This week has gone by exceptionally slow for me. Although Emily and I have been a bit busier, we still don’t have a lot to do. Our plans to start English classes on October 12 have been deferred yet again, the English club won’t start for a couple more weeks still, and trying to get things communicated to Ruslan makes my head hurt. All frustrations aside, progress IS being made! We have located a potential meeting place for both the club and classes, and have set a permanent (we hope) date for their launch. To keep from feeling completely useless, I have to frequently remind myself that this—getting all the kinks worked out—is part of my mission here. Hopefully, if future SM’s decide to come to Kherson, there will be a program already set up for them to work with.
Emily and I have been continuing our Bible study, which has thankfully improved every week. We seem to have found a system that works, and the people are becoming more and more involved. The conference also purchased English-Russian parallel Bibles, which have helped immensely. We are praying that it will continue to get better and better. We also had a chance to hold an English club this week for Anna, a teacher here in Kherson, and her English classes. We had a great time getting to know them and playing “English games” (Pictionary, bingo, etc.). As with the other university, we are not able to discuss religious topics, but as soon as we have our own English club up and running (in which we can talk about whatever we want) we can invite the students to come to that as well.
Last week, I partook in one of the worst culinary experiences of my life thus far. Emily and I were patiently waiting for lunch; it was almost 3:00 pm and we were starving. Tatyana usually serves a huge lunch, but on this particular day, all that sat on the table was a glass full of white milk/sour cream looking stuff. Apparently “Ryajhanka” is a treat in this household, based on the way the kids were devouring it. I, however, had trouble controlling my gag reflex and wanted to cry at the thought of having to politely drink an entire cup of the buttermilk-like substance. I quickly discovered that when the kids were looking elsewhere, I could dump a couple spoonfuls into their cups, and was able to force down the rest on my own.
Last weekend, Emily and I took an unexpected trip to a Vosnesensk, a little town about 2 and a half hours away from Kherson. The church in Vosnesensk was holding an evangelistic series, and having a religious concert on Friday night. One of the scheduled performers couldn’t make it, and the pastor asked us to fill in. Any chance we get to travel around Ukraine, we take! The concert (also featuring a Ukrainian folk band! So cool!) went really well, and got over at about 8:30; plenty of time (we thought) to make it back to Kherson at a reasonable hour, get some sleep and teach the Sabbath school lesson the next morning. We were sadly mistaken however, and didn’t even end up leaving Vosnesensk until about 11:00. We were planning to stay at the conference office in Nikolaev for the night, but instead found ourselves on a bus to Kherson at about 1 am with a strange man’s head in Emily’s lap (for such occasions that catch us off guard we simply shrug and say “It’s Ukraine”). Needless to say, the next day we could hardly keep our eyes open. God still blessed, however, and we had another good lesson study on Sabbath. Im so thankful that my shortcomings have no effect whatsoever on His ability to reach people!
We have a new family member in the Cheban household. Homer, a skinny little mouse-like hamster, is quite possibly the ugliest rodent I have ever seen. Although I am rather fond of the name (which sounds SO much better in a Russian accent!), I would be happy to be rid of his furry, gray, squirming mouse body. He has already escaped his lidless cage once, and I am terrified of waking up in the middle of the night to his nasty little feet running across my face.