The next trip outside Kyiv was to Cherkasy, a city about three hours to the south, for the third annual Cherkasy Conference. Chris designed Cherkasy Conference as a way to train and encourage student-aged church leaders. The week is an intensive time of focusing on a book in the Bible, opening issues related to that book, and discussing the needs of the church. That's what I heard from him, at least. What I heard from the students was that Cherkasy Conference is a time of having fun, staying up late before going to sleep on the floor in a room with six other people, cooking good food, and spending time with friends. As I learned, it's a lot of both.
All the lectures for the week were held in the living room of the house, where everyone crammed together. That's Igor Ougilev in the gray shirt-his parents graciously open their house to host the conference every year.
One of the activities during the conference was to divide into two teams, read essays about either heaven or hell, and then explain the essays to the other team in some creative way. I was on the hell team.
Our first illustration was to explain what hell is not. It is not being carried around on a pole, as Lena M. is. Nor is it being attacked by demons such as Anya and Nastya in the shiny horns. Nor is it being pestered by animals to which you are allergic, such as the cat in the gray shirt (me). Nor is hell populated by tortured souls who can not seem to stop laughing.
We tried to explain what hell is by borrowing a strategy from C.S. Lewis and his Screwtape Letters. Here, I am the demon teacher sending my pupils to a meeting of Christians with instructions to make them think there is no hell.
Zhenya and Nastya B. writing their assignment before leaving for earth. Unfortunately, the Christians were too smart for them, and the demon students failed their test.
Nastya Tulmachova (left) and Nastya B. preparing for their roles as tormentor and tormented.
Roma (left), Nastya B., and Tanya practicing their lines for the skit. Roma and Tanya were the leaders of the Christians.
Everyone has to eat, even if it requires a team of 7 to prepare the meal. Here's the team on German food night, when the menu included schnitzel, potato salad, and chocolate cake.
Lena Zh. and I were doing our best to be optimistic, even though everything wasn't going as well as we might have hoped.
It was a creative free-for-all when Friday was declared "Bad Hair Day." And, well, things got pretty bad.
My hair was designed by Anya the artist, so its aesthetic soundness was unquestioned. Most people thought the multiple straws recalled the Statue of Liberty, but I preferred to call myself "Crackerhead." There were precisely three different kinds of crackers holding the style in place.
Anya and Lena at the Bad Hair Day breakfast table.
The real highlight of the week was the last day, when the whole group walked to the river to celebrate as four people were baptized:
Ira and Natasha.
For more about Cherkasy Conference, read my August newsletter posted here.