131 March April 2013 Paetkau News & Notes
Христос воскрес! (Christ has risen!)
We are in the midst of our Easter celebrations (which fall in May this year on the Eastern Orthodox calendar) and enjoying the great spring weather. Here are a few updates of events and happenings in the past few months.
Let it snow – or Praise the Lord for cell phones!
I put Lanae & Alicia on the 6 a.m. train for Kiev and prayed for a safe trip. The ground had been brown and clear 12 hrs earlier, but 8 inches of snow had already fallen thru the night, with more forecasted. It was worse the farther west you went, and the kids were supposed to get to the far western part of Ukraine by that evening for a mk get-together.
At 11:30 a.m. the train (running late) reached a station on the outskirts of Kiev, and that was as far as it was going to go for another 6 hours. The central station was attempting to dig out tracks so that trains could come in and depart. At that point, Kiev had already had 12 inches of snow in less than 12 hours, and by the end of the storm they would have 30+ inches in 2 days. This was the start of the great adventure. The girls gave us an update by phone, jumped off the train and found a taxi and made their way to a nearby subway station. They were in a race against time, as two other mk’s were waiting for them on a bus at the central railway station. The bus departed 10 minutes prior to when the girls arrived, so they booked seats on the next bus. This proved to be fruitless for within 30 minutes they received a call from their friends – “we are on our way back to the station, all roads heading west are closed.” The four of them eventually were able to get tickets on a train heading west at 5:00 a.m. the next morning. They ended up sitting on the floor in the overcrowded train station all night since transportation in the city had been shut down by the storm. The stories they had to tell.
We delayed our trip into Kiev for a couple days in order to let the road become passable. We drove in through the beautiful countryside – fresh snow and bright sunny skies. The roads were a challenge, and Kiev was a white knuckle trip as we slid and bumped our way through bumper to bumper traffic across the city. The last 40 feet took over a half hour, as we attempted to spin our way closer to the apt entrance to unload all of the stuff we had brought.
The kids had a great time, we got some stuff moved to Kiev, and took part in a few important meetings. On the way home, water was running everywhere as the massive amounts of snow began to melt.
Sumy has a large post-secondary student population. Approximately 50,000 students are enrolled in the multiple universities and institutes here. Approximately 1000 students are from a variety of African, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian nations. A number of the African students attend local churches, and our team here has had opportunities to partner with them at various times. They held a 3-day student conference over a weekend in March, for 100+ attendees. The common language is English, and they asked us as native speakers to come and share in the weekend.
This is another door that God is opening for our team. Sara, through her English Club ministries is meeting a number of foreign students. The believers in this student group desire to reach out to their fellow international students, and have a vibrant fellowship group. Pray that God would give our team and the local churches wisdom in how to bridge into this ministry.
Summer Ministries are coming
Summer ministries are just around the corner. Lord willing, in a few weeks it will begin with 5-day vbs style camps held in the evenings in the neighbourhoods near the church. At the end of June an English Camp will be held at Grace Camp with 45-50 teens attending. Many are from non-church homes and attend English clubs here in Sumy and in a nearby city, so this is an important part of the ministry calendar for those ministries. After that it is into a 10-day childrens camp and a 10-day Jr High camp, followed by a weeklong camp for disabled children and their caregivers. We are all involved in various aspects of these ministries, which is always interesting, challenging and rewarding.
Please pray for the leaders who are preparing (wisdom, creativity & endurance), the campers who will be attending (open hearts, safety, impacted lives) and for the finances needed (many of the children are subsidized as they are from low income families etc. The camp for the disabled is almost completely subsidized as the families have no support systems and very low incomes). If you would like to participate in the summer ministries project, please go to www.thepaetkaus.net/2013-summer-camp-partnership-opportunity for more information.
