Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving in “First of May”

The Fourth graders!

This Thanksgiving Sophia and I made a trip to Pirvaya Mayskaya/”First of May”, Russia.
This was our second trip to visit Russian missionaries, Yuri and Ira Yefimov, and their English students.  (you can read about our first trip here.)

The Second Graders!
I admire Yuri and Ira so much.  They are both highly educated young people and could live in a city and make lots of money.  Instead, they believe God has called them to the small town (3,000 people) of Pervaya Mayskaya.  People leave this dying town.  Yura and Ira have come and made it their home.  
The glass factory has been the main source of income for the town.  It is rumored that in May the government will close it.  
Yuri and Ira are not financially supported by any missionary sending organization.  They don’t have a salary or health insurance.  There are no retirement funds in their names.  They aren’t invited to or sent to any special missions conferences in beautiful locations.  
It breaks my heart because I was a well-cared for missionary.  We begged God to raise up leaders in Russia - people ready and willing to go with His Good News into the villages.  Here we have such a couple and we Russian Baptists don’t take care of them.  There is something very very wrong.
Where we have failed, God has provided.  Yuri and Ira make the money they live on by teaching English.     

Working on a Thanksgiving word search!
Ira speaks perfect English and she shares her knowledge and skill with the children of Pervaya Mayska.  Yuri told me that every 5th student in the Public School is also Ira’s student.  She helps them with their English school work, teaches them songs and games, and is their friend.  
They meet in one room of the two room church house.  The classroom is warm and comfortable.  Yuri made a special stand for the white board.
Sophia helps to tell the story of the first Thanksgiving.
Sophia and I had prepared a special Thanksgiving lesson for all four of Ira’s classes.  We told the story of the first Thanksgiving (in what was to become the United States), we shared a little about the Pilgrims/Puritans, I read Sophia’s book “On To Plymouth Rock” and the children learned that phrase from the book, we played Thanksgiving Bingo, and worked on a word search.

The Sixth-Graders!
The children had a few things planned for us as well.  They sang songs and read poems.
But, most of all, they shared themselves and tried their hardest to speak our language.  I touched me, has it had the first time.

The Ninth-Graders!
I am thankful for many things this Thanksgiving.  I’m thankful for this special holiday that reminds us and teaches our children to be grateful.  
I thank God for Yuri and Ira!  How grateful I am for their service in God’s Kingdom.  Please join me in praying for them and the students of Pervaya Mayskaya.  May God bless them with everything they need . . . and more!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

While It Was Going Up

Our Russian village house looked like this . . . 

Just a piece of land in the middle of a field.

The foundation was dug.

Igor, our builder, was up to his knees in cement as the foundation was poured.

Anton and Igor inspected what will be the cellar.

Anton guarded through the night our first huge shipment of wood.

The framing began.

“Hey, Look!  It’s a house!”

It was covered up.

And painted with a special black protective paint.

And, it sat like this all winter . . . 
protected for only one year . . . 
Stayed tuned . . . next post . . . 
“How God Covered Our House”

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Story of Our House, Part Four - “The Builders”

Let’s continue the amazing story . . . and remember all God’s goodness . . . 
If you haven’t read the first three parts, I highly recommend you go back and catch up before reading on.
So, where did we leave off?  Ah, yes, we were just welcomed into the village “mir.”
Let me go back a bit . . . God gave us the land in December, we got all the deeds and paperwork in Feb.  Our ground was still deep in winter.  The foundation would have to wait until after the thaw, usually sometime in March.
We continued to visit The Land and take friends out to see.
Here Anton is showing our good friends, Max and Sveta.

Here are Anton and I with our snow-covered 1/2 acre behind.

Spring finally came!  
And, with it came lots of visits to our local land office for more paperwork.

Finally, our land was ready.  We began marching out our design.

And, running with abandoned joy over it all!

Anton’s parents gave us some money to get started.  
We were ready, our land was ready, but we needed help - we needed an architect and some builders.

The Building Team
Oh, this is such a big question!  
    “Who do we trust with our dream?”  
We had some good friends who were renovating a new apartment in Moscow. They had already been through 2 construction crews - both of whom had taken money and run, never to be seen or heard from again.
We had heard tale after tale of crews who didn’t show up or showed up drunk. Others told us horror stories of work done wrong or late or unsafe.
Once again, clueless ourselves, we asked the Lord to give us His people to build this house.
A good friend told us about a young woman believer, Natasha.  Natasha was in our church and was an architect.  We met with her, she listened to our ideas and began putting together our house plan.  She led us to Igor and his sons.  
The first time I met with Igor he showed me a photo of him and me, years ago, standing together in the church where he used to pastor.  He remembered me!  
This was the building team God gave us - all Brothers and Sisters.
Natasha finished the project and gave us exactly what we asked for.  
Igor and his sons came every day on time, no drinking, no stealing.  
In fact, every day they ate lunch in our house and prayed - every day our house was a place of prayer.  

Sophia and Igor’s youngest son, Illya, became great friends.  Soon, Illya started coming to our Mom’s Day Out group.
Igor and his sons finished the foundation, the frame, and the roof of our house.  How thankful we are to God for their hard, good work on our home.  The money God gave us to pay them for their work helped them to buy a bit of land, complete with an old house. They were renting but, now, they have a place of their own! 

 Here is the house Igor bought for his family.  They are working to renovate it.
How good God is!  He met our need and gave us a bonus!
God gave us His builders and He gave us the opportunity to see how He is blessing others through our house.  We thank Him for Natasha and Igor!  
Right now, as I type, Igor is hard at work again on our house.  He is covering it with the siding God gave us.  But, that is a standing stone for another day . . . 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Not Asleep - At The Wheel

Hang in there, this may be a little strange.  
Anton left at 3 am this morning for Moscow.  He stopped by his parents’ to pick them up and the three of them headed for the airport in Moscow.
I slept through it; his leaving.  I was dead tired.  
At 4am  - I woke up  . . . and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I laid there and laid there . . . wide awake.  I got up and surfed the web a little.  
After a few minutes it dawned on me, “Anton and I are on the same schedule.”
“Ha!” I thought, “I guess God is really at work making us ‘one flesh,’ our bodies are becoming sleep -tuned!”
Then, I thought, “Maybe I need to pray for Anton as he travels.”
So, that’s what I did for the next 3 hours . . . surfed and prayed, surfed and prayed . . . wide awake.
Finally, suddenly, I couldn’t hold my eyes opened one second longer and I went back to sleep.
8:30 am - I got up and got Sophia up for dance class - we have to leave by 9am.
9 am - Anton called and said they made it to the airport ok but he was having a problem with the car.
11 am -  Sophi’s dance class had just ended.  Anton called again.  He had taken the car to the service station and discovered that they had been driving all night with all 4 lug nuts on one wheel un-tightened!  
What a coincidence?!
Not for us.  
Lately, Anton and I have been praying that God would make us one - one mind and heart.  For us, this is the evidence of God’s answer.  
I can’t put a name to it.  Can barely hold it in my mind.  
Amazing . . . 
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