Wow! When the Lord decides it’s time to do something special in our lives, He really gets to work! In October, 2009, we were not sure we were ever going to get to Ukraine, in November we were packing and closing our house, and the first week of December we arrived in Berdyansk. Hectic? Yes. Wonderful? Definitely.
We have had five months to settle in and adjust to our new surroundings, including our first winter in this northern climate. Actually, our winter here was much milder than in the U.S. Everytime we heard about another blizzard or storm there, we were doing pretty good here in Ukraine! So, what have we been doing? Here’s a brief rundown of our time so far.
December: Settling into our small apartment in the Home of Hope, learning to shop, enjoying Christmas. Thank you, Lord, for helping us learn how to shop in another language.
January: We enjoyed Christmas a second time, as we celebrated on January 6 of the Eastern Orthodox Church calendar. We went to Hungary in January, getting our long-term visas to come and go from Ukraine for four years. We got the visas with no problems, saw a little bit of historical Budapest, and got back to Berdyansk without any weather difficulties. Thank you, Lord, for smoothing the way ahead of us.
Filling out our visa applications in the Ukrainian embassy in Budapest.
Enjoying some sight-seeing in Budapest on a very cold day.
February: Important field meetings were held in February to do strategic planning and look ahead to the next phase of work in Ukraine, and at that time missionaries Bill and Betsy Tarr announced that they needed to leave the field for medical reasons. We know they will appreciate your prayers as they look ahead to find the Lord’s plan for them. They will be missed.
Bill and Betsy live in Ocala, Florida. What a change for them from the cold weather in Ukraine.
Our other missionary colleagues here are Bill and Oksana Brower. Their main focus is on youth ministries and the bookstore in the ministry center. We thoroughly enjoy working alongside them. We praise you, Lord, for the ten years of service that Bill and Betsy Tarr have given to Ukraine, and we praise you for the outreach ministries of Bill and Oksana Brower.
The Deweys with Oksana and Bill Brower, the current WGM team in Ukraine.
BUT, the departure of Bill and Betsy left gaps in the ministries here, and we were asked to fill those empty places. Frank is now the field treasurer, taking over from Betsy. He had some experience of this in India, so it was not a huge adjustment for him. He is also in charge of the Berdyansk Training Institute. This is one ministry that has great potential, but it has been difficult to get it up and running effectively.
Chris is in charge of the Institute library and will be getting it organized and hopefully training a Ukrainian to do the work in both Russian and English languages. Pray that the right person can be found to do this. Chris also goes to the First Stage Orphanage once a week with Bill Brower to be involved with the small children there. As the hostess for the ministry center, she takes care of overnight guests and their needs. Making beds and doing laundry! Thank you, Lord, for a good washer and dryer.
March: The Tarrs left on March 6 and two weeks later we moved into their large apartment where the treasurer’s office is located in the Home of Hope. As we settled into our new home, Frank settled into the treasurer’s work. Unfortunately his first month on the job was also the last month of the fiscal year, so he had his hands full getting everything done according to the needs of the WGM Accounting Department in the U.S. Thank you, Lord, for helping him with this new work.
April: Spring is here! The tulips, violets, daffodils, crocus and irises are popping out of the ground and the trees are budding. Every day that we walk outside I take along my camera hoping to get some pictures of the first flowers. The tulip buds are just about ready to bloom. I'll put pictures on the blog when they do, along with other flowers. We celebrated Easter with the Bethel Church in Berdyansk and participated in an afternoon procession through the downtown area proclaiming that Christ is Risen! It was a cool, but sunny day, and the atmosphere was joyous and uplifting.
The big sign at the front says, "Jesus Christ, Savior for Ukraine." Other signs say "Christ is Risen!"
This little girl is the daughter of one of the lay leaders in our church. Her name is the Russian equivalent of Bethsheba.
In April we began talks with Pastor Arkadi of the Primorsk Church, 25 miles away, to see if there is a way that we can be involved in the ministries of the church there. Please pray that the people of Primorsk will find the right place for us to serve them and build up the congregation through our teaching ministries. We are eager to get with the people and do something practical and long-lasting in the churches here.
Last weekend Frank and Bill went to Primorsk to help the church clean up the property it is buying for summer camps and other activities. It is an old farm with the house and other outlaying buildings. The house is pretty dilapidated, but after it is cleaned up it could be used for the kitchen or even for sleeping. The ladies of the church actually started planting some potatoes and garlic in one of the fields. They will probably use the produce in camps, or sell it in the local markets to raise money. Frank and Bill worked together to prune back the trees of a small apricot orchard on the property. Bill wielded his chain saw and Frank dragged the lopped-off branches and twigs to one place where they could be taken care of later. The property is about three kilometers from the seashore, so it won't be quite as convenient for that as we had hoped. But the church is excited about the possibility of great summer activities there. We praise you, Lord, for a lively church that is enthusiastic about serving you.
Igor (left) works at the Home of Hope, and Pastor Arkadi.
The ladies planting in the field.
Bill Brower and the chain saw.
Without your help we could not possibly stay here. Your prayers give us strength and grace for every day’s needs. Our biggest challenge right now? The Russian language. English is used very little. We can read the script; we know some vocabulary; actually, Frank has learned a lot of vocabulary, but putting it all together with the proper grammar is a huge struggle. We don’t need to be fluent for the time we will be here, but we would like to be able to have simple conversations with people in shops and at church. Pray for us that the Lord will give us a mind to study and the memory we need, as well as opportunities to practice as much as possible. We trust you, Lord, for help in every need, including the Russian language.
Without your help financially we won’t be able to stay long. As the economy improves in the U.S., perhaps the Lord will ask you to take support in our ministry. 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.
Finally, you can keep up with our adventures in Ukraine through our blog, www.deweydiary.blogspot.com, or on Facebook when you look for Christine Taylor Dewey. These websites have more details and more pictures of our lives as we serve the Lord in the place where He has put us.
We praise you, Lord, for all the people in the U.S. who have supported us through prayers and finances, some of them for many years. Bless them, Lord, and supply their needs through your riches in Christ Jesus. Amen.