Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vibrant Discussions and a Feast of Thankfulness!

Another week has gone by and we are in full gear! This past week Hilary, Allie, and I have readjusted to a busy schedule here in Tomsk. We started our English classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights. We have learned that instead of formally teaching English, it is better to play games and have discussion. In this way, the Russian people still learn English, and we can become friends as well. In Russia, there is usually a strong distance between the teacher and the student. We have been making some new friends since being back. We met a couple last weekend at English club on Saturday nights. We invited them to dinner and had Taco soup. We ended up having a GREAT time! They agreed to come over on Monday nights to teach us Russian for a couple hours. We are excited for our first Russian lesson with our new friends Kate and Ivan tomorrow. It has been somewhat difficult getting back into speaking Russian, after traveling to England. I so enjoyed the English accents!! But we are still having our weekly Russian lessons, and hope to get back on track with our Russian speaking skills.

This Friday we had discussion group at our apartment with Emil. We help Emil and Jenny, a Christian couple, with English Club on Saturday nights. Last Saturday we spoke about culture shock, our trip to England, and we played games. At the end of club, we handed out “question slips”. Everyone was asked to right a question they would be interested in having a discussion about. From those questions, we have now formed a discussion group in our apartment on Friday nights. This past Friday we discussed how English has become the international language and how it helps mankind answer universal questions. We also discussed differences between Russian culture and American culture. It was funny, because many of the Russians wanted to know what we would bring from America to Russia if we could. Hilary, Allie, and I all agreed that one thing we would love to bring is SMILES. All the Russians thought it was really funny. Russians smile if they have a reason to smile and our dear friends at English club are the nicest people. But out and about on the streets people do not smile at you. The store clerks barely acknowledge you, which has taken some time to get use to. But we have been told that in many places up in Northern Tomsk, if you smile and laugh on the streets, you run the chance of getting beat up. In the poorer communities you will be heavily questioned for why you are happy. You might be asked “Why are you happy? What is there to be happy about?”. The discussion was very vibrant and I enjoyed the laughter. This next Friday we will be discussing the meaning of life and some very heavy topics. I was really encouraged by the people that showed up to discussion group. There were fourteen Russians in total. Most of them were from Kazakhstan. I am praying that these discussion groups will help us build meaningful friendships and that it will open people's hearts to Christ.

Today, we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving at Evangel Church! It was a big harvest celebration. The whole church was decorated with autumn colors and everyone had brought a TON of food for a HUGE FEAST! There was singing, poetry, games, and a sermon from our dear friend, Peter. He talked about sharing our harvest with other people. God has given us many things, but we need to share it with others. There was also a couple who did the most precious skit ever!! She was a happy tree and he was a sad tree that hated everything. She kept saying, “Ya le-blue 'this'”! Which means I love...! She had green leaves and his leaves were brown. She encouraged him to try and love the sun, rain, and life. She shared her happiness with him and he ended up becoming a green tree also, full of joy and thankfulness!!

We also gave a presentation on the history of Thanksgiving and how it is celebrated in America. We ended up spending almost the whole day at church! God has been showing me how much I truly have to be thankful for! I am encouraged by the hearts of God's people around me. I'm grateful for God's pleasure in Christ and how I can truly rest in His promises. I do what is right and obey the Lord, not to seek favor with Him, but because He is worthy and has declared me righteous through Christ. No matter what situation I am in, no matter how lonely I feel in Siberia, God is still good! He never changes and He is always with me. His love for me astounds me and all I can say is THANK YOU!

We will be starting our full week tomorrow of classes and social activities. We are having a movie night this Friday at church (Watching “The Ultimate Gift”) and we are holding a discussion group that same night in our apartment. Please pray for Hilary, Allie, and I to have strength and for the young Russian people to see Christ in us. I'm praying for an open heart for what God can do. Thank you all for your prayers and love. (: Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

P.S. It has been snowing! A lot here! SNOW! (: I'm excited for ice skating, sledding, snowball fighting, Snowman making, and Christmas movies with our Russian friends! Do you wanna build a snowman!? YESSSS!!! Lets go!

