The past week and a half has been full of more Siberian snow! I woke up this morning to it snowing hard outside and the temperature is – 8. All of this cold weather is reminding me of the fact that I come home in mid-December. I'm looking forward to graduating University, meeting my baby niece, Tenley, and enjoying Christmas with my family. Even so, by God's grace and mercy I continue to stay in the present. Each day since being here has been a learning experience and a gift, even if at the time it was a struggle. My heart aches more and more for the lost. I only have two months left to be here, and so I choose to be present. Each day I choose to start my day with Him and He rests my heart. I choose to rest in His presence and ask for His love to shine in all that Hilary, Allie, and I do for the next two months. I am so thankful that Hilary and Allie are the girls I get to experience all of this with. We have learned how to be bold and yet understanding at the same time with the Russian people.
I realize that so often I ruin the present by becoming so focused on the future. Every season is beautiful as we flow with God's plan and purpose. One thing is for certain: no one gets to choose the seasons of life. God has appointed the times. I recognize the blessing of teamwork, teaching, and the opportunity to serve with Russian Christians. So often, we think the grass is greener on the other side, but God is whispering to us: “Child, I have a purpose for this season in your life. Trust Me.” I just have to take the time to rest in Him, in order to hear Him. And I do. I trust Him with all my heart and soul. I keep on guard and choose to walk with Him, not against or away from Him. For me the unknown of the future can be daunting, but my soul holds on to the promise that no matter what I do, if I do it in joyful submission to the Father's will and in faith with my Father, that NO TIME IS WASTED. And so I quote Proverbs 31:25: “Strength and dignity are her clothing; And she laugheth at the time to come.” I have no need to be anxious about the days to come, because God is my rock. All is grace, how could I not live fully with Him right now in that present grace?
As I sit and reflect on my time here and the days ahead, I must ask for prayer. Please pray that Hilary, Allie, and I would be faithful servants and receptive to the people God has placed in our lives. Pray for the lost people of Tomsk. Pray also for the believers to see the importance of making disciples. Pray that the Russian Churches here would be able to see the big picture of their community and be able to look outward. Thank you for reading my blog and for praying.
And now let me tell you a bit of what we have been up to. Last week some of our Korean friends from church invited us to make sushi at their apartment. I could not contain my excitement! Sushi is the best!! And Russians in Siberia love sushi! So that makes me very happy. It was Korean style sushi called “Kim-Pap”. Basically, you can put anything in the sushi rolls you want. We put tuna, sausage, egg, cheese, crab, cucumber, squash, and lettuce. You smooth out sticky rice on the dried seaweed roll, place your long strips of ingredients, and roll it up tightly. You then cut it into bite size rolls. They are basically edible pieces of art, that explode with a mesh of flavor in your mouth. Vkusnyy! (Delicious!)
This Korean family has lived in Tomsk for ten years. We got to talk a lot about Russian culture and about what it is like being a believer here. I have noticed that in some ways I have become like a “Russian”. In order to fit in on the streets, you put on a “Russian” face as some would say. Our Korean friend said that she does the same thing, but now she can stand her ground and even yells like a Russian Babushka would. I was very glad for our talks.
After making Sushi we had movie night at the church and watched “Radio”. We had a small gathering, but many of the people that come to our events attended a recent English camp at the church in September. They all seem very motivated to learn English. That same night, Allie stayed in our apartment to help Emil lead a discussion night about the meaning of life. All of these university students come to English club on Saturday night. The discussions have been going well. One girl said that she has been wanting to talk about Christianity to Americans for awhile, to get their perspective. I am hoping that we can talk more with her soon. Tonight we will have “Not a Simple Question” discussion night again with Emil and we will be discussing Google inc. We will also be asking: What source of information can you really trust? Who or what is your source of information? I'm looking forward to tonight. Tomorrow night we will have English club and we will discuss why people are fascinated with fear and the history of Halloween.
This past Sunday we visited Central Baptist Church and invited members to be involved with our English classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights. We also went to youth night at Central to invite more Russian Christians to be involved. We are visiting Emmanuel Baptist Church this next Sunday. We have had strong, committed friends at the church, who see the worth of this outreach, helping us. We are not just a bunch of Americans doing things are way, but we work closely with the church here. God has been at work here for a very long time, long before we got here.
We recently had our last English class in our apartment, and now they will all be in the kitchen at Central Baptist. There is a true desire by some of our Russian friends from church to continue these English classes even after we leave. Our friend Anne, came to know Christ by going to English camp, and she sees how it is such a great way to reach people. Even though there are a lot of struggles, I remain hopeful. It is a new day, and I choose to actively pursue Him through all of this. My heart is praying for the hearts of the believers here to break for the lost. That they would want their life to make a difference. We have been raised to a new life, but we have also been sent back into the darkness to free others.
Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Walking to Central Baptist Church.