Elmars Plavins (Chaplain-General to the Latvian Forces, Sasha Rodionov and I flew to Kiev from Riga to begin an amazing schedule of ministry.
First up was a meeting with the Ukrainian Minister of Youth & Sport as well as other officials to discuss the role of Chaplaincy at the Olympic level, and the education of children as a charity. My counseling of Ukrainian wrestlers at the Olympics touched this politician and he opened the door for a pilot seminar to the top sports chaplains and psychologists.
Then we went straight to a meeting with the assistant Orthodox Archbishop of Kiev (the head of Military Chaplaincy) to discuss chaplaincy in the military and its place in Ukraine. This meeting caused a quickly arranged seminar for the Orthodox Clergy Chaplains, the Military Chaplains and Psychologists the next day. The very next day I was asked to speak at a very professionally organized seminar for the Ministry of Sport attended by Sports Chaplains, Counsellors and Psychologists. It was a great occasion dotted with times of humor and serious reflection. Question time showed their concern for the pressure on athletes to perform with- out adequate stress counseling. The gospel message went out very clearly during this seminar.
The final day in Kiev was extremely busy with a series of seminars at St Michaels Monastery to the Military Chaplains and Psychologists. The attention they paid to the details of my seminars was amazing. The questions they asked showed that they were thinking in depth about the points I was making in the areas of “Winning over stress in the military war zone and at home with their families” and from a personal point of view in their individual capacities, “Applying principles for success and effective- ness in their service to the military”.
The pace in Kiev was tiring and the itinerary doubled up all the time. The Military Attaché to the Latvian Embassy very expertly drove us around the city. The professional people in the Ministry of Youth and Sports as well as the Military Chaplains and Psychologists were so respectful and courteous, and very open to receive my seminars. They were so touched that they opened the door for me to return next February to speak to the Ukrainian Military (as I’ve done in Latvia over the past 5 years).
At some places the media turned up to respectfully conduct an interview that was aired on TV, in order, it seemed, to give the public the assurance that things were being done to safe- guard their future. The final seminar in Kiev was to the law students at the Department of Jurisdiction in the University of Law. I looked around at the small audience of professors and students, who would eventually become lawyers and judges, thinking what an amazing privilege to deposit God’s truths into these lives. They invited me to come back next year to do more seminars.