Friday, April 17, 2009

Trip to Poland

We were privileged to fly to Krakow, Poland, in order to get a needed stamp in our passport. Poland is our neighboring country to the West, and we were delighted to find that it cost just under $100 each for our airline tickets round-trip. We were away for five nights, and enjoyed our time being able to get away in order to refresh ourselves and recharge our spirits. This was our second time to Krakow, the first time being five years ago. Not much has changed at all since our first visit. Krakow, Poland is a very pictureque, quaint city, not as well known as other European countries, but a tourist attraction, nonetheless.

Just an hour away from Krakow is the ever-famous city of Auschwitz, the largest concentration camp where the greatest number of Jews were killed during Hitler's Holocaust. It was our privilege to be able to spend the day riding out to Auschwitz and walking around the camp and through the buildings that now stand empty today. We were asked not to take pictures in the buildings, but we were able to stand in a gassing chamber and walk past the ovens where precious Jews' bodies were burned to ashes. It was very sobering to think of the horrible pain and terror those people went through, all because of their race. It made us think.... "If only there had been an 'Esther' during World War II who would have stood up and risked their life to save the Jews once again, all of this possibly could have been avoided." We also saw mountains of shoes, clothing, suitcases, dishes, etc... that belonged to those dear people. Probably the most difficult thing to look at was the mountains of hair that the Nazis shaved off of the Jews' heads after they were gassed. They used this hair to be woven into material or to stuff mattresses.... to the very last detail, the Jews were degraded for man's wealth and power. What a sobering lesson to realize how cruel man can become when he lives his life for self and not for God. (The picture above was taken at the entrance of the concentration camp. The words above the gate are translated "Work will make you free"... a mockery to the Jews that they were forced to read each day as they went out to slave labor.)

And now, on to the rest of our trip... We were excited to find that Pizza Hut was still prospering in Poland, and we enjoyed eating there twice. We even found a Mexican Restaurant to enjoy once, though I wasn't too terribly impressed with their food. We also found flour tortillas, corn chips, and cheese dip in a grocery store. We added those products to the Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Twist, and Mountain Dew that we found, and enjoyed some great snacking on some things we do not have in Ukraine. During our wait in the airport on our way home, we found a nice coffee shop and enjoyed cappuccinos with marshmallows on top, to end our trip on an extra sweet note.

We are now back home and working full swing in the ministry once again. Today we spent some time in the orphanage here, and I would like to write about our orphanage ministry in a future letter on here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Many people have been wondering if they were removed from our mailing list.... or maybe some have thought we vanished off of the face of the earth. The truth is, I just have not written an update in many months. I have decided to try something new, though, by using a blogging website in order to write my updates. This will make my life simpler, and I hope it will be simple enough for my dear friends who have been so faithful to keep up with our ministry these past six and a half years.

We returned to Ukraine in mid-January to no home. If you remember, before leaving Ukraine last August, we decided to give up our apartment and put our personal belongings in storage. This decision was made in order for us to save money on rent and apply those savings to our house being built here on the mission field. So, when we returned, it was necessary for us to find a temporary apartment. We found a very SMALL place to rent for two months. Then, on March 10th, we moved to the VanSant's house. The VanSants are the missionaries we are working under, and they were returning to America for a five-month furlough. Lord-willing, our home will be finished by August, when the VanSants return and are ready to have their house back. We are grateful for this beautiful home to live in, and their kindness in allowing us to live here.

We have been incredibly busy since we returned. For me, a new experience I had was organizing a Ladies' Banquet for International Ladies' Day on March 7th. We had about 85 ladies who attended, and it was my responsibility to prepare and organize the events of the day. The Lord blessed, and the banquet was a time of honoring and glorifying our Lord. The theme was "A Time to Plant," taken from the book of Ecclesiastes. I had a special guest attend that day, an Ear-Nose-Throat doctor who took care of my baby girl, Brianna, when she was in the hospital with a ruptured eardrum a year and a half ago. Dr. Alla heard the Gospel that day, and I am praying that God's Word was firmly planted in her heart and life, and one day we will get to reap the rewards of seeing her come to Christ.

David has now taken over the pastorate of Simferopol Baptist Church, in the VanSant's absense. This always creates more work and excitement in our lives, but we love the added responsibilities (because there are always added blessings too!)

David and I will be flying to Krakow, Poland on Tuesday in order to get a needed stamp in our passports, and we will be returning early Sunday morning. Please pray that we will have safe flights, and that our trip will be successful. Poland actually has Pizza Hut, KFC, and Subway... so we are looking forward to tasting some "American" food again.

Please continue to pray for our ministry and our family! We love you and appreciate your concern for us as we do what the Lord would have us to do here in Ukraine.

With Love from Ukraine,
P.S. Below are a few pictures of the banquet decorations. I'm just not sure yet how to make them look nice on here!