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November 22, 2016 - Second appeal denied
I found another repair project to keep me busy. In an earlier update, I told how a missionary came here to talk about possible plans to continue the ministry here in Oryol. We decided to remodel the back storage room at the church house into a little prophet's chamber. It is possible that some of his people may take turns traveling here for ministry until such time that someone is able to move here permanently. He plans to return here sometime soon to meet with our people again to discuss plans for future ministry.
The room needed some rewiring, lots of plaster work, and some new paint or wallpaper. The wiring is done, I am almost done with the plaster, and soon I will decide how to finish it. I can move some bunk beds and cabinets from my apartment to the new prophet's chamber.
On Tuesday, November 15, I decided to call the courthouse to see if there was any progress on my appeal. They told me that a decision had been reached earlier that same day. My appeal was considered and denied. I am still considered guilty of breaking the law.
In one way, this was good news. We did not expect that the local court would give us a favorable decision, so we were hoping they would hurry up and decide, so we could move the appeal to the higher courts in Moscow. I immediately contacted our attorneys and asked them what to do next. They told me to get notarized copies of three documents.
I was already planning to go to Moscow for other reasons on November 17th, so it was very important for me to get these documents on the 16th. I went from office to office, and was able to get two of the documents, but I had a problem with the third one. By the end of the day, one office said the document was at another office, and the second office said the first office had it. It was stuck somewhere in bureaucratic limbo, and the offices closed before I was able to track down the paper I needed.
My train left Oryol at 11am on the 17th, so I had about two hours that morning to try to find the document, get a notarized copy, and still make it to the train station. The first office still did not have it, so I went to the second office. They said they had already sent it to the first office. I asked them to look in their stack of mail to be delivered. They were not very willing to help me, but I wouldn't go away. I just kept talking about how I wanted the document to take to Moscow that day, and how little time I had left. I talked their ears off until they told me to just sit down and they would look. Sure enough, there it was in the stack of mail. They reluctantly gave it to me, because now they would have to make another copy to give to the other office. I thanked them profusely and still made it to the train station in time to catch my train.
Here are the Russian court documents rejecting my appeal.
Now I was going to Moscow to catch a plane to go to another city in Russia to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with some American missionaries. When I got on the train in Oryol, there were two men in my compartment. If I was a good missionary, I would be very outgoing and strike up a conversation with these strangers. Instead, I paid no attention to them and just minded my own business. A little while after the train pulled away from the station, one of them asked me what state I was from. I wondered how he knew I was an American, but they always seem to know. I told them Illinois. He said, you are a preacher aren't you? I said yes. The other guy said, your name is Donald. I saw you on TV! They were two Baptist preachers, one from Kursk and one from Oryol. We had a nice time talking for a few hours. They were on their way to have a Bible conference in a distant city.
I had an uneventful flight to a Russian city. It was 37 degrees below zero. At that temperature, it doesn't really matter if it is Celcius or Farenheit, it's about the same. It was by far the coldest temperature I have ever experienced in my life, but I was surprised that it didn't seem bad at all. I had warm clothes, it was dry, and there was no wind. All the same, I am glad that I don't have that kind of weather in Oryol.
I had a very wonderful time of fellowship with the missionaries. I laughed and cried and stayed up late every night talking with them. I was sorry to go back home on Monday.
On Friday night, after all the missionaries got home from the Thanksgiving party, one of them was visited by the police. They asked him if he had any visitors staying with him. This missionary drove his car to the airport to pick me up, so it seems like the police were probably looking for me at his house. I was staying with another missionary. I was not breaking any laws by visiting there, but it looks like they are paying attention to my travels. I hoped I wouldn't cause any problems for the missionaries there.
My lawyer told me that they have decided to file my case in two courts at the same time. I don't know the exact details, but he said they will appeal the case to the high Court and to the constitutional court simultaneously. On Monday, when I got back to Moscow, I went to a notary to sign some papers to authorize them to do this. Then I brought those documents to the lawyers' office so they could get the process going. Finally we should see some serious legal consideration of my case.
I returned home to Oryol late Monday night. I thought I would have a quiet week recovering from my exciting travels, but another missionary called me today. He invited me to come to his city for a celebration on Thanksgiving day. I would have turned him down, but he is a very good friend, and the other missionary family in his town are also close friends. I just couldn't say know, and I know it will be a wonderful time. I go back to Moscow tomorrow night to fly to another Thanksgiving celebration. I need to do some business before I go, so it will be busy today and again tomorrow.