Day Two (Dec 29) – Getting our Feet Wet [Ukraine Missions Trip]

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series Ukraine Missions Trip 2009

This is the second entry in the series I am writing about my trip to Ukraine – I didn’t have daily internet access while there so I recorded each day for later publishing.  And later is now.

Today was our first full day in the city of Krivoy Rog and since we were still suffering from jet lag (and lack of sleep on the steam-filled train ride) we took it easy – scouting out a few places we’ll be spending time at over the coming week.  Here’s a rundown of  some of what happened today:

  • The guys at the boys rehab center...pretty creative with their costumes!  (picture by Dan Davis)
    The guys at the boys rehab center...pretty creative with their costumes! (picture by Dan Davis)

    went to boys rehab and watched a presentation they were putting on.  Wow!  Pretty creative stuff!  They welcomed our team and greeted each us with home made “Happy New Years” pins.

  • In Ukraine New Years is a huge deal, and even bigger than Christmas (their Christmas occurs on January 7th)!
  • We were given a tour of what we would be working on at the boys rehab (sink area, showers, and front entryway)  In Ukraine the front entryway of a building is the most important feature of the building.  The front entryway of the building is a “status” thing.
  • We headed back to where we are having our meals at a small cottage behind the local pastor’s house (Pastor Gregory).  We had an awesome lunch of potatoes, salad, bread and meat, fish sticks and awesome potato soup with some sort of meat ball in it.
  • After lunch some of the team went to observe McJoyful Christmas in action at the Krivoy Rog McDonald’s.  I went with others of the team to an orphanage Ed hadn’t been too yet.
  • On the way to the orphanage we stopped at mobile phone place for one of the team members.  Pretty much everyone has a cell phone in Ukraine (reminded me of what it was like in Africa).  Ed pays 10c/min to anywhere in Ukraine, 20c to anywhere in the world – and ALL incoming calls are free!  Stink – North America (especially Canada) is WAY behind the rest of the world when it comes to wireless access and pricing.
  • Watching the preformance at the kid's shelter.
    Watching the preformance at the kid's shelter.

    The orphanage we visited is actually a shelter that serves as a temporary home for children found on the streets, abandoned or removed from dangerous homes.  These children stay at the shelter until they are placed at an orphanage or (best case scenario) adopted by a family in Ukraine.

  • Number of beds crammed in one room that is about 24′ x 30′ = 20.
  • At this shelter we watched another presentation being done by the kids and workers.  Ukrainians love to dance and act.  Very colorful and exciting!  What was cool is that they were so excited there were some visitors to watch them perform!
  • The team all met together again for dinner and supper was a really neat chicken pasta dish, another type of salad and a neat desert.
  • The team had a really good first evening sharing time after supper discussing what the next day would bring talking about the impact the trip was having.
  • One of the team members talked about giving away clothing he brought.  Neat seeing how this is impacting folks.

Thoughts on Sunday (January 25th)

Sunday was my wife’s birthday and  she’ll say I forgot (but I really didn’t)  but I will admit I was pretty cheesy about it.  Still – I think the kids and I pulled off an okay day for her…  It was tough with Sunday being the busiest day of the week for me!  Thanks to those of you who gave her gifts and birthday greetings – I know she really appreciated it!

Here’s my thoughts for Sunday:

  • have I said I love being a pastor at WPA yet?  Well consider it said!
  • Rev. Jim Reese spoke in the morning services, “Just Live by Faith”.  Very inspiring and I loved the sound of his voice (listen to the .mp3 to hear it for yourself!)
  • Jim’s definition of faith: “In Christ alone, by grace alone, according to scriptures alone”
  • Using what Hebrews 11 had to say about Abraham – Jim outlined how you live by Faith:
    • Faith Obeys and Submits (11:8)
    • Faith Separates (11:8b) – “No to sin, and yes to God’s righteousness”
    • Faith Sojourns (v9) – means “you’re going on a trip no one else has taken”
    • Faith Seeks (v 10, 13-14)
    • Faith Strengthens (v 11-12)
    • Faith Satisfies (v 15-16)
    • Faith Sacrifices (v17-19)
  • For the evening service Kevin Rogers from NewSong Church in Windsor, Ontario sang three songs and shared a message on “Doormats”.
  • “poverty is everywhere around us – how do we treat those the world views as poor?”
  • Yes, Kevin said a_hole when quoting a bumper sticker he saw – “Jesus loves you, the rest of us think you are an a_hole”.   The sad thing?  I wonder how much of us have that attitude towards the poor in our range?
  • “The poor often get treated like doormats”
  • For those of you wondering, no, I didn’t know Kevin was gonna call me up to lay down on the doormat!  Kind of funny when that kind of thing happens because I’m always afraid I won’t hear what the speaker is wanting me to do (because of my hearing impairment)…kind of funny though ha!
  • Kevin shared the parable of Lazarus and the Rich man and mentioned that it is in that parable that we can see God’s heart for the poor.  Lazarus was just a “doormat” to the rich man.
  • “If you’ve been a doormat then you can really identify with Lazarus”
  • “We need to guard against the subtle attitude of ‘obsessing about the best’…”
  • “there are those who are very religious but who lack a basic compassion”
  • “if you don’t have charity, compassion, or love then your ‘religion’ is worthless…”
  • Here’s a powerful statement Kevin made that really impacted me, “What Lazarus could not come and do, Jesus has done for us.”
  • God is always JUST!
  • Then Kevin shifted tack a little bit and took us to Psalm 84:10 where the psalmist writes, “I’d rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord…”  and talks about seeking to be a Doorkeeper rather than seeing the poor as doormats.
  • “Better to be a beggar at the door of God’s house than a rich man in his sanctuary”
  • “In God’s house there are no doormat people.”
  • “Our greatest joys come when we are in our greatest humility”
  • We had an awesome prayer time following the message – what a challenge to shift our attitudes as a church and individually towards the poor in our midst!
  • Our church took up an offering to help Kevin’s work at NewSong (I don’t know the total but I hope it blows their socks off!) and we’re planning on sending some teams to Windsor to work alongside of them during a few weekends in the coming year.  If you are from WPA reading this then get ready for some amazing opportunities coming up this year!
  • For the audio of Kevin’s Message (and the songs that he sang) go here.

