Sunday, May 29, 2005

Sacred Space

It is Sunday night and all but two of our nine team members are home again after our journey to the Ukraine. Once we get some rest, share with our friends and family, and put our thoughts together we will have more to share. We have lived in a sacred space together for the last two weeks, with a team that worked together in an amazingly organic way with just the right person, with just the right story to weave with the story of another's pain. And the pain is soul deep in the women of the Ukraine. The pain is soul deep in the women of this world. Pain is soul deep in humanity.

One glance into our sacred space for you just now. The train left Sevastopol at 6:20 PM on Friday evening and rolled through Simferopol and up the Peninnsula into Kiev, arriving there at 11:10 Saturday morning. We had three sleeping compartments but gathered in the middle one to share and chat. One pastor had given us some tetra packs of white and red wine, we had purchased some bread rolls, and had a bag of granola bars which was to be our supper and breakfast! Somewhere after we left Simferopol we all gathered in one compartment, shared our fears for the trip and how they had been met, shared a specific sacred moment of the journey, and also whether or not God had revealed something specific for future action. Children raced along the corridor, music blared through the speakers in the hallway, the rhythmic song of the train, and the colours of the setting sun were the touches of reality surrounding our sacred space. Within the compartment all nine of us took communion together and at this point I cannot describe the sacredness of it for words just are not there to let you have the scent of this sacred fragrant moment. It just seemed so fitting that as we closed our time in Crimea it was with the reminder that we all belong to this Body, this Church, this group of broken people who have said yes to following Jesus, who have said yes to carrying the Light, who have said yes to letting the past be redeemed through story telling and breaking bread together.

Thank you for your prayers as we journeyed. Thank you for coming with us. Thank you Abba for the gift of these 2 weeks.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hagar's Journey

Gwen often speaks of Hagar and her story. Her God who said to her "I know where you have been, I know where you are and I know where you are going."

This morning as we sat outside in the church courtyard eating our pancakes with sourcream and jam under the Ukrainian sun I thought of this again. I thought of how our prayer times with women here have show us their past, their confusion and the pain of where they are now, and their prayer requests for where they are going.

As a team of 9 women we are using our past to share why and how we are here and to lay our tomorrows on the drawing board of God's timing and schedule.

Never before have some of these women told their stories. But there is not one story told that a member of the team cannot identify with. Our pasts are filled with tattered threads sometimes but there are gloriously coloured threads being woven in us, between us and through us because of God's redeeming of every shread of brokenness.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Yesterday I received an update from our team in the Ukraine, who have been on the move! Here it is in it's entirity:

Sorry things have been a little quiet on our end for a few days. God, and the team have been very busy.

We moved from Kerch up to Sevastopl. A very long van ride where Gwen road on the luggage on the floor for part of her birthday, it was as close as we were going to get her to a massage! Amazing how much stuff and people can fit in a van. A little excitement arrived with a police man who pulled over the van driver for failing to go through the turn-about properly, no wonder, they have added lights to the turnabout (there seems to be only one light in Kerch) and I don't think our driver was familiar with the technique. So the police made the van go back and after some discussion and whatever, had him do it all over again. But we arrived safe and sound.

Our bus pulled up to the gates of the church and we were greeted by a horde of lovely people who were waiting for us, to help us carry luggage, welcome us with arms of love. It was certainly different than the last greeting and we very much appreciated it.

We are actually staying at the Baptist church in Sevastopl. It is a wonderful congregation, a large population of young people. The pastor Misha and his wife are lovely. Please pray for his wife Veronica, she is struggling with a very busy life but wants to come and talk. However, things keep coming up so she has scheduled a time for tonight. Please pray that Veronica will find freedom in talking. Pastor Misha is a good man who obviously relates so well to the youth. There is another couple here, from California, doing seminars on "What is a profit". That's right. I didn't spell it wrong on the cyrillic keyboard that I am becoming very familiar with. He was scheduled to preach. But we had an amazing time of worship in the morning. They have a fabulous young worship team lead by Vadim, who is becoming the youth pastor and his wife Anya. Actually, we really need prayer for Anya's mom, Larissa. She is in such pain and is upstairs now, praying with Gwen and Jacquie. Anyways the worship was great and pastor Misha led a time of prayer for a family who lost their father this week. A young wife was there whose husband died in a freak accident, he was ship's captain whose ship ran into power lines and he was killed. He was 46, same age as Larry and Gwen had a very brief chance to share with her.

