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At the end of July we marked our first anniversary of living in Ukraine. I've finished my first year of language study at the university, and made the highest marks possible on my final exams. Praise the Lord! I clearly understand almost everything I hear in Russian, and I am able to read newspapers and books with about 85% comprehension. However, it is still a struggle for me to speak properly. As soon as I say something, I can look back over what I just said and correct the mistakes in my mind. I'm still not fast enough to put everything in proper form before I say it, although I am noticing an improvement with practice even since the end of the school year. We plan to study here in Kiev for another year, then move to Russia to establish a ministry there.
I've been prayerfully researching the problems of getting into Russia. While considering the different regions of this vast country, my attention was drawn to southwestern Russia. Moscow seemed to be a bad place to try to start something, and Siberia has a very small percentage of the country's population. The "small town" population of Russia is concentrated in the European part of the nation, south of Moscow. I noticed Oryol, a city of 350,000 people, 235 miles south of Moscow. After final exams, my son and I took a survey trip there. I didn't know anybody there, and we went without an interpreter, so my language skills were put to the test!
We spent a busy week looking around town. Food and other essentials are in abundant supply in Oryol. Housing prices are reasonable. We checked out several possible ways to obtain visas to live there, since we didn't think the government would give us missionary visas. We assumed that we would need to get business or teaching visas. I talked to officials at various government offices, and found that there is an active economy in the region, both industrial and agricultural. There are more institutes and universities in Oryol than in any other Russian city besides Moscow. It seems that it should be possible to get commercial or educational visas.
We found two Baptist churches and attended services. The pastor of one of them invited us to sing some special numbers in Russian, and then asked me to preach in Russian. Fortunately, I had a Russian sermon with me - "just in case". After the service, The pastor and I had a very long talk about my plans. He offered to write a letter of invitation that would allow us to get missionary visas. There are some important questions to consider before I could accept such an offer. Please pray that I will have God's wisdom in considering this possibility.
We have two months off school before school starts again September 1st. In August, we went to the Carpathian mountains here in Ukraine for a week of family vacation. We stayed in a cabin, hiked, fished, and cooked over an open fire. It was a great time we will always remember.
This summer I have been practicing soulwinning in Russian. I am able to present the entire plan of salvation, and make an invitation. I'm afraid it still sounds rather primitive, but I have to start somewhere. Pray for people to understand, to be convicted by the Spirit of God, and to be saved.
In the service of the King,