Well, what have we been doing since my last posting in late September which was about our trip to Prague, Czech Republic? In October we were in our routine here at the Center. I went to the orphanage every week, and we had our fellowship meeting with the young adults as well as my ladies' group. Frank started his Bible study with another group of ladies, finishing their work with the book of Hebrews. He also worked on the treasurer's books and helped out in small jobs as needed. In November we went to the U.S. for three weeks to check up on Frank's mother. She is getting more and more frail and we felt that it was important for us to go home and assess her situation. For now she is staying in her small assisted living apartment, but it is getting more difficult for her to get around. Frank talks to her on the phone several times each month. This picture was taken in late November while we were there.
We came back to Berdyansk at the end of November expecting to be met by extreme cold and snow. But you know what? Our winter has been very mild for the most part. Many days have been in the upper 30s and mid-40s with lots of sunshine and very little wind. And we've only had three or four snow showers, after which the snow quickly melted. We've often said that we are glad we weren't in the U.S. Even Oklahoma has had some rough weather, cold, windy, and snowy. Now, having said all that, I have to admit that last week and this week are more normal for Ukraine. The temperatures are down in the teens and lower at night, the wind is very brisk during the day, and it feels like winter here. But we still haven't had snow and the sun is shining. February is supposed to be the worst month of the year, and it is just about over. March is around the corner and we are thinking about spring, although that won't really arrive until early April.
I think most of you know that in December the Ukraine field received a wonderful Christmas present in the form of money to finish the Home of Hope building. Since late December the place has been busy with workmen in the new sanctuary and in other places. We are excited about seeing how the place will look when everything is finished. Some work outside will have to wait until warmer weather. The parking area in front needs to have more cement poured and the guttering outside needs to be finished. When it is I promise that we will have lots of pictures to show you.
I think that's all for now. It won't be long until we get our February update written and posted here. Thanks for reading this.
JANUARY 31, 2011, UPDATE
We ended the calendar year with Christmas, and we opened the New Year with another Christmas! Many of the Protestant churches here, particularly those with ties to Western groups, have some celebration on December 25. And so on the 26th, Bethel, the church we attend, had a special program involving their children and teens. But most churches also celebrate Christmas on January 7th, which is the birth of Jesus according to the Eastern calendar. So that afternoon we watched a program at the sister church in Primorsk (about 20 miles away), and came back to participate in a short program and then a meal at Bethel. We also went to the First Stage Orphanage to see the kids practice a short Christmas program which they presented later downtown in the city hall. They love to show off their acting, singing and dancing abilities! We loved watching them do it. Then we distributed pretty boxes of candy to them.
In our home we had a Christmas get-together for our young adult group. We insisted that they had to sing some Ukrainian Christmas songs for us, and the music was good. We ate a lot, talked a lot, and played some group games for fun. It was a great evening.
Work on completing the construction on the Home of Hope (where Bethel Church meets) is progressing well. Almost all of the interior work is now done. Some of the exterior work (plastering the guard and storage unit, painting, and finishing the concrete parking area) will have to wait until winter is over and temperatures are suitable. In the meantime there is work to be done on the guttering and some other outside metal work.
I (Frank) recently finished up one course I have been teaching, and have now started a new class, this one on the Acts of the Apostles. There are five ladies from the church attending it.We are encouraged because the number of people in the class has increased, and interest is developing about the opportunity to study God’s Word.
The treasurer’s work keeps me busy, especially now that there is construction going on. I make several trips to the bank each week, and soon it will be time to finish the financial year, and get all the books up-to-date and ready to close for a new financial year to begin.
In our December up-date, we had mentioned our trip to the capital, Kiev, for passport business with the American Embassy. That trip went well, though it was much colder there than down here in Berdyansk. Then in January we made a trip to our district headquarters to renew our local registration, so we are legally here for another year. We’ll probably not travel far from home for a while now, since the worst month of winter is February, when we get most of our snow and bitterly cold temperatures. Brrrrrrr. . . . .
The group of church ladies who meet in our home had to postpone their Christmas visit to our apartment to January 9th, but Chris had a good time with them. She prepared a few American Christmas dishes for a tasting party----roast chicken and dressing, cranberry sauce, and fruitcake. In the serious part of the evening she has been discussing issues related to Christian families, from a Biblical point of view. One of the ladies made the suggestion that they should share with each other the names of their children, so they can pray for each other’s families. We believe that they will follow up on this idea, and that is also an encouragement because they initiated this themselves. You can see a few of the ladies below wearing knitted scarves that were sent to Ukraine by a lady in California. They had fun choosing which one they liked the most.
We have received a number of Christmas cards and greetings from friends in the States, and wish to thank all of you who have sent them, as well as those of you who have been so faithfully remembering to support us with your gifts, prayers and encouragement.