We got to talk to Charles last night! We actually called Tuesday night too, but I wouldn't say we actually got to talk. The telephone connection kept breaking off after one minute and 40something seconds, and there was a delay in hearing each other. It was like those satellite interviews you hear on news programs, where it takes a few seconds to hear and then respond to the questions. The kids did NOT understand and they just kept saying "hi....hello...hello?...do you hear me?....oh hi." LOL Then we'd get disconnected. It would have been comical if it wasn't getting so expensive to keep reconnecting! arrgg So last night they called us with purchased international minutes on their cell phones and we talked for 15 or 20 minutes with no 'satellite delay'. (I think it has something to do with going through the international or Russian operators)
He and his mission team partner, Pete (also from our church) are doing great. That was a concern! Last time Pete went on this mission trip to Ukraine, he got sick with allergies *I think* and the lady of the house he was staying at kept making him 'home remedies' which upset his whole insides! This year, no troubles....but we packed plenty of allergy and stomach meds just in case!
They love the people there. Charles commented that the connection you feel around fellow Christians is strong with these people and they feel very at home with them. His voice was full of the joy of the Lord when he talked about them. The communication is going very well. That is one thing Charles wanted people to pray about...that through the translation process, things wouldn't be too confusing or misunderstood. The weather is great...warm, but not hot. And the food is good. But they are mostly really enjoying the people there.
They thought they would be staying in a home, but are actually staying at a Christian 'reform' facility. (MUCH like the Set Free ministry that we support here in Phoenix, so there was a thread of familiarity.) It is for men who are alcoholics or drug addicts, to get clean and healthy and join a support group, but also to hear about Christ and how God really loves them and has a plan for them. So there are a lot of the men who are new Christians and a lot that are not Christians. They help anyone who needs it. But they are all in a safe place, getting the help they need and hearing about a God who loves them. Pete said the men there even asked Charles and Pete to move there and become their pastors. I think it was all in jest, but you can see how much they responded to kindness and genuine love.
When we talked to them last night, they were just about to have breakfast and then leave to go to the city, where they will spend *I think* two nights and have a day to sightsee before making the 30 hour trip back home. That includes all travel time, on the road, in the air and between flights. Charles told me they rode on a prop plane to their current location, but that he would tell me that story when he got home.....which mean he probably almost died and doesn't want to worry me while he's traveling home!
I hope he writes about all of his stories from this trip on his blog when he gets back. At least I will pester him to do it.