Sunday, July 13, 2014

Celebration and Crisis in July

Yep...when we are able, we celebrate the 4th of July even in the middle of Siberia! This year we joined our fellow worker Doug and his family for an afternoon of food, hikes, and just some time to relax in the woods. We didn't have fireworks or sparklers this year, but it was fun just the same watching their kids play American football, having a pine cone war, and chasing their dogs away from the food on the grill!

"Shashlik" or kebobs on the grill!!! YUMMY

Team mate's kids and Kevin on the hike....



Doug with his kids in 'tower' they found.
My Siberian Cowboy  :)   
We (the Moms), let everyone enjoy a hike while we rested and caught up on more important things. (Actually, we were just too full to go anywhere at that point!)

The end of June, we were greeted one afternoon by a group of believers up from Mongolia. One of the gentlemen had been here before to visit his relatives. He has a huge burden to share the Truth with them and has made the long journey many times. He brought some friends this time and stopped by the church to say "hello" and have tea! (Mongolians drink tea with salt and milk...it's an acquired taste!) What a HUGE blessing to fellowship with 'family' from other cultures and countries!
Group from Mongolia.


Crisis hits our fellowship....A little over two weeks ago, one of our 'kids' was coming home from the river with his sister and some friends. When it's hot here, EVERYONE goes to the river to cool off! The road they take is well known to all from this area, so driving along this particular road is usually done with caution. This time was not one of those days. The driver had been drinking, it was four in the afternoon, and was returning home with friends. He didn't see Maxim (Maxeem) in time and hit his bike, not the boy, sending Maxim flying through the air and landing on his head. He was immediately taken to the hospital here in the village by another car that came upon the accident. After a couple of hours, the doctors here were wise enough to realize they needed someone with more experience to take a look at this boy. Within six hours after the accident, a team of doctors from the city were here deciding what would be best for Maxim. They felt he needed better care and equipment to aide in his recovery and after three days a plane was called to take Max to the city children's hospital! For most of us, this seems like 'no big deal'; for a village in Siberia, this was a HUGE deal! We are so grateful for the prayers that have been lifted for Maxim. We feel it is the reason they called for specialists and for the plane that was sent to take him to a better facility. He was in a comma for 12 days and is now awake, however, he is totally paralyzed at this point and unable to speak. There is still some swelling of the brain but he breathes on his own and recognizes voices. PLEASE continue to remember this little guy, he's only five, and pray for his family as well. (Our latest news from the doctors is that most of his brain is 'dead' and most likely there isn't much more to do....we are praying as to what we should do next, if anything more!)

Natasha and Maxim in May

Max's Grandmother and sister, Natasha, at the hospital...

Loading Maxim onto the plane from our village, first time
locals remember a plane being used for an
evacuation...PTL

Taking off for Ulan Ude....
Through all of this with Maxim, we've seen growth in the fellowship. Of course, there are lots of questions as to 'why', however, we are learning what true faith looks like and how to"5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Prov. 3:5,6   Thank you to all who pray for us and remember the folks here as well!!  

We are so very blessed!!  
   Kevin & Laura

“Faith takes God without any ifs.” ~ D.L. Moody





Friday, June 20, 2014

SIBERIAN SUMMER

YEA!  You might remember our last update showed SNOW in May; gratefully, we now have our wonderful sunny days and much warmer temperatures! (It's been in the 80's already...of course it fell back to the 60's and lower, however, we're back to a normal summer again.)
View from our window in June.
The first week of this month, we were re-united with fellow workers returning from their time of refreshing and 'recharging' stateside. They were also greeted by their older son and Grandma! (She turned 72!) We're glad to have everyone back and eager to work together once again!

 FOOD
       







                         GAMES






ALWAYS fun when you have these combinations  and of course great friends!