                                                       October 9th, our first day of snow!
                        A group of girls singing a Korean song about thankfulness at church.
  A couple at church performing a skit. She was the happy tree and he was the sad tree. Precious!
                                                Giving a presentation about Thanksgiving!
                                                          Preparing the food for our feast.
                                                                   Some of the decorations.
                                                This watermelon was almost too pretty to eat.
       One of our Korean friends invited us to her place to teach us how to make Korean Sushi. (:
                                                        Bogdan holding little baby Varvera.
                                                                     The feast at our table!
                                                      More snow mixed in with some rain.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

More Adventures; A Burning Fire, New Visas, Mr. Hyde and the UK!!

A lot has happened! We went to the UK for two weeks in September. We had to leave Russia in order to get a new visa. It was a rather long process, but we received our visas! I want to share with you all about our trip, but first let me catch you up on what us girls did before we left.

Before we left for the UK we were finishing up our teaching. We made an effort to see everyone before we left. We met three Russian girls at English club who invited us over to dinner at their apartment. One of the girls, Svetlana, I had talked to quite a bit. She loves to read and she works as the secretary at the Pentecostal church in Tomsk. I was so excited to have dinner with the girls. We brought cake with us and ate dessert first. Hilary, Allie, and I ended up sharing our testimonies and life stories. Just as we started eating the meal, Svetlana noticed smoke outside. At first, we thought it was garbage someone had lit on fire. All of a sudden the room started filling up with black smoke from the hallway. We realized that the smoke was coming from inside the building. We could not go out in the hall because the smoke was so thick. We ended up putting a wet towel under her front door and we all went out on her balcony to escape the smoke. Just as we went out to the balcony the fire department came. We called Oksana and she came with Emil. The fire was in an apartment on the second floor and we were on the fourth floor. The fire was put out quite fast and contained very well. As soon as Emil and Oksana got there, we exited the building with a fireman escorting us. It was definitely an unexpected, cultural experience. (: But we were very safe, and did not feel scared. We got a lot of laughs out of it and Hilary, Allie, and I grew stronger as a team that night. Praise God! 

Before we left we finished up our classes and met some new students. We helped out at English club with Jenny and Emil (I love helping them!). We also stocked up on some souvenirs and said some goodbyes, just in case we would not be able to come back. We had a lot of people praying for us and God definitely put my heart at ease. I did not feel the need to worry at all! God had it!

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”
Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

So, off we went to stay in Horsham, UK. It is a small town an hour south of London. Our secondary supervisor lives and works in London, so we had a lot of people helping us. We met lots of people from the church willing to help us. We stayed in a cute, little home in Horsham. The family was traveling in the states, and offered to let us stay there. We also got to do a lot of sight-seeing. Some friends from church showed us around, and one family even cooked dinners for us. The food was amazing! I had missed Mexican food so much (And yes, we did eat at Chipotles in London)! For three days Hilary, Allie, and I went to Edinburgh, Scotland. We were so in awe of God's creation. I have a deep love for rainy and green places. Maybe I should just move somewhere up North.

Some things I personally enjoyed the most was walking through Edinburgh Castle, climbing Arthur's Seat (an inactive volcano), and going on a ghost tour of Edinburgh. I learned something about one of my favorite books on the tour. William Brodie inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". By day, Brodie was a respectable tradesman. He was the president of a cabinetmaking business, and he was rather skilled in repairing locks. He socialized with the higher class, and everyone had much respect for him. At night, however, Brodie became another man entirely. He used his skill during the day to gain knowledge of his clients. He would copy their keys using wax molds. He would steal the riches money and use it to live a second life of gambling and pleasure. Brodies story became legend in Edinburgh. About twenty-five years later, Stevenson wrote a crude play about Brodie, which later he revised. This became the famous story of good and evil residing in one man, known as "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". 

I'm going on a rant, but I started rereading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I love the imagery he uses to paint light (goodness) and darkness (evil). A man's ability to stand against darkness, while standing knee deep in it is impossible. Without grace all of our good works are like filthy rags. The Apostle Paul said "I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate." But Paul knew that God is patient with us, in spite of what we do. How rich would God's love be without experiencing the evil in this world? I am in awe of how much God's wisdom flows over in love towards us. "For God has deemed it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit evil at all." - St. Augustine 

We did do quite a lot of sightseeing and Allie had family come up from Germany to stay with us for a bit. While in the UK, we helped out at Kingston University. We welcomed all the international students and worked with the Connect UK club, which allows people to connect with internationals. I met students from all over the world! I made some good English friends who were working at Kingston as well. They took us to get Chinese and were quite funny. Sometimes I hate moving around so much, because I meet people I want to get to know so much more. But I am still thankful that I even got to meet so many of the loving people that I did meet, and hear some amazing stories of God's work.

