<Back to Update Page<
October 23, 2016 - Hurry up and wait
It's been a few weeks since I posted an update, and people are starting to send me messages, asking if I am still alive and well. Yes, I am. Thank you for your concern.
Today is my birthday. I am 56 today. I want to thank all the many people who sent me greetings and wished me a happy birthday.
I got up at 3am to watch the Cubs game. They are going to the World Series for the first time in 71 years, and they kept me up until 6am. It was a nice way to start a birthday. I am not a die hard Cubs fan like some others in my family, but it was fun to see them win.
Alex and Polina invited me over for lunch today. We talked for a long time, so I got home late in the afternoon.
I brought them up to date on the status of our court case. As I described in the previous update, I filed papers for a second appeal on October 7. There will not be any hearing this time; it is just a review of the previous paperwork by senior level judges of the local court. I asked at the time how long it might take. They said that there would be a few days of investigation, and then the judges might deliberate for up to a month. I will be notified by registered mail when a decision is reached. They gave me a phone number so I could call at any time and find out if there was any progress.
This week, I called the courthouse. It had been about two weeks since I filed the papers, and I was hopeful that maybe the judges might not take a full month to render their decision. The secretary at the court told me that the judges had just started their deliberations the day before. She said maybe I should wait and call back "about the end of November".
I thought about the day when I was arrested in August. As soon as the police had finished writing out the charges at the police station, they took me directly to the courthouse, on a Sunday afternoon, to stand before a judge. I asked them for a day or two to get my attorney from Moscow, and they said that was not possible. "We must do this within the next 8 hours." Obviously, that same sense of urgency does not apply any more.
I told Alex and Polina today that we will have visitors next weekend.
An American missionary is coming here with a Russian man who has been trained for ministry. It is possible that this man may eventually come here to continue the ministry in Oryol. Nothing has been decided yet for sure, but we are talking about it, and they wanted to see the city and the property, and meet with the people. We will not have any services, but the people will come at different times throughout the day, and I may barbecue some shish kebabs for them. Please pray that God will lead us in this decision. I would be very happy to have this ministry continue after I go back to America.
At lunch today, I also talked with Alex and Polina about how I have been keeping myself busy these days. Here is what I told them:
- The legal proceedings demand some time and attention. We have had a few court hearings. I spent some time in consultation with my attorneys and the visitors from the American embassy.
- I spend a lot of time with communications, answering emails, phone calls, and requests for information. I put up this part of the website to help with that.
- Since my wife has gone to America, I also have to keep up with laundry, cooking, cleaning, and dishes. You ladies are probably well aware that these things take more time and effort than we husbands realize.
I told Alex and Polina that we all have a list of things that need to be done "someday when I have time". After 14 years in the same place, I am finally working through that list. Here are some of the projects that I have completed.
- Two years ago, I did a big remodeling job in our apartment. I removed two windows and closed the spaces with bricks. On the first floor of our split level apartment, the brick work was right in the middle of our living room, so I needed to finish the job right away by covering the bricks with insulation and drywall. My drywall and plaster skills are limited, but I was happy with the results. On the second floor, the same work was needed, but the space was a storage balcony off of our bedroom, so it was not so urgent to finish it right away. I had spent a lot of time on the project already, so I decided to put the upstairs drywall job off until "someday when I have time". Now that I have the apartment for sale, the ugliest place was that uncovered brick work. It took me a few weeks, since I was working on other projects as well, but I finished the drywall repair, and it looks good.
--near the beginning of the project--
--near the end of the project, before primer and paint--
So now the ugliest spot in the apartment has become one of the brightest. Of course, when I painted the new part, I had to paint the entire balcony area so it would match. That brought me up to about the second week of September.
- Another big item on my to-do list was "paint the church house". I needed to get busy with that right away, because the weather was turning cool and rainy. You are not supposed to paint when the temperature gets below 40 degrees, and especially not when the low night temperature gets below freezing. I needed to finish the job before the end of October.
