Ukraine Update #1
After a long 24 plus hours we finally arrived close to midnight on Monday in Rivne. Most of us rested well on the plane, given the usual traveling circumstances. Yuliya did a great job in helping us maneuver seamlessly throughout airport customs, as we were well on our way to getting picked up in under 30 minutes from when we landed in Kiev, Ukraine. Alex (or Sasha) picked us up from the airport where we would meet a pastor named Alex, both are long-time friends with the Vakulins. As a side note, you might find out that there are many people named Alex or Oleksandr, which I’m perfectly fine with as it makes it easier for me to remember. I’m keeping a silent tally in my head, naming them Alex 1, Alex 2, and so forth… In Kiev, they gave us a quick tour around Independence Square, known for its Revolution in 2012. We also had our first meal in Kiev at a restaurant called “Mafia.” Pastor Alex 2 (Alex Khandus) was thankful for the gift offering Gateway took back in November for the people in the village where he ministers. It was a blessing to hear his stories of gospel ministry in and around Kiev. From there, we made the 3 hour trip to Rivne.
We finally arrived at our destination at Peter and Albina’s lovely home, where they welcomed us with light refreshments. Peter and Albina have four beautiful children, and the kids willingly gave up their bedroom for Pastor Rod and myself. We are thankful for the hospitality here in Rivne, and we were extremely grateful for a place to lay our heads after a long trip.
The following morning we had our pre-conference, where we met the pastors/leaders of the small groups. It was a blessing to finally see Salvation Church (Alex Vakulin’s church growing up). These men are great thinkers, who love the Word… We are all eager to interact with each other the next couple days over God's Word. Pastor Rod went through an outline of 2 Timothy and the Simeon Trust model as whole, and we concluded with a time of prayer. The official conference begins tonight at 5pm and we’re expecting about 40-50 pastors in attendance. We are thankful for the prayers and support of our Gateway family, and we look forward to updating you throughout the conference.