What a great way to spend the first day in Ukraine

Friday, January 12, 2007
Khust, Ukraine
I slept until 9:30 this morning. Since we ate so late last night I was not wanting to eat breakfast knowing that the Polichko's would hospitably serve us lunch with the children. Nina was OK with that, but when Ivan Yurishko came back from work to pick me up, he wouldn't stand for that. He started cutting up cheese, sausage, bread, tomatoes, cucumbers and setting the table. I know that they are trying to be hospitable, but there is an obsession that guests be served meals whether they want them or not. So, I took a few bites. We discussed happening in the Sabbatarian churches and more. My communications with Ukraine by phone and email have not been very good for the last six months and we had a lot to catch up. I had a check-off list of about a dozen things that I needed to get answered, straightened out or resolved.

We headed out towards Vinogradov. But, we first stopped by to meet Ivan Maxim, an old friend. He is a kindly bachelor who has given himself to help people through his mission in Khust. We were just going to meet him and say hi, but we convinced him to come along with us for the day. In Ukraine many things just happen....plans for the day change on the spot. Ivan Maxim is always a good companion. We talked and philosophized. My wife Bev was very partial to him because of us good nature. He is a Baptist and Bev just always referred to him as John the Baptist to differentiate him from all the other Ivans. The big Ukraine names are Ivan and Victor. You'll always find one--even in the smallest group of boys.

But, before we could go out to Vinogradov, Ivan wanted me to see his cement-mixing business. He had bought a cement mixing truck in Germany with his brother-in-law Yura Hetzko. They bought part of a defunct factory on the river bank of the Reka River and starting mixing concrete. They have the only cement mixing truck in the entire region. Their business is very successful as there is high demand for mixed cement. They pour pads of all types for all types of new construction. The operation was impressive, even though they had makeshift means to add the mixture of cement and gravel. They has a front end loader ride up a ramp to dump the gravel and cement into the turning truck. But, they are building a structure which will make it possible to drive the truck under a loading spout. They plan to add two more cement trucks.

I'm getting a little edgy about the time because I really want to see the children in Vinogradov. It's already 12 o'clock (Kiev time) and that's when we were to be there. Ivan tells me not to worry. This is Ukraine he says and people are used to being a little late because of this and that distraction. Ivan miraculously makes our journey quick to Vinogradov....the miracle in part was made up by his reaching speeds of 110 miles per hour on the road between Khust and Vinogradov. No one wears seatbelts. It's considered impolite to wear seatbelts as it indicates that you question your driver's safe driving. Ivan's seat belt is never on although I couldn't help reach for mine. The little beeper continually goes off indicating that the seat belt needs to be fastened, but Ivan tells me that he cannot hear. But, I can.

We stopped at a store to pick up chocolates for the children and surprisingly were only 20 minutes late for our meeting. We met at the new facility that Vasyl and Irina Polichko had envisioned and are building what they call the Christian Learning Center. Their idea is to help young children come to conversion through education. Their goal with helping street children and orphans is to not only show the love of Christ, but to teach them about Jesus Christ. This new four story building will be called the Children's Charitable Building "Pure Source." It will be for orphans and children neglected by their parents and they will stay here continually. Twenty boys will be living in the building constantly and there will be small apartments for two families to oversee them. They felt it better to have children of one sex and decided to have boys. The government has finally taken notice of the Polichko's patient loving work for the past ten years and has budgeted a certain amount of money to help this project which is in addition the project that LifeNets has been sponsoring the past six years in Vinogradov for the street children. Also, a mobile telephone company called KievStar donated $14,000 for furniture which was in the building. It included tables, chairs, beds, dressers, desks and much more. The Polichko's trust God to provide and in the most unusual ways God does give them what they need. This is the way the financing has taken place for the LifeNets Street Children and Orphans program has come about. I am overjoyed for what is happening. The Polichko's are not getting any younger and Vasyl Polichko has severe myopia and can only see me if he looks sideways at me. I admire them so much for what they do against all odds.

The children all sang a few songs and recited a few poems about Bible events. The young girl Diana recited a compelling story about Noah's flood and how God gives salvation. They sang a few songs which are always inspiring. The children are amazingly attached to the Polichko's. It was good to see children that we know: Edita, Gabriella and her brother Slava, George (he was recently healed of a brain tumor), Emille, Vika, Vanessa, Lolita and another Katya among all the others. LifeNets has given Slava a scholarship grant to finish high school in Khust. He was almost illiterate a few years ago. Now, he's at the top of his class in Khust.

The young girl Natasha who Katherine Rowland was drawn to especially was not there. In Ukraine Christmas is celebrated on the old Julian calendar on January 7th and she was with one of her parents for the holiday break. We found that young eight year old girl Katya who we also got to know (whose picture is in the last LifeLines newsletter waving her hand) was also not there because she in the hospital with kidney failure. One of her kidneys has completely failed and they are talking about a kidney transplant. Before I leave western Ukraine on Monday night, I want to visit her and her mother at the hospital in Mukachevo from where my overnight train will leave for Kiev.

We had a nice lunch with tasty food. Diana who recited the poem about the Flood sat close to me. Vasyl Polichko asked her whether she believed in God and she said "yes" in a sheepish way, but said that she was asking Uncle Vasya (what the children call Vasyl Polichko) to pray that a blessing come on her to become a sincere believer and not a nominal one. That was a most interesting observation. We then talked about how many people say they are Christians and also about how many really are as evidenced by the fruits in their lives.

It was a wonderful visit for three hours. The Sabbath is approaching. It comes at 4 pm in Vinogradov and we head back for Khust at a more reasonable speed. We stop at the Ivan's business again, talk to Ivan Talpush. Bev and I attended his wedding 13 years ago. He has three children now. He works with Ivan Yurishko and continually makes equipment runs to Germany and back.

Back to Ivan's home. Before the sun sets Ivan and I talk more things that we need to discuss in person. Ivan is a deacon and he is to conduct the Friday night Bible Study in Khust. Since I will be seeing all the people tomorrow at Sabbath services, I decided to stay home and write this report so that I can share it and some photos with you.

More to come.....please keep checking the blog. I've got to work on my sermon tomorrow which is "The Lord's Prayer" that I'll give in Ukrainian in both Khust and Rokosova. I just love being here!
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Thank you for the update, Vic--poor Katya! I pray for her healing and safety. Thank you for the notes on all the children.


In Ukraine
So glad you are sharing all your trip with us. The children that you mention are a joy to see and learn more about. Sandy and I will be praying for 8 year old Katya.
Reggie and Sandy Warren