It had been about three years since we last painted the church, and it was starting to look a bit shabby. First, the house needed to to be scrubbed and washed. That took a few days with a hose and a long handled scrub brush, and I ended those days soaking wet. The weather was already starting to turn cool, especially near sunset.
Then, the house needed to be painted with a primer coat. The primer that we use here is a thin liquid that looks just like milk, and it soaks into the wall. Sometimes you have to use two or three coats before the surface is ready to paint, and of course, you have to let it dry between coats, and come back the next day. Then, I painted two of the exterior walls with a water based white paint. The other walls are brick, and don't require painting. The white paint needed to be applied in two coats.
There is a foundation layer that goes all around the bottom of the house that needed to be painted with an oil based enamel. It has always been a dull gray color. When I went to buy paint, I saw so many bright colors, so I decided to use blue. While I was painting out front near the sidewalk, a lady passing by stopped to watch me for a minute. She asked, with some disapproval in her voice, "Why are you painting your house blue? That's not acceptable here in Russia! We use gray, white, or yellow, but not blue!" I laughed, and said, "Wait until you see how I am going to paint my window frames bright red!" Then I quoted a Russian proverb that says nobody agrees about taste or color. I learned long ago that Russians never argue with their proverbs. She just shook her head and walked away.
The blue enamel also needed to be applied in two coats. Then, I turned my attention to the window frames. They were the same dull gray color, so I decided to make them bright red.
Red, white, and blue - the colors of the Russian flag!
--front of the house--
--side of the house--
--back of the house--
- In August and September, I was still mowing the grass, pulling weeds, and doing other necessary yard work. Now the leaves are falling, and I will need to rake them up before the snow falls.
- Back at the apartment, I noticed some cracked plaster on a few walls, so that kept me busy for a little over a week. I plastered the cracks, covered the wall with a special fiberglass reinforcement paper, and painted the entire wall. I also repaired a light fixture on the ceiling of one of the bedrooms, and rebuilt one of our closet cabinets. I noticed a few cracks in the ceiling plaster, so that is my next project.
- I have wanted for years to go through our large collection of audio tapes and record them onto the computer. For the past two months, whenever I was in the apartment, I would put a tape in the player, start a recording, and go do something else. About an hour later, I would come back, flip the tape over, or put a new one in. As each cassette was recorded, I threw it away. This week, I threw away the last cassette. I think there were about 200 tapes when I started two months ago. Now I don't have to pack them and take them back to America. I am also recording our CDs and DVDs, so I can get rid of them, too.
- Several times a week, I contact some of our church people to encourage them and find out how they are doing. Sometimes they invite me to come over for a meal and fellowship.
- I am also doing my part to help sell my apartment. The real estate market is slow these days. The property has been listed for two months already, and nobody has even come to look at it yet. I printed some flyers, and posted them around the neighborhood on bulletin boards and put them in mailboxes. So far, I have put out about 600 of them. The poster says, "For sale - unique two level apartment. You've never seen anything like it! Turgenev street, building 52 - near the Lenin Stadium. Brick construction, built in 2002, private hot water source, European style remodeling, on 6th and 7th floors, 108 square meters, three bedrooms, large kitchen/living room. For details and viewing call Maxim [real estate agent]" There are two small photos to attract attention. The real estate agent called me the other day and said he has a contact who wants to see the apartment.
--a poster to sell our apartment--
I finished today's visit with Alex and Polina late in the afternoon. Alex walked a few blocks with me to the bus stop, and I went home. Then it was time to watch a church service by live stream over the internet, and after that, I was ready for a nap.
I was up again at 2am to do a Skype chat with my home church in Illinois, and that was a lot of fun.
I will be very glad when this court case is resolved, the apartment gets sold, and I can go back to America to figure out where we will be serving the Lord next.
We are very grateful for the many prayers of God's people.
In other news, last week here in Oryol, a new monument to Ivan the Terrible was dedicated. It is the only one in the world. Sane people everywhere don't understand why anyone would do this.
I was just informed that an Irish Senator has put a specific question about our situation to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (the executive branch of the institution). The Committee will need to reply to the question, and with Russia sitting on the Committee, they will have to explain their actions.