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2006 - November/December PDF Print E-mail

Wow! What a year!
Ups, downs, flats and rolls, but it has been amazing, and it is life! We
are grateful to God for it, and pray that we make the best of what we
have learned, and that our Father has been glorified in all.
We have had the joy of seeing several come to faith in Christ, and have
distributed hundreds of Bibles and tracts.
Worship/Teaching services have their ups and downs. Sometimes it is a
normal routine and other times you can sense the power and presence of
the Spirit so strong. It is sure a precious experience when the Lord
moves so sweetly among us, and how sweet it is to be with folks when, for
the first time in their lives, they experience the precious presence of
the Lord corporately in a group.
We have driven less than 20,000 miles this year—much less than we used to
drive in the US, but we felt them all! Our little car has been so
faithful, but I feel sorry for it, almost in a continual state of
overload, minor repair, and spark plugs every month. Tires aren’t worn
out in the tread as much as they are
broken on the sidewalls from so many juggs in thousands of holes.
We have laughed, cried, felt as bold as a lion and as afraid as a lamb. I
cannot

say that I have ever experienced anything like it. God is good and
faithful through it all.
Times have been stressing, but it has been worth it all. I expect we will
continue uphill here for much time to come, but we are learning to trust
God for strength for all.
I have learned to be so thankful for “normal” things. I never imagined
that I would be giving thanks several times a day for things that I so
often before took for granted like electricity, and for the small car we
drive. I never thanked God this much for the large luxurious rides we had
back home. I can tell you, absence truly makes the heart grow fonder of
folks we miss back home.
Other lessons from Ukraine… I used to think the 30’s were cold, but here,
the 20’s aren’t even enough to run the Babushkas (grandmothers) inside.
They sit outdoors bundled up just as casual as a July evening. They wear
almost the same amount of clothes on a summer evening, just walking and
whiling the evening away, even into the night.
Leadership training for church planning continues to be my greatest
desire, but I am continually reminded that you’ve got to have followers
before you can have leaders, and you must have believers before you can
start a church. We are busy with that, and by God’s grace, God has added
prospects (new believers), so the hopeful church-starts should be
following in time to come.
We have a few avenues of evangelism Bible studies, English classes,
worship services, and children’s ministry in orphanages and villages, and
we will continue the summer camps that we helped Mr. Gendke with in
previous years. At the present, we have two Sunday groups that we call
“church/SS groups.” One strong Bible study group—almost called a
church—had 21 in attendance last week, about 50% adults and 50% kids. We
gather an average of 70 orphans for Kid’s Bible study in Belerichinka
orphanage, and we have three discipleship Bible study groups.
Our schedule is pretty full, and because of time purposes, we have not
picked back up on one English/Bible class we were holding before. We had
a good number of children there, and as time allows, we hope to start
this group again in the near future. We have been praying for help, and
it looks like God may be sending some, although they are not ready to go
or do on their own. There are two that are showing interest, and one in
particular seems to have the drive it takes to keep things going.
At the present, since our return from the US, we have also slowed a bit
on outreach, and we are trying to focus on strengthening forces where we
are. We are focusing more on discipleship. It has become more obvious
that we are about stretched as thin as we can be, and we must train
Nationals if we are to go further.
Progress is slow here. You not only have to prepare lessons, but if you
will give study aids and materials, they must be translated, which can be
time-consuming.

