Saturday, May 22, 2010

Post from Donetsk, Ukraine

Hello from Donetsk, Ukraine! It has been a wonderful, exhilarating, and exhausting week! On May 17, Mike Armour and I traveled to Donetsk to accomplish several things. Mike had a few tasks to accomplish unrelated to the camp program. However, we both met with several camp directors and the President of the Camp Directors Association, Alexander Pishcheyko. We were hosted by Ludmila, the administrator of The Pearl of Donetsk which is a complex made up of two camps (Red Carnation and Baby Eagle).

Red Carnation and Baby Eagle are two camps our teams have served. Team Imagine hasbeen going to Red Carnation for quite some time now and Team Inspire has been to Baby Eagle for two years.

Pictured here are the new camp directors: Alexander who is director of Baby Eagle and Elena (Eeleena), the director of Red Carnation. Both of these directors are highly energetic, professional, and committed to serving children. It was a delight to spend an evening and day with them. 

While it was not part of camp activities, we visited the Maryupol church and went with their minister, Alexander to deliver large print Bibles and Mike Armour's book A Beginner's Guide to the Bible to a local nursing home. The pictures here are from that delivery.

I cannot begin to describe how appreciative the staff and residents of this facility were to receive the Bibles. As we drove away, we noticed several residents sitting outside reading their new Bibles. It never quits being a surprise to me to witness how hungry people are for the Bible. We in America are inundated with inexpensive Bibles to the point we ignore it. The people of Eastern Europe treasure the Bible and are always excited to read it. 

On Saturday, Inna Kuzmenko and I met with our Ukrainian Team members for team training. What a delightful group of people! It was wonderful to reconnect with friends from last year. I guess the old youth minister comes out in me: I can't help but think of these young adults as "my kids".

A word about our translators: they are not just "translators", they are team members who are an essential component to the work. These adults, many of them college students, are very professional and conscientious. They take their job very seriously and want to do the very best they can. They generally speak at least three languages and some even more (a couple of them are even studying Chinese). I have the utmost respect for them.  

Of course the Ukrainian Team Leaders are of top quality. I was impressed with their desire to do a good job. Only two of the five have lead teams before, so they are quite nervous (but excited) because they want to do a good job. While they have not been team leaders before, they have served on teams and they demonstrate mature faith and discipline so I am very confident our teams will be in good hands. 

Like our American Team Training, we discussed working as a team, the importance of the work, cultural differences (yes we had to make certain they understood just how crazy Americans were--after all, those Americans drink ice in their tea, sit on the ground, enjoy drafts and wind blowing in their faces, and can be very boisterous in public!). We also taught them a little about American history.

Most importantly we shared with them how God was going to use them in incredible ways this year. They are not just an addition to the team--they are an integral part without whom our teams could not function. I know our American team members will do everything they can to show their love and appreciation for these wonderful partners! 

Please pray for your Team Members whether Ukrainian or American! You have a fantastic opportunity this summer. With the quality of partners you have in Ukraine, you will find the task much easier. I know you will fall in love with them!

It is 1:00 a.m. and I need to get up early! So I hope to see all of you later on this summer! God bless!

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