Saturday, April 14, 2012



   Tomorrow here in Ukraine, we will celebrate Easter (April 15).  In the old days, no festival was awaited with so much enthusiasm and impatience as Easter.  As with most holidays in Russian and Ukraine, much emphasis is placed on food and drink.  Easter food traditions are very strong - that even despite the government's discontinuation of religious celebrations after the Revolution, state stores still carried a wide range of traditional Easter foods.
   One of the most popular treats at Easter is Pashka Bread - or Kulich - a spectacular Easter coffee cake.  It is both rich and light.  To achieve this difficult combination, the Easter cook, might use up to 30 eggs, a pound of butter and as many as three risings for the flavorful yeast dough.  Once the kulich is tucked away in the oven, all door-slamming, sneezing and loud chatter in the vicinity is strictly forbidden - for fear of a collapsed cake and a ruined Easter.   After the bread is cooled, a light glaze is spread on top and bright color sprinkles are added.
   Late on Saturday afternoon or evening, the orthodox congregation heads off to the local church.  Even if you are not a regular church goer, Easter was the one service everyone attends.  Along the way, people greet each other with "Khristos Voskres"  (Christ has risen) -- and the reply, "Voistinu Voskres!" (Indeed He has!).    After the bread is blessed, it is back home to a beautifully set table with flowers and garland.  The painted eggs add bright splashes of color.  In the middle of the table sits the kulich.
   This afternoon, Bob and I were downtown for a teachers meeting at the local pizza parlor.  This happened to be right next door to one of the larger Orthodox churches in Simferopol.  For the two hours as we sat there talking, discussing SS and eating pizza, literally hundreds of people walked past our window - on their way to the Orthodox church so that the priest could bless their bread.  They carried their basket full of breads.   This bread usually replaces all bread that is eaten for the week.
   One of the girls and I wandered over to where all the people were headed.  There were many long rows -- people lined up down the street waiting for their turn to have their kulich blessed.  The priest came by - sprinkling water (with a broom) on the bread and people.  Behind him was a young boy who accepted donations. I thought you would be interested in the pictures and video. (I found out later that there is usually militia around which forbids picture taking).

   In the minds of these dear people, the emphasis is on the religious ritual and not on the fact or the truth of the resurrection.  They have no clue on how this relates to them personally.  Too bad that these rituals and traditions have replaced a real relationship with a Risen Savior!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Every year, people in Ukraine put great emphasis on 
Everywhere - people are out in the street painting the curbs and tree trunks white.  Sweepers are cleaning the dirt left over from the sand trucks.  Houses are being painted, yards are being cleaned up and flowers are being planted.  You see, we have just come through a very long, hard winter.  Things have been gloomy, dirty and dark.  The sun used to set low in the sky but now the sky is blue and the sun is shinning brightly.  Our temperatures have finally warmed-up enough so that we can shed the layers of clothing, sweaters, coats and boots. 
   Even the people in our church wanted to get the house of God ready for Spring.  Over twenty people came out last Saturday to clean, paint, plant and wash.  People toted curtains home to be washed.  Cushions were shook out.  They were so happy in their work.
Here Oleg, Vitia, and Ivan are painting. 
Below are pictures of some washing windows, cleaning fake flowers and radiators.

    Sometimes we need to have "Spring Cleaning" in our own spiritual lives.  We need to re-examine our heart and lives and  spruce things up -- Spring Cleaning.  Sometimes, we need a good strong scrubbing - a spiritual freshening up.  We need to remember that our our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Ghost (I Cor. 6:19). 
     In Colossians 3:8-10.  The Bible tells us some of the things we should put off. Many times, it is our hearts that really require some cleaning.  We must be in the habit of looking deep into ourselves to rid our hearts of any feelings, habits or emotions that are making them dingy and dull; envy, strife, jealousy, hatred, discontentment, impatience, unkindness, revenge. When these things reside in our hearts, they often manifest themselves in our tongues.
     When we make the effort to bring our hearts to God asking Him to do what only He can do, He will forgive our sinful attitudes and resulting actions and make our hearts new again. Then maybe we’ll be able to unearth some cherished treasures we thought were long lost; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control.
      Usually when we finish our spring cleaning, we look around and say that we'll never let things get so bad as that again and we determine not to let it happen. We should do the same for our spiritual house. Determine not to let it get dirty again. The only way to accomplish this is to keep it up daily by feasting on God's Word and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. 
 We need to keep our lamps trimmed -- 
so that our light will shine in a dark dreary world.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Faithful Men
     Last week our church hosted our 6th annual "Faithful Men Conference".  Thirty men from around Ukraine attended.  The speakers were Pastor Mark Priem, Missionary John Spillman,  Pastor Igor Solod, Pastor Dema Pischanetsky, Missionary David Sloan, and Pastor Bob Van Sant.
   The purpose of the conference is to build strong leaders/nationals within our churches.  But as always, the focus is also on salvation.  There were two men in attendance that were not saved.  One man accepted Christ as his Savior and the other man was in our church this past Sunday.  He promised to be back next week and he wants to continue discussing his need of the Savior.
Faithful Men 2012 - Sevastopol Ukraine

     This year the men watched the video "COURAGEOUS".  We were so excited that the video had been translated into Russian.    I have seen the video a couple of times and I asked my husband if any of the men cried.  He said men don't look around to see if other men are crying. :-)   However, the film touched hearts beyond measure.  We were able to translate "The Resolution" into Russian on certificate paper - it looked really nice.  Leaders from each church received copies for them to discuss with their men later.
    Bro. Igor Solod is pictured above - and here he is preaching at the conference. Igor & Sveta are one of the missionaries our church supports.  They have six children (yes, he looks so young).  He is doing a wonderful job in a village just south of Kiev.  He preached in our church the Wednesday before the conference. We are glad to have a part in this young man's work!
   Many important decisions were made and we look forward to seeing the results.