[U’10] July 8, 2010 – In Kremenchug

July 8, 2010

Thursday in Kremenchug: check!

It’s no longer a joke: Ukrainian mosquitoes (or “mo-SQUEE-toes” as JohnCho likes to say) really do love Sunny (and Rachel too, I think, although she hasn’t taken an official tally of her bites).  I do believe one bit Sunny as soon as we landed at Borispol Airport, or on the way into Kremenchug from there.  Sunny’s response?  “Ahhh, now I know I’m welcomed back into the country.”  And then overnight — as we slept with the windows open to battle the heat — she got eaten up some more.  What a sport!

Well, it wasn’t just a fruitful day for mosquitoes here in Kremenchug.  After an early morning devotion in I Corinthians 3, we had a home-grown breakfast at church (croissants, juice, yogurt & fruit from our beloved Am-Store!), then headed out to the local technical college where NHC was running the 4th day of their week-long local children’s day-camp.  Run VBS-style, the camp is themed “You Are Special,” based on Max Lucado’s children’s book / media series.  NHC handed out flyers & invitation postcards to local kids, and the first day about 24 showed up.  The next day, about 35.  The next day, about 45.  And so on and so forth. 

Today, we had a little over 50 children.  The morning started with this AMAZING children’s ministry program leader — a woman named Lena (U09-ers will remember her as the dressed-up lady in the park from last summer, who told stories & sang songs).  Lena led the children in songs, inviting a child or two to come up and sing each song with her.  Then, there was a scene from the “You Are Special” movie acted out by NHC leaders (dang, they are GOOD and they LOVE their dramas!).  Given the speed with which I run out of creative ways to entertain children, I was so awe-struck by Lena, and how she could go for 2 hours with a smile on her face and nary a crack in her voice . . .

Mid-morning, we broke into age-grouped small groups for a lesson, crafts, and general hanging out.  Then it was outdoors for “sport” — fantastically ridiculous camp games involving lots and lots of water.  You will all be pleased to know that no NHFer got their pants wet.  (And I’ll just leave it at that.)  We came back inside, and the NHF team coordinated a craft activity for the kids based on Psalm 139.14: “I praise you for I am fearfully & wonderfully made.”  More snacks led to our afternoon large-group time, where our “He Will Carry Me” skit got a really warm reception.  Luda, who has now seen 4 years’ worth of skits, said, “That was simply outstanding; you keep outdoing yourselves!”  Praise God!  We hope and continue to pray that the Gospel speaks loudly through our actions . . .

In the afternoon, the team split for an hour or so:
– Sunny, Rachel, Luda & I went to NugaBest for hot massages (why we would get hot massages in the height of summer, no one knows)

– Julia & Chae went for a run (!!!!!!!!!)

– Raimund napped

– Sasha rested

After reuniting, we strolled to a pizza place over by the River / park for dinner (yummo!  Although it didn’t have that neat vodka-sauce base that the pizza from past trips did), did some more grocery shopping for future breakfasts, and strolled back home . . . after evening debriefing & prayer, we are not ready to sleep.

All sorts of tired jokes abounded this evening about what it’s like to spend a day with 50 active, curious, eager children, all under the age of 13.  But as we prayed in preparation for tomorrow, the last day of “VBS,” I sense that our passion was renewed somewhat, even past the barriers of exhaustion & sleepiness.  We refocused our attentions, away from ourselves, and to the children, their parents & families, this city, this nation.  Our eyes were re-opened to God’s macro-movement in this city, not His micro-movement in our own bio-rhythms.  Not that He doesn’t care about us . . . but we care about why we are here, and it’s not to complain about how tired we are, or how hot it is.  It is to love each other, and love NHC, and join them in loving the people of this city so that the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ can grow, advance, revolutionize, change, revive, save.

Jet-lag still haunts, mosquito bites still itch, etc. etc. etc.  But I think we go to bed tonight a little more united as a team, a little more understanding of our team’s purpose this summer, a little more ready to receive grace, share grace, extend grace, live grace. 
For this, I am thankful, and would you be thankful with me?

Please continue to lift us up, as often as you can, whenever you remember us, and would you remember us often? 
Pray for:

– our team, our unity, our love & care for each other, how we communicate with each other, how we support & protect each other, etc.

– our team’s health & spirits, warding off the distractions of the heat & mosquito bites and other small things, so that we can enjoy the bigger pleasures of each other and of being here

– NHC, their ministries, their internal & external community, their outreach to the neighborhood where they will break ground on their new church building

– the children at VBS, and their families, and our final day of VBS tomorrow.

Thank you for coming alongside of us in this trip, and sustaining us from afar.  This song is stuck in my head from earlier today, and though it’s a great throwback to my childhood, I hope its truth rings just as heavily true for you as it does for me and us today: “My God is so big, so strong & so mighty; there’s nothing my God cannot do!”

His love, from NHC and us, to you,

c.

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