From Ukraine To Oskaloosa
Oskaloosa, Iowa – When you walk into the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church on the east side of Oskaloosa, a couple of very special trees can be found. These simple black metal trees hold some hand crafted treasures from the country of Ukraine.
The Oskaloosa church has been a sister church to one in Kiev, Ukraine, for around 5 years now. Recently, the church in Kiev sent a ‘thank you” package to the church in Oskaloosa. Among those items were 40 of these hand-crafted Easter Eggs. Pastor Roger Neumann of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church said of the gift, “We’re not doing that much. We do what we can. We’re a small church. I’ve just been really proud of the people.”
Since the tension in the Ukraine has increased, the concern and interest from the Oskaloosa church congregation has increased for their sister church. The question has been raised if people should continue to give to the church because of the uncertainty. “Yes, more so than ever, now is the need”, said Neumann.
In Kiev, the older women make the decorated eggs to sell for extra money. Each egg is blown clean, and then the intricate process of applying wax and dying the eggs begins. “They want us to have these”, Neumann said. The elderly women are the one’s to typically make the delicate eggs. “The younger generation really isn’t picking up the craft anymore,” said Neumann. Six to eight hours is required to make any egg. “In a sense, these are going to, kind of, be the last of a time of these being produced this way,” Neumann stated.
The eggs have many symbolic messages crafted into the art. Each color symbolizes something different. For example, green is for new life. Neumann said that Pink is for prosperity, wealth and contentment. “You don’t see a lot of pink,” says Neumann. “It almost makes you want to cry.”
The church also received a hand carved cross that stands upright on a table. The carving is so intricate, the artist is able to complete about 3 per year. The church received what may have been the artist’s last creation, because not long after it was sent the artist passed away.
In the past, the church had received some hand-painted refrigerator magnets and then recently with the latest shipment received hand painted scenic pictures.
The collection box started for the sister church nearly 5 years ago, and no one was sure how long the support would continue, but the members of the congregation have continued to support the project. “The people here have been great,” said Pastor Neumann. “A great congregation. A great group of people.”