Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I spent a few days in Warsaw. Oddly, I never once thought to pull out my camera. I was having such a good time that I didn't have time to stop and take pictures!


Riga, Latvia basically looks like a city in a fairy tale. It's big, but absolutely beautiful. I stayed with friends and they were very excited to show me their city.


Bill and Helen Lovelace hosted me in Kaunas, Lithuania and we had a great time just strolling through the city.


The hill of crosses in Siauliai, Lithuania sends an enduring message of hope to Christians being persecuted. The Soviet government bulldozed the hill and removed the crosses at least 3 times ... but the people continued to come back and bring crosses.


This picture isn't from my vacation ... but it should be. These are two of my roommates. I live with three Ukrainians and I'm the only meat-eater and the only non-artist. In this picture, my roommates are conducting a photo session. A good time was had by all!

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Thursday, October 21, 2010


Hi friends,

I wanted to update everyone. I'm currently on a ten day vacation. While it would have been really enjoyable to outline every detail of the trip - that tends to confuse people. It seems that people have a hard enough time remembering that I'm in Ukraine and not Uganda without me writing the names of dozens of cities every day. Here's a brief look at my vacation.

I spent a weekend with a friend in Warsaw, Poland. He had a break from school and we saw literally everything worth seeing in Warsaw. I met a lot of his friends, and in general it was a perfect weekend. I walked more than 20,000 steps every day!

I spent a few days in Riga, Latvia with some friends there. I rested a bit more and did a bit less touring. My Latvian friends are quite keen on theatre, so we did a lot of artsy stuff.

Right now, and for the next few days, I am enjoying Kaunas, Lithuania. My friends Bill and Helen Lovelace work here (as well as in Kiev, Ukraine) and I'm with them. I might tour one or two buildings - but the rest of my time will be spent just sitting around, resting, and enjoying good company.

It's been wonderful to recharge a little bit in Europe. It's been a huge blessing spending some time with old friends and depending on the hospitality of others.

Love, Michael.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

More photographic evidence that I really live in Ukraine.

So, I'm in Warsaw visiting some friends, and I found some great photos on one of their computers.

This might be the best picture I've ever seen of the Opera House.

As a general rule; when I look good in a picture, everyone else doesn't. Michal Kurek (pronounced Mikow, and he's my host in Warsaw) is on the right. And Gosha is on the left.

I think this picture just sums up my life in so many ways.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Our hands fold around mugs of hot tea. With only three days until the city turns the heat on for the year, these final days are cold and sometimes painful. I'm nursing an old back injury, brought back by lifting too many heavy things these last few weeks.

After a morning of conversation with the students around the center, my numb fingers try to peck out a sermon. Maybe my mind is frozen, too. I just can't get my thoughts across. As with any writer's block - the key is to not panic. Just accept that today probably won't produce a hum-dinger, but hope that something foundational can be created.

The chanting is always distant at first. Some days it seems that a riot is inevitable. The Minister of Education will be imposing a fine of 50 UAH for each lesson missed by every student. My friends who have managed to find employment generally make about 5 UAH an hour. Yes, it would take 10 hours of work to pay the fine for missing a SINGLE class.

We work with University students. That's our ministry here. We pray them through the bi-annual seasons of finals where they labor over tests for more than a month at the end of each semester. We teach conversational English to supplement their grammar-intense English courses. And we march beside them in opposition to unfair laws which attempt to place the blame for the poor education system in the laps of students.

A few more days and the heat will return to our apartments. That minor gripe will disappear. How long until the students are given a quality education which supports their desire to learn and to grow?