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Thanksgiving in Ukraine

Holly Friesen on October 22, 2012

001 Decorations in Makarova

Canadian Thanksgiving is past and the American Thanksgiving is still a month away, but I have been celebrating Ukrainian Thanksgiving all month! There is not a day set aside for Thanksgiving here, but each church chooses a Sunday during the fall to have a Harvest Celebration. Beautiful decorations celebrate thankfulness for the harvest. Songs, poetry, and sermons are full of praise to our God for His many blessings throughout the year.

002 Pastor Volodya

This year I enjoyed celebrating with the church in the village of Makarova. Ukraine has actually been experiencing drought for the last several years and the area around Makarova has been especially dry. For some of the farmers, including Pastor Volodya, the harvest was almost non-existent this year. 

003 Special music at the outdoor harvest celebration in Makarova

But, that did not stop the church from joyfully celebrating God’s goodness to them. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and amazing food! A highlight of the day was getting a huge hug from a patient that was so sick last time I was in Makarova I had to go see her at home. She was so excited to see me and to thank me for caring for her. She has visited the church off and on, but has not yet accepted Christ as her Savior, so I was happy to see her feeling so much better and attending the church service!

004 Just a small portion of the delicious food that was served!
005 Fellowship over the food in Makarova
006 Decorations in Limaniy

It was also a joy to celebrate with the church in the village of Limaniy. There was a good group there, including some unsaved family of the church members there. Pastor Anatoly and his wife Alla have been working hard to build relationships in that village and it was evident that those who came really enjoyed the fellowship. I was also encouraged to see one of the patients I had visited with when the medical team was here attend the service. Her mother is a believer and she occasionally attends the services but has not repented.

007 special music in Limaniy (young people from the Odessa church that started this village ministry)
008 Miriam sharing a testimony of God's faithfulness in her life during this past year
009 preparing the decorations for our church

This past Sunday we celebrated harvest in my church here in Odessa. The celebration is a bit different in a city church where people purchase the majority of their fruits and vegetables at the market. However, it was still a wonderful time of thanking the Lord for His provision and His many blessings. After the service and a time of fellowship, members of our church handed out some of our harvest bounty in the neighborhood and invited people to our church.

010 Decorations at my church "Tabernacle Church"
011 Sergei & Olya praising the Lord for the blessing of their children - especially their daughter born just a few weeks ago.
012 Preparing to head out into our neighborhood to hand out produce and invitations to church.

Are we willing to thank the Lord even when the harvest is not good? Do we take the time to stop and thank the Lord for His daily provision and for His answers to our prayers? I know I have been challenged to be more faithful in giving thanks to our Great God!