Visa-Go-Round

Visa-go-round

(November Update)

Well, the visa saga continues.

After we returned from Poland, we started the next step in the process of getting my visa here for Ukraine.  We were told to go to the local OViR (Office of Registrations) to get the 45 day visa changed into a 1 year visa as required by law.  First, we have to find this office. We began with the website to get the location and the times they are open.  As usual, it was conveniently hidden away off the main road (why do they always do this?).  But we found it.  Only one problem—it is closed the day we come in spite of the fact that the website saying it is open.  While there, Katya read a number of the posters and discovered that I also need a medical exam proof of residence, and their national insurance—all news to us!

 

So, we return home and I check with the Baptist Union.  They say that they don’t know what documents are required so we should ask the local OViR Office because each one has different requirements (Now this at least sounds familiar!).  So Katya calls the office and they say they don’t know what is needed and they don’t process those kind of visas.  I need to go to the Central OViR Office instead of the local one.  They don’t have the number or the address so Katya finds it on the internet and calls.  They tell her they don’t know what I need unless they see my passport and current visa and letters of invitation.  We can’t tell them over the phone—we have to bring all the documents to their office (of course, on the other end of town from the OViR). 

 

So we go to OViR Central Office.  By the way, this is also well-hidden, even more than the local OViR Office.  Even when we ask for directions on the street, we are told to go through an alley, past a kindergarten and past some boxes and it will be there.  As a few tries and asking some more people, we finally found the offices.  I’m sure some Soviet planner decided in the 1940s that, if they were ever invaded by America, our forces would first find the OViR Offices and then America would have all the records of their people from kindergarten to the present.  But we fooled them!  Americans don’t even know what an OViR is so they would never look for it to begin with. But I digress …

 

We get to the Central OViR and (after the “compulsory wait”) the lady asked what kind of visa I have.  We tell her and she says she won’t receive our documents—the inviting agency must bring the documents.  She doesn’t want missionaries coming in to her office everyday with documents.  We need to contact Dema at the Baptist Union and he will bring the documents to the office.  “Dema who?” we ask.  How should she know? she says, there are many Demas.  SO we go to the Baptist Union and wait there.  Eventually we run out of time.  Now one of the Baptist Union men who helps missionaries with visas (not Dema) trying to figure out what documents we need.  He said he was told that the Central Office does not want foreigners coming into the office.  We are meeting this week to try to get this figured out. He said the process is complicated and expensive.  We’ll see.  Hopefully we will have some more information this week.  Keep praying …

 

ESL Clubs have been going great.  We have a number of students and we are working with them nearly every Sunday morning before church.  Please pray for us as we prepare to teach and build relationships with these students. 

 

Also, we continue to lead a small group Bible Study this year.  It has been going great too.  Most of those in the group know English so we have been having Bible Study in English.  We have been looking at origins in Genesis and have had some very interesting discuyssions.  Pray for us as we prepare and as we minister to those who are part of our small group.

 

I’m not working on Russian as much as I need or want.  I really need to be but I have so much to do to get ready for my November classes.

 

This month I will be teaching two classes back to back. I will teach Church History (November 7-18) and World History (November 21-December 2).  It will be a very busy month.  Be praying that I can be clear in teaching and that the studies will help these students as they prepare for ministry.

 

Please continue to pray about our support levels.  We are trying to add 11 people to our support team.  Our support has been consistently more than a $1000 short each month since January and we are managing by using savings and reducing costs everywhere we can.  But we would like to add more people to our support team.  Right now, we have only 19 very generous people (about 10 give regularly).  So we want to focus, on so much on the money that we need, but on adding more people to our team.  This month we added one new person to our support team!  I will be sending out some more letters this month to ask for their support.  Please pray that God will put a burden on the hearts of some to become part of our support team and help with the work we do here in Ukraine!

 

Thank you again for your support and your prayers.  It is because of you that we are able to minister here in Ukraine.

