River of Joy base from the road

River of Joy base from the road
Picnic Patio goes to work

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The "BIG STORM" Day ~ "a little child shall lead them"

Yesterday we were to have had a huge storm. I had earlier scheduled 
in a few builders to help me fix a few details, but the weatherman here 
was telling us to expect a BIG STORM. We had been getting some 
rain every day all week, The day was to have put a real capper on 
the week's weather, and not exactly what we
wanted for a tent camp. 

I cancelled the work day. 

The day turned out ... P E R F E C T L Y  ! ! !  
A few cloud flotillas sailed by in a deep blue sky, warmish but not hot. 

Just delightful.

Someone must have prayed about the weather.

The children at TLOT camp were off to the mountain on a happy excursion.
I decided to go part way with them, then break off and go visit a Tatar who
had told me he had some riverside property for sale one day when 
he was delivering potatoes from his garden to us.

Along our road I had fun running ahead and then catching their action
as they marched singing up the little dirt road I walk down often
to the bus stop or to our little country grocery store.

But then came a fork in the road and the trail that leads to our cliff and other
heights broke off left. The children started up the trail. I started to go the
other way but my little friend Ivan grabbed my hand and pulled me along.
It seemed like a 'God thing' so I didn't resist.

"...and a little child shall lead them. " 
Isaiah 11:6b

I put off my real estate talk and began to muse on some of the
Biblical passages that mention children.

                      For ye were sometimes darkness, 
                                               but now are ye light in the Lord: 
                                                                       walk as children of light: 
                                                              Ephesians 5:8

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 
Ephesians 5:1  

  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, 
that we may be also glorified together. Romans 8:15-17

The Holy Scriptures mention child or children over 1500 times! 
Children must be very important to Father God.

Today it sprinkled. The children took another hike anyway.

Love and Blessings in Christ,

 Jesus, however, said, 
"Let the little children come to me, and stop keeping them away.                                                         
For the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these." 
Matthew 19:14 ISV

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


We had some winds blow us about this week. Wind is a blessing or a problem depending upon its direction, its force and our preparedness for it. The rushing mighty wind of the Holy Spirit drove the early ekklesia forward with supernatural power. For most it was a great blessing, but for Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) business as usual cost them their lives. When the wind of revival blows, the Spirit born and led are moved, but those who are playing at faith are buried by their own hypocrisy.

This is the largest sleeping tent used this week. It sleeps nine girls.

Saint Paul's voyages across the Mediterranean sometimes met with contrary winds like Euroclydon (the East wind) which came with force and drove the sailing vessel along or forced a run to safe harbor. A wind that God hurled over the sea (Jonah 1:4) forced Jonah to stop snoring and abandon ship for less comfortable transport. But Jesus, who also liked to sleep in boats, when He was awakened by his frightened disciples, just commanded the wind to stop. Tt did. I prefer Jesus' way of dealing with wind issues. I would rather sail than bail to live in a whale of a jail. But Jesus always did what the Father wanted. Jonah was a rebel.
When he was unceremoniously washed up on shore, something smelled fishy about the rebellious prophet.

More girls tents. Guess they left for breakfast in a hurry!

This week winds brought rain and even hail at one point! It made for some wet picnics now and again. We had a series of wind generated power failures that day. A patio umbrella flew into a lamp post and the lamp post was brought down. Later everything was repaired. We learned a few things about preparedness.

The brightly colored "4 man" tents to the right are the ones I bought last week to replace
the ones that were stolen. They actually only sleep three. A 4 man rating may be about Asian sized people.

The tent of meeting is an old Soviet Army Tent. We are praying for a nice
modern one like the ones the Norwegians gave Krasno Armiesk church for
village evangelism. Well, at least this one is not likely to be stolen.

Other catastrophes were more about the modern way of manufacturing for planned obsolescence. I already wrote about the gas regulator failure after less than three years of service.  We had a door hardware failure after two days, and honored guests locked in their room as though prisoners. Praise the Lord we were able to release the guests and after an unsuccessful repair that repeated the embarrassment we found the man who sold us the door hardware was willing to replace it at no charge. The regulator replacement only ran about $5. But with gas prices so high, taxi fare to town and back was the big expense ($20),. OK, some days I wait for a bus for hours and only pay $1.50 - $3 RT. I honestly believe one purpose for which God created Ukraine was to teach us patience. Experience is the toughest teacher. She gives the tests first and the lessons afterwards.   Love & Blessings, David

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Getting ready for camping season this year was a challenge beyond imagination. Thank the Lord we had an involved building crew who worked up until the first day of camp, waiting weeks for their paychecks without complaint. "The Least of These" Camp started at 1 PM on the 23rd and that is exactly when we had the site ready (except for the balustrade and the water feature... art came after function as we raced to finish.

The first mid-day meal (obed). Borscht on the menu. 44 children and 18 councilors were well shaded by the new ROJ 3 meter by 4 meter umbrellas which God had lead me to JIT.

