Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hello from Ukraine

Greetings from Donetsk, Ukraine! I exited Russia recently and the time has come to let you know. Actually it was Sunday July 6th and five of us from our congregation in Rostov caught the train to Donetsk to attend the annual Christian Singing School. The school is in its 14th year, or so, and is designed to improve congregational singing in churches across Russia and Ukraine.

It was an intense week of learning new hymns and songs, studying music theory, and learning to sing in 4-part harmony. We were busy with music from morning until evening except for a two-hour lunch break. Besides that, we found time to pose for lots of photographs, above. I'm in there, somewhere. . .

Here's the big group, nearly 60 in all. I'm in there too, I think. But you might know Brad Cawyer or Kostya Zhigulin ~ they're well-known personalities in the world of music. Or they will be.

As for me, much of the time, I was glued to the computer like a June bug to a strawberry. That's because over the years, I've discovered that making photo CDs of a conference is a unique contribution that I can make.

This time, several of us (Anya, Gennady, Mira, Olkesey, Nadya and I) took hundreds of photos and combined them. Actually, I pulled together the very best photos, 200-some total, edited like crazy and combined them in four slide shows. We burned them onto CDs and distributed them to folks before they left for home. The CD includes several additional slide shows from Russian Christian conferences since 1999.

After the singing school ended on Saturday the 13th, everybody headed back home. Except for me. I realized that time outside Russia will be much to my advantage with the new visa laws. Did I mention the wacky new visa laws of Russia? Let me rephrase that. A blog is a public forum, after all, and although the days of Stalin are long gone, there's no need to be stupid. So, ahem, let's just say that the new visa laws remain enigmatic for many of us expatriates. I'll explain more about this later. Right now I'm tired of explaining it. Except to say that I'm still in Donetsk and there's a good reason for it.

Say, would you care to see some pictures of this week Donetsk? Well, I don't have a single one, sorry to say. The thing is, after a major photo project, such as the photo CDs, just looking at my camera makes my stomach churn. I don't think I've even fired up my camera all week. A pity in a way, because there have been wonderful opportunities. Maybe tomorrow. But on the other hand, probably not.

Anyway, welcome to the Ukraine! I plan to catch the Monday train back to Rostov-on-Don. It will be so good to be back in my very own place! But I must say that my time in Donetsk has been a blessing far beyond what I had ever expected or even imaged. God is so good.

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