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Dnipro Mission Blog

2019 Mission Trip Diary – Day 6

This blog post is written by Jacquie from Surrey, who was on the DHM team that visited Ukraine earlier this month.

 

 

The DHM Team Visits a Care Home for the Disabled in Tsarichanka

As the plan was to leave promptly after breakfast and prayers for the long journey to the Care Home for the disabled in Tsarichanka (a 7 hour round trip, which turned into an 8 hour round trip due to arduous, icy-fog weather conditions), our incredible hosts were cooking chicken at 5.30am, getting chicken wraps ready for 14 of us - lunch for our journey!  The hospitality of Sonia, Liliya, Karine and Mariam was beyond generous and so whole-hearted;  we were embraced in their kindness and unstinting care during our entire visit.

Liliya and Sonia woke up early to prepare lunch for 14 people!

Pastor Alexander, his wife Iryna, and cousin Lyubov, regularly visit the Care Home throughout the year, to minister to the elderly, disabled and abandoned residents, to show God’s love and compassion in a very real, practical way. The new minibus has been such an answer to prayer, and certainly came into its own on this trip, not only helping us travel to the Care Home, but filling the boot and any spare space with gifts of food, essential medicines, and medical equipment.

 

Many of the disabled residents have been unable to leave the Care Home for decades. With the new minibus Pastor Alexander and his team will be able to offer local excursions to parks, to the coast, and bring people to visit residents who are bedbound, to pray and encourage and bring supplies. The minibus will be a huge blessing and great tool for the ministry team in Dnipro.

Pastor Alexander and the DHM team unload the minibus outside the care home

 

DHM Team members, Nat and Gill, carry supplies to the care home

 

We had been prepared to expect extremely poor and shocking conditions when visiting the Care Home, and on arrival the large building did look alarmingly bleak and austere. We were greeted by the manager, a welcoming man with a ready smile, who was clearly overjoyed to see the team arrive.

We met a number of the more mobile residents, seated in a large hall and were invited onto a stage area to greet them!

Some of the residents of the care home greet the DHM team!

Pastor Alexander warmly greeted everyone, and then gave a most heartfelt gospel message, with tears in his eyes, encouraging everyone to consider the choice of their eternal destination, to choose eternal life with Christ Jesus, the slain Lamb of God, who had suffered, and who understood and knew their suffering and pain; to invite Jesus into their heart and believe, that there is a time to come when God will wipe every tear from their eyes, there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for them to choose God now, to know God’s Kingdom and to know they are a dearly loved child of God, His son or daughter.  

It was very moving to see his sincerity and deep care for the people he regularly visits and ministers to. The team sang a spontaneous acapella style Amazing Grace which was beautiful!

We were split into two groups to visit all the residents accommodated on two floors. Every person visited, was given a pack containing fruits and sweets, toiletries and for some, essential medicines. Nat, my team leader, noticed that improvements and changes had taken place since last year’s Winter Mission Trip. The corridors had been painted, the ceiling lights worked and most encouragingly, the terrible stench that had pervaded the whole place, was largely absent, with noticeable improvements and cleanliness to the communal areas. Most of the residents’ own rooms were still in a very poor and destitute condition.

Jacquie with one of the residents at the care home in Tsarichanka

The first person we met, an elderly, long-suffering man, started to cry; the most natural and compelling way to respond was by hugging and praying for this very dear man, using as many Ukrainian phrases as we had been encouraged to learn, to help him to know how much God loves him, cares for him and wants to help him through his suffering. 

We made it our intention to visit, give gifts and pray for every resident in the care home.  It was very emotional and often very hard to leave people and move to the next room, but we hope each person knew our passion to share God’s love with them. We prayed for God’s Holy Spirit to minister to them, to bring healing, reaching their innermost soul.

Varduyi with Valentina, whom the team had met during last year's trip

One of the residents had recently fallen and broken his hip. He pleaded with us to provide him with painkillers to help his suffering.  One of reasons why it is such a privilege to have served and worked alongside the team of volunteers already in place, visiting regularly and caring for those in the Care Home, is knowing Pastor Alexander will make arrangements to provide more medicines, and we can help to support the ongoing work of these wonderful, sacrificial and compassionate people.