Transition is happening…
As part of our transition to Kiev we have taken occasional trips into Kiev for meetings. If possible, we travel with a vehicle and take a load of stuff along to get it unpacked and put away. Our last trip included the opportunity to have the van breakdown in rush hour traffic on the “ring road” – 3 lanes bumper to bumper and of course, we were in the middle lane. Turn on the flashers and stand there wondering what to do. By the grace of God we stopped near an open market, and there were a couple guys working on a car by the curb. They hopped out into traffic and helped me push the van to the side of the road. Eventually we got a tow, which got us going again – for about 5 kms. Long story short – unload vanload of household stuff into another van, leave it parked on the side of the road till morning and then tow it to a garage. Praise God it was a simple problem that could be fixed in a few hours with a few parts purchased at the nearby auto-market.
Our missionaries in Ukraine are involved in a number of ministry areas, and I (John) will be assisting in various ministries where an “extra pair of hands” are needed for a time.
This year has been designated “Year of Missions” by the Baptist Union of Ukraine, and our team has been involved in various ways assisting in preparing Ukrainians to serve in countries of the former Soviet Union – both for short and long term ministries.
There are also many individuals from closed countries who live, work and study in Ukraine. God is opening doors to ministry to these different groups. The Ukrainian evangelical church is beginning to see these people in their midst, and are praying and investigating how to reach out to them. This is a huge shift in thinking for many.
One team of missionaries is reaching out to international students. Another team will be deploying to a new area of the country to minister with another cultural group. Others are involved in teaching at the seminaries and bible colleges located in different places around the country. All are involved in local churches which are seeking to grow and reach out to their neighbours and beyond. There is a lot going on, and we are looking forward to what part God has for us in the coming months.
Easter in Ukraine
This year Paskah (Easter) was celebrated in early May here in the countries which follow the Eastern Orthodox calendar. This has created a few challenges for us, as a number of other national holidays also fall in early May. This means gov’t offices work at odd times, creating havoc for getting paperwork done. Two of our teammates are in the midst of the registration process, and we have spent numerous hours going from office to office.
But in the midst of this is the joy of knowing our Saviour is risen and lives today. On Easter Sunday our day started with a 5:00 a.m. service at Sumy Grace Church. We then traveled to a small church 25 km (15 miles) outside of the city for a 10:00 a.m. service. After the service and a potluck lunch, back to Sumy and the evening youth service at 6:00 p.m. Monday, another service at 10:00 a.m. and then out to the camp for an afternoon potluck and fellowship with a number of the Grace Church members.
People coming and going….
Bruce McKay, our teammate who is presently on home service in Canada had to make a trip back to Sumy for the month of May because of registration issues. Laws here continue to evolve, and therefore create interesting situations for us as foreigners. In consultation with the officials here, it literally was the best solution to bring him back. So Bruce is around, enjoying the sunshine and warm weather (back at his place they were still shoveling the walks) and helping us prepare for the camp ministries.
Val Omelchuk, a former teammate also flew in last week for a visit here in Sumy and other parts of Ukraine. She served with us here in Sumy for a few years early on, and now lives in Canada. It has been great to see her and the continued relationships she has here in Ukraine.
In the meantime…
As part of our normal routines, life has continued to be filled with a variety of experiences. Leanne, along with homeschooling Alicia & Daniel has had a number of extra events as she is part of the church choir. Spring in Ukraine always has extra dates on the calendar that are religious holidays, and the choir has sung more than usual. Lanae has been very involved in the English club ministries 2-3x a week, out a number of mornings at the riding school and singing in the choir. Alicia has music lessons and other youth related activities going on.
Five of the churches in the city participated in a “Clean Streets, Clean Hearts” day prior to Easter. Our church, along with the other four took a portion of the city streets (near areas used for relaxation and strolling) and spent a Saturday morning cleaning up the garbage. Over 250 bags of garbage were collected. The city administration was very thankful for the help getting the city ready for spring.
One area that has been encouraging for me (John) is helping our young men develop their preaching skills. This past 6 months I have been able to not be part of the regular Sunday evening preaching schedule, as young men in the congregation have been taking part. What I have been doing for them is preparing a brief outline of the passages that they will be preaching on – which they can use as a foundation or as their outline – which has given them both the confidence to try and helped them to learn how to work through the passage.
More photos are posted on our website at www.thepaetkaus.net/photoalbum
Have a great day,
4 the 5 of us