Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pulling Weeds and Drinking Tea

If you were to ask what kind of week it has been, that would probably be my response.  It has held a lot of bad, ugly, sad things but it has also had many good, sweet blessings.  There have also been a few times it has felt like our time here is just a waste and we really aren't doing any good...then I just turn back to God and say, "Lord, no matter what happens or if it seems like absolutely nothing is happening, I will still serve you."  So, where do I start?  I guess at the beginning.

We had planned a Family Day on Saturday for people in our church and for their friends and families who are not saved, but Eric was called over to Yuri and Christina's on Friday morning.  Christina, under the influence of her neighbor and probably her sister, was drinking by the river on Thursday night.  After which, she got in a fight and punched her sister, Ina.  We love this couple dearly and just ask that you pray for them.  We also ask your prayers for Ina and Valodia, as we have no way of contacting them now that they are no longer living at Yuri's (they have no phone).  They seemed very interested in the Bible lessons...though some are saying that they, and Yuri and Christina, were just trying to use us.  To us, we are willing to be used a little in order that they hear the Gospel.  This has been the biggest thing on our hearts and minds this week.  Any time we have problems like this in the church, God always uses it to strengthen the group of believers which stays.  And Sunday some might leave, as Eric has a strong message addressing the hypocrisy in our church.  Some of our "older" christians have allowed things in their lives that are casting stumbling blocks for the baby Christians and may be even hindering the salvation of others.  We are praying that God's will be done and if we stand alone...
  "...as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15


The church isn't the only place that needed some weed pulling.  The whole yard was covered in weeds/grass taller than me!  This particular one (ambrosia, I think) was quite a bit taller than Eric and thicker than my wrist!  Not only does the yard look better, but, with a little siding, the house is looking GREAT!  (Soon a new room for the kids...which means I might actually get a "dining" room table!)


The new addition!

I invited the neighbor, Sveta, and her daughters over for tea on Thursday.  She and the youngest were not able to make it because the baby didn't sleep well that night and had just fallen a sleep about the time of the tea party, but her daughter Nastia came.  I was a little disappointed at first, but I'll try again later.  I don't know if it will be a weekly thing or not, but I'm planning on having "tea parties", inviting different neighbors at different times.  This last time, Valentina had just gotten back from 1 week to the sea and 4 weeks to Russia (BOY were we glad to see her!), and I had her here too.
Nastia and Anna...and NO it was not cold. 
Nastia wanted to go back inside and
said that it was too cold outside. 

For the past few months, I've been going around taking pictures of EVERYTHING and working on the computer to put verses on some of the pictures.  Eric and I have really wanted to have scripture around the house, but we also wanted it in Russian.  Just yesterday we got back the first of the prints and I'm pretty excited at how they turned out.  (The verse is John 15:5)


And this is what I did with my copy...

(The wall is actually green...that is how
bad of a photo this is.)
Ladies at church will be able to win copies by memorizing and saying the verse on each picture.

Lasty, a picture of our "Sammy Boy".  He is growing so fast and is becoming more handsome each day.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Maine is in the Air

Standing on the foundation with closed eyes and hair blowing in the wind, I can almost see the waves crashing against the rocks at the Thunderhole.  And as the wind blows through the trees, if I listen closely I can faintly hear the ocean.  "Feels like Maine is in the air," Eric comments.  Thinking that I might have found a fellow dreamer, I share, "I know.  The wind blowing through the trees sounds like the ocean."  He raises his eyebrows at me and I know he's thinking "She's a little crazy."  So I quickly add, "Faintly hear it."  Eyebrows raise a little more.  "With your eyes closed," I say.  "Uh, huh," he says, as he continues bringing wood to the babooshka next door.

Probably the question we've been asked the most frequently would be "Why Ukraine?"  This question didn't stop once deputation was finished, in fact, we probably get asked this more now by Ukrainians than we did by churches in America!  And it is usually followed by questions like "Which is better, America or Ukraine?" or comments like "We're all trying to go TO America and you are coming FROM America."  The first time I heard this, I was taken back a little and unsure what to say.  It just doesn't make sense to them.  Why would we leave our house, cars, families, good paying jobs, beautiful ocean, Walmart (you know your a missionay if you miss standing in line at Walmart)....how do you reply?  Now, I look forward to the question it seems like an open door for witnessing.  You see, Maine may be the most beautiful place in the world (I think it is...and for the record, I am not a mainiac), and maybe life would be different, but what is all that without the peace of God?  I would constantly be searching for one thing more to fill that void and give me the peace that only believing in Jesus Christ and following Him can bring.  I wouldn't trade my wind in the trees for all the crashing oceans. 

