I made a trip to Donetsk on Friday to meet with several potential partners and to see the city. Overall, my first impressions are incredibly favorable.
My supervisor and I flew to Donetsk and were met by a pastor who drove us to his church. In most large cities, there is a Central Baptist Church, however, in most places, there is nothing “central” about its location. It usually indicates the first church in the city. They either bought or were given land to build, but their location is rarely in the center of the city.
Anatoliy took us to the church and as soon as we pulled up I recognized the place. I have actually been to the church in 1995 and 1996. In 1995, they hosted a large youth meeting with about 1,000 young people in attendance. In 1996 I was visiting friends in Donetsk and preached during their morning service.
We met with Anatoliy for almost 2 hours. It was a joy to hear his vision for starting new work in the city.
Later, we met up with another colleague who had driven down for the meeting. We had lunch and then went to see the apartment where I will live. It is in the center of the city, one block away from an incredibly beautiful park and within walking distance of many of other things in the downtown area.
We had dinner at the Tequila Boom, a Tex-Mex restaurant (also near the apartment!!!). I was pleasantly surprised by their chips and salsa! I enjoyed the steak and rice dinner. Another colleague ordered nachos and a burrito with pinto beans. (You don’t see pinto beans here often!!!)
The next morning, we met with a young man and his wife who have a small church group meeting in the center of the city. They seem to be committed to the work the Lord has placed them in with lots of potential!
As we walked back to our vehicle, we passed by a beautiful rose garden. Ilya told us that during Soviet times, Donetsk was known as the City of Roses and they are trying to re-establish that idea. I was impressed by the cleanliness and beauty of the city.