Our present schedule:
Monday—rest, recuperation, preparation
Tuesday—Camp business, evening discipleship in the city, and English
class
Wednesday—Visitation, children’s ministry at Belerichinka orphanage,
discipleship late evening in the village
Thursday—Visitation, business, evening discipleship in village
Friday—Family Rest time and catch-up
Saturday—Bible study in Mala-Urivka, evening English in the village
Sunday—AM services in the city and evening SS and services in the village
We are in the process of registering our ministry here, and should be
finished by the time you receive this letter—we hope!
CAMPS:
These are tentative camp dates for Camp Friendship—Novopavlovka, Ukraine
for 2006. (We are hoping for help, and if God leads you, maybe you can be
a part of the teams necessary to conduct camps like these.)
REGARDLESS OF 14 or 18 DAY CAMPS, THESE ARE THE STARTING DATES:
CAMP ONE: June 10th—registration day; June 23rd—Finish date. (Kids will
go home AM—camp will mostly be made up of smaller children because some
older children will still be in school during this camp!)
CAMP TWO: July 1st—registration day; July14—Finish date. (North Monroe
Baptist Church is planning a team for this camp—there may be room to join
this team. Contact David McCormick, C/O North Monroe Baptist Church,
Monroe, La.)
CAMP THREE: July 22nd—registration day; August 4—Finish date.
CONSIDERATION: I would like to hold a shorter, older youth camp during
early August, if opportunity allows. This type camp would mean more
supervision than with younger kids. The camp would probably be smaller in
order to maintain safety and discipline. This camp would be to continue
discipleship/relationships with youth who have attended previous years,
but are too old to attend the normal kids camps.
NOTE: We are asking the mine/educational department to allow us to hold
14-day camps—We think that 14 days, including registration, would be
healthy for us, and for the kids. We were first told that we must hold
18-day camps. We are appealing for a lesser sentence. Ha! However, we are
willing to do what we can! If we must hold 18-day camps, then we will
extend the camps into the following week. It is our understanding that
most mission teams cannot stay for 14 full days plus travel, so this
would mean that we will need Ukrainian workers to finish the course of
each camp.
For each of the three main kid’s camps, we will give invitations for 210
kids who will be ages 6-14. We estimate the cost per child attending the
camp to be near $50. The kids are sponsored by teams and individuals
wishing to help.
Mission Team members will stay at the camp, and will eat the same meals
as the campers, and the cost per team member will also be $50, plus
interpreter and transportation in Ukraine. We can provide this for each
team, or the team captain may choose his own “in-country” transportation
to the camp for his team. Cost would differ, depending on whether the
team travels by train or plane, or if the team is divided by separate
arrivals and departures. The cost of camp maintenance and year-round
expenses are maintained by donations above the cost of kids in camp.
Please understand that we depend on team members, and every person is
counted on to fulfill his/her commitment.

PLEASE, NOW IS THE TIME TO CONTACT US WITH QUESTIONS AND COMMITMENTS FOR
CAMP!!!

We will be returning to the US at the end of March. I must return to
renew visas at that time, and I will come back to Ukraine in the middle
of April. Mary will be staying in the US to attend school, and Caleb and
Marilyn will return after Marilyn finishes with ministry business and
helping Mary settle in.

SIENCE AND THE BIBLE SEMINAR:
Bro. Bubba Tucker came the week of American Christmas to teach seminars
on the Bible and Science. There is always lots of celebration going on
this time of year with the New Year being more prevalent here than
Christmas. We first held three nights in the city church. Alec, our
Chinese helper, went to Mala-Urivka village in his little jeep to bring a
car load. So…we ended up with an average attendance each night of around
fifteen. The people really seemed to enjoy it, and some had good
questions.
Our little village of Novopavlovka asked to have their own seminar in the
school, so we planned for the village on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.
We had an average attendance there of about twenty-five people both
mornings, and the people were even more inquisitive. Some of the teachers
of the school came also, and they really had some good questions.
We really appreciate Bubba’s time and effort, especially his coming
during his Christmas holiday break from school. He did a good job of
teaching and answering all these questions, and we believe that this
might be the thing that opens some of their minds and hearts to seek God.

Thank you, Bro. Bubba! May God bless you!

Christmas With the Orphans:
We were privileged this year to be entrusted with a lot of extra money to
help present Christmas gifts to the Belerichinka orphanage. We had
contacted a ministry organization from the US that someone brought to our
attention. They immediately wrote us back. The ministry name is Hope for
Orphans of the World. They had learned about this orphanage after a
friend had adopted two children from this home. This ministry helps to
bring attention to older orphans.
They were already planning to do some things for Christmas for the
Belerichinka orphanage, so they asked would we be willing to coordinate,
buy, and take the gifts there.
Well, it started off small, but as time went on, it ended up pretty
big!!! They kept sending messages back that people were continually
adding to the donations! We had a blast!!!
We did pick some cold, snowy days, and almost froze to death in the
market trying to find enough of each different thing for each different
age group, but in the end, it was well worth the effort.
We had a team of six--Victalie, Anton, Alec, Little Sasha, Shane, and
myself—helping, the day we finished gathering everything and met to put
it all together before taking it over to the children. One girl from the
church group helped the night before also—Annya. We appreciate all of
their help with this project!
We made a system that day, and it was so sweet to see the way everyone
worked so hard together to get things done. I divided all the stuff into
groups per ages, Anton organized and photographed, and Alec (our
Ukrainian/Chinese helper who is a new believer brother and sweet friend)
worked with Shane putting all the stuff into the bags. Victalie helped
buy the gifts on one of the days, and on this day, he helped go fetch
some food for everybody, and then helped organize and carry things to the
car. Little Sasha helped do odds and ends jobs and carry things to the
car.
Whenever we arrived, the kids were waiting!!! It was so much fun to watch
the little ones as they received their gifts. The little girls loved
their little stuffed animal night sacks, the older girls seemed to
appreciate nice watches and a little purse sports bag, the little boys
loved their trucks and cars, the middle aged boys loved their carrying
bags, and the older boys seemed proud of their nice watches. Everyone
received some of the same things like toothpaste, toothbrushes, a towel,
soap, socks, etc… By the time we were finished, we were proud for them!
Anton and I helped each other hand out gifts to be sure each thing was
right. I took lots and lots of pictures. Victalie gave the workers their
nice little clocks and the group class gifts, Sasha helped Shane take
pictures and keep the car warm, and Alec helped carry gifts and watch the
stuff. I think we had a really awesome team, and when we finished, Anton
held up his hand for a high-five!!! We felt so good! It was so much fun
to do for children who don’t have so much! It made the meaning of giving
just come to life.
We appreciated this opportunity to get to do this for this ministry
organization.

