Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ADVENTURES IN GROCERY SHOPPING

Perhaps one of the most daunting things a person has to adjust to in a new country is learning how to shop for groceries.  In countries where very little English is spoken, like Ukraine, it can be especially scary.  You have to depend on the pictures which might be on the packages.  But sometime you can make a mistake with that too----I picked up a packet that had a picture of what I thought was celery, dried celery leaves.  When we got home and looked up the word in the dictionary we found that it contained dried parsley leaves.  It wasn't a horrible mistake, but it illustrates how even pictures can mislead you.  It really helps to have a knowledgeable friend along to give guidance the first two or three times.  Fortunately Frank and I had started working on the Russian language before we left the U.S., although I am really poor at picking up new sounds and then pronouncing them.  Frank has really done good, so I like having him along to read the labels in Russian.  Oh-oh, another problem in Ukraine-----Ukrainians are very patriotric and are beginning to use Ukrainian more and more here in the eastern part of the country.  Everyone still speaks Russian, especially the older folks, but many of the products which are being made here in Ukraine have only Ukrainian writing on them.  It's very close to Russian, the writing is similar, but sometimes the words are different.  Okay, so there is the basis for my adventure in grocery shopping.

When I saw the nice supermarkets here in Berdyansk I was very pleased.  They are so much better than the grocery stores in India.  But India has one advantage----most products had English on them, so you knew what you were getting.  (That's due to being a colony of Great Britain for so many years.  Indians are very patriotic and want to use their own languages, but they want to know English too.)  The stores may not have looked as nice as these supermarkets, but they did have almost everything you might need, or want.  Perhaps I should mention here that Frank and I aren't afraid to try new foods (although I did draw the line at fish-head curry in India many years ago---the eye staring up at me was just too much for me to swallow, literally.)  So, what have I learned about grocery shopping in Ukraine?
  • Bring along your own shopping bags.  If you need a bag, you'll probably have to pay for it.  And you will bag up your purchases yourself.  No one will help you with that.  I was sort of expecting this, so in our shipment I included a couple of sturdy bags---a black Walmart bag and a larger green one from Joann's Fabrics.  I bought those too, but they are probably stronger than what I have now.
  • You can buy fruit and vegetables at the supermarket, but there is a better selection at the regular market, which is in an unheated building with various stalls outside as well.  You can also get meat and other items like spices at the market.  I bought potatoes yesterday, they are really dirty as if they'd just been dug up.  Carrots and onions are like that too.  Even in the supermarket root vegetables have not been cleaned.
  • At the supermarket there are lots of items that can be purchased in bulk:  flour, oatmeal, sugar, rice, and other commodities like that.  But there are also delicious cookies and crackers of all kinds that you can buy in bulk.  In the freezer section there are different fish, shrimp (looking up at you with the eyes still in!) mixed vegetables, and various Ukrainian foods including variniky which is somewhat like ravioli except it's stuffed with different things.  I have bought cheese variniky and chicken variniky, both very good.  Yesterday in a small grocery store downtown I saw frozen chicken heads just waiting for someone's soup pot.
  • When you buy a carton of eggs here, you get ten eggs, not twelve.  They probably work more on the decimal system here.  The eggs have very dark yellow-orange yolks, but they taste just the same as in the U.S.
  • Ukrainians eat a lot of fish, after all we're on the Sea of Azov.  There are many, many different kinds and I don't know hardly any of them!  Slowly, one by one, we will be trying some of them.
  • I haven't bought ice cream yet, but I've been told that it melts quickly so you need to get it home fast.  However, if it melts and refreezes it doesn't get ice crystals like that in the U.S.  It stays smooth and creamy.
  • The supermarkets have wonderful pastry sections.  We're working our way through different breads and cookies and haven't had one yet that we don't like.
  • The deli sections are really good too.  I'm trying a few things at a time.  Our latest discovery was something I bought in the deli last week.  It was a large oval-egg-shaped ball stuffed with something and then deep-fried.  I thought it might be stuffed with potato or other vegetable since I remembered something like that from 2007,  but when we heated it up in the oven and then opened it up, it was stuffed with tender chicken breast.  We each had one for lunch and it was delicious.  I asked our friends for the name, but they didn't know.
  • Paprika is a favorite spice here, probably because of the close proximity to Hungary.  I have seen chickens in the meat section marinated in something dark red.  I am guessing the marinade has paprika in it and I plan to buy one in the next week or so and give it a try. 
  • There are scads of different sausages in the meat section.  Some are salami, but most of them I don't know.  I hesitate to buy them because I can see big pieces of fat in the cut ends of them.  I want to try them, but we really don't need that high fat content.
  • One other thing that we have tried is pickled cabbage.  It's not like saurkraut at all.  It is very tart and I have added a bit of sugar to it to cut that sourness.  It's makes a good salad.  I get it out of the bulk section of the supermarket.
  • There are plenty of soft drinks including Coke and Sprite.
  • I bought a container of Pringle potato chips this week.  It cost about a dollar.  We have also tried some Ukrainian potato chips.  They are good, with a little different flavor.  Not bad at all.
  • We are tea drinkers.  We had the best tea in the world in India, and I was extremely happy to discover some of our favorite brands here in Ukraine.  Ukrainians love tea more than coffee, so they want the best.  There is also coffee, but we haven't tried any of that yet. 
I think this is enough about food for now.  I know more things will pop into my mind after I finish this, but I'll write more about food as we continue to try new things.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

FIRST DAY AT THE ORPHANAGE

One of the first places Frank and I were invited to go to was the First Stage Orphanage here in Berdyansk.  Bill Brower, our WGM missionary in charge of youth work, goes to the orphanage twice a week in the mornings to play with the kids and be a part of their lives. When he invited us, we were eager because we had been talking about the orphanages for two years and had shared about the spiritual and physical needs of these kids.  So we piled into the van with him and his co-worker, Vika, a young woman who also works in the youth ministries.

At the First Stage Orphanage children are usually brought by their parents or other family members to stay because the family is unable to give them proper care, for various reasons.  The children can stay for three months to begin with, but some stay as long as nine months.  After that if the parents still can't care for them the children are sent to Azmol Orphanage, which is the regular long-term orphanage.  There aren't lots of children in the First Stage Orphanage, but there are enough to break your heart.  We spent time with the younger children who don't go to school yet, and they are as adorable as they can be.  We also saw some of the older children who are probably between the ages of ten and fourteen. 

As soon as we arrived at the orphanage, the small children were peeking through the door and couldn't wait to get their hands on us for some hugs.  Bill and Vika had brought some games and puzzles for the kids to work, and we played with them too.  Sasha, a nickname for Alexandra, took a liking to Frank and he helped her set up the blocks.



Daniel was a cute little guy, but he could be a handful too.  Look at his wonderful smile.






Bill Brower has a special love for these kids.  Look at him and Andrei, who is a first class show-off!



Little Denis seemed very sad and withdrawn.  The matron said he was used to getting a lot of attention from visitors, and today he had to wait his turn.  Whatever, the little guy is so very cute.



Pasha, Ulla, and another girl whose name I missed enjoyed the puzzles.  Pasha worked the same puzzle over and over again, afraid to let any other child have a turn just in case he didn't get it back.



