28 February 2010

Small Group Ministry

Jeff sits at the head of the table as he lead this Friday night small group meeting. This group consists of the major leaders in the church. We have been praying for this type of small group ministry to grow in the church. Our prayer is that from this group they will grow to many groups.

26 February 2010

Kristina Gray: Quotes from Preface to “The Whisperers”

Kristina is a friend and fellow missionary working in Kazakhstan. She is a university level teacher and is helping in the establishment of a new university for Kazakhstan. I share here with you her notes and comments of a book she's reading as it is information that applies to what all the former Soviet Republics experienced under Stalin's regime of terror.

I haven’t finished reading yetThe Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia by Orlando Figes but I have really enjoyed reading the first third of this very detailed book describing the brokenness in many Russian families. However, this is about Russia and the author is a Russophile to the exclusion of other countries and cultures who suffered as much, if not more, than the Russians did during Stalin’s reign of terror. [My own comments are in brackets, I can't help myself!!!]

Preface 31 “A silent and conformist population is one lasting consequence of Stalin’s reign. [wow, how's that for leaving a legacy of brokenness?]

Pre 32 “Historians have been slow to enter the inner world of Stalin’s Russia. Until recently, their research was concerned mostly with the public sphere, with politics and ideology and with the collective experience of the “soviet masses.” The individual – in so far as he appeared at all – featured mainly as a letter-writer to the authorities (i.e. as a public actor rather than as a private person or family member). The private sphere of ordinary people was largely hidden from view. [the same might be written about the culture of Kazakhstan where writing was not as important as telling stories orally, they DO have stories, just not in the written form!!!]

Pre 33 “But while these memoirs speak a truth for many people who survived the Terror, particularly for the intelligentsia strongly committed to ideals of freedom and individualism, they do not speak for the millions of ordinary people, including many victims of the Stalinist regime, who did not share this inner freedom or feeling of dissent, but on the contrary, silently accepted and internalized the system’s basic values, conformed to its public rules and perhaps collaborated in the perpetration of its crimes.” [I suppose there are Kazakhs who did conform and even perpetrated some of the Soviet crimes among their own people...I have heard stories]

Pre 34 “According to some, it was practically impossible for the individual to think or feel outside the terms defined by the public discourse of Soviet politics, and any other thoughts or emotions were likely to be felt as a ‘crisis of the self’ demanding to be purged from the personality.”

“The Soviet mentalities reflected in this book in most cases occupied a region of the consciousness where older values and beliefs had been suspended or suppressed; they were adopted by people, not so much from a burning desire to ‘become Soviet’ as from a sense of shame and fear.” [using fear is a terrible motivation to change, can still be used in teaching practices today]

Pre 35 “…a way to make sense of their suffering, which without this higher purpose might reduce them to despair…

Such mentalities are less often reflected in Stalin-era diaries and letters – whose content was generally dictated by Soviet rules of writing and propriety what did not allow the acknowledgement of fear – than they are in oral history. Historians of the Stalinist regime have turned increasing to the techniques of oral history. Like any other discipline that is hostage to the tricks of memory, oral history has its methodological difficulties, and in Russia, a nation taught to whisper, where the memory of Soviet history is overlaid with myths and ideologies, these problems are especially acute.” [sad but true]

Having lived in a society where millions were arrested for speaking inadvertently to informers, many older people are extremely wary of talking to researchers wielding microphones (devices associated with the KGB). From fear or shame or stoicism, these survivors have suppressed their painful memories. Many are unable to reflect about their lives, because they have grown so accustomed to avoiding awkward questions about anything, not least their own moral choices at defining moments of their personal advancement in the Soviet system. Others are reluctant to admit to actions of which they are ashamed, often justifying their behaviour by citing motives and beliefs that they have imposed on their pasts. Despite these challenges, and in many ways because of them, oral history has enormous benefits for the historian of private life, provided it is handled properly. [Yes, let's hear it for oral history and qualitative research!!!]