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Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates

Ready for Classes … (September Update)

We’ve been back in Kiev for nearly a month getting things ready for this semester.  Classes began a couple of weeks ago but my first class does not begin until September 12th.  I’ll be teaching Christology to third year students.  I’m working on notes for this class right now.  Be praying for me as I teach next week.  I spent much of the first few weeks getting our computers running again.  We had to replace our computer here in Ukraine and, the same week, the computer in Arkansas failed too!  Thanks to the help of Johnnie Baker in Cabot, our computers are now operating again (even better than before).  Katya has also been especially busy with admitting new students and with getting everything organized in the Registrar’s Office for this semester.  Thanks for praying for us as we have transitioned back into the ministry here after a wonderful summer in the US.
At our church (Open Hearts), we are preparing to begin ESL classes.  This is an important outreach for our church.  Many young people want to learn English and so they will come to ESL classes at our church.  Last year, we had nearly 40 students.  Through the ESL classes, we build relationships and invite the students to a Bible Study.  There are usually only a few who will come to the Bible Study.  But many of the students who are now at our church came to faith through this outreach (and through the summer ESL camp).  Please pray for us as we prepare to build relationships with these students.
Also at our church, Katya and I were asked to be in charge of Christian Education and Discipleship.  This will be a big responsibility for us.  It includes coordinating Sunday School, small groups, retreats and discipleship.  Also, we are planning to have daily Bible Study sheets to prepare people for the message each Sunday (“Green Sheets” for those of you at the Bible Church of Cabot).  We are beginning the book of Genesis next week.  Be praying as we start to preach through this foundational book of the Bible.
I’m continuing to work on Russian.  I’ve been trying to do 3-4 hours each day but I also have to spend time working on classes too.  It is difficult to juggle my time schedule between teaching, church ministry and language studies, especially when I need to be giving full-time to study Russian.  But I’m seeing improvement, especially in my listening and comprehension.
Most important thing to be praying for right now is my visa renewal.  This is something I have to do every year.  This year, my visa expires on December 1st.  That means I have to leave the country and go to a Ukrainian Embassy outside Ukraine to renew the visa before December 1st.  Right now, we are trying to get documents together to renew it in Krakow, Poland. This is the closest and least expensive place to go.  We are going to go in October because I will be teaching every week in November.  We are hoping that we can get the renewal date changed to something like August 1st so I can renew when I am in the states for the summer. Be praying that I can get all my documents processed before we leave.  I need letters of invitation for the Baptist Union and from the Ministry of Religious Affairs.  It’s not hard but it can take some time (and money!).  Also, pray for Katya’s visa process.  One complication we constantly run into is that she needs a visa to go to any of the EU countries (I don’t).  I need a visa to go to any of the former USSR republics (she doesn’t).  So nearly every time we have to travel somewhere (except the US), one of us needs to get a visa.  It’s complicated and a little expensive too.  Pray that everything goes smoothly.
Please continue to pray about our support levels.  This week I am beginning to send out letters to other friends about becoming part of our support team.  Right now, we have 19 people who faithfully support us here.  We would like to think in terms of people added to our support team rather than focusing on the money needed.  Be praying that we can add at least 11 more people in the coming months.
On our website, there are two links with short YouTube videos that show something about the impact this ministry is having.  Check them out when you get a chance! Church Planting Video clip … KTS Students graduating at Talbot Theological Seminary.
Thank you again for your support and your prayers.  I’ve always understood how important support was to missionaries – but now, living in another country, my appreciation has greatly increased!!! Thank you for making it possible for us to minister here in Ukraine.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life.  Psalm 36:7-9

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Back in Kiev (August Update)

