Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Road Trip to Ukraine

A group of our colleagues were unable to apply for residency until they had left the country for 90 days to fulfill visa requirements. Since the beginning of March they have been exiled in Ukraine, living and working in Romanian-speaking communities near the Moldovan border. This past weekend I made my annual trip to Ukraine. (I went to Odessa last April with my daughter Marah, if you remember, and so this being the second year I have gone to Ukraine in April, it is now an annual trip.) This time, though, I wised up and made sure that I took at least one Russian speaker with me. We actually went in Lilian's car, and also took Viorica to stay with our American friends there. Lilian is my adopted son - he and Viorica are both Moldovan members of our team.

The ride to Cernauti was about 5 hours, thankfully uneventful and no problems crossing the border. We had a pleasant weekend with the group there, visiting with them, learning about their ministry involvement during their 3-month stay. They are helping with a church plant, and also teaching English in several venues, including two villages where they
teach on weekends.

We were able to go to one of those villages on Saturday, and it was a real treat. Bahrinesti is a lovely spot and the spring foliage made it even more delightful. Our hosts, the young Baptist pastor and his wife, were extremely hospitable and we had such a wonderful time. On Sunday morning I was able to share my testimony in the church and Lillian preached (women don't have the freedom or opportunity to preach in eastern Europe).

On the trip back we brought some winter clothes and extra luggage back for our friends, which the border guards were very curious about. They had a real hard time figuring whether those cellophane-wrapped hand warmers and foot-warmers, labelled in English, were contraband until I was able to explain to them what they were. The only other hiccup on the trip back was having a blowout on a very lonely stretch of highway late at night and being very grateful that Lillian had purchased a monkey wrench that very afternoon. He was able to change the flat tire while I tried to be useful by holding an almost useless mini-flashlight. Finally he got his cellphone from the car and the light from that was much more helpful. It was late when we arrived home but I was grateful for a safe trip, great fellowship with my colleagues, and a new experience of the country of Ukraine.

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