Day One (Dec 27): The Journey Beings [Ukraine Missions Trip]

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series Ukraine Missions Trip 2009

This is the first entry in the series I am writing about my trip to Ukraine – I didn’t have daily internet access while there so I recorded each day for later publishing.  And later is now.  I’m hoping to publish each days notes over the next week (one a day) but we’ll see what happens…

Waiting at the Toronto Airport for our flight to Germany
Waiting at the Toronto Airport for our flight to Germany

Well today was the day I left for the country of Ukraine on a missions trip with my church.  I’ve been looking forward to the trip but also a bit pensive about it.  Not knowing what to expect AND knowing I’ll miss my family I’m somewhat pensive about the days ahead.

Here’s the route we took today…Toronto (jet) – Frankfurt (jet) – Borispol(near Kyiv)(train) – Krivoy Rog (bus to apartments)

The flights were fairly uneventful. We had about a 1 hour layover at Frankfurt which meant we basically went to the boarding gate after landing from Toronto and waited to get on the next leg of our journey.

What was interesting for me was this was the first time I had ever disembarked from a plane on the tarmac and re-embarked the same way (at Frankfurt airport). There was something surreal about getting on and off the plane in the open air versus the covered bridge-ways I’ve been used to in the past.

When we landed in Borispol, Ukraine one of the team members and myself got VIP treatment and were ushered through immigration and customs with our luggage. This was a pretty neat experience. It’s amazing what the right connections and understanding of how things work in a particular airport can get you…

While waiting for the rest of the team to get through customs I got a chance to observe the airport lobby. Definitely a throwback of about 30-40 years in terms of looks and feel. Was also a much more condensed space than I thought there would have been at the airport.

This is the alleyway behind the apartment that we stayed at (and where the entrance to the apartment was)
This is the alleyway behind the apartment that we stayed at (and where the entrance to the apartment was)

An apartment had been arranged for the team and myself to stay at temporarily in Kyiv.  The apartment itself was fairly small and the staircase leading to the appartment had the lovely smell of garbage wafting through it (probably because of the garbage chute that went down the center of the stairwell).  One of the things I noticed while driving around with Ed Dickson (who is the missionary in Ukraine that we are working with) is the amazing architecture in Ukraine AND the number of people walking.

This is the room we slept in on the "sleeper train"...more like a crate!
This is the room we slept in on the "sleeper train"...more like a crate!

I should probably mention a little bit about our train ride to Krivoy Rog.   The train station in Kyiv was really big and had that old European look that gave a sense of stepping back in time.  We boarded what is called a  “sleeper car” – named that way because it travels overnight and people typically board it, sleep until their destination and then are ready to start their day when they arrive.  Train travel is still a very important way of getting around in this country.  The trip to Krivoy Rog took about 7 hours by train as it doesn’t travel very fast and will often have stops along the way.  The team was pretty tired from the flight and so we were looking forward to the chance to sleep but for many of us it was a forlorn hope as the temperature on the train was extremely warm! Without any way of adjusting the temperature I tossed and turned through the night and there was more than a few times where I got up and fumbled my way out of the small 4 bunk room to get some “fresh air” in the hallway.  I think I lost about 5 pounds that night just through sweating!

By the time we arrived in Krivoy Rog that morning (I think it was around 6:15am or so) – we were pretty tired and I was looking forward to laying down in the bed provided for us in the places we were staying.  We ended up sleeping until around 10am when we got

Well that’s it for this entry!  Stay tuned for more in the coming days!

Thoughts on Sunday

I think I’m going to try doing some regular posts on my observations of service at my church each week.  Of course the first one is a bit late but that’s okay.

Here we go:

  • Pastor Marshall continued his series on Spiritual Disciplines – talking about serving and stewardship.  Wow – pretty brave to tackle such tough topics together! – but I think he did a great job.
  • “Serving God is not an option” (Joshua 24:15)
  • We don’t serve God to BE forgiven – we serve because we ARE forgiven

Some points on Stewardship:

  • God Owns Everything!
  • Giving is an act of Worship
  • Giving reflects faith in God’s promises.
  • “get ready to give”
  • “give generously”
  • “go for the great harvest”
  • “give cheerfully”
  • “generate blessing”

Sunday PM:
Sunday night the team that went to the Ukraine (of which I was a part of) shared about our experience.  Pretty cool.  I’m going to be posting some video and powerpoints of the presentation on our church website this week sometime and I’ll update the links here.  It was really neat reliving our experience there.  I’m also hoping this week to post observations from my trip to Ukraine on my blog.

Oh, and if any people from WPA happen to read my blog, are married, and haven’t signed up for the marriage retreat – WHAT’S THE HOLD UP! Come on get registered – this retreat is going to be awesome.  Seriously – I can’t wait for it – and you don’t want to miss it!

Trying out Soup

A tumblr like service I've decided to give a go at
A tumblr like service I've decided to give a go at

No…not the food – Soup is a tumblr-like service that seems like it’ll be a fun way to aggregate my various web presence and other stuff.  I’m looking for an easy way to collect that kind of info for archiving and retrieval.  I’ve put the feed of my soup in the sidebar here.  We’ll see if it fills up in the coming week (the displayed feed is only of original posts to my soup account – I’m not including the aggregated stuff…yet!).