Actually, I need to go back a bit. On Saturday night, we had a service where women came and we were able to share our stories. It was an amazing time ofprayer and opening of doors. Each team member shared a part of their story and they seemed to resonate with different women throughout the congregation. At the end of the service we invited the women to come back Sunday night at 6 (which I talked about a bit already), Monday from 10 - 2, and then again at 6, Tuesday we are having a day off! Wednesday from 10 - 2 and 6 and then finally on Thursday from 10 - 2 and again at 6. It is busy but people just keep coming. I can't share all the stories here but one big theme that is breaking people's hearts right is abuse. There is a great deal of spousal abuse and God is bringing it to light. Last night, the ladies asked practical questions about abuse, what do they do if they are abused, where do they go, is divorce wrong? Wow, huge questions. And yet, God was able to speak through Gwen and the team to provide responses to these concerns. We are encouraging the women to support each other, to begin to share their stories with each other, and with their pastors. Pray that God will continue to reveal his answers to these women struggling with this heart-breaking pain. Bottom line, Gwen told them that it is not God's plan that anyone should abuse another. Pray that even that truth be something these women can accept as their first step to freedom.

Two of our team went to another church yesterday, Kathy Kennard and Carrie. This church has a great vision and we think there will be amazing synergy between our two ministries. This church is already working with prostitutes in the toughest part of the city. The pastor's heart is broken for this group and he is also working with the AIDS patients in his community. It is in the roughest part of the city. Pray that the whole team, and especially Gwen, will have an opportunity to meet with this pastor.

Ok, one more prayer request for now. For L. She is the cook here and has been taking such great care of us. But she lives with a very physically abusive husband. The first night we were here, she left late because there were so many women needing prayer. She got in a great deal of trouble. Herhusband does not want here here talking with us. Pray for her safety and pray for strength that God will tell her what to do right now today.

Finally, pray for the team. We are exhausted. This has been a good trip, but non-stop, and the pain of these women is almost unbearable. Pray that as intercessors we can shoulder their pain and then release it to the greathealer. Pray that we will have the words to say and also know when to be quiet and encourage these women to ask for what they need. Pray for health for the team and energy.

Sevastopl is absolutley beautiful. Though technically it is Ukraine, it is actually a Russian port city. The Russian navy is housed here and everyone here considers this place Russia. We have heard stories of great pain from women whose husbands have been in the army and the navy. Continue to pray that God's light will grow brighter through the churches that are already doing such a great work here. And pray for courage and continued strength for Pastor Misha and Veronica.

Ok - enough from me. I might be able to write again soon.

We love you all! Thank you for your continued prayers. We really really need it. You are just as much a part of this as those here. Please keep us in theLight!

Great to hear from you Dana (We love that Taiwan is praying for us) and Marlene. Continue to invite others to pray.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005


It's great to hear directly from the team in the post below! They have found fairly good internet connectivity, so hopefully we will hear more from them. In the mean time, here are some additional comments received via email this morning.

Some details and prayer needs:

"We arrrived at Hope Center on Monday afternoon around 3pm. Hope Center is now a children's camp but was once a Communist Training Camp. It is operated by Global Action and runs 4 camps of one hundred childre each for poor, needy or orphaned kids. They have owned the camp for 3 years and have been working hard to restore. Much has been done, MUCH is needed to be done. They are hoping to operate camps for battered women as well, which I blieve is why we have been invited.

The weather is great, the living conditions - communal. We have group showers and bathrooms and have two rooms where everyone sleeps. Comfortable. Actually it is histerical, we have wireless connectivity but very limited toilets - who knew? In the middle of the camp is a raised platform which used to hold a large statue of Lenin. The statue is down and in the crumbling rubble is a wooden cross, tilting a little to the left but firmly planted. For Hope.

Gwen has asked for specific prayer to break through the barrier of communism that seems to still exist. It is a barrier of oppression, especially agains all things female. There is a spirit of confusion, unsure exactly what to do with us, very awkward and confused. Pray that the leadership will have barriers broken down as well. Gwen has asked that people at home pray and if they are led, fast, to break through this blanket of oppression and let in the Light."
And, some specifics on how their week is shaping up:

"Last night, we did our first service with the church in Kerch. In fact, we are doing things different this year. We did the one service last night and it was amazing. About 45 people came, women and curious men / maybe a little bit nervous about what those crazy Canadian women are going to tell our wives! They had a worship team that sang beautifully, songs that we know, and they we had an opprotunity to share. Gwen spoke about Linwood House and our vision to
work with women around the world, and in our backyard. We made the group honorary Canadians and gave them pins and annointed them with oil from across Canada. The service was based on John 4, the Woman at the Well. Robyn and Stephanie shared parts of their stories and and Kathy Kenard spoke about what Jesus didn't say and how he set us free from condemnation. At the end of the service, people were invited to come up and drink a glass of water from the well. Everyone came forward to drink from the well. Then, all the people were invitd to come to Hope Center this week, anytime and meet with us one on one or in small groups where we will share more of our story, hear theirs and pray with them. We will be staying at the camp all week and the offer is open for people anywhere, to come at any time, to meet and bring friends.

So, as you would expect, we woke up this morning and looked around at our "sanctuary". It is cold, dismal and lifeless. After a beautiful time of prayer, God revealed that we needed to turn this place into Linwood House Ukraine and we got to work. Beds are being moved, chairs, tables. Flowers are being cut and water bottles are bing used as vases. God told us to show the women and men of Ukraine the feminine face of God and the beauty and extravagant love he has for us. Most of the team is busy cleaning, beautifying. Gwen is obviously in her glory! We ran to the market across the street and bought peonies, tea and bread.

So, please pray for us that God will lift the spirit of oppression here. That His LIGHT will shine through and warm the hearts and the ground of this place."
Thanks for your continued prayers for the team.


Linwood House in Ukraine

We are staying at Hope Centre here in Kerch, Crimea. It is an old Communist Camp, unused for many years and in great need of updating. Slowly they have been painting, fixing etc but the lawn is uncut, there is little to no decorating and needless to say resources are limited.

But God's extravagance means we live from abundance not scarcity. Abundance is colour, life, fragrance and hope. Scarcity is a place of little hope, little vision, and ambiguity.

So this morning Robyn, Larissa and I could hear Gwen, Carrie, Kathy, Beth, Jackie, and Kathy all taking at once and with great excitement! They obviously had ideas happening down the hall!

Our quarters are in a building with 5 rooms, high ceilings that echo, no heat, one toilet (or rather 2 side by side with no privacy) and no hot water. Scarcity? Could be. Abundance - certainly. We have heavy blankets to keep us warm, we have chairs, tables and running water. We have purpose and hope! Today, tomorrow and the rest of this week we have invited women in the churches and town to come and join us for conversation, prayer and tea. Transformation is happening in our building. A quick trip to the market for flowers, bread, a tea pot and cookies, iris and lilacs from around the camp, fabric that was given to us to bring, our bed spreads, table and chairs, and heaps of creative feminine hearts and minds and we are making a Linwood House here on the eastern most tip of the Crimean Peninsula! Beauty, life and colour surround us when we look at creation. Our Divine Maestro has provided us with artist hearts and from this each of us can bring abundance into scarcity. Hence the hive of activity within our quarters. This place that once housed people living under oppression has been prayed over this morning so we can give glimpses of freedom. Freedom to women who live in oppression and poverty, sickness and hopelessness. We who have come from Canada and Washington also press into this freedom wanting more of it, thirsty for it, hungry for it and eager to bring others with us in the seach for the One who offers us freedom in the Living Water.

Thank you for your prayers for us here. We are well, having a great time and so excited about the adventure here this week.


Saturday, May 14, 2005

They're Off!

After a time of blessing, prayer, and details Thursday night, we finally got 9 very excited women to the airport here in Vancouver yesterday! Please remember these women in prayer as you can over the next 2 weeks. For many this is their first overseas experience. And while we have friends there we are working with, this is the first time in Ukraine for Linwood House Ministries.

Please pray for

Kathy K.
Kathy S.

I'll post periodically as I hear from the team, and who knows - perhaps there will be a long distance post or two.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Ready to Go to Eastern Europe

The preparations for the trip to the Ukraine are well underway. Gwen and I are leaving and Sue and Jen will be up here keeping the place running, serving groups etc. Grandma will be keeping everyone in order, Mike will be to-ing and fro-ing and emailing updates, Ron will be keeping an eye on everything and Doug and Dorothea will help out as well. Our prayer team and Board will be supporting us in prayer. Guests at Linwood House Ministries house will have the usual treatment. This is what teamwork is all about – the seamless transitions, working together and keeping community.

We have had 5 days with ministry friends from Budapest. Several years ago we spent time with them on our way back from Bulgaria. They have given us many insights into the climate of the Church in Ukraine and this information will help us to be sensitive while we are there. The meal table has been the venue for great dialogue on where we are, where we are going, and unfolding the issue of men and women working together equally in ministry.