Overall, the UK was a good break from teaching English. I am so grateful for the experience! I am glad to be back in Russia. I realize now how much I truly love these people. Tomsk, Russia will always be a place I pray for and it will always hold a special place in my heart. The ability to adjust here, in a place so different, is all because of God. He watches over me and guides me through this. HE is always with me. Praise Him! 

Now......enjoy the plethora of pictures I have for you!!!

                           The Barnwells were so good to us! Tina is a great cook and tour guide. (:
                                                   On top of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh.
                                                                 A park in Edinburgh.
                                                        Looking up at Edinburgh Castle.
              We walked to Portebella Beach in Scotland. We enjoyed burgers and shakes by the water.
                                        The viaduct in Horsham. We trespassed to take pictures. (:
             Fanny's Farm Shop in Surrey, England. We enjoyed some cream tea and biscuits with Tina.
                                I love Karis! She reminds me of a girl I use to babysit back home.
                                                       Bushy Park in Kingston, England.
                                     There were so many different kinds of birds in the park.
                                 A buck in the park. Allie and I listened to some mating calls.
                                                   A tree growing sideways in Bushy Park.
                                                    Seven Sisters Cliffs in Sussex, England.
                                     Hilary and Allie enjoying the pebble beach at Seven Sisters.
                           Tea, biscuits, and jam at the Moathouse Cafe with our friend, Elaine.          
                                                             On the train to Edinburgh!

                                                   Walking the streets of Edinburgh!
                                                           By the docks in Edinburgh.
                                                               I love the old churches.
                                                        Walking into Edinburgh Castle.
                                                             The cannons in the castle.
                                                   Looking out at the beautiful Edinburgh.
                                             The largest cannon was by St. Margaret's Chapel.
                                                           Look! There is Edinburgh!
                                                            Pretty flowers at the castle.
                                                            An arrow slot! Pretty sweet!
               The Tower of London. Each poppy represent a person who died for England in WWI.
                      St. Paul's Cathedral in London. I actually got to go inside. It is a massive church!
                           Landing back in Siberia! It's officially fall...but winter is probably tomorrow. (:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Love Without Borders

Dear friends near and far, I am so thankful for your prayers and for your support. The last two weeks Hilary, Allie, and I have been readjusting to life here in Tomsk. We have been teaching English classes in our apartment. We also have been just hanging out with our students.

Last Sunday, we attended a different church. Our Russian teacher and friend, Oksana, and our dear friends Emile and Jenny (who helped us get our apartment) attend this church. They have house churches, but the first Sunday of every month they have a gathered service. It worked out that their gathering was the second Sunday after we returned from Kolpashevo. I was just getting over being sick, and I felt like I needed some rest. We had two people during the service translate for us. It is such a blessing to worship God with the Russian people. Their love for following His statutes is evident in how they treat each other.

I was very encouraged by the pastor's message. He spoke about what is happening between Ukraine and Russia. He said that as Christians we must be aware of what is happening. We pray for our brothers and sisters around the world, because there is a mighty war going on in the world. A war that we cannot see, a war of souls, and so we pray. We pray, because God is our refuge. Prayer is powerful, because God is powerful.

He also said that many sanctions have been put on Russia. There has been much talk about who is guilty of certain attacks. The media in America likes to slant the story to make it look like Russia is horrible. It is very difficult to get accurate information, so the news will sell out and give people propaganda. Propaganda sells. But we should be sober-minded. We can't paint this situation with just black and white. Pastor said that watching the news can easily fill us with fear. Fear can lead to hate and hate blinds us from seeing the truth of the situation. I choose to pray for Russia and Ukraine. I choose to be sober-minded.

Here is a question I offer up to you and myself: How would we (Americans) react if we couldn't import something? The American people would not like that very much. We should not be happy about these blockades. There is no “good” side and “bad” side. The people suffer from these sanctions, not the leaders. Political talk can become so bitter so fast. I have been challenged to really try to have an open mind to all sides and to ask myself what kind of attitude is God-honoring. I pray for peace, and my mind and heart is seeking to see others through mercy and justice.

