By the way, it’s HAR-kov. The EM-phasis is on the first SYL-lable.

Good news first. No, it’s great news! The specialists checked out Olivia’s eyes yesterday and determined that 1) yes, she’s blind as a bat (we already knew that) and 2) her retinas are strong enough to allow her to have their baby naturally. What a burden is lifted for this young missionary couple and their family and friends. Praise to God for providing for her and for answering our prayers in this wonderful way.

The Kharkov soccer team, FC Metalist, just opened this new stadium last year. It’s about six blocks from the Nelsons’ apartment. The state is in the middle of renovating this part of town for the Eurocup which is being held in Ukraine in 2012. Metalist Stadium is one of the four locations for the games.These kinds of banners can be seen on a couple dozen different big buildings around the stadiumThe Kharkov soccer (futbol) team is called the Metalist to honor the iron-workers heritage in this part of Ukraine. Kinda like the steelers in Pittsburgh and the meatpackers in Green Bay

Our mighty God is really doing something here in Kharkov. He’s building a community here, a sacred community, a group of people set apart for his redeeming purposes in this region of Ukraine. You can’t believe all the friends and contacts God is giving the Nelsons here. And it’s such a thrill to be right in the middle of it this week. We all gathered at a huge city park last night to celebrate Lucy’s birthday. And we spent a couple of hours talking to and listening to these super-friendly and eager and open people.

 I flew all the way to Ukraine to throw an American football with a kid from China named Kevin. He had never thrown one before. I taught him how to grip the laces and throw, not shotput, a downfield pass. Kevin’s here from China getting a Masters degree in some kind of youth coaching studies. He was so thrilled to be able to throw a spiral “like on TV.” He kept calling me coach. Olivia met him a couple of months ago in a coffee shop. And he’s been with this group ever since. He goes back to China in August. Pray for our new friend, Kevin.Mike & Lucy’s youngest, Max, enjoying ice-cream in the parkOlivia & Lucy

There were probably 30 of us total, maybe a little more. Half of us Christians, the other half not. Not yet, I keep reminding David. And it’s so inspiring to hear all the stories about how God has put them all together. They come from all over, at least four or five different countries, at least four or five different languages being spoken. Different backgrounds. Different religious experiences. Different worldviews. Smiling. Laughing. Serving. Helping. Poking fun at David’s translations. Asking me about Texas and the Dallas Cowboys. Assisting with all the babies. Talking about preaching and ministry and God’s Church. Landlords and construction workers and ballroom dancers and students and doctors and retail salesmen. It’s really incredible how they’ve all come together in David and Olivia’s circle.

 Tons and tons of old cathedrals in Kharkov, some of them 500 and 600 years old. We’re going to check out some of them upclose on Saturday.Another cathedral. I can’t keep them all straight.

God’s doing something with these people. I’m not certain why he’s brought them all together in this way. But they pray together and they study the Bible together. And they talk about our Lord and his plans for the world. It’s easy to see the core of something special here. It’s really easy to see that this is a great group of loving and caring people. I can easily see God using this little group to turn Kharkov completely upside down for the Kingdom. We finished off the night with a McFlurry at Mickey-D’s!

I just don’t know time-frames and methods and strategies.

We can pray. We can keep lifting this group up to God. We can keep trusting God to do something big here with these friendly people. We can keep encouraging David and Liv by reminding them that they are doing their jobs as disciples of Christ, they are planting wonderful seeds, they are shining like stars in the universe, they are reflecting the glory of our King and showing people our Lord’s love and mercy and grace. And we can keep trusting our God to be faithful to his people, to be working in ways we can’t see yet and may never see this side of glory, in order to redeem and restore his creation to its perfect and ultimate intent.