Thank you to all of you that prayed for us while we were in Ukraine. It was an amazing trip. It was awesome to see and hear how God is working in Ukraine – using technology to train leaders and for outreach purposes.
The first part of our time in Ukraine was an eLearning Center (eLC) Directors meeting. We have over 18 (actually more now but that in a moment) eLCs in Ukraine and most of these eLCs are in churches scattered across the country. eDOT invited those church leaders who are involved in using the eLCs to come to Kiev (Ukraine’s capital) for a time of encouragement, more training on how to use the eLCs more effectively and for them to meet each other. Our goal is that they will be each other’s greatest resources and to hear how each of the centers are being used is just amazing. Some are a part of ministries that are focused on outreaches to orphanages, some are focused on adult education, while others are focused on reaching local ethnic communities. How they use the computers is just slightly different in each context but they were able to share these differences with one another sparking new ideas and excitement. It was just great getting to know these church leaders and to share in their passion to reach Ukraine for Christ.
WARNING: MUCH COMPUTER LINGO USED BELOW
The second part of our time in Ukraine was installing an eLearning Center in Vinnitsa. While this would seem straight forward and easy – it wasn’t. First of all, we weren’t installing our normal eLC. This was a brand new configuration that was to be all Windows based. We had been using Linux for the eLCs but our centers were saying that it was hard to find people to support them and that people were not drawn to come to Linux classes as they see Windows in all the businesses. The reason many want to learn computers is so that they can get jobs that now require them to know computers. So hearing their concerns we are now installing Windows eLCs. So for about a month before we arrived in Kiev, John (an eDOT’er who is raising his support to move to Kiev) and I worked on developing the proper configuration. This was all done in Kandern, Germany using Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP Pro (both in English). We had a configuration that we thought would work pretty well but we never had time to test it. So when we arrive in Kiev, we got to work configuring the computers that our partners in Ukraine had gotten for us.
Problem one: Everything was in Russian. Now we had known going into this that we would be working with Russian on these computers but in my experience with Microsoft, I have always been able to navigate Windows. One thing you can say about Microsoft is that they are consistent. (No more comments from ya’ll about that comment, OK?) Anyway, just a heads up – in Russian, not everything is in the same place.
God’s solution One: God provided Roman. Roman is a computer guy who works at one of the Bible Colleges we partner with in Ukraine. He was at the conference and was an incredible help. He too had developed an all Windows configuration and we were able to use his solution (which he had brought with him using laptops) to go with our solution and he knows both Russian and English so we were able to get through the whole configuration problem.
Problem two: Apparently, Windows Server 2003 doesn’t play well with all motherboards and processors. After three days of getting the configuration of the eLC server put together, we started noticing that it was taking two minutes for the clients to login. While it worked, it meant that there was a problem somewhere and here we were going to install it 250 km from our closest technical people. On top of that, Roman had to go back home. The only thing we could figure out was that the driver for the on-board network card was wrong.
God’s solution two: We took the server back to the place we bought it. When they saw it, they told us that they never should have sold us that box as they knew it wouldn’t work with Windows 2003 Server. It took them a day, but they replace the motherboard and processor with one that they knew worked as a server and loaded Windows 2003 Server for us to verify it worked correctly.
Problem three: We have a server that works but it is in Russian and we still have to reset all of our settings. We know that it would take us at least 24 hours to try and configure it ourselves since we would be doing things almost randomly as we couldn’t read them.
God’s solution three: The translator from our conference (which had ended by this time) was also a computer consultant. He spent four hours with us configuring the server and getting it ready for install. Now we were ready to travel to Vinnitsa to install the eLC. We were only one full day behind the original schedule.
Problem four: When we got to Vinnitsa, we were excited and began setting up the eLC right away. There were a few modifications still to do but we had a translator, Anna, with us who doesn’t know computer lingo that much but she knew how to do literal translations which was all we needed to know what everything was. After another day of setting up the computers and configuring them, loading them with software to be used for outreach and finally doing some serious testing – the eLC was all set and ready to go. All we had to do was train the guys that were going to be running the center. We also wanted to make images of each of the hard drives so that if something went wrong with them, they could just reimage the computers and make them as good as they were right then. So since the guys we were training were running a little late, I decided to go ahead and make an image of the server. I pulled out my trusty Ghost 2003, loaded and proceeded to make an image. When Ghost makes an image, it reboots the computer into a special DOS mode and that’s exactly what it did. However, it did not make an image. As a matter of fact, it didn’t do anything. It would only reboot back into DOS mode. I couldn’t get it to go back to the Windows Server. Of course, that’s when the guys show up to get their training.
God’s solution four: Now, we don’t have Internet access and I am trying everything I can remember from my days with DOS. I am rewriting the autoconfig.bat file, I’m reworking the config.sys file. Yikes, nothing. I turn to one of the other guys and just say “I’m about to lose it!” (Did I mention that I’d been traveling for almost three weeks by now, we were sleeping in a place that had no heat or hot water and the temperature outside was 35 degrees Farhenheit). That’s when we stopped everything and got together as a group and prayed. Afterwards, one of the guys took me to a computer that had Internet access so that I could try and find a solution. Online I found out that Ghost had created a small drive partition that needed to be removed and the original drive partition had to be reinstated as the bootable partition. I also found out that Ghost 2003 does not work with Windows Server 2003. Good information to have after the fact. Anyway, I go back to the eLC to where everyone is and start to try and figure out a way to redo the disk partitions with only being able to boot into DOS (that has no fdisk) I could make bootable floppys – only problem is none of the computers have floppy drives including the server. So I start to use the Windows Server 2003 installation disks hoping as they are bootable that I could get something to work. With these disks, I am able to remove the Ghost partition but now the machine just boots up saying there’s no operating system. I still have to mark the Windows partition as bootable on the hard drive. That’s when I hear behind me some Russian words with “Partition Magic” in the middle of it. This is lifesaving software for me at the moment and I turn around and ask through the translator if they have “Partition Magic”. He says he doesn’t but he could get it. (In Ukraine, any kind of software can be purchased on the streets – labels are hand made if there is a label at all). Another one of the guys turns and says that he has it right there. Now I don’t condone illegal software but I was stressed. I popped the CD in the drive and booted up off of it. I saw a lot of things in Russian but then saw “Partition Magic” and tried to run it. It wouldn’t run. Their version didn’t work with Server 2003 (sounds like theme here). But it did kick me out to a DOS prompt so I decided to see what else was on the CD. The first thing my eyes focused on was “FDISK”. I immediately ran that, made the partition bootable and rebooted the PC. No one had noticed what I had done but they all jumped when I gave a huge scream of excitement at seeing the Windows Server 2003 flash screen that had came up during the boot up sequence.
Needless to say, I didn’t touch the computer again. We did do some more tests and trained the men before having a modified celebration dinner of ordered out pizza and Ukrainian chocolates.
Sorry this is such a long post and that I have not posted in a while. When we came back (which was the very next day from when this all happened), I was sick and its taken me a little bit to recoup. Please enjoy the pictures of our trip which can be found here in our Photo Album. Most of these pictures were from John as I didn’t have a camera with me most of the time.
Talk to you more soon. Now on to the next project……