Hello once again from Kiev, Ukraine:
One of the old familiar songs sums up most of today:
In Christ there is no East or West,
In Him no South or North,
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.
Today, our Music With a Mission group met in worship at St. Paul's Evangelical Church - - the church started by Music Mission Kiev. The service didn't take place until 2:30 in the afternoon which gave our people a chance to sleep in or see more of Kiev. We actually headed to the church, where the services are held in the Bieli Dom and where we had our first rehearsal with the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus for tomorrow's joint Patriotic Concert, at 1:30p.m. Therefore we all had plenty of extra time this morning. A number of our people decided that it would be a good time to go shopping (mostly women), others chose to do some more sightseeing, while others chose just to rest. Peter Barbarics and I used the time to walk around a little and go through the Golden Gate or as it is also known, The Great Gate of Kiev. All of this took place after the two of us met for breakfast with Paul Smith, Linda Smith (different families) and Jenny Post. The reason for the meeting was to go make decisions on how we would take all of our equipment - especially our Carnet Equipment - on the train to Moscow Tuesday night. It was important that we have all of the Carnet items together because they will be needed to be stamped out by the Ukrainian Customs people when we reach the last stop in Ukraine, and then again by the Russians when we arrive at the first stop in Russia. Fortunately, Peter had been working on this and came up with a good solution. He placed each rooming group in their compartments on the four different cars we will be having on the train. The plan looks like it will work. Now we only need the Ukrainian and Russian authorities to agree.
However, I digress. One of the most significant ministry opportunities we had as a choir was to help sing for St. Paul's worship service. In addition to our choir, some of the string section from the Kiev Symphony Orchestra would be playing for the service. It was truly a beautiful service. Roger McMurrin opened the service introducing the several other guests they had from America before introducing Dan and our choir. When we sang the hymns (Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee"" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness") the congregation sang in Ukrainian while we sang lustily in English. Together, we made great harmony. All of the prayers and scripture readings were read or given in both languages. The congregation sang to responses (The Nicene Creed, and a Ukrainian prayer) in beautiful Eastern Orthodox musical style. Our choir sang "Sweet Hallelujah" just prior to Pastor Mike McClenahan message based on Psalm 145. It was very meaningful and poignant the way Pastor Mike presented it. Their Ukrainian Pastor, Sergie, did the translation for Mike. Following the sermon, we sang "Nothing on Earth"in which Mike Rosensteel did the solo. The time of prayer that followed was especially meaningful. The offertory, which in the Ukrainian churches comes after the sermon not before it, was the beautiful Mozart "Laudate Dominum" with Barbara Tobler soloist and accompanied by the KSOC strings. The entire service was concluded with the "Hallelujah Chorus" sung by our choir joined by members of the KSOC Chorus and others in the congregation. It was truly a moment of "Resounding Praise." I forgot to mention that it again rained during the service accompanies by thunder and lightning. Fortunately, we were returned to the hotel on our buses.
After a short time to get into more casual cloths, we were bused out to the home of Roger and Diane McMurrin who live in a village about 27 km outside of Kiev. Their home is located in a beautiful woods of birch trees. We were wondering how they would be able to host our group for dinner with it raining. Roger had said that they could handle very large groups outside around the home - - but that would not work if it was raining. A short time before we got there, it cleared up. Roger said that it had been raining hard until just a half hour before we arrived. So, with the rain stopped, their three "Grad Orphans" who do the cooking and help out in the MMK kitchen for special events, started setting up tables on the different patios around the home. We saw were they had an outdoor fire going with wood coals cooking skewers of marinated pork. I know none you are interested in what we had to eat, but you are going to find out anyway. In addition to the delicious barbequed pork, they had cooked wonderful fresh grown potatoes seasoned with fresh dill, two coleslaw salads - one with a mayonnaise base, the other with an oil and vinegar base, sliced tomatoes that had real flavor, sliced cucumbers, and good fresh baked bread. They kept the grill going with more and more of the meat so that people could have seconds if they could find any room. Then to top it off, the served ice cream topped with a chocolate sauce they made themselves.
Since this was the "4th of July," we sang a couple of patriotic songs: "God Bless America" and "The Star Spangled Banner." Dan May then shared how he had challenged our choir to think "öut of the box" and consider sharing in mission and music in the former Soviet Union. Thus began our interest in considering Ukraine and Russia. Dan also mentioned how he had put us in contact with Doug Burleigh who was so instrumental in helping establish contacts in Moscow and Kiev. We ended the evening at the McMurrins grouping out on their hillside to get a group picture of all of us. What special and gracious hosts both of the McMurrins are. The entire day was spent with family - - God's Family, the Family of Christ. Whether American or Ukrainian, we were indeed one this day. I wish all of you could have been there with us and experienced the unity of fellowshipping and worshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ. This is one day all of us will remember for a long time.
Tomorrow, of course, is our joint Patriotic Concert with the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Roger guaranteed that we would have a packed house for this concert. I will tell you all about that in my nightly report back to you tomorrow. Until then, I am you humble reporter.
(For Music With a Mission)