Krasnoarmeysk Campaign 2009 Final PostThe following is an article for our bulletin this week written by Tony Huddleston. It is a good summary of the trip and a suitable final post.
A team of nine of our members accompanied by four translators spent the first week of October in Krasnoarmeysk, Ukraine.
For those who do not know, here is a short history of our presence in Ukraine. In 1994, shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Steve Hale from the Mt. Juliet church and several others established a church in the small town of Krasnoarmeysk. The church has struggled over the years, but there are signs now of positive growth. Their minister, Sasha Rodnaev, is energetic and works very hard to build up the kingdom there. Our mission was to encourage, edify, and teach. We conducted a bible school in the local orphanage, and also held classes for adults, teenagers, and children at the congregation.
This year we decided to introduce the Teddy Bear ministry to the congregation. We felt that this would not only be good for the children who received the bears, but also for the congregation as a way to reach out to the community. The response from the ladies of the congregation was overwhelmingly enthusiastic! There were two sessions, and the ladies finished all 196 of the bears. One of the ladies took them home and stayed up late sewing them up. The plan was to take them to the orphanage after we left. Thanks to Kevin Bass for printing the tags in Russian which stated: “Made with love – Krasnoarmeysk Church of Christ”. The photos below show the ladies at work, and later a display of the final product.
In the second picture above, the lady on the far left is Tamara, who housed and fed the men. The lady immediately to the right of Sasha (the preacher) is Lydia, who hosted and fed the ladies. Both seemed to enjoy the services they attended as well as the Teddy Bear workshops.
The trips to the Nevoshalone orphanage were very moving. The children were very excited to see us, and they thoroughly enjoyed the lessons and crafts. The Krasnoarmeysk church is closely connected with this orphanage, and the director and staff gave us a warm welcome.
The church in Krasnoarmeysk has grown since Sasha has been there and we are prayerful God will continue to bless these people and many will be led to Christ. Please pray for the growth and edification of the family of Christians in Krasnoarmeysk, Ukraine.
Team Members: Doug and Connie Allen, Tony and Pat Huddleston, Buddy and Sissy Pickler, Matt Brown, Carol Keopf, and Susan McCulloch. Translators: Kostya, Sasha, Val, and Dasha.
Krasnoarmeysk Campaign 2009 Epilogue 2Well, you many of you know the first part of the team had an extended stay in Washington. Hopefully they are home now.
The second part of the team-Doug, Connie, Sissy and I are due to depart in the morning. Our van leaves the hotel at 8 am Vienna time, 1 am Mt Juliet time. Our schedule calls for us to arrive around 8pm or so on Tuesday, assuming no problems like the other group had.
We have been blessed over the last 4 years of our campaign in Ukraine to tag on a little vacation time. Amsterdam, Athens in previous years and Vienna this year. All three are beautiful places and I would love to spend more time in each. But there is nothing like beautiful Mt Juliet and the wonderful people there.
Lord willing we will see you soon.
Krasnoarmeysk Campaign 2009 Epilogue 1Every year we have had fine translators with great knowledge and ability and this year was no exception.
Kostya has been on the last 4 campaigns and as the senior member takes the lead. He always has a good spirit of service and willing to help whether it is translating or carrying groceries or as you may have seen in one picture a load of stuffing for our bears. He stays in contact with our drivers on pick up times and finds restaurants for us. Just anything we need he is there. It is obvious that he is close to his family as he talks to his mother and girl friend daily. He is a fine leader and young man. He graduated from the University last year and is looking for a suitable job. He speaks 5 languages, I think.
Lera has been with us for 3 campaigns. She is a beautiful, sweet young woman who loves to translate and work with teens and adults. She can handle the toughest cab drivers in the Donetsk region and ordered dinner for 18 of us the other night. Not an easy feat I guarantee you. She is also quick to jump in and help in any way she can. Lera is a language student as well. She also graduated last year and is awaiting approval of a visa to continue her language studies in Germany later this month.
Dasha completed her second campaign this year. Her sister Masha worked with us for 2 years prior and is now studying at Valdosta State in Georgia. Dasha is certainly a chip of the block of Masha. I hope to meet their mother and father some day. They have done a great job rearing these two fine Christian young women. Dasha loves to teach the little children but can translate for sermons as well. She loves Greek and is a language major at a University south of Donetsk. She would like to come to the US to study Greek and Hebrew so that she can become a religious translator. My memory of Dasha from this trip will be her comforting Lisa, a tiny 7 year old at the orphanage. She was really upset over something and Dasha lovingly hugged her and wiped away all tears.
This year was young Sasha's first campaign with us. He is a student at Bear Valley Bible Institute in Ukraine. To my knowledge he only speaks three languages (Russian, Ukrainian, I think, and English), but he may know more. In addition to his language skills he is a excellent technology person. He reloaded the all the software on Sasha's, the preacher's, computer one night due to a virus. He doesn't know yet what he will do when he completes his studies at Bear Valley-preach full-time or do computer work. He was able to do something that I have not seen in any of my previous campaigns. He preached in two languages! We normally have one person preach/speak/teach and someone translate into the other language that is present in the room. Sasha prepared his sermon on Sunday morning and delivered it in Russian and English. Amazing!
Pray for these young people. They are talented and have much to offer this world.
The first part of our team (Tony, Pat, Carol, Susan, and Matt) left the hotel this morning at 8 to start their journey home. Pray for safe travel for them.
Ukraine Work 2009 Final ChapterWell, tonight's post will be brief. Hard to top Kostya from last night. And besides your blogger is very tired.
We said our goodbyes to our host and hostesses in Krasnoarmeysk this morning at 9 am, 1 am Central, 8 am in Vienna, and I am not sure what time zone my body is on. We had an uneventful trip from Krasnoarmeysk to Donetsk airport. Well, uneventful in the sense that we all arrived safe with all our luggage and in plenty of time to catch our plane. But any ride in a van on that road is anything but uneventful. We said goodbye to Sasha, the preacher, Sasha, the translator, and Uri, the member, who all headed back to K-town. Kostya, Dasha, and Lera, our remaining translators, all jumped on a bus and headed for home.
Our flight from Donetsk to Vienna was great. We went to our hotel, cleaned up and headed out for some Wiener Schnitznel. Then to bed. Well, some of us, at least one of us is blogging to keep you up to date.
I'll leave it at that tonight. I have a lot to say about our translators, the church in Krasnoarmeysk, the orphanage and the team, but that will have to wait until rest clears my head.
Looking forward to seeing you Mt Juliet folks soon. And the rest of you as soon as the Lord wills.
National Matt Brown Day in Ukraine and other funny happenings :)
Hello from Ukraine and your Ukrainian interpreters:)
There are no Americans coming back this time!No,no, they are not staying in Ukraine either, just all the company is half Ukrainian now. I'll try to explain why. It is rather difficult to stay American when you eat genetically modified ketchup every day, speaking seriously now Buddy has his curly hair back. All joking aside here is what all happened today:
The day started at 9 with one more nice ride to Novogelannoe Orphanage. Children were very glad to see us all again, it was the last day here so everybody was double emotional. The classes went the best way they could (it was so touching to see how kids were happy to get these crafts, some even could not understand that they can keep them) and after that there was a skit about The Good Samaritan(directed by 3 times Oscar nominee Doug Allen) with such celebrities acting as Buddy Pickler as the donkey (the best part of it was the sound "hee-haw" that children liked immensely), Tony as the "beaten up person",Dasha and Lera as sheep,Matt and Pat(She took advantage of her role as a robber and beat him mercifully and took his money to go shopping!) were the robbers,Susan as the priest, Sissy as the Levite and me as the Samaritan. It was the best way to part with children telling them the story about friendship, letting them know that even though we would not be coming back this year, that we would still miss them and that distance could not separate our friendship. Before leaving Tony presented basketballs, soccer balls and school materials to the head of the orphanage, he was very pleased with that. Children would keep your hand and would not let it go so all the parting seemed to last forever but with aching heart we made it.
(By the way Connie is under the weather. She lost her voice and has a very bad cough and congestion. She was given home remedy by Lydia of sugar and spices and was last seen under the covers sleeping. This evening she joined us for dinner at the restaurant.)
At 3 p.m. we had a class for children and teens. We were happy to see a new girl coming today because her friends told her how exciting it was there. Classes went very fast and all of a sudden it was time to part. Warm hugs and girls tears were the top of it.
