We began the week by cooking dinner for the residents of Agape on Sunday evening. One of our cooks recently had surgery so our administrator asked us to help fill her void for a meal. In turn, we asked our new friends Larry and Tammy (who moved to Lutsk a few months ago from Texas) to join us and together we prepared a burrito buffet. While it turned out a little spicy for Ukrainian palates, everyone seemed to enjoy trying something new and we enjoyed the opportunity to serve them.
On Christmas Eve, we managed to finish our work day a little early and hosted our rehab team for the evening at our house. It was a cold, snowy evening and we enjoyed a fire, good food, fellowship, games, and presents. We truly feel like a family so had a great time together. We even had "family" devotions, reading from Luke 2 about the birth of Christ before enjoying our meal.
|Cookie decorating contest|
|Not quite everyone|
There was no need to sing about dreaming of a white Christmas as we actually had one this year! Most of the day we got to enjoy watching big, beautiful snowflakes fall.
Although December 25 is now an official holiday, Agape was still full of patients and so we went to work. Sveta and I got to cut out a little early though and enjoy a meal with Larry and Tammy on their first Christmas here. I am so thankful for these new friends! I enjoy getting to fellowship, share joys and challenges, and laugh together with people from my own culture. It's something that I haven't had since moving to Ukraine in 2014. I love my Ukrainian friends and enjoy spending time with them, so I have never really dwelt on the "absence" of Americans in my life here. But now that I have been able to spend some time with Larry and Tammy over the past few months, I am really thankful for our developing friendship and can see that it is a gracious gift from God.
After a Christmas evening service at Fimiam Church, we made a spontaneous decision to go out for pizza with Pasha and Katya and then enjoyed a walk through a portion of the beautifully decorated center of Lutsk.
Thursday evening was the final meeting of the New Opportunities Club for 2018. Current and former patients as well as friends from camp and other spheres came Agape to enjoy the evening together. Christmas songs, preaching about the birth of Christ, games, gifts and food filled the evening.
Today (yes Saturday) was our final work day and Agape is now closed until January 9. We finished our day - and year - with an employee Christmas/end of year celebration this afternoon. It was a time for remembering all the God's blessings and provisions in 2018 at Agape and looking ahead to 2019.
As I personally look back on 2018, I see much to be thankful for in my own life and I continue to be excited to be right where I am doing exactly what I'm doing! What a privilege to be a child of God and what a joy it has been (and will be again soon for us in Ukraine) to celebrate the birth of our Savior!
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!