We are working to try to catch up on the months in 2015 that we missed, but hope you enjoy reading about what has been happening in 2016.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 2014

November picked up right where October left off, with us in Krivoy Rog finishing up a week of great ministry.  The rest of the month we were pretty much back to normal, with the exception of our Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

Saturday afternoon the 1st we went to a village - Зелёный Луг - which means Green Meadow, for a service. We have been to this village several times before and in the past we helped them buy the house where they meet and do some remodeling. It was a great service and several people gave their lives to Christ, including some бабушки - babushkas or grandmas. They fed us a light meal that included some fresh honey and milk. It was all really delicious!
Church building in the village we visited
Visiting around the table after the service in the village
Sunday morning we split up and went to three different churches. For the first time, Phil was privileged to preach in Pastor Galina's church (Pastor Gregory's wife who also pastors a church). Our family went together and we had a great service there. After the service we visited with Pastor Galina for a while, and she shared some of what it was like being raised in a Christian home under communism. She could not attend university because she was a Christian. For those of us who live in a free country, we cannot fathom what they went through.

After service we ate our last meal in Krivoy Rog, packed up our belongings, and loaded up the rented van and headed for Kiev. A highlight of the trip home was our stop in Smila, about half way home. We ate at a pizza chain and visited with one of our friends, Pastor Dennis. He took us to see their new church building, which is still a work in progress, but they are using it anyway. They used to meet in a movie theater, so they are very excited about having their own building.

The new sanctuary of the church
Pastor Dennis at the door of their new church building
We got back to our house by midnight and got everyone settled for the night. Monday morning, Denise made breakfast for the crew before most of us headed out to spend the day in Kiev.

As Pastor Brad said, Denise was our hero for fixing breakfast
One cannot visit Kiev without going to Maidan (means square). This is the square where the protesters began standing up against the government of Ukraine one year ago and where most of the fighting took place in February. This was our first stop.  It is a moving place to visit and today they had displays of large pictures that were taken during last November through February.

View from above looking down at the displays of photographs.
Nearly all of the bricks that were used as weapons have been replaced on the steps below.
One of the many pictures - a man throwing a Molotov cocktail during the fighting
A picture of rubble and a burned out building - near where we are standing
From left to right:  Katya (Ukrainian), Tracy (from MN), Phil, Denise, Pastor Brad (from MN), Wesley (from WI)
The building behind us was the press center during the protests
and much of the building was a temporary hospital during the fighting
This clock is a familiar sight
Along the sidewalk on the short wall there are pictures, plaques, and some flowers
for the 100 heavenly heroes (that is what they have been named) who died in the fighting in February
Here's a close up of the central point of the memorials for the Heavenly Hundred
We spent time shopping and looking for souvenirs. We bought a couple of things to send back to America as well as a few things for here while our friends bought things to bring home with them. When we were done shopping, we went into a restaurant to get something hot to drink (it was cold outside).  While we were there, they lost electricity, so none of us could use the bathroom. Such is life.

We decided that we should go into St. Andrew's Church since we had never been inside. You have to climb a lot of stairs, but the view of the city is breathtaking. The church was built in the mid 1700s and it became a museum more than 20 years ago. It has a different style than most of us are used to.

 St. Andrew's Church - outside
View of the city from St. Andrew's Church
St. Andrew's Church - inside 
Before we went out for supper, we made one more stop. This turned out to be the highlight of the day. Because we reached the Motherland statue close to dark, the lights were turned on and it ended up being a great time to be there. The World War II museum here is closed on Mondays (as are most museums), but the outdoor displays were spectacular!

The famous Motherland Statue in Kiev
It is actually taller than the statue of liberty and made of titanium
Her sword was cut off because it had to be shorter than the highest orthodox church steeple
The scenes in the wall were interesting, detailed, and very large!
Check out the size of that hand!
This view of the city at twilight from near the statue was amazing!
After our full day, we headed to a restaurant recommended by a friend - the Tennessee Steakhouse. The steak was really good and, of course, we had to get our picture taken!

Early Tuesday morning, Phil brought our 4 friends to the airport by 4:30 AM in plenty of time for their flight, then went back home and went to bed.

After our busy time of ministry, we were worn out, but got some needed rest and then back to our routine of Russian lessons, studying, Hope doing her school work, and life.

On Thursday the 6th, we spent from 10 to 3 at a local government office regarding our registration. Our lawyer was there by 7:30 and it still took that long. It was horrible. They told us to come back the following Thursday the 13th. We did that and did not have to wait long this time, but the person who talked to us said it usually takes 10 days, not a week. Go figure. So we returned on Tuesday the 18th and finally received our registration. Now we can legally be in country for the next year.

On Thursday the 27th we celebrated Thanksgiving with friends here in Kiev. We had a very enjoyable time together. After we ate dinner, we all shared what we were thankful for this year. God has been so faithful to each of us. It was a special and moving time with some laughter and some tears.

On Friday, we enjoyed a day of relaxation and watched movies all day.  In the evening, we went to the ballet to see The Nutcracker. We parked a block away (for free) and had seats in the second balcony ($10 for all three tickets).  Not bad for a night of great entertainment. We are not ballet lovers, but we all enjoyed it. Phil was captivated by the performance of the orchestra, Denise enjoyed all of it, and Hope loved the costumes.

In December, we need to find a new place to live and Christmas is right around the corner. Our Area Director and his family are planning to return the end of the month. While we looked at two places so far, neither will meet our needs, so that will be our focus in December - finding a place and moving - along with our Russian studies.

As we reflect on the last year, we can say that we are truly thankful for God's help, faithfulness, and provision so that we can serve in Ukraine. We know that He provides through others, so we want to express our thankfulness and appreciation for YOU. We are grateful for your partnership with us - whether in giving, praying, or encouraging!  And thanks for following our adventure!

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