Bill Lovelace (who is an American) is our District Superintendent (DS) and he lives in Kiev, Ukraine. He is the DS of Ukraine and Moldova – yes, this area is a little bigger than most in America, but that’s how it works when your churches are few and far between. Hans Vaxby (who was raised in Sweden, but has spent most of his life in Finland) is our Bishop and he lives in Moscow, Russia. Bishop Vaxby supervises all of Eurasia, which includes five annual conferences – four in Russia and then ours (Ukraine/Moldova).
David nor I had ever met Bishop Vaxby and had only spent a day with Bill Lovelace. Since we are new to the conference, young and inexperienced we knew we needed to try our hardest to make a good impression and to be ourselves. The best way we could think of to do this was to cook, and that is where the chocolate chip cookies, breakfast casserole, hot sandwiches, potato soup and brownies came into play. I believe they did the trick.
We loved having Hans’ and Bill’s knowledge and experience here in L’viv, even if it was only for two short days. We talked about our adjustment to Ukraine. We talked about the short term and long term future of the student ministry. We talked about the church plant. We talked about my role, David’s role and Lubomir’s role in the ministry. We talked about cultural differences between America, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine and Russia. We talked about David going back to school to be ordained United Methodist. We talked about me NOT going back to school.
Hans preached at our Thursday evening worship. Afterwards, he tried to play chess with our students (they couldn’t find the chess board) and he played ping pong. Then the students invited him and Bill out to a café for tea or coffee. We ended up at a café named ‘Anti-Crisis.’ The décor and menu were quite creative with fake money all over the floor and walls. The world economic crisis is hitting Ukraine pretty hard and good Ukrainian humor says to laugh at it because really, what else can do you do?
All in all, the visit went very well. David and I appreciate the realness of our DS and bishop. I could feel their patience with us and their trust in us. They will be an invaluable resource and a great support. Slowly, but surely David and I are learning the ins and outs of the United Methodist Church in Eurasia and we hope to be able to help it grow through our love and dedication to Christ and his people.