Spring has finally come to Kiev! Or maybe we should say summer. After some unusually cold weather at the beginning of April (around 30 F), the temperatures here have gotten to nearly summer levels (in the 80s) rather quickly. No complaints here! I really miss the warm weather of Arkansas and I am looking forward to the hot (and even humid) summer in Arkansas when we return home in June.
Our Visit to Crimea …
We had a little over a week this year for spring break so we decided to take a 13 hour train ride and head to the Black Sea and Crimea. The temperature was chilly, in the 30s most of the time, but it was refreshing to have the time away. During our time there, we got to relax and see many very interesting sites. We visited castles and mansions and exhibits that belonged to the Romanovs and we were able to see the palace where the Big Three (no, not from the Miami Heat), Roosevelt, Chamberlain and Stalin met to discuss the ending of World War II.
We also had many unexpected surprises at churches. When we came to the retreat center, Katya was surprised to see the director’s wife. They had met this fall at a woman’s conference in Kiev and the lady invited Katya to come to visit sometime. She did not know this was her retreat center until they saw each other! Also, at church, we were able to see a number of KTS students that we did not expect to see there. The next week, we were in Bakhchisarai for Easter so we tried to find a church on Saturday night. Bakhchisarai is a Muslim community and no one knew if there was an evangelical church. We even tried the internet but we could only find a possible address—no phone number, no directions, no information. So we decided to just show up. The church was full, the service was wonderful, and there were even two KTS students there! What a surprise!
From Yalta, we traveled to Sevastopol. We were able to visit Chersonesus, an ancient Greek settlement over 2500 years old. It was amazing. Then we visited some military sites like the Panorama of the Siege of Sevastopol (Crimean War, 1853-54). The weather had improved and we had a couple of wonderful days of sunshine and fresh breezes from the Black Sea. For our final day, we traveled to Bakhchisarai, an old Tatar palace. It was quite interesting. Afterwards, we were also able to hike through the beautiful cave cities of Chufut-kale. We slept in a small hostel with sheep and cows grazing in the yard outside! Even with the 13 hour train trip back, we returned refreshed and excited about going back again sometime in the future. (We haven’t had time to post any Facebook pictures yet…coming soon).
Classes and Graduation
I am almost finished teaching the theology classes on Pneumatology (the Holy Spirit) and Eschatology (Last Things). It was a lot of working getting prepared but the class sessions have been great. We have had good discussions and covered many important issues. I will still have papers to grade in June before the class is officially finished. Also, next week, I will begin preparing for Research and Critical Thinking class that I will teach in two weeks. This class ends on June 1st. Hopefully I can complete all the grading in June also.
On June 2nd, we will be having our graduation. It will be an exciting time to see all the students (nearly 40) I have worked with over the last 4 years who will be graduating this year. Then the week after graduation, we will head to the US for our summer vacation.
Also, in July and August, I will be teaching a “Life of Christ” class at John Brown University (in Little Rock). It has been a few years since I’ve taught this class so I will have prepare for it in the coming months too. But I’m excited about teaching the class and I also know it will provide some finances to help us too.
Thank you for praying for our “English Coffee Club” (ESL) this year. We have had more students than we planned for every meeting and the responses have been great. We left them with something spiritual to think about including a Bible verse to translate and discuss. Pray for the many seeds that have been sown!
Also, thank you for praying for our “Key to the Heart” seminar/retreat (about men/women relationships). Katya and I were involved in getting speakers together and in organizing the details. We delegated most of the details to university students in the church and they did everything with excellence! Also, the messages and studies were great. All the messages had a common theme: It is more important to be serving the Lord than looking for a marriage partner. Jim even taught a seminar on Ministry and Marriage, showing how the same character qualities necessary for a good marriage are the same skills that are developed in ministry. Thanks again for praying for us!
Finally, keep praying for me and my Russian studies. As usual, I have not had much time to work specifically on Russian. I try to read daily and work on new vocabulary words but I need to put in a more concentrated effort. We are planning to work on Russian every day while we are in the states and I will be giving greater priority to this in the fall too.
Finally, be praying for my daughter, Joy. She has been going through some great difficulties and her husband has moved to New York. We are looking forward to being home this summer to encourage her and also to be grandparents to the kids who desperately need a father-figure.
Also, be praying for us as we raise support and visit supporters this summer. Our plans are to use most of June for this. We will travel to see friends and supporters in KY, NC, VA, CT, NY and OH. (If we can find time in July, we might try to see supporters in FL too and also visit family there—but we’ll see). Pray for good travel together (we will be camping again most of the time to save money—and we like it!) and also for encouraging visits with friends and opportunities to share our ministry with new friends too!
Thank you for being our support team members! We are so blessed that the few who do support us are so generous and so faithful! May the Lord bless you for your partnership with us in this ministry!
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