Today, Friday, was our first day to spend with Music Mission Kiev or MMK as we are now referring to it. After another buffet breakfast at the hotel, we walked over to the MMK office facilities. At the time that we had agreed upon using the Radisson SAS Hotel here in Kiev, I didn't realize how extremely central it would be to the MMK facilities and to other sights our people would want to see. It is only a little over a 10 minute walk from our hotel to MMK. That works out just great for us. There are 3 of our people for whom the walk might be more of a task, and we ordered a taxi for them to share.
At 9:00a.m., we walked over to MMK to meet their staff and to share morning devotions with them. It was a very special time; Matt McMurrin shared from Matthew the story of "The Rich Young Ruler." After reading the passage to us, he opened it up to discussion. We continued to share our thoughts and challenge our thinking about what Jesus was trying to say to us. This was followed up with a beautiful time of prayer - - for the MMK ministry, for our ministry here in Kiev, and for the people who might be touched be our joint ministry. Before we knew it, it was after 10:00. Since the next activity was not going to take place until 11:00, Serge (one of MMK's young staff members and assistant conductors) took us over to St Vladimir's Cathedral - - one of Kiev's beautiful Orthodox churches. When we came back at 11:00, the meeting room already had a group of between 15 and 18 ladies who were members of their Pensioners Choir and Knitting Group. When we were having our devotions earlier that morning, we had packed out their meeting room. Now with more than 15 ladies added to the group, it felt like some of us might be hanging from the ceiling.
When Natasha, the MMK staff person in charge of their widows and orphans ministry, began our time together, she introduced a number of the widows, and allowed them to share some of their stories with us. In all cases, they said how thankful they were for our coming, for America, for food we provide for them through MMK,and for medical help. Several of them sang special songs for us, the entire widows group sang for us including, "Happy Birthday to America." They knew that Sunday is our Independence Day and they believe that we Americans represented "freedom" to their country. It was all so touching that you could see tears in the eyes of many of us.
When the widows meeting broke up, we left the MMK apartment so that they could set up for our lunch and walked back up the street to the Golden Gate, or as it is also called "The Great Gate of Kiev." Those of you who know the Russian composition, Pictures at an Exhibition" might recognize that as the last part of that piece. It was the main gate leading into the the city of Kiev back in the 1100's. It has been restored in recent years and is one of the great landmarks in Kiev. The lunch we had back at MMK consisted of a delicious beef and vegetable soup.
As we walked back to our hotel after lunch, it began to lightly sprinkle. it didn't worry us at the time because we had had no problems with rain except for the great thunderstorm we had during our concert in Toalmas. Well . . . We should have thought more about it, because when we were bused from our hotel to the Bieli Dom (the place where the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus hold their rehearsals up on the 4th floor of the building, it started to rain harder. By the time we arrived at our destination, we had to dash out of the buses and up into the Bieli Dom. The skies simply opened up and we experienced a deluge. Even after we had climbed the 4 flights of stairs to the room used by MMK for rehearsal, Bible Studies for the widows, and for the worship service of St. Paul's Evangelical Church, it continued to rain as hard as any time I have seen it.
The Kyiv Symphony was rehearsing when we got there with Roger McMurrin conducting that particular piece. They then asked us to join the people in their chorus and get ready to sing most of the pieces we were going to sing together next Monday evening in our Joint Patriotic Concert. Some of the pieces were conducted by Roger and others by Matt McMurrin - - father and son. It is great to see Matt, now 32, preparing to possibly take over this ministry from his father. Matt told us that he wanted our choir to really sing out on the American numbers such as America the Beautiful and God Bless America to help the Ukrainians with their English. We, in turn, were able to benefit from the Ukrainians' Russian when singing the choral part of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture." What is so thrilling in listening to the Ukrainian basses sing is their ability so sing those deep and rich notes. It seems like the Slavic voices are able to sing those low notes unlike any other people. Certainly, we don't have any basses who can sing "way down there."
The evening was much more relaxed - - dinner again at MMK, and then off for the rest of the night. We were joined today by two more people from Solana Beach who wanted to be a part of our ministry here in Kiev - - Dan and Radona May. They arrived late this morning and will be with us when we meet again with the widows tomorrow and also are hosted for tea in their homes. As you can see, it will be good to get a very good night's rest in order to be ready for another busy day. In addition to our time with the widows, tomorrow will also include our own concert at the Kiev Central Baptist Church at 5:00pm. If you want to pray for us during that concert, you will have to be praying at 7:00am tomorrow morning. I guess we will see who among our supporters is really committed to prayer.
In summary, we really sensed a bonding of spirit between our Music Mission Kiev people and those of us from Solana Beach, California. You know, it is only by God's Spirit that this kind of thing can happen. For that, we can only Praise God.
(For Music With a Mission)