Posted by: BlessingMinistry | July 17, 2015

Supporting the Ukrainian Soldiers

Having lived in this beautiful country for 20 of the past 22 years, we have gone through many broken hearts for the people. Rampant corruption has crippled a country that at the time of the break up of the Soviet Union was widely proclaimed to have the greatest promise. With rich mineral deposits and agricultural land, the sky was the limit; or so everyone thought. The following 20 years would be characterized by various governments of people out to enrich themselves at the expense of the country and its people. Then, the Revolution of Dignity occurred in the beginning of 2014. Throwing off the shackles of a President who ordered the shooting of unarmed citizens by snipers who were either Russian specialists or Ukrainian thugs armed with Russian sniper rifles. That was enough to mobilize an enraged populace who basically told the President he only had a few hours to get out of town, and the country. He did, fleeing to Russia where he remains.

This left a country to find out that their president had sold off all the military equipment and supplies to enrich himself and his family. Next, Russia attacked and annexed Crimea. Russia attacked eastern Ukraine, and her new government could only try to supply the soldiers with enough bullets to keep fighting, while trying to raise support from the West to attempt to hold the great bear at bay. It became clear the previous president had left the country bankrupt, as he drove away with more than a 70 billion dollar fortune.

Over the past year our family and church in Lviv have gathered toiletries and other basic needs to send to the soldiers. Bria has made four trips to the conflict zone to sing for the soldiers. Rhonda accompanied her on one of these trips in January, braving -25 degree weather to share the love of Christ, the aid, and Bibles for those who would take one.

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While things are getting better, soldiers still have to buy their own uniforms most of the time. The government still can’t supply them adequate toiletries, underwear, etc., so we do what we can. The current needs are for those items, small generators, high quality binoculars, and other items. If you would like to help, go to our Support Page and make a donation, and drop us a note telling us it is to help the soldiers. If you would like to send them an encouraging note, we’ll translate that and make sure they receive it as well.

Please continue to pray for us and for Ukraine, and may the Lord bless you greatly! Mark and Rhonda

Posted by: BlessingMinistry | March 26, 2013

3-26-13 Bethel House Update

Since our last update, some exciting work has happened around Bethel House.  The long-awaited day came when the kitchen cabinets were all finally installed, all the appliances were hooked up, and we were able to fully move into this new, spacious kitchen.  After 9 years in a kitchen that was approximately 8×5 ft. (so small, the refrigerator and half the cabinets were in the hallway outside the kitchen, and the dishes were almost all kept in cabinets in the living room), we are already overflowing with gratitude and happiness, working in this new space. We can already envision how well the kitchen will serve Bethel House in its ministry.

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The porch also got covered.  God had a little surprise in store for us with that.  For years, we have had a pile of bricks in our yard that came from a 100+ year old, Polish building that was torn down in Lviv.  One of our workers had the possibility of getting these bricks and asked if we wanted them.  Thinking it would be neat to incorporate them somewhere in the house, we agreed, and they have been in the yard since, waiting for us to decide where to use them.  The decision was made to use them for the porch pillars and the man who built the pillars did it in such a way that he flipped random bricks, so you could see the face of the brick.  After a few days, Rhonda noticed that the faces of these bricks had letters stamped in them, and of all the letter combinations possible, the bricks had “BH” stamped in them!  We can only imagine God’s delight as we finally discovered this secret gift He’d had in store while those bricks sat in our yard all those years, waiting to take their place in Bethel House!

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And finally, 3 bathrooms on the 3rd floor have been fully tiled.

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We are excited to see progress continuing to happen on Bethel House, and continue to ask for your prayers & support.  The next big jobs we would like to see completed are all the initial construction being done on the inside of the old structure (which is currently an empty shell) & the staircase built from the 2nd to 3rd floor in the new structure; we are currently waiting on the funds to begin those projects.

Posted by: BlessingMinistry | January 10, 2013

1-10-13 Bethel House Update

With much rejoicing and gratitude, the old yellow roof on the original, 50+ year old structure was replaced before winter hit.  It was bittersweet, as the yellow roof had become somewhat of a trademark of Bethel House.  The bright yellow roof over the white walls inspired our family to dub the house “Sunnyside Estates” when we first saw it back in 1996.  The yellow roof became its identifying mark for us and many of our friends & visitors over the years.  God’s hand was evident even in the timing of a roof’s removal, though.  Despite our plans, the roof did not come off until the end of the year.  As we prepared to head into 2013, the year we believe Bethel House will be completed, it was very symbolic that the roof that has defined this house for so many years would come off, preparing the way for new things, preparing for the year when the 16-year vision of Bethel House would become reality.

