Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thank you for your prayers!

It's been a wonderful week here in Kerrville, Texas.  All the medical tests have gone great.  Thank you so much for your prayers for our family.  James and the kids have had a very COLD week in Russia ~ down to -28 one night and the electricity was out for most of one day.  It's been fun to talk with the kids every day on skype and hear they're doing okay and be told by Caleb  'oh yeah Mom we're doing great.. we've eaten nothing but popcorn and pelmini for three whole days!!'  :)  James is the greatest Dad in the world just for the record.

Please remember me in your prayers as I fly back on Tuesday.  I'm a bit nervous as I fly out of Washington D.C and they've had quite a bit of snow the past two days.. praying the airport is up and running on schedule by then.

This past week I've been able to spend time with my mother-in-law's new friend Doug Robinson.  They were engaged last week and I'm so very happy to see this new gift God has brought into her life.  Doug is a very kind, Godly, and loving man and it's such a blessing to see how happy they are together.  So just thought I'd post a picture of the two lovebirds. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Update & Prayer Requests

I wanted to ask for your prayers as I (Susan) will be headed to the States for a week.  I'll be leaving this Sunday and returning the 22nd.   I'll be getting some scans done and and just checking to make sure everything is good after my thyroid surgery.  Mainly pray for James as he holds down the fort with of course Rachel's help ~ trust me Rachel runs a very, very tight ship!   Pray I won't miss everyone too much.. I don't know what I'll do with myself alone for a whole week! 

I've been wanting to post about the girl's birthdays.  Johanna turned four in October.  I had warned James for months I would be an emotional basketcase.   I did NOT want my baby to grow up.. I did not want her to stop saying "I lubs you Mommy'.  I wanted forever to hear her little chipmunk voice yelling from the bathroom  'will SOMEbody wipe me!!!!'  She is the sweetest thing ever and I love, love, love three year olds; it's seriously the perfect age.  But alas I can't stick her in a time capsule so I try to squeeze out every single moment of every day.  And four isn't too bad either! :)
This is what you get when you tell her to smile..
she's got him tied around her finger.. trust me!
She was so very proud of Hermie the caterpillar she made for her birthday

Also on December 4th Rachel turned 11!  We had so much fun celebrating!!  She invited her entire ballet class over for ice cream cake and games and all 14 of them showed up!  
She made her own brownie ice cream cake
Johanna & Rachel bring so much joy to our lives.. I sometimes can't believe God would bless me with such healthy amazing children who teach ME so very much.  

In other news.. the Bible studies are going very well.  We had a man ring our doorbell Sunday morning that wanted James to take him to the drug/alcohol rehabilitation center.  It was so neat because James had know him for 5 years and had been witnessing to Sergei but he had never shown any interest or even come to the Bible studies.   So great to see God working in people's lives.  Pray as we have a chance to do Christmas programs at the orphanage and a home for disabled/Down syndrome children.

Thank you again for your love and everything you do for our family!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

From our Tribe to yours!  We hope you rejoiced today in the abundance of God's gifts and GRACE.  

Samoset and his two faithful warriors
We had so much fun having our ministry partners Olga & Ksenya over for lunch and a game of spoons.  We have so very, very much to be thankful for every day!
"Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who 
sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pick blackberries.
"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A change of perspective

