Thursday, July 22, 2010


Well, I've talked a lot about life here, the things we've seen and places we've visited.  But we're not here on a tourist trip, we're here to work.  So I want to spend some time talking about what we are actually doing in ministry.  It's interesting in many missionaries' lives that they often end up doing things that they hadn't thought they would do and they don't do things that they had prepared to do.  I think we can say that is the case with us in Ukraine.  Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility.

We had been planning to develop a lay education program in the church.  When we visited Ukraine in 2007 that was presented as a great need.  And we had the qualifications to do that.  When we were asked to start this, we were eager to do it because it got us out of an institutionalized frame of mind and would get us into practical, everyday ministry in the church.  Well . . . . . things didn't turn out quite as we expected. 

First of all, we were extremely slow in getting to the field.  Ernie Smith, our friend and previous Field Director, rightly felt that he couldn't wait forever for us.  So he put Bill Tarr in place, here in Berdyansk, to begin the lay education program.  Bill and Betsy moved to Berdyansk from western Ukraine after the Wesley Bible School closed because of lack of funds and students.  Bill was very experienced in education and began to work on developing classes which would be taught at the Home of Hope ministry center.  A name was given to this:  the Berdyansk Training Center.  Our vision had been that we would be out in the churches teaching these classes, but since we weren't here Bill did what he thought was best at that time.  The classes were very slow to begin, the interest among the lay people was low, and the churches didn't seem to have much interest to move in this direction.  Consequently, the BTI has not been successful.  Frank began teaching one class in January with only two students.  And for various reasons, that class discontinued in March, although Frank continued to tutor one young man, Sasha, in Church History once a week.  (And I must add here, Frank has learned a lot from Sasha about the Ukrainian church and people.)  The Tarrs left the field in early March because of Bill's health problems and Frank was put in charge of the BTI.  At this time, Frank is trying to develop opportunities to meet with various pastors in Berdyansk, get to know them, and talk to them about developing BTI for the needs that the Ukrainian churches feel that they have.  It has been extremely slow, and a little frustrating.  But we don't want to rush into trying to develop something that will immediately die off when we leave the field in a year or two.

Frank's main job at this time is Field Treasure.  Betsy Tarr capably filled that position for a number of  years, but she is now gone and Frank is still on the learning curve about what is expected by WGM accounting and by the IRS, etc.  Banking, expense reports, budgets, expenditures and receipts, etc.----all these things fill much of his time.

I (Chris) had planned to teach also, but that hasn't worked out.  The BTI library is in the ministry center and needs work done on it, but we are waiting to see how things develop before I spend hours and hours working on the books, cataloguing and classifying them.  Betsy Tarr turned over her responsibilities has ministry center hostess to me, but that job is fairly easy at this time.  If work teams return to Ukraine next summer, I will be busy, busy, busy.  I am also the official mentor for Oksana Brower.  This is a WGM program that was developed to help new, young missionaries fit into the ministries of the field and the expectations of what a missionary should be.  I'm sure I learn more from her (since she is Ukrainian) than she learns from me.  My favorite day of the week is Tuesday, when I go to the orphanage in the morning and spend time with the little ones.  I love it when they run to me and give me big hugs when we walk in.  I helped with the VBS/Kid's Club in June, teaching some lessons and just being available to do whatever was needed.  My current dream is to get a women's ministry started.  Some ladies have shown interest in my knitting and crocheting, and even my quilting which I don't do hardly at all here.  I'll let you know how this develops as time goes by. 