We stayed with them for about two hours in the morning.  They are well taken care of, fed well and kept clean and dressed warmly.  In fact, we had our sweaters on and were pretty warm the whole time, so the kids are kept warm too.  The older children go to the local school, although it was a holiday the first day we went so they were there too although they didn't want to mix with the little kids too much.  The director of the First Stage Orphanage is a kind man who seems to have the well-being of the children as his first priority.

We were told that children who grow up in the orphanages don't want lots of people to know about it because it is somewhat of a stigma for them as they get older.  People of their own age look down on them and it is difficult for them to find their proper place in the world around them.  What an opportunity for ministry! not just in orphanage, but to follow-up on them after they leave and try to help them adjust to their world, as well as to give them the spiritual message that even if no one else cares about them, Jesus will always love them and care for them and give them the security they need.


MORE IMPRESSIONS AGAIN

It's been a week since I wrote and a lot has happened since then.  We have seen more of Berdyansk and continue to learn a little more every day.  Some impressions:

  • It snowed last week and the streets are a mess.  We haven't seen a snowplow around our ministry center, and as I look out the window I see people navigating through the ice and slush very carefully.  We did see one snowplow downtown, but the streets were pretty messy there too.  By "navigating" I mean that they are walking, probably to the bus-stop just down the road.  The cars move very carefully.
  • We went shopping for some clocks and cell phones.  The cell phones are nice and probably priced about the same as they are at home.  I got one in "romantic pink"----it really is pretty and has a bunch of stuff on it.  Now, if I could only read the instruction leaflet---it's written in two languages, Russian and Ukrainian.  We didn't sign contracts, we got a starter pack which gave us our phone numbers and then we buy cards with a certain amount of time on them and enter them in the phone for use.  Somewhat like what we did in India.
  • We learned that the Ukrainian people put a high value on "image."  This includes what you wear and how you behave in public.  You would never go out in public dressed sloppily or with your hair messy.  In summertime you would never wear shorts to go shopping.  At least we understand that's true for men, I'm not sure if it holds true for women.  I guess we'll find out next June. But, you must be dressed "properly".  You must always look good, preferably in the most current fashion.  I'm pretty sure Frank and I haven't reached the proper status yet!  Along with the clothes image, the women wear lots of make-up and do their best to look really good in that respect.  Of course, it's not hard for them because the women are so beautiful anyway.  Lots of blondes, but also a lot of people with very dark, almost black, hair with blue or green eyes.  They are gorgeous.  The dark hair may be a throw-back to the time when the Tartars invaded from the east and stayed in the area of both Ukraine and Russia.
  • Ukrainians love bright colors.  Perhaps it is because they often have drab lives.  They live in tall, gray ugly apartment buildings.  In winter everything is gray, cold, and cloudy, with the sunshine only shining now and then.  The clothes are colorful, the shops are colorful, and curtains and other household linens are colorful.  We haven't been inside a Ukrainian apartment yet, but the chances are good that they are  decorated with bright colors.  There is nice furniture in the shops, but it isn't exactly like what we would find in the U.S.  Every country has its own taste in design and functionality.
  • At Christmas there are lots of decorations available.  We bought a small tree (made in China), various ornaments, garlands, and lights.  Total cost:  about $30.  Actually, although it's December 22nd here and we are in the mood for Christmas, the Ukrainian Christmas isn't until January 7th.  That's because of the Orthodox church traditions which have a strong influence on the lives of the people.  The missionaries here will have a small dinner together on December 25th, but the big celebrations will be two weeks from now.  Frank and I are looking forward to seeing what happens in the church as well as all around us.  We especially want to try some special Ukrainian foods that are prepared for Christmas. 
These are just a few of the things we have noticed.  I'll write next about our trip to the orphanage and the Christmas program we saw there.

Monday, December 14, 2009

SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN PRIMORSK

One of the churches we had visited in 2007 was the Primorsk congregation, which met in the local theater while their building was being constructed.  It was a lively group of people with lots of singing and enthusiasm for participating in the worship service.  It was at Primorsk that we met Larissa Prechunk, the school principal who gave up her secure position to work in the church and serve the Lord full-time.  We shared her story with folks in almost every service we held in the U.S. during our HMA assignment. 

So, when Bill Brower called us on Saturday and asked if we would like to go to Primorsk on Sunday, we had no hesitation if accepting his invitation.  We were really interested to see how the church was doing.  We were warned that although the church building was done and there was electricity, there was no heat in the building and it would be cold.  Okay, we knew this was going to happen sooner or later, so we might has well just get used to it.  On Sunday we dressed very warmly, long underwear, two pairs of socks, etc., etc., and climbed into the van to go to Primorsk.  We drove along through the flat steppe landscape and arrived just in time for the service to begin.  As we settled into our seats, Rev. Arkadi suggested we sit where we could put our feet on the rungs of the seats in front of us to take our feet off the cold floor and help keep them warm.  I'm all for that----I always have cold feet in the wintertime.  The outside temperatures were in the low 30s, so it did feel cold in the church, but we were inside without any wind, so it wasn't too, too bad.  The service began with lively, good singing led by a worship team of six young adults.  There were testimonies and a good sermon, lots of amens in the congregation, and a warm atmosphere.  We were briefly introduced and people were encouraged to meet us after the service.  This is where the story gets good!

As we stood at the back of sanctuary, the first person to come up to us was Larissa!  Even though we had met only briefly in 2007 she remembered us, and she remembered that we were going to be involved in lay leadership development!  I suppose she remembered because this is such an important issue for her since she wants to see the church grow and the people develop into leaders.  Anyway, she told us (through an interpreter) that she had been praying for two years that we would return to Primorsk and begin our ministry of leadership development there.  She had been praying for us specifically.  Wow!  what else can I say?  We were overwhelmed by that.  But there was more----the whole church had been praying that a missionary would come to their church to serve, they wanted a missionary, in particular they wanted the Deweys to come to work in their church.  We are humbled and in a little shock with all this.  We had no idea anyone would even remember that we had been there since it was two years ago and we were only in that one service at Primorsk.  Lots of Americans come to visit the work here, and we were here at a time when one WGM work team was also here, so we were just part of the whole group. 

At this point we have no idea how all this is going to work out.  We live in Berdyansk, about 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) from Primorsk.  Larissa said the church wanted us to move to Primorsk so we could be in the ministry full-time there.  Pastor Arkadi was there with her, although he didn't say a lot, so we want to get to know him better and learn what his thinking is.  We need to work with our missionary team here, and with our field leader, to pray about it and find the Lord's leading in all our decisions about this.  Probably nothing will happen for a while because we are entering the Christmas season here and it lasts through the first week of January.  In fact, Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on January 7th as part of their Orthodox traditions.  Pray with us about this opportunity, that everything will be done as the Lord wants it to be.  To us this is just a confirmation from the Lord that we are where we are supposed to be, and that He has work for us to do here. 

MORE IMPRESSIONS

  • We haven't seen the sun yet, although as I sit by the window and write this the sun is trying to shine through the clouds for the first time since we arrived.
  • Driving to church on Sunday afternoon, the road was not busy with a lot of traffic.  Our driver, a Norwegian (sp.?) missionary, was stopped for driving too fast!  A patrol officer standing by the road with hand held radar caught him.
  • The water in our building was off quite a bit this weekend.  It was off several hours on Saturday afternoon, and then was off again all of Sunday morning .  Frank didn't get his morning shower!
  • The ladies here like to be very fashionable.  Knee-high high-heeled boots, nice coats with fur collars (not old-fashioned fur collars, but very trendy looking fur), make-up, hair, etc., all really nice.  I felt rather clunky!
  • Drinking water is brought into the building in large 5-gallon containers.  We use this water for drinking and cooking.  We go down to the office and get a new container when we're getting low.  The tap water is used only for laundry, dishwashing, and showers.  The water in our kitchen tap has a distinct sulphur smell. 
  • No tv for us at this time.  We could get a satellite dish, but the channels are basically all in Russian or Ukrainian, there is one English-language channel (BBC news), although we could pay more and get some other English channels.  We'll wait and see how we feel about it.  Right now we're getting our news from the internet, watching the nightly broadcast of Katie Couric on CBS News.  Not our favorite, but it works.  Checking other news channels for more stories.
  • Having long, long winter evenings is an adjustment.  It's almost dark by 4pm, and by 8pm we're thinking it's bedtime!
  • We realized we were spoiled in India.  We could go almost anywhere and find someone who spoke fairly decent English.  In fact, we could go to the city and never have to use Kannada, our local language, at all.  Lots of English bookstores.  In Ukraine very few people speak English, although many want to learn.  No books in English, except for what we have with us or what the other missionaries have. 
More next week.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

UKRAINE, FINALLY

On Thursday, December 3rd, we said goodby to Laura, Brent and our grandsons as we headed to the airport to get on our plane.  There were no tears, but it was tough to kiss them goodby.  And we know it was hard for Laura, because she had come to depend on us for backup when things got hectic around her house.  And she always has a hard time saying goodby.  But she also wants us to do what God has planned for us.  So, she was smiling and waving with little Lance as we went through security at the airport and blew them a last kiss.

Our travel was fairly routine except for the part of it that crossed the north Atlantic.  It was rocky!  We had lots of turbulence and a bumpy ride off and on for several hours.  But we arrived in rainy Munich and got our flight to Donetsk which arrived at our destination right on time.  The airport at Donetsk is the smallest international airport we have been in.  One other flight was on the ground, loading passengers for takeoff.  We came down the plane's steps and were taken to the terminal in a bus.  The flight had not been full so there weren't many passengers who had to go through immigration, which was about the easiest we have experienced.  However, when we went to get our luggage (five fairly large suitcases), it was on a cart just outside the terminal, there were no luggage carts for passengers to use, and so we had to move it ourselves one or two at a time into the terminal.  That was a first for us.  The other WGM missionaries in Ukraine were waiting for us and there was a happy time of greeting and shaking hands.  The other missionaries are Bill and Betsy Tarr, and Bill and Oksana Brower.  Bill B. met Oksana here and after some time they were married and she is now also a missionary with World Gospel Mission.  After a drive of 2 1/2 to 3 hours we arrived in Berdyansk and the Home of Hope ministry center.  We both slept very good that night, at least a good ten hours. 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

  • It gets dark early!  It starts to get dark before 4pm and is completely dark by 4:30.  That's because we are so far north, much further north than we have ever lived before, particularly in India.


  • The land is flat!  After spending a wonderful summer in the mountains, we are now in an area of Ukraine that is part of the steppe of western Asia and eastern Europe.


  • Our apartment is quite nice.  It is small, but just right for two older missionaries like us.  A living room, bedroom, nice kitchen, bathroom and storage room, which is large enough to accomodate a desk and become Frank's office.  The rooms are all in a line with a fairly wide hallway going alongside them.  The appliances in the kitchen are really good, and the cook (me) is very happy with it.  We have radiator heating in all the rooms, with a second large heating-cooling unit in the living room.  We are comfortable.


  • Shopping is interesting.  We went to the supermarket on Saturday and were thankful to have Bill Brower and Betsy Tarr along to guide us through the different foods and labels.  Frank can read some of the labels, so he could recognize a lot of foods, but I'm really slow with that.  (Language study!  Language study!)  Lots and lots of fish (Berdyansk is on the Sea of Azov), cabbage, good cheeses, pork products (very fatty pork), chicken, not much beef, delicious-looking breads and cookies.  On Monday Bill Brower took us to the open farmer's market, part of which was indoors, but unheated.  Lots of good vegetables and fruit, nuts, sweets, odds and ends.  The meat market was also in the building----again, a lot of fish and pork, and chicken although there was some beef also.  In the cold weather, it's okay to go to the meat market in the afternoon, but come summertime the morning will be the time to go since there is no heating or cooling in the building.  Outside the building lots of stalls were set up for individual vendors, mostly women, to sell their produce.  I felt sorry for the women because it was a cold day with a brisk wind, and their faces and hands were red and chapped with the cold.  I had on my heavy coat with the hood pulled up over my head, so I wasn't too bad.  They had good coats and hoods too, but their hands were bare so they could do their work.  And in a brisk wind after a while even a good coat is not enough.  My plan is that before I go grocery shopping next time, I will make my list in English and then write it in Russian so I can begin to read the labels for myself and develop my very small vocabulary.


  • The last time we saw sunshine was Thursday morning in Oklahoma City on our way to the airport.  The sky has been cloudy and sometimes drizzly since we arrived.  The temperatures have been in the lower 30s.  But I comfort myself with the thought that today in Oklahoma, Kansas, and states north and east, the temperatures are much lower and there are heavy snowfalls, sometimes blizzards.  Our turn will definitely come, but not right now.

CHURCH
On Sunday morning we attended our first worship service as missionaries in Ukraine.  The service is held in the Home of Hope ministry center, which is also where our apartment is located.  So we didn't have to go outside, we were quite close to the place where the services are held while the sanctuary is being completed. 

The service was three hours long, which is about par for most mission fields, although we were spoiled in India with shorter services at the seminary.  The service here started with one or two songs, after which Rev. Sergei spoke for fifteen or twenty minutes welcoming everyone and making pertinent comments.  The singing resumed and lasted for at least 45 minutes.  But the music was wonderful!  I loved the melodies, and the Russian words were shown on the screen, so with our little bit of language study we could follow somewhat, although we didn't try to sing except on the refrains.  The music was upbeat, catchy, and easy to follow.  After the music finished, the floor was opened for testimonies, and a number of people got up to testify.  I won't say they got up to say a few words, because it seemed that many of them were telling their life stories!  Actually, except for one person they were usually relating one particular incident where the Lord taught them something new, or worked out a problem for them.  We were fortunate that we had some translation done for us through earphones, since Oksana Brower is Ukrainian and she did the translation. 

After the testimonies, the pastor's message focused on Passover in the Old Testament and how that led to the ritual of communion, and its importance in the family life of the believer.   He is a lively preacher with use of humor and illustrations.  At the end of his message communion was served and so we were able to participate for the first time in a meaningful act of worship with fellow believers in Ukraine.  It was a special moment for us.

