Belarus Journal

Why are we doing this?

Since September 1993, I have had a deep concern and love for the people of Belarus.  As a Christian, I believe that God is continually calling me to be with them, and it gives me joy to be there, befriending, coming along side and providing help where I can.

We have a sense of urgency about this visit, that time is short and that we should stay for longer than the usual 2 weeks that we’ve been able to spare from our holidays.  Dave and I are laying down our businesses for 6 months, and are trusting that our God will provide for and take care of us during the darkest, coldest time of year.

When Belarussian people ask me “Why are you here and why do you keep returning?” all I can say is “Because you are important to God and he cares deeply about you.  You are on his heart, and because of this you are on my heart too.”

Jesus said: ” I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (John 10:10)

It will be interesting to see what God does during our third visit this autumn 2014.  I’ll try to keep a record of what happens in the journal below.

Thanks to everyone who is standing with us in prayer and support, especially at City Community Church, Exeter.  We really appreciate it.

Gill and Dave Smith

 

Return to Belarus 2016 – April Update

Work on dividing our home continues with the usual building delays that can be expected with a project of this complexity.  Look forward to moving back into one of the houses once work is completed.

Our next visit to Belarus is provisionally planned sometime this year depending on the timing of our house sale/release of shares in the property to investors (plus share of the rent).

Contact me at gill.smith@dpassist.co.uk if you would like more information on this.

Back in the UK – Looking Ahead into 2015

After a successful visit to Belarus, we have returned home to continue work on dividing our own house and continue providing Data Protection services.

Our next visit to Belarus is provisionally planned for August this year, depending on our house sale/release of shares in the property to investors (plus share of the rent).  Contact gill.smith@dpassist.co.uk for more information on this.

 

 

Rehab Centre Revisited

Great time in Belarus so far – helped out at rehab centre for men with alcoholic addiction in Puchavichi.

We are glad and surprised that the greenhouse polytunnel we built 2 years ago is still standing (and that the Duck tape we used in places is still working).

Helped our friends Rachel and Artem (a bit) by working on shuttering for their garage at their new house. Great to meet up with previous and new friends in Marina Gorka.

Temperature is about between 0 and 5 degrees (which seems warm to us now)  Dry and sunny.

 

Hello Belarus!

Vilnius Train Station

Arrived in Lithuania on Friday 17th October – Bristol to Kaunas flight with Ryanair.  Great flight, all smooth-running. No problems.

Stayed overnight in Kaunas then train to Vilnius, and then Minsk.  Trains

clean, spotless, and on time (if only I could say the same for English trains).

Staying with our friends Rachel and Artem in Marina Gorka, met up with friends from Minsk Linguistic University.  Worked on shuttering for the entrance to their garage.

Helping Rachel and Artem with their new house build

Helped at Rehab Centre for recovering alcoholics in Puchavichi – fixing coving to ceiling.

Friday 31st October – Train to Gomel – staying with Dima and Oksana Podlobko from the Living Faith Church, helped to clear the building site of leaves and rubbish for their church extension.

 

 

Belarus Revisited… October 2014

We return to Belarus on Saturday 18th October via Lithuania this time, by air and rail.  Dave and I felt we should go sooner rather than later, in the autumn.  We will meet up with old friends in Minsk, Marina Gorka, and Gomel, for the next 4 weeks, offering practical help, support and encouragement where we can.

Returned to UK but we’ll be back

After two successful visits to Belarus during the past 12 months, we returned to Exeter at the end of June, travelling via Lithuania (here we met up with our daughter Rosemary) and Poland.  We gave up our rented flat, and returned with sad hearts, for a welcome summer break followed by a hectic autumn/winter business period.

The people of Belarus continue to remain in our hearts and minds, and we are planning a return visit in the spring/summer of 2014 for several months.

Watch this space for more news…

 

Arrival of Summer

Arrived in Belarus on the 26th April, to discover that spring has arrived, followed swiftly by summer.

We’ve enjoyed participating in the Belarussian celebrations of Easter (celebrated twice here), watching Victory in Europe parades (which were very moving) and their May Day celebration in Marina Gorka.

Our voluntary work continues at the Rehab Centre at Puchavichi, helping to remove polythene from a greenhouse, and demolish another so that the wood can be re-used to repair the first one, that’s used to grow cucumbers to raise funds for the Centre. Dave and I are trying to work out a way of experimentally making up a large polytunnel using plastic plumbing pipes and polythene.  If successful it means the men can grow their own vegetables for the winter (mainly tomatoes for pickling).   We’ve also started work on a new ceiling in the second half of the Centre using recycled plastic boards, helped by one of the men who’s living there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real progress has been made with our Rachel and Artem Piatrovich’s new house.  Dave has been helping them with the foundations and the concrete arrived today!  Here’s a PDF file of progress so far….

Rachel and Artems New House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to Belarus – Part 2

Our adventures continue as Dave and I prepare to travel to Belarus on the 23rd April.  We will be travelling across Europe in our car and will cross the Belarussian border on Friday 26th April (anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster).  We’ll be there for 2 months or so, and we plan to help our friends Rachel and Artem continue building their new house, assist with building work at the Rehab Centre in Puchavichi, and work with our friends Dima and Oksana Podlobko in Gomel.

Farewell Belarus Until Springtime

Our remaining days in Belarus included celebrations of their second Christmas.  On Christmas Eve (6th January) before we left Marina Gorka, we received two surprise visits to our flat from traditional Kolyedari people who go door-to-door singing Orthodox Christmas carols and asking for “hleb and kalbasa” (bread and sausage).  We gave them sweets.

7th January we went to Brest Pentecostal Church,  attended their second Christmas nativity service and were reunited with Vassily Kreydich and a few of the young people who came to Exeter through our charity “Exeter Children of Chernobyl” back in the 1990’s.  It was a joyful and memorable occasion.

8th January Dave and I made our way back to the UK, leaving the snow behind, with stopovers at Warsaw, Hannover and Calais, and arrived home on the 11th January.