Did you ever have a conversation, hear something said in passing and it felt like someone was throwing a bucket of water on your face?  Like you *woke up*!  and saw things differently than before.. your perspective was completely altered?  Well that happened to me Friday when Rachel's friend Svieta came to visit.  Svieta's grandparents live down the road and she comes every Friday after school and spends the weekend with them.. and in turn us.   When she rings the doorbell Johanna comes running 'SVIETA!!  Svieta, my other sister is here!'   She's spent quite a bit of time at our house since we moved in four years ago.. and we all think of her as our 'other sister.'
Svieta sat down at the table and I set about fixing her a cheese sandwich and hot chocolate and asked her about school.  She seemed more excited than usual and chatted on... 'my Papa is coming to see me tomorrow!  I haven't seen him for four years and I'm so excited!!  He's going to take me to McDonald's and buy me a new coat!'  I was stunned for a moment but then got excited with her.  I had learned from her Mother that Svieta's Father had left when she was a  baby.. but she had never ever mentioned him before.   "Where does he live?"  I asked thinking he must be from Vladivostok or some city in far away Siberia.   'Oh he lives in Moscow,'  Svieta replied.   'I just never see him because he works all the time, but he is really rich now.. he has a television as big as an entire wall, and a new car, and lots and lots of money.'  She finished her snack and then took her plate and put it in the sink.  I kissed the top of her head and then watched her skip up the stairs to play rack-o with Rachel and the boys.
I turned back to the sink and felt the tears spring to my eyes.   I wanted to weep for this man I had never met.. this man who lived a mere 60 miles away and yet who had missed so very, very  much these past four years.  I wanted to weep for a society that thinks a wall sized TV is more important than your daughter's 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th birthdays.  Do they really believe that children desire gifts more than a relationship with the giver?   Then my mind began to race with memories I had made with Svieta over the years ~ the countless walks in the woods together, baking cookies & apple pies, going swimming at the lake,  skating at the pond and sledding down the big hill til we were frozen.  This summer when her dog died how I held her while she sobbed.. with Rachel sobbing right along beside her, and then we all walked to the store for her favorite chocolate ice cream.  I thought about Rachel giving Svieta her first Bible, and her coming to the day camp and telling us how she believed in God now.  I thought about all the joy & laughter she had brought into our lives.   And there in that moment I had my *AHA* moment.. I saw things differently.. I remembered with shame that I had thought to myself 'well here's this poor child with no Father, an alcoholic Mother and Grandfather and maybe we can do some good in her poor life'.   But now I saw clearly that I had needed Svieta.  I had needed someone to walk through the woods and tell me which mushrooms to pick, I needed someone that did nothing but watch a catapillar for an hour straight, I needed someone to teach me silly songs in Russian and tell me the gossip of the whole city.   She had blessed my life in ways I had never fully appreciated and had taken for granted.  
And that got me to thinking.. do we realize how much we miss when we don't have children in our lives??  Do adults realize how much we need little people around?   We need people in our lives that have no concept of time or money.  Who love unconditionally and forgive immediately.  Who will spend an entire afternoon talking to stuffed dogs, and think the closest place to paradise on earth is Cici's pizza buffet.  Last week Johanna spent a solid 45 minutes on the toilet singing made up praise songs.. I walked by and knocked on the door:
  ~ "Johanna are you okay in there??"
  ~'Yes Mommy!  I'm just singing to Jesus'    I could hear her little voice through the crack in the door..  'thank you Jesus for my special bug, thank you for the yellow flowers, thank you for my princess dress, thank you for Rachel my friend, thank you for the purple flowers...'

I thought about it later, when was the last time I had 45 minutes where I did nothing but praise God?    We're told in Matthew,  'Unless you become as a little child you will not enter the kingdom of God.'   Could it be that the secret to becoming like a child is to have little children in your life?  Do we need to be involved somehow in a child's life because that is what enlarges our own heart;  gives us more patience, love, forgiveness and grace?

If this is true how would it affect our churches and lives?  Would there be a waiting list for who gets to do the preschool crafts for VBS??  Would people be fighting over who gets the privilege of teaching the 5th & 6th grade boys Sunday School class?  Would there be less children in foster care and orphanages and more children around our tables?  

As all these thoughts swirled through my mind I turned away from the window and thanked God for throwing that water on my face.  I realize now that I got the *bargain* of the decade. For in exchange of a few crust of bread and warmed up milk, our family has been given a priceless treasure..  a friend named Svieta. 

