Sabbath in Western Ukraine

Trip Start Dec 16, 2007
Trip End Jan 11, 2008

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Today is the Sabbath and a full day of services starting in Khust and then in Rokosovo about five miles away.

I got up about 6:30 am to review my sermon which is about the grace of God. I used e-Sword to insert all the scriptures in the Ukrainian language into my notes. Also, I'll be translating Daniel Harper's message.

We had not known anything about the fact of Daniel and Cindy's musical abilities and didn't bring our Church hymnal along. I called Katherine Rowland back in Indiana the night before to send over about four hymns over as PDF files. They did but none of them were readable on their computer. We were tried two computers at frightful dial-up speeds of 21 kb/s and one high speed one at Ivan Yurishko's shop. None of the PDF's would be readable. So, no music from us. I later was able to get a copy transferred over to my computer and it opened, but too late. It was not the fault of the Rowlands....just something in their versions of Acrobat Reader or something.

So many of the Khust brethren are familiar to us as we've come to their services for 15 years now and the relationships have grown.

We got to Church about 10:03 am and services immediately started. Dan and Cindy and Bev and I were asked to sit up near the front. It's always an honor shown visitors. I sat where I could translate some of what was being said.

Services as usual begin with plenty of songs and prayer.
The music comes from the heart and is sung robustly. Ukrainian Sabbatarians love to sing and praise God with gusto. The prayers are sincere and intense. One person, a friend who came to visit Transcarpathia with me once said that if there was one word that could describe a Sabbatarian service, it would be: "intense."

Vasyl Nemesh, one of the new preachers who had come over the Pentecostal Church a few years ago was here today. I know we will have no loss of words and lots of accordion music. And that was exactly as it would be. He was asked to be the first speaker....or at least do some songs. He played three lively spiritual songs wrapped about life's lessons.

Then came verses recited by various children. After reading the verse they walked over to the leading minister's table and picked up a piece of hard candy as a "reward." Then came the blessing of the children. This is a parr of every Sabbath service here in Khust. All the children of childen of the Church come forward and the ministry asks God's blessing upon them.

More prayers. They are all sincere and they keep one mindful of God's blessing and ask for His intervention and protection.

I was startled as Vasyl Mondich asked me to the blessing of children today. So, I came up to the front and asked prayer as we similarly do at the blessing of children.

More prayer and more singing. Now it's time for my sermon and give mine about Grace in the Old and New Testaments.

Another song. Now, it's time for Daniel Harper's message.
He gives an excellent sermonette-length message about being an example followed by teamwork for success. He used the used the example from a few night's back at Polichko's home with the young boys when they were roughhousing with him. One boy tried to bring Dan down and couldn't do it. Soon the others saw the example and gathered around Dan and then the six of them brought him down to the ground. The Ukrainians loved the analogy as Dan went on to show that Christ set the example that we are to follow and how we as a Church are to work together to achieve success.

The service has passed the two hour fifteen minute mark. No problem. Vasyl Nemesh is now asked to speak. He first tells us that there is plenty of time before sunset. Kind of pastoral joke that makes people uncomfortable. He is the third speaker and goes about half an hour. Finally, more songs and prayer and Vasyl Mondich has a closing message. Vasyl Mondich talks about Dan and Cindy and recounts some of the conversation from dinner the night before. Vasyl then states that the services are coming to an end. However, this does now mean that they are coming to end, but rather that the end is in sight. A few more songs and a statement saying that services are ended, but a remark is made that if anyone would like another song or anything else to let it be know. A song request is made. The people sing. Then another request is made and Vasyl Nemsh grabs his accordion and does an accordion finale. The service is finally over at a little over three hours length.

We go back to Ivan's home for lunch. His wife Nina did not come to Church as she watched over their active little son Sergei. He is a ball of energy and curious about everything. We eat and leave immediately for Rokosovo afternoon services which is start at 3:00 PM local time -- which is 4:00 Kiev I'm not sure. It's always so confusing as the people use two different time zones...the official one whick is Kiev Standard Time and the other which uses one hour earlier which is what Europe's on.

We sit in the back and we catch pastor Vasyl Roman's eye. We walked in a little late and a sermonette-length message was in progress by a young man. In the afternoon service attention is placed on the youth and children.

Then Dan Harper and I are asked to come forward and give our messages.

The Rokosova church was built in 1991-2 immediately after the fall of the USSR. John Karlson and I visited here for the first church service in the fall of 1992. The Church, which is called "Dim Molitvi" meaning House of Prayer. Ivan Pavliy, deacon in the church was the chief architect and builder. It is an imposing building for this village of Rokosovo with an imposing ceiling and impressive chandelier-style lights. It has served them well for the past 16 years.

Ivan Pavliy was asked to give the final message where he reviewed some of the history of our visits, particularly our first visit in 1992.

Here the afternoon service ended more abruptly. Maybe because it's already 45 minutes after sunset and people are anxious to go home. Both the pastor Vasyl Roman and Ivan Pavliy invite us for dinner, but we really wanted to visit with Ivan Pavliy who has been a close personal friend. But, we did stop by the pastor's home for about an hour visit. Of course, his wife Anya brought out all kinds of goodies that could have been a meal if wanted them to be. We chatted then walked over to Ivan Pavliy's home about 200 yards away.

Ivan Pavly's brother Misha died the past week, the funeral being last Tuesday. Two of his children Vasya and Nina who live in Portland, Oregon came for their father's funeral. As usual Anya always outdoes herself with a great meal which is served cold on or after the Sabbath because they do not believe in lighting a fire on this day. Ivan's Pavliy's other brother was also there and we all had a great time with plenty of laughter and stories. We love watching the relationships and interactions between all these people.

Tomorrow we leave Ivan Pavliy's at 3:30 am for Chop to catch the 6:10 am train to Zahoney, so we leave a tad earlier than we normally might have. We stop by Ivan's Sturmer business to pick up as many UCG Bible Study Courses that we can for Estonia. Harper's and us pick take 100 copies each of lessons 1-6. We also take home a healthy supply of The Gospel of the Kingdom of God and Sunset to Sunset.

We sometimes have trouble shipping literature up to Estonia, so we take every opportunity to take out with us what we can.

We pack everything and lie down for a few hours rest before our leaving Ukraine in the morning.
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