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August - October 2001
Preparing to move to Russia
We spent a few days helping a fellow missionary prepare his new building for services. I installed all of the light fixtures, and my boys helped with painting, cleaning up, carpeting, and tearing down old wallpaper.
Ruth has been having some fun using her camera to share the Gospel. She takes pictures of people: the workers in the stores where she shops, people she meets outside who are walking or sitting on a bench, sidewalk vendors, and neighbors. Our photo shop prints the pictures overnight, and Ruth gives the people copies along with a little candy and a Gospel tract. It’s a rare treat for them to have a picture of themselves – they just love it! Pray that some of them will be saved.
Like everyone else, we were shocked by the news of the September 11 attacks. We don’t have a TV, so we followed the news on the internet. We were advised to stay close to home for a few days and keep a low profile. Some of our neighbors came to our door to offer their heartfelt sympathy for what happened in America. The lady from the apartment downstairs brought us a cake. As we started going back to our normal routine, many people went out of their way to show their support for us and for America. People in our neighborhood that we didn't even know came up to say in broken English "I'm so sorry". All the European governments made public statements of support. That support is sincerely felt by the people in Russia and Ukraine. I suppose that missionaries in Moslem countries are feeling the opposite, but it has warmed our hearts to experience the good will that people here feel towards America. When the retaliation bombings started in Afghanistan, I was on a train just leaving Moscow. The man from the next sleeper compartment came over and excitedly told me that the Americans had just started bombing. (His wife had received a call from relatives on her cell phone.) I wasn’t sure if he was mad about it, so I just thanked him for telling me. His face broke out into a big grin, and he said in Russian, “PRAISE GOD!” Russians are particularly glad that America is fighting terrorism. They have been fighting Moslem terrorists for years in Chechnya, only to have the liberal West wag fingers at them and admonish them to negotiate, not fight.
I bought a new apartment in Oryol, Russia. Many of you prayed with us about finding a source of financing for this purpose. It seemed impossible, but God provided a way for us to borrow the money on good terms. The complication at this point is that the apartment is not yet finished. The builders promise to be done by January, but the realtors say they think it may not be ready until February or March. I decided to buy it and to keep my family in Kiev until it is finished.
In the mean time, I have started commuting, spending 4 days a week in Russia, so I can start laying groundwork for the church we want to start in the village of Narishkino. Different family members take turns coming to Russia with me, so I always have a partner. The 11-hour train ride is overnight, in a sleeper car, and costs about $12 one way. This is not the ideal plan, but I think it is a pretty good one.
I am very excited about the way everything is developing. My family is enthused about the move to Russia, too. God is so good to us. I sometimes fret about how much time it takes to do all this preparatory work, (deputation, language school, paperwork and visas, etc.) but a good foundation makes for a strong building. If the Lord tarries and sustains my health, I hope to be able to give Him 25 or 30 years of service here for the people of Russia.
In the service of the King,