I know the pull between Russia and Ukraine is not new. It has for centuries functioned as the border between the west and the east. I am hoping Ukraine can attain stability. It needs decades of stability so that it can grow to have its own identity. This way it can have a healthy relationship with Russia and Europe, without being controlled by either. My heart is heavy for the Russian and the Ukrainian people. Even though I have only been in Russia for a little over two months, I have become attached to the Russian people in a way that is hard to explain. I know this is because God is helping me and giving me the strength to love without borders. I can love others, because God in Christ loves me. I try so hard to imagine being in a Ukrainian or Russian person's shoes who lives in the strife and confusion of this time. My heart is heavy.

I have come to love so many little things about my Russian friends. One thing I have noticed is that Russians cherish each other. Now you wouldn't know it from walking around the streets of the city and seeing cold faces everywhere, but Russians have big hearts. Once they get to know you, they are such loyal friends. They will never ever forget you. They know how to take care of one another, and they do. They will find any excuse to invite you over and share chai with you. And it is not just because we are American. Russians our the ultimate sharers. They share what they have, because they survive by looking out for each other. Tonight, our good friend Olga brought a huge bag of vegetables from her mother's garden to us. The bag was full of cucumbers, onions, garlic, squash, carrots, and a beet. She has given us vegetables from the garden before and flowers. She loves learning the English language, but she also just loves people. We love hanging out with her. I could give you so many stories of people being generous with us.

Russian hospitality might be a cliche, but it is so true. There is nothing like being a guest at a Russian home. Last week we visited our friend and student, Valentina. We visited her and her family at their home. We thought we were just meeting up to chat, but she had made a full meal for us. The next day she took us on a tour of her work. She is an assistant professor of automation and robotics. She teaches mechanical engineering. We visited the Institute of Cybernetics within the Tomsk Polytechnic University. In Tomsk, there are three studies that are very popular in university. The three major studies are programming, engineering, and medical studies. Most of the time when we ask a student what they are studying they will say one of these three studies. I really enjoyed visiting the school and seeing all the big machinery they use.

I also find Russians to be a lot more patient. Russians don't have the sense of impatient entitlement which Americans are almost born with. Russians are resilient, and I believe with all my heart that I can learn a lot from them. God is showing me how people can't be defined simply by what country they are from. I will never underestimate the influence of Russia's history on it's people, but I see more than that. As I make friends here I remember making friends in other foreign places. It is always such a special friendship. I think that God's unbounded love shines through so brightly when we can find true lasting friendship with people who are so different from ourselves. With people we never dreamed of understanding or trying to understand about. I thank God for each person that I have come to know here, and I am praying fervently for genuine friendship.

Last week, we had a meeting in our apartment with friends from church. We decided to hold a week long English session for the last week of August. We had some very encouraging discussion. We are excited to work closer with our Russian friends. Tomsk is about to get a lot BIGGER. School resumes in September. This last week of August a flood of new and old students will be coming to Tomsk for University. Tomsk is a University city, about eighty-five thousand students live and study in Tomsk. This past week we handed out flyers and spread the word about this week long session. This week long sessions starts tomorrow so please pray that we would be diligent and responsible teachers. The following are the topics we will be teaching on the next five days: Introductions: Meeting People, Internet Navigation: Surfing the Net and Shopping, Everyday Conversations: Surviving a day in an English Speaking Country, University and Travel: Programs and Semester Abroad, Television and Entertainment: T.V. Culture in the Past, Present, and the Future. I am looking forward to our first day and to meeting new people.

This past Friday we had our Russian class with Oksana. It was her birthday, so we gave her chocolate chip cookies. Surprisingly, they don't have chocolate chip cookies here. Oksana is the best teacher, because she is so full of joy. When I think of her, I think of a beaming light. As we were having conversation, something she said stuck with me. She said “Serve people, but allow others to serve you also.” I really needed to heart that. I really enjoy having our Russian language class with her. Later that day we decided to walk around Tomsk for fun and we ended up going to Travelers Coffee for dinner. As we were about to leave the cafe, Oksana and her husband came in. It was such a surprise! We laughed and wished her happy birthday again. Our waiter, Leesa, knew a little English. She had been so kind to us the entire night. We invited her to our English courses and I am really, really hoping she comes.

Yesterday we went horseback riding with our friends Anna and Olga. It was really fun! The last time I rode a horse was at Echo Ranch Bible Camp two years ago. I really liked my horse and was fantasizing about riding it in Alaska. Maybe one day I will have a Russian style garden and a Russian horse in Alaska. You never could happen! After we rode the horses, one of the girls showed us around. She showed us more of their horses. I was in awe of how beautiful the horses were. I don't think I have ever seen such strong and robust looking horses.

