Recently we had a “cold day,” not just like every day in winter in Siberia, but because it was cold enough that we canceled school. When the temperature dropped to a mere -35°C (-31°F), it seemed like the right decision. We do have a limit when waiting for the bus, which arrives sometimes irregularly in cold weather. So we enjoyed a little time inside and tried to catch up with those that follow our ministry.
Last Sunday was also a true Siberian winter day with thickly frosted windows and negative temperatures. It was not only freezing outside, but also inside our church because the boiler heating system was not keeping up. I imagine in America we would have stayed home or canceled church, but not here as members huddled, retaining their coats or wrapped in shawls. This is not unusual nor is it a regular occurrence. The message was from Psalms 107:22-31 and Matthew 14:22-33 about the storms sailors face and the storms in life we all face yet turning to the one who controls even the wind and sea. Midway through the message in staggered a bedraggled man. Was he a homeless man seeking warmth? Protection from life’s storms? At the end of the sermon, one of the men who lives in the drug/alcohol rehab center came forward to repent. And then, the late comer went forward expressing his desire to pray – “Lord save me.” Maybe some in the congregation watched with uncertainty as he prayed yet joined him with their prayers over a soul coming before the Creator. That moment warmed hearts and souls to the one Who, not only calms storms, but can calm hearts and guides them to Himself and His haven. I later learned he was homeless and had been invited a couple of weeks earlier by a lady from our church as she walked to church from the bus stop. She talked with him after the service that day, and he expressed his desire to seek help at the rehab center. Please pray for this man and for the lady who shared with him as she continues to share the warm love of our Creator, Christ Jesus in this physically and spiritually cold place.
As you know our main purpose in being in Russia is to encourage the families on our team with school-aged children. Recently, the Gustafson family posted this paragraph on their blog. We pass it on to demonstrate how our role as teachers empowers them for their ministry.
We’ve had a full fall. Some of the extra things beyond our normal ministry roles have been in the realm of schooling for the kids. It began with homeschooling Anneka. It was sweet to get this extra time with her and to watch her learn and grow. Ella started kindergarten 5 days a week and has been thriving there. She is a happy little girl and is very social and likes to be with her classmates. We switched Ike to a new preschool that is more suited for his linguistic needs, and already we see a difference in his Russian speaking and comprehension. Anneka has been a part of a theatre program and is kept very busy! This holiday season she has practices every day and will be in six performances. While this was beyond what we anticipated, she is learning through it to draw her strength from God and is watching Him answer (like in miraculously helping her to learn all of her lines in a day!) In regular school, her teachers have returned from America, and she really loves being a part of the one-room school house. Her teachers are excellent and help to free us up in ministry.
We truly pray and work to help these students feel loved and labor to give them the best education we can offer. It is a calling God has given us; it is also a great blessing to watch Him do great things through us.
Stay tuned in we will need a couple of more blogs to caught up with January events so more coming soon even in February.