Thursday, April 29, 2010

He always seems to ask a question about the English language that I simply can't answer. Maybe he's read an English language idiom in a soviet-era textbook that he wants to confirm, perhaps he wants to know how to pronounce a word he doesn't know how to spell, or maybe he just wants confirmation that he's using a phrase right when he clearly isn't.

I never really know how to respond when he asks these questions. If he wasn't so persistent, perhaps I could change the subject. But it never seems to work that way. He's always in class, and the more I get to know him the more I genuinely enjoy his personality. He looks older than he is, I think. I assume he's a few years older than me - but I really don't know for sure.

He always seems to have a new friend from a foreign land. He introduces me to people from all over the planet. In a mono-culture like Ukraine, it's a little strange for people to so easily connect with foreigners. Even in a melting pot like the US we generally stick to people of our own culture.

He says that he's not really interested in religion and that he won't be until he sees a miracle. I have to believe that this is a cop out. I think that God is pulling at his heart and he will say anything to run from that.

So, I'll keep on answering unanswerable English questions and praying that one day he will want to learn more about something more substantial - that one day he will believe in Jesus.

Monday, April 26, 2010



Sometimes I like nothing more than to just go outside and take a walk. Slavic languages have a very distinct verb for this activity. The Urbandictionary alternative is "to hang out." Most young people live in small apartments with their extended families and it just isn't practical to have people over.

So they go for a walk.

Most of my friends live far from downtown and if I want to go for a walk at night I have to go alone. I'm always surprised at the large number of people in a city. I can walk for hours without bumping into anyone I know - and I know a considerable number of people for only having been here two months!

Spring is in the air and the city is beautiful. Flowers are blooming, young couples are enjoying each others company, and produce is getting cheaper.

I wish I could just sit down and talk with people. Nothing would make a walk better than to share it with other people.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

L'viv UMC was featured in an article about Change the World Sunday!

Read the article here

Change the World Sunday

These are some photos from L'viv UMCs celebration of the United Methodist Change the World Sunday. I made the sign they are holding up ... I only made one spelling mistake - which I covered up with a patch and made it look like I meant to do it! Haha. We handed out toys and flowers along with a nice scripture card including the information for L'viv UMC. It was a lot of fun and people REALLY took notice of the cards we gave them.


Staying busy

David made it safely back to the states - after a very stressful week in limbo. The baby hasn't arrived yet, but Shannon is full term and kiddo could come at any moment. I've got posterboard ready to make a bid "It's a boy/girl!" sign for the student center. As soon as kiddo is born and we find out which gender it is I will post it - as well as the super secret name they have for him/her.

I'm staying busy here. Next week is a testing week - which means I will be super busy and will spend all of my time at the student center. Last time we had fewer students than we had hoped - so pray that we get a good number of students registered for the courses.

Friday and Saturday are my days off - which just means I have time to finish everything I haven't had the time/motivation to work on during the work week! On Saturday night my friends took me to meet a magician and he performed card tricks for us. Last night Lily and I went to a Masons themed restaurant. It was really great and I look forward to taking my parents there!

In the near future: May 10th a group of students is traveling to Kiev to enjoy the Passion Tour - the students are super excited about it. I'm preaching a few times in the next few months. In mid-May I'm taking a trip to Poland for Visa reasons - but I plan on visiting Majden concentration camp and museum. I will be attending the Ukraine Annual conference in May. My parents are coming the first week of June! They've never traveled overseas and I look forward to sharing this beautiful city with them. Whew! I'm getting tired just looking over my schedule! It should be a lot of fun, though.

Last Thursday I preached at Pilgrims - the inter-confessional student worship service - and had a great response. During the sermon the drama team performed a skit and it was excellent. After the sermon, during the prayer time, a number of students came up for prayer and one girl even dedicated her heart to God. It was a huge blessing.

Today is Change the World Sunday - and L'viv UMC is taking part. We are passing out flowers, toys, and free hugs to change the world! I'm so excited.

I hope that everything is going well for you as well.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

L'viving it up.


I walked around L'viv and took pictures. These are two of my favorites.


Lilichka and I went to a theme restaurant and drank milkshakes. The restaurant is a city secret and you have to have a membership card to get in.
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Saturday, April 17, 2010



David enjoys the food prepared for Cooking with Jesus


The students eating together.


The students praying for David before he leaves.


The church charge conference.
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This is Pastor Lyubimir and his son Adam.


Absolutely adorable.


He's the first child to attend worship at L'viv UMC.
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Friday, April 16, 2010

The 400 Fund

I grew up in a church with more than 100 years of history. Close to 150 years ago, Methodists in a neighboring town saw the need for a Methodist presence in the tiny village of Kane, PA. They sent resources, people, and even a pastor to the emerging community to ensure that the residents could know and grow closer to God. I realize that it is because of those men and women who lived in the 1860s that I call myself a United Methodist, and that ultimately I am a Christian.