In my next posting, I will write about our entertaining of friends and young people in our home.  We started this is April, and have continued to develop it through the spring and summer.  I'll put up pictures and tell you all about our Ukrainian friends.  And I will also share about an unexpected new ministry that is developing---that of helping Americans who are in Berdyansk in the process of adopting Ukrainian children.  More on that to follow.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


We had been hearing about the bazaar since January, and had even driven past it several times.  But we had never gone before April because it is all outdoors except for a few buildings with indoor shops, and it was usually just toooo cold to do outdoor shopping, although that didn't seem to stop a lot of people from doing it.  The sign above the old entrance says "Import Market," or something close to that.  There are several entrances.  We usually come down a long flight of stairs from the hill above and enter from the back side.  But the bazaar is spread over a large area and even crosses the street where there is another large section of it.  Along that street people set up little tables and sell everything from pirated DVDs to puppies, parakeets, and kittens. 

The little shops in the older sections are usually just wooden partitions with tables set up to display the goods.  The newer section has small metal pre-fab buildings divided into shops.  There are probably hundreds of little shops in the whole bazaar.  Each shop seems to specialize in one particular type of item.  Most of the shops are clothing shops and the majority of people in Berdyansk buy their clothes in the bazaar.  One shop may sell jeans, another ladies' shoes, another dresses and skirts, etc.  And of course there are shops for men's clothing as well.  My favorite shops (blush, blush!) are the bra shops.  I have never seen so many colorful, sexy, exotic, lacy bras in my life----all right out in public for the ladies to look at.  Some of the shops (including the bra shops) have a curtain in one corner where you can go and try the clothes on.  I watched one fairly large lady trying on bathing suits a few weeks ago.  She would change behind the curtain and then come out to get her friend's opinion.  We had been told that in the bazaar people may try on clothes right out in public, and the polite thing to do was to simply look right through it as it wasn't happening, especially if the ladies stripped to their underwear.  We have not seen that happen when we've been there, although we may have just missed it.  The selection in each shop is usually not very large, but you can go a few steps and find another shop that may have what you want. 

This young lady was selling bikinis because summer was coming and everyone wants to go to the beach.  She was very friendly and nice.  Loved having her picture taken.

I bought this filmy pink scarf from this lady.  She had a lot of scarves and other accessary items for ladies.

I've been to this lady's shop several times.  She does beautiful crochet work, she loves to see me coming because she knows I'll probably buy something.

Jeans, jeans, and more jeans.  Most of them wild and funky. 

On a warm Saturday these two men (called buskers in Europe---entertaining for cash) were playing some of my favorite old standard music.  Frank put some coins in their pot after I took the picture.

This shop is not in the bazaar, but it is just a few steps down.  It is in an indoor mall across from the meat market.  I have been in this shop often, buying yarn for knitting and crocheting.  This lady was very helpful, but I didn't linger in the shop too long.  She had been eating her lunch and the smell of garlic was overpowering.  That is only time that has ever happened to us.

I could write a lot more, but I think you get an idea of what the bazaar is like.  I have not shopped for clothes, but if I do I will probably go to the indoor malls where there are lots of clothing shops.  The quality is definitely better there.  I have bought two pairs of shoes in the bazaar---a pair of sandals and a pair of nice slip-ons for church.  Actually, I thought some of the prices in the bazaar were somewhat expensive for the quality.  But, for people-watching and having a nice day out, the bazaar is definitely a fun place.

Monday, July 5, 2010



Well, you can tell I'm really behind in my writing when I am talking about springtime!  But I'll do this and then my next posting will be to tell you about some of the important things that have been going on since May.

Spring in Berdyansk was wonderful.  From the end of March through the first week of June the weather was great, just right for walking and exploring parts of the city that we hadn't visited earlier because it was just too cold and we didn't want to get lost in that weather.  We got our outside walking routine started and walked down streets that we hadn't seen before.  Along the way I kept watching various flowers pop out of the ground and counted the days until the tulips began to bloom. 

