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