The church in which I currently worship will celebrate it's 6 month anniversary in summer 2010. I work with a United Methodist student ministry in L'viv, Ukraine and in January of this year the long-time goal of planting a multi-generational church finally became a reality. Our average worship, 3 months after the first service was held, is 12 people. There is plenty of room for growth - like the tortoise says, "slow and steady wins the race."

This church represents to me, exactly what The 400 Fund is all about. The 400 fund is an attempt to fund the planting of 400 new United Methodist Congregations in 4 years outside of the United States.

A few months ago, at a time in my life when I was living on a very small cost of living stipend, I made a goal of giving $1 to each of these 400 churches. I was inspired by Mary Watson, a Georgia business woman who gave $1,000 for each of the new churches. At the time, $400 was more than half of my monthly stipend, but I came to the realization that for the thousands of people around the world who would become Christians through the planting of United Methodist churches my small gift could be life changing. I was thrilled when I met my goal and sent in my check.

I'm challenging you to support The 400 Fund. Set a personal goal, encourage your children to set a goal(one dime for each church is $40 - about what your child might pay for a new video game) get your Sunday School class involved, make an announcment at church, have a yard sale, do a fundraiser, or do whatever God puts on your heart. In 4 years we can plant 400 new congregations - and with that momentum, who knows how many we can plant in the years after. United Methodist can drop a check in their weekly offering plate made out to their home church with "Advance#400400" on the memo line or anyone can give on-line at GBGM's secure site for The Advance.

I, I celebrate the day

These are the students of молодь до Ісуса (Molod do Isusa - Youth to Jesus) on top of Castle Hill after the sunrise service. Greeting the morning with singing is always a blessing. These students and young adults are fantastic and I look forward to sharing the next several months with them.

David Goran left for the US last night. He is currently in limbo -somewhere- because of the dust from the volcanic eruption in Iceland. My responsibilities increase tenfold in the Gorans' abscence and I'm grateful for their trust.

My English classes are underway. This was my first attempt at starting an English course from scratch (no curriculum, no book, no administrative person, etc) and I'm not terribly disappointed. There are fewer students than I would like, but I realize that this means the English class will be effective (small class size really does improve your chance of learning a foreign language) and hopefully they will tell people about it. I'm going to start advertising for next months course within the next week or two.

Everything is going well, and I'm grateful for all of your prayers.

Peace, Michael.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Testing Week

Hi friends,

Just making a prayer request. This week is testing week for prospective students in my English Course. Please pray that a lot of new students will find their way to the student center and "Youth to Jesus" through this class. Particularly, we are hoping to have some interest from 1st year students.

Thanks for continuing to lift me up!


Monday, April 5, 2010

Church Fellowship event

The church was invited out to a member's house in the countryside. So, first we waited for the bus for over an hour.


In this photo, a very bored Yura Leskiev and David Goran practice their acrobatics.


Oleg's mother prepared an amazing multi-course meal. The meal included the most amazing pickled vegetables ever.


Here we are eating together. It's good to be the church.


And after the meal we all enjoyed a nice food-induced coma.

Hope everyone else had a terrific Easter.
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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter festivities


We ate Easter Dinner with Erika (missing from photo) and her family. Her grandmother is just a hoot and reminds me of my friends in the Curtis Trogdon Wesley Sunday School class!


This is the altar table at the 3.5 month old L'viv UMC. I've unexpectedly landed in the position of Altar Guild. Haha. I'll try my best until Shannon gets back.


After church we went to a huge park where people do very traditional Ukrainian things - like play games. This game is a hybrid of Red Rover Red Rover and American Football. Basically two teams line up and hold on to each other as they run toward each other and try to push the other team back. It's full-contact Shove-of-War.


This is one of the beautiful Greek-Catholic churches inside the park.

The Blessing of the Baskets

In Ukraine, people take a basket of food to be blessed by the priest on the day before Easter. David and I were invited by one of our students, so we tried our best to pack a basket.


In this photo, Erika and her mother are repacking our basket the correct way. They enjoyed a good laugh at our attempt.


Everyone stands in a big circle and places their baskets on the ground. The priest comes around and blesses the baskets and sprinkles them with water.


It's exciting to see whole families participating in Christian traditions.


The cloth that is placed over the basket reads, "Christ is Risen."
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Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Easter Egg


This is the second Ukrainian Egg I made ... they're so much fun.

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Cooking with Jesus


Preparing food for Cooking with Jesus


David shows them how it's done!


The menu was baked fish, orange rice, and carrot cake with buttercream frosting.


Doesn't this look great?
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