Our Extended Mission!

Mukacheve, Ukraine

Hello all,

We want to share some of the things going on with us here in Ukraine. Greenfield Coffee Company will need to be shelved for the foreseeable future. We believe this is God’s guidance and answer to our prayers for opening and closing doors. We soon realized upon our arrival in Mukacheve that God has called us to extend our three month mission trip! We are trusting God by daily living in His time frame. We may be here another month, another year, or indefinitely. Last week, we traveled to the Ukrainian Embassy in Budapest, Hungary and received our Visas!

Mukacheve is charming. Last month they celebrated their 1,120 year as a chartered city, steeped in tradition. The population is 86,000. Many of the streets are brick. It seems to be, literally and figuratively, a place of refuge (a valley) nestled between mountains. Currently, Ukraine, probably along with other former Soviet republics, is welcoming to Americans. While much of the world seems to be becoming more and more anti-American, we feel very welcome. When the Soviet Union dissolved, the US took control of the nukes in exchange for security. So the US has an obligation by treaty to protect Ukraine, which probably contributes to the pro-American atmosphere. However, Russia has advanced farther west in an attempt to reclaim parts of Ukraine. Last week, laws were passed prohibiting religions beyond the State sanctioned Russian Orthodox Church. We see this time now as a window of opportunity to show God’s love to the Ukrainians.

We are seeing people come to Christ weekly!

From the day we arrived, we immediately fit right into the activities of the church, жива вода (pronounced Shiva Voda and translated: Living Water). The church’s core leaders originated from the Calvary Chapel group of churches, but Living Water has been established as an Evangelical non-denominational church.

The largest age group of the church is made up of teenagers and young adults, our age being one of the reasons we are needed. Most of the kids who come to the youth events are poor so the free cappuccinos, lattes, deserts, and pizza are a true treat because it is way beyond what many can afford. There is no offering that is ever taken; everything is funded by the team, with American money. When we do outreach throughout the city, we mention that we absolutely do not want anyone’s money, as there seems to be some skepticism from many about church groups just scamming for money. The older generations seem rooted in Russian Orthodoxy and Catholicism and refer to any other church as a ‘sect’ or ‘cult.’ Many of the younger people seem to come from more atheistic backgrounds. A large part of our ministry is to let people know how loved they are, and that their salvation comes through relationship with Jesus, and not man-made religion.

Significant parts of our church are refugees from the war in Eastern Ukraine that have come to Mukacheve to escape. Another significant group is Middle Eastern refugees that have either fled persecution due to their faith in Christ, or fled war and terror and have found Christ after arriving here. Another important ministry is to the Roma (Gypsy) Villages. They are among some of the most impoverished people groups. We are also in the process of setting up an orphan ministry. The orphanage is located about 30 minutes from town and houses about 90 children. The paperwork is in process as anyone working in the orphanage must be approved by the State. We will hopefully have that ministry in full swing by the end of summer.

We have been considered as mid-term missionaries, we are now planning to be long-term missionaries, as long as we continue to believe and feel that this is God’s plan for us. Our goal is to be self-sufficient. We are working on some creative endeavors to point us toward self-sufficiency. Both of us feel as though we’ve spent more of our lives burying our talents than doubling them. We only wish to live out the rest of our lives in the center of His will, using our gifts, and fulfilling our callings as effectively as we can.

We ask you for your prayers, any wisdom and discernment you have for us, and any input at all, whether encouragement and blessing, or words of caution. We really hope that you will consider coming to visit what is happening here. You are welcome indeed. We would love to be a destination for short-term groups to come and jump right into what is happening here.

Thank you so much for your help and support to get us here! Thank you so much for believing in us and encouraging us in so many ways. We love you!

