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Archive for September, 2007

I just want to share here the faithfulness and goodness of God to the Sayenko Family. This month marks the big breakthrough in their life: they have just acquired a bigger flat for their growing family.

We’ve been praying with them for this ever since I arrived here in Ukraine. And finally, in God’s perfect timing, the Sayenko family has finally found the right flat that would suit their needs.

The Sayenko family had been living in a bachelor’s flat since the day Sergei, pastor of God’s Gift Church, and his wife Oksana got married. It was okay at first. But as their family grew, they felt they needed a bigger place for their two little boys. Their old bachelor’s place was just too small to accommodate all of them.

This month, the Sayenko family is so happy and thankful for God’s provision; for giving them the funds to be able to afford a bigger place for them.

They signed the deed of sale of their new flat last week. And they’ve started doing house repairs, with the help of their family and relatives, this week. They hope to be able to move in by November.

The flat is old, so they have to do a major renovation on the place. They have to change everything inside. Please pray that the renovation will be done before the cold Ukrainian winter starts. And please pray that the Lord will provide for the family financially to complete the renovation of their new home.

One time, Oksana and I went to see their new flat. Her uncle and grandma were there, cleaning the place and doing some minor repair work.

Iliah, the eldest son of Sergei and Oksana, is so happy that, finally, he and his brother Anton will have their own room soon! The flat is actually a one-bedroom flat, but they regard it here as a two-bedroom flat, counting the living room as another bedroom.

As the photos show, the flat is basically bare and needs a major renovation at the moment. But just the same, it’s already a huge blessing for the Sayenko Family.

The place, by the way, is also near the main road, the supermarkets, the bazaars, and near their parents and other church family members, which is an ideal setup for them.

Thank you so much to all of you who prayed for this breakthrough. Once again, God has proven that He is good and faithful to His children. Praise the Lord!

P.S. I’ll post more pictures of the flat in the future, once the renovation is complete.

(Note: More photos of the new Sayenko home can be found at my Flickr Pro site here.)

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Yummy Home-Made Cake

There’s a nice Ukrainian lady near my home who bakes delicious home-made cakes. Her cakes are really good and a lot cheaper compared to those being sold in bakeshops and supermarkets.

In the picture is one of her cake creations. We order cakes from her whenever there’s someone in the church family who is celebrating his/her birthday.

Doesn’t it look yummy?

(Note: More photo essays can be found here.)

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Last month, the Summer Kids Camp volunteers went to the beach to unwind and have some fun fellowship.

Enjoy the slideshow I’ve made for your viewing pleasure.

Thanks to Slide, it’s now easier for me to share slideshows on my blogsite.

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On Ukrainian Weddings

I’ve been living here in Donetsk, Ukraine for almost five years now (I arrived in Ukraine in December 2002). I’ve attended quite a number of Ukrainian weddings already — as a guest, and sometimes as the wedding photographer.

Ukrainian weddings are somewhat interesting and different from where I come from, the Philippines.

This post is about my observation how Ukrainians organize their weddings.

The groom picks up his bride at her home. And here is one of the interesting parts which I find really hilarious. The groom, upon arrival at his bride’s home, will be met by a member of the bride’s family by the gate or door (usually, it’s the brother or the father whoe does this). Then that person will prevent the groom to go inside. The groom then will try to negotiate with the family member who’s the assigned gatekeeper.

As the groom tries to convince the person guarding the gate or main door, a family member of the groom, who is accompanying the groom for this assignment, will help the groom in negotiating with the person guarding the gate or main door.

This spectacle becomes pure entertainment from hereon. The groom and his family member will negotiate with the gatekeeper; they will try to “bribe” the guard with money, drinks, chocolates or whatever it is that will appeal to the “guard.” When the guard is satisfied with what has been offered to him, that’s the only time the groom can pass through the gate or main door.

However, this is not the end of the funny ordeal. If the house of the bride has many doors, the groom and his family member has to negotiate a lot with assigned ‘door guards’ to pick up his precious bride.

But, if the house or flat has several doors to pass before the room where the bride is, on each door there will be someone “guarding” it and once again, the groom and his family and friends will try to negotiate their way to see and pick-up the bride. Of course, it goes to say that the door keepers normally give the groom and his family member a hard time. The groom will be able to see and pick up his bride only after satisfying all these gate/door guards. Hilarious, isn’t it?

The couple will then go to the municipal hall where a short civil wedding will be held. After this, the newlyweds will go to the city or town center where they will walk around as a wedding photographer or videographer takes their photos and videos. Since Saturday is a popular day to get married in Ukraine, one will see a handful of newly married couples walking around in a park to let the public know that they have just tied the know.After this public walking, the couple will then visit a monument where a statue of a Ukrainian hero is displayed. The couple leaves some flowers by the statue to honor the Ukrainian hero immortalized by this statue. They honor him for defending Ukraine (during the war) and giving Ukraine peace from its neighbors, hence, Ukrainians can have and start their new lives in peace. This is something that I still don’t understand till this day. I don’t see the connection….Then after going and walking around for two hours (sometimes even more) at the center, the couple will then proceed to the place where the reception will be held. At the entrance of the reception, the parents of the couple will be waiting for them with the traditional “Ukrainian bread” with salt on it. The new couple will bite or get a piece of this bread and put some salt on it and eat it. This symbolical tradition, I was told, is for the new couple to always have bread on the table and salt for the food. They believe that by doing this, the new couple will not be without bread or food on their table. A Christian wedding service, prepared by the couple’s church pastor, is usually held at the reception area. This is for Ukrainian couples who are Bible-believing Christians, of course.Then there’s the usual throwing of traditional confetti (rice, candies, coins, etc.) to shower the new couple before getting into the reception hall. At the reception, a program is prepared for the couple’s entertainment. Programs vary from wedding to wedding.