Story time with beautiful flannel pictures....
During our last stay in the States, we were blessed with a huge flannel graph kit to teach stories during our time with the kids on Sundays.  WOW....do they LOVE to get involved in the stories. This past week, we learned how to be 'fishers of men', as found in Matthew 4, and how to follow HIM. After our story time, we played a game where the kids could 'fish' with a magnet and get 'fish' with special verses for each of them to read. The time went so quickly, we were surprised when the parents came back to see what WE were doing, not the other way around :)



Sorry so fuzzy..Laura took this one :) 
















Сурхарбан - pronounced Surharban is a Buryat holiday that celebrates the end of winter and greets summer with food, dancing, and singing traditional songs. However the emphasis is with the contests in wrestling, archery and horseback races. These sports are extremely important to the Buryat people, so they take the competitions quite serious. We would wager to say these sports rank alongside soccer (football) in this region. Unfortunately for us, we were only able to see one of the three contests because of different locations....enjoy the pictures!


Singing Buryat traditional songs; our video did not capture the
beautiful sounds this year....

Buryat National Dances
















Wrestling is a Buryat National Sport

This gentleman was honored for serving in WWII;
he is 90 years old!



The celebration began at 10 in the morning and lasted until around 11PM when it was dark enough for some fireworks! Great way to end a beautiful summer day. We had a full moon to add to the festivities as well....


Making bread....we have talked about doing this for years; why make bread when you can buy a fresh loaf every day for around 75 cents?! This past year, we've begun to change our diet and although going gluten free in Russia is all but impossible, we've heard that sour dough bread is on the OK list. Not wanting to totally give up one of our favorite food items, we decided to give it a try....WOW...Kevin has outdone himself this time. He is already a fantastic cook, now he can add baker to his resume!


Not to be outdone by her 'Uncle Kevin', our little 'munchkin' decided to help Laura make biscuits from scratch this week. Her mom just got a job and we're helping out for a few weeks. Not bad for a seven year old!.....they were delicious!!!  None left to take a picture of.....

With summer being so short for this part of the world, the next few months will go quickly with a lot being done in a short amount of time. We pray this year's harvest will be abundant - in food and in new lives that will follow Him.
    Blessings,  Kevin & Laura

"Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it."             Blaise Pascal

Friday, May 9, 2014

Gotta love Siberia...May 1st and what did we wake up to find?  You guessed it...snow.  Well we know that it will be getting warmer as the days go on.  In fact as I am writing this it is overcast and cool outside with a high today of 67 F, then the days will get colder once again.  The nights are still pretty cool, tonight will dip to about 36 F.
The good thing was it melted pretty quickly...
Presenting a cross to Valeri in the village.  The crosses are made by the men's group from FUMC Englewood.  We were given this and have passed it on to the work here.  

The fellowship decided to hang it in the children's room...what a great place.  Thank you so much for this new addition...
The Kids were happy to see Kevin......they are all getting so big!

New addition to the park in the center of town...
Great Gazebo with benches, in the background is a new playground...
VICTORY DAY......May 9th 2014
Balloon with the Republics name.....there were lots of these...

Porridge cooked every year to remind everyone of what the soldiers ate during WWII
Notice the picture she is holding, it is of someone who served in WW II,
these were used all over Russia this year...

Natasha and Maxim get bowls....
Laura and Sveta with a bowl as well...
Students from the 2 High Schools and the local technical schools ROTC program had a part in the celebration 
Many balloons were released to honor the fallen from the war...

We always get asked to show something from our village....so here goes, this is our local water tower.  We are very grateful to have it!!!!!!


Thank you for following us as we continue working in the village....we will be more diligent with updates in the coming months....


In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we're pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker's praise without anxiety. A.W. Tozer











Friday, December 13, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2013


Greetings from (HOT) Florida!
       Well maybe it’s not really ‘hot’ but it certainly feels like summer to us! Siberian temperatures are in the -30’s right now! J January will be even colder -40’s!

      On a more serious note; we have been silent for many months and for that we apologize. This past year has been a difficult ‘season’ for our family. We were originally going to return to Russia in May, which we did, but for only a few weeks. Our last trip to Russia was in Oct/Nov, again for only a few weeks. We’ve been able to work through the issue with the help of family and friends and receiving God’s peace. Many thanks for the prayers and support – we are truly blessed!