Mark & Nora Apple
Vul Rosvigovska 17a KB 5
Zakarpattia Oblast
Mukachevo
Ukraine 89600

applesonamission@gmail.com

If anyone feels called to donate to our mission, you can donate to us through World Renewal’s secure site under Partner/Give/Ukraine. World Renewal is a 501c3 public charity organization. (Click here to donate: WRI Ukraine)

Traditional Ukrainian Graduation Performance

Hanging Laundry

New Momma at the Old Soviet Housing

Gypsy Village of Zapszony (52)

Gypsy Village of Zapszony (25a)

Gypsy Village of Zapszony (27)

Gypsy Village of Zapszony (18a)

Gypsy Village of Zapszony (19a)

Gypsy Village of Zapszony (16a)

A Walk in Mukacheve

Mukacheve Market

A Walk in Mukacheve (60)

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Pascha in Ukraine

We were blessed to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection twice this year! Depending on the calendar followed, the Easter holiday fell in either March or May this year. The West follows the Gregorian Calendar, which placed Easter on March 27th, which was just before we left the States. The Eastern Orthodox world, (including Ukraine,) follows the Julian Calendar to determine holidays, which this year placed Pascha (Passover) or Easter on May 1st, allowing us to also celebrate the Resurrection in Mukacheve. (In 2017 the calendars align so the East and West will celebrate the same day.)

After worship, we headed down to the river for a picnic and a baptism! Six new converts were baptized, three youth and three adults. Words cannot express the joy of watching former Muslims and Atheists come to a real relationship with Christ and publicly expressing it through water baptism! We have an eternal bond with these beautiful people from the other side of the world. We are now family. Due to the risk the refugees now face, we will not publicly share any pictures of them.

We only hope these pictures can help you feel the same Joy…

Baptizing the youth!
Pastor Joel and Katya Baptizing the women!

2016.05.01 Easter in Mukacheve (106)

2016.05.01 Easter in Mukacheve (107)

2016.05.01 Easter in Mukacheve (109)

2016.05.01 Easter in Mukacheve (126)
Pastor Joel and Pastor руслан baptizing the young men!

2016.05.01 Easter in Mukacheve (130)

2016.05.01 Easter in Mukacheve (131)

Ohhhh...the water was cold!
Ohhhh…the water was cold!

2016.05.01 Easter in Mukacheve (136)

2016.05.01 Easter in Mukacheve (138)

Josh...Joy after baptizing the refugees!
Josh…Joy after baptizing the refugees!
Ukrainian Chicken!
Ukrainian Chicken!
Cooking Plove over an open fire!
Cooking Plove over an open fire!
Lyuba preparing true Ukrainian Plove!
Lyuba preparing true Ukrainian Plove!

2016.05.01 Easter in Mukacheve (67)

2016.05.01 Easter in Mukacheve (62)

Some of the youth playing toss.
Some of the youth playing toss.
Boys doing tricks...
Boys doing tricks…
Anna & Oleg playing music by the river...
Anna & Oleg playing music by the river…
Kids tossing rocks...
Kids tossing rocks…
Roma passing by...
Roma passing by…
Some of the youth enjoying the pick-nick by the river.
Some of the youth enjoying the pick-nick by the river.
Beautiful scenery!
Beautiful scenery!
This is my spot...right here!
This is my spot…right here!
2016.05.06 Mukacheve Spring Flowers
Mukacheve Spring Flowers

2016.05.06 Mukacheve Spring Flowers

2016.05.06 Mukacheve Spring Flowers

2016.05.10 Mukacheve Spring Flowers

2016.05.10 Mukacheve Spring Flowers

2016.05.10 Mukacheve Spring Flowers

2016.05.11 Mukacheve Backyard (3)

2016.05.13 Mukacheve Peonies (1)

2016.05.13 Mukacheve Peonies (2)

2016.05.13 Mukacheve Peonies (4)

2016.05.13 Mukacheve Peonies (6)

Blessings from Mukacheve!

Mark & Nora

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Hello from Ukraine!

We made it! Finally our bodies have adjusted to the time change…seven hours ahead of Eastern Time Zone! Thank you to all who helped to get us here! We are so blessed & grateful!

2016.03.30 Plane 1 to Warsaw (42)

2016.03.31 Plane 2 to Budapest (107)

2016.03.31 Plane 2 to Budapest (150)

2016.03.31 From Budapest to Mukacheve (166)

Our first couple of weeks have been filled with meeting so many wonderful people and trying to navigate our way around a new city while not knowing the language. What an adventure! Time is flying by faster than we imagined.

