Wrap up report - summer, 2006
First Bell at school is the sure signal that summer is over for kids and parents. Mothers and children are busy digging out potatoes, drying onions and garlic, picking up pears, wrinkled sunflowers don't have the energy to turn to the weakening sun, parents are at the train station saying goodbye to nervous kids with duct taped wrapped bags, and we say too many goodbyes to very close friends.
We end our summer stint with a visit to Kiev, including a 90-minute meeting with Abina Dann, Canada's Ambassador to Ukraine. We review the work of the Mennonite Centre during its 5 years of operation, and assure her that we plan to stay for the long term. We review future options and she outlines her priorities as our new Ambassador.
Now we are back, in this interesting stage when our eyes and ears tell us we are in Canada, but what we see and hear are Ukrainian experiences. Road construction here takes you back to the trenches running along Molochansk streets promising natural gas, and a barking dog here reminds you of the chorus of canines that rehearse half the night and perform for the rest of it!
Two years ago we innocently asked Walter Unger as FOMCU Board chair, what he expected us to do in Ukraine. He said, "be there." A better job description I have never seen. Be there with a grandmother when she raises a glass to her grandson who just was just admitted to medical school, be there with the Zaporozhye survivors of breast cancer when they talk about having their lungs permanently seared because the radiation machine gives inaccurate readings, be there when the village throws an outdoor party on Independence Day, be there when the church needs a speaker to fill in for Pastor Jakob, be there when a village history teacher calls for help to save a former Mennonite Church from destruction, and be there when a tear-filled grade 11 student comes in hoping to find admission requirements for a state university after she lost her catalogue. Her catalogue was eventually found, but she had already discovered the marvels of the internet when Ben showed her how to get the information online.
Even though we aren’t there now, the Centre is. This beautiful, recently renovated building proudly shows off its European heritage, portraying a testimony of faithfulness, giving honour to our grandparents and inspiration to our grandchildren. This is our living monument.
Thanks for your prayers and support.
Ben and Linda Stobbe