because I can't wrap it up in a pretty bow and make it look "happy." But I feel if I withhold the story, that I withhold an important part of the picture and leave you with a distorted view. Two years ago when Mitch was in Ukraine, there was a man at the men's night whom the pastor had been witnessing to for a very long time. This man was an alcoholic, and the pastor had pleaded with him to give his life to Jesus. At the men's night, he was so moved in his heart that he confessed his sins. I wrote on Facebook that day: "At one point in the evening, Pastor Grigorii turned to the man and asked, 'Now will you receive Christ?' And the man did! He humbly, tearfully, prayed to receive forgiveness of sins." Today I asked Mitch if he remembered this man, and if he knows what happened to him. With a heaviness in his voice, he replied, "He's dead." Following that night, the man did come to church a few times. But then he returned to drinking, and within a few months he was found frozen to death.

It is a tragic story, and I don't really have anything to say. But when I ask for prayer, I mean it. Use a prayer journal, a bulletin board, notes written in your Bible, a prayer closet, whatever you have to use to remember to pray. I use an app on my phone called PrayerMate. I don't know what else we can do for each other that is more important than to first stop and pray. 

Here are two more photos of Zhenya and the kids enjoying the game Mitch brought. 


Tonight was Mitch's turn again to lead devotions with the team. They had a very special, sweet time of thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for. 

Praise God for the wonderful week of camp so far! Praise him for his provisions for the meals and for the men's and women's nights. Praise him that Mitch got a very good night's sleep last night (and LOL he almost missed breakfast this morning!). Today is AJ and his wife's anniversary. Praise God for their marriage, their family, and their salvation.

Prayer requests:
  • Victoria will be giving her testimony at camp tomorrow (Thursday). Pray (now...because, again, this will be while we are sleeping) for her to be calm and to know exactly what to say.
  • The forecast is for showers all morning. Pray that kids will still come to camp and have fun.
  • Thursday afternoon the team will meet with the President of the college where we hold the kids' camp. Pray for continued favor. We are so thankful to be able to use this space for so many years!
  • Thursday evening the team will go out to the village they visited last Friday with Sergiy and Luda, and they will have a one-night version of VBS. Please pray for this time, too. They have changed their plans, so they may not get to go out a final time on Friday evening. 
  • Friday evening they have a teens' night outreach planned there in Horol. I'll grab those details again the next time I talk to Mitch.
  • Please continue to pray for Zhenya, Oksana, and AJ's health.

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