River of Joy base from the road

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

Saturday, August 25, 2012



Ready? Here it is.
"if My people who are called by My name 
will humble themselves, and pray 
and seek My face, 
and turn from their wicked ways, 
then I will hear from heaven, 
and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 
2 Chronicles 7:14

I have now learned that commanding God is prideful even if it works. Thinking on the sad results of pride I have been meditating on that verse. I believe it is the real key to the end of our drought. EVEN TO ADMIT WE NEED PRAYER CAN BE HUMBLING. Humbler still when we actually pray.
                               Speaking of which...

Here Sasha is priming the pump...to no good effect.
we have just a few gallons left in the water tank
up the hill from the wash house.

So lets bow the knee. Time to stop being so pridefully independent.
We are in fact dependent on the Lord, and the other members of
our Lord's extended body.

So the top well is not giving us water at all now.
I know we need to drill this well deeper.
But did not realize what a high priority that is.

There is one more well however. We get water in the kitchen
and connected restroom from the bottom well. It is down near Burulcka
creek which, as I showed you, has stopped flowing now.

Three days ago that bottom well stopped working too!
The water level had dropped below the end of the intake pipe.
I am praying for rain several times a day now.

We bought a pipe extension to reach into the foot deep pool of water in the bottom of the well.

Sasha climbs down a simple ladder borrowed from our roof build. He works hard to turn the
fitting that holds the stop return valve that keeps the water in the pipe from flowing back down into
the well. After several minutes it still doesn't turn. I go get my dad's legacy, old but good channel lock pliers to help hold the pipe steady. Sasha's efforts look as though he may break the plastic pipe. I am praying hard.

At last it turned. Whew!!! We clean the valve and install the pipe extension with our new makeshift filter.

Sergei turns on the garden faucet and washes his hands 
in the precious water, murky, yes but wet.

This morning I washed my hands with this water and made coffee with it too. 

But...there is so little of it now.

Please remember 2 Chronicles 7:14

I just noticed an important word in that verse.

IF <What a word. It is our main prayer
problem is it not? We make time for so many other things 
it has stopped being WHEN we pray, but IF we pray. 

In that verse I find three important \items for prayer.
1) Humble myself and pray (without ceasing).
2) Seek the Lord's face (not just His hand).
3) Turn from my wicked ways (repent).

The promised results are well worth the effort.



The roof is now adequately covered for rain!

This side is completely covered. The other side has
large wave asbestos/cement underlay panels on it
ready for tiles, which will be laid on starting Monday.
so now we can handle all but the heaviest downpours. 

But just look at that sky!

We had a small shortage of the antique mission tiles
until late last week when Anatoli found a pile the owner would 
let go for 1.5 grevna per tile.

They were among the dirtiest I have seen.

We have been wearing out wire brushes washing them
But we are laying about 14 square meters a day.

These tiles remind us of our humanity. They are made of
common clay even as God made the first man, 
formed on the knee where we need
to be spending time... and baptized to be presentable.

This ROJ Foundation owned house needs new electric wiring,
new ceilings, at least three new windows,
and stucco to give the short list.

I am tapping my credit cards for money.
God will warm more hearts for this project.
But until that happens I am investing in it.
Will you?
See the donate address here.

Meanwhile. LOOK OUT America

Coming back for a visa renewal.
God sent me a new friend to help make that happen.
More later

Love & Blessings
in Yashua,
David Gerry Hallowell

Sunday, August 19, 2012


So we worked hard to get the roof up, because everything was getting real dry and we did not want to be anyone who may be accused of holding up the blessing of the Lord, the rain. We built up the walls around the front entry to match  the rest of the house. 

We use "rakushka,"here. It is soft sedimentary stone
 that our builders actually often shape with a hatchet! 
It is full of air pockets, 
giving the walls a pretty good 'R' value. 

This RAKUSHKA sedimentary stone 
that is cut up and used all over Crimea for building  
may actually be a result of 
the great flood recorded in Genesis 
according to some scientists! 
A reinforced concrete pour finishes the wall, 
then a wooden board is cemented 
and lag bolted to the top of the wall 
to connect with the rafters. 
We use reinforced concrete grape stakes to hold 
up the wall above the windows and doors. 
Such simple local resources help to keep us 
moving ahead briskly.

The brothers Sasha and Sergei consult often but the boards
are gradually becoming a roof.

Then the upper well stops. 
We check the water level and the
stop return valve. 
We have air in the line and the pump wants 
to work all the time.
We turn off the pump to let the water level rise 
...hopefully, while we give the pump motor a rest. 

"O God, You are my God; 
Early will I seek You; 
My soul thirsts for You; 
My flesh longs for You 
In a dry and thirsty land 
Where there is no water. 
Psalm 63:1 NKJV

We still don't pray for rain though.' 
We work quickly to be ready for it.

Not exactly the safest scaffolding I've ever witnessed  

Once we get most of the gables up and the rafters, 
the roof gets top boards! Quickly we lay on the
plastic they call, "hydro barrier"here. So NOW
WE ARE READY FOR RAIN (supposedly).

It is a good thing we are too because,
'Burulcha, 'our little river of joy has become...


It is unclear how long the lower well will hold up. 
The land is parched.


Elohim answers our earnest plea.

Dark clouds come rushing in from the Southwest. 
There is thunder and lightening
and now we do not resist the downpour. 
We speak not a word of rebuke. No, we 
welcome it with shouts of. 


Our gravel path becomes a  mini waterway. 

Then I get a wake-up call. Anatoli runs to Rechnaya 7.
Something is wrong... 

For what eventuality have we not prepared?
spiritually we seem to be hitting on all four. 
The Lord is answering our prayers.
But we have forgotten one important thng...

We forgot to add in...
The roof is leaking right through our hydro barrier!
We did not expect perfection. 
Once we have the corrugated asbestos and
mission tile in place this roof should be 
solid and waterproof for many years,
but for a rain or two we expected 
this plastic sheeting to hold..  
We were sold defective merchandise 
and also not told that it
comes with small pores, not designed to
stop a downpour.

Sasha feels responsible. 
He gets sick to his stomach and stops coming to meals.
Sergei steps on a nail and begins to limp around slowly. 
Victory seems 
to have been turned into defeat!

But we press on.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


With the Midwest in a hot dry oven and rain seemingly far-far away here in Crimea Ukraine as well, the need for a covering, a roof, may also seem far away. But as we titled our last Blog post Everyone needs a covering (roof). 

The most important covering you and I need is the Lord. >>> Psalm 91. The whole subject of coverings was hot in Christian circles back in 1992-3 when The Lord sent me over here to the former Soviet Union. I was a hopeless freak in many eyes because I had the backing of no big (or little) church, no mission agency or board, few supporters, no visible assurance I would survive in a hostile environment with a whole different alphabet, not to mention I was already 48 years old and didn't even know Russian yet.  No sane church would have picked up my option.

This is Sasha after we removed the porch roof completely on July 30th. As we removed the old roof clear to the ceiling we also began to pray AGAINST RAIN! Sasha had convinced me to leave the old clay and straw insulation above the ceilings in the rest of the house in place. It actually provides better thermal insulation than modern building materials and leaving it in place will cut our costs. But if it gets wet the sagging ceilings could fall before we can shore them up with new ceiling panels. Sasha asked me to hire his younger brother Sergei for his same wage, $25 a day. Sergei would support Sasha and as it turned out he had some good ideas on building too. "The roof must be strong. We need a top-center Board."
Sergei Zhitkov tells me how he sees
the roof construction going ahead.

 This is a different culture with an infamous mafia, a corrupt government and a history of cold-war anti-western sentiment. When I hit the ground in Ukraine It felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode. (Where is Rod Serling when you need him?) Seemingly I had time traveled back to 1936 during the great depression. It was all a bit disconcerting to put it mildly. 

On my first trip back to Santa Barbara, where I was about to quit my well paying job as a product manager with a high-tech medical equipment company I made it a point to ask a pastor I liked about my lack of covering issue. Understandably he could not take me under his wing, but he prayed for me, then directed me to Psalm 91. I have never lacked for a covering since. God covers me with His wings. You couldn't ask for better coverage.     
ASBESTOS! This cement and asbestos panel roofing is still the favored roofing material in the former Soviet Union! But it adds to the depression that the old ugly buildings here give to an art lover. We are saving these old panels for under-laying our mission tile, which is a beautiful, historic roofing undervalued by builders here. We buy 80 mission tiles for $10! We clean the mossy surface of the tile and of the, "sheafer," asbestos panels, then paint the corrugated valleys a color like mission tile. The asbestos saves us trough tile. We use just over half as many tiles on our roofs as normal. But now the race is on to get the roof waterproofed before the rains come. We must get the old roof removed and the new gable up post haste. I am concerned that I have but two roofers.

It is already a dry summer here in Crimea. The Spring rains were light this year. "Burulcha," our creek, is disappearing rapidly. We hope the wells hold up. The heat is awful. I start carrying cold water to the builders. The old roof comes down in two days. But storm clouds are gathering.
Our ancient foe seeks to work us woe. The forecast is for rain tomorrow. What a mess that would make of our project  Will it be rain or shine?

The morning sky reminds us, "Red sky at morning sailors take warning." It looks like we are in for a storm. As we sit outside at breakfast under lowering sky I suddenly remember Jesus promised, "Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." Matt. 18:18-20 (emphasis mine).

Alina gets her chickens under cover.
So we all pray a prayer of agreement. "Dear Heavenly Father in Jesus' name we ask that you DO NOT ALLOW IT TO RAIN ON OUR BUILDING UNTIL WE GET THE ROOF UP."  We remember to ask only for the building so as not to exclude local farms from much needed moisture. 

I am not sure How God does weather, but I remember that Elijah prayed both for and against rain and God answered. (1 Kings chapters 17 & 18). By lunch time the wind whipped the market umbrella over our table so hard it tried to take flight. The clouds were rolling in...OH NO! LORD you promised to answer our prayer of agreement. Still thunder and lightening heralded a heavy shower in the offing. I remember Satan is called, " the prince of the power of the air." The heavens above us are in uproar. 

Big drops of water began to fall. Not many but with all the wind and thunder it looked like we are in for a heavy downpour. Sasha and Sergei take shelter under the uncovered ceiling and began to crack nuts. I rushed to that house, looked in the front door. The ground in the porch area was not yet fully covered with water. Remembering the believer's authority I SHOUTED these words."SUKA, SUKA. SUKA, (DRY, DRY, DRY, ) RAIN YOU STOP IN JESUS NAME!"  

The rain stopped right away. The guys went right back to work.  

The next day we learned that a tornado did a good bit of damage just a few kilometers away about then. Seems the wind prince was angry.  

I went to buy boards for the roof framing. They asked me to buy rolls of plastic as rain insurance. I bought the hydro-barrier we were going to need anyway for the waterproofing layer after we had the boards up.  Perhaps it would show no lack of faith to do that much. 

Sasha and Sergei laid it on the rafters before continuing. I wonder why we have so little faith in the one who put the whole weather system together. Stay tuned for more graphic updates....

My roofers are not yet paid for last week. Today another missionary offered to loan me money to get that done. I believe God will provide...always.

To donate please see the yellow panel on this page for how to send help. (link)

Love & Blessings, David

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


PUBLISHED 8-8-12 Yesterday I was in Simferopol walking in extreme heat from the tax office where I got my Ukraine ID renewed  (WHEW!)  to central market with Sasha Zuyev, my new ambassador to the bureaucracy. It helps that he is a deputy minister in the Sel Soviet in Zelenogorsk, the controlling agricultural land office in the micro-region where River of Joy project is and where I live.  Sasha is a member of the session. In addition to doing the bureaucratic interface work he will lobby for our interests before the next session which will determine our lease cost, hopefully obtaining a lower cost lease for us based on our non-profit charity work. That is as it should be, but it does no harm to have a man known for his integrity take your case. We were walking and talking for about a mile on burning sidewalks of broken blacktop because Sasha is a fitness freak.  I like him in spite of that.

We were talking about the SBU (Internal Affairs, like KGB but new internal Ukraine police) He had a meeting with one of their officers scheduled. They were asking his advice on another land issue. That triggered a memory for me. I told him about one time we had a humantarian aid container waiting for custom's clearance. It was one of 22 we have received from NIICCA in Northern Ireland. It had some pretty cool stuff in it, including used notebook computers and hospital supplies. We met with the commissioner of Hum Aid in Simferopol. He was also the local Director of Aid distribution for the Red Cross and incorrigibly corrupt. He asked for something from our container, (which he would sell and pocket the proceeds). We told him flatly, "NO!" He said, "Then I will hold up your customs clearance."

What this man didn't know is that the previous container we had distributed came with an old used G.E. CAT Scan unit in it. None of the children's hospitals or regional hospitals we helped wanted the enormous contraption. But the Military Hospital received it even though it was over 10 years old, not working and G.E. was not supporting it with parts.  They needed it for P.R. so it seems. We let them have it, grateful to get it off our hands..

Immediately the SBU took us under their wing! We were supposed to help them fight terrorism. That seemed good so long as it did not take much effort or hurt the help we were providing sick children. They asked for three used notebooks from the container from NIICCA. We agreed. So even though the Director of humanitarian Aid didn't sign off on it for lack of a bribe, our container was quickly released from customs! He was one dumbfounded big shot. "Who is your roof?" he asked. "SBU!" Surprise is not a strong enough word to describe the look on his face.

That was eleven years ago.  Now we are working on more fundamental cultural problems like how to put hurting children in God's care with loving parents rather than a governmental orphanage.

Speaking of roofs, the old farmhouse we warehouse hum aid in prior to distribution and things like toys and costumes for use in our children's  camps has sprung several leaks! We had water damage problems last winter/spring. This is how it looked when I came back the first of June.



Local contractors asked firstly $10.000 then over $8500 to do the reconstruction...rafters and all. In America it would be a bargain but here at least half of it will go to the contractor and it won't get done right.
I waited a little nervously until Sasha Zhitkov, who helped me do our other roofs was finished with his other work in Simferopol. He and his brother are doing this work now and I am self contracting. At first it put a huge load on yours truly. Up to day before yesterday I was buyiing groceries, preparing all the meals for the guys who are from Simferopol but camp out here all week. I am buying building materials, dealing with local authorities on land issues and drawing our builders pictures of how I want the roof bracing done. Now we have a cook.


SO I am taking an hour or two to do this newsletter in hopes we can get a little more money help. So far we have gone through $3800 including my Social Security money. Another $2500 should finish the project...HELP PLEASE. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

River of Joy Camp 2012 ~ God and children connected.

One secret of the success of this year's River of Joy Camp was the weather! We had rain the first two days and part of the third. Maybe it wasn't exactly an act of faith but I bought some "Plonka" (plastic sheeting) to wrap our leaky old tents in so the children could sleep dry.

Realizing we need good weather for ROJ tent camp, we called pastor and prayer warrior friends and did some serious praying ourselves. "Lord please stop the rain and give us a blessed and healthy camp."     
                                   He answered.

We had clear weather until the end of camp.

This year camp was on the theme, "Taking the Lord's Ship Around the World." I liked its blatantly Pauline missionary nature. The staff of 22 liked it because it got them thinking creatively about costumes. and unusual things like Indian praise and worship songs. I changed a Texas Motor Speedway baseball cap into an Admiral's cap and told the children my story that compares the metamorphosis of butterflies with the New Birth, The children had fun and really connected. It took us all out of our local religious box and into the huge and expansive ideas that God must have as He confronts a wide variety of cultures and demonic opposition around the globe.

We had children from a variety of cultures involved too. We had family children from smokestack towns in Eastern Ukraine, town and country kids from Crimea. We had poor local village kids and as usual some messed up children from extremely dysfunctional families or orphanages who could not help at all with camp expenses. While those who pay get camp cheaply from us, the extremely poor kids are the main reason why we ask for donation help to do camp. 

Some of the children were second or third timers who just can't wait for camp to come around. We even had a child from a local Muslim Crimean Tatar family. She met the Lord here then joyously danced to gospel songs. Her alcoholic uncle later identified himself to me at our bus stop by causing me to recall her attendance. He was impressed 
with the change in her to say the least.

On day five of our ten day camp, I spent all day in Belogorsk and Zelenogorsk ~ visited five offices on land issues. We are trying to get a long term land lease going so we can build a children's home and chapel here at River of Joy.

I was still bushed when the tent meeting started after supper, finally deciding not to attend. Alina Navitsky showed up on the way to the meeting wearing a blonde wig! She announced the day's theme was India! Failing to see any connection between a blonde wig and India, I congratulated myself for staying back. 

Meeting noises floated down the hill. The kids were unusually loud and boisterous. Then they went still. Vitally sang and played, "How Great is our God" (in Russian). Everything got really quiet. I dozed and chilled out contentedly. It must have been just then God took charge 
of that meeting. I did not find it all out until later on.

This photo is actually the next day as the revival continued. That night Alina stood up in her blonde wig and took the children to task for their casual and noisy approach to worship. The kids got the message as the Holy Spirit moved on them. There was a sound of children weeping, repenting. They started falling on their faces in the grass or kneeling. Many began to speak in tongues. 12 of the 35 children we had in camp were baptized in the Holy Spirit without human prompting that very night. It was a, "God Thing." Our preacher was dumbfounded. Nobody but the Lord was in charge. I remember years and years of pastor's prayer meetings where we prayed for revival habitually. Then the Lord showed up big time and I missed the event. 

I am wearing a bracelet that reads, "EESUS MOYA SKALA," means, "JESUS IS MY ROCK." That seems to be the joyful message on this camper's face as he enjoys the River of Joy trampoline.

Thanks to everyone who gave to help us do camp again this year, especially my dear mother. Thanks to all of your gifts we fed 57 people for ten days and a bit longer for the set up and take down crews and were able to bless the camp director and hard working kitchen crew with monetary gifts. We also bought and strung lots of electric wire for tent village lights and got a combi portable PA system, and guitar amp that was just right for tent services. 

There were a lot of inspiring stories connected with camp this year. One I can photo illustrate is Sergei, a victim of multiple sclerosis who volunteered to help in the kitchen. He could barely walk but his attitude of  joy and helpfulness are a blessing participants at River of Joy Camp this year will long remember. Every morning when I asked him, "How are you?"His rejoinder was always, "Best of all!"

Thanks to Cass from U.K., over here connecting with orphans, and Dr.Wilson Turner, both of whom made brief appearances at ROJ camp. Cass brought lots of useful anti-bug items and a football (or soccer ball). The football became a grand prize for our talent show. Wil has been putting our electricity in order. Welcome back again both of you. Thanks to our hard working and dedicated crew as well.

The old Soviet Army tent in which we have been doing services desperately needs replacing. 

Please pray we get that done at least before next summer.

Stay tuned for our next blog entitled, 
"Everyone needs a covering!"

Love and Blessings from your friend David Gerry Hallowell in Crimea