29 February 2008

God's Beauty

Today is another day of study and preparation. Tomorrow we will go to Simferopol Baptist Church (about a 45 minute drive), Jeff will visit his good friend Bob Van Sant, the pastor, and I will be with his wife Judy and lead a class for young girls. Bob and Judy began the church for the deaf in Simferopol about 10 years ago. If you are interested in their history you can read about them here: http://bobandjudy.net/

I will make bracelets with the girls, but more importantly than that, I will talk to them about the Savior and all he has done for us. As the girls work to create something beautiful, I will speak to them of the beauty of God and how he gave us touches of beauty on earth as a foretaste of heaven. He put the love of beauty in our feminine hearts because he is the original author of all that is beautiful. And in expressing that beauty it is the Spirit's purpose that we use it to demonstrate our love for those around us. We do this by how we care for those God has brought into our lives, by how we keep our homes and by how we share His spirit with others. You see I am not talking about physical beauty in one's body, but of course, dressing neatly is part of showing honor to the Father and to one another. It really is all about God's beauty and glorifying Him.

Our Saturday begins with your Friday night, if you are in America, so when you go to bed please say a prayer for us. We need the Spirit's lifting to do anything of value at all.

Grace to you. Psalm 37:23-24 The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

27 February 2008

Why Crimea?

We are here for a specific purpose. Jeff is writing missionary training materials and preparing for his next mission trip to Armenia where he will do two events. The first is training Armenian missionaries and the second is to teach a Bible conference for believers from a closed Islamic regime. Jeff baptized nine people from an underground church last year who came out of one of these countries. This is a door God opened that we are very excited about and would appreciate your prayers.

We come to Crimea because it is a good place to hide out and not be daily, sometimes hourly, interrupted with demands that are normal on the mission field, but make getting certain tasks accomplished rather difficult. The quiet here is wonderful...until the local church discovers us, that is.

As for me, I am preparing for a girl's evangelism activity in Simferopol (Crimean Capitol) on Saturday. It will be in the Simferopol Bible Church with young girls. In addition I am preparing a pattern book to give to children's workers when I do trainings with them as I did recently with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). That event was just a few weeks ago. It was a CEF training for workers from eastern Europe. The training resulted in an invitation to Belarus to teach there and three other invitations for around Ukraine. My main purpose was to give workers a vision of the value of using crafts as a tool in their evangelism of children and their families. Praise God that He helped me to accomplish this.

Nikolaevka, The Crimea, Ukraine

Nikolaevka is a seaside resort. I say that tongue-in-cheek because it is just a sleepy little village on the shore of the Black Sea, but in summer, like mushrooms popping up after a rain, it comes alive with vendors catering to the vacationers who come here to enjoy the sea.

We arrived several days ago, but as mentioned earlier, there are communication problems that we are still working on. We hope to have that solved soon. Until then I won't be here much.

I have a funny memory of this place and our early times here. Our first seven months I had no language, we had no car and no phone, thus no computer contact. By that time, I was suffering from feelings of isolation and a bit depressed when we finally got a phone line. Then I could do email and felt like I'd gained new life. I was no longer cut off. Well, somehow, I guess through some visitors, the word got out in the village that we had a computer. From that, people conjured up the idea that we might be spies. I still laugh when I think of this, but you must remember that it was 1994 when we arrived, then computers were only in government buildings. Today that, of course, is not the case and upon arriving we discovered, in fact, that there are a couple of wi-fi hot spots in the neighborhood. Unfortunately not close enough to access. Welcome to the 21st Century Nikolaevka.

22 February 2008

The Crimea is our destination tomorrow. The plan is to rise early and make the 14 drive in one day. I say the plan, so if we schedule leaving by 6 a.m. we might get out of here by 9. Leah will be here to hold down the fort as she's working in Kiev. It may be volunteer work, but it still is treated as a job and they need her. Praise the Lord for the opportunity.

The Crimea is a peninsula in the Black Sea on the southern edge of Ukraine. It used to belong to Russia, but Khrushchev had a Ukrainian wife and so they gifted it to Ukraine. Nonetheless, it still remains rather autonomous with their own government and capitol city Simferopol. The village of Nikolaevka sits on the western side of the Crimea and was our first mission home. It is the head village of what, in Soviet times, was a collective farm over seven other villages. The population is about 4,000 and it sits right on the Black Sea. The land there is quite flat (farmland, grapes and sunflowers) and uninteresting, but on the opposite side from us (on the east) there are lovely mountains. Occasionally we get over there.