Pre 36 “For three quarters of a century the Soviet system exerted its influence on the moral sphere of the family, no other totalitarian system had such a profound impact on the private lives of its subjects, not even Communist China. [wow, that's pretty bad!!!]

Check out http://www.orlandofiges.com

Pre 37 “The population of the Gulag’s labour camps and ‘special settlements’ peaked not in 1938 but in 1953 and the impact of this long reign of terror continued to be felt by millions of people for many decades after Stalin’s death.” [that's a LOT of people who were affected by Stalin and his regime of terror, even after his death!]

20 February 2010

Dana's Kazakh Family Story, Life in USSR

Please keep in mind as you read this interesting story that for this university student English is a second language. You can google Kristina Gray Kazakhstan for more stories.

Dana’s Relative was famous among the girls and broke many hearts!!!

I want to tell you one story about my grandparent. My grandfather Kabulda lived in the village Maikain with his 3 brothers, 2 sisters and mother near the Pavlodar city. My Grand-grandmother married when she was 13 years old and gave birth for the first baby at this age. She was a long-liver person and died when she was more than 100. The father of my grandfather died during the World War II when my grandfather was 6 years old.

All the brothers were very famous, beautiful and popular in their village, especially among the girls. The elder brother was the strongest and most popular so that everyone who knew him were afraid him. But the jealousy among the girls was too much. And in order not to have him with anybody they drowned him in the lake.

As stated earlier, it was after the World War II. At that time Kazakhstan was different from how it is now. Most of the people who lived in the villages led a simple life, no education. There was no police, no government or president. At that time Kazakhs lived like in tribes. So, most people were uneducated. My grandfather and his brothers was a aftotitet people in the village.

The elder brother was the most popular, aftoritet, beautiful person with charisma. He was famous among the girls and he was not married till he was in his 30s. For Kazakh mentality to be a beautiful, not married till 30 for man was unacceptable. The girls of the village killed him. All the girls who had been deceived by him drowned him in the lake. I think that he promised everything to every girl sometning and didn’t do that.

The ancestry of my grandfather was closely related to the mathematics, and most of them were scientists. My grandparent was also closely related to the mathematics, but he became an accountant and then a financial director. When he was young he was in Olympic reserve, long –distance runner. But because of injury he left sport. He didn’t marry until he was in his 30s, at that time most of the guys married before 23-24. He was smart, a man of handsome presence. On the wedding of his brother he met a girl. First that he mentioned was the way that she dressed and gloves on her hand. She was so beautiful, fashionable and young, and he fell in love to my grandmother Kalimash. It was love from the first sight. Love…at he’s 30s he met his love. They decided to marry, but Kalimash was sister of the wife of his brother. All the relatives were against of this marriage. However, love became stronger and relatives couldn’t block their way. And they get married. From this marriage they have 3 girls and one boy. The first baby is my mom.

19 February 2010

Winter in Ukraine

In 16 years I've never seen the snow pile and stand up on our picket fence like that.

After the first month I gave up trying to keep the weight of snow off the pine branches.

Jeff was digging his way to the mailbox. All this was in early December. It is deeper now, but we know spring will come in a couple months. It's winter that makes us so grateful for the spring and short summer.

16 February 2010

VintageTerrace2 Online Shop (My Etsy)

Some of you have already seen our online shop and we've already made sales. The things on here are all sold without profit motive, but are sold to use for missions work in Ukraine. I teach art classes to various groups and the proceeds from this shop go to providing scrapbooks and other items to the children and adults we work with. For those of you who have donated items we are ever grateful for our privilege and ability to be of service here in this capacity. I love what I do and the big payoff is the joy on their faces when they've created something they admire. God has given me a unique tool for witnessing the love of Christ through teaching. Thank you to all who have been a part of making this possible. Please take a look at the things in our shop and see if there is not something there that catches your fancy.

Youth Gathering

This group was led by one of our BMA Missionaries in Ukraine named Alyosha Pivovar. Alyosha has been leading youth since the late 90's. Jeff discipled him for many years and he has been working on his own for years now. He also married last year and is expecting his first child this spring. We are proud to see God using this former drug addict in his work for His Kingdom.

11 February 2010

Nikolaevka Church

Some of you know that we used to live in the Crimean village of Nikolaevka where we helped start a church that is still meeting today. It has been on their hearts to build a church and they are trusting that this is something that would be pleasing to the Lord. Such endeavors are difficult in the Ukraine since most live on an averagge of $400 per month. Please pray with us that they will accomplish this and God would provide.
Aerial view from the rooftop next door. Family life, camp center and Sunday school rooms will be in this first building to the left. This is where they will meet once it is done until the time the church is built. Church for now is just a foundation to the right where you see all the blocks.

The pastor, Sergey

09 February 2010

Heat in Bethany Church

The good news is that our heating has been funded for the furnace at the church. The new furnace will be more efficient and less costly. The bad news is that it can't be done until spring. Right now we are heating with wood and coal and while it doesn't do what gas does in the church, there is some warmth from it. Yes, we are still wearing our coats and hats through the service (and I wear my gloves), but to install the furnace now would mean a lengthy time of no heat whatsoever and besides the comfort issue, there would be the danger of busting pipes and the impossibility for workers to do installation under such conditions. That said, we are happy we will be getting heat and we understand the Lord has a time of testing for us to go through the winter with little heat. Unfortunately, attendance has gone way down, but we expect it will pick up again when the weather moderates. Praise God with us in this answer to prayer. Our next project will be replacing the drafty old wood windows so things will be more efficient. Maybe your Sunday school class would consider replacing one window. To Him be the glory and honor.

Presidential Elections in Ukraine

"Unofficially, Yanukovich has won the presidential election. GOD IS IN CONTROL! We will wait to see what kind of things God has planned for us. Yanukovich has strong ties to Russia, which if Ukraine goes the way of Russia, it is bad news for missionary activity in Ukraine."

"The worst scenario ...we have to leave. The best scenario ...we get to stay."

These are the words of some dear fellow missionaries here in Ukraine, but they express so well what all missionaries now are thinking and feeling. Many missionaries over the years have left Belarus and Russia due to an unfriendly climate towards them there. Many of them came to Ukraine. We know that God holds kings in the palm of his hand, so we are trusting in Him.

08 February 2010

A Little Uplift

Listen to this wonderful song by Casting Crowns to put a lift on your day and joy in your heart. This is why we are here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqk53sAxLmg

Fishing in Ukraine

In America fishing is done mostly for sport. This shot was taken last fall as we traveled west. You can see by the fur had and heavy coat that it is cold out there. Fishing here is done for sustenance, for living. In the winter it changes. They do ice fishing as everything freezes over so they cut holes in the ice. And sadly, sometimes fishermen fall through and drown. This is life in Ukraine.


Hello Friends,

Just wanted to mention that you can follow this blog in one of two ways (or both). You can find the Feedblitz gadget on the right and and it will deliver a message to your inbox each time I update with a new post. Or you can push the "Follow" button (also on the right) and I will have your lovely picture up here and can write to you directly from here. I think ideal is to do both. Have a great day, blessed in the Lord.

Coleen and Jeff

07 February 2010

Children's Evangelism, Bucha, Ukraine

I am slowly getting caught up on my blogging. This was one of our Children's Christmas evangelism events for which we really had a full house. We do this annually, so people in the our town have come to expect it and some to attend our church after each event.

04 February 2010

Last fall we traveled to western Ukaine to be with two of our missionary families. Here is the Roman Revak family minus their two sons. These precious people are all involved in the ministry of the church. The two girls worked with us in a kid's camp in Morshen, Ukraine along with our Volunteer Student Missionaries (VSM) who came from the states led by Jamie Morgan of Little Rock. The girls speak English as do many of the youth in Ukraine. Their father, Roman teaches at the seminary in Stree and is a pastor in the same town. Please pray for this dear family as they drive a 25 year old car in constant need of repair. Pray for God's care for them.

03 February 2010

Aspects of Ukrainian Culture

What particularly fascinated Jeff and I about this grave yard was that it was placed on the top of a Scythian mound. For all the years we have traveled Ukraine it is the first we have found atop the many mounds that dot the countryside, particularly in Southern Ukraine. "The Scythians were members of a nomadic people originally OF IRANIAN STOCK WHO MIGRATED FROM CENTRAL ASIA TO SOUTHERN RUSSIA IN THE 8TH AND 7TH CENTURIES BC."(http://history-world.org/scythians.htm). If you are a history buff like me, you can read more about the Scythians in this short Wikepedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scythians. Their map shows Ukraine to be in the area called Sarmatia.
A new freshly buried grave yet to receive it's headstone.
One of the traditions here is that of a memorial day, much as we have in the west, but similarities stop there. The weeks prior to this day in May people come to clean up the grave sites from the fall and winter. This is when they plant new flowers. On their memorial day they come for a picnic which is why you have this little table and benches. They drink vodka and toast to the lost relative and then they leave food and drink on the grave site to appease the spirit of the dead.
This old grave is left uncared for because the custom in Ukraine is the relatives care for the grave sites individually. The slanted lower bar indicates they were of the Orthodox faith, which since independence of Ukraine has rather become the "state" religion.

Forgotten grave, or maybe the relatives are all gone now as well. Tiles stacked? I have no idea why.

01 February 2010

Alexander's Father

Alxander’s Grandfather got “Baptism of Fire” in Moscow Battle
Another story from the class of Kristina Gray

My ancestors from the father’s side were farmers and lived in Ukraine, which at that time was part of Russia. In the beginning of 1900s the agrarian reform of the Russian government allowed people who lived in European part of Russia to move to the low populated areas in the Asian part. The government provided people with agricultural land. The family of my great-grandfather Aphanasiy decided to use this opportunity and moved to the Northern Kazakhstan in 1910. Land which he got from government allowed my great-grandfather to develop a strong farm with several employees. In 1914 my grandfather Ivan was born.

This period did not last long because of the 1917 revolution and at once it started the Civil War. During this unstable time, the family of my grandfather collided with great difficulties such as shortage of food, and threat from the new Soviet regime. In early 1930s, the Soviet government decided to conduct intensive industrialization. It was decided to provide enough food for urban population by forced Collectivization. As a result, the land and all harvest of wheat done by my ancestors became state ownership.

In 1941 Great Patriotic War started and my grandfather served in the army at that time and immediately was drafted to the front. He arrived at the front in winter to get a “baptism of fire” in the battle near Moscow, but he was injured in the first combat and went to the hospital. When he recovered, he was sent to the biggest tank battle in 1943 that took place near Russian city Kursk and so was called “Kursk’s Arc”. In 1944 he took part in the liberation of Baltic countries. Since my grandfather had good handwriting, he worked on staff before the end of War, so he no longer participated in operations.

After the War he worked as an accountant at a leather factory. He could reach a great age despite the serious wound that he got during the War as he had a splinter from a grenade in his body. Unfortunately, I almost do not remember my grandfather as I was a child when he died. However, I am delighted with my grandfather because he had to live in a very hard time and defend the motherland from enemies with risk to life.

Small Group Ministry

Jeff led this small group meeting in the neighboring town of Irpen. We have prayed about this, preached about it (Jeff, that is) and talked about it and the Lord is starting to answer prayer as more small groups are starting in the church. We feel like small groups are the lifeblood of the church and needed for it to grow. Pray along with us that the Lord would raise up more small group leaders.

Choir Ministry

Here is a recent performance in Bethany Baptist Church of the adult choir. Jeff and I got involved by request from the choir director about a year ago. Now he has informed everyone in the choir that this year we are taking our choir ministry more on the road to other churches. We've done this just once before and it was a blessing. I pray the Lord will use us as he sees fit.