I’ve just returned home from Kiev, Ukraine and here’s my full report. Please pray for the people of Ukraine, especially those in the East and Crimea region who are fleeing from their homes.
Report on Ukraine – Randy Mayfield
I had a wonderful time visiting our missionaries, Igor and Lena from May 28 to June 3, 2014. I arrived on Thursday evening and on Friday morning, I preached and sang for the Irpin Seminary chapel service. On Saturday, I spoke and sang for the Seminary graduation. They had 80 graduates including the presenting of their first ever Honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees given to Dr. Robert Provost, president of Slavic Gospel Association, Rev. Kevin Edwards, mission pastor from John McArthur’s Grace Church and myself. It was a long but very celebratory occasion. Everyone and their brother spoke, many songs and lots of prayers.
Rev. Dr. Igor & Rev. Dr. Randy
On Sunday, I preached at Cyvatosheno Church in Kiev. The service was a bit over 2-1/2 hours, to prepare us for the evening service of 2-1/2 hours! About two of the five hours we were standing.
Graduation at Irpin Seminary in Kiev, Ukraine
Between services, we went to downtown Kiev to visit Maidan, the main square where much of the rioting and violence has taken place. Many were killed here mostly by snipers in high-rise buildings and hotels.
Most were very young men and women. We passed dozens upon dozens of memorials with photos, flowers, gas masks, helmets, bullet shells, anything to remember those who had lost their lives.
At the barricades in Maidan
There were lots of barricades made of bricks and tires, most remaining from the first uprising last October and November. The bricks were torn up from the sidewalks and streets and were the main weapons of the protestors. They didn’t have much of a chance against the government’s guns and tanks.
The protest began as the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych , was accused of abusing power, stealing from the people, siding with Russia and not the EU or his Ukrainian people, etc. They wanted him gone and many gave their lives to see to it!
The former President’s Home
The people raided his multi-million home and billion dollar Presidential compound but not before he took off for Russia taking with him (stealing) millions in gold, rare paintings and other assets that he had collected. He had to leave his millions of dollars in rare dogs behind.
We visited the President’s home and compound and I could not believe the excess. His home was filled with gold, huge chandeliers, a full gymnasium with a boxing ring and bowling alley, dozens of sitting rooms with giant screen TV’s and fireplaces, a Steinway Grand piano signed by John Lennon that I was asked by our guide to play. She said it hadn’t been played in months. There was a beautiful spa, swimming pools, a complete Orthodox chapel with all the icons, even a stuffed Lion… you name it, this guy had it and then some. He even had a private dining room that looked like a Galleon ship that cost $7 million to build. He could entertain with the best of them. In his house, he had his own private wing with an elaborate bathroom, shower and huge closets. And on the other side of the house, his girlfriend had her identical wing.
Randy in the President’s office.
We then visited his private zoo and his dog kennel. The Kennel was larger than most homes and a full staff tended to his huge collection of giant Mastiffs. Most were gifts from China and valued from $50,000 to $1 million each.
On Monday, I returned to the Seminary to welcome the incoming class of students. I spoke about some of the mission work that we are doing at Central and gave a brief concert and answered questions.
Monday night, the Yaremchuk’s and I had a lovely dinner at Lena’s momma’s home. I have known Mama for more than 20 years. Valentina Brynza makes the most fantastic Plov (rice, meat and veggies cooked up in a big pot!) Delicious Veriniki (dumplings filled with cherries and strawberries) and home-made pickles that are the best I’ve ever eaten. After stuffing ourselves much like the dumplings themselves, we went home to recover for my flight home on Tuesday morning.
It was a busy five days, preaching four times, singing many times, sharing and celebrating with the Seminary graduates and encouraging good friends. I had the opportunity to see several of the kids from our camps in the 90’s who had grown up and married. One couple, Anton and Lena also stayed with me at Igor and Lena’s so we spent some good time together.
Anton and Lena at the Presidential compound. Even his Ice Cream was bigger!
I’d love to see things settle down in Ukraine and for Central to take another trip to visit, share and encourage our good friends.
Igor & Lena with Friend