When I say village, that word here, true to form is synonymous with backwards, behind the times, out of the loop. When we moved there in 1994 we heated with a wood/coal burning stove. Our first winter was pretty chilly inside, not so much from the cold weather, but from Jeff learning how to manage a good fire. Of course, I used my feminine rights and would nudge him (the man of the house) out of bed on the cold mornings to go start the fire again before we all had to face the frosty house. By the second winter he had it pretty well figured out. There really is an art to building a fire that will last all night long. Pretty sharp guy!

Well, since I have to finish packing, I will make this short, but while there I will tell you more about our early experiences in Nikolaevka. Oh, that is, remember I said village, if we have a good enough internet connection. That is always a big question. Too-taloo!

21 February 2008

Some days on the mission field are about missions and some days are about working out the details of living. Today was one of those. Nothing happens fast or simply in Ukraine, but God uses these things to work on our character and for that we praise Him. Jeff went to the company who dug our well to find out why we still have poor water. While Jeff did that I was home with the plumbers who were taking care of the breakdowns that occurred while on furlough. Things are starting to work better Hallelujah!

Today Leah helped me organize scrapbook materials that arrived a few days ago. I must start making more examples for the classes I will be teaching. This evening Leah went to the leaders meeting for Yablonka. That is the name of a neighboring town where we have a church plant. It meets in a basement bomb shelter built in Soviet times. She works with youth girls on Saturdays there.

Our thanks to Ray and Becky Crawford of Carthage, Texas for how they so bless us along with Becky's Sunday school class for sending craft goodies. The children are so blessed and they have such joy in creating pretty things.

Thanks for your interest in coming here. God has taken good care of us and for that we praise Him. I hope to get some pictures on here in the future, but I have to figure out how to do that first.

20 February 2008


If this is your first time to visit our blog then we welcome you. You will find here some of the goings on of our day-to-day life as well as our mission work here in Ukraine and further abroad. We'll try to be serious for those of you who want to know seriously what is going on here, but we can't guarantee that this blog may not trip and fall into some silliness at times. After all, life is just too short to be serious all the time and if you can't have a little fun then things just get toooo boring.

OK, so this is Coleen writing. I'll probably be the one twisting your ear most of the time (well, I guess eye would be more appropriate) since Jeff is gone a lot or surgically attached to his computer trying to keep up with all the email. I do help with this as well, but some things the boss just has to do himself. As for Leah, well she has been pretty steeped in busyness herself, but we might be able to get her on now and then.

Now if you don't like what goes on here then you can blame Cindy Williams of Conway, Arkansas. Those of you who know this crazy lady will understand. She is the one who started all this. She sent us a blog address of one of her mannny kids, or so she thought, and it sent us directly to this "create a blog" site. Never did find the kid's site. Oh well, nice try Cindy! Now you know who to blame!

As many of you know we returned in mid-January from almost 6 months furlough in the U.S. We had a wonderful time, renewed many friendships, but sure came home (Bucha, Ukraine) tired. We always said we would rest when we got back to our own beds. However, a whirlwind of meetings and conferences was waiting for us. Now, a month later we are starting to adjust. Praise God for his mercy.

We are grateful to all who looked after us, friends and family, and for all the loving support we felt while there. What a joy, but bittersweet when you have to leave. Yes, we love all of you, but we are glad to finally be back in our own home.

Jeff started the day with one of our missionaries and a time of fellowship, reporting and prayer. Volodya is a really sharp, intelligent young man who is working to start new churches. Jeff is mentoring him and he has a sweet family with two young boys.

Later in the day Jeff went to the "banya" This is very much Ukrainian custom of steam bath. That was a time of fellowship for Jeff and Alyosha. Jeff has been mentoring Alyosha for many years. Alyosha was a former drug addict who got saved and is now in seminary and active in ministry.

With Jeff gone and our old Daihatsu trapped in the yard from the new fence built (without the gate yet) while in the U.S., I jumped a bus to the church this afternoon to meet one of the ladies there who came to help prepare crafts for Sunday school. Since it was only she and I, we had a good time of fellowship and I learned a lot about her and we got a lot done. PTL!