Our friend L from downtown eastside Vancouver is in a safe place working on getting into detox. She phones regularly, making sure we are ready to go and already anticipating our return home. She continues to work in her brokenness, making choices toward healing and wholeness. Our team travels to Eastern Europe with each one of us going in our brokenness, stumbling toward wholeness, and letting God use us as we are, where we are, to connect with the women in Kiev, Simferopol, Kerch, Yalta and Sevestapol. Abba doesn’t call us to be followers and sharers as being “put together”. No we are called to come as we are, be vulnerable and open, and keep following those “red letter” words, as Mike often reminds us at The Whatever.

Mike will stop in here while we are away and leave you with some thoughts and tidbits of our journeying.

Stop by and leave us your thoughts here.


Saturday, May 07, 2005

Brunch, Bocci and Broadway

A cool May Saturday morning, where the weather isn’t sure whether it wants to rain or shine.

A group of elders from Vancouver have eaten brunch and are now out having a game of bocci ball. They are breathing in the air that is also the Breath that has breathed upon them in their discussions.

Friends from Budapest are stopping here for a few days to rest before heading to meetings in the City. He plays Broadway hits and the sound floats through the house as I change beds, and she sits by the fire reading a book.

Steaks in the fridge are waiting for the evening meal.

Gwen is preparing for our trip to Ukraine this next week, Ron works in the garden, and somehow this mix of just being and doing has the scent of shalom.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A Stop On the Journey

Visits to Linwood House may be a stopping or rest on the journey, perhaps a place for the mind to rest, change scenery and pace. It has also been a holding place for objects, treasures and things that just need to be home for a while.

Today a friend of Dorothea's moved some treasures that began their voyage in Singapore, went to New York, then San Fransisco and found their way to Linwood House. They have been useful in their stay here but now it is time for these treasures of G's to be moved to a new place in Florida.

Gwen often says that what is in your home should be a treasure, have a story, or be necessary. All else just doesn't need to take up space. The desk, some figurines, silver canteen set, cook books and a few other items were valued as they waited here until they could be taken home. Now they are on their way south for the summer, the fall, the winter and spring - as long a season as our friend G remains there.

It is just like the chapter of the book you are reading - when it is finished you move on.

King David wrote these words that elude to stopping places, chapters and moving forward:
He stood me up on a wide-open field:
I stood there saved - surprised to be loved!
God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start.
Now I'm alert to God's ways; I don't take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together, and I'm watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

Psalm 18:19-24 The Message

And thankfully we have a new part in the boiler/heating system and should have hot water by tomorrow morning!


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

New Arrival

Tayla Louise McVicker has arrived in this world!

Scott, Idelette and little Gabrielle are very happy with their new little girl. Grandpa Ron and Grandma Gwen are very excited too!

Welcome Tayla to the adventure of a lifetime.


Conversations on Choice

Dan Allender, in his book The Wounded Heart, writes “Abuse strips a person of the freedom to choose”.

Conversations often drift to the discussion of choices – what we do or do not choose, when those choices are made and what results.

We recently had a group here of women who became mothers in their early teens. They sat by the fire drinking lattes and sharing their stories. We do not know their stories but we do know that the sacred space in the Great Room holds the honor of knowing secrets were held in the Light and healing balm was applied.

As I made breakfast one morning, a young lady came for her first cup of coffee and stayed to chat. She spoke of choosing to conceive a child and to raise this little one but her reasons were not the wisest. This remark continues to sit in my heart.

The heart knows what it wants and will continue to ask for it. Yet distortions of truth, lies, abuse, and wounding may have the answer to the heart desire being filled in a way that may seem to be a strange choice. The Lover of our soul continues to pursue us and our heart continues to seek what it really desires. The Liar continues to discount Truth and paint contempt across the Lover’s words to hide them. Is it possible that our heart is always seeking Truth but at the cross roads in life the Liar switches the road signs and we choose the “less than” as opposed to the “greater than” way?

I was discussing this with Gwen today: Choosing to move out of situations is so hard because of this loss of freedom. If we put that into our work with DTES it gives just one more clue as to why it is hard to move out of those places. But it also makes me aware of how important the word Choose becomes in walking towards freedom with others. Reassuring them that they can choose, speaking truth into the lie that has removed the freedom to choose.
Her reply to this conversation was we see how the constant giving to them in the DTES can also in an overt way take away their power to choose. It is just given and expected and in some ways takes away choice. It is a fine line between equipping people to choose and enabling them not to choose.

No matter what we choose, within Abba’s circle of Grace there is the unfailing and unending love that always chooses to pursue us with Truth.

Speaking of choosing – I am choosing a steaming cup of latte right now because the heating system is down and we have no hot water and no heat!

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