River of Joy base from the road

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

River of Joy Camp ~ July 8 - 17, 2011 NEW EDIT

This year we followed the TLOT camp at ROJ. We had only a few days to get our
camp ready, but some of the tents we just left in place. The grounds were left clean
thanks to a attentive TLOT staff.

Our ROJ camp has focused on young school age children. This formula works well for
the Christian workers from Brilliance and Dnieperderzhinks who have come in to help
us for the past three years. .

Chief among our ROJ Camping staffers from up-country 
is camp Diretor Olga. She has a great sense of humor but takes the
camping ministry seriously. She learns new methods every year
and our camps keep getting better and better.

The theme this year was, "City of Light."  On the first night
the staff dressed up and took on the roll of city officials.
We had 30 children at ROJ Camp this year.
We had planned on 33 but...

The evening meeting is a time of presentations, skits, praise and worship and testimonies. 
The weather has been hot during the first few days of the camp, but the cooler evening air 
invigorates the meeting. It is popular with ROJ campers.

Avenir leads worship. Avinir is a Bulgarian who lives in Southern Moldova.
His family became refugees in Moldova during the second Balkan War
in 1913 when Turkey took much of the Bulgarian territory and
and the lives of Christians there were endangered.

At River of Joy camp life long friendships are established.

River of Joy is a place of peace where children of all ages can get alone with
their maker, all the while enjoying God's beautiful creation. Vlada here is actually
the niece of our camp director. She had behavior problems in the first camp this year
but she repented during the ROJ camp and she has changed considerably. 
Her aggressiveness has softened in the Savior's presence.

The children learn new things, like how much God loves them and
how to smile for a photo, something unusual for a Russian child. 

The boys got a full taste of God's love for them too. Smiles
got more frequent and friendships flourished.

We learned God's Word together and worked to
learn it better than the other team did. Learning together
and working together made it work in and for us.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Memories of our beginnings here.

Back when we bought this property, thanks to money sent us by Northern Ireland International Children's Charity appeal, the look of the grounds was quite different. Over the years, step-by-step we have been cleaning the place up. Malone College students helped us by removing 
that messy barn in the foreground of this photo. 

As we find more memories we will continue to edit this post, so stop back in
to see what else we had before we upgraded. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

back in the USSR!

I just got back from an adventuresome trip to Predniestrovia, the Moldovan break-off Republic
between Ukraine and the Dniester river. I visited my friend Marik Fashevsky where I enjoyed
the fellowship with his father Roman and the food preparations of his mother, Ludmila.

The whole trip was mostly about renewing my welcome n Ukraine, which wears out more frequently
now that Internal affairs has determined not to register the K (cultural) visa. Now I must leave Ukraine
every three months if I am to stay legal. Legal is a status my heavenly father wants for me so I gather
from the pages of Holy Writ (Titus 3:1,2). So as I told Roman and Marik I will be seeing them more frequently now. Perhaps the Lord will show me a way for this quarterly break to bear fruit for His kingdom.

I was nervous about this trip because it was my first with an unregistered  K visa and since customs and border police are part of Internal Affairs it could be that the same people that refused to register the visa in the first place might find some reason not to let me pass through the border control.

I was also having to leave between the end of the The Least of These children's camp and the River of Joy children's camp, using money for the trip I would rather use to serve the Lord as a servant of healing to Ukrainian children and their families. The ROJ camp begins on the 8th, just two days after my return from this whirlwind trip.

So on the last day of the TLOT camp I left for Simferopol. I had some nice fellowship with the COJCFG church family Sunday Morning in town, ate lunch with Mitaxia and Dr. Laura near church and caught the train to Odecca that afternoon with the help of Oleg Loboda. The next morning at 8:30 when I disembarked I asked the Dovidka (Information desk) when and where I could catch a bus to Tiraspol Predniestrovia. She said the soonest I could catch one would be at the central Bus Station at 1:35. I had to catch city bus 84 at the train station first though. I waited awhile to catch that bus, found central Bus station and went
in to buy a ticket.

The ticket agent told me I could catch the 9 AM bus! I looked at my watch. It was 8:55 AM! I bought a ticket, her last one for that bus, and got on just before the bus took off....AND BOY DID IT EVER TAKE OFF! The bus driver had a lead foot and his smaller bus had a stiff suspension. On the little chuck-hole ridden highway it was like a bucking bronco training session. I was in the far back center of the bus trying to keep my rear end on the seat. My attempt was far from successful. Maybe I should have awaited a later bus.

We filled out some standard Arrival / Departure cards on the bus. That can be a real challenge as you bounce off your seat at high speed.

On the Border
They did as they always have done at that border and called out the "Grazhdan America" (me) for special attention after our baggage had been scanned. I had to get off the bus and go into a tiny office and tell an older uniformed border guard what I was up to and why I was leaving Ukraine. I told him and he blessed me! I left feeling as though the prayers that have been offered for me about this trip are being well answered.

The Predniestrovia flag 
features the hammer and sickle symbol on a red field
with a green stripe across the middle. Christian ministries
are seemingly undisturbed there so what the symbol
really means remains a mystery to me.

One thing I enjoyed about Predestrovia the first time I visited her
villages is the way people decorate the gables
on their otherwise unassuming houses..

The owner of this house must have gotten a new scroll saw with his load of lumber

So the evening of July 4th I met Nikolai. He was interested in a spiritual 
conversation. We talked about such matters until Midnight. I had a nice rest 
and the morning of the fifth Marik took me to the Tiraspol bus station.
It was good to have him along as my grevna were no good for the fare.
he told me to assure my friends that he would be able to
receive them any time after July 26th when his
current guests will have left.

At the Border Again
As we approached the border I had my departure paper all ready to go
and saved back my Ukrainian Arrival/Departure slips for the Ukraine side.
I was called out and went to see what the Moldovan customss wanted. They told me there
was a problem because my Moldovan entry visa had not been registered. I told them
that Marik had assured me that if I did not stay in the country 24 hours I did not 
need to get registered. They tried to frighten me. Told me that the 24 hours
"Sutki" starts and stops at 12 midnight. I asked them, "What should I do?" One said.
"go back!" I said. "That does not work for me as I have a train ticket bought
from Odecca to Simferopol. If I go back I could miss the train. I said Marik 
had lots of experience bringing in people. I wanted to register my visa but 
he said it is not necessary. I asked if the 12 o'clock change is something new.

They asked me my business in Predniestrovia. I told them of my work
with Ukrainian kids and of Mariks similar work. They said, "It is a good thing you
are doing. just leave a little gift for coffee for our boss and you can go." I laid down 
200 grevna. Later I texted Marik and he was saddened by this.

On the Ukrainian side there was no call out! My visa was processed with the rest. 
They did throw me a curve of sorts however. They stamped my departure slip rather 
than my passport with the visa stamp.

Anyway, I am now good for another 3 months.

...and the work goes on.
Love & Blessings,