Sunday, September 28, 2008

Conference in Chernihiv and an Unlikely Teacher

Edna, Dominic, Nastya, Maria, Mathew, and Mark
Edna, Dominic, Nastya, Maria, Mathew, Mark and Joshua

On Friday, we traveled to Chernihiv for a church conference along with Nastya, Maria, and their mother Valentina. It was held at an old Soviet Young Pioneer camp in the forest on the edge of town. We were blessed with great fellowship and beautiful weather. It was the first time that members from our church were able to connect with other Calvary Chapel missionaries and like minded churches. Of course it was great to see old friends and meet a few new ones too.

Nastya, Edna, Maria, and Valya
Nastya, Edna, Maria, and Valentina enjoying the first sun we had seen in about three weeks

We were excited to be able to introduce Maria, Nastya, and Valentina to all of our friends outside of Bila Tserkva. They really liked the worship music and all the great teaching. Valentina was especially moved by Danny Foote's teaching on redemption. He did an amazing job of communicating the fact that we were "purchased" with the blood of Christ because of God's love for us.

We were all a little disappointed that we had to leave early to make it back to Bila Tserkva in time for church. (We went straight to church when we got into town and only had about thirty minutes to spare.) We left the conference just after Maria and Nastya performed one of their songs together during worship. We missed hearing Jake speak and I know that Nastya didn't get to say good bye to all the new friends she made or finish getting everyone's contact info. We're all looking forward to future fellowship and joint outreaches together. Thanks to the church in Chernihiv for putting on a great time of fellowship, mutual encouragement, and building up the body.

Josie, Angel, Joshua, and Mark
Josie, Angel, Joshua, and Mark just before worship started

So when the kids weren't at worship or in a class, they were out playing on the dangerous old Soviet playground equipment or in the woods catching all manner of God's creatures. They had fun.

Dangerous Soviet Playground Equipment
Mathew with a lizard on his nose
Mathew with a new friend

Dominic enjoying dangerous Soviet playground equipment
Dominic going for a spin

Mathew, Joshua, and Josie
Mathew, Joshua, and Josie

The highlight of this conference for me was when I came across an unlikely teacher. It was a teacher that wasn't on any of the schedules or that you would even think of as being a teacher in the first place, but she had a huge impact on me as I'm sure she must have had on others. Masha was no stranger to most of the people at the conference, but it was my first time meeting her. Masha is a little Ukrainian girl with Down Syndrome and a smile that can light up any room.

I was fascinated by how Masha was able to brighten the face of every person she met. She spent her time walking from person to person greeting them and reaching out to touch their hand or asking if she could touch their hair. She didn't seem at all shy and what truly amazed me was that she exhibited the exact love that Christ calls us to show each other. She didn't judge anybody, she didn't show any favoritism, she just reached out to people with Jesus in her heart.

Masha is such a blessing. It breaks my heart to know that children like Masha are prevented from coming into this world because people think they would be a burden if allowed to live. What a sad world we would live in if there weren't little lights among us like Masha to point the way to Jesus. I learned so much this weekend thanks to her. I hope to see her shining face again soon. We all do.

Masha, Joshua, and Maia
Masha sitting with Joshua while Maia looks a little jealous

Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. - Mattew 18:4-5


mom&popfoote said...

Great pics of the conference, we always enjoy your updates. And gotta love those soviet playgrounds!
I'm happy you got a chance to go and bring some friends.
love ROxanne

Sarah said...

i'm always so uplifted by your posts and comments on Ukrainian life and culture.

glad the conference went well.

Cassie said...

Masha is such a blessing...she's the friendliest little girl ever! And generous, too!

Greg and Edna Silva said...

Thanks Roxanne and Sarah,
We had a great time being there.

It was nice meeting you. I'm sure we'll be seeing you again.