Summer report

I told James to chain me to the computer and not let me up until I had updated the blog :)   We've had so much going on I feel like I never really reported on summer camps.  James said this summer was by far the *best* ~ most organized, lots of great help, great kids (no one brought drugs or got drunk!!  this had never happened the previous years).    One neat thing that happened after camp is that two young men Costya & Dennis decided to go to a Christian drug rehab center.   They have been there almost 8 weeks now and both have repented!   James has been going to visit them and share with the group.  He is really impressed with the Christian man who decided to begin this ministry; it is certainly a huge need.  The facility is a tiny wooden house and James said 20 people sleep in the one room you see below.  Costya and Dennis are both doing great and say the training and encouragement they've received have changed their lives.   

If you notice the lady sitting to the left in the black scarf ~ that is our neighbor Olga.  Her son is the one that committed suicide last month.    James had invited her to go along just to get her out of the house and have some fellowship.  She has been coming over all the time to just visit and talk.  One night last week she came over and did my dishes and folded laundry with Rachel.  She brought over a stack of children's books that had been Dima's and wanted to give them to Johanna.   There is still deep grief, but it's been amazing to see how this has opened up a friendship.  To give you an idea of how things work over here with the Orthodox Church.. I told you the local Orthodox Priest had refused to do the burial.  Well Olga went to a higher up Priest in Moscow and gave him a monetary *gift*, and he agreed to come out and perform the ritual of 'praying his soul out of hell.'    Thank you to those who have prayed for her and Zhenya.
I wanted to post some pictures from the end of August.  Both of Rachel's friends have birthdays and the parties are always a highlight of the summer.  The older *babushka* in the back is our dearest 'Babul Irena' as we all call her.  She is Olga's great-grandmother and one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met.  Johanna and I take a walk every evening in the summer and we always end up at Babul's house for a chat.  She is 82 years old and is amazing ~ there is a reason they call them the 'greatest generation'.  :)
This is from Darina's birthday party.  Don't worry the kids didn't consume any alcohol ;)  They played games out in the field and had a wonderful time.
September was filled with apples ~ we have 6 apple trees in our yard and this year was a bumper harvest.  We made apple butter, applesauce, and apple cobbler and pie almost every night.  There is a reason the fall is my favorite time of year!  It was so much fun to watch the kids climb trees all afternoon and sit up there munching on apples.   Our other dearest Grandmother 'Baba Luba' as we call her (red hair) and her sister Vera came over several days to help us peel apples.   With them around it seemed like a party.  James also took entire van loads of apples to all the widows/shut-ins over at our old apartment building.  Baba Luba was joking that all the Grandmothers love it when James rings their doorbell!
Here's Rachel and Johanna helping her friend Olga with their potato harvest.   Rachel had so much fun helping in the garden.
And of course Johanna thought she was the biggest helper around.
Summer 2009 will forever be remembered as the summer of the puppies.  Our dog Nutmeg had three adorable puppies and the kids played for hours and hours with them.  Johanna dressed them up in doll clothes and pushed them in her doll carriage and was in canine paradise.
There is something about little boys and puppies that just makes your heart melt.
Caleb & Super Hero, David & Rex (a family in Texas is laughing right now.. but don't worry he isn't your namesake, he was named after Billy's dog in the Billy & Blaze books ;)  and Rachel & Paprika.
David kept telling me.. Rex thinks I'm his Mommy!  Oh we had so much fun with these puppies!  David's dog is a guard dog for a store not far away so the kids still walk down and play with Rex.  Happy happy Memories.

So there's a few pictorial highlights of our summer.  We're back to our school schedule which for James includes two Bible studies a week and then Sunday.  Teaching English at the orphanage, visiting the drug rehab center every other week, and also an English class at the Youth Center as a way to meet new people.  Also he and Andrei do lots of visiting in the hospital and a low income apartment building (similar to a homeless shelter in the States).  

Prayer Requests:

1. Continued good health for Susan ~ so far all my tests, scans & bloodwork have been good.  Yeah!  I am still struggling with anemia.. so pray I start liking liver ;)

2. Sanity for Susan as she homeschools ~ a 5th, 3rd and 1st grader now!  All I can say is I'm camping out on God's promise that 'HIS grace is sufficient'  cuz I feel like I'm in wayyyyyyy over my abilities!   