And as the climax of the day we went to the restaurant with our hostesses to say thanks to them ("and to show how we appreciate our translators work!" exclaimed Matt reading the blog over my shoulder) and there we celebrated Matt Brown National Day for the first time in Ukraine. We had masks of Matt's face and made a couple of nice photos like that(our hostesses didn't recognize that these masks were photos of Matt's face actually at first and we laughed a lot). Only going out of the restaurant we understood that the mission is over and we are parting with our friends not to see them for a year at least. We became a really good team but we are friends more than that so thank you all for coming and we are waiting for you next year.
Pray for the safe way back home.
submitted by Kostya-the craziest interpreter ever.
Ukrainian Road Race
Coming to you tonight from the ladies in Krasnoarmeysk: We awoke to another beautiful fall morning and were on our way to the orphanage by 9 am. There were only 2 near heart attacks from the antics of our driver Mario Andretti.
We were warmly greeted by many of the excited children in the parking lot, anxious to play frizbee with Matt and our translators. You would think a load of Hollywood celebrities had arrived with the many requests for our autographs. Our lessons centered around the Shipwreck of Paul and we enjoyed making pinwheels and rainbow sun catchers to help them remember the promise of God.
Then on to Lydia's for a "light lunch" of chicken vegetable soup, tomatoes, chicken stuffed peppers, fried potatoes, bread, and apple pie dusted with cocoa.
We paused to do a remake of our group picture, then were off to the Church for Ladies day, followed by VBS for the children, the evening adult session, and a fellowship meal.
Today's lady's session was so special. Our hostess Lydia joined the group. She doesn't attend church. Lydia donned a beautiful purple garment and seemed to enjoy the activities. Then the men's hostess, Tamara, also came. The ladies learned to make beautiful greeting cards to send to one another with the materials that Sherry Kibbe donated to the ladies. They were also instructed again on how to make the Teddy Bears and were presented Ukraine fabric and ribbon that was purchased with money from our Mt. Juliet Ladies classes.
There had been a power failure at the church and we had no electricity, therefore Susan and I contained a class of 9 active children in a tiny room after school for 2 hours, while Doug brought a wonderful lesson to the congregation on Combating Discouragement. Tamara was visibly moved by his lesson as evidenced by her responses. She has had many problems in her life. Soon it was too dark to do anything. We then joined every one in the other meeting room on the west side (with a little daylight left), and the team was presented small parting gifts from the congregation.
Two tables were put up, and in a matter of a few minutes they were full to running over with fresh picked apples, meat pies, fruit rolls, apple pies, and homemade pizza and compote to drink. There was enough food on the tables for the entire Mt. Juliet congregation to sample! We then tried to eat enough to appease the ladies, as many had walked up 4 stories with their homemade goodies for their American brothers and sisters. What a sacrifice they had made for us. We returned to our homes and the ladies immediately began to work diligently to ready their materials for their lessons tomorrow.
Lydia called us to the dinner table, and presented us with Greek salad, Chicken, and pasta. That was dinner # 2 for today, in case anyone is counting! We miss our families and look forward to having our arms around you again. Keep praying for our safe return. Love, TEAM FAT
Dobri Vecher! That means Good Evening in Russian! This is Connie reporting today.
We cannot believe we have only two days left in Ukraine! Where has the time gone? We have been greeted by happy, smiling faces everywhere we go and will miss the Ukrainian hospitality when we leave. I am sure this is why so many of us make repeat trips here.
Assuming the guys have talked about our male translators in earlier blogs, I would like to give a shout out to our two female translators, Lera and Dasha. We certainly could not do what we do without them. They are much, much more than translators though. They have become our good friends, and they help us with our every need. They help our hostess, Lydia, with kitchen chores too. They always have smiles on their faces, and they are truly fine examples of a biblical Martha.
Our hostess, Lydia, is a self-taught chef, but we think any fine restaurant would hire her in an instant. Our meals are always beautifully presented, complete with parsley garnish. Though Lydia doesn't speak much English, she is totally fluent in the universal language of love.