Today, we sang a Russian song at church. We sang half of it in Russian and half of it in English. The song was “How Great is Our God.” Maybe later, I can record us singing it and share it with you all. The more I try to speak Russian, especially sing it, the more I fall in love with the language.

As I look ahead to our classes this week I think about how teaching English has challenged me. Sometimes God calls us to do something that really challenges us. Often, I find it so easy to say to God: “I'll do it God, as long doesn't make me uncomfortable, it doesn't put me at risk, it lines up with what I want, or it doesn't challenge me beyond what I believe I can handle.”

But, what sort of faith is that? That is me trying to control what God wants from me. Even though teaching English is hard, I remain grateful for this opportunity. I have faith. My joy rests in God, because He remains faithful in all circumstances. I delight in God through all my obedience, not just what I want to obey.

I lift up to God my concerns and my doubts. Being away from home has shown me that at the heart of trust is being satisfied with all that my Savior is for me. He is enough, forever and always. He is not a duty or an obligation in my life. He is my Sustainer. I come to Him to have my soul hunger satisfied. I choose to rest, even when my flesh wants anxiety and control. I am praying that I will choose to listen to the still, small voice of God each day this week.

Thank you again for your prayers and support.    

                                                                               Singing at Church.
   A sculpting machine -the only one of its kind in all of Russia at Tomsk Polytechnic University.
                                              Enjoying some Apple Strudel at Traveler's Coffee.
                                                             Where all the beautiful horses were.
                                                                          Getting ready to ride.
This Sunday we arrived at church early to practice singing "How Great Is Our God" in English and Russian. 

                                                                  Walking around Tomsk.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Russian Family

It has been too long. Way too long.

My good friends I want to share with you what has occurred this past month. Right now Hilary and Allie are off teaching English class and I'm sitting in the apartment with a summer cold. But I have so much to be thankful for! My mind, my body, and my heart may give out, but the Lord is still in control.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

This apartment I am in is our own apartment! The last two weeks of July we were in Kolpashevo, a town a six hour drive up north. We stayed with a family that we met at English camp in June and we taught English at the Baptist Church in Kolpasheva. I want to fill you in all about Kolpasheva, but first let me tell you how we found this apartment.

I know that our new apartment is God's doing. Our friends that go to one of the house churches in Tomsk showed us this apartment. We went to their house for breakfast the day we were leaving for Koplashevo. Emil and his wife Jenny told us they had an apartment we could come look at. We were surprised. We had scheduled to go see three apartments that same day before leaving. All the apartments we had seen were not big enough for us three girls. That day Emil took us to see the apartment. We were amazed at how perfect the apartment was suited for our needs. We agreed that day to rent it before leaving to Kolpashevo. He took us to see the woman who rents it out. She liked us and we payed her that day. The apartment belonged to an American Christian family for twelve years. They left behind a bunch of useful material for us to learn Russian and to teach English. We have a bunch of books! We also have a whole bunch of movies in Russian that we are so excited about. This apartment is a true blessing. We had been praying for the RIGHT place, and this truly is the RIGHT place for the rest of our stay. Praise God! I can't brag enough on how wonderful He is.

Now let me tell you about Kolpasheva. It was a bumpy ride getting there, but I enjoyed it. On the ride there the kids in the car sang Russian songs and I saw so many Birch trees. I also experienced using squatty potties along the way, but I'm pretty use to it by now. Once we arrived at midnight, the family we were staying with had cooked us a full meal. Victor and Larissa welcomed us into their home. We did not know we would be eating like royalty for the next two weeks.

We taught English class two times a day. Even though I am not a natural teacher, I really enjoyed having conversations with the Russian people. For the two weeks, we had twenty-five students overall attend our classes. We are planning on skyping with them once a week while in Tomsk to teach some English and teach some Biblical terms in English as well. We had Christmas in July and we shared with them the true meaning of Christmas. I read scripture from Luke and Leah read in Russia after me. We taught them Christmas words such as "Shepherd, Angel, Manger, Star, and Gifts." We watched "Elf" and shared with them afterwards how secular culture celebrates Christmas, but then we showed them the true meaning of CHRISTmas.