Suzie greets Sergey, whom the DHM team first met back in February 2016


Psalm 9 and 10 reminds us that God does not ignore the cry of the afflicted, he hears their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed. 

To him be the Glory through Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

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2019 Mission Trip Diary – Day 5

This blog post is written by Gill from Stoneleigh Baptist Church, who was on the team that visited Ukraine between 1st and 8th February...

After breakfast and prayers (thank you chaplain Suzie!) we set off to visit an Orthodox monastery about 45 minutes away in the village of Rubenivske. The road surfaces in this part of Ukraine made us appreciate the smoothness of UK roads! The monastery we visited was the first in the Dnipro region to break away from the Russian Orthodox Church in order to join the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Pastor Alexander of Vasylkivka Baptist Church has become a good friend of the Orthodox Priest in Rubenivske, and invited the DHM group to visit the monastery.

The DHM group with our hosts in the chapel at Rubenivske

When we arrived we were greeted by two lovely ladies, Alvina and Katerina, who were eager to share their beautiful monastery with us. They told us about the founder, St Gregory, and also about the priest during the period of Lenin's Red Terror, who was murdered by Soviet soldiers on the steps of the monastery. His remains were later found and are preserved in the church. People travel from around the world to see this. The Christmas tree was still up as they celebrated the orthodox Christmas on 7th Jan.

On the site of the monastery, we visited the dwelling of the famous Ukrainian poet, Ivan Ivanovič Manžura (1851-1893). We walked down to the frozen lake and saw the place where people, every January, are 'baptised' three times to show their willingness to suffer for their faith - thought provoking! 

Disappointingly, no one from the DHM group volunteered to take a dip in the frozen lake!

On our way back to Vasilkivka we visited a little church plant in Nova Grigorivna, a poor village not far from the monastery. The people at the church were so welcoming and it was sobering to hear that three young women had walked all the way from a neighbouring (five miles away) in the snow to join us at church. We finished by singing 'How Great Thou Art' on the steps of the church in Ukrainian and English - a very moving experience.

DHM group with the congregation outside the church in Nova Grigorivna

We were able to give some food parcels to poor families. After another wonderful meal ( and a haircut for Joshua and Suzie!) we we attended an evening meeting at our hosts' church. There was so much love there and a real sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Joshua shared with the meeting about Church Without Walls.

Deji, Nat, Gill and Iliya walking towards the church in Nova Grigorivna

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2019 Mission Trip Diary – Day 4

The day begins, as usual, with morning prayers and breakfast. We then head out in the minibus and meet our local partners from Kamenskoe Pentecostal Church. We travel together to the town of Verkhnedneprovsk, about 30 miles north of Kamenskoe, where we arrive at a care home for boys with various disabilies. 

The DHM team is welcomed by the boys and young men at the care home in Verkhnedneprovsk on the morning of 4th February 2019

The care home makes an unforgettable first impression. The DHM team has barely had time to step out of the minibus and already we are overwhelmed with hugs, handshakes and high-fives from the young men who have come out to greet us. 

Joshua with Dmytro at the Care Home

 

DHM volunteer, Nat, gives the thumbs up!

 

Gill with Artyem at the care home

 

DHM volunteer, Jacquie from Surrey, prays for a deaf young man at the care home

 

Thanks to the generosity of friends and supporters who donated generously to DHM ahead of the trip, DHM was able to buy over £1,000-worth of essential supplies for the care home, including items of clothing, as well as food and drinks and fresh fruit for every single one of the nearly 200 boys and young men who call this place their home. 

DHM volunteers, Nat, Artur and Gill, hand out fresh fruit to the boys at the care home. This fruit was purchased by DHM from donations received during the fundraising campaign launched ahead of the trip.

 

Oleg and Alexei and their team of volunteers lead us around the care home as we visit the young people, room by room, offering prayers, encouragement and leaving behind gifts for each of the boys we meet.

