Friday, December 19, 2014


Merry Christmas from Siberia!

We don't know about you, but this is our absolute favorite time of year! Over the years, we've tried to keep some of our family traditions and have kept it a day to remember our Savior leaving perfection to dwell with us on earth! It has opened opportunities to share with folks the true importance of the day for many around the world. There aren't really any huge traditions here like you see in the States; however, there is "Father Frost", decorated trees, gifts, and LOTS of food at midnight on New Years. Did we mention lots of food at midnight and the children dress in costumes for the evening as well. (Sort of a halloween/madisgras feel.) Christmas is observed on the 7th of January with very little 'celebration' - just another day off from work and school.

Speaking of celebrations: the first Deaf Church in Siberia celebrated 20 years! We had the honor of receiving an invitation to the festivities earlier this month. It was difficult for us to imagine it has been 20 years for them and that we began working with this fellowship when we arrived in 1997! Going back all those years through pictures, stories, and songs; we watched the incredible journey a small group of nationals and foreign workers had begun all those years ago. This deaf fellowship is also the first in all of Russia to have a deaf pastor. Because they also have hearing folks in attendance, there is a hearing pastor as well. Since their beginning, these devoted folks have been the driving force in building and running children’s and church camps, as well as conferences on Lake Baikal. They have been a great influence not only in their community, but also for the deaf across Russia. . We are eager to see where the next 20 years will take this fellowship, as they are ‘sending out’ workers to reach the deaf in other areas of Siberia.

Pastor Zhenia and part of his family...

The three pastors with one of the elders.
Pastor Zhenia is the only 'hearing' leader pictured.

The original men 'singing', "Our God is an Awesome God".
This was one of the first songs learned during a summer camp.

We mentioned under the first picture that only a portion of his family was present. This past year, he and his wife took in four boys as foster parents. (They already have six children of their own.) Needless to say, they have a full house  - five of them are under the age of three! This family is  a wonderful example of HIS love for the little ones who are less fortunate! 

Patiently waiting for lunch - they were called to the table,
and within a few minutes, climbed into their seats and
waited for lunch!

“Your daughter will probably not live through the night”… Anya’s mother was given this news in November of 2013 by a team of doctors in the city of Ulan Ude; a year later, this beautiful young girl is a walking miracle! She was eight months pregnant and was to register her marriage with the county judge when she became seriously ill. The doctors here in the village thought it were just the flu and sent her home. Within hours, she was in the city hospital; 48 hours later, she was in a comma. Days later, her heart stopped for about two minutes so the decision was made to take her baby by cesarean. Anya worsened over the next week and the doctors had all but given up. Although many of us had been praying for her recovery, the pastor and an elder drove to the city to pray with Anya’s mom and asked to go into Anya’s room. (This is not usually allowed.) After their prayers, she came out of her coma and was back home within a month! It has been a long road to recovery; she was paralyzed on one side of her body and could barely speak at one point. Today, she still has some issues with walking and with one arm. However, she is definitely a walking miracle. The bigger news – she decided to follow her Savior and has been meeting with us to study His Word. Please remember Anya, her son, and the relationship with her son’s father and family.

Anya and Laura spending time together.
WOW project takes on a new look for the winter! You may be familiar with an ongoing project we call WOW - Windows of Warmth. In short, we install new windows for widows, single moms, or those in desperate need. This is all done free of charge because of your donations! This year we thought - why not take this project into the winter months - let's just rename it, "Wood of Warmth". There are always folks in need of fire wood for the winter months, this year will be no exception. There are many in dire need of wood and either no means to gather enough or to pay for the wood needed to keep warm through -40 degree temperatures. We have gone to the local Social Services office and joined with them in helping five families in the most of desperate situations. Our desire is to add MANY more to this list over the next months. At this time, we are able to buy a two month supply of wood for approx. $50.00. If you are interested in helping with this project, send us an email at, we'll be glad to give you all pertinent information.
These men are cutting wood for a family in
our village. The husband has been in the city
for the past two months with a back injury, 
leaving his wife and three children without
an income. They were extremely grateful for
the wood and having it cut and stacked!


We pray your Christmas is filled with the love of our Savior! Have a blessed and Joyous Christmas!
  For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.    
       Isaiah 9:6
 Merry Christmas!  
 Kevin & Laura

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WOW (Windows of Warmth) Update

I can't afford new windows...

Why would anyone want to help me?

I don't understand why people would help someone they do not know.

There must be a catch.

This is amazing I could never have afforded new windows.

These are just some of the responses we get when we talk to people as we are doing our WOW projects.