3. The children & Susan to learn Russian  fluently ~ we're really trying to make this our goal for the year.  James & Rachel are completely fluent.. but the rest of us to only varying degrees.   

4. Wisdom for James and continued opportunities for ministry.

5. Please pray for a dear friend Slava, he came to camp last year and regularly to the Bible studies last year. (those of you who helped at camp last year.. Slava was the one with the glass eye)  While he was away this summer his Mom Ludmilla was beaten to death by the man living with her.   Ludmilla had come several times to talk to James about camp and the Bible and was a wonderful loving, caring Mom.  Slava is devastated as they were very close.  

6. Our neighbors Zhenya & Olga as they continue to grieve over the death of their son.

Thank you again for all YOU do to make it possible for us to live here... may God richly bless each of you!
 

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thank you for praying!

We are deeply grateful for so many of you that have been praying for our family & our neighbors.  I didn't have time to explain the other day but the past four years have been very difficult with our next door neighbors.   The very first time James met our neighbor Zhenya he began ranting about how much he hated foreigners, how much he hated anyone who believed in God and how much he hated children.  ( I had walked over with the children and was about five months pregnant).   We then  found out Zhenya was a Doctor that performed abortions at a large clinic in Moscow... we also found out he was a staunch Atheist.   Through the years we endured many, many rants, yelling, screaming at us; other neighbors told us not to worry he treated everyone like that.  But still many times over the the past four years I wondered why out of all the houses in a city of 100,000 we would end up right beside (we're talking our windows are a mere 20 feet from each other) a man that hated children and anyone who believed in God.  (Remember in this culture having four children is a HUGE family!)  So that's the background of our relationship.. this is why James was surprised when the mother Olga asked James to pray at the funeral.  We kept thinking to ourselves how is Zhenya going to handle prayer at his son's funeral?? 

Well the day before the funeral we found out Zhenya had refused to have any mention of God, prayer or anything at the funeral.    Olga did say that he agreed to her request to allow Ksenya (our ministry partner) to pass out a tract with lots of Bible verses in it.. she said that all last week she kept finding Dima reading that tract over and over again.. it was the last thing she saw him read before his death. 

Friday morning came and about 90 young people gathered outside Dima's house.  They went inside in small groups to have a viewing of the body.  Then they carried the body outside on the street and all the neighbors and other friends gathered.  What stuck me as so sad was that nothing was said, nothing was read... nothing.  No one talked as eight friends carried the coffin down the street with everyone walking behind.    I came home then and wept; I realized that grief with no hope is overwhelming.  

Late that night James returned and said a total miracle had taken place.  After the burial everyone went to a restaurant to have a meal and part of the tradition is to give toasts with vodka and a small speech.  He said Ksenya got up to the microphone with Bible in hand and told about the night before Dima's death and how they had talked about God, purpose in life, forgiveness of sin etc.  James said she then gave a very powerful, clear presentation of the entire plan of salvation.  She talked about the only hope we can have is that Dima may have turned to Jesus for forgiveness before his death.  That we can not have hope in religious traditions or our own good works but only in Jesus.  At the end she passed out the tract Dima had been reading to everyone present.. even Zhenya the Father.   James said after five solid hours of just heart-wrenching mourning..  the truth was finally clearly told and hope was given.  James was afraid Zhenya would be upset, but instead he very sincerely thanked Ksenya and James for coming and sharing.  

