Articles written by: Joshua and Maurie Hanauer
The Hotel Hanauer
Joshua: This month has been a busy one for the Hanauer’s here in Kyiv. Along with our regular programs continuing, we had visitors for most of the month. First, my good friend from Lipscomb came to live with us for a week. Barrett had been traveling around Europe and came to Kyiv to see firsthand what Maurie and I were doing here. Together we saw the city, worked with those I have relationships with and enjoyed being together again. Barrett and his family mean a great deal to Maurie and I and it was wonderful to see him here.
Just a few short days after Barrett left, my parents arrived for a two-week stay. Mom and Dad decided to come to Kyiv just after Maurie and I decided to live here for a year. They have traveled extensively in the States, but neither one of them had ever been to Europe. Their time here was filled with adventure and good times. I think we will be talking about their time here long into the future. Their excitement about our work was a great encouragement to us. It meant so much to Maurie and I that they were willing to fly to see us and take part in our work here. Both sets of parents have done nothing but support us in our efforts. We owe so much of who we are and what we are doing to them.
Summer is Coming
Joshua: Even as I am typing spring is on the way. It has been a long winter and we are looking forward to warm temperatures and green grass. The trees have started to bloom and everything is looking much more alive than before.
With the seasons changing come some changes in our work here. H.O.P.E. groups will be ending soon and that will free up much of our time. Maurie finishes teaching very soon also. So, with so much free time on our hands we have some new plans for the summer months.
I want to teach a personal evangelism class. At Lipscomb, it was one of the most rewarding classes I was a part of, and I want to share some of those insights with the Christians from the churches here in Kyiv. We will probably meet once a week to talk about different issues and problems when it comes to sharing our faith with people we know and with complete strangers.
Together with Lilia, Maurie and I also want to start a book club. We are going to pick a popular Christian book and read through it with anyone who wants to, meeting weekly to discuss what we have read. It will give us a chance to work closely with the leaders of our church and we think that is very important.
Maurie: Our first months working with the church were spent finding our places in ministry. In order to do this, we tried a lot of different things, and felt very busy. I remember being frustrated because I did not feel like I had one-on-one time with anyone. When we came here, one of my main goals was to encourage the Christians, and I wasn’t building any deep relationships. After our time in the states at Christmas, I decided I would purposefully say no to certain things so I could spend time with specific people. I also prayed that God would show me how to serve them and encourage them (They too are very busy!). The results have been beautiful, and I would like to take some space to describe two very different relationships that are blossoming.
POLINA is a fourth year student at ICU. She is also one of the staff workers at the UEC. Although we see one another quite a bit, it is usually when she is working, so we are not spending any quality time. One day in February I was at the UEC in the afternoon when she was working, and I asked her if she wanted to split what I had brought to eat. She said sure, and took a little break. She then proceeded to share with me how in her busy schedule (full-time school, part-time work, cell leadership) she often did not think about how she would eat during the day. However, on her busiest days, or days when she had no time to cook and no money to buy, Polina always found that she was provided for in some way or another. It occurred to me that I could serve her in this way, by ensuring her at least one hot meal. I asked her to give me her work schedule and pick a day when it would be best for me to cook lunch for her. During our talking at these weekly meetings, we realized that we both wanted to learn how to play the violin. Since Joshua gave me one for my birthday, Polina and I began to get together on Fridays to learn and practice. She has now mastered “Silent Night,” and I, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” More importantly, our friendship is growing and our relationship with God has been strengthened because of the encouragement we provide one another. Polina is now in Canada for the next three months. She was one student chosen to participate in an internship there in the Parliament!
ANYA is a young lady who graduated last year from ICU. The first thing I remember about her is that during our third week here, I was experiencing major culture shock, homesickness, and frustration. I hadn’t really shared this with anyone, but on one Saturday during HOPE groups she came up to me in the kitchen and said, “Do you want to take a walk?” I could tell she knew I was upset, and wanted to give me a break and a listening ear. We went outside and walked around the building a few times, talking, and then laughing. Soon after that, she accepted a very good job with a pharmaceutical company. By December, I wanted to ask her every time I saw her if she “wanted to take a walk.” I could tell in her eyes and her demeanor how negatively her job was affecting her. Adjusting to adult life with a full time job is stressful, but on top of that she was one of the leaders of our cell, and very involved with church. Her boss turned out to be very emotional and sometimes unprofessional in his dealings with her, and she was completely drained.
When we arrived back in Kyiv in January, things had not changed much. I prayed and tried to think of a way to relieve her or encourage her. Our evenings were already committed, and Anya was so spent at the end of a workday, sometimes she didn’t come to cell. So, after work was out of the question. I tried to respect her off days as rest days, but finally asked her if she had a lunch break. She replied that sometimes she could make it happen if she didn’t have too much work. After that we met for lunch near her workplace each week. We had an hour to sip coffee, and in her case, forget about work for a while. God has blessed me and taught me so much during these special times. Anya’s gentle spirit and uncomplaining attitude has truly been an example to me. Right now she is looking for another job. She maturely confronted her employer and put in her two weeks. At church last week, Joshua leaned over to me and said, “Anya looks totally different now that she quit her job.” And she does.
I continue to be amazed how God works. I set out to help and encourage these two young ladies, and instead, I have been blessed, encouraged and uplifted.
Joshua: So, life continues here in Ukraine. Maurie and I have much to look forward to in the months ahead and we have created many great memories to look back on in the years to come. One moment I would like to close with occurred between Lilia and I this past weekend. We were celebrating the wedding of two members of our church and she asked me a very serious question. She wanted to know if I would come back to Kyiv and perform her wedding ceremony in Russian. It is important for you to know that Lilia is not seriously dating anyone right now, and so I have some time to put my thoughts (in Russian) together. I told her I would be honored and that it would be a great incentive for me to keep up with my language studies. As my parents can now attest to, we have met some wonderful people here that will be our friends for the rest of our lives.