First of all,  we want to say thank you to so many that have given to this project over the years. During the past two months we were able to do three window projects.  It has opened many doors for us to share His love.  We will let the pictures tell the story for two os these projects....

Getting ready to take out the old window

Kitchen window from the outside

New Kitchen window...
Bedroom window
We replaced two windows at this home, where a single mom lives with her two children...thank you for helping us bless them with a very tangible reminder of His love.

The window on the right is to the kitchen...

Doug helping to measure the window sill...

repairs underway...notice above the window on the right, there is no electricity coming into this home

This project was for a man with severe arthritis in his legs...he was very grateful for the help with the new windows.  One of his windows was just a single pane of glass.

This will be a warmer winter for the folks we have been able to help.  As the winter is now coming on pretty strong (nights are now -10F), we are reaching a time of year when it is too cold to install windows.  We would still like to do projects to help people stay warm this winter...for that reason we would like to expand our WOW project to now include wood for needy people in our area.  Please lift up this need so we can be a blessing to many this winter with wood, and to many more when the weather gets warmer with new windows.

THANK YOU again for the many who have made WOW such a huge success over the years! This is an amazing, yet simple way to help show His love.

Kevin & Laura

Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. ~Victor Hugo

Friday, October 17, 2014

October??!! Where Did September Go??!!!

As you can see, this has become a common remark in our home over the past months; of course the name of the month has changed as well :) We find time NEVER stops and the days turn into months in the blink of an eye! In any case, Fall has come and gone and we had our first snow the other day. Of course it was beautiful, lasted about an hour, then within 30 minutes was gone! Grab your coffee and a comfy chair....we have some catching up to do!

September first in Russia is the first day of school. This day is a HUGE celebration where ALL the kids, with their relatives, meet in  front of their school dressed in their very best – the boys in their suits and the girls in their new dresses as well as big bows called ‘bantiks’ worn in their hair. The first graders are brought to the center of the crowd and introduced to the entire school. There are songs, poems, and words of encouragement given to the students by the principal. 
First graders presented to the school and community.
This year we attended the celebration at the ‘First School’, which is located behind our home. (There is another school here named ‘School # 2,’ on the other side of the village.) Before all the students were dismissed to their classrooms, one boy from the senior class carries a girl from first grade on his shoulders – the first grader rings a bell as they walk around the other students. This signifies the ‘first bell’ or start of the new school year.  Oh…did we mention the flowers…LOTS of flowers!! There are flowers for the teachers, for the students, and for the parents as well. In the villages and smaller areas where people have gardens, the children bring flowers they picked themselves; others buy them for a fairly hefty price! 

Laura and Natasha

Brother holding flowers...girls with their bows or 'bantiks'.

During the middle of September, We decided the leaves were changing enough to warrant a ride northward...there's a couple of large lakes there and beautiful forests along the way! The ride was  beautiful even though most of the trees were just shades of yellow, no oranges or reds here. (Apparently birch trees just turn shades of yellow.) It was a fun day, just the same, and the first time for Laura to see the lakes that everyone talks about!
Water tanker filling up from the lake.

Road about 40 miles north of our village.
Hopefully, you can see the hay stacked above the fence line.

On our return home, we passed a "place of worship" the Buddhists  have along many of our roads. This particular place had a table for folks to sit and drink or eat at as well as the prayer cloths on poles. The statue behind the poles has a swan on the top, significant for this area, where people can lay money, cigarettes, or sprinkle vodka to appease the gods. In the distance on the side of the hill, is a small 'datsun' or temple with prayer wheels surrounding. We decided not to drive up the hill but took a picture of the barrel filled with empty vodka bottles near the table. There is a stronghold here that is growing each year as Buddhism is now recognized as a religion in Russia.

Orthodox cross...not far from the Buddhist place of worship.
 This time each year, we celebrate the harvest we are abundantly given. This year was no exception....With the arrival of our cold weather and all the vegetables picked, stored or canned; we began the month of October with the fellowship’s annual harvest celebration. Although folks here will tell you this was not an extraordinarily good year for crops; our folks felt very blessed with the results from their gardens and the food that will help sustain them through the coming winter months. (We are beginning to feel the results of the food sanctions placed against the country and are grateful we took the time and work to have a small garden this year! )We began our harvest celebration with prayer and communion, then a time of praise and sharing from His Word. Our ladies then prepared a feast using vegetables from everyone’s gardens plus some meat from the market. We may be small in numbers, but we saw a tremendous desire to share with others what was so graciously given to them! Our tables were filled to capacity! Afterwards, we enjoyed a time of sharing poems, special verses, and our annual contest to see who grew the largest carrots, beets, potatoes, pumpkins, onions… (we won for the largest carrot, a little over a pound in weight) Well you get the picture.... It was a great way to end an awesome day of fellowship!
Preparing for communion.