WHAT'S COMING UP IN THE NEXT WEEK
Well, we are pretty much settled into our apartment, so the coming week will be spent getting more information about the work here and how we will fit into it.  We want to get Frank's office set up so we will feel more "professional" or at least make it look like we're busy!  We will definitely be getting back into our Russian language study several hours a day so we can understand more and make some primitive attempts at communication. 

If the opportunity arises and the weather permits, I plan to start taking some pictures soon and will try to get some posted here and on Facebook.  Stay tuned for the next installment.

SAYING GOOD-BY

SHIPMENT OFF TO UKRAINE
Well, the last time I wrote was November 15, when we were packing our shipment to send to Ukraine.  That was three weeks ago, so I will just give a fast run-down of events up to December 3, when we actually boarded a plane and headed eastward toward the place where God has been leading us.

We did finally get the shipment packed and sent.  The books (which were giving us the most trouble) were packed separately in smaller boxes and sent along with the main shipment.  When Frank checked at the post office about sending them in one big mail bag, we could still do that.  The big catch:  they would have to go airmail.  The USPS is no longer sending these big bags by sea mail, and the cost of airmail is just toooooo much to send books overseas.  So, we were back to square one and finally decided just to pack the books in separate boxes that would each weigh up to 66 pounds, which was the size limit.  It worked okay and we finished packing.  When we were done we had nine boxes that each weighed about 66 pounds.  A good friend from our Sunday School class, Craig Guy, helped Frank load the boxes into his big pick-up and drove with Frank to Tulsa to the Ukrainian shipping agent.  They went on their way and we could turn our attention to packing up the house and preparing to leave.

THANKSGIVING
Thanksgiving week was both hectic and fun.  Our son Evan and his wife Lori, with their three little girls came on Tuesday to spend 3 1/2 days with us.  Evan and Frank worked all day Wednesday cleaning out our garage and doing other jobs around the house that needed to be done before we could leave.  They continued the work on Friday and got just about all of it done.  Our garage had not been totally empty since 1992 or earlier!  My mother had left things there, Evan and Lori left things there, and we left things there at various times.  Evan helped move the big pieces of furniture into the the storage units we have rented, so our house began to look more and more bare as the week went by.  Thanksgiving itself was good.  Fourteen of us sat around the table at Laura's house.  Frank's mom, five Tevebaughs (Laura's family), five young Deweys (Evan's family), two of us and a good friend of Laura's.  The food was traditional, turkey, etc.  We divided up the cooking between us, so Laura didn't have to do it all.  She tried an interesting way of roasting the turkey:  around midnight before Thanksgiving Day, put the turkey in a roasting pan, cover it with foil, and put it in a 275 degree oven.  Let it cook slowly all night until noon or so on Thanksgiving Day.  When the foil is removed, the turkey is self-basted and brown, as well as being very tender.  It was delicious.  Thanks to Laura's friend, Melinda, for the new technique---at least it was new to us.  I could write lots more about our granddaughters and grandsons, but there's too much to say.  I'll have to devote one entire blog session to them later.

SAYING GOODBY TO OUR HOME
After Evan and his family left, Frank and I continued cleaning, packing, and moving things to the storage units.  On Monday, Craig Guy came by again and spent the whole day helping Frank move the rest of the furniture and taking trash to the dump as well as taking a big load of things to Goodwill.  (One thing about moving is that it's a great opportunity to get rid of the clutter that accumulates so fast.)  Laura came to the house and helped me empty the kitchen.  She took charge and it was done pretty fast.  Tuesday was the day for cleaning the house and getting it ready for the rental realtor.  Frank and I worked all day, and Laura came in the evening to help finish the mopping and cleaning of the bathrooms.  When Frank turned it over to the realtor on Wednesday morning, it was very clean, the garage was totally empty, and we said goodby to the house for two years.  It was a little sad, but we didn't dwell on it, we looked toward the future and what would be happening in our lives after we got to Ukraine. 

SELLING OUR CAR
I have to devote a whole paragraph to how the Lord worked out the details of deposing of our cars.  We had decided to keep our mini-van:  we like it, it's in good condition, and it will be waiting for us when we return to the U.S. in 2011.  Evan's in-laws in Texas have big barns and storage areas on their farm, and they were glad to help us out by storing our van in one of them.  Evan drove our van back to Texas when he and Lori left us (Lori drove their van with the three girls) and he is taking care of our car for us while we're gone. 

But the truly amazing story is how we sold our little Mazda, which we used around town and on short distance driving.  A friend had been interested in buying it, and we had been keeping it for her.  But at the last minute she felt that she couldn't swing it, so backed out of purchasing it.  We understood, we were not upset.  However, this happened on the Saturday night before we were to leave on Thursday, not much time to sell a car.  On Sunday morning in Sunday School, we mentioned that the car was available, if anyone was aware of someone who might be interested in it, and we were asking about $3000 for it.  No one said a word.  Okay.  On Monday one lady from our class called and knew of a young man who might be interested.  Before he had a chance to see the car, Linda Jergens from our class called and mentioned that her son-in-law, Kevin, might be interested.  She was a little disappointed because the young man was going to look at the car.  Well, he looked, talked to his dad, and finally decided not to buy it.  But God had not left us without hope, because Linda had called and our next step was to get in touch with her again.  It was arranged that Kevin would look at the car on Wednesday night (less than twelve hours before we were getting on that airplane.)  He and his wife had been traveling home on Sunday, and had talked then about how they needed a good second car for him to drive to work.  They needed it to cost about $3000.  Well, enough said.  You can see where this story is going.  They had a need, and we were able to fill it.  We had a need, and they were able to meet it.  God had it all worked out ahead of time, but it would be nice if  He didn't wait until the very last minute to reveal it!  We needed that $3000 because our house taxes are due in December and we didn't want to dip into our savings for that.  And there is enough left to keep a decent balance in our checking account until we begin to receive income from rent on the house.  Thank you Lord for taking care of us.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

PACKING UPDATE

Frank checked at the post office about sending the books via sea mail in a book bag.  The book bags are still available, limit of 66 pounds per bag.  The catch is that they no longer ship them sea mail, everything goes airmail.  The cost to send one bag of books---$250.  And we have enough for three bags.  Guess what?  the books are not going to Ukraine in a postal bag.  We'll ship them in boxes separate from our big U-Haul boxes, but along with the total shipment.

Our Sunday School class is a blessing to us.  This morning they decided to take up an offering next week to help us send 700 pounds in our shipment.  That will cover almost the whole cost.  We know they will be praying for us every week that we are in Ukraine.  We praise the Lord for them.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

PACKING FOR UKRAINE

Okay, here's the situation.  There are three kinds of packing going on in our house right now.  First, what goes into our shipment at 89 cents a pound to get it to Ukraine.  Second, what should we keep out to pack in our suitcases that go with us----two suitcases each, 50 pounds allowed in each one---all basically warm heavy winter clothes.  Third, what can we live without for at least two two years and leave here in storage.