Here are some pictures of the new roof going on:

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As you can see, there was even time for some of the painting to get done; finishing that job will have to wait till spring now.

After months and months of delays with kitchen cabinets, we are finally seeing that project get done!  The skeleton of the upper cabinets was recently installed, as seen in the pictures below.

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With the holiday season (there is a long string of religious holidays throughout January in Ukraine), work has slowed down now, which is actually okay since we all feel the need for some rest. We are very excited though with the start of a new year, believing Bethel House will be completed in 2013!  There is much to do for that to happen, though, and we are so grateful for your continued prayers and financial support.

Posted by: BlessingMinistry | January 10, 2013

Christmas Service

Here in Ukraine, Christmas is traditionally celebrated on January 7, according to the Orthodox calendar.  Living Word Church always enjoys gathering at this time to remember together the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.

This year, we had a special service at our church office, singing together, listening to special Christmas music, rejoicing in testimonies, praying together, and opening the Word together, pondering on the first coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It was a small gathering due to limited space in our office and people being sick and out of town, but it was still a very blessed and joyous time together.

Andriy, the sound engineer at church, shared a Christmas song

Andriy, the sound engineer at church, shared a Christmas song

Krista played Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring on the violin

Krista played Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring on the violin

Bria played an original Christmas song

Bria played an original Christmas song

A time of prayer, thanking God for so many indescribable blessings!

A time of prayer, thanking God for so many indescribable blessings!

Singing Silent Night by candlelight

Singing Silent Night by candlelight

Valya, the children's ministry director, passing out gifts to the kids

Valya, the children’s ministry director, passing out gifts to the kids

 

Posted by: BlessingMinistry | January 10, 2013

Women’s Christmas Gathering

On December 22, the women of Living Word Church gathered to celebrate Christmas together, focusing on 2 main themes surrounding the coming of Jesus to this earth – gifts & light.

We enjoyed sharing special memories we each have relating to gifts we’ve given and received.  There was joy in exchanging gifts with each other, and excitement as each woman received a special gift – one of our daughter Krista’s handmade necklaces. (You can view & purchase her beautiful jewelry at www.etsy.com/shop/TheShadyWillow. All proceeds go to funding her missionary activities and studies.)  We were also blessed to give to others, as we made special gift baskets for a Christian family from another church in town, who has been going through an unexpected, difficult time.  There was, of course, delicious food, and much fellowship, laughter, and love.

Rhonda spoke, and encouraged discussion on gifts & light.

Rhonda shared with the women, and encouraged discussion on gifts & light.

Each woman shared briefly on gifts they have given or received.

Each woman shared briefly on gifts they have given or received.

It's always fun to see what you get in the gift exchange

It’s always fun to see what you get in the gift exchange

Everyone enjoyed putting together gift baskets & cards for a family in need.

Everyone enjoyed putting together gift baskets & cards for a family in need.

The Christmas gathering is a yearly highlight for the women of Living Word Church!  In fact, only about half the women could make it this year & some were quite disappointed that they were unable to come.

The Christmas gathering is a yearly highlight for the women of Living Word Church! In fact, only about half the women could make it this year & some were quite disappointed that they were unable to come.

 

Posted by: BlessingMinistry | November 2, 2012

Bethel House Update – Oct.

As October began and summer faded to autumn, the Blessing family moved everything out of the older structure (which was the primary living space for the family for the last 8 years) into the new structure.  The older structure had to be completely cleared out for the renovation to begin.

On October 16, the work began to tear down the roof, second floor walls, and walls above the first floor windows.  So began a season at Bethel of pounding, banging, and dust flying…once again.

Here is a look at the work done from Oct. 16-Nov. 2:

   
   

Here’s a look at the work from the inside.  As you can see, they are building the new roof with much of the old roof still up!  This is so they can be more protected as they work from the constantly changing weather of autumn and since the new roof is taller than the old one, they were able to come up with this plan.  When the new roof is up, the old one will be torn off in sections and thrown out the window.  Pretty ingenious!

The renovations should be finished within the next couple of weeks, at which time we can begin work on the inside of that part of the house.  Some walls need to be built, wallpaper needs to come off, paint needs to go on, etc.  In the meantime, we are also working on the 3rd floor in the newer part of the house – getting bathrooms ready for tiles, finishing off doorways, etc.

When work happens so quickly on Bethel, as it is now, it heightens our hopes that it will be completed within 6 months.  It also heightens our level of exhaustion!  We continue to value your financial support, so that the work can continue and Bethel can be completed quickly.  We also appreciate your prayers, which support our spirits as the work continues and we press on.

Posted by: BlessingMinistry | November 2, 2012

Bethel House Update – Aug./Sep.

