It is Monday morning, our last day at the Centre. Not surprisingly, the last few weeks have been busy as we try to do as much as possible before we leave. We can't help but reflect on the many contacts and relationships that have been established here for which we are grateful. They enrich our lives. Yesterday Dima prepared a delicious "plov" meal, a traditional, rich Uzbekistan rice dish. Centre staff and members of the Kutuzovka Church were invited to join us. The weather was beautiful so we were able to enjoy the day outdoors.
On October 31 we witnessed the election of municipal councils and mayors resulting in numerous changes for the villages in which the Centre is involved. It is good for the Centre to be in contact with the local authorities even though in most cases we do not work directly with them. While the newspapers report numerous irregularities in the election process in Ukraine, we try to work with the councils on behalf of the poor in their communities. (Pictured are the re-elected mayor of Nikolai-pole (Nikolaifeld, north of Zaparozhia) and the newly elected mayor of Svetlodolinsk.) (Lichtenau). In both villages Mennonite Centre pays for Medical Emergency Funds for individuals who cannot afford to pay for medications.
In Nikolai-pole we also visited with Garry Verhoog, a Manitoba dairy farmer who has started a dairy farm operation with about 30 cows. His intent is to share his faith and expertise with the local people and encourage more efficient farming methods in Ukraine. They are part of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada.
On Friday we celebrated Olga's nine years of service to the Centre as receptionist. At age 77 she considers herself ready for retirement! Her ability to speak English has been a huge benefit to the North American directors over the years. She will continue to serve on the local advisory board, but her presence in the Centre will be missed.
We are thankful for safety and good health in a place where neither are to be taken for granted. And now we pray for safe flights as we look forward to returning home. For the rest of our stories you will need to visit with us in Manitoba!