Mukacheve Downtown (4)

Downtown Mukacheve (5a)

A Walk in Mukacheve (81a)

Learning, (well at least trying to learn,) the alphabet has been a huge help in figuring things out. Many words are somewhat similar once we learn the alphabet. For example, the word супермаркет is the word supermarket, and once you know the letters, it has meaning!  The kids have had a lot of fun trying to teach us some basic Ukrainian and Russian words! Most Ukrainians speak Russian, at least in this area. Mukacheve had a major Soviet military base here, as this was one of the farthest west regions of the former USSR. So, Russian is what most seem to speak here. In smaller villages and rural areas, apparently Ukrainian is used more. Our church is multi-lingual. Everything is translated. The pastor, (Joel, originally from California,) usually preaches in English and his Ukrainian wife Katya, translates into Russian. When someone speaks in Russian, Katya, or one of the many bilingual young people translates for us English speakers. Being an English speaking church does draw some to the church. There is an English Club that meets weekly and draws a good crowd, as many want to learn and practice English. We are assisting in these classes. It is an outreach as some come to the class from outside the church, and the Bible is used as the curriculum. The classes are so fun!

Mukacheve is Beautiful! Just like any American city, some parts of the city are rougher, but crime seems to be low. The Ukraine government has some instability, but we are far from any intense fighting. Quite a few refugees from the war in the East have relocated to the area, and quite a few are part of our church. There are also a few refugees from other parts of the world that have settled here, with a dozen or so of these precious people making a home with us in our fellowship. Some of them seem more at home speaking English than Russian, which is possibly what brought them to our church. We just had a baby dedication for a beautiful baby, but we can’t show any photos to ensure their safety. Here in Mukacheve, the people are lovely and peaceful. Births are on the rise as the town is family friendly. People are pushing baby buggies everywhere.

Mukacheve Momma (10a)

Mukacheve Momma (45a)

Courtyard in the center of the block housing.
Courtyard in the center of the block housing.

Spring has sprung since we arrived and the flowers and leaves are in full bloom!

2016.04.12 Ukraine Scenery (2)

2016.04.12 Ukraine Scenery (13)

2016.04.13 A Walk in Mukacheve (9)

 

We can hardly believe it’s been three weeks since our arrival! With so many opportunities to pour into the people here, we have not been bored. We have included a lot of pictures in this post to try and give an overview, but pictures simply cannot show the reality of life in Mukacheve. To keep up with our daily activities, we have posted an album of pictures on Facebook here:
https://www.facebook.com/nora.m.apple/media_set?set=a.10207922749524764&type=1

Women's Monastery (47a)

The predominate religion that most identify with is Orthodoxy. Although it appears it’s nominal for many. We have heard from some of the locals that the older generation highly discourages attending evangelical churches due to trust issues. Some refer to evangelical churches as ‘sects,’ or ‘cults.’ They believe the churches are only after their money, which is always in short supply. (The average worker makes about $5/day.) We are trying hard to convince them we are self-funded and do not even take offerings, that our purpose here is to love them and share the Lord. It’s awesome that we are seeing people receive Christ weekly! The Friday Nights Cafe is growing with youth of all ages. Quite a few are neighborhood kids that show up to hang out and end up coming to the Saturday bible study and pizza. Several are former atheists who end up coming to Christ by asking questions and searching truth for themselves rather than simply relying on what they have been taught. Some were angry and bitter from the horrible situations they have been through and found that love still exists. Please keep these ministries in your prayers that hearts would be healed and lives would be changed.

Youth Friday Nights (16a)
Friday Nights Cafe ~ where kids of all ages have a safe place to hang out!

Youth Friday Nights (18a)

Youth Friday Nights (41a)

Youth Friday Nights (48a)

Sunday morning worship is powerful. The instruments are few, but the Spirit is flowing. On Sunday evenings, we take part in a street ministry outreach in the City Center which has brought many to the Lord, (several last summer, 5 2weeks ago and 4 last week!) With the language barrier, we are unable to talk directly to very many, but they listen to our greeting, being curious about the Americans, and interested in the music and skits, then one of the locals in our group will interpret. Probably most of the sharing is done by the local youth. It’s inspiring to see their eagerness to share the love of Christ to their peers. If anyone prays, we exchange contact info to connect later. The church is focused on training and discipleship.