There are games for the newly married couple and for the guests as well. There are lots of singing and poetry readings.As part of the reception program, the couple will dance and cut the wedding cake. Then there’s the congratulatory toasting by guests who will give words of blessing and encouragement to the couple before giving their wedding presents.Ukrainian weddings can start from the morning till midnight (really long, huh?). In many Ukrainian wedding reception programs, the people dance (and drink) the night away. Usually, there’s an overflowing supply of fermented drinks in such special occasions.

(Note: To view more of Valera’s and Nila’s wedding day photos, you can visit my Flickr Pro site here. The couple is from God’s Gift Church in Donetsk, Ukraine)

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Proverbs 31 Woman

I was just reading the book of Proverbs and thought of Proverbs 31 for a while. Seeing some aspects of the Proverbs 31 describing the woman more than the woman that fears God and a good housewife. Proverbs doesn’t focus on outward appearance of a woman but the inner beauty and character of a woman.

Proverbs has a lot to say about women. And it’s no surprise that the book ends with a picture of a woman of strong character, great wisdom, many skills, and great compassion.

Some people have the mistaken idea that the ideal woman in the Bible is retiring, serville, and entirely domestic. Not so! This woman is an excellent wife and mother. She is also a manufacturer, importer, manager, realtor, farmer, seamstress, upholsterer, and merchant. Her strength and dignity do not come from her amazing achievements, however. They are a result of reverence for God. In our society, where physical appearance counts for so much, it may surprise us to realize that her appearance is never mentioned. Her attractiveness comes entirely from her character. Her inner beauty.

The woman described in Proverbs 31 has outstanding abilities. Her family’s social position is high. In fact, she may not be one woman at all – she maybe a composite portrait of ideal womanhood. Do not see her as a model to imitate in every detail; our days are not long enough to do everything she does! See her instead as an inspiration to be all you can be. We can’t be just like her, but we can learn from her industry, and resourcefulness.

The book of Proverbs begins with the commands to fear the Lord (1:7) and ends with the picture of a woman who fulfills this command. Her qualities are mentioned throughout the book: hardwork, fear of God, respect for spouse, foresight, encouragement, care of others, concern for the poor, wisdom in handling money. These qualities, when couple with fear of God, lead to enjoyment, success, honor, and worth. Proverbs is practical for us because it shows how to become wise, make good decisions, and live according to God’s ideal.

We can try to strive to be someone that around us, someone that we thought and seems they have it all together. But if we take our eyes off from them and look and meditate on the woman that Proverbs 31 describing then, we may find that, the beginning of being an attractive and a beautiful woman is the fear of God. Inner beauty shines out and reflects every aspects of a woman’s life.

Source: Book of Proverbs

(Note: Also posted on the Christian community blogsite Oikos Online.)

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One of the places that you have to visit if you are in Ukraine is the Ukrainian “rynok” (bazaar). It’s a very interesting place where you can observe the Ukrainians going about their daily life.

At the rynok, you’ll find everything you need — from food, clothes, and shoes to houseware, pieces of furniture, and metal spare parts. Think of it as the Divisoria of the Ukrainians.

The large rynoks are open only twice a week, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Some are open during the weekdays, but most bazaars are open during the weekends, too.

There are bazaars for automobiles and radio accessories. They are open during the week. Here, you can see secondhand stuff that people sell piece by piece in case people are looking for parts they need for their old radio, phone, or car.

Personally, I love going to the rynok, not only as a shopper but also as an amateur photographer.

One time, I found a watch vendor and checked the watches that he was selling at the rynok. He had very old wristwatches and clocks. I found one really nice, an original Christian Dior wristwatch. It was used, yes, but it was repaired and thus functioning. It was like a bracelet and I liked it,. So I bought it for only $4.50. It was a good buy. I went home happy.

In another bazaar, I was looking around for an accessory for my PC when I stumbled upon a couple of old camera vendors. I like cameras, and so, I stopped and checked out their products.

They were really old cameras. Some of them might have been 50 years old already. Most of them are made in Russian or Germany.

I found myself holding a Zenith Russian camera. The camera was like 30 to 40 years old, I was not sure. I liked this manual camera so much that I bought it for only $8.00.

Indeed, there are lots of “treasures” you can find in Ukrainian bazaars. If you have the patience to look around and rummage through the goods, you will be able to find that treasure meant for you.

And yes, the rynok is a great place to take pictures. There are many photo subjects awaiting shutterbugs like me.

(Note: To view my Flickr Pro photos on the Ukrainian bazaar, click here.)

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