 Our big problem right now is how to get our books there.  Books are the tools of our trade, we need these books to do our work properly and to share with others on the field.  Books are very heavy.  Our shipping company has said that each box we ship cannot weigh more than 66 pounds.  We're using fairly large dish boxes that we bought at U-Haul, a nice size and sturdy for shipping.  The first box Frank packed with books in the bottom weighed 100 pounds.  Okay, unpack it and start over.  The problem is that the boxes are too big for only 60 pounds.  When we reach that amount the boxes are only half full.  After several attempts to unsuccessfully get the weight now and fill the box at the same time, we decided to consider sending the books through the postal service. You can fill a big postal bag with packages of books and send them by sea mail, which means we won't get them until February or March, but that's okay.  Frank has to check to see if our local post office here in Yukon will handle that sort of thing, or even if the service is still available.

We've basically done all the shopping we need to do to get things to send to Ukraine.  Major items that we definitely needed to take with us include all the vitamins and minerals our doctor wants us to take, as well as 12 months of my prescription for Evista, which prevents osteoporosis (did I spell that right?).  We went to Sam's last week with Laura and got all the vitamins, etc., as well as popcorn, granola bars, and some heavy warm woolen socks.  I don't need to take a lot of kitchen stuff because the apartments in the Ministry Center are furnished with a lot of things already in the kitchen.  So I'm only taking a few things for that.  Food items:  among other things we are packing peanut butter, Crisco, spices for Indian cooking (we need our curry fix every now and then), Pam for easy cooking, minced garlic and onion, and ziploc bags which are useful for everything.  One thing I am taking is my small sewing machine.  It isn't in a box yet, but it soon will be. 

I've decided not to take my quilting stuff with me.  There's just too much that's involved with that.  But I'm sending all my bags of yarn that has accumulated over the years.  It doesn't weigh a lot and it's a good filler in packing.  My knitting needles, crochet hooks, and some patterns are going too.  Fortunately, there are tons of knitting and crochet patterns on the internet, so I don't need to take a lot of those.  I'm also taking some of  my cross-stitch materials and threads.  I have a lot of cross-stitch kits that I have bought on sale at Hobby Lobby through the years, so I stuck some of those into the shipment too.

We asked our church to help some of the kids in orphanages and some adults with warm winter clothing, so we have that to pack as well.  Several coats, a number of nice sweaters, and some hats and gloves have come in for that.  And Frank needs to put in some tools that come in handy now and then around the house or apartment.  And I have some CDs and DVDs that we're taking with us too.

We need to get this finished early in the coming week and take it to Tulsa to a shipping company which ships only to Ukraine and takes care of customs, etc., and delivers it right to your door.  Much easier than having to take it through customs yourself and then make arrangements to get it home afterwards.  Busy week ahead. We have always looked at our going to Ukraine as a new adventure for the Lord.  We need adventures to keep us young and excited about life in general.  I think the adventure has already started in all the issues of packing!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

TRANSITIONS: NOVEMBER 2009

I am posting here a copy of the current prayer letter that we are sending out this month to all our supporters and prayer partners.  It pretty well explains how we are finally able to get to Ukraine after two years of trying to raise our financial needs. 

                         TRANSITIONS:  NOVEMBER 2009

In 2007 when we came home from India, we needed a new theme for our prayer letters so TRANSITIONS was born. Since then we have traveled across the U.S., sharing our love and enthusiasm for the ministries and people of Ukraine. We had to raise a lot of new support during tough economic times, and some of our Transition time here in the U.S. has been very difficult. But these two years have had a lot of happy moments. Two new grandbabies were born—Lance to our daughter, Laura, and Anika to our daughter-in-law, Lori. What fun that has been! Our other grandkids and family members have given us loads of joy as well. We have met wonderful people from New York to Oregon and many states in between. We have never had car trouble or severe weather problems in all our travels.


But now the big Transition has arrived! We are finally going to the field! We will be leaving for Ukraine on December 3 to begin our ministry of teaching and mentoring the pastors and laymen/women of the churches that World Gospel Mission works with. We have often mentioned that we feel like new missionaries all over again, excited and scared at the same time. That pretty well sums up our feelings right now. We need to empty our house and make arrangements for renters while we are gone. But our biggest concern is for Frank’s mother, Edna Dewey, the oldest living missionary in World Gospel Mission. She will be 103 on February 8, 2010, and it’s hard to leave her. But our Laura has stepped up to help her grandmother, and our son, Evan, will support her and be there if necessary. We praise God for our children. They love the Lord and take care of us.


We are very appreciative that so many of you have stood by us faithfully when our future was in doubt. Thank you so much for that. We must mention that we are still underfunded as we leave for the field. WGM has worked out a financial plan so we can get to the field, but we still need your financial support. The amount that WGM headquarters and the Ukraine Field receive from our ministry has been reduced. And we have agreed to a 20 percent cut in monthly income. As the economy improves, perhaps the Lord will ask you to take support in our ministry. You have heard us talk about the great opportunities and the great needs in Ukraine. You have heard about our ministry of teaching and mentoring. If you would like to be a part of it, we would love to have you as a ministry partner. You can go online to http://www.wgm.org/ and follow these links: Fields—Ukraine—Those Who Serve—Frank and Christine Dewey—Support Our Ministry. That final page will give you various financial options for our ministry.


As the weeks fly by, both before and after we get to Ukraine, you can keep up with our progress online on Facebook. Chris will write almost daily notes on what’s happening. From time to time, Chris will update our blog, www.deweydiary.blogspot.com. We would love to have you as one of our friends on Facebook! It’s fun, informative, and easy.


Praise God with us, and pray for us as we make this huge TRANSITION. We appreciate every one of you!


frank.dewey@wgm.org


A/C 39
Berdyansk 71116
Ukraine

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The West and Mountains

I can't leave the Northwest without some reflection. I have always been fascinated by the American West. Perhaps it was because of the old western movies, but probably more because of the wonderful topography, the vast prairies, (Little House on the Prairie and all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books), the wildlife, and the colorful historical characters who inhabited it. Many of those characters had lives that were stranger than fiction. And I can't leave out the native Americans who lived somewhat primitive lives, but had marvelous resiliency and tenacity, as well as their own myths and spiritual elements.

Mostly this past summer I have reflected on Mountains. We were within view of mountains, or at least high, high hills, almost everyday of our seven weeks in the northwest. I love the mountains. They challenge us to be stronger and braver than we normally are. They inspire us with their beauty. They draw us closer to God, not just in terms of height and feeling physically nearer to Him, although that is definitely there, but also in terms of understanding a little more of His majesty and grandeur. I plan to begin writing a series of Bible studies on the significance of mountains in the Old and New Testaments. I was going to start them this past month, but other events have pushed this to the back burner for a while. It probably won't start until after we get settled in Ukraine, but I want to write the studies and post them to the blog here, perhaps twice a month. It all depends on our work schedule there. Stayed tuned.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yellowstone National Park


Well, it's been two months since I wrote here, but when we got home from the Northwest we had lots of things to catch up on, and nothing much seemed to happen. So I neglected the blog. Well, things are definitely happening now, so I need to get back to it. And I think a good place to start is where we left off.

In my last posting I wrote about the casinos in Montana and South Dakota. After that we stayed with friends in Fallon, Montana, for a week or so and then decided we couldn't leave the northwest without a stop at perhaps our most famous national park, Yellowstone. It is definitely the first national park established. So we headed toward Cody, Wyoming, which we used as our resting place two nights. We drove into the park from the east and were thrilled by the forests and mountains and geological formations along the way. And of course the first part of the park we had to see was Old Faithful. I took pictures from the front side, but the wind was blowing the steam and water vapor sideways, so it really didn't show up very well. But later we were walking behind the geyser along the pathways and Old Faithful shot off again and I got some decent pictures from the rear.



We roamed the park for two days, saw lots of animals (mostly buffalo again), and were fascinated by the geysers, hot springs, mud volcanoes and Yellowstone Lake and River and the Grand Canyon of the park. All of it something everyone should try to see at least once in their lives. We left the park from the northeast entrance and drove the next day over Beartooth Pass, along one of the curviest roads we have ever traveled. We were finally high enough to be at a level with the peak of Beartooth Mountain. In the picture below you can see the bear's tooth in the center of the peaks. We were just about level with the top of the mountain here.





After leaving Yellowstone we had a meeting in the small, small town of Reed Point, Montana, and met some more great people there. We left Reed Point Sunday afternoon and headed south toward home. We stopped at Dalhart, Texas, to see Evan and his family again and stayed there for a day or so. We finally arrived home on August 26 after seven weeks of roaming the northwest.
It was a wonderful summer. We saw our beautiful nation, we met wonderful people, we shared about the needs of both India and Ukraine, we raised some new support for our work in Ukraine, and we learned more about faith and trusting God for all our needs. We have lots of happy memories of July and August, 2009.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A FINAL WORD ABOUT CASINOS

If you read my previous posting you read about the casinos in Deadwood, South Dakota. But that was just one place with lots of casinos in a tourist setting. Casinos are everywhere in Montana and South Dakota. They are not like the big resort casinos in Oklahoma which are scattered across the state, on Indian lands. Those casinos have motels and restaurants attached to them. These casinos are small, some look very attractive, some are attached to convenience stores and are small and bland-looking. In the shopping malls, there are casinos. Today, in Billings, Montana, we were driving to Walmart and on a four-way stop, with four corners, casinos were on two opposite corners. They are everywhere, in strip malls and on all major streets. They may have a sign saying that you must be 18 years old to play. I have complained a lot about the Oklahoma casinos, but they are nothing compared to the casinos in these two states. I don't think they are all owned by the Indian tribes (although that may be so), but Frank and I are stunned by the pervasiness of the casino culture here in these two states. Most people seem to accept them, but Christians should be very concerned about how their states are raising money. I can't say what effect the casinos have, because we haven't really talked much about them with people here, but it would be interesting to know the effect they have on youth and on family life.

THE BLACK HILLS OF SOUTH DAKOTA



After Ridge Campmeeting finished we had a week with not a lot to do. We had thought we would go to the Black Hills and just be tourists for most of the week. One of our new friends at camp then told us that our free week was the time of the annual Biker's Rally at Sturgis, South Dakota. Over half a million bikers from all over the States and a few from other places converge on the Black Hills for a week of carousing and showing off their bikes, mostly Harleys. Motel rooms were at a premium, and we just couldn't afford that. As we pondered what to do instead, our friend, Chad, informed us that he had talked to his folks and we were welcome to come and stay in their home in Rapid City. The Lord is really good to us by working out situations almost before we are aware of them! So we drove to Rapid City on Monday and stayed in the home of Roger and Rebecca (Becky) Bingaman for the whole week. Most of the time we were out sight-seeing and enjoying nice weather.

But first I must talk about the bikers. It was incredible to see so many motorcycles on the road and parked by the hundreds at the different places we visited. Who would have ever thought that bikers would enjoy sight-seeing too! We finally decided that we had never seen so many tatooes in our lives, along with heads covered with bandanas, and lots of leather jackets and pants. In fact, when one salesperson asked me if I was in Rapid City with the bikers, I just looked at her and replied, "Do I have any tatooes?", at which she and I laughed together. Some of the motorcycles were fantastic, and some looked very uncomfortable to ride.






Our first day out we went to Mt. Rushmore and had a wonderful day for it. The sun was shining but the temperatures were mild and pleasant. I'm rather proud of the next picture. The sky was very blue and George and the boys looked wonderful.



Another day we went to Custer State Park to see the wildlife, and had some wonderful shoots of the buffalo herds. The following guy got up close and personal, so I quickly rolled up my window!



The final day of sight-seeing we went to Deadwood, the home of Calamity Jane and sometime home of "Wild Bill" Hickok, and their burial place. Deadwood was awful. It has become a mini-Las Vegas where all the old western buildings have been turned into casinos. The crowds of bikers were terrible. We went inside one casino----the bottom floor had a model train exhibit and Frank wanted to see it----and I thought it was shabby and uninviting. The slot machines were noisy and the people were like automatons--nothing got their attention but the machines. One casino had an interesting motorcycle on display outside. It was really cool with the pictures of old-time Westerners on it. We ate lunch in a restaurant that had a restored Victorian interior and even there the slot machines were working and people were trying their luck. For us the best thing about Deadwood was the cemetary. It really showed the history of the town, complete with the graves of Wild Bill and Calamity Jane. And it was quiet, no roar of engines.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

RIDGE CAMPMEETING

The sign says it all! The tiny village of Ridge is surrounded by ranches with herds of Black Angus cattle, fields of hay, and some antelope and deer. The ranches don't look much like the ones in western movies. The houses are ordinary, sometimes double-wide manufactured homes, with barns and sheds that are basically just like those on farms. From the main highway 20 miles along a dusty road to the turnoff at Ridge, it is another three miles through ranch land to the camp. Frank was joking along the way that it was more of a cowpath than a road, but it was actually better than that, although when it rains it becomes a gooey mess.

When you expect the worst, it is always pleasant to find that things are much better than you expected! True, the cabins were rough and rugged, there were lots of daddy-longlegs, and the tabernacle had a sawdust floor and really uncomfortable benches. But the people were friendly, the food was excellent, and the outdoor setting for the camp was gorgeous. Lots of pine trees and hills with beautiful wildflowers in abundance. The worst part------the cold weather! In an unusual year the temperatures were really, really cold in the early morning and just a little warmer in the afternoons. One morning it was 44 degrees, but most mornings were between 48 and 55 degrees. In a warm building that's bearable. But in an unheated cabin with open spaces between the floor boards, it is really hard to get out of those blankets in the morning and undress to get dressed! We had a cheerful yellow nine-patch quilt on our bed as well as two good blankets, but for two nights we still needed to put on more clothes when we hunkered down for the night. Actually, we were reminded of our India days when we went to visit Laura and Evan at boarding school. Several days were cloudy and rainy just like Ooty, the town where the school is located, as well as being very cool. One night the thunder actually rolled across the hills. I had always heard that phrase, but now I really understand what it means. The lightning show was spectacular, and the rain came down on the tin roof of our cabin. It was just like Ooty. Of course, to complete the comparison to India, the electricity went off in the night and didn't come back on till mid-morning the next day.

This is the tabernacle on a sunny morning. The sides can be put down to keep out the wind and the rain. The preaching was good, old-fashioned holiness preaching, but the evangelist had a sweet spirit and a great sense of humor. His name is E. R. Trouten, he was a Wesleyan pastor for a long time and later taught at God's Bible School in Cincinnati and Hobe Sound Bible School in Florida. There were a good number of teens at the camp, and he continually urged them to think about their spiritual life and what God required of them. But he did it in a sweet way, not condemning them.