This year's harvest!!

Everything is ready........

One of the younger boys prays for our meal...

Let's eat!!!!

Relaxing after the meal in song........

Some of our ladies enjoying time together..

And now for the biggest vegetables grown competition....

Our carrot weighed over 1 pound and was over 12 inches long!

One grandmother won the largest pumpkin, onions, tomato, & beet!
There is more we could share this week, however, we believe it would be information overload! We may just have to write another update in a week! Please remember the folks here in prayer; breaking away from 'religion' to turn to a 'relationship' with a living God is not comfortable. There are so many folks who don't know the difference. We are immensely grateful for ALL who stand with us in so many ways; you truly bless us and the folks here as well. 

Blessings Dear Friends,
   Kevin & Laura

Monday, August 25, 2014

The End of Summer - August

WHEW...Where did the last month go??? It's just not possible that this is the end of August already! That means only one thing's time to bring in hay for the animals and buy wood to heat homes for the winter, AND just beginning to harvest some of the vegetables everyone has worked so hard to grow during our short summer months! This past month was also filled with unexpected guests; five different times to be exact, however, several of these visits turned into huge blessings for the community. During this past month, the fellowship also received an awesome gift that we pray will be used wisely in the coming years. Lastly, this past month saw our fellowship grow in numbers. There are LOTS of pictures this month, so find a comfortable seat, relax and enjoy...

                               This was the 9th of July in our small greenhouse....

This was the beginning of August...tomatoes on the left,
peppers on the right, and cucumbers in the back!
Potatoes...hopefully another month before harvest!

The rest of our garden.
As we mentioned above, there were some unexpected guests over the last month. Apparently, there was a huge push to send groups from S. Korean churches this summer to areas around the world. Our area was on their list and to our surprise, groups would just show up at our door looking for a place to rest before heading out into surrounding villages. However, there were two larger groups that stayed for several days and blessed the community with some great programs. One such group was 16 ladies that wanted to give free haircuts, manicures, massages, and mini- portraits to anyone they met on the street. There was a good turnout and folks stayed around to just talk and hear the Good News from some very enthusiastic ladies! (Did we mention they didn't have a translator, spoke very little Russian and no English? They had things written down and used a lot of pointing and 'sign language'.)
Facials with masks and massages  :)

Manicures and hearing the Good News

The ladies sang "Jesus Loves Me" in Korean and Russian.
The next large group, 17 students, showed up with a tremendous children's program. Unfortunately for them, we didn't know they were coming until a few hours before their arrival - we could have advertised in the local paper and done some great advance preparations...however, this group was amazing and went door to door with balloons and lots of enthusiasm. An hour later, there were over 30 kids ready to hear songs, skits, play games and do crafts for the next two days! What a blessing for these kids, our neighborhood, and our fellowship as well - they saw firsthand how to meet and work with local children.  We hope this will open doors to meet the parents as well!

Children's program on the final day.
One of many puppet presentations...

Games where everyone could get at least one prize!

New songs with lots of motions to make it interesting!

Craft time...making crowns.

When we wrote our last update, we were in the process of purchasing a van specifically to be used for the fellowship. A gentleman in the US felt the need should be met and donated enough cash for us to purchase a used van from Korea. Even though it had been used here in Russia for quite a few years, it was well cared for and should give us many more miles and years of service. The person will remain nameless so many THANKS from the folks here!

Last but certainly not the least of our news...we added another member to our 'family' last week as we celebrated a time of fellowship and a baptism. The guys were very grateful for the warm weather as it was in the 80's that day; the 'creek'  on the other hand was NOT so warm. It's spring-fed and never gets above 50F. (Kevin said it felt a lot colder than that...not much more than 40F!!) The kids didn't seem to mind, they jumped in later that day and immediately jumped out!! They just had to get in one more swim before summer is over.

Very proud Mom and daughter.

Preparing lunch .....

Time of singing together...

Playing games ....egg toss (1st time for all the kids)

dunking for apples (they had never heard of this game)

One of our youth group kids goofing around with Kevin.
Thank you for taking the time to read our update and most of all THANK YOU for the continued sacrifice of prayers! We'll 'see' you next month with many more pictures and news from Siberia!
  Kevin & Laura

"Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?"   Corrie Ten Boom