August 20, 2005
Ukraine 2005 video clip
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for player below:
So much video tape and so many memories are difficult to combine into anything that can possibly sum up this year's Ukraine experience with any accuracy. The clip on this post features several of the athletes reporting their experiences while we were still in Ukraine. There are orphans, street kids, a World War II concentration camp survivor, members of the Tullahoma Team, lots of play footage and some time of sharing and responding to the Good News that we went to share. What you don't see is how the members of this team changed, there was so much growth in a very compressed time. You don't see how the people with whom we came in contact changed...but we are confident that there are changes going on from the seeds that were planted. There will be more videos forthcoming. This sample is one that we will share with the Belmont Trustees later today and in the coming weeks with a number of churches who have asked us to speak.
Fund raising for next year's trip to Venezuela will be more focused in the coming months. I hope that you will consider adding your support to this program. All donations to the Sports Evangelism Program are tax deductible and documented receipts are provided to all donors. Your ongoing support via prayers, encouraging words, and yes, your wallet, are much appreciated. A convenient and secure donation form is available here: Betty Wiseman Missions Fund - Online Donation Form
June 21, 2005
For some of us being home means ice in a glass of tea, a shower head that sprays higher than chest-high, clean sheets, a room without mosquitos, air conditioning, toilet paper without grit, or even a morning cup of coffee where the spoon won't stand up in the cup by itself...regardless, we are are home! There are parts of us that are still in Ukraine and that is where those parts belong...it was our mission to leave behind the seeds of ministry, and that mission is accomplished.
For all of you who visited the Ukraine Journal over the last week or so, for those who have held this mission in prayer, and for the families of these athletes who were willing to share their children with the rest of the world...Betty, Debbie, and I want to say Thank You!
We have all been blessed by this experience. We can say without hesitation that the people of Ukraine have been blessed by this team.
...sipping fresh coffee at a high speed computer..at home,
June 20, 2005
Back on US soil...in search of ice and french fries
We landed in Detroit about an hour ago and everyone made it through customs and baggage inspection without a problem. In about 45 minutes, we will be on the very last flight of the trip.
...kickin' back with french fries and an iced cold drink,
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 07:53 PM
Amsterdam and headed home
There must be a chapter for this trip about our bus...at 2:00AM in Ukraine, there was a group of men push starting a fully loaded church bus that was not quite ready to make the 2+ hour run from Zhitomire to Kiev...now, ask Betty about the power of answered prayer (I dare ya' *grin*)
All are well (well, sleepy) and lining up at the gate for the long flight to Detroit. We shall see you this afternoon in Nashville. The schedule is posted via a link on the home page of the Ukraine Journal if you need flight details.
...on the run in Amsterdam,
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 08:54 AM
June 19, 2005
Saturday's orphange visits
Today's orphange visits seemed rushed for some reason. It may have been the extended amount of time spent in the market purchasing food, it may have been the long drive, and it may have been the threat of rain (that finally caught up with us). Somehow there just wasn't enough time to play with the children and get them comfortable with the tall Americans.
We will have some time to talk about these trips on Sunday night...maybe some of the team members can make better sense of what all happened. We were able to provide food, a time of testimonies, and some time to pass out testimonial bead bracelets... I just believe that we all wanted more. An orphanage is just something that cannot be fixed in a few hours. Maybe that is what we expected.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 02:01 PM
June 17, 2005
Thursday in Kiev - Wow!
If it is Thursday, it must be Kiev...the Belmont team and the Tullahoma team traveled to Kiev for a day of shopping and sightseeing. Two hours of un-airconditioned bus called for some unusual cooling off and the example of other Ukranians pulled our group, barefooted, into one of the fountains on the square. The million+ Ukrainians who camped out and demonstrated on this same square six months ago as part of the Orange Revolution are gone, replaced by numerous yellow and blue national flags prominently displayed around the area. This is a place of national pride for this country and a rallying point for freedom.
The story and the memorial at Babiy-Yar is equally powerful. In 1941-42 over 100,000 local Jews were led to the edge of an open trench an were shot...for days afterward, witnesses claim that the ground was still moving after the dead, wounded, and dying were covered in dirt. The magnitude of the deep, grassy trenches that stand as part of the memorial speak to the depth of the pain this country experienced during World War Two.
