Monday, June 26, 2006

Resurrection Day

Sunday here in Mariupol turned out to be a very big event. We showed up at the building for worship service and found over 150 people standing in the yard. There were so many people, and it was wonderful seeing all the faces I knew and loved talking to people I didn't. The church here is honestly thriving, and stretching its seems. We had service outside and the rows of seats ran halfway down the building and there was a section around the corner, facing the podium from the side. It was great.

A majority of the time was spent with several different speakers (American and Ukrainian) standing up and talking about the past ten years of the church here on the left bank of the city. Hal Pendegraft talked about coming for the first campaign, Sasha, Hal's long time translator, talked about his experiences being converted by the yearly campaigns. Tim Burrow, the full time missionary and our AIM coordinator talked about the many programs and directions the church has been involved in. Finally, Sasha, the Ukrainian fulltime minister got up and talked about the future of the congregation. The rest of the service was wonderful as well. I had missed the singing so much, and it was good to be a part of my family here again as we rejoiced and praised God. The remainder of the days events were very laid back. The games and activities planned for the afternoon were put off in trade for long conversations with old friends sitting in the shade.


After a short nap back at the the Burrows house (we are staying in Elizabeth's room, with Brandon and Katie in Alan's), we left for a birthday party we were invited to for my good friend Roman. Roman is a very good friend of mine that worked as my translator periodically while I was here, but struggled, and struggles still with alchohol problems. Going to his house for a birthday party where he was inviting friends was potentially troublesome. But we left the house on faith that he would never drink in our presence as he seems to respect who I am quite a lot. It turned out I had braced myself for the wrong situation though, when I arrived at Roman's house a little after 6:00 to find Roman, the usual table of cookies, and two young Mormon boys (One named 'Elder Kitchen' whose name tag in Russian was neatly translated "Old man Kitchen"). Oh, and Roman's twitchy antisocial "girlfriend" was there, but didn't do much more than hide her face in her hands and look at the floor. After the intial shock of feeling lead into a trap the evening went quite nicely. It's wonderful to live in such a beatiful and interesting state like Alaska, so in a pinch you can talk for over two hours on the subject with just about anybody.

Roman's mother Allah was there too, but she mostly just mumbled nonsense that Roman refused to translate and then would shake her head sadly and say quite clearly, "Poor James has complete forgotten how to speak Russian." Something Andrea and I have heard several times since arriving. Sometimes they say it after ten minute long conversations. Everytime we get to a part of the conversation we don't understand they stop trying to comunicate with us and say to themselves something like "Two years they lived here and they don't even know the word forupeesotromvaski!".

Tuesday morning I teach a lesson on "Hope" to a few of my old friends in the youth group. I have to go study. I believe Andrea will come soon to write about Monday.

We love you all. Thank you for praying for us. It is very obvious that God is working.
-James

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