We shared every day, twice a day. Each service had a "missionary moment" and Frank and I took turns talking about our personal calls to missions, some outstanding moments from our work in India and our short time in Ukraine, along with our hopes for the future. It was a little daunting at first to think that we had to speak sixteen times, not including Missionary Day when we were responsible for two full services. But it's amazing how the Lord helped us think of interesting and challenging things to share each day. On Missionary Day Frank preached on the Great Commission in the morning service and in the evening we gave our Ukraine presentation. The offerings were good, and people would continue to press money and checks into our hands throughout the week. They love the Lord and they want the whole world to know how wonderful God is. One young man, about 12 years old, came to our cabin just before bedtime one night and gave us three dollars. He had missed the offering on Missionary Day and he wanted to be sure that he participated in world evangelism. His name is William, but everyone calls him Wills. God has something special for Wills----he has a tender heart and a loving attitude.

In spite of the cold weather everyone had a good time at camp. The teens were fun and friendly, the cooks were fantastic, and the other adults were committed to hearing God's Word and obeying His commands. I'll just put in a few pictures of different people below so you can see their lovely smiles. We were ready to move on at the end of camp, but we will remember this as one of the most interesting experiences we have ever had on Homeland Ministry Assignment.





SPOKANE TO CAMP RIDGE

It's been two weeks since I wrote, so I must catch up on things. I'll go back to Spokane where we stayed with some long-time supporters whom we had never met before. Praise the Lord for wonderful people who feel that God is leading them to pray for and financially support missionaries, even though they don't know them personally. Roger and Janice Long are people like that. They opened their home to us for two nights in Spokane and encouraged us with their own active ministry of small groups in their home. It was great to finally meet them and hear their stories of how the Lord has lead them into helping people think about their faith and what they believe.
Next we headed east on I-90 through the skinny part of Idaho in the northern part of the state. We stopped at an old Jesuit mission to the Coeur d'Alene Indians and saw the old church which the Indians help build. It was really neat. I was particularly impressed by the official seal of the tribe----it is the only Indian seal I have seen which includes a Christian cross.


Monday, July 20, 2009

ON TO SEATTLE

Our time in Portland is finished. The campmeeting was really good, the preaching was excellent, the people were friendly. We did get a little monthly support pledged, and we will receive an very good offering.

On Sunday afternoon we headed north to Seattle. We had a meeting Sunday evening in an Evangelical Church where some old friends from India attend. Our meeting was good, again we did get promises of more support. It was wonderful to be with folks we hadn't seen for a long time. Lester and Mary Hamilton were missionaries with WGM in India for about 35 years. They were responsible for starting the Vacation Bible School ministries which reach more than one million children and youth every year in India. Their daughters are old friends who grew up with Frank and now live in the Seattle area. Unfortunately Lester is in a care facility for Alzheimer patients, but Mary is still living on her own although she is frail and needs daily help.

We are close to Mt. Rainier and can see it clearly from our motel. It is snow-covered and has a somewhat rounded peak which is a little flat at the top. Below is the short article from Wikipedia to tell you a little more. I know it's a little pedantic of me to post this article, but I found it interesting and says everything much better than I can.

"Mount Rainier is an active stratovolcano (also known as a composite volcano) in Pierce County, Washington, located 54 miles (87 km) southeast of Seattle. It towers over the Cascade Range as the most prominent mountain in the contiguous United States and Cascade Volcanic Arc at 14,411 feet (4,392 m).
The mountain and the surrounding area are protected within Mount Rainier National Park. With 26 major glaciers and 35 square miles (91 km2) of permanent snowfields and glaciers, Mount Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states. The summit is topped by two volcanic craters, each over 1,000 feet (300 m) in diameter with the larger east crater overlapping the west crater. Geothermal heat from the volcano keeps areas of both crater rims free of snow and ice, and has formed the world's largest volcanic glacier cave network within the ice-filled craters. A small crater lake about 130 by 30 feet (40 m × 9.1 m) in size and 16 feet (5 m) deep, the highest in North America with a surface elevation of 14,203 feet (4,329 m), occupies the lowest portion of the west crater below more than 100 feet (30 m) of ice and is accessible only via the caves.
Mount Rainier has a topographic prominence of 13,210 feet (4,030 m), greater than that of K2 (13,189 feet (4,020 m)). On clear days it dominates the southeastern horizon in most of the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area to such an extent that residents sometimes refer to it simply as "the Mountain." On days of exceptional clarity, it can also be seen from as far away as Portland, Oregon, and Victoria, British Columbia."

Okay, class dismissed!

Tomorrow we leave Seattle and head east to Spokane to spend two days with some of our supporters. Then on Thursday we head to southeast Montana to begin the Ridge Holiness Campmeeting. We'll be out in a National Forest and I'm pretty sure we won't have internet access or cell phone signals while we're there for at least eight days. So you won't be seeing us on our Facebook page or here at the blog for a while. This is where we will really be roughing it, so we appreciate your prayers!

PORTLAND, THE CITY OF ROSES






































































Portland is called the City of Roses for a good reason. On Saturday we had some free time and the weather was wonderful, so we headed to one of the many rose gardens in the city. This particular garden was high on a hill and had some statues that commemorate the Lewis and Clark expedition. But the best part was the roses. You can tell from one picture that many of the plants were taller than me, and a few were taller than Frank. There were all kinds of roses: tea hybrids, floribunda, minature, old fashioned, you name it. I was in rose heaven!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

FURTHER IMPRESSIONS

More impressions of the Portland area, some not so great:

  • Lots of adult video and book stores, visible everywhere.
  • Lots of people smoking, which is strange considering how exercise conscious they are.
  • No gas pumps at convenience stores.
  • Not pumping your own gas, the law won't allow it. So someone else fills your tank for you.
  • Environmentally conscious----we supposed to sort our trash: paper, plastic, glass, etc.
  • Beautiful wildflowers----okay, some people would call them weeds, but when they're blossoming into wonderful colors, they're wildflowers. What colors? red, yellow, purple, and blue, mostly.

Well, we're finished with Portland for now. More later.

Monday, July 13, 2009

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

What are our first impressions of Portland, Oregon, after being here for the weekend:

  • Very green. It looks like a jungle here! All this cool weather and lots of rain make it look like a tropical paradise.
  • Huge roses and hydrangeas. The flowers are absolutely beautiful.
  • Few visible churches. We come from the Bible belt with churches on every block. Here the churches must be hidden behind all that greenery.
  • Reminds us of the hills of south India, especially Ootacamund, the town where Hebron School is located and where our children (and Frank!) went to school----except that it's much cleaner! The weekend was cool and rainy, just like Ooty weather.
  • People wearing sweaters and jackets in July.
  • Lots of people riding bicycles, with special lanes in the roads for them. Almost like Europe.

More to come later.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL

Our trip was just over 2000 miles from our home in Yukon, Oklahoma, to Portland. After celebrating Anika's birthday we left Dalhart on Wednesday morning and headed west. From the time we sighted Raton Pass in northern New Mexico until we got to Portland we were in sight of mountains or foothills of the mountains. Some of the mountains were snow-covered, such as at Monarch Pass in Colorado. Others were not so high, but were rugged and beautiful in their own way.






