In our travels along highways in Ukraine, we had noticed signs that looked much like city limit signs except for the black background and a diagonal red stripe across the village name. There are 150 such villages surrounding Chernobyl (in what is called "the exclusion zone") where it may be several hundred (or thousand) years before it is safe to live. The Chernobyl National Museum documents the people, places, and tragedy from the explosion...much to process following that stop.
The day was not completely somber...shopping along the streets, a stop at an underground mall, a change from our Ukrainian diet to McDonalds and Baskin Robbins, a visit to the monastery and St. Michael's Orthodox Church, a colection of 'potty adventure stories' and a return trip to Zhitomir finished the day. By the by, have you ever seen a roadside stork's nest?? Wayyy kewl!
June 16, 2005
It is impossible to stay out of the picture
This is a late addition to the journal, it has been sitting in draft status on my laptop for more than a few days. I have questioned my motives for posting this but have decided to do so anyway.
Taking stills and capturing video for the Belmont team is my primary contribution to these trips and for the most part I keep my distance and try to capture the spirit of the day in a candid style without being too obvious. I do sit down and rest (chasing athletes and active children around on a playground can be pretty taxing) and when I do it is not uncommon to be approached by curious children who either want their picture taken or who want to see the gadgets I carry. These three little guys spent a lot of time with me during one of the orphange visits. We had no interpreter...none was needed. There was a lot of hand waving and improvised sign language. There was hands-on camera time for the boys that made me a little nervous. We had a great time making silly faces, snapping digital stills, and then passing them back and forth to view on the small LCD screen on the camera.
This is one of those pictures that will stay with me...it summarizes for me, much of what we came to do...and that is that we share who we are with the people in Ukraine. For a few minutes on one hot, June day, these guys were photographers...and I'm pretty sure they had a great time. Betty nailed me a little later by saying that I probably didn't realize how much the attention that I gave these boys meant to them. I had not given it a thought. I have witnessed it with every other team member on this trip but had never realized how that felt, until now. Wow!
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 06:45 PM
June 15, 2005
A note from John
Yesterday was a very special day for the entire group, but for me especially. That shouldn't be a surprise considering that it was my 21st birthday - but I'm sure that not many people were able to spend their 21st quite the same way that I did. And it had very little to do with the fact that the rest of the group spoiled me with surprise after surprise - from 3 versions of "Happy Birthday" to a Ukrainian birthday cake (which desperately needed help from an American recipe) to their hoisting me in the air 21 times as if I were a king. Already exhausted from the previous couple of days, everyone's emotions were tested after spending all morning with the kids from the street and all then afternoon back at the playground. When we had to go, we all found it much harder to say goodbye than we could have ever imagined. But through Christ, we were able to make a very special bond with the kids that will hopefully live on as we return home. This team is an amazing group of people, a group that made my birthday one that I will never forget. Thank you to everyone for your support in keeping up with us.
Wednesday & Thursday
LATE UPDATE, Images added:
We are in late from an afternoon at a Zhitomir orphanage and will have no time in the morning for any posts before hopping a bus to Kiev...so, 'sorry, no images today, and probably no posts at all tomorrow.
The orphange was not completely unlike what I envisioned. This particular facility housed 300 older children ranging from an estmated 10 to 16 years of age. Our Belmolnt students bonded quickly with about 100 or so who came out to play soccer, basketball, volleyball, and something that resembled ping pong with a row of bricks for a net. The day was beautiful but warm, dusty on the grassless playing field, filled with the aroma of un-bathed children, and visited frequently by mosquitos capable of drawing blood for a bloodmobile. At the end of the day, Justin, Destri, and John gave their personal tesimonies and Betty closed with an explanation of how to accept Christ...and prayer that many repeated with the translator. Four or five decisions were made during one-on-one sessions with the children. We left food for the group and some soggy ground near the bus from the hugs and tears of new friends. Along the exit drive several ran ahead just to be able to wave good-bye...quite touching.