Today's schedule started with a trip back to the orphanage. Doug, Matt, Lera and I are working with some of the older children. We have between 20-23 students each day. The students are attentive and well behaved, and are always looking for that bit of extra attention and love. Our lesson was about Paul's conversion today, and then the children wore a blindfold during a game which helped them to relate to Paul's blindness. We sang some songs and then had to tear ourselves away from these children who really wished we would stay. I'm glad we get to go back two more times.
Carol just shared how moved to tears she was when a sad looking 10 year old boy's face brightened up when he was presented with a simple paper name tag. He went home with a backpack and a small notebook and you would have thought it had been the best Christmas Day ever. We were told by the teachers that several of these boys were unable to participate because of their disabilities; that the boys were slow and simple-minded, but that was not true. By the second day they were participating in all the activities.
Our visit to the local school had to be cancelled today, so we had a few spare minutes which we used to stop for a team photo op at an intersection that has a brick wall with Krasnoarmeysk, which means "Red Army", spelled out. Of course, that is the name of the city. I'd write it in Russian, but then you wouldn't be able to read it, and this computer also has no Russian letters on it! We also took a few minutes to do some souvenir shopping.
In the afternoon we held children's classes at the church, and spent some time painting faces on teddy bears with a few of the teens. Krasnoarmeysk's Ted. E. Bear ministry has begun!
Before I close, we'd like to thank everyone for their prayers while we are here. Your messages to us are very encouraging. It is a privilege for each of us to be here and to be able to serve in this way. Thank you to our church leadership for making this possible.
And I'd like to also note an absence of notes in the blog from the Fleming family which makes us question if it was only DAVID they were concerned about in past years, and if they don't really miss the rest of us! Also, the Brown family has not checked in and we are considering leaving Matt with Natasha if they don't leave us a message.
God bless you all and we'll see you next week!
Monday in Ukraine
We started our day at the orphanage in Novojelannoye. (Thanks, Alex. I couldn't have ever spelled it without your help.) The children were wonderful. Many of them remember us from previous years, and the ones who didn't know us readily accepted us into their school. We met with approximately 117 children. There will be 16 more children joining us tomorrow. With that many children to wrangle, the orphanage staff pitched in and were extremely helpful. After dividing them into groups by their grades, we taught the lesson on the Life of Christ up to the time of the crucifixion. Because we had so many children, we were a bit short on the materials to complete all of the crafts. So, the women are feverishly working out a way for them to do all of the crafts tomorrow. Even though the majority of these are children have learning disabilities, everyone on the team agreed that the children were very attentive and engaged in the lessons. We should have a super week working with them.
After lunch, everyone worked on their lessons for the next day, and then we head back to the church in Krasnoarmeysk for an a late afternoon Bible class with the children. Sissy taught a lesson on the Samaritan Woman at the Well.
After the lesson, I called the team together to give them their roles on the skit we will perform at the public school tomorrow. Since we are not allowed to teach scripture in their schools, we are doing a skit about friendship called, "The Good Gypsy." It's about a man who gets robbed and beaten and no one stops to help him except for this Good Gypsy. It's an original work I wrote last night. I hope it will help teach the children a positive lesson about how to be a good friend without the use of scripture. Meanwhile, the team seemed to be cooperative in accepting their roles by knowing there are no small roles, just small actors.
At the evening session at the church, Tony taught a lesson to the adults on "Purity and Living a Godly Life." It was very thorough and sparked a lot of questions and discussion on the topics of coveting and being judgemental. Thanks to Buddy for keeping the little ones, without a translator, quiet during Tony's lesson.
A busy Monday, but a very rewarding one. The whole team is feeling upbeat and ready for what the Lord has for us to do tomorrow.
Submitted by Doug
On the Lord's Day in Krasnoarmeysk
Today we had worship services at the church. They now worship in a rented apartment, which has more space than their previous location.
Prior to services we had classes for the children and teens. There were about 10 children and one teenager. Several of us were assembled for Matt's teen class and he did a great job. The young girl (Ira, pronounced "eera"), has not yet been baptized, but we are prayerful she will be soon.
Our new translator, Sasha Rodichev, preached today and did a very fine job. He was his own translator, speaking alternately in Russian and English. (Sasha is a student at Bear Valley Bible Institute). We had very good attendance, and had to bring additional seating into the room. We were also very happy Tamara came to our worship services. She is a very nice lady and a wonderful cook. (The men are staying at her home).