Sunday Worship (14)

Sunday Worship

Children's Class (21)

Mukacheve Street Ministry (1)
Sunday Night Street Ministry

Mukacheve Street Ministry (3a)

Street Ministry (17)

Street Ministry (54)
Josh speaking with Tolik interpreting.
The Youth Drama on Salvation
The Youth Drama on Salvation
Street Ministry (69)
Josh speaking with Oleg interpreting
The stores were closed but the people came out to hear the music, drama, and Jesus!
The stores were closed but the people came out to hear the music, drama, and Jesus!
Mark speaking with Arthur interpreting.
Mark speaking with Arthur interpreting.

A friend of Arthur came with his dad to the event. After Mark spoke, Arthur was blessed to lead his friend to Christ! We are never sure how many are reached through any word spoken, but God’s word will spread one to another and never return void! It will accomplish it’s purpose and thankfully doesn’t need or depend on us. So no pressure! It’s all Him!

 

Although we have seen an abundance of beauty, Mukacheve has its dark side. During the 50 years of Communist control, stone buildings were erected throughout the city to house the Russians brought in to occupy. These buildings still stand and serve as apartment housing. The contrast between the Free Ukrainian housing and the Communist Oppression housing is drastic. Just as a free country brings creative love and beauty to its surroundings, God wants to bring his love and beauty to their hearts, and ours.

Mukacheve from the Monastery (71a)

Russian Block Housing (16)

Russian Block Housing in Mukacheve (52)

Russian Block Housing in Mukacheve (5a)

Abandoned Soviet WWII Military Factory.
Abandoned Soviet WWII Military Factory.
The Roma (Gypsy) are at the dumpsters daily.
The Roma (Gypsy) are at the dumpsters daily.
Roma children
Roma children
Little Roma girl rummaging through the street trash with her cart of goods behind her. Notice how no one pays any attention to her?
Little Roma girl rummaging through the street trash with her cart of goods behind her. Notice how no one pays any attention to her?
Young Roma boy with his "goods"
Young Roma boy with his “goods”

Two Young Gypsy Boys (79)

See the Castle in the distance? We hope to take out a morning soon and visit!
See the Castle in the distance? We hope to take out a morning soon and visit!

Despite some difficult history, Mukacheve is a beautiful city nestled in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. Pray for the people to see God’s love!

Mukacheve Scenery (11a)

Mukacheve Child (20)

Backyard gardens in almost every home...
Backyard gardens in almost every home…
Outdoor markets are preferred over industrialized supermarket groceries!
Outdoor markets are preferred over industrialized supermarket groceries!
Backyard chickens are everywhere!
Backyard chickens are everywhere!
Chickens running around in an outdoor restaurant...
Chickens running around in an outdoor restaurant…
They even have our favorite gas station! ($3.28 a gallon, although this is the per liter price - 84.6 cents)
They even have our favorite gas station! ($3.28 a gallon, although this is the per liter price – 84.6 cents)
Beautiful Downtown
Beautiful Downtown
Mukacheve Sunset
Mukacheve Sunset

Mukacheve Sunset (94)

 

Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Mark & Nora Apple

applesonamission@gmail.com

A Few Ukraine Needs

UPDATE:

Mark and I would like to thank everyone for their support with the Missions Dinner. Words cannot express the love we felt from all who came to show their support. The Talent Show was not only tons of fun, but filled with first class talent! Jan Piworski and his cooks did a fabulous job on the food! Thank you for starting the smokers at 4:00 AM! Our trip to Mukacheve, Ukraine from March 30th to June 29th will be much easier with all the love from everyone back home!
We would like to thank everyone who came together but we know there were so many behind the scenes I’m sure we will miss someone. Special thanks to the organizers: Denise McKnight, Gale Jacobi, William Jones, Rhonda Sullivan, Janet McKnight, Annette Lopez, Jan Piworski, Jeff Sylvester; and special thanks to Cody Merritt for running sound and to Michael Anderson for all his expertise and the extra time he put in making the event run smooth. Greg Cheney is a wonderful photographer and set up a Flicker page for everyone: https://flic.kr/s/aHsksAaSMD Thank you Greg!!
We want to thank all those who shared their wonderful talents to make the evening such a fun event! Thank you to: Janet Chaney for bringing in her beautiful pictures to show us her very talented needlepoint, beautiful art! The picture of the Shepherd Jesus on the right wall was donated to New Life for all to enjoy! To William Jones, the best MC & Lip Sync in town! To Annette Lopez who sang a beautiful solo! To Michael Harris for his wonderful worship! To Caleb Kerfoot and Jonah Hess for their spectacular tae kwon do skills! To Molly Hess for the cutest horse impersonation! To Sandy Braschler for her amazing backwards-upside-down piano playing! To Cheyanne Miller for a beautiful a-cappella vocal song! To Cody Hargett and Gage Bailey for a fabulous piano and drums duet! To Randy Harrison, what a treat to hear his award winning blues music! To Shiloh McFarland for an outstanding tap dance routine! To Jo Apple for her beautiful classical piano talent! To Delaney Jones for her rip roaring hilarious jokes, she brought down the house! To Mike Haemmerle for his wonderful song and voice, what a privilege to have you! To Cassidy & Annalee Kimble & Shiloh McFarland for your trio and the beautifully written song! And finally, to The Prodigals for singing us out with beautiful spirit-filled worship!
We also want to thank Josh & Sarah Brown for taking time out of their busy quick trip in the States to drive up and speak at the dinner! We can talk, but our hearts move when we actually see pictures of where we will be working! Thank you for sharing Jesus with so many!
Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We will post pictures of our activities on this blog. The About page gives a little view of the activities we will be participating in during our stay. If you haven’t yet, grab a postcard on the missions table in the foyer at church as a reminder to pray for us. There are also a few postcards of the missionaries we support for you to take as well to remind us to pray for their work around the world.
With our sincere thanks and love,
Mark & Nora Apple

***************************************************************************

Our fundraiser is only a little over a week away! While the needs are great, we are hoping to raise enough funds to help out with the Coffee House and Youth Ministry. They have expressed a desire for a new keyboard, as the one they are currently using is in poor condition, and also for a Foosball Table for the youth activities. The table needs to be a commercial quality table to hold up to the usage, which will cost a little more. The children living in the orphanage will love receiving anything we can bring. We are excited to love on them!

The Talent Show is coming together! We can’t divulge any secrets, but we hear a band or two will play, and some of the youth girls will present their dance routine! The details are listed below if anyone would like to take part.

Other ways to support our mission:

  • Through purchasing our fresh roasted organic whole bean coffee, as our goal is to be self-funded, here: Greenfield Coffee Company
  • Through World Renewal International Missions here: Ukraine

Please add us to your daily prayer list! Also, in the sidebar, click “Follow this Blog” to add your e-mail address and receive updates while we are abroad!

We set up an email specifically for our trip: applesonamission@gmail.com. Please send us encouragement and news from home!

 

Blessings,
Mark & Nora

Missions Dinner Info

Prayer Requests

Coffee Around the World

As we are sipping our Greenfield Coffee in our warm 1800’s home, we can’t help but be thankful for God’s blessings. With such heartache in the world, we can give and give and give until we have nothing left, and the heartache will still be here. We are a fallen planet. This is where Christ came to save. We give to alleviate physical suffering, ultimately to allow the soul to open up to grace. This is where Prayer comes in…

  • Pray for Christians all over the world. We have troubles in the US…but nothing like Christians in the rest of the world.
  • Pray for the people in Ukraine. Theirs is a very dark world.
  • Pray for the ministries in Mukacheve. The harvest is ready but the workers are few.
  • Pray specifically for the evangelistic bible study on Saturday nights. This is a spin-off from their Friday Night Coffee House, where over 140 kids from the community attend to have fun in a safe environment. What a great opportunity for the youth to learn about Jesus! Pray for Josh and Sarah; for wisdom in their teachings.

We are hoping to raise enough money (Click here to donate: Ukraine ) to purchase a commercial Foosball Table for the youth. They desperately need a decent keyboard for their ministry, as the one they currently use is on the blink. Mark will be playing for the services, coffee house, and events. Pray for God’s spirit to flow through the music!

We are excited to see what God has in store for this mission!

