Thursday, March 18, 2010


Nine months have gone by and we've returned once again to south- eastern Ukraine. It is still winter here, fresh snow on the ground, sunny and cold. We approach our place of work for the next three months and are welcomed affectionately. The Mennonite Centre continues to be a gathering place for many, a warm, welcoming place for those in need - offering aid and missions of mercy, a place anchored in Christian values and a place that holds dear and preserves elements of our Mennonite past. How good it is to see our staff again. They are the engine that makes this place hum. A few glimpses through the window:

Meet Dima Bratchenko, our Manager. He and his wife Oksana and their three children came to Molochansk in fall of 2008. Dima feels a strong calling to help people. He has found many opportunities to do this and views his job as a ministry. A few recent examples that have been rewarding. A mother and daughter came to the Centre in great need. We were able to provide a study scholarship to the daughter who had already shown initiative in studying at home. Another example involved a young mother who recently lost her husband. The Centre provided a food hamper and medications for the children.

Oksana took on the position of bookkeeper last November. She speaks English fluently, has good computer skills and loves math. A winning combination for the Centre.

Ira Kurukina has been head cook at the Centre for seven years. She is a true food artist. Everything she makes tastes wonderful and is always beautifully presented.
Her mission extends far beyong her kitchen. She knows all the seniors who regularly come to the Centre for tea. If she hasn't seen someone for awhile she makes it her duty to visit this person bearing a food hamper. Two days ago I accompanied her on such a mission. As we approached Baba Olya's little house it was obvious that she was living in abject poverty. She is 92 years old and hasn't been feeling well, spending her days in a bed of soiled rags, spoiled food on the floor. A neighbor had been coming daily to put coal into her little oven; the coal supply now almost gone. When Baba Olya saw Ira she hugged her and wept. Ira happened to know that the small nursing home connected to the Kutuzovka Church had a vacant bed. This place is partially supported by the Mennonite Centre. When we returned to the Centre Ira called Lilli, the missionary responsible for the nursing home, asking her to come and talk to Baba Olya about the possibility of placement. Baba Olya agreed to go and take a look. Today with many tears Baba Olya ,with Ira helping, packed up her few precious mementos among them WW2 medals. She had worked as a nurse on the battlefront. Now she is being lovingly cared for in a clean, warm environment. Ira, a trusted caregiver reaching out in mercy, was able to bring this about.

Baba Olya with Lilli

Glimpses through the window to be continued.

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