Monday, May 26, 2008

Computer, Crash, Crimescene

As I write this, I'm still picking out little shards of glass from my skin and clothes. The last thing I expected to see today was a car coming toward us, roof first, tumbling through the air above the traffic, but first maybe I'd better start from the beginning.

Last night our computer suffered a problem caused by operator error. (Of course, I can't say which operator that was for fear of reprisal.) We soon realized that the only way to fix it was to take it to a service center in Fresno. This would put our preparations for returning to Ukraine a bit behind schedule. I wasn't happy.

As I grumbled to myself going out the door this morning, Edna pointed something out. She said, "Maybe God has a purpose for this that we don't know about. Maybe there is somewhere God wants us to be today".

As we were just entering Fresno on Highway 99, I heard Edna gasp. I looked to my left and saw a white car tumbling through the air just above the oleander bushes. I pulled to the left and stopped at a break in the bushes. As Edna called 911, I jumped over the guard rails and crossed through the traffic. I was praying for whoever was in the car as I knew Edna and Joshua were also doing. I avoided the debris and scattered personal effects and tried to prepare myself for what I might find as the car came to rest on its wheels facing oncoming traffic.

As I approached the vehicle, my training as a First Responder took over. I say took over, because I didn't think about anything I was doing. It was all mechanical, something I had done before, nothing heroic. I checked for fuel, fire, and undeployed airbags as I assessed the condition of the woman in the car. Kim was on her way home from her daughter's graduation from Sacramento State University when a red car had struck her and caused her to hit the dirt embankment and become airborne. I sat with Kim just inside the door of her car holding her head to immobilize her spine. Despite the force of the accident, she appeared to have only minor injuries. I've been at the scene of fatalities where the vehicle involved had less damage than hers, yet here she sat, talking to me.

I prayed for her and tried to keep her talking as she shook uncontrollably from the shock that was setting in. I surveyed the damage to Kim's car and could see that the roof had collapsed to the level of the dash and seats, except where she was sitting. I noticed a cross hanging from the rear view mirror and I told her that it looked as if God had placed a protective bubble around her. A woman standing next to me also agreed. The rest of the bystanders just stood looking with amazement at how Kim seemed to have escaped serious injury.

The red car that had struck Kim and forced her up the embankment causing her to flip through the air, had taken the next exit running red lights at high speed. I guess they can add felony hit and run to whatever else they were running from.

I sat with Kim holding her head and doing my best to calm her down until a firefighter took over keeping her spine immobile. I told Kim goodbye and she thanked me for stopping and talking to her while help was on the way. I took one last look inside the remains of Kim's car that looked like a giant salad shaker with splinters of glass and shattered belongings. I thought, "Surely God had placed His hand around Kim during the accident." Edna would later tell me that I had sat with Kim for exactly 15 minutes, but it felt like an hour.

My point in all this goes back to what Edna said earlier, "Maybe God has a purpose for this that we don't know about. Maybe there is somewhere God wants us to be today". If someone had told me that our computer problems were just the way that God would direct us to be able to pray for and comfort this woman just when she needed it most, I would never have complained. I want to learn to see these inconveniences or misfortunes for what they truly are, opportunities to be used by God, big and small.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Winding Down

We now have less than a week left before we return home to Bila Tserkva, Ukraine. We are excited to be going back, but we have had a great time with all of our friends and family while in the United States. We were especially blessed by our time at Calvary Chapel Visalia where they invited us to share about what God is doing in Ukraine. We are so grateful for the time of fellowship we had and for all the new friends we made. Tomorrow we will be attending our last Calvary SLO service before returning home. It will be a baptism service on the beach in Avila.

Pastor Bob Grenier and Edna
Pastor Bob signing his new book for Edna called, "A Common Miracle".

On Friday we made a trip to visit Edna's father's brother, John. Uncle John had lots of animals for the boys to play with and we had a good time learning more about the Jewish faith. Uncle John speaks Hebrew and is also an Israeli citizen.

Dominic, Edna, Joshua, and Uncle John
Dominic, Edna, Joshua, and Uncle John

Uncle John in the Israeli Army
Being an Infantry soldier, this is my favorite picture of Uncle John when he was in the Israeli Army. He fought in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A Taste of Home (from Ukraine)

We have been in Phoenix, Arizona visiting Edna's mother and brother since Friday. We have been eagerly sharing about our life in Ukraine and needless to say, we have been getting a little home sick for Ukraine. On Saturday, we ran into some people from Serbia who live in the same apartment complex we are staying in. We were amazed at how much Serbian/Croatian we could understand (Edna's mom is Croatian) and how much Ukrainian they could understand. They also spoke English fluently and shared with us where we might find some Ukrainian food.

On Sunday, we went to church at Calvary Chapel North Phoenix and were blessed to hear a great message by Pastor Bob Claycamp (who's son Micah is serving in Kaharlyk, Ukraine with his wife Christy and their family).

After church we decided to check out one of the stores our Serbian friends told us about. We were excited when we drove up and saw a sign in Russian that said "Russian Store".

Russian Store in Phoenix

We found several Russian and Ukrainian products inside. The owner was from Uzbekistan and chatted with us in Russian. He also hooked us up with a copy of the Arizona Russian Yellow Pages.

Russian Yellow Pages

Today, we went on an Eastern European market tour. We discovered a lot more Ukrainian products and some more really friendly people from the former Soviet Union, one who even spoke some Ukrainian. We even picked up some Croatian spices along the way.

Another Russian Market in Phoenix

Russian Market in Phoenix

Tonight we cooked up some shashlyk and enjoyed real Ukrainian kvas. We even got a jar of the famous Nizhyn pickles. Just a little taste of home.

Some Ukrainian products we found in Phoenix, AZ
And yes, that's Verka Serduchka on that middle bottle of kvas