Mark & Nora

Youth Bible Study
Youth Bible Study
A Day Like Tomorrow by Sarah Janisse Brown
One of Sarah’s first books…A Day Like Tomorrow written with her daughter Anna

Collecting LEGO!

LEGO 3

Lego! Whoever invented the never ending Lego is a genius! I just wish they would have invented something to prevent the throbbing pain after walking through the kid’s room in the middle of the night, barefoot! Every parent can relate…

But those little pieces of plastic have quite a few uses besides cluttering up the floor. Isaac Morehouse posted a great article here: How playing with legos is more valuable than learning algebra.  He presents a great analogy of learning outside the box. I’ve heard quite often of studies which show the elderly that regularly work crossword puzzles and the like are more likely to keep their minds sharp. Lego are puzzles!

When Sarah mentioned the orphans are not able to obtain Lego, my heart sank. Every child should have at least one handful of Lego in their lifetime! So now I am on a quest for Lego!

And yet, there is one more reason we would like to take Lego on our trip…they are light weight and we can fit a ton in a suitcase!  🙂

Please contact us if you have any to donate, we can pick them up! We are also able to take donations through World Renewal. Any little bit helps!

Mark & Nora

LEGO 1LEGO 2

Crossing the ocean!

We are going!

On March 30, we will board a plane to Mukacheve, Ukraine! Our goal for quite some time has been missions. We don’t know the future, but when God opens a door our heart’s desire is to walk through. We are thrilled and honored the Lord has given us this opportunity to spread His love to others.

We will be joining our long-time friends, Josh and Sarah Brown, in their mission work in Mukacheve, Ukraine. Our first trip abroad will last 90 days, the length of stay allowed without visas. But, we are not putting limits on God for our future! The Browns were called long ago to the mission field as tent makers (self-supporting). Finally, in 2012 they sold everything and moved from Fortville, Indiana to Europe. They now reside in Mukacheve. Here, we will work with the Brown family in their mission projects. We are extremely excited to work with the approximately 90 children at the orphanage, as well as the approximately 140 local youth at the Coffee House ministry on Friday nights! Once a week, we will make the trek to the Roma (Gypsy) Village where the women join in bible studies. There are four gypsy camps with groups of children from 40 to over 200.  Josh and Sarah will have the sports ministry in full swing by the time we arrive. Below, you will see a photo of Josh helping to baptize in the river as they see salvations rise!

y wri logo 11 15 12We are also blessed to partner with World Renewal International as Mid-term Missionaries in this project. WRI sends people into the world to disciple and empower local leaders, equipping those leaders to establish churches in their native countries. WRI Impact: Founded in 1986 by Gary and Carol Wright, World Renewal is serving its partners in Brazil, Burundi, Africa, Haiti/ Dominican Republic, Arab World (Mediterranean), Mexico, Cuba, Kenya, India, and preparatory work in Mozambique and Tanzania, Africa. World Renewal’s R.E.N.E.W. ministry serves locally to churches in the USA. WRI, including its partnerships, has a staff presence in over 30 countries and has ministered in 52 countries. Since 1990 WRI has founded (estimate only because of persecuted countries) 300+ new congregations, two orphanages (Haiti), Northeastern Seminary (Brazil), and many schools while feeding over 1000 children each school day.

We have more information on our trip in our “About” page, along with a short history/description of the area we will be living. While we will be busy with projects, we will do our best to post updates here on our activities.

We ask for your prayers for us in this endeavor, as well as wisdom in every area of our lives. Also, please keep World Renewal and the Brown Family in your prayers as they have devoted their lives to ministering God’s love to so many!

Blessings!
Mark & Nora Apple

Send us an e-mail!
applesonamission@gmail.com

Check out our flyer: Mukacheve Ukraine Flyer

WRI logo small
World Renewal International

 

Ukraine Village
Mukacheve

 

Josh baptising in the river
Baptizing in the river.

 

Browns Youth Bible Study
Youth Bible Study

 

GypsyVillage
Roma (Gypsy) Village

 

Sports Ministry
Sports Ministry

 

SarasJournal
Sarah’s Journal, one of the many books that help support the Brown’s ministry.

 

Ukraine Maps
Mukacheve, Ukraine