The beauty of God's will.

The sky was breathtaking today.


Taking pictures...like Mama.


Onions for winter.


The neighbor's plum tree.


A thank you for wood.


My hardworking man.


Waiting while Papa delivers the last of the wood.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This Afternoon at our House

"No, no, no, Papa.  Anna wants the goat."  Anna said seriously as Eric shooed a little goat away from our doorway. 

We don't know how he found his way into our yard, or how long he has been there (our yard with all of its nice long weeds is probably very enticing to a hungry, little goat)...he may have even been put there on purpose, to help us "mow" our lawn down a litte.  We've had it happen before.

Wish I had a picture to share of our little visitor as he chomped on weeds or maybe of Anna seriously concerned that the goat needed to stay or else he would be hungry (Eric had told her that he was hungry and thats why he had come to our yard.), but I guess imagination will have to do this time.  Thought you might enjoy it anyway for it's not often you have a goat come for a visit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First Birth 3 Years Ago


Your birth was a miracle
A blessing
That I will never forget.
For years I waited
And prayed for you,
Not only for your first birth
but also for your second.
And when you are "born again"
I will probably be just as excited, if not more
Than the first day I craddled you in my arms.

I love you, My Anna!

"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old?  can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."

Have you been born again? 
If you'd like to know how you could be born again email me.  I'd love to show you through the Bible. 
 jessicanukraine@yahoo.com

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cooking with Christina

And what's on the menu?

Borsch!


Now, I know there are some that are skeptical that anything that has beets or cabbage in it could be tasty, but that's just because you haven't tried borsch.  I'm talking about a good, Ukrainian borsch.  I made it once before we moved to Ukraine, but I wanted to know how they cook it.  So, Monday afternoon Christina came over and showed me how to make a good pot of Ukrainian borsch.  It was much easier than the recipe that I cooked in America and SO tasty.

You will need

1 decent size piece of meat cut up (they use chicken a lot because it's cheap, but they prefer beef or pork)
10 small potatoes, sliced into wedges (or chopped, however you prefer)
2 lg. onions, chopped
4-6 bouillion cubes
oil
3 carrots, shredded
2 beats, shredded
4 bell peppers, chopped (she used yellow, red and orange...in the winter she doesn't add the peppers)
1/2 head of cabbage, sliced (don't shred or it will be too soft)
1 - 1 1/2 tomato paste
Bay leaf
Salt and Pepper

Fill a good size pan with water.  Add meat and bring to a boil on high heat.  When meat is cooked (20-30 minutes), add potatoes.  While potatoes are cooking,saute shredded carrots, shredded beats, chopped peppers and chopped onions in oil.  (She used a decent amount of oil...maybe 1/2 cup?)  When potatoes are almost tender, add tomato paste, sauted veggies, chicken bouillions, a bay leaf and salt/pepper.  When potatoes are cooked, add cabbage and cook for about 5 minutes longer.  Remove from heat.

Serve with desired greens (dill, parsley), sour cream and, of course, black bread!    

Not only was she teaching me how to make a good pot of borsch and giving me a Russian lesson, but it also gave us a chance to talk.  We talked about staying in the will of God and when we get off track ask God's forgiveness then get back in His will.  She started asking about American politics, which led us to the health care here in Ukraine.  She shared with me how difficult it is and how much easier it is for women to just get an abortion.  She told me that her grandmother or her mother (I can't remember) had 19 abortions!  She told me she knew a girl who went to the bar and got pregnant.  Then when the guy said he didn't love her and wouldn't marry her, she quickly went and had an abortion before her mom knew.  She had 2 abortions before she was married.  When she finally did get married, she was unable to have children because of what the abortions had done to her body.  Her family, not knowing about the abortions, could not understand why a "heatlhy" girl like her could not have children.  They think of abortion as no big deal, but it haunts them for the rest of their lives.  Lina's mother didn't think that she could be saved because of how many abortions she had.  Please pray for these women.  They need to know the one who died for them and loves them...no matter what they might have done in the past.  Pray also that they will learn to love their children and be keepers at home.   

