The last few weeks have been full of teaching English and activities with friends. Last Monday we went to a smaller town outside of the city of Tomsk, called Melnikovo. We went with friends from church to help out with a youth retreat. Allie, Hilary, and I planned out some fun games, but for the most part it was a night full of fun. We played a scavenger hunt game, where some of our friends were abducted by angry men. We went out into the bitter, Siberian cold and ran around for hours and hours. We had to find a bag of weed, documents, and people. Even though I was mostly clueless as to what was going on, it was still fun. Later that night we watched “Freedom Writers”.
After the movie, we went down in the church basement, and everyone was setting up for wrestling. I thought for sure it would just be the guys fighting, but then they called Hilary, Allie, and I's names. At first I refused, because the fighting rink was a bunch of mattresses that a bunch of sweaty boys had been fighting on. But then I agreed. (: For two years I did kickboxing and I actually really miss it. So, Allie and I fought, or rather danced. But then I got to fight a Russian chick, and she was willing to actually wrestle. I had not done anything physical for awhile, so it felt like a release.
You know how guys “bond” through being rough with each other, well I believe girls can too. When I use to do kickboxing with girls, I felt a bond with them. No small talk could ever have gotten the walls to come down like pounding at each other could. Or even running, climbing mountains, biking, or kayaking with people causes a bond. Talking with people can only develop a friendship so far. I appreciate the sincerity that develops in a relationship, when you experience something fulfilling together. I appreciate it when people are raw, and I think that doing these things together helps, but a bond a sister has with another sister in Christ must also depend on being active followers of Christ. Reading the Bible together is so important. Reading the Bible out loud is so powerful. I believe the enemy constantly wants us to believe that these simple tactics are of no use and that they are mundane. But they are not! They are powerful tools of which the Lord has given us. The Bible is a book, and you are not going to receive a miraculous message every time you read it. It is a book to be studied and read, just like you studied and read English Literature in College. But it is a book directly from God, it is a book to be studied unlike any other book. God's love becomes all the more apparent to me in all He does, the more I read and study. So, don't be discouraged, just simply open up to what the Lord has to say and store it in your heart.
The first Sunday of November we attended the house church gathering service. Our friends, Emil and Jenny, go to this church. I am so grateful for how God has shown us His work in Russia. The way God makes people beautiful and how He has planned to use them for His plans is beautiful. I know that we are a part of that plan. Sometimes, the enemy wants us to focus more on our problems, than on submitting them to God. Nothing causes us to become more selfish, than trying to deal with all of our problems in a self-sufficient manner. No matter how small a problem you think it is, I have learned that releasing it to God by prayer is essential. You have to bring it all to God. Just like in our relationships with people, if you keep things suppressed and you don't share everything, it hinders the relationship. The same thing happens with our relationship with God, only on a more elevated level, because everything in our life is affected by our relationship with God. I have been very encouraged by God's people in Russia, in ways they would never know. God is near, He is very near. Praise Him!
I have been humbled a lot lately in regard to my prayer life. People's prayer is in God's plan. Resting in His words and His spirit fills me, like nothing else can or ever will. As I have been encouraged by people here, I hope to continue to be an encouragement to people who attend our classes and people at English club. Even though it can be hard with the language barrier, I still know God is powerful. I am praying for all the different Russian, Kazakhstan, Kirghistan, Uzbekistan, Korean, Chinese, and Ukrainian people. Certain faces stand out to me, and Hilary, Allie, and I hope to connect them with Russian Christians. I still can't believe that we only have three weeks left in Tomsk before we leave for Moscow and then to Amsterdam. But the reality of what God has shown me here still weighs heavy on me. So dear friends, please pray for revival in Tomsk. Pray for God's name to be magnified. Pray for strength for the Russian believers.
We keep on keeping on! (: