Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Finally an update from us, sorry for the long delay in getting information out.  We have been traveling over the past month or so and fighting the worst jet lag we've ever experienced.

On the way to the states this time our flight took us through Korea. If you have never been it is worth a trip.  We only had 23 hours but were able to see Seoul and dream about another trip there...
Lunch Korean style!!!!!  SOOOOOO GOOD
Christmas market on the street...
Museum in Seoul...

Having lunch in Seoul from a street vendor....

Kevin at a large train station in Seoul

 We landed in California in November in time to spend Thanksgiving with our oldest son Joshua and family up in Ventura County. I (Laura) will apologize here because after our Thanksgiving feast with family....we realized there were NO pictures ...YIKES....just use your imaginations! :)

We finally found the "Hollywood" sign

Laura has been to PA and back since our arrival in Florida. She was able to be there for her Dad's 80th birthday! Kevin and our youngest son Corey have been super busy with veterans stuff for Corey's knee. There is so much to share and at the moment little time to share this well. We ask for your patience and promise to catch up in the next few days. We wanted to post this short video from Linus...this explains the true meaning of on this and turn up your sound...We pray you will have a VERY Merry Christmas and enjoy the Holidays!!!
   Blessings,  Kevin & Laura

Saturday, October 20, 2012

SNOW IN OCTOBER??!!!!'ve read that correctly!!  It was just a little over a week ago we had this:
Beautiful warm fall weather and leaves that had changed into these wonderful colors! THEN last Thursday, (the 11th) we woke up to this:

Of course we shouldn't be so surprised - we DO live in Siberia! It snowed most of the weekend and has been a driving nightmare with the road to the city closed for 4+days.  The folks here are actually hoping for warm weather just one more time! Not sure if that's going to happen this year. Well enough weather news - let's get to the 'real' stuff!
Harvest Sunday - some of the harvest.
    “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…”  Hebrews 12:28  For the past three years, we have taken the first Sunday of October and celebrated the harvest from our gardens and the fields. Unlike most places in the US, the folks here actually grow a majority of their food for the winter months. They cut hay for their livestock and bring in multiple loads of wood to be cut and stacked for their wood burning stoves. The word ‘harvest’ has quite a special meaning for these people. On Oct. 7th, we once again celebrated with fellowship, a message from the Word, a fantastic meal, and prizes! (It was decided that a prize should be given for the biggest vegetable grown and for creativity using food items.
These ladies won prizes for creativity!
Home made bread with harvest design.
Sandwiches made into flowers & animals.

Bouquet of flowers from dough. 

Prizes for largest vegetables!!

      Kevin was given the honor of sharing from the Word; it was a simple message of two kinds of harvest. No one could have imagined how the Father would work in that service!
When you received our last update for the blog you may remember we've been a bit discouraged lately. Along with our fellow workers, we've been lifting this area and the work in prayer knowing the enemy is not willing to give up his stronghold on this region. With people leaving instead of more coming to our little fellowship we were feeling defeated. However, our Father’s timing is always perfect and He chose Harvest Sunday to remind us of that fact. After the message, Kevin asked if anyone wanted to make a decision that would change their lives or was there anyone needing to rededicate their lives. The answer was amazing! Several came forward asking for prayer so they would be bolder in sharing their faith. Then two older ladies came forward and asked to pray  for forgiveness and to receive the free gift of salvation!!! We give thanks for answered prayers, “since we (they) are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” Now the real work begins as we study His word together!
Some of the folks that attended Harvest Sunday service.
    "...and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe..."  There is still much to be done here. In a ‘village’ of 8,000, our small fellowship averages 30 people plus children. However, we see His hand in many lives and are in awe at how He continues to use 'us' in the middle of Siberia! Please continue to remember the folks here and this region in general. We also ask that you remember Tanya and her daughter 'Jean' as they wait in Moscow for Jean to have surgery on her jaw bones. The surgery was set for the 15th of Oct. but on arrival they were told because of a shortage of anesthesiologists, they may have to wait up to a month or more. They have very little money and are fortunate that Jean has a bed at the hospital while they wait. (Her mom, Tanya, shares the bed with her - no Ronald McDonald Houses here.) Lastly, we ask you remember us as we make preparations for some time in the States. We'll arrive in LA before Thanksgiving and be in the US until the end of April 2013. We'll write more about that later.....
    THANK YOU to all who keep us encouraged and up-to-date on what's happening in your lives! Helps us to keep you in prayer as well. 
    Blessed to be serving together!
              Kevin & Laura

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 2012

Don't you just LOVE the colors of fall?!! It's as if the Creator decides each year that He's tired of the greens of summer and wants to liven things up with brilliant splashes of oranges, yellows and reds! (For the folks in Florida, you don't know what you're missing :) I (Laura) even love the smell of burning leaves and the new crispness in the morning air - strange, I know. But you must admit, it IS a beautiful time of year!

