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28 March 2007

Persian New Year and Compassion


Being involved in a ministry of compassion and 'doing' means being prepared to participate in ways that perhaps are rather unexpected and unglorious. This trip to Athens, Greece was rather unglorious and basic. But for both Marina and I, this meant opportunities upon opportunities to participate in birthday parties, going to Greek hospitals with refugees, doing dishes after 570 cups of tea, babysitting for screaming Arabic and Farsi speaking little ones and peeling and preparing 30 kilos of carrot salad for 150 Persians!
Great eh?

So to begin, one of the greatest moments for me was when refugee M told me that she thought that the team at Helping Hands was closer than family. For a community oriented refugee this was high praise in deed! She further honored us by postponing her daughter's first birthday until Marina and I had arrived in Greece. What an amazing testimony to knowing that we have her best interests in heart. May God bless this family!




The evening was full of international laughter as people from Canada, Russia, America, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Phillippnes all ate and fellowshiped together. It was a highlight for sure!



Later that week I was priviledged to go with M to the hospital to try and get her signed up for a doctor. Even after my years in Russia, I realized that it is almost impossible to know what the system is in a new country. I have forgotten how hard it is to get things like this done without language! We were not totally successful, but the fact that we made a small step in the right direction was enough for her. And I felt totally overwhelmed by the need to help people in small ways, like going to the doctor with them.

Amazing what really is an outpouring of His love.

Another day our Russian team (all two of us) was priviledged to participate in the oldest of Iranian traditions, Nowruz. This is compounded of two Perisan words "now" which means new, and "ruz" which means both day and time. Literally meaning the new day, or New Year. The Perisan Nowruz begins on the first day of spring, usually the 21st of March.

It was a wonderful celebration for Persians far from home, complete with traditional songs, skits, food and fellowship. And then of course there was the added wonderful of Russian carrot salad! My fingers still hold the 'scars' from that a week later!



My heart was amazed though when I watched so many from another land rejoicing over a piece of home. What an incredible opportunity to provide something for those who have lost everything, the ability to celebrate a highly valued home tradition.

Interesting what is really an outpouring of His love.

14 March 2007

Yassis



Yassis! Hello and welcome! The first words to great us today on our adventure!

From snow to sunshine, Marina and I made it to Athens, Greece! After an uneventful trip, we arrived to the guest apartment for Lost Coin and collapsed. The 2 room apartment will be our home for the next 12 days, along with 2 other girls. It is going to be tight and a bit more like summer camp than either of us had realized, but where there is His leading all things are possible!

Today is for getting acclimated, and then tonight we are invited to dinner in an authentic Greek Taverna with the refugee ministry (Helping Hands) team. Jumping into the culture!

13 March 2007

Gideon and Athens

Thirteen Russians started out in the process eager to help with ministry in Athens, Greece in March. But now there are two of us that are actually headed out. Yet right now this does not feel like defeat, but rather a typical 'unusual' experience along the lines of Gideon's tale. That was always a favorite story of mine as a child! I loved the word picture of the few overcoming the many, and lighting the way in a creative and totally unexpected defeat due to obedience and the glory of God.

And that is just what we are expecting!


Tomorrow morning Marina Osipova and I head out to Athens, Greece for a 12 day short term missions trip. We will be following in the footsteps of the September team (www.g6russia.blogspot.com), and eagerly await God's hand of guidance just as He guided Gideon.

Before my eyes will be the pots and lights of Gideon, and I wonder what will God do this time?

09 March 2007

Central Asia and mobilizing




A big part of the future for Russia is in it's people. A vast and great resource really, that needs a bit of a motivating push to get going. So this is what our team is focusing on a bit more now - the motivating and mobilizig push.


We traveled from the cold of Russia (as seen in the photos) to the sun of Turkey. And yet we worked from 7 am until 12 or 1 am each night!


Three of us just got back from a conference for those from Central Asia.




We listened to, discussed, prayed for and dreamed about the ministries going on in parts of Central Asia. Our team was particularly touched when talking to a guy from Afghanistan as he talked about the great role Russians could play in reconciliation and prayer over hurts from political past. What great blessing that would be to see believing Russians asking for forgiveness for the wounding that their politics of the past caused!


I was blessed to spend a bit of time with my team members, and interact with believers who are currently facing persecution and difficulties. It was an amazing and priviledged time for me.


Plus I got to be the voice of our Russian gang on some video testimonies that will be shown at an International Teams conference. Amazing power that translating bit!