Kevin on our trip in November
We did not see that cold of weather for November, the temperature only got to about -10 degrees F.  The temperature today Dec. 12th  is -30 F...but it will get cooler...we missed the really cold weather this time.


Laura on our trip in November, this was a new coat that her
mom got for her, it kept her VERY warm and she looked great in it!

Sveta helping Laura prepare for the ladies study
 Please continue to lift Sveta up, she is working with the youth from our fellowship and is depending on  Him for her strength.  Quote from Sveta, "I never thought it would be so difficult to work with teenagers".  It is difficult but very rewarding.
Some of the ladies that were are one of the studies Laura did in the village
Laura and Sveta at sunrise...ok so it was 9:30am...
The village we live in  is pretty far north. 




Sweet sixteen….the youngest daughter of the pastor from the church turned 16 in November.  She has been with our youth group for four years and in the past year has been a vital part in playing the piano for Sunday services. She has only one more year of school in the village, and then she will move to the city to continue her education. Our prayers are that she be a witness of the love of Christ to young girls at school and continue to be a light when she begins to attend university. 
Budtid's 16th Birthday celebration, we had a wonderful
time with them, we made homemade pozi...a traditional
Buryat dish.
Pozi a Buryat traditional dish ready to steam.


A new arrival…. In August of 2012, Kevin had the privilege of performing the wedding ceremony for a dear friend of ours. In November of this year, a son was welcomed into their family. It’s a tradition/suspicion in our part of Russia that the newborn can’t be seen or held by anyone other than grandparents for 40 days after their born.  We’re certain there may once have been a good reason, although we’ve yet to find someone that actually knows. J We were blessed to hold and spend a couple of days with the family and their new arrival; it was an honor to be a part of those first days at home. Another generation will now be raised to love the Lord and serve others with love!
Good friends Oyuna and Sasha with their son Mark (1 week old)....he is so cute!
Please remember this family, Oyuna has struggled with her health in the past.


In closing we want to share with you a huge answer to prayer. Our youngest son was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in 2011 when he was injured during pre-deployment exercises. For reasons we still don’t quite understand; he was eventually released from the Army in 2012 and came back to Florida to what he believed would be therapy or surgery to repair his damaged knee. On December 6th of this year, he was finally able to get surgery at the Veterans Hospital in Bay Pines, Florida (St. Petersburg) to repair his knee and will have his back checked as well to see what damage has been done due to walking incorrectly for almost 3 years. The answer to prayer is that the VA stepped in and quickly did their job. We have met so many other soldiers who have waited for several years just to be seen by a doctor or receive approval to get into the VA system.  We stand on His promises and know His ways are not our ways, and his timing is not our timing.  
Corey 2 days after his surgery...


May you remember the 'reason for the season' and may your Christmas be filled with love, peace, and most importantly, Christ Jesus!
             Merry Christmas
             Kevin & Laura



You will find, if you think for a moment, that the people who influence you are the people who believe in you.         Henry Drummond
   

Friday, June 7, 2013

May/June 2013 Easter in Siberia


Don't let the title of this post confuse you or think we're totally confused...some of you know that in Russia and a few other countries, a different calendar is used for holidays - especially religious ones. For example, in Russia we celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January although many churches across the country are also recognizing the 25th of December. There is also a different date for Easter; although the dates are usually a week apart, this year was an entire month. This difference gave us the opportunity to celebrate here in the US and in Russia! What a joy to share in the celebration of our risen Lord in two countries and two cultures! 
 The pastor gave a powerful message what the cross should truly mean in our lives and afterwards three people came forward wanting to know more about how to change their lives for an eternity!
Easter celebration with worship...
....and the Word!
We traveled through Korea this time and wanted to share this photo of the largest plane we've ever been on and I (Laura) believe the largest passenger plan made to date! It was WONDERFUL...one day we're going to get that first class seat/bed for these 13 hour flights! 
A380 Airbus....two complete levels...tail is 10 stories high!!!
In the US we celebrate Memorial Day each year at the end of May. In Russia they celebrate a similar day known as Victory Day to remember those lost during WWII on the 9th of May. To this day, in every city and village you will find a memorial in the center of town dedicated to those who lost their lives during that war. We've seen numbers as high as 27 million casualties of the war over the course of four + years. The cost was high in many ways and the nation takes this day to remember in songs and music from that era.
Buryat girl waiting to dance with her class.
Kevin and our little friend bring some ice cream!

