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

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Apple's on a Mission

We are Mark and Nora Apple. We are sinners saved by God's grace and mercy. It is said that those who have been forgiven much, love much. This is the love we want to share with others. We now have an exciting opportunity to share with others a little beyond our normal sphere of influence. On March 30, 2016 we boarded a plane to Mukacheve, Ukraine! We ask for your prayers for us in this endeavor, as well as wisdom in every area of our lives.

2 thoughts on “Hello from Ukraine!”

  1. Thanks for the update. Sounds like you are very busy and there is a lot of opportunity. Praying for your health, strength and boldness to sustain you both.
    Denise

  2. Great to see Photos and Updates! A piece of my heart is in Ukraine! I Love you! My Ukraine daughter Anya Parents are still in Ukraine!

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