In August, we were blessed to again host World Racers here – 2 teams this time, a total of 13 people.  Although, for the last week, that number grew to 21, as one more team came, along with their squad leader.  Bethel was busting at the seams!

In addition to ministry that included planning and organizing a children’s VBS, helping at the weekly English club, sharing testimonies in church, doing street evangelism, running a softball camp in the village, helping in the garden, etc., these teams also got a lot of work done at Bethel.

On the 3rd floor, they painted walls & ceilings, and laid laminate flooring.

Laying laminate

A completed floor! (The teams also painted the walls in this room.)

A look into the other rooms and areas the teams painted. Also, another floor they laid (bottom left). The white ceilings are also the result of their hard work, painting.

One young woman was an artist with a good understanding of using interior decorating for muting noise in rooms.  This is a problem we’ve had in the game room, and she worked to come up with a plan for wall art, and executed it beautifully, with help from the others.

After the World Race teams left, we had an architect come out to check the foundation under the older part of this house, which has been standing for 50 years.  Before starting the extensive renovations (new, slightly raised second floor walls, and a new roof) on that part of the house, it was necessary to make sure the foundation would hold the new work that will be done.  Praise God, the report came back that the foundation did not need to be redone, but it did need to be reinforced.  That work was done in mid-September.

Posted by: BlessingMinistry | June 27, 2012

Ross & Christine Anderson

For one very short weekend in May, Blessing Ministry had the joy of hosting Ross & Christine Anderson.  The Blessing family & the Andersons went to the same church in Houston, Tex. (First Baptist of Houston) 19 years ago.  We enjoyed hosting them at Bethel House & were so blessed that they made time to come to L’viv during Christine’s jam-packed European tour.  She is a solo handbell artist and does concerts and workshops throughout the United States & the world.  Blessing Ministry & Living Word Church were able to give her many opportunities to share her gift throughout the L’viv region, as she played at the school in the village where Bethel House is being built, at Living Word Church during the Sunday service, and at a concert held in a children’s theater in L’viv.  She has an amazing gift and everyone who heard her play was truly blessed.

Christine explaining to the children at the village school how she plays the bells

The captive audience at the village school

Christine receiving flowers & chocolates from the principal, on behalf of his school

Christine playing at Living Word Church

Christine giving a concert in L’viv

Christine allowing people a closer look after the concert

Christine’s husband, Ross, is a professor of biochemistry at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California.  While in L’viv, he preached at Living Word Church and also gave a short seminar on evolution to a group of mostly university students.  His information was very eye-opening, unraveling the web evolutionists have spun, and sharing many quotes from evolutionists themselves, stating that there is no factual basis for evolution, and they simply adopt the theory and propagate it, because the alternative (a Creator) is too ridiculous.  The subject is a very broad one and many at the seminar commented that they would enjoy seeing Dr. Anderson return in the future to give a more extensive presentation.

Dr. Anderson presenting the truth about evolution

 

Posted by: BlessingMinistry | May 15, 2012

Guests from Rivne

In March, Living Word Church enjoyed hosting a group of guests from Good Shepherd Fellowship in Rivne, Ukraine (a city approximately 200 km/125 mi northeast of L’viv).  Our closest relationship at this church is with Serhiy, who lived in L’viv with his wife and children many years ago and was an active part of the Blessings’ first church plant.  He came with 6 of the young people from Good Shepherd Fellowship to visit & share at Living Word.  Everyone was so impressed and encouraged by the passion and love these young people had for their Savior.  They each shared a short testimony with us and one of the young men preached that morning.  After the service, a few from Living Word were able to take our guests to lunch at a local restaurant and enjoy a little more time with them before they headed back to Rivne.  We were so blessed by their time with us and hope to continue to build a strong relationship with Good Shepherd Fellowship in the coming years.

Posted by: BlessingMinistry | May 15, 2012

Youth Retreat

From April 6-7, the youth/young adults of Living Word Church gathered at Bethel House for an overnight retreat.  We were blessed to be hosting a World Race team in April.  World Race is a program of Adventures in Missions, and takes mission teams to 11 countries in 11 months.  For the World Racers who were here, Ukraine was month 9 of their 11-month journey.  They organized an amazing retreat for our young people.  There were beautiful times of fellowship; joyful times of games & laughter; challenging times of teaching on abundant life, loving God, and loving others; encouraging times of prayer & prophecy; refreshing times of worship; and small amounts of sleep! 🙂  It was an incredibly blessed time for the young people of Living Word Church to be called forth to walk in abundant life for the glory of their King!

Playing Get-to-Know-You Bingo

Playing Fruit Basket

Worshipping God

Hearing a teaching

Group Discussion

Praying together

Group picture

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