The family we stayed with became our family. They have five kids. Cyril is the oldest and was the translator. He speaks English very well. His father was very funny, because he would speak Russian with an American accent around us. He would say YA Nippy DI MIO ParooSKy. It was soo funny. Their oldest daughter, Leah, is 14 and she was such a great Russian language teacher to us. Leah and Cyril got baptized on the second sunday we were in Kolpashevo. We went to the lake before church and it was such a special time to share with their family. Living with them made me want to learn Russian so bad. But even though we could not always understand each other, we became true friends; The best of friends. I often forgot they were Russians. Our faith united us together, and their love was a reflection of God's grace. I will miss all of them.

 The other three children, Sophie, Tikhon, and Arsinia were awesome too. Sophie reminded me of myself when I was younger. Quiet, but she has a fighter inside. Tikhon was hilarious. He would say goodbye to us in English every way he knew how: Goodbye, see you later, see you soon, see you tomorrow...! He reminds me of his dad. And Arsinia would say Hello and Goodbye to us in a really high voice and then a really low voice.

Larissa cooked authentic Russian food for us everyday. She cooked us lunch and dinner. She made soup, borsche, Hooha (fish soup), and pliaf. She taught us how to make pliaf and manti. Manti is ground beef and a ton of onion rolled into dough and steamed. It is a dish from Kyrgyzstan where their father is from. After one day of class she taught us to make manti. So, we decided to make them an American meal. We made hamburgers, Macaroni and cheese, and chocolate chip cookies. They LOVED it! They loved the cookies soo much that we surprised them. Back in our apartment we baked 300 COOKIES for them and for English class students.

Every night after English class we would either drink tea and talk around the kitchen table. We shared testimonies, we share funny stories, and we sang songs together. At church each of us girls gave our testimony. The church is small, but they are filled with so much strength. I think about them everyday. I love the Russian people. I love drinking chai and trying to speak Russian. 

There was one women, when she returned home from camp in June started attending the Baptist church in Kolpashevo. I don't think she is a believer yet, but her heart is so open to God's Word. She wants to believe. She told me that every time she reads the Bible it makes it harder for her to believe that the stories are true. Her Mother and her Husband both disapprove of her attending the Baptist Church. They believe they are bad people and liars that want to steal her money. They see the Baptist Church as a false church, and they see the Russian Orthodox church as the only true church. We decided to Skype with the church every week from Tomsk to do a small lesson on English Words and teach on God's Word. I am praying that she will receive the Gospel in it's whole and that through ongoing encouragement through personal talks on Skype, that she will feel God calling her to Himself. Please pray for this woman.
These past two months have been a huge learning experience for me. God has been teaching me how team work should look and how to be patient with my two teammates. It is so easy to try and control everything and to think that you know best. The Spirit of God desires freedom in our lives. The Spirit wants us to be free to love others with joy. Fear and control only hinder that possibility. God is showing me what that love should look like more and more each day. It can hurt my pride at times, but the Lord knows what I need. I am amazed at the perseverance of the Christians in Tomsk and Kolposheva. This is a tough place to be a Christian. It is even tougher when you choose to really be vocal about your faith and try to reach out to the people around you. Many of the believers need encouragement to share their faith, and I believe God is asking us to do that.
This next month of August we are teaching English classes every Monday and Thursday in our apartment. We also our holding a Bible study on Tuesday nights in our apartment. We will be teaching English at Roobius, the computer company, atleast five times a week. We will also be helping teach English at a new language center as well. We hope to learn Russian better as well, as we resume our class for that. We also are getting ready for our visa run in September. We will be going to London and doing some ministry while we are there with univeristy students. Please pray that we will be able to get new visas with no major problems. Please pray for Hilary, Allie, and I to be strong and faithful this month. I think that living with such a wonderful family in Kolpashevo made me miss a lot of family back home. Please pray that we would be present and rely on the Lord and His Words.

Overall, I am amazed at my teammates! We get along so well and I respect them both so much! We are falling in love with the Russian people. I know their enduring faith has encouraged me. Praise God! 

                                                      There were cows roaming all over the town.
One night we watched Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Larissa shared what the story symbolized.
                                                   Walking to Church where we taught English.
                                                         Three members were baptized on our last Sunday.
                                                              Inside a Russian Orthodox Church.
                                                                                  Arsinia and I.
                                                                  A Russian Orthodox Church.
                                                      Characters from well known Russian fairy tales.
                                                        What many of the homes look like in town.
                                                   The ferry ride back to Tomsk with our family.