U09 Update: July 30. Leaving Kremenchuk and en route to Kiev

July 30, 2009

2p local time: we just tearfully left kr’chuk (see edwd about our change in plans; at first we weren’t going to come back but then thought maybe we should…)

We’re en route to kiev via rented mini-bus.  The ride will take about 4hrs. Pls pray for safe travel & against our weariness. We are still a team and ever will be; pls pray that we would continue to be open to God’s blessings wherever we are. His joy & movt are not for kr’chuk alone, or just for the ppl here. What He gave us here, we want to seal inside AND bring those blessings home to share w/u all.

We also want to keep enjoying ea other as beloved teammates thruout today in kiev, a beautiful city.  Pls pray for us as we soak in the beauty & life there.

Pls pray for the nhc we leave behind. They send u their blessings & love & prayers for fruitful ministry of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

We’re driving past beautiful landscape; y’all would love it here.

See you soon…
U09

1.25a local time. July 31

we’ve all hit the sack on our last nite in UA.

Today was a special day in its own right: the 5 of us are living out exactly what it means to be blessed so that we can bless others.

Our original plan was to leave kr’chuk @ 8a & head to kiev for a day of sightseeing & walking around.  For a number of reasons, this just didn’t seem like the right thing to do this year, as it had been done in past yrs.

So, at the last minute, to the joy of many here, incl u09, we changed course: we met with some nhc members (mostly leaders & kids/teens who r off from school for the summer) @ church for an early lunch. (Btw, pizza here is totally diff & purists will gag, but it’s quite yummy! While I won’t eat pizza @ home, I could easily ingest & enjoy here…) Then, we were so blessed to be able to sit together in a circle & talk for an hour about the things that blessed us during these past 9 days tog.

This was a really special hour. Again, language as an issue just disappeared. On the one hand, it felt like having interpreters around was the natural way of things; even in deep sharing, ppl paused in the right places & seemed so @ ease w/the extra layer of communication. And on the other hand, it often felt like even if we had no interpreters, we’d still be able to understand ea other.  That is the level of comfort achieved, and how much our hearts connected.  It was really the loveliest picture to look around the circle & hear the words flow in russian & english. God’s blessings sound the same in any language.

And then … The prolonged goodbye. 😦

Each year, it becomes easier to say “see u next year” — I’m so thankful for that.  Many promises of language sufficiency were exchanged. Both sides have their work cut out for them next year… More importantly, altho james was a supreme hit with the teenage girls @ nhc, it seems they r looking fwd to hanging with julia even more!  These & so many friendships cont to be cemented, w/ea team building on ea other to further this unique & truly special rel’ship our 2 churches have.  Perhaps the concept of “sister church” is still nebulous & vague to u; we assure u, the rel’ship has taken on flesh & blood, sweat & tears, laughter & bones.  And u should hear their prayers & wishes for nhf: in the fall they were praying for our men’s study; this summer, they r praying for our women’s Bible study; they have remembered us in prayer always, and when they say “we’ll pray 4 u,” that means they’ll all be on their knees daily for us. Their support for our church may not rest on finances, but pls know, dear bros & sis’s: they hold us up before God, w/ faith & strength in His Name.

We arrived in kiev @ around 5.30p, met our tour guide (a member of the 1st baptist church where we r staying the nite, and head of the english ministry club here), & headed out. It was great to not only see some key sights (the ww2 monument, the motherland statue, st sophia’s cathedral, golden gate, kreshatik street, kiev opera house where the men of u07 napped during the kiev ballet!!!, marinskii palace where the prez lives, the Rada, etc etc etc) … But we got the history of kiev from a Xian perspective. That was esp interesting.

We met alyosha (the power man), his wife julia & his ministry partner alek for dinner … Then strolled & metro’d back to the church.  Minor hilarity ensued but we were tired … Better to just rest & be ready for a long day of flying tomorrow: we head out @ 5.45a, approx 4hrs from now (I suppose I should sleep too).

Pls pray for us still:
– we cont to live & breathe as a team as long as we’re tog
– traveling mercies & protection during 40min drive to airport, 3hr flight to zurich, 2hr layover, 8hr flight to jfk, 1hr drive back to westchester & then to our respective homes
– most importantly, His protection & guidance as we transition our bodies, minds, hearts & spirits toward home, and all that awaits us there: house, work, family, friends, you all @ nhf … And for u as u receive us back. We can’t wait to share w/u how good, powerful, mighty, loving, miraculous, big, merciful, compassionate, faithful our God is. We hope u can’t wait to hear …

The ladies around me r daintily snoring; I suppose I should sleep too. I admit, an irrational part of me hopes that if I just stay awake a little longer, maybe time will slow & I can stay here a bit more… But as we shared as a team this morning: if God gave us anything @ all during our 9 days here, it was only so that we could bring it home & share the goodness.  This, I & we resolve to do, in Christ’s name.  Amen.

C on behalf of u09 … W/u10 in the offing …

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