"...they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind,
both shall fall into the ditch." ~Matthew 15:14
Where to start? My heart is so overwhelmed with all that I've learned in the past few days that I hardly know what to say. Resurrection Sunday has always been a time of reflecting on and rejoicing for what Christ Jesus has done for me, but this year it is mingled with sadness. Now that we are living in the village it seems like I have been confronted daily with the pagan traditions of the Orthodox church, which I somehow missed when living in the city.
Every day we saw people cleaning up the cemetary, preparing for Sunday's rituals. Friday evening as we were enjoying the fresh air outside, we saw baboushkas walking the streets with lighted candles heading to the Orthodox church. Sunday morning we saw people walking the streets with their Easter baskets, flowers for gravestones, food to have a picnic with their deceased loved ones and of course alcohol. At church, many brought the traditional, Ukrainian bread to share with others and some talked about visiting gravesites that morning leaving food for their deceased. After church, we saw people staggering drunk from the graveyard, just finishing their picnic. The people are so superstitous and have so many traditions, all stemming from the pagan worship of the gods of spring, life and death. Many blindly do them for two reasons, 1) the Orthodox church has adopted these traditions, making them "Christian" and 2) it is something that their mothers and grandmothers did.
Walking home from church, we met a woman who called herself baba Lena. She asked us if we were "theirs" (meaning, do we live in Vidinka). She then asked us to wait as she ran to get us a loaf of Paska bread (they call it passover bread, another adopted pagan tradition) and some candy and fruit for the girls. She walked with us for a little while because she was curious where we lived, giving us a chance to talk to her. Eric asked her if she had a Bible. She said no. Before he could finish offering to give her one, she cut him off saying that she was not interested. Eric said, "Why not? Don't you want a Bible you can read for yourself? The Orthodox believe the Bible don't they?" Baba Lena said, "I don't know. I don't want one. I have this." She pulled out a crucifix, said that it had belonged to her grandmother, then her mom and now it was hers. She said that she prayed to Jesus and began to pray holding the crucifix and doing the motions. Following her prayer, she kissed the crucifix. (Pictured below) This is the first Ukrainian that we have had reject a Bible. Even if they won't take other literature from us, they usually won't reject a Bible. Please be praying for her. I am hoping to bring a little gift of teas and cookies/muffins or something over to her as a thank you for her gift. (It is customary to give a gift after receiving one.) Maybe I will be able to have her over for tea after we return from Poland.
Also, please be praying for a lady named Oksana. (You can see her picture here.) She has been coming to church and has also started doing Bible lessons. So far she has had 3 Bible lessons. When we got home from church on Sunday, she called and said that she was not able to make it to services because she had been at the orthodox church praying for a job all night. She has been without work for some time now. Though we care about her physical needs, we are more concerned about her spiritual need of a Saviour. Please be praying that she will continue to be open to the gospel and trust in Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven.