We arrived at the Vodogray resort at about 7:30 am and no one at the camp was up and about yet. We had bread and sausage for breakfast with some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers – the typical Ukrainian breakfast. So in all this was about 36 hours of travel with almost no sleep. After my breakfast I was shown to my room that was shared with Sasha who is one on the Hope to People administrators. Sasha has a great heart for people and is always full of joy.
I have to also interject here that all my previous missions trips have been with charismatic churches and ministries. I don’t see any difference in one group being more “spirit-filled” than the other. Hope to People is a Reformed Baptist ministry, but after spending two weeks with these people, I see that they are no less full of the spirit than Pentecostals and Charismatics in Ukraine. The myth that there are two kinds of Christians – spirit-filled and non-spirit-filled – is nonsense both from a biblical and practical viewpoint.
I also find it strange that since I haven’t been to Ukraine since 2000, I am picking up this travel diary for the first time in the last seven years. I am looking at most of what I wrote from 1997 onward. It is nonsense. It was focused on how much money we needed to continue the mission and many ambitious plans that never came to pass. Part of the reason is that it was not focused on the Almighty God and what He can do. The lesson learned is to focus more on the “now” that God has given and this exciting adventure called the Great Commission. It isn’t dependent on our finances or plans to complete. I won’t write about how much money I will need to accomplish future plans – I am just happy to serve God with the gift and prophetic message He has given me.
The Vodogray Resort is in the Chynadyevo settlement about half an hour outside of Mukacheve. I took a hot shower for the first time in 36 hours. It felt like I was an animal transformed into a human being. I then slept from about 9 am to 2 pm – very fitfully because Sasha would walk in and out of the room humming a tune. At that point, I hadn’t met him yet, so it was odd to have a stranger in a room where I was trying to sleep. But by 2 pm, I had had enough sleep to wake up and go to lunch.
I ate with Pastor Taras Prystupa and I was really happy to have some hot soup. Taras’ son spoke some English, so we talked. We went on a bus ride to Mukacheve and I had a couple of good conversations with a principal of a Christian school in Kharkov named Sasha who is Taras’ brother-in-law. We talked about the attitude of western Ukraine and how opposed to Soviet rule and speaking Russian they were. He told me that teachers in the time of communism who refused to speak Russian were fired. On the way back, we had a conversation that started with him asking me if I was a Calvinist. That was a memorable conversation. I can still recount most of it, but I won’t do that here.
We arrived at a salt-mineral-hot-spring swimming pool in the afternoon. I later found out that there are only three such springs in the world. Two are in Russia and Ukraine. I talked to Elena from Izmail about teaching in Ukraine. I also met Alyona who works in Hope to People as an interpreter and is a member of a Messianic Fellowship. I went to the pool and swam about six laps. I met Oksanna and Olga in the pool too. They are the young women in the video reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Ukrainian.
In the evening, we had dinner and went to a meeting hall. I was able to give my testimony for about 15 minutes and taught from Matthew 7:21-23 and Luke 6:47 – the “Lordship passages.” That night I went to bed at the usual time, but as a consequence of jet lag, I was “up” at 4 pm after only 5 hours of sleep.