On the western edge of Colorado we stopped at Colorado National Monument, a ruggedly fascinating landscape of mountains eroded into fantastic shapes with deep canyons. In the Visitor's Center we saw a presentation that stated with absolute certainty that these formations began to evolve 2 billion years ago. When I get to heaven I want to ask God how all these scientific statements (truth?? theories??) fit into our Biblical account of creation. The geological formation is extremely interesting to study with numerous layers of sediment from inland seas that developed and receded several times over the 2 billion years.



After leaving the Monument we soon crossed the stateline into Utah. The landscape became a barren moonscape. It was desolate and empty, at least that's the way it seemed to us as we sat in the car on I-70 going westward. No towns or villages, no trees, no people except those traveling east or west on the interstate highway. The foothills of the northern mountains were barren and uninviting. But we eventually turned north and headed to Salt Lake City where Frank let me stop and visit a great quilt shop. I loved the shop and bought Laura's birthday present there. I might have to try it out before I give it to her!



The next day we continued northwest and drove through southern Idaho toward Oregon. In the afternoon we reached the Columbia River and traveled on I-84 westward along the river. It is an awesome work of nature. On the opposite shore is the state of Washington. On both banks of the river are many huge windmills generating electricity, more than we've seen anywhere else including Oklahoma. As we got further west we could see Mt. Hood in the distance and we entered a forest of evergreens. It really is a beautiful part of the country. In the coming week I will write more about Portland and the surrounding area.



Tomorrow we begin our ministry at the Clark County Holiness Camp in Vancouver, Washington. We need to get back into missionary mode as we prepare to share the needs of Ukraine. We appreciate your prayers as we try to help folks find what God wants them to do with regard to the needs of the world around them as well as around the rest of the world.

ANIKA'S FIRST BIRTHDAY

We are in Portland, Oregon, after a long week in the car. We left home on Monday morning, the 6th, and drove to Dalhart, Texas, to see our son and his family. The 7th was our little granddaughter Anika's 1st birthday. We are so glad that we were able to be there for it. Ain't she sweet? Of course, we had fun with Kirsten and Riley too. They are live-wires and keep us hopping all the time we're there. After all, aren't all grandparents just supposed to play games all the time?



We had birthday cupcakes and Anika really enjoyed hers, if you know what I mean. The rich chocolate frosting was delicious and she enjoyed every moment of it!






It took Anika a little while to warm up to us because we don't see her very often. But pretty soon she was letting us hold her and love her up. She is a sweetie-pie.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth of July, 2009

Well, our July 4th is pretty tame. We're staying home, getting things organized to leave here on Monday. We will be going first to Dalhart, Texas, where our little granddaughter, Anika, will be having her first birthday on Tuesday, July 7th. We have an invitation to her birthday party, and we wouldn't miss it for the world.



On Wednesday morning we will get in the van and head for the northwest. We will probably be gone from home for six-seven weeks. We will be in Portland, Oregon, for about ten days, visit old friends and participate in a campmeeting, and then head for southeast Montana for another camp. After that we will have meetings here and there along the way. Usually I hate being away from home for six weeks, and I'm sure that by middle August I will be ready to come home. But I'm looking forward to this trip. I love the American west, and I'm looking forward to the great scenery and the whole western atmosphere.




This past week we were able to be with our niece, Dacia Brown, and her husband Ken. Ken served three tours of duty in Iraq, came home with neurological issues from having so many concussions as he led his unit in house searches and convoy protection, and is now at Camp Benning, Georgia, training and doing other work with the Army. He looked great. He was trim and fit, and happy. We had a wonderful time with them and their eight-year-old daughter, Arissa. We went to Toby Keith's restaurant here in Oklahoma City. They really wanted to go there because a country/rock band called Gloriana was performing there that night. It was fun. We sat on the patio for our meal, then went inside to watch the band for a while. The noise volume was pretty loud, but maybe we were the only ones who noticed that :). Dacia is worship leader at a large Baptist church in Columbus, Georgia, and has piano students during the week. We don't get to see them very often, so it was good to make connections again.



I'll write more next week after Anika's birthday party, and probably put some pictures on too.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

ADVENTURES IN JULY AND AUGUST

World Gospel Mission has really been trying to help us get to the field. There are six other couples like us who are struggling to get their support, and WGM has been coaching us and giving us new ideas to follow and new methods to approach people. We were encouraged to start a page on Facebook.com, so we have done that and it is marvelous to see old friends we haven't heard from for ages and ages suddenly popping up and visiting with us. I have posted links to our video and to this blog on Facebook, so they can see and learn more about us. At the bottom of this page also there are links you can follow for Facebook and our video, as well as the field website for Ukraine.

We will probably be heading out from home to the Northwest right after July 4th. We are scheduled to be in two campmeetings, one near Vancouver, Washington, and the other way out in the boonies in southeast Montana. Frank got the directions to the Ridge, Montana, camp today and it sounds as if we are really going to be very rustic for the week we are there. I should note that I (Chris) am not a rustic type of person. I love the beautiful outdoors and the scenery, which will probably be wonderful, but I don't particularly like roughing it. However, I can handle it for a week, and I'll even try to keep smiling all the time as long as it doesn't rain too much or be too cold or require lots of physical endurance. I can do this.

Actually, I'm looking forward to this trip. Memories of vacations with my family when I was a child keep coming to my mind as I think about Montana and Wyoming. My folks took us to Yellowstone, to Glacier National Park, to the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore, among other places. Frank hasn't been to any of those places, and we probably won't be able to see them all, but I'm hoping we will have a chance to see some of the beautiful mountains and forests of the north-central and northwest U.S. The last time I was in the Northwest was in 1975. Evan was only three months old and Laura was being potty-trained all the way across the northern states from Iowa to Oregon. Frank has been back there a couple of times since, but not me. This could be a great adventure for us.

MEDICAL UPDATE

Well, Frank and I are in pretty good health for the most part. Frank did have to have a colonoscopy in early May. He had been having some internal issues that just didn't seem to get better, so the doctor sent him to a specialist to be checked out. The colonoscopy wasn't too bad (getting prepared for it the previous day is the worst part!), and the doctor didn't see anything that was abnormal, for which we are thankful. The doctor thinks it's probably related to irritable bowel syndrome or colitis. Frank is taking medication for a while which is supposed to help it.

I'm scheduled to have a colonscopy also in late August. My mother had colon cancer, although after surgery it was gone and, to my knowledge, did not recur. I believe the Lord has been putting it in my mind for the last three or four months that I need to have this done since there is a history of it in the family. I would have it done sooner, but we are heading out on the road in a week and I don't want to use my last week at home for a while getting ready for, having, and recovering from a colonoscopy! My irritable bowel/post-gall bladder problems have really improved during the past eight months. I went from November till early February with no pain attacks at all, then had a rough March which eased into April. Right now it's been two months again since I had any trouble. I am hoping that the Lord is healing me a bit at a time and that eventually it will go away for good. However, for now I still carry my medication along with me everywhere I go. I am walking more than 3 miles everyday on the treadmill, trying to burn off calories to lose my winter weight gain. Slowly, slowly it is coming down. More to follow.