The Sabbath in Khust

Saturday, January 17, 2009
Khust, Ukraine
We have been adding travel tips in these blogs. We have had quite a bit of discussion about the separation that we had with wives on Thursday in Budapest as we were going to board the train to Ukraine. So we have another travel tip:
Travel Tip 41: Stick Together. Don't send off your wives in a cab to the train station without you when there is more than one train station in town. Something is about to go wrong. If you stick together and something goes wrong, you will all have the comfort of going down in flames together.
OK, back to our continuing story.   
We went to bed unusually tired but not particularly late last night. That usually sets up waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep and brings on the fears of a difficult day ahead. Well, I got up at 1:30 and probably was up until 4:00 am and then slept lightly until 7:00 am. Church services are at 10:00 am. We look forward to seeing people we have known for the 17 years we have been coming to this area. 
Breakfast was served in the suite that the Scharpens were staying in. Ivan Yurishko made sure that we are well cared for. The suite is called the Presidential Suite and is no doubt the nicest hotel room in town. It is really nice under and set of standards. Khust has come a long way. When we first came here in 1992 I can't even remember any hotels that a person could stay in. There probably were, but now you see western-style hotels with signs and lights. I reviewed my notes and thoughts together for the Church service. Scott Scharpen and I will both be speaking. I know that I will be doing translation for most of the day both publicly and in interpersonal conversations.  

We meet Vasya Pavliy in services who now lives in Portland, Oregon. He was back visiting his family. He was the third speaker of the day. Also present was Vasyl Nemesh, the minister with the accordion. He just came back from Kazahkstan where he visited churches and conducted some evangelism. He was not able to speak much because he lost his voice, but he did play some songs on the accordion. The pastor Vasyl Mondich greeted us warmly. I have known him the entire time of my visits to this area. He also just returned from being in Moscow for three months. There was also a person visiting from the Czech Republic. Ivan Yurishko just returned from the United States from visiting his daughter who just had a baby in Spokane. Services are still on the second floor of Nazareth Mission that is still directed by Victor Pavliy.   
Scott and I were taken to the front. Bev and Carolyn sat among the people in their prayer scarves which is traditional for the women. The room was packed. The church has grown to close to a hundred and there were lots of children.

Services began robustly with prayer and singing. Then more prayer. Then the children came up and sang as a choir. It was beautiful. Then individual children recited scripture and poems. They do this every week. Services are very participatory with special emphasis on children. Then I was asked along with Scott to conduct the blessing on the children. This blessing is done every Sabbath. We both offered prayers on the children; it was wonderful to see them showing this honor and value so publicly.   
Services ran for a little over three hours. As usual, they have trouble bringing them to a close. They officially end. But, wait, there's more! The pastor solicits more song requests and, of course, they are honored. Then there are prayer requests. A touching request was for heat in the winter and that the Russians don't cut off the gas supply to Ukraine. Then some announcements. The big one was for the wedding of Dr. Vera Andrashko's son. The wedding will be tomorrow. The young couple is asked to come up to the front of the congregation. They formally invite everyone to come to the wedding tomorrow at 3:00 Kiev time at the School of Forestry. They have been dating for more than three years. He has been doing his internship in Moscow and is soon returning. The young couple decided to get married now and go to Moscow together rather than him finishing his internship and then getting married.  
After this there were greeting from other churches. I stood up and gave greetings from the Terre Haute and Lafayette, Indiana congregations back home and the entire congregation asked that greetings from them be sent to my congregations.
Finally, it is apparent that this is the real end of the services and people. Time is not important. Vasyl Nemesh comments that it is still a long way off from sunset. This reminds me of the phrase that we heard from our friends in Zambia, Africa who told us: "you have the watches, we have the time."  
After services we fellowshipped with various people. This is the first that I had a conversation with Victor Pavliy in years. We worked together with Mission Nazareth, but had not done so in ten years. In years past we sent containers that Mission Nazareth had distributed. This included dental chairs that came from Pennsylvania. We caught up on the news of his family. We gave his talented daughter a flute about ten years ago. She is an accomplished musician. She is now married and is Victor is a grandfather. We had lost touch over the years and it was good to get caught up.  
Over to Ivan and Nina's for lunch. It's always very tasty as hospitable Nina prepared two kinds of soup, several kinds of meats, salads....all yummy. As usual, the conversation is full of laughter and joy. We talked about Church and family.  
As the afternoon draws on we go into the living room. Pastor Vasyl Mondich who lives a few doors down came over and we talked a few more hours. The Khust Church now keeps all the Holy Days. There is resistance in the area and Vasyl described some of the challenges.
Vasyl has been working in Moscow the last few months. 
I brought with me what's needed to do some printing for the United Church of God. This included lessons 7-12 of the Bible Study course. We will print 3000 copies each of those lessons and 1500 copies of the Holy Day booklet. We will leave 1000 copies each of the Bible Study lessons and 750 copies of the Holy Day booklet with the Ukrianians. Johnnie Lambert, Jude Sieker, Carolyn Barker, Basil Kopey, Natasha Weatherhood have put in a valiant effort in organizing this's all in my hand as a CD with all this formatted work in PDF format. We also talk about transporting all the literature we have by the Sabbatarians directly to Estonia. We have so much that a taking it up in a van would probably be the best way to go. One of the Sabbatarians, one of our LifeNets board members has a Schengen visa which allow him into Europe and thereby everywhere in the EU countries under the Schengen agreement-we hope that that he can just deliver it all at once. It will be quite a job, quite a load and quite a bit of storage for our apartment in Estonia.    
Time to get back to Vinogradov. After we returned we still had time to talk about the kids. It's hard to end the day. Ukrainians have a hard time ending social occasions. 
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