Friday, June 17, 2016


Five weeks have flown by.  We've reconnected with people we've grown to love and appreciate through the years.  We've reviewed many Mennonite Centre projects and have seen the difference these are making in institutions and in the lives of people.  We've had occasion to talk to various people about life in general.  In conversation with a young man this week, he said, "I cannot understand how our country has not been able to get on its feet."  People here are looking for stability, something they can count on.

Despite difficulties of everyday living we notice a resilience, an appreciation of beauty and the joy of celebration.  Recently a group of kindergarteners came to entertain our seniors.  The children love to dress up, to dance and sing and don't appear at all self-conscious.  Of course our seniors coming for lunch enjoyed ever minute.

Another recent musical highlight was the Molochansk Music School piano recital held in honour of Linda Stobbe.  Twelve young pianists played their pieces beautifully.  Leanna Baranovskaya gave a tribute to Linda, how she had taken a special interest in this music school, how she had supported and inspired the teachers, brought books for them, and held master classes for the students. Also how much they appreciate the Yamaha pianos that were donated in memory of Linda, one for the Molochansk School and the other for Tokmak.
The school also has a very fine Estonia grand piano dating back to communist times.  The story is told that when the Soviet Union collapsed an effort was made to move this piano out. Fortunately it was not possible to do this safely because of confined spaces in the building.  Students therefore have the opportunity of studying on very fine instruments.  We also enjoyed hearing several student/teacher duets.

Ada, our former bookkeeper
Wednesday is quilting day at the Mennonite Centre.  Women bring worn clothing and fabrics, cut squares and sew up blankets which are donated to the poor. It's a good time for socialization and a cup of tea.  Another good example of doing more with less.

Oksana discussing issues with Lili
A further area of great need in Ukraine is elder care.  There are few good institutions. Families count on seniors' pensions and are reluctant to give these up, meanwhile not providing adequate care.  A section of the former Mennonite church in the village of Kutuzovka is now a senior's home providing care to 11 women, some of them bedridden.
This woman is legally blind
It is managed by a Lili, a missionary from Germany.  The Mennonite Centre provides some monthly support.  Part of the building has been renovated, however the need remains great and it is too costly to expand further. Women are being cared for on two floors, they think they are in heaven.  There are steep staircases and other safety issues.  To respond to this need, a home care program is being initiated, beginning in Kutuzovka and Molochansk, also to be managed by Lili.  Workers will be given a week of training at Boris Letkeman's home care program in Zaporizhia.

Lest you might think these weeks have been all work and no play, a few examples to the contrary.   We recently organized a wiener roast for our staff and families as a token of gratitude for all they do.  We even had s'mores thanks to Anita for finding room in her suitcase to bring graham wafers and marshmallows along. Youth played volleyball and the Centre back yard rang with happy children's voices.

A full 5 oz. cup

Coffee culture has come to southeastern Ukraine. This bus, in Zaporizhia is a mobile coffee shop, can be set up anywhere.  Notice the table and chairs in the distance made of stacked crates. Too bad Rudy doesn't identify with the feelings expressed on the sign. But who needs a coffee shop if your staff comes up with creations like this.  Our Centre housekeeper brought this cake on her birthday.  Here it is tradition that the birthday person brings the cake.
Linden trees
If our eyes are open we find beauty all around us.  Nature has a way of camouflaging the ugly.  Flowers are everywhere -each week new ones appear. Trees are in blossom.  I recall my mother talking about "Lindenblüten Tee"  - used as a remedy for coughs and colds.

Wall to wall oil in the Tokmak grocery store
The first sunflowers are appearing and soon vast fields will transform into gold, eventually appearing on store shelves like this.

Leaving will be sad.  Each time we leave a little more of ourselves behind. We have tried to be enablers and encouragers.  Again we express our gratitude to all those who are continuing to make this work possible by your support, prayers and donations.  "Spasibo Bolshoi!"

In addition to supporting what has already been referred to in previous blogs during the past five weeks the Mennonite Centre has funded the following:

1.  Doctor visits - three doctors come to the Centre at appointed times of  
     the week. People can book appointments and receive free medical care.
2.  Glasses project funded initially by a donation from Bakerview MB 
     Church.  To date we've given out 1400 pairs of glasses.  These are eye  
     specific, costing us under $5/pair - this includes cost of the optometrist visit.
3.  An MRI  for a cancer patient.
4.  Surgery to correct a hip fracture six years ago, which hasn't healed properly 
5.  Team uniforms - for Ukrainian School sports team enabling them to 
     compete in Zaporizhia
6.  New windows for school in the former Mennonite village of Lichtenau -       
     now Svetlodolinsk
7.  Four ultraviolet lamps for the Tokmak lab.         
8.  Medication for a child suffering from meningitis.
9.  Treatment for a child diagnosed with encephalitis.
10. Printer for a village school.
11. Games for children spending summer in Sanatorium.     

For more information on the work of the Mennonite Centre, please go to  Also check out Mennonite Centre Ukraine Facebook page

(Click on pictures to enlarge)


  1. Wonderful post and lovely photos. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

  2. Let God bless you! This is a not good time for Ukraine. We are helping children in its orphanages. Visit our website to learn more info…, please