Saturday, November 29, 2008

Soviet Movie Day

Olya, Edna, Tanya, Serhiy, Andriy, and Greg
Olya, Edna, Tanya, Serhiy, Andriy, and myself watching "Office Romance".

Today we got together with some friends to watch a classic Soviet movie. It was called Служебный Роман (Office Romance), a romantic comedy that takes place in a Moscow office in 1976. We were totally blessed at how patiently everybody explained all the cultural aspects and all of the Russian idioms. Tanya and Serhiy did such a great job of translating and filling in the gaps for us. Thanks guys. It was so fun just to sit around eating and laughing about Soviet life and life in general. We learned so much about why some things are the way they are and why people do the things they do. It was a priceless afternoon and I hope we can do it again soon.

If you want to read more about this great movie, you can click HERE. It tells so much about everyday Soviet life in the office. It really wasn't much different than some of the things I've seen going on in American offices, especially the government ones.

Afterward, Andriy and Kolya tossed Joshua around our living room. He loved it.

Andriy and Kolya tossing Joshua around
Andriy and Kolya tossing Joshua around
Andriy and Kolya tossing Joshua around

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving, What It Really Means

Several Ukrainian friends have asked me what American Thanksgiving is all about as we prepare to celebrate it on Thursday, November 27th. Yes, it's origin comes from the Puritans in the autumn of 1621. Yes, we all sit around and eat turkey and enjoy each others company, but what is it really about. I think the best way to describe Thanksgiving is to look at how two of our American Presidents described it. For Americans, lest we forget, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks and it is to God who we give thanks on this day.

Thanksgiving Proclamation
City of New York, October 3, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national. One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

President George Washington

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

President Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.
We know that by his divine law, nations, like individuals, are subject to punishments and chastisements in this world May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins; to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has grown.
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole of the American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every pad of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

President Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, November 23, 2008

First Snow!

Joshua in the First Snow
This morning we sent Joshua to the store and this is what he found waiting for him. We noted that it took him an extremely long time to make his way there and back. He claimed he had to walk slow on the icy ground, but the snow on his gloves told us otherwise.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Weekend at Baka's (grandma's)

Joshua, Greg, Baka, Edna, and Edna
Outside of church last Sunday with Baka in Osijek, Croatia

After speakers week at the Bible College in Hungary, we were able to spend four days with Edna's Grandma, (Baka in Croatian). It was fun to spend time with her and communicate using Ukrainian. Baka only speaks Croatian, but a lot of words in Ukrainian are similar or the same in Croatian. At one point she was telling a neighbor how excited she was that we were speaking to her in Croatian. We learned to mix a few Croatian words in with Ukrainian to get our point across. It seemed to work out good enough for us to get by. It's just nice to know that the words for "I love you" are almost exactly the same in Croatian as they are in Ukrainian.

Old Osijek
A view of the old city wall from across the Drava River

With the help of Baka's neighbor Zlatko, who speaks English, we were able to share God's Word with her and its application for her life in Christ. We prayed together and agreed with Baka that we would read our Bibles together every evening. We will be reading a chapter from the book of John here in Ukraine as she reads the same chapter in John in Croatia. In this way we will be exploring God's Word together.

Dominic and Baka
Dominic and Baka

Joshua and Baka
Joshua (aka Mr. Magoo) and Baka

Baka and Edna
Baka and Ednitsa out for a walk in a village

Zlatko with his honey
Baka's neighbor Zlatko took us out to the home he built in a nearby village where he keeps his bees. Along with his wife Tanya and daughter Ana, we all enjoyed some Croatian style grilling. Zlatko also sent us home with three jars of that delicious honey in the picture.

Osijek on the Drava River
Looking towards the city center of Osijek from across the Drava River. The weather was beautiful and much warmer than Ukraine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Home from Hungary

Joshua, Bohdan, and Dominic
Joshua, Bohdan, and Dominic "We want you to know Jesus!"

Yesterday, we returned home after spending just over a week in Hungary at the Calvary Chapel Bible College and at Edna's Grandmother's in Croatia. We traveled by bus and it seemed to us that it was a little more comfortable than the train and much cheaper. At just over 20 hours of travel time from Kyiv to Budapest, it was also faster than the train.

All of us enjoyed our time at the Bible College in Vajta. It was so good to hear from the different speakers who spoke during speakers week and to see all of our old friends. I was grateful to be able to share with everyone about how God is working here in Bila Tserkva. We were excited to meet the two Ukrainian students at the Bible College, Bohdan and Maryna. Joshua especially seemed to bond with Bohdan who helped Joshua keep his Ukrainian sharp. We are looking forward to seeing Bohdan and Maryna over the Christmas break. They treated us to some Ukrainian worship music before we left the college to go to Croatia for four days, so we felt almost at home there.

Joy and Edna
Joy and Edna being strong in weakness

We were encouraged by the news of what God is doing all over the world in places like Iraq, Poland, India, Ireland, and many other places. We were also encouraged by all the new friends we met at the Bible College and the testimonies they shared with us about how God is working in their lives. God is so great in all the ways that He uses us.

Dominic and Szabolcs
Dominic getting in some pool between speakers

We often wondered where it was that Joshua would disapear to after meals. We soon discovered that he was helping Bohdan wash dishes in the dish room in the basement.

Bohdan supervising Joshua
Bohdan and Joshua washing dishes

Joshua, Bohdan, and Judah
Joshua and Judah in the dish room with Bohdan. There are no child labor laws in Hungary so the missionaries send their children to work down in the basement to offset the costs of running the Bible College.

I'll be posting about our time with Edna's grandmother in Osijek, Croatia in the next post. God truly blessed our time with her.

Monday, November 03, 2008

University English Club

University English Club
Monday Evening English Club at the University

We held our third meeting this evening of our English Club at the city University here in Bila Tserkva. We have been blessed to have been given free use of the room for two hours with the full backing of the University. Edna and I are working with Ruslan and Anya Samohlebov, a local Christian couple, to run this latest English Club. Ruslan uses the first hour to teach English grammar while I use the second hour as a practical application of English in discussing moral dilemmas and ethical behavior. (Dominic and Joshua had the privilege of babysitting Nikita while we were gone.)

While we can't openly teach about the Bible, these moral discussions can often lead to relevant Biblical references. As Edna moves around the class helping out the students, we've noticed how she seems to be bonding with these young and impressionable girls (there's only one guy for now). They've already exchanged phone numbers and are talking about how they can all get together outside of the class room. Our prayer is that these young people will be won for Christ through the sincere building of relationships. God has been faithful in granting us another open door for reaching the youth of this city through English and we are grateful.

University English Club
Edna helping Marina translate some sentences into English while Anya helps another girl in the foreground.