Please continue to be in prayer as I know the next few weeks will be so difficult.  I know that it was only the prayers of so many that allowed the truth to be shared at Dima's funeral.   I keep thinking of Jim Elliot's quote  'Father, make of me a crisis man.  Make of me a fork, so that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.'   This has been such a tragedy for so many, and yet it may be the only thing in their lives that will make them stop and think about their soul and eternity.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Prayer Request

Our hearts are very, very sad right now and wanted to ask you to pray for our next door neighbors Olga and Zhenya.   Yesterday afternoon their 24 year old son Dima took his own life.   His Mother Olga ran out into the street yelling for help and Andrei (our ministry partner) and another Christian young man at the Youth Center ran over and ended up taking care of the body and being with her the rest of the afternoon.  

James had just talked to Dima the night before.  Our fellow worker Ksenya had sat on a park bench the night before until after midnight talking about the Bible, God, does God exist, purpose in life.   It hurts to remember all the times I would walk down the road with the kids and always stop and talk with Dima... he was a great young man that always had a smile on his face and a cheerful hello.   It's also hard to think about all the times I invited him to a Bible study or to summer camp... but he never had time... he was never interested.  His girlfriend had broken up with him and the note he left his parents read simply 'there is no reason to live'.  

Please pray that we will have wisdom to know how to show love to Dima's parents and Grandfather.  He was an only child, and his parent's grief is very great.  

^^I wrote the above late last night.. and then near midnight James finally came home from the youth center.  The mother Olga had come over to talk with him for a very long time.  Olga wanted to know if James could 'pray his soul out of purgatory' - which is a Russian Orthodox tradition performed at funerals.   Since Dima's death was suicide the Orthodox Priest refused to conduct the service and the family can not have the funeral inside a church.  She also asked if they could have the funeral at the Youth Center.    Please pray for James tomorrow as we have this funeral at the Youth Center.. it will be Friday afternoon our time - about 2:00am EST.  James will need much wisdom and grace.  Please pray that we will know how to show out deep sorrow and God's love to these parents and Grandfather.   Pray that they will understand that we can only find purpose in life when we have a personal relationship with our Creator, the God of the Universe.   Pray that they will see past the empty religious traditions and find Jesus waiting there with true life.   



Monday, August 17, 2009

Rachel's Baptism

First of all let me apologize for the lack of updates... our internet server went down for 21 days ~ not fun.  I will be posting more pictures and stories from camp soon.  Also pictures from sweet Caleb's 6th birthday party.  But a very joyous occasion took place yesterday ~ Rachel was baptized!  It was so special.. and yes I cried :)   As your children get older you realize more and more all the mistakes you've made and just how much grace God has poured out.   Rachel knows and loves Jesus, could we ask for anything more as parents?!  

It was very cold here last week, down in the 30's at night and let me tell you that water was freezing cold!  It reminded me of the picture our friend Nicolai had of baptizing a man in the dead of winter and they had cut out a 5 foot hole in the frozen ice... Americans and their cozy heated baptistries.  ::wink::

God gave us such a beautiful day and it was truly a celebration of God's goodness.  Here's a video clip ~ please excuse the background noise.. Rachel was the last one to be baptized and poor Johanna decided to lay down in my lap just as I was really needing to videotape.  Here's a rough translation of what James is saying:

J: Do you believe that Jesus Christ has forgiven your sins?
R: I believe

J: Do you promise to serve him with a pure conscience?
R: I promise

I baptize you my sister in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

Buried with Christ in his death, and raised to a new life.
video

Here is the group that was baptized.  From left to right:
Emelina ~ 18 year old that repented two years ago at camp
Rachel
Anya ~ repented at camp last year
Svieta ~ a lady from a small village church two hours away.  Her Pastor Andrei is standing beside James. 
Vitaly ~ 16 year old repented at camp last year
Sergei ~ Svieta's husband from Pastor Andrei's church
Genady ~ repented at camp this year.  Very interesting young man.. he just moved to Russia after living in Israel the past 6 years.  When James first met him he said 'I'm a Ukrainian Jew.. do you know what that is??  It's a person that speaks Hebrew and loves salla.'   Salla is sliced pork fat (picture a big slab of bacon but no pink part.. all white)  For some reason that struck me as very funny.  Genady had been going to a Jews for Jesus Bible study for the past 3 months in Moscow.  So neat to see God at work in his life.

