About 10 days ago, Olga and I began a road trip from St. Petersburg, Russia to visit Stoneworks ministry sites in eastern and central Europe. Stoneworks continues to expand, and it’s an honor to be able to visit so many wonderful people that God has put together as ‘living stones’ (1 Peter 2:5).
Our first stop was in Minsk, Belarus where we visited with our ministry Spring of Revival. We stayed with Yasha and Olga Goncharenko and had a great time visiting several ministry sites.
Olga and her staff continue to do great work under difficult circumstances. They are very worthy of our help and support.
The highlight of our visit was at the Minsk Family Home. The young ladies who live there are doing very well, and Alesya (the counselor, in front on the right) is doing a great job.
We had a good meal together, shared stories and were blessed to have a good time of fellowship and mutual encouragement.
We also visited a foster family we support. The home, for eleven children, is in a small village 30 minutes from Minsk.
We had a great meal there (this is a theme of our travels), and saw some of the pigs we bought for them. We’re now helping purchase a cow, and we’ve also purchased chickens and provided other aid for foster families.
From Minsk, we drove through eastern Poland to Budapest, Hungary after a long day.
The trip through that part of the world is quite interesting and the land is very beautiful, especially as we made our way through the Carpathian mountains of eastern Slovakia.
In Budapest, we continue to build a relationship with the Free Methodist World Mission. I hope we will be able to place a long-term missionary to help the local church with outreach and youth ministries.
I had a good visit with the team there, and I am very hopeful that we can partner with them in the future. This was my third visit to Budapest, and I’m feeling more and more ‘at home’ there. And the Danube is always a treat:
From Budapest, we made our way to Serbia. We visited our good friends Jan (pronounced ‘Yahn’) and Nada Dudas in Bachki Petrovac, a small farming town in the region of Voivodina. Jan is an elder in the Baptist church.
I am hopeful that Stoneworks will be able to serve them in some way. For now, we continue to build relationships as we discern how the Lord is leading us. I was honored to offer the sermon at church, and I feel well-received.
We also visited the old town of Novi Sad (left), which is nearby. I’m enjoying getting to know more about the rich history of the area.
Most of the people in Bachki Petrovac are of Slovakian heritage, and the church service was in Slovakian. Everyone also speaks Serbian, of course, and many speak English; we also heard some German and French, and several people spoke Russian with us. It’s quite a place.
From Serbia, we drove to our final destination – Podgorica, Montenegro. The trip over the mountains was spectacular; we saw many dramatic waterfalls caused by the spring snow melt.
We’ll be here for three weeks, having fellowship with the church, helping any many ways and spending time with our family here (Olga’s sister just had a baby boy who is the pride of the family). I’ve been asked to take over the teaching duties at the church for the next three weeks, and I’m glad to help in that way.
Yesterday, I traveled to Cetinje with Vladimir Cizmanski, pastor of the Brethren Assembly. We had good conversations as we wound our way through the Black Mountains. This is the view we saw as we returned home:
The Lord has given us so much beauty. Of course, the places we’ve seen are beautiful, but even more beautiful are the people and the relationships He has established as we walk with Him.