After services we had a great time in fellowship with the members. We spent a lot of time renewing friendships, sharing photographs and talking about children, grandchildren and other relatives. To help us remember their members better , the church presented us with a large poster, with photographs and names of all their members.
The weather was better than yesterday with only a little rain. Unfortunately, the forecast is for additional rain the next few days. However, the rain has not dampened our spirit or our excitement for the work here. Tomorrow we begin our classes at the local orphanage. Please continue to pray for us.
Submitted by Tony
Greetings from a cold, wet Ukraine. It started raining last night about 5:00 and has rained off and on since then. After a full nights rest we were anxious to begin our work this morning. We started out at the church this morning for a teen class and a childrens class. Which we had 7 in total 5 for the children and 2 for the teens, even though the numbers were small we were still able to spread the Good News, and the numbers are expected to rise as the week goes on. Then after a break for lunch the women conducted their class, which we hear went well. They started showing the ladies of the congregation the teddybear ministry which they began with great enthusiasm, even after we left the ladies continued on stuffing, sowing, and drawing on the bears. These bears will be given to the children at the orphanage we will visit during the week.
Tomorrow will be a fairly light day of work, we will have worship and our conduct our classes with the congregation tomorrow, as well as time for fellowship with the members. But come Monday we will hit the work hard with the orphanage, the teen and childrens classes, the gospel meeting, and even meeting with a local school on tuesday and thursday.
Some interesting tidbits from the trip:
After a team meeting at the ladies house, we happened to see their newly built indoor bathroom, which spurred the thought of 'I wish i would have that this morning while I was showering outside in 50 degree weather.' Our hosts have been wonderful, the food is good and the hospitality even better, but the best part is we are not going to have borscht this week!! Before we left this afternoon Tony accidently put on Doug's shoes, which provided some humor for the guys.
Please continue in prayer for everything that will take place this week in Ukraine. We hope we are able to do much good, and hope everything goes well back home.
P.S. Mom, the internet has been a little sketchy, and we have not been to a call center or internet cafe yet. Im ok and will get in touch as soon as I can. Fear not im safe with Buddy... on second thought pray for me.
Submitted by Matt
Ukraine 2009 Day 1 (or is it 2)A few pieces of news at this point:
1. Lynn, Victor, Sasha, Julia, Young Sasha (AKA Alexander), Kostya, and Dasha all met us at the airport. Lera met us in town.
2. So did all our luggage. We dropped our luggage off in Nashville at checkin and picked it up to clear customs in Donetsk. SWEET!
3. Our wonderful hostesses greeted us warmly and fed us a wonderful meal tonight.
4. The team is tired, but will be ready to hit the ground running tomorrow early.
5. We always say you need to be fluid on these trips. This year is starting out to be the same. Tony had prepared and communicated a schedule. Sasha brought one of his own. Tony is meshing the two and it will be a geat week.
That is about it for this very long day.
Ukraine Work 2009As I write this we are in Washington, DC, having just completed the first leg of our journey. The team is excited, prepared and ready to begin our work. We fly overnight to Vienna, Austria, connecting there to a flight directly into Donetsk.
Upon our arrival we will be met by Sasha with vans for transporting us to meet Lynn and Victor for dinner and then on to Krasnoarmeysk.
This year is unlike the last three in that we will work in Krasnoarmeysk only. We will be working with Sasha and family and the wonderful folks in the congregation there. We plan to work at the orphanage at Novosholone. (If anyone knows how to spell that, please post the spelling!). Sasha has also worked with the school officials for us to work with the children there. This will be a wonderful out reach opportunity if it is able to be worked out.
....Now we are in Vienna. Great flights so far. We will leave for Donetsk before most of you get up. There is at least an 8 hour time difference between Donetsk and Mt Juliet.
More later from Ukraine when we get internet access. Pray for our safety and success on the trip. Buddy
Mt. Juliet Church of Christ
1940 N. Mt. Juliet Road
Mt. Juliet, TN 37122
Mt.Juliet, TN 37121-0248
Sunday Early Worship: 8AM
Sunday Bible Study: 9:15AM
Sunday Late Worship: 10:15AM
Night Worship: 6PM
Wednesday Bible Study: 7PM