After the baptism we had a wonderful picnic with hot delicious plov (rice and meat) made by a dear friend from Moldova.  Lots of homemade cookies and treats, watermelon and much fun, laughter and celebration.  
And here is just some further proof that it is impossible for us to take a decent family picture, but that's okay! :)  What a wonderful day rejoicing!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Camp Report

Yesterday we spent a wonderful day visiting James out at camp.  Johanna had been saying every night 'I WEALLY, weally want my Daddy back.'  So we all loved the chance to visit and enjoy the beauty of nature.  I may have said this before, but the camp is held in Borodino at the very lake Napoleon camped beside during the battle of 1812.  It's beautiful to say the least!
I'm always impressed at the fantastic job they do building everything from almost nothing!
Caleb ready to Conquer!  It's not easy to wear your shirt both backwards and inside out.
Impromptu singing after lunch
Okay this is the neatest story!  The man on the left is Chuck from Kansas.. he and his wife flew in Saturday to stay for two weeks.  Chuck got up early Sunday morning (jet lag and all) and decided to go for a jog... so he jogged through town and decided to stop by McDonald's for a coffee.  One small problem, he had no rubles.  So in the parking lot he sees a young man sweeping and taking out the trash.  Chuck walked up to him with a $20 bill and asked (in English) if there was any way he could exchange with him for some rubles.  The young man spoke some English and was quite shocked that an American was standing in the middle of the McDonald's parking lot.  His name was Yaraslav and he was 26 years old.  He had grown up in Uzbekistan and had moved to our city just a few years ago.  Yaraslav told Chuck he was about to get off work and could they please have breakfast together.  They ended up talking for a very long time and Chuck invited him out to camp.   He was able to change his work schedule and spent two days out at camp with Chuck and his wife Kim.   Yaraslav was so very interested in the Bible and learning about God.  I just love how God uses the ordinary things in our lives to bring us into contact with people.
The kids just LOVED being out at camp.  Here they are enjoying yummy fish soup.  And when they make fish soup here, they use the whole fish... for some reason some of the Americans were a bit distraught with the floating fish heads ;)
There is nothing better than getting dirty
Megan from Borger ~ what an awesome help!  
Rachel ready to play capture the flag
Robert, Caleb & Megan ~ hardcore campers
The victorious team
Here's another view of the dining table, kitchen and the start of the tent area

Please continue praying for safety and the weather.  They had a huge thunderstorm with lots of thunder and lightning last night, but during the day the weather has been beautiful.   Most of all pray that God would work in these young lives.  The camp ends Thursday and then the English camp starts on Saturday.  

Monday, July 06, 2009

Please be praying..

We are in desperate need of a miracle concerning the weather.  It has rained solid for a week and been very cold (37 at night~ brrrr! and highs in the 50's)  Camp was supposed to start tomorrow, but several parents have asked us to move it back a day as supposedly tomorrow will get warmer.   The sun broke through the clouds an hour ago and the kids went running around the house screaming 'the SUN, I see the SUN!!'    James has tried to set up and build the kitchen area at camp.. but it's a bit difficult in a foot of mud.  Please pray for NO MORE RAIN!    
The group from American arrived safe and sound and have been a huge blessing.  Megan from the TX panhandle (YEAH!! we love people from Borger!).  And Kyle, Caleb, Robert & Megan from Florida.  Pray for them as they have been walking around the city inviting youth.  They have achieved celebrity status already ~ last night as they were walking near the town square when someone yelled out "the Americans" and immediately 40 youth surrounded them to talk.  It's so neat to see... James doesn't get the same treatment when he walks around town ;)  Russia is all abuzz right now with President Obama's visit so I guess that somehow makes Americans interesting again.  Please pray for these young people to be protected and have God's wisdom and grace in their lives.