A brief update on our car.....the engine arrived without a problem and was installed within two days of it's arrival! Soooooo...we're back in business serving the fellowship with this wonderful blessing of a car.

     Almost everyday begins with a fair amount of emails. Sometime it's junk, sometimes we receive updates from friends and other works around the world and sometimes we get one that's just amazing! "We have an offer for you….will you perform our ceremony. Will you marry us?” Kevin received this email in July and I (Laura) was glad he was sitting down for fear of seeing him faint. This would be his first wedding and in Russian no less….of course he agreed; the young lady has been a dear friend of our family for almost 15 years! The wedding was beautiful and I haven't seen Kevin this nervous since our wedding day! We have watched this girl grow into a beautiful young lady who truly loves the Lord! Her husband has also grown into a Godly young man and our prayer is they will be used as a shining example of His love! What an honor to have been and continue to be a part of their lives. We know the Lord will use them in a powerful way; we pray they will be open to His calling.                   
She loves chocolate and coffee - the white 'borders'
on the floor are coffee beans!
Arriving at the church.....
Kevin addressing the congregation.
Arriving at the banquet.
Beautiful and delicious!! Made by one of the ladies from the
church in Ulan Ude. 
All dressed up...Kevin in a tie!?!

   The other day we sat down with our fellow workers and looked at how things are going here in the village. Are things progressing the way "we" think they should be going, etc. (Notice the emphasis on "we" ?!) The last few months have been difficult at best. We've seen people leave we felt were solid in their walk and little interest when simply talking to folks in everyday conversations. Sound a little discouraged? Yea...we are, but we're also very aware that we need to dig in deeper, encourage one another, and pray without ceasing! Of course the Father is so faithful; he often sends us something to remind us He's still at work....for example:
“If you hadn’t visited me in the hospital, I would have walked away from God.” Tanya stopped by the other day just to chat, have some coffee and look at pictures we’d taken at the Lake. She’s had an incredibly tough year so I try and sit with her at least once a week just to chat. You see Tanya almost lost her arm earlier this year in an accident where she worked. You may remember the story and our request for prayer. Miraculously she did not lose her arm and has movement in all the fingers. Although, her bones have been quite slow to heal, there is great progress. In any case, the best part of our conversation ..... the quote above; if we hadn't taken the time to visit. We all took turns visiting her throughout the entire month she was in the hospital and for weeks afterward as she adjusted to being in different arm casts. It seemed like so little at the time but having her stay the course was worth every minute.
            On another note, her daughter ‘Jean’, will be going to Moscow the middle of Oct. for surgery.  Jean has severe bone problems with her jaws and will have an apparatus literally screwed into her jaws for six months. Please keep them both in your prayers as they travel, for the surgeons, and for complete recovery. Jean is solid in her faith and her mom says that she’s ready to get this done and return home – putting all her trust in the Lord!
Tanya - taken two yrs. ago

"Jean" is on the right...remember her in Oct. as she
travels to Moscow and has surgery.

Turning 50 isn’t so bad… especially if there’s coffee and grilling meat by Lake Baikal! Yes, it's true, Kevin celebrated his 50th birthday in August and we wanted to share a couple of pictures. Several folks from the fellowship here in our village drove two hours to the city then another three to the Lake to share in the celebration! We love these folks!!

Kevin and Sergei 'grilling' meat or shashleek as it's called.
Shish-ko-bob for all you non-Russians.

Getting ready to eat - watermelon, salads, breads,
fresh veggies from their gardens...and 'shashleek'!!
Everyone knows that Kevin LOVES to cook and grill!!
They bought him a convection oven that can sit on
a counter top - pretty cool and works great!!
Kevin at Lake Baikal for his 50th!

The cold winds are blowing in today, the beautiful leaves are almost gone - winter is around the corner. We pray you are encouraged in some small way and will remember the people here daily! THANK YOU for the continued support as we serve together in Siberia.
     Until next month.....blessings to all!
             Kevin & Laura

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 2012

WOW...July flew by...since our last blog, we have been to  a conference in Germany, celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary, then traveled back to Russia for a 10 day youth camp on Lake Baikal. (That brought up to almost the end of July!)

Let's start with the conference...
When we arrived in Russia back in 1997, we could never have imagined the wonderful people we would have the privilege of working with for many of these 16 years! We had the most amazing conference/reunion in June and in Germany no less! It was a time to re-connect, get a bigger picture of what the Father is doing across Asia and discuss how to improve or continue doing things in our 'neck of the woods'. Instead of trying to decide which pictures to share out of the hundreds taken :), we'd like to share an amazing story about our conference site. More than 25 years ago, many groups of German Christians left Russia and the 'satellite' countries to return to their home country - Germany. The government immediately opened up a 'center' for returning folks to live at until they were able to find work, homes and begin their new lives.Over time, the need for the center ended and the relocated churches felt this property still had a purpose. Fast forward.... today this center is  used for church reunions, conferences, youth camps, etc. The word got out that a group that has been working in Russia over the last 17+ years was looking for a conference site. They immediately opened their doors and not only allowed us to use the facility (for free), they fed us four times a day and again charged us nothing! It was beyond words to meet these folks and receive such huge blessings!

We've all worked together at one time or another over the last 16 years!
Our conference center in northern Germany.

Loved the flowers on both balconies!
Fountain outside castle in Detmold

From inside the castle - a royal family still resides in 100 of the rooms!
Outdoor museum of local history - LOVED the buildings!
Kevin made a new friend while taking pictures - the mule almost ate the camera!
We decided we'd take the house....if the garden came with it.
Farmhouse/barn ....yes, the animals were basically in the same building!
The end of June is our anniversary and this year (our 27th) we thought since we'll already in Germany why not take some time and go somewhere we  haven't been yet! Next stop was Berlin....

Kevin at the Berlin Wall...this is only a portion. Artists from many
countries were asked to come and paint a section of the wall.
This was on of our favorites.
What an amazing city. It hasn't been that long since it became a unified city and the differences between east and west aren't always easy to recognize; that is unless you've lived in a former communist country where all the buildings had the same look. Germany has done an excellent job raising the standards and look of the former East side of Berlin. They've spent a ton of money to modernize the public transportation system and the results are you can travel anywhere in and around the city and out to other regions of the country with incredible ease! Well....we'll let the pictures tell the story.....
Our train from the conference to Berlin.

Inside the double-decker train

View of Berlin from the TV tower that was completed in 1969.
The Bradenburg Gate - they had a huge screen for soccer fans to watch the
One of the larger of the four castles in Berlin.
Berlin Train Station

Inside of the train station.....we've NEVER seen a five level station before!!
Trains were on four of the five levels!! Crazy to see!

When we got back into Russia, we had two days to unpack and re-pack for ten days on Lake Baikal. We had been asked to help out with translating and anything else needed for a team flying in from our home church in Florida. So it was off to the Lake along with four kids from our youth group! (For one, this was their first time ever to Lake Baikal!!) Two churches from Ulan Ude did a tremendous job putting this youth camp together and had 60+ kids in attendance.
Heading to Baikal with four kids from the youth group!
Crab Soccer...with a slightly larger than normal ball!
Three of our wonderful translators for the American team.

Laura with dear friends at our campsite...glad we brought the tent
as there was no room for us in their 'yurts' this year.

Something new this year....a 'slip-n-slide into the lake!!!
What a blast....We're sure this will be a yearly event at youth camps.

The month of July ended with the American team visiting our fellowship in the village! What a special treat for the folks to hear testimonies, share in the Word, see two life-changing skits, and of! There could never be fellowship without food and tea! THANK YOU  "Team Hawk" for taking the time to drive another three hours and spending your last couple of days in Siberia with us!

We know this is a VERY long update, but hang in there for just a few more minutes! August has started out with major car problems....driving through some huge puddles (looked like small ponds) our car we thought. After a long wait and several men checking it out....we towed it to the mechanic and learned we'd broken a timing belt. OK....of course that caused lots of other damage and we're now waiting on a new engine! Never a dull moment!  We should be good within two weeks, as we're waiting for the engine to come from Japan. (That's another story!)
    Thanks to all of you who remember us often and continually support the work! Without you, we wouldn't and couldn't be here. Please remember our folks at the fellowship....many are struggling, a few are making great changes! We give it all to HIM.

                  Serving Together,
                   Kevin & Laura