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 email@example.com, we'll be glad to give you all pertinent information.
For to us a child is born,
Kevin & Laura