Monday, 12 September 2011

We are not epic like proper missionaries.

"Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring"
           - Jesus
 So many stories already to tell you, but i'll try to focus because one must not ramble.

So we got to drive into the country to visit a rehab project run by an American couple called Mark and Laura. Mark and Laura are large, solid and hard as nails. You would not mess with either of them - he was an addict for thirteen years before becoming a pastor, and she has been in the army and also a guard in prisons.
We arrive and they bring out their clients to say hi, one of whom has the worst burn scars i've ever seen. I don't know why. He was nice, and had already been there for a year. Most clients stay at the centre for two years. When I say 'centre' I mean 'farm' because that's what it is; a few ramshackle concrete buildings, pigs and chickens everywhere, an outside shower, no running water, a drop off loo (think slumdog) and a cellar full of suspicious looking pickled goods. We got the full tour of the yard, John got to chase a chicken with a stick and I got to hear all about how Mark artificially inseminated a pig by hand. 
Did I mention the toilet and shower are outside, in wooden shacks? In Ukraine. Where winters would cause the average brit to panic buy tinned goods and start shrieking about the state of the roads. The sheer grit of these people was...humbling. I stopped my yuppie worries about how I was going to raise our daughter in Ukraine - at least we'll have running water!
To illustrate the balls of this couple, i'll just let you know that the Police turned up drunk one night to cause trouble. After trying some intimidation tactics (Laura found this hilarious), and generally poking about, the Police demanded the van. Just 'cos.
Mark said 'fine, as long as I can breathalise you first'. When the Police failed the breathaliser test they were told that no, they may not nick the van. So they left.

I'm glad we're living in the city. It's grey and grim and a bit different to Lewes, but we are in community and I don't have to face down scary officials in uniform.

Corruption is a huge problem here. When we come back, renting an apartment is a scary concept because a contract doesn't mean much, so after you've fixed it up (and they need fixing up) the landlord can decide he likes it and just kick you out. You have no rights, and to involve the Police can be a bit counterproductive. We've heard quite a few stories about dodgy stuff happening with landlords, but we've got our Ukrainian friends to help us navigate all this. And for now our biggest worry is how to read the labels on food packaging.

On a nicer note, the team here are fantastic. Our main prayer was that in these two months we'd be able to tell if we fit in and if this could work interpersonally, and I know it's only week two but I think we can say that yes yes yes this is good. We ate as a team last night and laughed a lot. My kitchen was described as 'better than Disneyland' and I shall be embroidering this on a cushion. Andrew said that we're 'his kind of normal' i.e. not at all sane but in a good way. The team are genuinely lovely, and we feel like we have proper friends already even with the occasional language barrier.

Other info:
We have been dubbed the John and Fritha Show. Again. Why does this keep happening?
People here speak Ukrainian and Russian mixed up, so i'm not sure what language i'm learning words in. Occasionally lapsing into Arabic.
We did some stuff with homeless people and addicts this week. It was fairly harrowing. Will be reporting back on ministry stuff properly when we're back at church - can't fit it all into a silly blog. I'll just say that the needs are immense and it's not like being homeless in England.
Pregnancy is, as far as I can tell, going well. I am a bit useless to the team as we're doing a lot of practical stuff involving heavy lifting, and I have to sit on a cushion and watch. My feminist pride is vexed. But at the same time, it's nice cos people bring me cake and juice.

Right, going to go now. Thank you so much for all the praying - we need it! Love. xxxx

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