Thursday, July 28, 2011

Party for the dead....

    A dear friend and young widow came over for tea. She had also come to cut hair but Laura could tell she had something on her mind...."Friends and family are asking me why I'm not have a 'memorial party' for my husband's birthday!" (Four years ago, this girl's husband and brother had gotten into a fight while drinking and the brother stabbed her husband to death!) The culture here expects several 'memorials' actually; the first on the day of the funeral, then at 40 days after the person's death, then again a year later. These 'parties' are for a time of remembrance and most importantly...drinking. We had never heard of remembering someone on their birthdays, but apparently it's also a practice in the area and another opportunity to gather, remember, and drink. Wait...this isn't all depressing....our friend asked the question because she wanted to know what we should do as Christians. In all the years we've lived here, we don't think we've had this question before. However, it was a chance to talk about death and what we know to be true as Christians.
     Julie lives in the same building as our friend we mentioned above. We've shared a little about her in the past...her husband had been responsible for the death of their five year old son. It's been difficult at best for Julie, but she has grown so much in her understanding of the Bible and her faith is amazing. At a recent visit, she was sharing how something so horrible - losing her son - could be taken and used for something good! What is so good you ask???? Through this experience, she as well as her daughter, and mother have made decisions to follow the Lord and her younger sister is very close!! This was a family where drinking was a huge part of their lives. How amazing to see lives transformed so drastically.

Julie and friend....

     So far, this summer has been filled more with great opportunities for conversation and not so much with projects. We are truly enjoying the time of fellowship and having opportunities to sit and talk with folks who have been quite interested in who we are and why we're here. We were able to complete two small projects for the fellowship's building were a new window and a small drain field for the kitchen. (We're hoping for running water this year!) The window will allow light and fresh air in for our children's room. We have 15 or more kids attend services each week to sing songs, play games, hear stories and learn verses! This room will be a huge asset to the fellowship's meeting place.

Digging the drain field...

Our little helper Luke...he fit in the hole better than the big guys!

Preparing to cut through logs for a new window...

Next step...getting the window to fit properly.
For some reason, the camera didn't work when the window was'll just have to check in next time for the finished product!

    Going though our pictures I found the following and just had to add them to the update....Most items needed can be bought here in the village, however, the price is 20% higher. When there's an opportunity to go the city, we all pile in a truck, buy the bigger items and load the truck as much as possible. You never know what you'll be bringing back to the village.....
Feed for the animals, cement, and bikes.....still some room left!

The fellowship has lunch together once a month after Sunday services...there's always plenty of food and fellowship and the property has lots of running space for the kids......
Not close to a lake or ocean??? Make a raft anyway!!!
There's more to share....but we'll save that for next time. With humble hearts we say, "Thanks", to all who take the time to read our blog and  for the faithful support and prayers. We pray you are blessed and encouraged through these pictures and updates.
   Kevin & Laura

Talent is God-given; be thankful.
Praise is man-given; be humble.
Conceit is self-given; be careful.
                           Dave Driscoll

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Back in Russia.... JULY 2011

We're finally in Russia!
(I, Laura, must confess that I wanted to use an old Beatles' song here...but decided to let it go :0 )
  We really can not believe this is July already!!!  The month of June came and went before we could catch our breath! As you can see, we arrived into Russia on the 2nd of June. (We had an extended stay in  Mongolia because we couldn't get tickets for the train back into Russia.) After a few days  of waiting, we took the train into Ulan Ude. We were greeted by our fellow worker and good friend Doug around 9am....made a lot of stops in the city, (we buy our groceries and bigger items there because the prices are better)....then off to the village we drove....arriving home around 11pm!
   We share a garden with the family that watches our fellowship building and were pleased to see that much of the garden had been planted. (It's usually done by the first week of June.) However, Kevin had wanted to plant more vegetables than potatoes this year so we set out for the garden and filled in all available space possible to plant corn, peas, three kinds of squash, green beans, carrots, tomato plants and sunflowers for the seeds. Hopefully we'll have good weather this year with some rain.
  Not to get too comfortable with summer life; we quickly realized we had less than one week to get ready for guests arriving from the States. They would be in Siberia on the 10th! (Remember, we've been back in Russia only a few days's now around the 5th of June.) Our pastor from Sarasota and a dear friend of ours were coming to encourage and meet with leaders of the fellowships in the city and encourage the folks here in the village. After delays and a missed flight in Moscow, our guests arrived safely on the 11th....they were quickly fed and showered, then were off to speak at not one, but two different meetings and met with leaders afterwards! (All this after being up for about 48 hours!)

They were able to spend some quality time with many of the fellowship leaders in the city and the fellowship in our village.  It was an awesome time for ALL the folks here as well as a huge encouragement for our pastor and friend!

First stop in Ulan Ude......

Second stop in Ulan Ude....

Leader's meeting......end of day one!

Seminar held in Ulan Ude with many fellowships.
Seminar held in village
Day trip to Baikal to see the camp

Building a new 'mess hall' for the camps!

A new port being built on Baikal...if you look closely,
you'll see a great symbol on the fence........

Our guests left on the 21st of June and we began to settle back into life in the village. What does that look like? Meeting with folks to help settle differences correctly, discuss summer plans and projects, catching up on things that have happened the last six months, (drinking a lot of tea) helping a single mom with her two yr. old son....a drunk had grabbed him by the arms and shook him so hard it broke one arm....and so on. Our life here is never boring and through it all, we also learn so much from the Father and those around us!

On the 29th, we celebrated our 26th anniversary at home. We had hoped to have a vehicle by now, but that has become yet another story. Soooo...we bought the next best thing, especially for out here in the village...
Our transportation for gas required :)

We are thankful for:
  • safe travel on the return to Russia
  • a great time of encouragement through the seminars and meetings with our friends from the U.S.
  • our home, neighbors and friends in the village
  • ALL who so faithfully stand with us in the work here in Siberia
We ask that you remember these needs:
  • a vehicle ( we came with what we felt was enough cash and find prices have risen!)
  • wisdom as we make plans with the fellowship for growth
  • to love those around us (even the drunks)
We are getting the food ready for our 4th of July party....we pray you all enjoy your holiday as well and please remember those who give so much so that we in America can remain so free!
Kevin wanted to add this quote......Be Blessed,
   Kevin & Laura
A quote we heard not long ago...wish we knew who said it...but it is worth thinking about...
"The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"