Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 2010

Greetings Dear Friends from Siberia!
      We are so thankful for each and every one of you…..we are blessed to have such wonderful family and friends! We realized however, that you had not heard from us over the last month and wanted to get an update out before the holidays take over everything in our already busy lives! J The leaves have changed and fallen from the trees. The temperatures have begun their descent for the winter months ahead and everyone is building up the woodpiles and finishing up outdoor projects. We have been truly blessed with warm weather so far but know it can change in an hour’s time!

    We will be heading back to the States in December for a six month ‘home assignment.’ We will be flying from the East this time and will have a short stop in CA before landing in FL on the 21st of Dec. Why California???  Joshua will be graduating from Biola and we were able to work out the timing so we could join in the celebration!  At this time, we have a few commitments already scheduled but we will personally be getting touch with many of you to set up times as we come to your ‘neck of the woods!’  PLEASE don’t forget the folks and the work here though! Plans are in full swing to have a wonderful celebration in the fellowship. Historically, New Years has been the BIGGEST holiday of all. This year the group has decided to have a larger celebration for Christmas than that of New Years.  What an amazing step to show their friends and family the importance of this Holiday of Holidays…the birth of the Messiah. We see more of an emphasis on the ‘reason for the season’ this year than in the past…remember them as they will use this opportunity to share with family and friends the true importance of Christmas.  They will also have a feast together and each family will prepare something like skits, songs, verses they’ve memorized, etc…  We’re blessed to have a great group of ladies who will make new banners to help decorate the hall and fill it with other decorations and of course pine branches for that wonderful aroma of the holiday.
Something for us that has been awesome to see is that when people really become committed to the local fellowship, they want to start giving tithes and offerings. Of course that isn’t always financial giving but here’s a perfect example of giving….  A few years back a local family donated a Heifer, and… well as things go… the cow gave birth every year.  This month we will be bringing the heifer and her calf to their new barn on the property.  The cow will be supplying the local fellowship with milk for our meetings…people love milk in tea here, as well as giving us the opportunity to sell the calf in the future. By selling the meat, we can help with the costs of all the different ‘works’ and running of the building for the fellowship.  The fellowship also has a pig and should have a litter of piglets in the spring. (Yes we are in a rural setting here as you can tell.)  All will be used to further the work we are involved in!

(Completed pictures of the 'barn' will be posted very soon!)

With victories, come defeats…we fight against an enemy that knows our weaknesses. He wants us to be defeated and live a hopeless life. We have written in the past of a young man that made a decision and has grown spiritually over the past months. “Sam” struggled with alcohol before and had been sober for a year. He recently celebrated his birthday and was swept up into drinking again for several days. We have begun counseling him and his wife and continue to ask for wisdom in speaking truth and love into their lives. We know the father’s will is for so much more! Jeremiah 29:11 says;  for I know the plans I have for you, declares the lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Remember this family often as they work to regain that hope.

The visa saga continues…for those of you who have followed us and our writings for any length of time; you are very aware of the amount of time, energy, and money it takes to continually have a current visa. This allows us to live and work in Russia. We’d like to go back and give a bit of our visa history…over the years we have had several types of visa’s to stay and work here; from worker for hire visas, guest visas, cultural exchange and some others in between.  In 2008 we had to travel out of country 3 times in order to obtain new visas.  On one of our trips back, we applied for what is called a temporary residence permit.  The process for granting such a permit normally takes about 6 months (180 days). The process for applications to get a permit takes a full week of running from one government office to another…and running from one blood test to another. (You’d be surprised at what they check for)  In August of 2008 we were granted a 3 year temporary residency permit…PTL.  We saw that as a direct answer to the many times this need was lifted up on our behalf.   Let’s jump ahead to 2010…The next step after the 3 year temporary permit is what is similar to a “Green Card”.  In June of this year we applied for the new status. Again we had to go through ALL the blood tests and such.  After finally completing the process, we turned in our papers and again the officials have 6 months (180 days) to review the entire application and give the applicant a yes or no.  The first week of November we went into the office to check on the status of our application. It was amazing they not only remembered us they also knew where we lived. They were very friendly and assured us that we they would complete our paperwork and issue us the permit the first part of December.  If we are issued this type of permission to live here, we no longer need visas to travel in and out of country and the length of the permission will be 5 years…continue to lift up this need for us! 

Several months ago, we wrote you on our own financial crisis. Again we see this as a distraction to the work here.  We continue to run in the negative with our organization and as we stated earlier, we’ll be heading back to the states for several months beginning in December.  One of our tasks will be to try and raise our support level.  We again have had to cut our monthly income to not fall further behind with our organization.  This is of concern to us because the amount of funds we have to put into the work is also affected. We are asking for continued prayer and wisdom as we totally trust the one who led us here and has sustained us over the past 14+ years!

Joshua…… is now graduating from BIOLA University in Los Angeles.  Hard to believe so much time has passed and that you all have been a part of our family for so long.  His graduation is set for December 17, 2010.  Biola is an awesome school and his experience there has been incredible.  Anyone that wishes to write him a note of encouragement his address is 15270 Riviera Lane, La Mirada, CA  90638.

Corey…is currently serving his country in the US Army and he’s stationed in Ft. Carson, CO.  I know he would appreciate your prayers and word of encouragement. Unfortunately, as of this writing, we don’t have his mailing address. He has been moved twice already and will move one more time before getting settled on base. We will be certain to get his address out as soon as we have one!

Giving Thanks in ALL things!
        Kevin & Laura

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oct/Nov 2010...

                                                View of our village from a nearby mountain.

                                                        Outside our bedroom window.

Winter is here, not that we have a lot of snow...actually,we don't any right now... but we know it is coming. We have been extremely blessed this year with a very warm October! A couple of snow flurries here and there and some very windy and cold nights. For the most part...the nights are just below freezing and the days in the 30's and 40's! This month has flown by and we can't believe that November is only a few days away!

Flying in country can at times be...exciting at best....this last trip was one of those. ( We want to add here that not ALL in-country airlines are old, outdated, or poorly run. There are many that are up-to-date and quite nice.)
Earlier this month, we were able to fly over a 1000 miles north of here to the city of Yakutsk. The above picture isn't the plane we flew but the same type and the weather was like this when we landed in Yakutsk. We were supposed to fly in a jet, however, they only sold 20 tickets so the smaller (and much older) plane was the solution.
The reason for the flight was to take a trip to visit a wonderful family that has labored in this vast country for the better part of 2 decades.  It was  a good time of fellowship and encouragement for us and hopefully the family we visited.