The Ukrainians love their gardens and the flowers began to bloom in just about the same order as they do in the States.  First came the tulips and daffodils, crosuses and iris.  Red seemed to be the favorite color for the tulips, but there were other colors as well.  The city folks plant flowers outside their gates and fences and between the sidewalks and the road.  No one seems to pick the flowers, maybe there's just an unwritten rule that you leave other people's flowers alone.  The lilacs were gorgeous and their aroma filled the air.  Across the street from the ministry center the whole block was lined with lilac trees that bloomed for several weeks.  Perhaps flowers are so important to folks here because winter is so long and cold and icy, and the flowers represent the end of winter and a period of warmth and outdoor activities.  I took pictures, but they didn't turn out so great, so I'm not putting many here.

As time passed we saw lily of the valley, peonies, roses, and hollyhocks, and tiger lilies----many of the old-fashioned flowers which we don't see very much at home anymore.  I loved them.  Sometimes I would peek through the fences and see that instead of having a front yard with nice grass the houses would usually have the ground tilled and planted with vegetables.  In one yard I saw a big strawberry patch with huge bushes and lots of strawberries just turning red.  By the way, the strawberries in the market were wonderful and so were the cherries which came a few weeks later.  Soon we'll see apricots and local peaches on the shelves too. 


Downtown Berdyansk is interesting and it can be fun.  It begins at the big market with all the fresh vegetables and fruits, and I mustn't forget the dried fish---yum,yum (yeah, right).  In a building next to that market is the meat market with fish, pork, beef, and poultry.  There are lots of stalls selling things you might need in the kitchen----my favorite is the spice stall.  It has lots of spices and mixtures of spices out in the open where you can see them and decide if you want them.  Reminds us a lot of India.  My favorite mixture smells a lot like Indian masalas, but is not nearly as hot in taste.  I use it on meat, or make rice pilau and add some red pepper flakes to give it some bite. 

The market is on the main street called Lenin Boulevard.  It soon becomes a pedestrian mall with shops on either side of the street, very European in tone.  The next street over is Karl Marx Avenue, and on the other side is Workers Avenue.  This is just to remind everyone that Ukraine was once a communist country and still has strong socialist influences.  But the shops and cafes are definitely in the capitalist mode!  Lenin Blv. marches straight down to the sea front where a large statue of the man himself faces the Sea of Azov. 

We were there a day or two after the date of his death in April and someone had put a bouquet of red roses at the foot of the statue.  So some people here still revere him. 

During the winter the promenade is empty outside and not much happens in the shops either.  But with the warm weather the sidewalk cafes open and the streets and buildings are spruced up for the influx of Russian tourists who come to southern Ukraine to enjoy the beaches and sunshine.  The fountains are cleaned and started again.  Of course, the locals are ready to enjoy all this too after being indoors for at least six months.

This shop is called Cossack Cottage (or home).  The Cossacks lived just to the north of Berdyansk and roamed this area during tsarist times.  This is just basically a souvenir shop with various items to attract customers.

The sea front at the end of the promenade is not suitable for swimming.  It is rocky and close to the port which is the main employer of the people of Berdyansk.  There is a wall which separates the promenade from the rocks, but it is easy to get down there and many people do.  They fish and many sell their catch along the streets. 
The beaches for swimming are mostly along a long, skinny peninsula which is close by and dips down into the Sea of Azov.  There are hotels and restaurants all along it for the big tourist season in the summer.

This is a popular picture to take in Berdyansk.  A statue of a worker coming out of the manhole.  Someone always sticks a cigarette in his mouth.

This little girl and her mom were having fun with the cement shoes.  The little girl's name was Sasha, which could be used for a boy or a girl.  It is the pet name for someone whose full name is Alexander or Alexandra.
She was friendly and not a bit shy.  We had eaten at the same restaurant as her parents and saw them afterwards here.  Just couldn't resist the pictures.

Good stopping place for now.  Next I'll write about the bazaar.


Okay, I admit it.  I've been bored with the blog and haven't been writing in it.  But today I saw some new templates and decided a change would be good.  So, here it is.  A new format and design.  Hope you all like it.  I really liked it as soon as it popped up.  I don't know if it will help my boredom about writing, but I'll give it a try.