Sunday, October 09, 2016

Ben and Lil's first blog

We arrived in Dnepro on Thursday afternoon from Vienna.  A taxi driver from Zaporozhye whom we have used often picked us up and took us to Zaporozhye in his 630,000 km well-driven car.  First impressions are not always best impressions.  There was a noticeable increase of military equipment at the airport and Lil found this rather surreal.  Almost like stepping into a James Bond movie set.  The roads continue to give poor initial impressions.  Sergei our driver, weaved around big heaves in the road while at the same time passing lumbering lorries with little concern. This was less concern than Lil had.

On Friday we attended a delightful concert performed by the men's Faith and Life choir who are from southern Manitoba.  They sang at the music college in Zaporozhye.  They are here in Ukraine to participate in a celebration event we are having at the Mennonite Centre on Wednesday October 12th.  They were very well received by a large group of enthusiastic students.  Two teachers from the college joined the choir and provided delightful accompaniment for one of the pieces.

On Saturday we met with Alvin and Mary Suderman who are currently serving here as North American directors, and Oksana Bratchenko, our Mennonite Centre director.  We discussed the challenge of how to best respond to cases where individuals have significant pain and medical concerns.  Surgeries can be very expensive and even getting a proper diagnosis can be costly.  We are getting an increasing number of requests and are trying to determine principals and policies to ensure consistency and fairness.  Over the years we have been reducing the amount given to individual requests and focussing on medical support in areas where we can reach the greatest number of people with limited funds.  

Other than trying to understand the door locking systems, reducing the heat in the apartment, and baking with no oven, things are going very well.

Ben and Lil


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