We arrived back in Kiev last week and returned to find out that we have no hot water for 20 days (annual pipe cleaning)!  No problem – this is a regular (minor) issue in Kiev and Katya has years of experience in living without hot water.  I’m learning—but it really has not been bad.  The hot water should be back on next week.  Plus three weeks of camping in National Parks and Forests this summer prepared me too.  Even so, I’m looking forward to hot water showers again!
We returned to the seminary to see many changes.  Some remodeling is being done to improve the bathrooms and so there is dust everywhere.  Hopefully it will be finished by the time students come next week.  Also, there are a lot fewer professors here this year.  A few retired last year and so they will not be returning.  Also, some have had to return to the states for medical reasons.  Finally, we have quite a few who will be gone this year on furlough, including our academic dean who will be in the states working on his dissertation.
In short, there are very few people at the seminary right now so it is pretty quiet here.  Also they are not serving lunch at the school yet so we have had the joy of having some professors over to our apartment for lunch.  What a blessing it is to be so close to the seminary!
Next Tuesday (August 23), we begin interviews and testing for prospective students.  This is a very important time at the seminary when we are introducing potential students to the school and its programs (degree tracks) and also interviewing them to make decisions about their entry.  We have programs in Bible, Pastoral Leadership, Youth Ministry, Chaplaincy, Christian Education and Missions on the bachelor’s level. We also offer accredited Master’ degree programs in Biblical Counseling, Youth Ministry, and Biblical Studies.  So please be praying for us as we interview students next week.
I will be teaching a full load again this year – three classes in the fall and three more in the spring.  This fall, I will teach Christology, Church History and World History.  In the Spring, I will be teaching Theology 4 (Eschatology and Pneumatology), Homiletics 2 and Research & Critical Thinking.  Even with all these classes, my main goal this year will be to work on learning Russian.  I have 3-4 hours a day scheduled to work on Russian (except for the weeks I teach).  Because my teaching schedule does not allow for consistent lessons, I will be trying to learn on my own with Katya’s help.  It will be much more difficult this way but it seems to be the only way with my schedule.  Be praying for me as I work on learning every day this year.
Our summer in the US was wonderful!  We were able to visit 4 different churches and see a number of friends and supporters briefly.  Most of all, we were able to spend time with family in Arkansas and then we had a great “family reunion” (all my kids and grandkids except for Joel, Alyssa and little Lucas) with Debbie’s’ parents and brother & sister in Sarasota, Florida.  We also travelled to the other side of Florida to visit my dad and the MacKenzies from Connecticut.  On our own, Katya and I spent 3 weeks in a tent visiting places like the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains.   It was wonderful!  The splendor of God’s creation was overwhelming.  We have more pictures than you can imagine (which you are welcome to see them on Picasa if you send me a request by email).  Our time this summer was both relaxing and refreshing after one of the busiest years I can remember!
We really did not have the opportunity to work on fund raising so we will be trying to do some this fall.  We are thinking more about adding new supporters to our support team rather than trying to raise a certain dollar amount.  This way the focus will be on people not money (I don’t like raising funds ).  We currently have 19 regular supporters.  We would like to have at least 30 people on our support team by December.  Pray with us over the coming months that we can effectively communicate with at least 11 more people about the ministry of Teaching Resources and involve them as part of our support team.  You have all been an amazing blessing with both prayer and finances through the last 16 years (amazing!) and we cannot express how grateful we are for your prayers and support!  Thanks for being part of our team as we minster here in Kiev!

Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates

Quick Prayer Requests, April

Here are a couple of things coming up in the next few weeks that we would appreciate your prayers for.
Pray for Belgium to grant Katya a visa so she can travel with me to Belgium when I teach there.  Right now, the Embassy is not granting her a visa even though we have been sending additional documents every day.  This has been going on for over a week and we definitely need you to pray for them to grant her a visa soon.  We leave on April 25th.
Pray for my class preparations and teaching in Belgium.  I have been very busy and I’m behind in getting everything ready for this class.
Pray for my class preparations for the Research and Critical Thinking class that will be going on when in Kiev when I return.  I am meeting with another professor to help her to teach the days when I will still be in Belgium.
Pray for my time to get papers graded for the World History class I am currently teaching online.
Pray for Katya and I as we begin to help with an ESL class at our church beginning this Sunday.  Our church has a great ministry through teaching English and has reached many with the gospel through this ministry.  This year, we have had over 40 students in the ESL class that meets before church.  An American couple who helped with this ministry has moved to Romania and so we are helping out (along with one other American professor).  Pray for us all (Ukrainians and Americans) especially as we begin the Bible Study phase of the ESL training.  There will be many spiritual questions for us all to answer!
We are also excited to have our first visitor from the US!  David Myers (actually he is studying near Vienna, Austria) will be visiting us for a week.  He arrives this Saturday. It will be great to see him and spend time with him before we head out to Belgium!
Finally, we had a great retreat last weekend with our church.  Katya and I both taught a couple of seminars on Dating and Relationships.  It was a great conference and all the speakers did an excellent job.  We had college and young adults from 4 different churches.  Thanks for praying for us!

Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates

April Update

Here is just a quick update (because I am CRAZY busy!)
I returned from the States on Monday, March 28th and immediately began teaching class on Tuesday, March 29th.  This is a class on Prayer for Church Planters.  The professor scheduled to come from the States and tech the class had some scheduling conflicts and had to cancel.  So we had no one to teach the class.  But it has been a really great class.  The students have been very attentive and full of excellent questions.  Also, it has been great having my pastor, Sergey Bochko, translating the class.  He is not only a great translator; he knows the Word and often provides great insights and questions too!
I’ll be teaching this class the rest of this week (Monday-Thursday, April 4-7) and then I will be teaching at our church’s retreat youth (Key to the Heart) starting on Friday!  Sergey and I will be teaching on Satan’s Lies about Purity on Friday night; Katya and I will be teaching a class about Strengthening your marriage on Saturday; and Katya will be teaching the ladies on Biblical Femininity also on Saturday.  Be praying for us all (and the other teachers too) and for those who attend.
Also, I am teaching an on-line class in World History and I have papers to grade every week.  And I also have papers to grade from the Talbot class I taught here in March.  And I have to get ready to teach Issues in Theology in Belgium in two weeks.  And I have to prepare to co-teach a class on Research and Writing with Natalie Tereschenko the week after I return from Belgium!!!!
Because of all of this (teaching every week except 3 from now until June 10th!), I have stopped taking Russian lessons (which I need very badly).  I’m still learning and understanding more but pray that I can have some time to work on Russian every day too.
My time in America was very good even though it was short.  I was able to do the tax work needed, teach two men’s groups, meet with many friends and supporters, and spend some time with my children and gradchildren!
Finally, continue to pray for finances.  Ours were a little low last month but that is true for just about everyone I know.  But God knows and that matters most.  Please pray that He will encourage the hearts of some to become partners with us in this important ministry.  Thank you so much for your support and prayers!

Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates

Wisdom (Needed!) (March Update, 2011)

So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12 (NASB)
Ready to Teach… Again, and again, and again, and again, and again!
I am still working on lectures for my next class and it is fast approaching.  The class is for the Talbot Master’s program, “The Theology and Practice of Prayer.”  This is the first time I have taught this class so I am working very hard to get everything together.  I am excited about a class that integrates both practice and theology.  Be praying for me as I teach it and for the students in the class.  Pray that we will all grow in our prayer lives through this course.
At the same time, I am also putting together an online-class World History class at KTS for some graduating students who need this class to be able to study in US and European programs.  This is much more difficult that I imagined.  I’m not the most computer-savvy person so my learning curve has been pretty steep!  I have to get the online materials all posted before Wednesday (March 2) because we have an orientation meeting that day.  Then I will be grading and interacting with this class for the next 6-8 weeks.  Pray that I can be efficient in my use of time while teaching this class.
Finally, I am working on Contemporary Issues in Theology that I will be teaching in Belgium at the end of April and I will be working with one of my students in the Talbot program to co-teach the Critical Thinking and Writing 1 that I designed last year.  We will be teaching this class in May at KTS.  I also just learned that I am needed to teaching Critical Thinking and Writing 2 at the end of May too!  So April and May and early June will be very busy!
Decisions, decisions, decisions!
The last few weeks have been a scramble to make some decisions about classes that I will teach.  I am still in the decision making process because I am trying to teach less so I can work more on Russian.  I missed about half of my lessons this year because of time conflicts and I’m trying to protect some of my time for language studies.  I wanted to avoid teaching any new classes (which take 3 times as long to develop), but the need for teachers is also great.  So I’m probably going to be teaching some new ones too.
Here is what I am tentatively looking at for next year … Exposition of Genesis (September; new class for me); Church History 1 (November) and World History (November).  This will mean teaching back-to-back classes in November which is very tiring.  Then in the spring, I will be teaching Theology and Spirituality (end of January; new course for me), Homiletics 2 (March; new class for me), Theology 4 (March; new class for me); and Critical Thinking and Writing 1 (May).
As you can see, there are a lot of needs.  Please be praying for me as I make some decisions about these classes in the coming weeks.  I’m also going to need to work on alternative ways to do Russian for the next few months.  Because of my schedule, I will only be able to make 9 out of 32 lessons.  So, Katya and I are going to work through some Russian textbooks together.  Pray that I will stay disciplined so I can work on Russian.
Home in March … Short time, but I’m excited!
I have been praying about getting back to Arkansas this spring for a short visit.  I really need to work on taxes (both personal and corporate) and I have a number of other Teaching Resources tasks that I cannot do from here.  Johnnie Baker (The Bible Church of Cabot) has set up a VPN (I think) to my home computer so I am able to do a lot from Kiev (amazing—Thanks, Johnnie!).  But there are still some things I need to set up while I’m there too.  Also, Joy is working and needs someone to watch her kids during the day.  So, I will get to come home, get some work done, pick up some books to bring back, and get to spend time with my grandchildren.  The only negative is that Katya has to stay and work at the seminary—a reminder to me of how important she is to the seminary!
One concern was finances for the trip.  But God supplies in amazing ways!  A couple of weeks ago, we received an email from the Albrights and the International Church of Milan in Italy—they provided a gift to cover the cost of flying back for that week!  Without us even asking!  Wow!  God’s people are so amazing!!!
I will be home the week of March 18-26.  I will be teaching at the Men’s breakfast on March 19th at the Bible Church of Cabot and then with a group of men in North Little Rock at Jim Boles’s home on Saturday morning, March 26th.  In both groups, we will be looking at theology and prayer (How Our View of God Affects our Prayer).  Be praying for me as I teach these two times.
And on my flight through DC, I will get to spend the night with Joel, Alyssa and Lucas!
Prayer Needs
Wisdom about time usage…  Continue to pray for me about this.
Class Preparations… I have five (!) classes that I am preparing for right now.  I also have papers that I am grading from the last class in January and will soon have papers from the Talbot class and the World History class.  Pray that I can complete everything quickly.
Russian … Continue to pray that I can find more time for my Russian.
Our Church … Open Hearts Church in Kiev is really a wonderful blessing for us.  We love the worship, the teaching and the small groups!  Pray for Pastor Sergy Bochko and his wife, Natasha, as they led this new church.  We have ESL clubs on Sunday mornings before church that have over 40 non-believers coming!  Pray for these to build relationships and to hear the gospel.
Finances … It is amazing how being a missionary teaches you dependence and gratitude!  We are so grateful for each of you who support us each month!  Please pray that a few more can join our support team.  We have all we need but things are tight financially here.  Also, pray for the Seminary itself.  Finances are the lowest they have ever been and we have about one month’s worth of operating funds.  Ukraine has had nearly double inflation in the past few years and this has had an impact on the school’s finances.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support … we could not be here doing this ministry without your help!

Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates

So Much to Do … So Little Time (February Update, 2011)

Class Completed! (Whew…)
Last Friday, I finished teaching the Critical Thinking and Writing II class!  It was a lot of work but I think it benefited the students greatly.  The class involved analyzing short stories for characters, settings, plots, etc.  Every day, we examined a different short story, looked at biblical applications and then students had to write a critical essay.  This was a class I designed so that we could meet accreditation requirements for US and European schools and it went very well!  Many of the students said it will be a great help in developing a biblical worldview and in understanding for biblical interpretation.  Thank you for praying.
Preparations! (Ugh…)
I am currently working on another new class, “The Theology and Practice of Prayer” that I will teach at KTS in March for our Talbot Masters Degree program.  I am working about 4-6 hours a day getting together notes and Powerpoint presentations for this class.  I am excited about teaching it and I am praying that the class will benefit all of us (teacher included) in deepening our prayer lives.  Also, at the end of February and into April, I will be teaching an online-class World History class at KTS for some graduating students who need this class to be able to study in US and European programs. Additionally, I am working on Contemporary Issues in Theology that I will be teaching in Belgium at the end of April.  Finally, I will be working with one of my students in the Talbot program to co-teach the Critical Thinking and Writing 1 that I designed last year.  We will be teaching this class in May at KTS.
As you can see, I am slightly overwhelmed with all the classes I am preparing and teaching this semester.  In twelve months, I will have taught 5 new courses!  Usually a new course takes 3-4 times as much preparation as teaching a class that you have taught before.  One professor said that this is way beyond the normal teaching load.  And I have been trying to take Russian classes also.  But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now and I am committed to not teaching any new classes until I have completed my Russian studies.
Grateful for so much!
January has been a wonderful time being back here in Kiev.  Our church and small group continue to be a real blessing to us.  Last Sunday, the church celebrated its five year anniversary.  It was wonderful… great worship, great message and a full house (pictures on Facebook).  Also, I will be preaching at two churches this month.  Pray that the messages will be helpful to the believers here.
Also, the weather has been much warmer than normal (but that may not last long).  We have also been able to use or apartment for hosting a number of people overnight that last few weeks.  Finally, Katya and I were able to take some time to go to see the Nutcracker Ballet in Kiev for only about $8 a ticket… it was wonderful!… One of those small pleasure s that mean so much when you need a break.  And Monday night, Katya and I will be getting together with some other missionaries here to watch a replay of the Super Bowl.  It will be great fellowship and also a chance to reconnect with one of my great loves—American football .
Prayer Needs
Wisdom about time usage…  “There is so little to do and so much time! Stop, reverse that!” (Willy Wonka).  I need to say “no” more often so I can have a reasonable work load.  Pray for wisdom and a willingness to say no.
Class Preparations… I have four (!) classes that I am preparing for right now.  I also have papers that I am grading from the last two classes.  Pray that I can complete everything quickly.
Russian … Please pray that I can find more time for my Russian.  When I should be spending 6 hours a day, I am doing good to find 6 a week.  I hope this will change after I finish teaching my class in March.
Finances … Pray that God will supply all our needs.  We would like to continue to come to America to visit but finances are tight.  Also, our General Fund is a little low right now.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support … we could not be here doing this ministry without your help!

Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates