February greetings to all of you! Still enjoying this year’s winter or are you getting impatient for the spring to be here soon? Our February started with Tomasz again going to Odesa for the DELKU Pastors’ meeting. One of the challenges of these meetings is that they are in Russian (we speak Ukrainian). Most of the time it’s ok because Tomasz can understand quite a bit of Russian even though he can’t speak it. But this time one of the language misunderstandings was that Tomasz worked on the wrong text all of the pastors were supposed to study before coming to the conference. The pre-conference information letter was in Russian and it said to study this text... The reference was abbreviated and it started with “E”. In Ukrainian, the only New Testament book starting with “E” is Ephesians. So Tomasz studied this text from Ephesians even though he was a little confused as to why these very verses were chosen. When he arrived to the conference he learned that the assigned text was not from Ephesians but from Hebrews!!! In Russian, “E” is pronounced “ye” and is the first letter of the book Hebrews. In Ukrainian, Hebrews also starts with “ye” but it’s spelled “Є”. Well, something new to learn all the time...
Speaking of Russian still being used a lot in some parts of Ukraine (even though Ukrainian is the only official language), Ukraine now has a “Russian-speaking” president. As many of you probably know, on February 7 Viktor Yanukovych was elected the new Ukrainian president.
We are curious to see what this change brings for Ukraine and for us living in Ukraine as foreigners. If you’d like to, you can read more about Viktor Yanukovych here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Yanukovych
On February 18, our little lady “celebrated” 9 months. We can’t believe she is already such a big girl. She is now crawling all over our home, she is cruising the furniture, always exploring something new... What a busy little girl she is!
On February 20, instead of a regular youth group meeting, we had a “Family Night” at our house. That day our youth group meeting was not just for the youth, but also the parents and people from our church were invited to join us on that night. Our goal was to give a chance to the parents and people from our church to see “what we are doing with their kids” :) And also for all of us to get to know each other and to enjoy some God-centered fellowship.
We sang songs, had a Bible Study and watched a video presentation showing some of the children and youth ministry highlights from the last two years. And then we also played a game. You got a word and you had to either draw, pantomime or explain the word to your team in a way that they could guess it.
We were really thankful for this opportunity to spend time with people from our church and to get to know some of our students’ parents, especially those who do not come to our church. When it was time for people to go home, many were saying “Until next time” :) So we will see what new opportunities open from this.
In our January email update we asked you to pray for a boy from our youth group who was publicly getting involved in some bad things so we had to ask him not to come to our youth group meetings until things change. I (Tomasz) wanted to meet with him one-on-one but he did not return my phone calls and avoided all other ways of contact. The good news is that about two weeks ago, he himself called me, we got together and after we talked, he deleted the bad stuff he had on his Facebook (Satanism as his only interest, links to bad movies, etc.). He is now again welcome to come to our youth group meetings and I also invited him to meet with me to study the book of Ephesians together (one-on-one Bible Study). He did come to our first Bible Study meeting even though we met early in the morning before school so that was encouraging. On the other hand, I guess I hoped for more of a repentant attitude, more of a heart change. Right now it’s more like, “what I was doing was just a phase in my life, many of my friends (including some from the German Lutheran church) are involved in these things too, I am not doing it any more, it’s not such a big deal...” Please pray for this boy and for me as we continue our Bible Study meetings, that God would really get hold of his heart and that there would be a real change in his life.
We are right now in Poland, taking our “border crossing trip”. Everything went well at the border except that the officer told us that with our non-Ukrainian car we need to cross the border every two months not every three :( That is not good news for us because we already have a lot traveling to do. We will again try to look into our options as for registering our car in Ukraine, but when we were trying to do that last time, we did not get very far (just spent a lot of time on it without finding anything helpful). If you’d remember this in your prayers too, we’d appreciate it very much.
Thank you again for your friendship and support. If you’d like to see some more pictures, you can see some below or you can go to http://www.chmiels.com/HannahJoy/. You will find both family and ministry pictures in Hannah’s Picasa album.
Tomasz, Miriam and Hannah Chmiel