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.