What is a teacher without any students? Well, at least without the two boys of the SEND family that we currently serve because they left for 3 weeks? Idle? –not quite—although our primary focus is to work with the SEND missionary families teaching their children, our hearts and hands are ready to serve wherever the Lord can use us. October filled with other teaching opportunities, as well as a chance to help out a teammate with remodeling, a chance to host a young friend from Tambov, Russia, and a third trip to Baikal.
Several other missionary families serve here in Ulan-Ude who are not with SEND international. Art and I offer our educational services and resources as time and schedules permit. After our regular school day ends, Cristina and her mom come over once a week for some math with Mr. Art and twice a week for English with Mrs. Lisa. Lately, I have been going to their house on the 2nd day so that Cristina’s little brother can listen, too, and sometimes even participate in our lessons.
Since our school hours were temporarily unoccupied, we could teach a couple of homeschooled high school missionary teens a concentrated module of Biology, literature, and creative writing. Their mom and I sat down and evaluated what areas they have completed or not completed that could be recorded on a transcript towards graduation and whatever future studies they might pursue. She was also preparing to leave for the U.S. to be with an older daughter during the birth of a grandchild and needed to do some alterations on her wardrobe. Thanks to the loan of a machine from another missionary and previous experience working for a dry cleaner company doing alterations, we were able to get her fixed up. It is encouraging to observe these moments confirming that the Lord has prepared us in so many aspects for the roles He is using us in now.
Midway through October, a young friend whom we met while working in Tambov, Russia last summer arrived for a short visit. Geoffrey is from Africa and studying in the Russian University. He and another SEND teammate came to explore this side of Russia which is quite different from the west side. They were able to see important spots around the city, visit a Buddhist temple, fellowship with believers here, and taste fine Mongolian (Buryats are descendants of neighboring Mongolia) cuisine at a local restaurant. Of course, it would not have been a real visit if we had not taken them to our greatest landmark, greater than the largest Lenin head— Lake Baikal. Alexandra D., Art’s language teacher whom we consider our friend, afforded us the opportunity.
Graciously, she had invited Art and I earlier in September, right after school had started, to stay the weekend at her newly built home—a cabin of sorts—near Baikal. The Lord gave us awesome weather to experience real fall colors and a beautiful opportunity to share Him through His creation. It was also an enjoyable, concentrated, Russian lesson. She introduced us to her neighbors. Art and she read and talked through the prodigal son parable while sitting outside on a log overlooking Baikal. As we were walking around the village discussing different structures and trees, we had opportunity to talk about many spiritual things. Continue to pray for spiritual awakening and a personal relationship with Christ. We told her about Geoffrey and she granted us permission to return to the cabin for an overnight stay. That made the third time in two months that Art and I traveled to enjoy beautiful Baikal!
Geoffrey and our teammate wanted to make their trip most memorable by not just seeing Baikal but experiencing it first—FOOT. Thankfully, the Lord was again providing perfect, mild weather so late in the season that although frigid, the lake and air temperatures were not freezing.
Maybe you can tell by the pictures that Geoffrey is gifted physically. When Valerie asked Art to help put drywall up on the ceilings in their new home, Art agreed and took Geoff. Along with a couple of other young guys they were able to hang 11 sheets and trimmings in one day. We were sad to say good-bye to Geoffrey who assured us he had a great time and promises to try and return. We are praying that the Lord will continue to lead this special young man as he finishes university and looks to his future.
We enjoyed the change of pace while our students were traveling but missed our “boys” and were looking forward to once again the routine of teaching them.