 DHM volunteer, Jennifer, poses for a photo  

DHM leaders with Evgeniy, Director of the Care Home

 

We're amazed at how talented several of these boys are. One of the young lads, Sasha from Dnipro, an orphan abandoned by his alcoholic parents has an amazing gift for embroidery.

Sasha shows off his impressive work with DHM volunteer, Gill

 

Tolik, a young man in his early twenties, who tells us that he doesn't even know who his parents are, amazes the group with his artistic flair. He graciously gives us one of his recent paintings.

Tolik, the artist, signs his painting. When we asked for his signature, it turned out that he was illiterate, so Oleg had to get his passport, so that Tolik could see his name and "draw" his signature onto his painting!

 

Yuri has a special gift for making paper models. When he shows us an entire tea set made entirely of rolled-up paper, the DHM group is speechless at the care, attention and skill that went into producing this magnificent piece of art.

Yuri shows off the paper kettle that he made and gave to the DHM team as a memento - what a gift!

 

The DHM team with local volunteers from the church and some of the young men outside the main entrance of the care home

 

Deji gives a word of encouragement to Tolik

 

It was soon time to say farewell. What an overwhelming experience! 

Joshua with Oleg, who with Alexei, leads the church's ministry to the care home

 

We leave with Oleg and Alexei and have a quick pizza lunch before embarking on our long journey eastwards towards Vasilkyvka, the location of DHM's House of Hope, which was to be our base for the second half of our trip.

Arriving into Vasylkivka at around 21:00, we were given an amazing welcome by our team, who had been looking forward to our visit for many months. Our gracious hosts treated us to a sumptuous banquet of borsch, fried potatoes, shashlik meat, and roasted vegetables.

Dinner at the House of Hope

 

After saying evening prayer and sharing our thoughts and reflections on the day, the team retires to bed, ready for a more relaxing day (hopefully!) tomorrow!

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2019 Mission Trip Diary – Day 3 (in Kamenskoe)

Our train arrives at 6:05 in the city of Kamenskoe.

"Kamenskoe" just recently changed its name; until 2016, it was known as Dniproderzhinsk, named in honour of the brutal tyrant of the Soviet Union, Felix Derzhinskiy, who was Chief of Lenin's secret police, the "Checka", responsible for the Red Terror that followed the communist takeover in Russia in 1917. 

To name a Ukrainian city after Derzhinskiy or Lenin was a bit like Germans after WW2 naming Hamburg or Dresden, "Adolf Hitler Stadt" or "Joseph Goebbels Town". Thank goodness that Ukraine has finally realised (as Germans thankfully did several decades ago) that it doesn't make much sense to name its great cities after mass murderers!

Anyway, back to the diary...

Kamenskoe is located on the Dnipro river in the Dnipro region, which is the heartland of DHM's ministry. Kamenskoe does not make a sympathetic impression on its few visitors. Everywhere, in all directions, there is nothing to see but dilapidated, crumbling buildings, derelict houses, monstrous factories and packs of stray dogs roaming the streets.

Kamenskoe skyline

When we arrive at the station, we are met by our friends, led by Rev Alexander Boiko and his wife, Irina, from the Ukrainian town of Vasylkivka. For the DHM trustees it is a blessing to see for the first time the DHM minibus that Pastor Alexander has brought to take us to our hotel. We drop off our luggage at the hotel and freshen up ahead of this morning's church service at Kamenskoe Pentecostal Church. The pastor there has invited the DHM to lead the church in worship this morning, so we improvise a rough order of service in which each each member of the DHM participates.

Alexander and Irina Boiko. Alexander is Pastor of Vasylkivka Baptist Church

 

On the way to the church, I notice that the sun has finally risen. Even at dawn, I observe that in Kamenskoe everything looks grey and nebulous, like a dreary mirror image of the menacing overcast sky above. The only really conspicuous colour to be seen as we drive through the city is a huge plume of toxic-looking smoke, billowing red as a ripe cherry, out from several collosal chimneys of an even more collosal factory in the distance.

When we arrive at the church we are surprised by the size of the congregation. There must be around 300-400 people here - more than we had expected! We are greeted by pastor Anatoly and his team. We are glad to make the acquaintance of Alexei and Oleg, who lead the church's ministry to a care home for disabled home, which the DHM team is scheduled to visit tomorrow.