VILLAGE GIFTS GIVEN:
We also gave Belerichinka kids and village children some gift packages
with several different school supplies and toiletry items, and many gifts
and hats from people who sent things from the US. Many times, the little
ones from the villages have even less than those from the orphanages.
They really appreciated all the things we were able to give to them
through the school and club functions, and also to individuals for the
parents to give to them for Christmas.
We also gave some items to the little orphanage here in our village, and
they were so happy. They all lined up to play chess, and Bubba was shamed
by losing to one of the young boys there. These kids are serious about
chess. Shane told Bubba he had already learned his lesson earlier. The
little ones loved the Care Bears checker game, and they all loved the
soccer balls they received. We will be taking these children hats, school
bags, some school supplies, toiletry items, and other things on their
Christmas Day.
We thank you for all the things everyone sent or gave for Christmas for
the children. They really do appreciate all they have received!

ENGLISH CLASSES:
Seems it’s taking some time to get things going again with English
classes. The prime time for this is usually right after the summer camp
activities, but we headed back home to the US around that time this year,
so it kind of got us out of the routine of things. Several of the
students asked early on about the classes, but when we returned, all the
festive activities were about to start happening, and the children from
the local orphanage weren’t in the village, so we only had a few to show
up. Then, we had some things that hindered, and now other things are
happening.
Although the English classes have been one of the most successful avenues
of evangelism, maybe it’s time to focus more in other directions. I do
know that we will need to start training and testing interpreters for
summer camp soon, but most of those will be from the city.
I have thought about possibly starting some women Bible studies, so this
would take some time also. Pray for God to give direction in decisions
about the English classes and possible Bible studies.

PRAISE REPORTS:
Although we have had some tough times and some disappointments in people,
there are also good things happening. God is always faithful, and He is
always at work even when we might fail at our attempts to change things
in our own power.
Victalie, our friend, musician, helper, and interpreter-in-training, who
was struggling with many problems before we returned home in September,
has been growing and maturing more each day. One day, as he was
reflecting on his life, he told me that he hadn’t realized it before, but
he thinks he has changed a lot over the last year. He has had some
failures, but overall, God is really helping him. We appreciate your
prayers for him, and ask that you continue to pray for him.
Alec, the Chinese man I spoke about, is also growing and maturing. He had
never even had a Bible, and now he is reading it and asking questions a
lot. He even brought out a scripture one day about how the Bible tells us
not to judge others. That really blessed our hearts to see how he was
even applying the things he’s reading to his life and actions. Someone
saw promise in this young man, and he is being given the opportunity to
dedicate his life to discipleship, and it is obvious that God is teaching
and guiding him more each day. He too was reflecting on his life one day,
and made the statement that he didn’t think he was the same as he was
before he made his profession of faith in Christ.
We were eating after the seminar one night at the pizza place in the
city, and Alec was with us that night. The people are not always so kind
to foreigners, and a drunk man was talking ugly to us about not being
Russian, but then he turned most of his attention to Alec. It was plain
to see from way he was rubbing at his nose that Alec wanted to plow into
him, and he had been known in the past to fight. But…Alec held his peace,
and although it seemed hard, he let it pass without a fight. A few days
later, he told us that some of his friends were shocked that he had
listened to this man talk to him so ugly, yet did not teach this drunk
man a good lesson. Alec told us he didn’t even know how he did it
himself. At one point, when Bubba had gotten out of the car to go back to
check on our friend who had gone back to order more pizzas to take to his
daughters, Alec thought he was going to fight, and he quickly took his
hat off, and was planning to go in to help, but we told him, “No, that’s
not what he’s planning to do.” It was actually a little bit comical to
see how Alec was struggling so hard to behave himself, and not really
knowing for sure how to respond as a Christian to this type of ugly
behavior from a drunk. Please always pray for him.
There are several others who are remaining faithful to God, and we
appreciate each one of them for their sincerity in serving and helping in
the ministry, and we ask that you always pray for the people of Ukraine.

May God bless each one of you!
“Keep Pressing On”

Shane, Marilyn, Mary, and Caleb, and Crossover Ministries Associates

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 July 2008 )
 
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