A letter from Australia

"What a great privilege for our family to attend the Winter Eastern European Bible School in Poltava, Ukraine, last January. Coming from Australia, we didn't know what to expect, especially with the language barrier and not knowing anyone at all except Duncan and Cindy. Well, we certainly learned that in Christ, all barriers are broken down and we could feel the love and warmth of these brothers and sisters from many different countries in Eastern Europe. It was a real inspiration to see their love of the Word of God, and how they can apply it to their daily lives. They certainly had some animated discussion over the daily readings each morning, with some very profound thoughts coming from their discussion. This of course was all in Russian, so we thank Cindy for her fast typing on her laptop in English so we knew what was being said.

We had the readings each morning, which often went for over 1/2 hrs, then studies in English (translated into Russian) till 2pm when we ate lunch. Free time then till 5.30pm was a good time for us visitors to visit internet cafes to keep in touch with those at home, and explore the town of Poltava, and we enjoyed these excursions with Bro Matt Blewett from South Aftica, another speaker at the Bible School. The weather was exceptionally warm for this time of year, so it was easy to get about with no snow. We then had further studies till 7.30 pm when dinner was served. After dinner, the evening sessions were of a lighter nature, as everyone was tired after a full day, and we especially enjoyed the wonderful concert put on by the brothers and sisters after the baptism of two sisters, Marianne and Luba.

As there were about 80 people at the Bible School, we unfortunately couldn't get to know everyone personally, but for us the highlight was the time we could spend at meals or in the evenings after the studies, getting to know individuals and hearing their stories with a translator of course. We also heard some testimonies from brothers and sisters of how they came to know the gospel, and their personal stories were very touching.

Photo: Brethren from Estonia, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus acting our the conversation of the Ethiopian eunuch.

Above: Sister Danita from Belarus outlining her plans for Sunday School work with local children

Many brothers and sisters in Eastern Europe, have difficult lives, often poor health, and have to work such long hours. They really cherish these times when they are able to get together, often from very long distances, to learn from God's Word and encourage each other, make new friends and rekindle old friendships. Many of them only see each other once a year if they can get to Bible School. The Bible School venue certainly was not luxurious by any standards, but no-one minded, as it was just being together in this wonderful fellowship that mattered. Any money donated to help this cause, was certainly well worth it, to see the joy on people's faces as they met up again, to be able to forget their daily lives for just a short while and enjoy a joyful time around the Word of God. We thank all the brothers and sisters at the Bible School for sharing it with us, for being such an inspiration to us and for making us part of their family. We will remember all of you in our prayers and have wonderful memories of this time with you all."

Dick, Janet, James and Leah Hillhouse.

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