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Supporting Role

As I sit here by my computer I am surrounded by letters lovingly penned by family, friends and church supporters.  They took up only a small amount of space in one of the three boxes Eric's parents sent us, but each one contains a great amount of encouragment.  I'd like to share one in particular with you, written by one of our supporting pastor's wives.

Dear Jessie,
Early in our ministry someone shared this poem by Roy Lesin with me.  I hope it encourages you as well...

Continue On

A woman once fretted over the usefulness of her life.
She feared she was wasting her potential being a devoted wife
and mother.  She wondered if the time and energy she invested
in her husband and children would make a difference
***
At times she got discouraged because so much of what she did
seemed to go unnoticed and unappreciated.
"Is it worth it?" she often wondered.  "Is there something
better that I could be doing with my time?"
***
It was during one of these moments of questioning that she heard
the still small voice of her heavenly Father speak to her heart.
"You are a wife and mother because that is what I have called
you to be.  Much of what you give is done without renumeration.
But I am your reward.
***
Your husband cannot be the man I have called him to be
without your support.  Your influence opon him is greater than
you think and more powerful than you will ever know.
I bless him through your service and honor him through your
love.  Your children are precious to Me.  Even more precious than
they are to you.  I have entrusted them to your care
to raise for Me.  What you invest in them is an offering to Me.
***
You may never be in the public spotlight.  But your obedience
shines as a bright light before Me.  Continue on.
Remember you are my servant.  Do all to please Me.

~Roy Lesin~


As a wife and mother I must ask myself, "Am I willing to play the supporting role as I care for my husband and encourage him as he serves, and as I train up 3 future missionaries/pastors/wives.  Or must I play a more "important" part, and possibly lose it all?" 
4 with support can do more than 1 with ruins. 
It does make a difference.  It is worth it.


Sunday Morning...

with the

and the

I took a minute to enjoy this:
video
(And who wouldn't enjoy those huge smiles!)

By 8:30, we're

Like usual just

Now we're off and

Excitement mounting...

Next we stop.  Pick up some

30 minutes before church starts, the kids are saying verses and singing enthusiastically.
video

So thankful for all who attended
especially knowing that some had to be at the
open air market by 3 AM in order to attend.

There are no photos for you to see
of our lunch and second service
for my hands were too busy serving.
And no photos from our ride home
for I was too busy snoring.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mm Mm Monday

I think I've said it before, I LOVE MONDAYS!  I know, I'm weird and probably the only out there who loves Mondays, but I just can't help it.  Mondays are always (or usually) so refreshing after a busy week...Tuesday - Valentina comes over, Wednesday - services, Thursday - prepare for Friday, Friday - evangelism, Saturday - cook for us, the church, and prepare everything for Sunday, Sunday - services.  On Mondays, I get to organize an area, plan for the week, maybe call someone, and COOK.

So in celebration of Mondays and for those of you planning the weeks menu, here is a recipe you'll want to plan in somewhere for the week.  I don't think that it is originally an Ukrainian recipe, but they make it so often here and it is sold everywhere that I think they now claim it as their own.  It is called Plov.

Ingredients
Approx. 1 c. of oil
Chicken (about 1 lg. breast)
1 onion
1-2 carrots (cut into julienne strips)
2 C. Rice
4 1/2 C. Water
Seasoning (They sell plov seasoning here.  Maybe similar to pilaf or chicken seasoning)
Garlic cloves
1 lg. spoonful Tomato paste (optional)
Fresh dill (optional)

Directions

 Fry chopped chicken in oil.  When almost cooked, add chopped onion, then carrots.  When tender, set aside in a bowl leaving oil in pan.  Rinse rice.  Add to oil in pan.  Add water, chicken mixture, seasoning and tomato paste.  (May need to add more oil.  You should see a layer of oil at the top of the water.)  Bring to a boil.  Simmer on very low heat.  (If there is no water left, yet rice is still not cooked, make holes in rice and poor in more water.)  When rice is almost cooked press garlic cloves into the rice.  If desired, add fresh dill after removing from heat.

*Most of the Plov that we have eaten is not made with the tomato paste or dill, but it is good made either way.

ENJOY!

8+ Years & 3 Kids Later...

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