We are back in Kiev to begin another semester. Our return trip had its “pluses and minuses.” On the PLUS side, God gave us an amazing encounter in the airport at Atlanta. While looking for a place to sit down and eat between flights, Katya and I stood surveying the limited possibilities. Then the couple at the table nearest to us asked if we’d like to join them. We did and soon began conversations about our faith. We discovered they were believers – from Rogers, AR – From Fellowship Bible Church. We asked if they knew some people we knew from there and explained that my daughter had attended the Grove (church plant from Fellowship) but that she and her husband now attended New Heights in Fayetteville. When they asked her name and we said “Meredith Cooper,” they said they knew Sean very well! We had a wonderful time with them, and later we reflected on how wonderful (and mysterious) the providence of God is!
On the MINUS side … we flew on to Amsterdam to make our connection to Kiev. When we arrived, we walked past a flight boarding for Kiev at 9:25 am. Katya asked if we could get on that flight and I said, “No, we have the 12:55 flight.” Since I have flown this route many, many times and always have the 12:55, I didn’t even bother to check the tickets until we sat down to wait for our flight (at 9:30). I checked the tickets and guess what? Our flight was the 9:25 one! It was an expensive mistake ($500) and we had to wait until the 8:25 pm flight because there was no room on the 12:55. “Pride goes before a fall.” Next time I’ll check my tickets!
BIG PLUS … We arrived in Kiev and back home after 1 am in the morning – tired and knowing that we had no food or milk for the next day. We opened the refrigerator and it was full along with a note from our pastor and his wife welcoming us back home! We had them over for dinner (Tacos!) the next night and had a wonderful time just talking about our summers. What a joy!
BIG Minus … after being home just one day, I awoke with a terrible pain in my stomach. Eventually we headed to the clinic when the pain was too severe to wait any longer. Interestingly, I was released from this clinic just one day before we traveled to America; now one day after return, we were headed back. This time I had an acute attack of diverticulitis so I had a couple of days in the hospital while they gave me IVs and anti-biotics. I was better in a couple of days but the bill was not cheap!
The following weekend, we had our annual church planning retreat (Friday-Saturday). This year we really accomplished a lot and have many good ministry plans for the coming year (PLUS). (We are especially excited about Home Group, ESL Clubs and our Church Retreats for this year.) However, Katya and I also have many ministry commitments now that will mean much less free time for us (MINUS). For example, because of church and family, we will be travelling to the right bank (between 1 hour and an hour and a half, one way; 3 hours each night) 5 out of 7 nights a week! That’s 10-15 hours each week just riding on buses and metro. We are looking for alternatives but we are preparing for a busy semester ahead.
I begin teaching in a week (September 10th). I will be teaching Theology 3 (Christology). Be praying for me as I prepare. I will also be preaching at our church the next two Sundays. Additionally, I am trying to keep up with Russian studies. With 3 classes this fall and 4-5 next spring, I have a very busy schedule ahead. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve (PLUS) but I need to remember to say, “no,” sometimes because the needs are greater than my time (MINUS). Please pray for my preparations, my students, and my time schedule.
Continue to pray for our finances. God always surprises us by meeting our needs in various ways, but we are consistently about $1000 below our needs each month. For example, the day after I got out of the clinic, we received an email notifying us that a friend had given us $500—almost exactly what the hospital bill cost us! God knew our need and put it on the heart of a friend who did not know our need! How awesome is that? Clearly He is Jehovah-Jireh!
Thanks for being our partners in ministry! Katya and I are amazed that we have people like you helping us to serve God through your monthly gifts. Your faithfulness and generosity continues to humble us and to give thanks to God for you whenever we think of you. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” Philippians 1:3-5.