All our energies for the past week have gone into preparing for Saturday evening. This was planned as a special evening for the leaders and shakers in Molochansk. They would be served a fabulous meal, listen to a professional music concert, and be presented with a special challenge from the Mennonite Centre. This was a new concept for Molochansk.
The idea for the evening was first proposed by our manager, Dema Bratchenko to the Board of the Mennonite Centre in
. The objective was to introduce the concept of taking ownership for supporting your own community to the leaders in Molochansk. The Mennonite Centre has taken on this role, but it needs broader support in the community. The concept of volunteerism and charity are foreign ideas in Canada . The Board supported Dema’s proposal and agreed to provide matching funds to any charitable initiative coming from the community leaders. Ukraine
The banquet was held three weeks after we received Board approval. It was an ambitious project. Dema arranged for the Director of the
in Tokmak to bring some of his best students and provide the concert. They have a tight schedule and once they were booked, the evening was set. We identified all movers and shakers in Molochansk. Together with their spouses this numbered just over 20 people. This included the mayor as well as a number of directors of public institutions and some business people. A problem arose when we tried to establish the menu. It turned out that we had committed ourselves to a banquet during the period of Lent when some members of the Orthodox faith would be observing the fast – that is, they would be abstaining from all meat and animal products. Apparently there have been tensions in the past when those observing the fast publicly refused any food with meat and were judged by others as appearing to be more pious. We did not wish to have this tension distract from the objective of the evening. It was decided to have a uniform meal for everyone that was consistent with the rules of the fast. Essentially we were going to have a vegan banquet. School of Music
Other things happened in the last week also. We had an unofficial visit from two members of the Canadian Embassy, there were the usual number of petitioners asking for assistance, the seniors in the area got fed at their weekly luncheon, and Dema taught the computer club how to create cartoons. We also enjoyed the two hour worship service on Sunday morning at the Kutuzovka church. Even if we cannot understand the language, we sense God’s presence in the congregation.
On Wednesday evening we leave for Kiev. We have a number of significant meetings lined up and I will report on the trip in my next blog.
For more information on the work of the Mennonite Centre, please go to:
For information on the work of the Mennonite Economic Development Association (MEDA) in Ukraine, you can see an excellent Ukraine Youtube video produced last fall by a Winnipeg Mennonite film producer:
You can click on any picture in the blog to enlarge it.
Alvin and Mary