# 137 Fall 2013 Paetkau News & Notes
Merry Christmas Everyone!
At the moment we are in the midst of a time of uncertainty and change in Ukraine. The recent decisions by the political leadership regarding the relationship with both the European Union and Russia have caused large protests and action in Kiev and around the country. It reminds us a lot of what took place in 2004 during the Orange Revolution but with a twist. If you want to know what is taking place, drop by the Kyiv Post website, any of the major news sites or google Ukraine protests for updated news.
In the meantime, life continues on with its interesting moments and opportunities to learn, to grow, and to grow in humility….
For example, have you ever laughed at an inappropriate moment…..
It’s Monday, 6:00 a.m. and there is a funny ringing sound – and it’s not my alarm. I wake up and stumble around the dark apartment attempting to locate what is making that noise. I notice the alien blue flash on the shelf – oh, it’s the phone. I pick it up and say “allo”. I hear a deep, gravelly voice answer, “Hello John” “Hello” I tentatively answer, not having a clue who this is. “This is Blake”. I burst out laughing because I know why he is calling. He continued, “I’m sick, and wonder if you could sub teach for me today.” Oh, how embarrassing… “Oops, sorry Blake, I didn’t mean to laugh, it is just that I didn’t recognize your voice and so when you told me who you were, I knew why you were calling….” Blake & Colleen Johnson (fellow Bow Islander’s) are here serving at Kiev Christian Academy this year.
So I spent that day and the next sub teaching the Bible classes at KCA for Blake. I appreciated the opportunity to interact with the students, both on the topics that were part of the class and whatever else came up in the discussions. It was also an opportunity for them to get to know another Canadian (as we Canucks are in short supply over here), thus helping to dispel the notion of a few of the students that Blake doesn’t know how to spell various words properly. Leanne also had the opportunity to sub a few times for various teachers – she has helped with both the jr high and sr high. One class was especially interesting as the students began discussing world events and politics. There are at least 4 nationalities in the class, and the different perspectives brought by the cultural backgrounds made for a lively discussion.
Life in other aspects
The sunrise view from our bedroom window
October also proved me wrong – we didn’t miss fall. September was this ugly, rainy month, but October was beautiful, with warm temps and luscious fall colors. The park in front of our house was a glorious mixture of yellows and reds. Of course, with the warm weather the cat desperately wanted to get outside, so we had to take him out on the leash. Yes, a leash – due to the location, the numerous dogs and the fact that the majority of our family is very fond of him and want him to stay alive. This too has given us a variety of opportunities to have discussions with different strangers and neighbours (and to look foolish as we attempt to get the cat out of a tree – ie Daniel standing on my shoulders attempting to stretch enough to grab a hold of Calvin’s collar and drag him down).
Our home is has become a bit of a gusteenitsya (place for guests) with guests stopping by for a meal or a night fairly often. God has brought a variety of nationalities through the door – Ukrainians, Americans, Canadians & Germans have all been here this past 8 weeks. We are thankful that our apartment has a layout that facilitates having guests.
Traveling in Ukraine is always an interesting situation. One evening I ordered a taxi to take guests (retired missionaries back to teach and visit) back to the other side of the city. We dutifully went outside and waited. No taxi. The company called and asked if I had ordered a taxi. Yes, where is he? “Coming”. Ok. Then a taxi pulls up. We get in and begin to leave. Then another taxi (same company) pulls up. I can sense that we have a problem. As we make our way out of the apt driveway my phone rings. It is a taxi driver. He asks, “where are you?” In your company’s taxi. “Hmm”, he says. I notice that second taxi has also left and is following us. I think, this is coincidence, but if he takes the exit ramp with us, it isn’t good. He takes the exit ramp. I mention this to our driver. He says – it is his problem, not mine. Behind us the other driver begins to flash his lights, attempting to get us stop. He is ignored, so he takes a more direct approach – pull up beside and begin to crowd us as we drive down the 4 lane road at 60-70 km/hr (approx 40 mph) trying to cause us to pull over. This makes our driver angry – and makes us a bit more nervous. It is obvious that the other fellow won’t quit so our driver pulls over. He gets out, goes to rear of the car, opens the trunk and grabs a wrench (more intimidating if you have something in your hand for protection, I guess). He then stomps towards the other taxi driver who has also stopped, gotten out and is advancing towards us. Meanwhile, I and our guests are sitting there discussing what do we think will be the outcome, and what should our response be if said outcome isn’t pretty. The drivers decide the situation without any physical results, and our driver gets in and we continue on our way. Always interesting….