I wish that I had time this evening to share those pictures with you. I don't even have to look at the image files. Those faces are etched into my memory, and I am sure that each member of the team feels the same.
Thank you all for your continued prayer support!
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 06:48 PM
More from Monday
What an incredible day! Our morning started our with about 40 children from the A.S.K. (All Street Kids) ministry...wow, I may have a hard time just getting the words on the screen, it is tough typing thru tears. The Belmont team played, hugged, fed, and befriended these children, mostly from broken homes. Most of them are turned out on the street each day to fend for themselves, picking up bottles and begging. They manage to survive with so very little. The clothing that we passed out didn't always fit the child, but the smiles fit perfectly!
The afternoon was much warmer. A tired team engaged about 150 children in the same park that we visited yesterday. One on our team noted last night in our meeting that we didn't realize the impact that we had until it was time to leave and the children of the park did not want to see us get on the bus.
Betty mentioned that this group has pulled together. The have done that...and have shown tremendous personal growth in just a few days.
Happy birthday to John (wait to you see the video!)
...live from an internat cafe with 386 machines (I think),
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 07:49 AM
Tuesday Morning Update - hurried
This may have to be a quick update. Our primary internet access point in Zhitomir closed up shop completely yesterday and we are looking for other options...obviously, I found one, but it is small and the systems are very slow.
All are doing well, two days in a public park with approximately 200 children and youth saw as manay as 50 professions of faith. Wayyy kewl!
The Tullahoma Team Ukraine checked in with us for the first time last night. Their stories will warm your heart. They have been having great success in the villages surrounding the area.
...on the run,
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 07:38 AM
June 13, 2005
Just a Monday walk (run, play, pray) in the park
Posters, handbills, and word-of-mouth gathered about 150 children and young people to a park not far from downtown Zhitomir. Bright sun and a cool breeze made for a perfect day to play basketball, volleyball, soccer and american football. There was lots of time for casual conversation with the kids and great use of the colored bead crosses to illustrate the gospel. Dan, Andrew, and Jenny did a wonderful job of tying their testimonies together at the end of the day when the entire group gathered on a basketball court.
Sunday evening update
Sunday night worship at Central Baptist was amazing. The young people's choir and the sign language presentations to music were inspiring. Betty...was just Betty, always the ambassador for Christ and alway a joyous presenter.
There are no words to describe a congregation's reaction when Sacha translates Andrew's introduction: "My name is Andrew, and I play basketball".
Kimb, Brittany, and Jennifer began an 'a capella' rendition of Amazing Grace and were so well in pitch that the pianist joined in midway through the chorus. Andrew, Destri, and John gave their personal testimonies to a room full of people and spoke with great confidence of their faith. The Ukrainian pastor ('sorry, I've forgotten his name) made a point to the youth to follow the example of our athletes.
It was a good night, followed by a home-cooked meal by Kata (which will be reserved as a special chapter on this trip, I promise).
June 12, 2005
Sunday Afternoon...and three churches later
We we told only that the church was in a village and that they are praying for a pastor to serve them. The ride on an 11 passenger bus started like a rocket down the streets of Zhitomir, to the main highway toward Kiev, to a patchwork of an asphalt road, to something that resembled a washboard dirt road, and finally across a wheat field on something that would have thrilled most off-roaders in America. What an adventure...and to think they charge for rides like that in theme parks, go figure!
The church at Khootir Brid, a community of about 1,000 people, was waiting for us when we arrived...perhaps thirty people in all, mostly women and children. Our team did a great job. Justin and Jenny gave their testimonies and Paul (that would be me) delivered one of the 4 messages that were presented during the service. The team sang two familiar hymns for the group...and the singing turned out well. Afterwards, several lingered to talk with the team. They were thrilled by the handmade crosses that Destri's mom and her church friends made for us to give away.
With last minute hugs and smiles complete, the team headed back to the Zhitomir adventure trail. The van we were in, by the way, was the only motorized vehicle on the church property. Many walked as far as three miles just to be in this service. Humbling comes to mind...
If I haven't said this already, I would go anywhere in the world with this team. They represent the university and their faith in ways that are beyond impressive...'just great people to be around!