DHM trustee, Deji, with Pastor Anatoly, who leads the Pentecostal Church in Kamenskoe

 

The DHM team does a magnificent job in leading the service! Deji from Peckham has the congregation entranced as he sings gospel-style about holiness; Nat from Kent gives a powerful testimony about how Christ miraculously transformed his life, leading him away from addiction to drugs and alcohol and into a life of Christian ministry; Jennifer from Croydon leads us in a powerful prayer in which the presence of the Holy Spirit becomes almost tangible; Joel from Surrey, who recently graduated in Modern Languages, reads from the Bible in Russian; Varduyi translates all kinds of diverse English dialects into clear, pristine Russian. I (Joshua) am glad of the opportunity to preach in (much less pristine!) Russian about a topic close to my heart: Церковь без стень - or "church without walls".

Members of the DHM Team lead Kamenskoe Pentecostal Church in worship

 

After the service, we have a delicious lunch at a nearby "American Roadhouse" restaurant.

The DHM group with our local partners outside the Roadhouse Restaurant in Kamenskoe on Sunday 3rd February 2019

 

Before we know it, it's already time to return to the church, where we've now been asked if we'd lead the evening service. One of the highlights of this service is when DHM volunteer, Hayley, sings a solo of a song in Ukrainian that she has learned, called "Prayer for Ukraine".

I look around me as Hayley sings. Several people in the congregation stand up and place their hands on their hearts and quietly sing along. By the time Hayley gets to the second verse, I notice tears rolling down the cheeks of dozens of those in the church. It's a poignant moment.

Hayley (right), who sings for the UK Parliament Choir, held the congregation spellbound as she sang a solo of "Prayer for Ukraine"

 

Joshua with Alexei, a member of the ministry team at Kamenskoe Pentecostal Church

 

DHM volunteer, Iliya, at the Pentecostal Church in Kamenskoe. Iliya is the husband of Karine, who is DHM's Community Outreach Co-ordinator

 

Gill with Andrei at the Roadhouse Restaurant. Andrei is DHM's Team Leader in Eastern Ukraine

 

After the service, the team travels back to the hotel for a very well-earned rest! Tomorrow promises to be another day of revelation and blessing...  

Sunday morning worship at Kamenskoe Pentecostal Church

 

 

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2019 Mission Trip Diary – Day 2

After our mini lie-in, we say morning prayer together at the hotel and grab a quick breakfast before heading out on the underground to Vyrlitsia metro station, where we are met by our friend, Alexander, from Transformation Baptist Church. 

Alexander takes us to meet Pastor Alexander, who is already at the church. With his assistant, Nadia, he is leading a group of disabled adults in an arts and crafts workshop. The DHM group is treated to a puppet show with puppets made by the disabled adults.

DHM volunteer, Hayley, works with Olga to produce a prayer jar

 

We have an opportunity to learn about Pastor Alexander's ministry to the disabled people, some of whom live in the local areas, but there are others who have travelled great distances to be here today. Here everyone is valued, everyone feel safe and is treated with dignity.

 

After saying farewell to our new friends, Alexander invites us into a side room in the church, where we learn more about the church's work with the disabled people. We are shown a moving video clip of a baptismal service that Pastor Alexander led in which he baptised two disabled young men and one woman with Down's Syndrome.

Some of the group are moved to tears as Pastor Alexander shows us the video:

 

DHM helped to sponsor this summer camp with a donation of disability equipment. It was a blessing for us to see the harvest of hope that had been been reaped from this seed of faith.

 

After an emotional farewell with Pastor Alexander and his team, the DHM group headed into the centre of Kyiv for hearty lunch. We relaxed at the cafe until the evening, when it was time to go to the main train station in preparation for our departure on an overnight train to eastern Ukraine.

 

After saying evening prayer together in the waiting lounge, the DHM group boards the train. Some of us are able catch a few hours of precious sleep in anticipation of another action-packed day that awaits us when we arrive in the Dnipro region very early next morning...

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