For Leanne’s birthday I decided to take her for coffee, but for a special cup served an overnight train ride away. We hopped on a night train down to Odessa and spent the day walking around the historical downtown section of the city, enjoying the sites and having a meal with teammates. Of course, the weather turned cold the day prior to our arrival, so we coffee’d and snacked our way through the day – whenever we got cold we would stop at a restaurant to warm up. Then we got back on the night train and came back to Kiev in time for breakfast. We knew the day was going to be interesting when the first thing we saw walking up to the bus stop near the train station was an ambulance and 3 policemen. On closer inspection we could see an individual laying on the bench with their head resting on some baggage. It was obvious that they had passed away, by the way they looked and by the inaction of the officials nearby. Ok. What next? Later in the day as we sat in a city park catching a bit of afternoon sun and Leanne was trying to nap, a lady approaches us in order to ask for a donation to her cause – that being herself. I had been watching her for a bit as she worked each bench and it was quite the show. As she gave us her shpeel, Leanne acted like she was sleeping and I ignored her, occasionally telling her goodbye. She didn’t get the hint, attempting to speak directly to Leanne. So Leanne answers, very slowly and carefully, “I speak English” hoping that the lady might think that Leanne has no idea what she is saying. So the lady tries to throw in a few English words to help her cause. It was starting to get comical, for it was so obviously a scam. I got a little more direct in my telling her “dasveedahnya” (goodbye in Russian). She doesn’t appreciate this, barks a not very nice response to me and spins on her heel to leave, hoping to show me her contempt. Small problem though, for as she spins and leaves she doesn’t notice the branch of the fir tree just to her left, and walks right into it. I can’t help myself, and say “Ooberejshna!” (careful in Ukrainian). She uses a few choice words with me as she untangles herself and stomps away. Who needs tv when real life can be so entertaining?
Occasionally the group of MK’s that Lanae & Alicia have grown up with from around the country plan a get-together weekend at one of the families homes. This time it was our opportunity to host the group. So we had 3 guys, Alicia and another gal use our place as the base for their activities over the American Thanksgiving weekend. What a great bunch! We really enjoyed having them, and they enjoyed themselves too. One day they went to the other side of the city where there is a mall with an indoor waterpark and go-cart track. Well, since the events in the city were beginning to build we felt it best if an adult went along (actually – I really wanted to go along and show the guys how to drive – the political situation was just an excuse). Eventually we made our
Alicia took a picture of our track prior to the event
way to the go cart track – 12 minutes of extremely fast and serious fun. On our first lap I was getting set to take on the boys, but got caught on a corner behind another young lady. I didn’t want
to scare her, so I held back for a second to round the corner. At that moment another cart flew past me and down the track. Here is what went through my grey matter at that moment…Who was that, wait who had a grey….wait, that was Alicia! No way is she going to beat me! So the rest of the 11 minutes was Alicia and I racing against each other around the track. I didn’t realize I had taught her to drive that well on our home service. Of course, I beat the other guys too at the end of it all. This was one very satisfied old (at least in their eyes) guy.
Ministry opportunities continue to grow in various shapes and forms. Ministry in Sumy continues, with occasional trips to Sumy, meetings via skype or telephone, and visits or meetings with different individuals when they are in the city. I had the opportunity to teach the second portion of seminar early in December at SRBC. Kyle Eipperle (SEND teammate) taught New Testament part 1 on Friday & Saturday, and I also taught on Saturday.
Alicia has joined one of the music teams in the church we attend in Kiev – a group of 7 girls who sing for worship, special music and occasionally travel to other churches to take part in their services. Daniel & I joined a ministry of teammates to international students. The team held a weekend English camp outside of Kiev, and we went along to help in the English language department. Students from China, Tajikistahn, Uzbekestahn and Ukraine were all there. Other teammates have various ministry projects that they need an extra hand with and we take part in various ways to help facilitate them. God is continuing to grow us and stretch us in various ways.
Dec 16 (tonight!) Lanae comes home after her first semester at TorchBearers Bible School in Germany. Praise the Lord! On Dec 26 both she and Alicia fly back to Germany to visit with friends that they both have there. Alicia will fly home on Jan 2 and Lanae will then make her way back to school for second semester.
Dec 28- Jan 2 I will also be in Germany to take part in a European student missions conference. I will be joining SEND teammates from around Europe and America to help facilitate students who are interested in missions and what God would have them to do.
Jan 3-8 Leanne, Alicia, Daniel and I will be going out to Sumy to take part in the Jr High winter camp at Grace Camp. The kids will be campers and Leanne and I will be serving in various roles as part of the support staff.
It has been a good fall. It has had its struggles, its challenges, its joys and its blessings. We continue to see God’s grace through it all.
Thanks for standing with us.
Talk to you later,
4 the 5 of us Paetkaus
Drop by our fall photo album page for more photos of life, sports and ministry here these past few months