Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 2015

Spring in Siberia.... means very high winds, cold nights, and sometimes warm days...sometimes. You just have to remember that spring will arrive and in the blink of an eye, the trees will bud and blossom, grass will turn green, and the first flowers of the year will bloom! (We're still waiting) As Laura began writing this update, a forest fire started outside of our town. You could the smoke for miles! There was concern at one point it would come too close because of high winds. Many prayers were raised, the wind changed direction, rain fell - all was well by the end of the day!

Where do you celebrate your birthday? Most people have a meal with friends or their spouse; some go on a weekend getaway to relax. We like to do things a bit differently....not certain if this is a plus but we often have conferences somewhere in the world around the same time Laura's birthday rolls around. That was just the case this year...Moscow in March! We had a day on each end of our time there to just meet with folks or see something we hadn't seen before. We will admit, we never visited St. Basil's Cathedral when we lived in Moscow. (Honestly,we never wanted to pay the tourist price...now the price is all the same.) We also visited Catherine II's summer palace with some friends before heading back to Ulan Ude. Our conference?...very informative and as always it was wonderful re-connecting with folks we haven't seen in several years from across Russia. All in all, a great birthday!!
St. Basil's Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow.

                                   The following are pictures from inside the cathedral......

for sure worth the money to see this amazing Church...

Summer Palace of Catherine II of Russia.......

The Amber Room...AMAZING!

The beginning of this month brought much warmer weather, (although it doesn't appear so in the pictures); our warmer weather allows the fellowship to have 'work days'. Always necessary after a long winter so that we can rake the property, collect garbage that blows everywhere, and start preparations for summer and winter. (more wood) Everyone got involved this year, even our little ones, making the building and outside on the property ready for Palm and Easter Sundays.

Cleaning the new property

Notice the Green House on the right...well with high winds...UGH...
it got blown over, total loss...

Just might not have a greenhouse this year??!!

Even the younger ones helped!

A meal was cooked for all the workers.
Getting started for the coming winter with the needed firewood.

Our celebration this year was filled with folks sharing favorite verses, poems they had written, and the youth decided to present a skit sharing the Gospel. They did an incredible job and included everyone that wanted to be a part of the skit. Even Max played a part and was able to 'say' his lines with just a little help! Their message was clear...Jesus died on a cross, He rose like he said He would! HE IS RISEN!!  Invitations had also been given to friends and neighbors which resulted in almost 60 in attendance! Anyone who has ever visited our fellowship will attest to the love and acceptance when they walk through the doors. Come as you are and allow Jesus to change your life! 

A dance of praise for the risen King!

A grandmother encourages her grandaughter to share a verse. 

Very  clear message on Easter...

Awesome to see a full sanctuary! 

Summer is just around the corner, which means lots of work to do outside. Please pray for opportunities to meet folks and 'lend a hand' to those in need. Remember the folks here as prices continue to rise and salaries do not. The average monthly salary was approximately $200; now that has become $120 - 150 per month. Although Russians are true survivors, they still need a savior! As the fellowship grows; we are encouraged with the growth in numbers and a sincere desire to grow in their knowledge of Him! Keep them in prayer.

Blessings,  Kevin & Laura

"God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them."    C.S. Lewis

Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 2015

It must be Spring in Siberia! At least it is getting warmer...we've been above freezing for over a week now, (only during the daytime); AND Kevin made his first ice-coffee of the year today, so it MUST be Spring! We're pretty much ready for the warmer weather and being able to work outside without three layers of clothing plus coats. The more important news; we are very grateful for your faithful prayers because they're being answered! Although we are still hoping for more men; recently we have seen a small increase in the fellowship. These men have been a huge blessing in so many practical ways as well as growing in their knowledge and understanding of the Lord. Keep praying!

WOW update.... for those of you who might be new, WOW originally stood for 'Windows of Warmth'. However, we realized that during the winter months firewood was a huge need as well, hence 'Wood of Warmth' was born. In short, we have a contract with the social services department in our village. They know of folks that are struggling to have food on their tables much less wood for their stoves to keep warm. A few months ago, we wrote about the need for firewood  and your response has been amazing. Because of your generosity, for the month of February we were able to provide about two months of firewood for 21 families! If we translate that into rubles, we spent 85,000 rubles on wood which is a little over $1300 dollars. That was just for one month; we've been able to help over 40 families since December. A HUGE thank you to all that gave sacrificially. We will be working with the same office to install windows once the temperatures are warmer.

Defender of the Fatherland …23rd of February.  Looking into the history of this holiday, we found some interesting information. Begun in 1923, this holiday was called The Day of the Red Army. Then in 1949 it was changed to Soviet Army and Navy Day. The latest change in 2002; President Putin gave the holiday it’s current name, Defender of the Fatherland. Originally, the day was meant to celebrate men serving or who had served in the military with parades and of course lots of vodka. Over the last few years, it has turned into what may be called “men’s day” or similar to our Father’s Day. Why is this so important? This year we had nine men and some boys from one of the local schools travel to a church in Ulan Ude for a conference celebrating this holiday.  As Kevin and our elders sat in the auditorium and the MC greeted everyone, it turned out that we had more people attending than any other fellowship; there were fifteen people from our village.  What an amazing time as our guys worshiped together with men from twelve other fellowships in Buryatia as well as one group that traveled in from a neighboring region. The purpose of the conference was fellowship, the Word, testimonies and sharing a meal. HIS truth is being heard and received in this part of the world. 

These men represented 12 different churches from the region.

Some of our men....

Young men leading worship for the first time!
International Woman's Day.....   8th of March
We’re not certain if this day is popular in the U.S., however, the 8th of March is an important day in Russia! Women are given gifts and/or flowers as a thank you for all they have done throughout the year. Since the fellowship has more men, this year they cooked and served our ladies a meal, presented them with flowers and a small gift, then sang some wonderful songs of praise. The women truly enjoyed the evening! Most of our ladies are widows and do not have older sons, so this was a huge treat! The men truly "served" the ladies in our fellowship in a Christ-like manner.  Did we mention the meal actually took place on the 7th? Then on the 8th of March , the women were once again treated to songs and 'tea' after the service...all-in-all, a special weekend for our ladies!

Sunday service - men and children sang for Woman's Day.

Baby Dedication…when we see more and more children being born into our fellowship, we feel it is God’s way of showing us he is not through with us yet. This past month we celebrated another baby dedication.  This mother and her daughter came into the family last year when she moved to the village from outside the Omsk region of Russia. Because of her mother and sister, she also started attending our fellowship. It wasn't long before she began attending our GKGW classes (Growing Kids God’s Way); we have seen so many positive changes in her and her lovely daughter.  

You may have noticed we have written a lot about men this month. We wanted to share one last story as to how these new men blessed our fellowship. A woman from our church lost her husband a few weeks ago. Some of her family members weren't speaking to her at the time. When someone passes here, the family does EVERYTHING! There are no funeral homes or services here that take care of the deceased. Four men from our fellowship, three of whom had never met this woman or her husband, dug the grave in -25C temperatures! This was an amazing testimony of HIS love in action to this woman's family.We are eternally grateful for your faithfulness in support for the work, emails, words of encouragement, and most importantly, your continued prayers.

Kevin & Laura

" Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion - it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ. "