This first meal was prepared on backup. 

We had a gas explosion as the propane tank regulator was not doing
its job, This was to be only its third year of use! They just don't make 'em like they used to.  The little street stove was toasting in the middle of a dangerous fire! I ran for the new hose and hosed down the tank. Vitali, who heads up TLOT in Ukraine, encircled the garage to turn off the gas. Later Vitali drove Rich Richmond and me to buy a new gas & electric combo stove/oven.  It was a long search through three stores. Not one had what we wanted. We started talking about alternative solutions. Not giving up I called Ibrahim, a wheeler/dealer Crimean Tatar who knows Belogorsk well. He sent us to "Garant," and we bought the stove we wanted there for cheaper than we had seen less desirable units elsewhere...seems to be a pretty good one even if it was made in Turkey. Rich has some gas stove experience so with his help we installed it. TLOT also chipped in for most of the cost! THANK YOU LORD! I ran back to town in a cab for a new gas regulator (which we finally figured out was the problem) while Rich and Vitali rejoined the children and before the evening meal we had a working unit going in our archway/veranda. Now you're cookin' with gas (and electricity).

They called this a four burner stove top, just imagine!
Think we could get by with a smaller unit? 

Marina stirs the chicken soup. It was very good with 
a thick slice of homemade bread.

This, "roughing it,"is almost more than I can take.

In our previous Blogs you may seen pics of this former woodshed
during reconstruction. It is at last finished. with a huge picture window 
and just the right furniture from Northern Ireland Children's Charity Appeal, 
added to mission tile and river rock, it got a five star rating from our first guests.
Amazingly we were able to accomplish this with only about $6000.

The Beit Shalom (House of Peace) Guest Cabin derives its
name from this recent gift from Dr. Yuliya Vyaltseva. She bought this
tile in Jerusalem. We hope guests who stay at Beit Shalom
will experience the peace of God and remember to
pray for the peace of Jerusalem when they see
this message tile over the entry door.

The new picnic patio is lit by three small,street lights.
It is nice having tea here on cool summer nights
Land fill for it came from our water feature excavation and three 
loads of river gravel brought in by local boys with an old Soviet Army vehicle. 
The patio is functional but not finished. It is missing a balustrade,
flagstone paving  to be laid in sand above the present white 
gravel layer and steps to a barbeque that we plan to build down left.   

Getting this all done in the time we had after money arrived was not done at the normal Ukrainian pace.
I worked until 11 painting one night. The next day I saw the guys working at an increased pace themselves.
We are disappointed in one old friend here who said he could get the insulation work done and houses painted before camp but did not do it, so we still have some gray walls that haven't got finish plaster on them yet. Still we have seen the hand of the Lord leading us to materials and people throughout the process of this phase of building. Next steps in our building plan include the first family children's house!

I want to give thanks to our Lord for His wonderful guidance and providence 
during this time of testing. I saw His hand at work in providing transport 
when I thought I was left alone by the side of the road, and in the fun ways 
He lead me to the furniture and materials we needed to make this happen. 
Thanks too to our friends who put up with a sometimes grouchy
 old missionary and for their own efforts that helped 
make this part of our vision come to pass.

Thanks to Judy Martin and our other friends 
in Northern Virginia who raised money and got it to us, 
to my loving, gracious and generous mother Ruth Marion, 
to John and Christine Reed and family who may be joining 
us soon here and gave generously, to all of you who helped 
to the  full extent God lead you to. 
Thanks to Rich and Sherrell Richmond and, 
"The Least of These," staffers, 
who have been great first time guests that make 
our inadequacies their clue to be of help.. 

Next Blog should be more about camp and the people
doing camp here now.

Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths
Proverbs 3:5,6

Maranatha (Hang in there!) David

Monday, June 13, 2011

False Impressions

Visitors to Crimea from the West get a false impression of apparent wealth
and well being of the people here from the way people are dressed on the street. Particularly, young people, who often live in a torn up dormitory or other severely substandard housing, tend to invest in a few articles of nice, flashy, or fashionable clothing so as to make a good impression in spite of their difficulties. Our cook Marina, who with her sister and two children lives in Belogorsk in a tiny cheap rental with an outhouse. Marina dresses in bright cheerful clothing. She asked me to buy her a Nokia classic mobile phone last Winter and paid it off in several months by setting aside a day's pay each week. I wish she would use it less when she is on the job but she is happy to feel a part of the modern world with a phone like mine. I should be ashamed that I had felt deprived because I had no iPad like one of my American colleagues.

I am no clothes horse but in an architectural way we are doing the same thing here with our building project. We have begun to make an impression that is misleading.  Looking at the artistic reconstruction of old buildings and our use of mission tile you could get the impression that this mission is rolling in dough. In fact quite the opposite is true. We try to build only when we have money, so building has been sporadic, halting and slow.

When all is finished this arch is
the hillside entry to the farside picnic patio breezeway.

We buy used roofing tile dirt cheap and scrub it clean so we can make a good impression on visitors. We employ tile, hardware, doors and windows we received in humanitarian aid containers, and old building blocks and bricks we inherited from previous owners of this property years ago when we bought it. We use free stones from the creek for our rock facades and employ cheap local builders for most projects. We do feed our workers so as to make them satisfied with a low paycheck. That's where our cook comes in.

In the Spring when we start preparing for children's camps we take on larger projects by faith. Our faith is rewarded, but not always without difficulty. This year we have been trying to build a picnic patio and are turning an old woodshed (foreground above) into a tiny guest cabin. This is to make the site ready for visitors, more camps and orphan housing construction. Money is needed for this and some has come in, for which we thank you who have given. YOU ARE THE BEST, But somehow recently the money has gotten stuck on the way here. It seems that not everyone who helps us in the West has committed to do so when we need the help, but only when they feel there is free time available. So as I type this we have our first camp workers coming in a week, No groceries for camp purchased, foundation personnel unpaid, workers, who we usually pay weekly and feed daily, waiting for unpaid wages, some miraculously free fish in the freezer and 55 dollars in pocket to buy camp provender feed 8 people this week and buy necessary building materials.

Marina holds up a big Ctavridka,
a smaller relative of the Bonita!

Marina bakes bread well. We also have 37 small fish in the kitchen that a fisherman who came to the all night prayer meeting last Friday left in our fridge freezer! He called me after forgetting them the next morning and said they are ours! Is it a prophetic happening? We may be on the brink of a miracle, certainly such a fish miracle in itself is not near on the scale of Jesus' Loaves and fishes miracles, but a miracle of the Lord's providence just the same and for me it is a sign of His involvement! I wonder how far the Lord will make these stretch or if He has something else in mind. A faith walk is always an adventure.

Its after lunch now. We fed 5 grownups and two children with these fish, potatoes, bread and a green salad.

There were two fish left on this plate
The cats under the table ate tails.

Stay tuned for a blog about the all night prayer meeting.
Love & Blessings from Crimea, Ukraine,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Moving on with all our might, while its day and not yet night

Today was easy when it wasn't hard. I woke up at 1:20 AM, worried. (I know it is wrong to worry, but old habits are hard to break) . It was about money. Yesterday I finally got the money I had sent myself from my account in California. That account gets my social security check. So I take the part of it that is not needed to pay off my credit card debt and send it to myself in Crimea. That system went well for awhile but the last two months it took more than a week to get to me and required my repeated attention to make it over.  Once the money arrived I started buying building materials. Yesterday morning I purchased 7 sacks of plaster, 8 panels of wallboard, 25 sacks of concrete, two ceiling lights, a sack of potatoes and a lot of hardware, then rode with the delivery back to our site. The ride was in a Uazik truck. Whats that? It is old Soviet Army vehicle that now does duty as a delivery truck. It is no luxury vehicle for sure. Elim, the Tatar driver told me he wants to sell it (He is asking $2000 for a truck that must be at least 30 years old). Anyway all these items in the truck were asked for by my crew. If they knew I was so low on money I would not be able to pay them on time, they might have shut up...naaaah. They love working here. Check out these pictures of what we have been building.
Ivan and Vlada did art in the shade this morning. 
Vlada didn't want her picture taken I guess. OK we are 
going to get to the building pics next.

Andrae arranged the fill dirt in the future picnic patio.
Where did we get all that dirt? Well, from everywhere.
Did you ever notice how much of this planet is dirt?

The local "stadia" gets its mid-day milking just
down from our picnic patio. While I was photographing Andrae 
I noticed a neighbor lady milking her cow.  Looks like milk is
a good dietary element if you need to put on some weight. 
She rides a scooter up and down our road. Imagine that!

After lunch it was clear that Sasha would finish the
guest house roofing today. See how nicely it matches 
our other new roofs?

Lenur got smart on a hot day and
found work to do in the shade
between the guest house and garage.

Sasha was the hero of the day when he finished the roof.
These "Tatarski Cheripitza" or terracotta mission roofing tiles are abundant 
in the Crimean Belogorsk region. They can be bought cheaply but we had to scrub 
them with wire brushes to get years of mold and grunge off of them.
We enjoy the result of our labors however and these roofs
should last many years more.

This week we also had fixed a problem with our electricity .
Tomorrow I plan to go to town and pay the man who fixed it.

Please pray for our finances. As I suppose anyone who has ever
 done any building can tell you, building work is expensive. 

We seem to be constantly coming to the end of our resources
but God is faithful.

I spent time this morning cutting stray limbs and gathering 
smooth stones from our little river - cleaning it up some too.
After lunch I got caught up on my shuteye.

Stop back bye again soon, David