I'll try to update more later ~ we've had a crazy busy last week as I took all the kids for several days to a Christian summer camp.  Then our dog had 3 adorable puppies.  We know these camps are going to be amazing and God will change lives.  Thank you for standing with us in faith and prayer.   

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Day Camp Report

Thank you for praying for the day camp!   We were amazed as each day went great and more kids ended up coming.. we ended up having 29-37 kids each day!  The last two days it rained and was cold ~ but we had plenty of room for the younger children in our house and the older ones at the youth center.   They enjoyed the songs, games, crafts, Bible story, review games and of course snack time.   On Friday I asked David what his favorite part of the camp was.. he replied 'the chocolate choco pies'  :) hmmmm yeah.  But I think he also learned a few things.

These little souls truly touch my heart.  So many were from alcoholic families, don't even know who their father is.. just sad situations.  Yet the hope they have in Jesus who can break addictions and let people walk in freedom ~ what a chance to share that with them when they are young.
The last day we had a ceremony and gave each child a certificate, prizes, and a children's Bible.
David chasing the Bible teacher Olga during one of the games
Rachel enjoying a game of freeze tag
The younger children during craft time
The zip-line was a huge hit
I asked these brothers/sister if I could take their picture together.. afterward she was so thrilled and said 'I've NEVER had my picture taken before!!!!'
Ice cream break!!
Singing
Johanna and her new friend Vika ~ they were hilarious together... Johanna would talk.talk.talk non-stop to her in English, and Vika would just stare wide eyed and smile back!  
HOORAY  for a wonderful day camp!  Today we ended up having 12 kids show up for Sunday School.  We had been trying to have a children's bible story right before our regular Bible study.. but the only kids that ever showed up were our 4.  So we were thrilled that so many came today, and hope they continue to come throughout the summer.

One neat story ~ down the street there is a family that sells fresh eggs.  I knew they had a little boy and invited him to come to camp, but the parents did not seem interested.  Friday evening I walked over to buy eggs and when I handed the Father the money he just said 'oh no I want to give you these eggs, my son has had a wonderful time at your house this week, thank you so much.  Vlad told us all about the stories and everything you taught him.'  Isn't that the best?!?!  We're rejoicing!   And just three more weeks until the team arrives from the States to do the summer tent camps ~ so don't stop praying for us! 

Monday, June 01, 2009

Day Camp

Today we had the start of the first ever Day Camp held at our home!!  We were SO EXCITED to have 29 children show up!    We were expecting no more than a dozen children as parents are very leery of letting their children attend anything associated with the Bible.   Oh me of little faith  :)  Please continue to pray as this entails quite a bit of work, and it will continue every day through Friday.  It's between 1:00pm - 5:00pm so it's a super opportunity to invest in these young lives.   James, Olga and Ksenya did a fantastic job ~ pray for them to continue to have wisdom in teaching.
Olga did such a great job with the games!
Snack time ~ sausage & cucumber sandwiches.. the Russian equivalent of pb & j

a sweaty Caleb listening intently to his Bible story teacher
Rachel's group having their Bible lesson
Johanna LOVED it and made a sweet new friend named Vika.  

In other news we had a fantastic Pastor from Tajikistan visit us over the weekend.  He was scheduled to speak at a church in Moscow on Sunday morning.. so he said 'gather your youth and I'll share with them Saturday night.'  James said he was the most powerful speaker he had ever heard in Russia.  The meeting started at 8:00pm and went to 4:30am!!   I'll confess James came home at 2:30am :)   He shared his personal testimony of being saved in prison and then also many amazing stories of Christians suffering for their faith in Tajikistan.    I can't tell you how neat it is to see these young people who a year ago were getting drunk every Saturday night and now want to stay up listening to a man talk about God!  Hooray for changed lives!!  

In personal news.. our last day of school was Friday and we had an enormous celebration with large quantities of ice cream and chocolate.   The kids are doing great and love to spend ever waking moment outside riding bikes or laying in the grass staring at bugs (David can do this for literally hours.. it cracks me up).  Thank you for your continued prayers for our family!

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