...tired, but having fun, Paul:)
P.S. More pictures from this evening's service will be coming after an evening's nap and some cooperation from the power adaptor that is re-charging the laptop.
June 11, 2005
Saturday in Zhitomir - at least we think it is Saturday
We did make it to our hotel late Friday night, all luggage and people accounted for. There are already hotel stories to tell, those will have to wait. We are minus one volunteer...the pigeon who though that he/she? would join Deb and I in our room. *grin*
The day was spent with members of Central Baptist Church in Zhitomir. This is the sponsoring church for this trip and they have been wonderful hosts. The team played a little bit of every sport with the youth from the church, including an introduction to flag football. Soccer was interesting with a small herd of visiting diary cows (I think we invaded their pasture, who knows).
We will have more later. The Internet access for the group is close to the hotel and is inexpensive. Several of the team members are typing frantically right now...moms and dads, check your email!
Thanks again for all your comments,
June 10, 2005
Safely landed in Kiev
The Belmont and Team Ukraine groups landed safely in Kiev about an hour ago and experience no problems with customs (whew!)...now, the bus that is supposed to transport us to Zhitomir is another story. we will be resting in a transit lounge while tire repairs are done.
All are well, weary from sitting in airline seats, but demonstrating a spirit of patience.
...from the Kiev airport,
Late update: OK....so the hour long tire repair took a little longer than expected and the team spent some unplanned time "relaxing" in the transit longe at the front door of the airport. Did I mention that the repair took a LOT longer than expected? Anyway, Dan and Jenny, settled on the floor nearby to guard all of our luggage. As you can see from the picture, they did a great job!
May 31, 2005
Yes, it costs money to send student athletes into the world...
Flash Viewer 7 Required
for player below:
Last summer, Debbie and I traveled with the Belmont University sports evangelism team to Brazil. I watched through the lens of a video camera as these athletes played, hugged, autographed just about anything...and shared their faith with the urban poor in the outlying slums of Rio de Janeiro. The video clip on this post shows some of the sights and sounds of that trip along with an appeal for encouragement and financial support for the 2005 summer team. If you know someone who might be interested in supporting this ministry, please send me an email with details... I have a limited number of CD-ROM's of this presentation (that is a much higher resolution) that I will be happy to send out.
All donations to this program are tax deductible and documented receipts are provided to all donors. Your ongoing support via prayers, encouraging words, and yes, your wallet, are much appreciated. A convenient and secure donation form is available here: Betty Wiseman Missions Fund - Online Donation Form
With a little luck and an available Ukrainian cyber cafe, I hope to be able to do the same thing this year.
Thank you for considering support for this life changing adventure.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 05:06 PM
May 24, 2005
It is Not about us...
Earlier this year, I spent a morning at an information sharing session for a mission team from Forest Hills Baptist Church who will be headed to Ukraine before us in early June. My list of details to address swelled from a short list of maybe 20 things to do, into three full pages of items that I needed to take care of before our departure...I was a bit overwhelmed, but more excited than concerned. For both of these teams there is a recurring theme: it's not about us ...and I need to remind myself of that every day, in spite of the to do list.
Every mission trip is different is such a cliche', but it is so true...even previous trips to Ukraine will be different from this year's trip. As we prepare ourselves individually and as a team, I pray that we will be open to Divine appointments...for I am confident that God has prepared that list and that it is far more important than any of the trivial details that will arise in the few remaining days.
April 08, 2005
Taking the Ukraine Journal templates out for a ride
This year's team has already begun preparation for another journey into an area of the world where American student athletes will be quite a novelty..
Paul said, "This will be a different trip...the language barrier, both spoken and written, will perhaps be an even greater challenge than any of my previous trips to Central and South America."
Betty Wiseman, Debbie Chenoweth, and Paul Chenoweth will lead and support the team as they work with a local pastor, visit the surrounding community, and tour area orphanages
Belmont's team of 7 men and 6 women represent several sports, including basketball, volleyball, soccer, golf, and track. And if more needs to be said at this point, you will have to wait for someone on the team to tell you better details. This is just a test to see how the new Ukraine Journal layout works.