Sunday, 26 October 2014

4 people, 3 nationalities, 1 ironing board...

I can't write a blog entry this week without first showing you Josh with his beloved ironing board! Carrying it around carefully around town and into a cafe for dinner (even finding a taxi that would allow it to travel with us, hanging out the window), Josh politely smiled when people asked if he was out on a date. Personally, I thought his new girlfriend seemed a bit flat (ok, you don't have to laugh, that's bad even for me).

The ironing board (and the door mats in his other hand) made a makeshift tea stall at the train station in the town centre. With temperatures below freezing we thought people would appreciate hot tea and  some sandwiches. It was a good opportunity to get talking to people and give out encouraging flyers with comforting scripture. We thought this would be welcome reading during the cold wait for trains and long train journeys.

We had interesting advice before setting up at the train station. YWAM team members and a local pastor had warned us that giving 'free stuff' in the community would create a stampede of people (perhaps a hang-over from soviet times and times of hunger here). Many homeless people gather at the train station but we were warned that we may end up providing for those less in need, with everyone else rushing for a freebie, even if they are wealthy. Somebody shared a story of seeing ladies elbowing one another out of the way when the supermarket put out reduced price meat.

Whilst we appreciate advice of those more experienced at working in this culture, we felt instinctively that we wanted to try for ourselves. Coming from the UK, where most people wouldn't be seen dead at a church tea morning, we thought it was exciting to be able to provide for many and be able to have a chat with people of mixed ages and from different walks of life. We met some new friends last week who randomly mentioned having it on their hearts to serve tea at the train station and we felt this was good confirmation that we should give it a try, at least. Thomas (from Finland) and his Ukrainian girlfriend, Irena, coupled up with us and we did it together.

Thomas turned up in the morning with huge bags of frankfurters (he said people are serious about sausages in Finland) and we filled as many thermos flasks as we could carry. Irena was a Godsend, providing invaluable support with translating when we came unstuck. Especially handy when an angry lady brought police over to move us on (we think she worked in a local cafe). Irena managed to sweetly explain our simple motive for being there, simply to warm people up and show a bit of love. The policemen told the angry lady to calm down and they showed us an even better spot to set up next week (bonus!).

There was no stampede, but we managed to serve over 100 cups of tea, and the same number of sandwiches and bags of cookies. Most people were surprised at what we were doing and stopped to chat to us whilst they drunk their tea. Some about the weather, some about community, some about faith. We served the homeless as well as kids, shoppers, the elderly and people from all kinds of faith backgrounds.  Apart from the angry lady, we didn't have any negative reactions and many people said they were heart-warmed to see some community spirit and giving. Those who seemed most in need could come, alongside the other cold shoppers, and pick up lunch without losing any of their dignity, because we were serving everybody.

Thomas, Joni, Josh & Irena

Today we say goodbye to 5 families from a war-torn eastern town, who have stayed with us for a week. Things have been more chaotic with the base full to bursting and Joni has had a great time with  6 extra children to play with. Josh has been up at 7 each morning making them breakfast, then bringing me breakfast in bed to help with morning sickness (I wonder what I did to deserve such a superstar husband!)

The families managed to escape their hometown after their church was burned down. The town is now 80-90% destroyed by shelling. They have settled in an area just across the boarder of the rebel-held territory, so they can look after other families with no-where to go. They told us how some of their church friends (especially the elderly) were not able to escape and it has been an ongoing struggle to try and get supplies of winter gear, food and medicine back into the town to help them. YWAM Ukraine is coming together to help however we can. We have had visitors from other YWAM bases coming to meet the leaders here and our guests from the East, to plan how.

I have a scan this week and we are praying that the baby is healthy and well. I am over illness but still a bit sick in a pregnancy kind of way, and we know this is a good sign. Joni has a fever and has felt too sick to eat today, so we are worried about her (I'm not sure I have ever known her to be off her food). She is a little trooper though, and fully determined to be better for her first proper ballet class on Tuesday. Josh has continued to teach english at a children's shelter, working his way through many m&m's with the kids (apparently to teach colours!) and we are persevering with our own language lessons. We are praying about longer-term ministry ideas; even on days when we feel a bit lost we are excited about what the future might hold.


  1. Now sounds like a much better way to use an ironing board

  2. Thanks for a great story! It's so encouraging to see how God continues to use you to bless so many people. Hope Joni gets well soon. Praying for the baby too. X

  3. What a great story, and love your enthusiasm and willingness to get out there! No doubt that will carry you far in learning language & culture as well - plus give Joni lots more opportunities to look so cute in her pics. :) Praying for you guys! xoxo Jenny for the Kims