How do you cook for 100 people in Eastern Ukraine? You do it outside with a four foot wooden spoon!
Pastor Fyodor’s church did a wonderful job of hosting those who came to learn how to help those suffering from the stress or war in this area. Some unbelievers even came. The church ladies cooked in a huge kettle over an open fire since their kitchen was too small to make cook enough potatoes. That made the final meal even more delicious.
We said goodbyes in Druzhkiva and walked across the tracks to catch the old Soviet style overnight train to Odessa on the Black Sea in the south. Our team of 8 got situated in our rather warm compartments. Questions soon came my way about ministry; these were "teachable" moments. The topic of military ministry came up also because of my earlier testimony at the frontline army base two days before.
Suddenly Anatoli called me to come to a different compartment and he introduced me to two army officers in fatigues, and armed, who were on their way home from the front for some R & R. I thanked them for their service and asked about them. They were very professional and invited me to have a seat. God had brought another teachable moment so I shared about my own military service and about my son-in-law being killed in action in 2006 (gabrielderoo.us). Then the senior officer peeled off his unit ID patch and gave it to me. I was overwhelmed with the gesture. I quickly gave them a large bar of chocolate and a tract I had about Sgt. De Roo. We promised we would pray for them and their families, which we did right then. They were thankful.
A change we saw this trip was the large number of soldiers traveling. Before the war the army was very small so it was rare to see the military. But war required a desperate defense buildup. Now some trains are nearly 40% full of troops, When we stopped in Zaporiz’ke we watched one of our new friends be reunited with wife and family on the platform. Pray for peace, the military and the families of the nearly 10,000 who have died.
We arrived Wednesday morning in Odessa and were glad to see our families again. Later that day we took a good walk along the stormy Black Sea with our grandkids and enjoyed eating out and looking at sea and monuments there.
There were reminders of the past when we had dinner with the Rodoslavovs this week. Vadim showed me where his father once hid under the floor from the KGB during the time of persecution.
Peter, his father, spent three hours crouched in a space the size of a washing machine as agents searched his home. They didn't find him and he continued to become a major church leader in the country until he passed away. Now his son, Vadim, continues to serve in ministry in his fathers foot steps.
Do you know what it is like to walk up nine floors when you are hungry? We experienced this when we visited Pastor Yakim's family. They walked those steps for two years while their apartment building was being finished. We didn't take the elevator because the lift lady was on break; it become operational recently. The only problem is that one side is dangerously open all the time so a professional elevator person has to operate it. When we arrived we had a delicious rabbit dinner and talked about ministry questions. How blessed it is to see God raising up another generation of preachers of the Word in this needy land. Pray for the next generation here with their unique challenges.