Part of life here in the Dneprorudnoe church is the fact of a church building that has never been finished. There seems to be an endless list of tasks that need doing just to maintain the building in the shape it is in, not to mention finishing the originally planned construction. The main building project was done about 10-15 years ago!
A good deal of what I have been able to help with here has been in this area of 'finishing' work. That is, everything from cosmetic touch-ups of different varieties; taking apart the double-paned windows to caulk them in an effort to save on heating; digging ditches, building fences, mixing and pouring concrete, trimming trees, etc., etc., e..t..c. =)
One of the fellowship times that I am able to have a part in is the Tuesday evening "Mens' Meeting." This isn't what I grew up with in Charlotte, NC (I miss those!), not a time of informal catching up over a simple meal, followed with a devotional time led by the pastor. These meetings are often a walk-through of what needs to be done around the church, followed with an hour or two of actually making some progress on one project or another. Other times they are a 'talk-through' of spiritual/practical questions or problems that have come up in the church. We've also been going through a "Doctrine of Independent Baptist Churches of Ukraine,' in installments. This was something that was provided for the local churches to go through, critique, adjust and tweak as they see fit. Then they can discuss their additions/corrections with the national leadership, or they can just make it their own church's statement of faith. It's a bit drawn out, but is basically a conglomeration of the most widely known statements of faith, tweaked here and there to reflect their own history. (By the way, just FYI, this church is NOT affiliated with the American Independent Baptist churches. The Russian/Ukrainian Baptist church is NOT an American-planted entity, but entirely... homegrown, I guess you'd say.)
So, at our "Men's Meetings" in March/April, we decided to try and make a concerted effort toward progress on outside jobs that needed doing. One of those was getting a good layer of primer paint on a metal fence we had put up in the fall. I volunteered to work on that, since painting is one of my self-proclaimed 'specialties.' (Along with Omelettes, Procrastinating, and Scrubbing.) I ended up being at the church for at least all day once a week, every week in April, I think, just working on that fence! Not having the luxury of galvanized, ready made, chain-link fencing, we had welded together a 'net' fence. Good, strong steel, but definitely not rust proof. And Definitely a bit of a pain to paint. =) Still, there weren't many others who had the time or patience to tackle it, so I was glad to jump in. Unfortunately, with dacha preparations, I never did finish that project. So one more 'finishing job' that's still on the list at the church...
Again, this was working at the church in addition to choir practices, and extra choir practices getting ready for Easter; Wednesday Bible study (and preparation), Saturday youth meeting (and preparation); preaching on Sundays (yes, I prepared for that as well, I am semi-responsible at times), taking an Active part in two funerals; helping move a babushka here from another city, etc. Oh, and trying to spend most of at the very least ONE day a week with my family. (o'
Thank you all again so much for your prayers, your concern, your love. We are enjoying life and ministry here. It is still very hard at times, because, even with challenging ministry, three children demanding all we can give, and the blessing of a place that is very much like our beloved Russia - it's still not quite 'home.' I guess that's just part of living as the citizens of a Heavenly Kingdom, but it really does make a difference knowing how many people we love and care for are praying for us and bringing us before the Throne of Grace. Thank you.