Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Today Rachel & David had the celebration (sprasnicom in Russian) at the art school. They go Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 - 11:30. They do some kind of artwork or craft, play for 10 minutes in the playroom and then do some counting or alaphabet. Rachel and David love it, and we've been very thankful for the wonderful, kind teachers they have and a great chance to learn Russian.

It was so sad for me personally to see that *Christmas* is not really celebrated or the word even spoken. The first sentence of the program was 'We're here to celebrate the most wonderful celebration of the year... New Year's!!' Until 1990 no Christmas celebrations or even mention of the holiday were allowed in Russia. Anyway, all the children got up to say their little poems they had memorized.. all about Father New Year and Father Frost (their much skinnier version of Santa Claus). Rachel's teacher had asked her to sing a tradional American Christmas song during the program. Rachel was the very last child called up to recite.. she stood straight and tall and belted out ...'Come on ring those bells, everybody say, Jesus we remember this your birthday.' It was so beautiful I almost started to cry; I only wish everyone in the room could have understood what the song was saying in Russian. We had such a good talk and prayer time with the kids afterwards about why programs in America celebrate the birth of Christ, but that programs here have make up fairy tales and empty stories in order to have something to celebrate. Please pray next week on January 6th as we are having a special 'Happy Birthday Jesus' celebration at our house. We have invited all the kids friends (about 15 of them) and some of the youth are coming over to act out the Christmas story and do games with them. We're planning to have a big birthday cake and share the good news of Christ's birth with these children.

Also wanted to mention to please pray for James & Andrei on Thursday at 4:00 they are doing a big program at an orphanage. The director had given them the names of all the children and the youth made BEAUTIFUL cards for every child in the orphanage. We got each child a very nice wrapped gift and a sack of chocolate candy. Also the youth have prepared songs and a skit. It's been wonderful to see how excited the youth are about the ministry opportunities these next two weeks. I was so impressed with the cards they made and the hard work they put into the skits. Our friend Chris Brudi arrives Thursday evening - he's bringing 5,000 candy canes with him and on Saturday we're going to hand them out at the train station with a special tract that explains the gospel using the candy cane. Please keep praying for us and the country of Russia!

61 years ago today....

Today is a very spcial day for the city of Nara-Faminsk.. for eight months the city was occupied by the Nazi's - but on December 26, 1944 the German army was pushed back and the city regained it's freedom. There was a small celebration in the town square and the military had a parade. Unfortunately it was -8 and with three feet of snow not many people attended. It was neat when we were building the house James was digging in the yard and found the bayonet tip from a German rifle. When we were talking to the kids this morning about WW II, Rachel said 'boy, I wish I could have seen Grandad fighting in the war.':) We are so thankful and proud of you Grandad!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Newsletter & lots of news!!

Okay, things are too hectic and with the computer not being at the house I have resigned myself that I will not be keeping up this blog on a regular basis... for now..

The most exciting news is that we were able to purchase the house we asked you to pray about!! We are very excited. Below is a copy of our winter newsletter.

Dear praying friends & family,

'When the fullness of time was come, God brought forth His son....." I've always liked this verse when I consider that God promised a Savior and Redeemer back in Genesis 3:15 when Adam & Eve sinned. I'm sure many people waiting for the Savior to be born thought that God had forgotten them. But nothing and no one could thwart His plan for redemption. He had it all planned out and when the time was ready Christ was born. We've had an exciting month as we've seen God fulfill the desires we've had for years.. all in the fullness of HIS timing.

An AMAZING God! When we moved here three years ago we had a little dream that one day we would have a Nara-Faminsk Youth Center that would be open to youth in need 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We started out in an apartment; but that had it's limitations as the police were always visiting us and telling us that no more than 12 people could meet in the apartment at the same time. In the space of two weeks we saw the incredible hand of God move... it started with a knock on our door and a lady telling us she wanted to sell her home across the street. It was quite literally *perfect* for a youth center. One large open room, a large entryway, a bedroom, kitchen & bathroom plus a large yard that could be used for volleyball - see enclosed picture. Two weeks later we had a buyer for our apartment and extra money from a dear group of friends in Texas. We gave a downpayment on the house and the paperwork is presently being done to own a new Youth Center. We stand back in amazement as we see the fulfillment of the hopes and desires we had three years ago when we moved to Nara-Faminsk. God continues to lead, provide, and draw people to the knowledge of salvation. I wish so much we could let you 'peek in' on the Bible studies and see these young people who know nothing about God or the Bible ~ To see the darkness and hopelessness of their lives and to be able to explain to them the greatest love story every written.

Christmas Plans Please be in prayer as this time of year is extremely busy and a wonderful opportunity to share Christ. Starting Monday the 26th through Russian Christmas celebrated January 7th we will be handing out food baskets and gifts to 65 needy families and children. We received the names and addresses from the city administration. In addition we will be visiting a children's hospital, the military base to give gifts to some children who are invalids, and an orphanages to hand out gifts, candy and fruit. Please pray that every conversation we have with these children and families will be a God-given chance to share the gift of salvation with them.

We will also be showing the film 'Luther' in a school auditorium the evenings of January 4th and 5th. We had permission to rent the largest auditorium in the city (seats 1000) but last week we were told of a new law that went into affect this week that forbids religious non-profit organization from renting a public facility and having any type of programs. It was a huge disappointment at first, but we are praying that showing the film in a smaller setting will allow us a chance to talk with people afterwards. Please remember us in prayer during these very busy weeks. Much work and preparation have gone into these plans and we are praying for God's blessing on each endeavor.

A New Pair of Socks Last night after the Bible study James came home with a new pair of warm hand knit socks. Sergei, a young man that was saved during the summer camp, had brought them to James from his Mother. Sergei's mother has been an alcoholic for the last 8 years; she has rarely gone outside her apartment or held a paying job. James had talked with her and told her he would pray that God would deliver her from alcoholism. Sergei came to the Bible study and told James his mother has not touched alcohol for over a month. He said she could not believe the change in her son's life and wants the same *miracle* for her own. When James had gone to visit her and took off his shoes, he had a big hole in his sock.... so she had made him a new pair of socks :) Praising God for new socks and a new life in Christ!

Family News Rachel celebrated her 7th birthday last week... I am feeling VERY, very old!! We had a wonderful birthday party with seven of her friends. We are so thankful for Rachel and her tender, loving heart. She teaches her parents so much of the ways of God. I'll never forget this summer walking to the store with her right after a big national holiday. We walked by three drunk men who had passed out near the side-walk. They were covered with vomit and smelled terrible. I walked by thinking 'I wish they would find another street to pass out in.... I feel so bad my children have to see stuff like this..' When we reached the store I looked down and Rachel had big tears in her eyes. When I asked her what was wrong, she replied, 'Oh Mommy, we have to pray for those men, without Jesus they'll never be able to say no to alcohol.' My heart was so convicted I couldn't even answer her... I walked by a self absorbed 'Pharisee', but Rachel walked by and had Jesus' heart for these men. When you have little ones around you understand so clearly 'Unless you become like a little child you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.' It's amazing how much you can learn from your children!

Our deepest thanks and gratitude to each of you who stand with us in prayer and giving. 'For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.' So many of you have your heart here in Russia with us and we are so grateful for you. May the Prince of Peace give you peace in your souls as you reflect on all He has done. 'For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people.' Luke 2:30

Rejoicing in Him,
James, Susan, Rachel, David, Caleb and Johanna Joy

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