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December 2005 - January 2006
CHRISTmas and a New Year
We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas! Russians don’t celebrate December 25th, since they consider that to be “Catholic Christmas”. We had our regular Sunday morning service in our home. After everybody left, we fixed up the dining room for our Christmas dinner. We had baked ham, fixed up with brown sugar, mustard, pineapple rings, and 7-UP. It was tremendously delicious! After the meal, we had a great time opening our gifts. A big thank you to all of our friends in America who sent us cards and packages! We saved many of them to open on Christmas day.
New Year's Day is the biggest holiday of the year here. Russians celebrate the New Year in just the same way we celebrate Christmas – trees are decorated, gifts are exchanged, and they even have their own version of Santa Claus, called Grandfather Frost. The celebration does not have anything to do with Jesus. Their tradition is to stay up all night, drinking and partying until 7 or 8 am. New Year’s Eve begins a long winter holiday that lasts for 10 days. Those who have money travel south, and the poorer people stay home and get drunk.
We did some extra door-to-door visiting during the holidays because more people were home. We visited some apartment buildings in our neighborhood. Most buildings have 4 or 5 entrances, with 36 apartments in each entrance. We give a Bible and tract to each person that will take one. We invite them to our services, and talk to them about Salvation. One couple invited us in for tea and cake, and we had a good time presenting the plan of Salvation. They were friendly and interested, but they didn’t make a decision. They say they may come to our Bible study. Pray for them – Oleg and Lubov.
This year the fall was unusually warm, and winter started much later than usual. Snow started falling in November, but it was not very cold until the middle of January, when temperatures plunged to 21 degrees below zero Fahrenheit and stayed there for a few weeks. More than a hundred people froze to death in Moscow this winter. We saw ambulances waiting at bus stops to watch out for homeless people and alcoholics in danger of freezing. People here say that it hasn’t been this cold, for this long, since the Nazis invaded Russia in 1941-1942.
We stay inside when the temperature is severe, but we still have had plenty of opportunities this winter to enjoy ice skating, skiing, and hiking in the woods near our house.
In December and January the university students are busy preparing for final exams. Some of them that were coming regularly to our services haven’t been as faithful.
Katya is a student who has only been here twice, but she really likes our family and wants to learn the Bible. She asked us if she could invite her friends to come! We assured her that we would be happy to have more visitors.
Another student, Enessa, has been struggling with the meaning of Salvation. Our daughter April had another long talk with her, and she says that she trusted Christ about a year ago, but really didn’t comprehend it all until recently. Pray that she will have a clear understanding, and that she will grow in the Lord.
We went back to two private schools that teach English to help them with their final exams. We spent several hours talking with small groups of students. We had conversations with them in English while their instructors listened and graded their performance. It’s interesting and fun to hear them use English. One girl was struggling to describe roller skating. She said, “These people have, um, roller coasters on their feet!” It was hard not to laugh, but we know that the way we speak Russian sounds funny to them sometimes. We gave each student a Gospel tract. Pray for Nina, the director of the school. We have witnessed to her several times, but she is not saved yet.
We rode 2 hours to the village of Dimitrovsk on a bus, and gave out 700 Gospel tracts there. As far as we know, there is no church in this village.
A local department store staged a big public event on the square across the street from us. They had a contest and gave away prizes. Several thousand people gathered for the prize drawing. We went into the crowd with our Gospel tracts and gave out about 900 of them. It was fun!
We found a piece of property for sale in the middle of town with a nice house that could be used for our church. We would like to buy it, and we are consulting with a lawyer to make sure all the paperwork is in order. This would be a major step forward for our work here, so please pray that we will have wisdom.
In the service of the King,