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26 December 2007

Home for the Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Indiana!

What a blessing and joy to be home with the family, and hang out with little Phoenix. His first Christmas, and I must say that it is fun for the whole gang! And I love being his aunt, as he is a cutie!

15 December 2007

Wednesday Celebrations

Saying goodbye is never easy, but I have to say that I love the all out way that we do it in Russia. The evening party lasted beyond hours, and included games, poems, songs and even some dancing! Thank you dear Paradigma for a wonderful send-off!

26 November 2007

Greece Reunion

Almira returned from her 3 month missions trip to Greece, and so we all went out to debrief and talk about when we could ship her back!

I am amazed by how affected she was by her time, as I remember when she didn't want to leave her wonderful home city of Moscow! Now she is eager and ready to jump back into serving refugees and praising the Lord!

Now it only stands to wonder where Natasha and I will end up?

Russian Chocolate

There are some places in Moscow that everyone should go to, at least once in their lives. One of those places in my opinion is the Red October Chocolate Factory. Situated in the middle of central Moscow, this pre-revolutionary building houses one of the most famous Russian chocolate factories.

So a few of us gals went to sample the chocolate and take a tour of this historical monument.

Started by a German in the 1800s, it has become one of the oldest and most famous Russian chocolates. And is rather good if I might say so myself!

It gave me a bit of a new perspective on the process of chocolate making to see all the effort involved, and the various innovations which make it possible at all!

The factory is being moved outside of the city limits, and thus the quaint building in downtown Moscow will no longer give off the yummy smells of chocolate.

Yet the tradition will continue, just not in quite such a historical place!

It might not be Swiss Toblerone, but it sure is good!

19 November 2007

Weddings and new beginnings

Dumm-dumm-da- dumm...dumm-dumm-da-dummm....
On December 9th our 'do it all gal' Nastya is getting married! I am really, really excited for her!

It was an honor to throw her a shower and celebrate what God is doing in her life!

It seems just a bit ago we were praying for an answer to her heart's cries! And now God has brought a lovely guy named Misha into her life. What an answer to prayer!

30 Years and Going Strong

Happy Birthday Yulia!

You'd never know it to look at her, but this week my 'oldest' roomie Yulia turned 30!

As we all gathered around to wish her well, it seemed just yesterday that she and I became roomies. Oh the stories these walls could tell! I have learned a lot from being roomates with Yulia, and God has used her to shape and mold me for sure!

12 November 2007

7 Years of Russian Youth Ministry

Can you imagine, it has been 7 years since Perspektiva began in Russia!

It was 7 years ago that God used our team to begin a youth training school called Perspektiva. We were all teachers, administrators, drivers, janitors and counselors to the students. What began humbly and with only a few actual 'youth leaders, has lead to a growing school where students get practical hands-on Russian training. Praise the Lord! Now there are more than 30 regional youth leaders who have been trained and sent out, and are more effectively working with teens throughout Russia.

This past weekend our team had the priviledge to gather some alumni and current students to celebrate God's miraculous working in the youth ministry of Russia.
We celebrated with a banquet, souvenir team cups, and a time of worship and song together! Then we spent some time encouraging and hearing from our alumni about their continuing work with youth in their home regions. God is indeed doing an amazing thing here in Russia, and continues to work through Russian leaders to reach out to lost teens.

As the event administrator I will say that it was a crazy time with lots of unexpected changes and challenges! But upon listening to the students and hearing how encouraged they were by being together in fellowship, I was overwhelmed by how God used the event in their lives.

15 October 2007

Wedding bells and answered prayers

My roomie Yulia is getting married!!

Her boyfriend Alexei, (who is a nice guy by the way) surprised her last Saturday with 201 roses and a trip to the park. She didn't even think twice before saying that she would love to spend the rest of her life growing old with him. No surprise to any of us who have seen them together!

I was able to be a participant in the night surprise, as we secretly smuggled the roses into the apartment. It took all night to finally get them into their spot, but the surprise was well worth the wait!

After announcing their engagement at Paradigma Church, Yulia shared how God had given her hope after feeling as if her life had been wasted. She encouraged the rest of the 'older' gals of the church to continue following Him and trusting all indeed is in His timing. Then, she shared a verse from Joel 2:25 which seems to punctuate the point perfectly...
"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten..."
A great promise, don't you think?

02 September 2007

Grace Alive

I never would have thought that two days on the train would be such an adventure, but after crossing two night borders and having to haul luggage to the 'ends of the earth' I have a new appreciation for planes!

Yet the time spent was well worth the fellowship.

Nadya Otverchenko is one of my oldest Moscow friends. She now works for IT Russia as administrator for the mobilizing of Russians out as missionaries. Her life as a wife and mother of two has not allowed her many adventures, and this 'spur of the moment' trip was to be her first outside of Russia! Not to mention her first time in a hotel or at a major conference!

We arrived safely in Kiev, to be met by Natasha and Sasha with IT Ukraine. Natasha gave us a lovely tour of Kiev and then treated to some fabulous pizza!

Once we arrived in Poland, we were whisked away to the quiet hill town of Ustron. We spent most of our time in worship, challenging lectures, mentoring discussions, walks into the town and fellowship with other European missionaries.

I am so grateful to be part of an organization that recognizes the benefit of bringing fellow missionaries together. It was a huge refreshing encouragment to my heart to be with others who struggle with some of the same issues that face me in my field. I forget often that I am not the only 'foreigner' in a foreign land.