WWII Memorial in the center of our village.

Banner declaring May 9th as Victory Day

Shutters and window 'decoration' found on most
village homes across the country. 
In the mid 1800's, Csar Alexander of Russia gave two families from England permission to travel to Siberia. Their goal was to reach Buryatia and translate the Bible into the Buryat language as well as teach in the local schools. They were successful on  both counts and because of the translation work several Buryats became believers in the Lord Jesus. One was named Shagdar and the gentleman seated in the picture below wearing his WWII medals in the great-great grandson of Shagdar. On the 9th of May we, along with our Pastor and fellow worker who has done a great of research on this family, visited this gentleman and his family. We had only intended to stop in and wish Morjeet Dojar well and gives thanks for his long life and service to his country. (He's 92) What we didn't know was that his family, which numbers over 70 relatives, also takes this day to celebrate as a family. We were given the honor of sitting at his table, where his oldest sons should have been, and shared a meal and stories of his life in Russia. Most of the family was there this year so it was exciting to meet so many people from one family! The family knew most of the story about their great great great grandfather, however, our hope is to spend some quality time with them and explain the true significance that early translation of the Bible means for their 'people'!
Morjeet Dojar with his 10 children.
Morjeet Dorjar with most of the grand and great grandchildren.
Morjeet Dorjar's family



Springtime always brings an abundance of opportunities. We're always looking ahead at the coming winter and know that wood, and lots of it, will be needed to keep the buildings and homes warm through those minus temperatures! This stack of small pine trees was delivered so Kevin and I plus a few of the ladies from the fellowship got to work and well...take a look...
Wood is delivered...about seven cords total. 

Kevin cutting the trees into smaller  log pieces ....

so they can be stacked....


.....and dried before winter sets in. They'll be cut as needed into
smaller pieces before thrown into the stoves.
Old pieces of fence getting stacked before being cut
into much smaller pieces.
We decided to sell our car this year after realizing that it just is NOT made for the 'roads' we have in and around the village as well as the main road we take to the city each month. It's great for in the city and was great on Japanese roads...but just isn't logical for our needs. Soooooo..we had a buyer and knew it needed a few small things done before it was sold. At least we thought it was only a small thing needed. A very long story-short; we had the repairs done and the buyer gave us permission to take the car back to the village to use until we left the county. Sounded great to us....about 20 miles outside the city we felt a huge pull, a BANG, as our bumper hit the road and miraculously Kevin was able to get the car off the road just a little! It seems the guy who worked on the car forgot to tighten a bolt that was VERY important and basically our tire tried to go right without the car...well, that's my(Laura's) explanation. The pictures show the story...



After a three hour wait on the road, a tow truck driver that came with NO tools, stopping at least six cars to see if they had what we needed, oh and did we mention while we were waiting it was so windy we thought the car was going to roll over???!!!  Eventually, we actually drove the car back to the city and the shop did all the repairs and paid for our tow truck...no charge! Our buyer took the car and we are grateful no one was hurt and all ended well!

THANK YOU for the abundant prayers you continually lift up for us and the folks we live and work with in Russia! We are privileged and blessed to be a part of this work. We also want to give thanks for the generous gifts that were made for a chainsaw (Kevin was using in the above picture), a TV for the children's program and several huge donations for windows! What a blessing and a picture of how the body of Christ works around the world!!
                  Blessings from Siberia,
                     Kevin & Laura