Wayfaring Stranger

Home Again, Home Again!

Hello Dallas :)

I got in late last night. I non-rev-ed into and out of NYC to help keep my trip costs down; Global Aid only arranged airfare into and out of NYC since team members lived all across the US. Our team got back into NYC on Thursday the 22nd, and I stayed in NYC until Saturday to take in some sights. When I left on Saturday I flew from La Guardia to Chicago and then (supposedly) onto Dallas. Little did I know that Chicago had a monsoon on Friday which flooded the city, swamped the interstates, and closed the airport! :(( So on Saturday all the stranded passengers, crew-members, and I was trying to get out of Chicago (note: revenue customers and crew-members out rank me on standby priority). It was quite a travel day, but I made it a little later than planned being diverted all over the place ... although my bags flew straight on without the same difficulty that I had! So at least my luggage was waiting for me in Dallas once I arrived.

Each of the orphanages and schools we visited had a concert planned for us. Wow, I felt like a visiting dignitary or somebody important. The kids were so cute and talented, one was designed around Russian fairy tales, another a puppet show, some with music (one included kids playing the spoons!:); and one school had an auction of crafts, dolls, and toys that the kids and local people had made. One girl hula-hooped like I have never seen before. Once their concert was over we would sing, dance, and do a gospel drama for them. It was a fun trip.

At the summer camp the "kids" challenged us to a soccer match. I say "kids" b/c these guys were ringers or something; they were huge and obviously good soccer players. They massacred us at 5 to 1 ... at least it wasn't a shutout! :)

One village we visited was a village of the SHOWSI (sp?) people group. There are only 7000 people of their kind and that number is shrinking every time a census is taken. Their school was a little larger than the Little House on the Prairie-style school, it had a few classrooms off the big "main" room; but it looked and felt like it most every other way.

Later after the SHOWSI village was when we visited the maximum security prison. These prisoners were serving 30+ years to life ... this was a tight-lock-down kind of place. I have never been to a prison like this in the US, much less in Russia. The prisoners have time, lot's and lot's of time. So they read and think and read and think and talk. Philosophy is very much a Russian pass time ... always has been. So when we talked to the prisoners some were quoting out of Hebrews chapters 4-6 and asking if it meant you could loose your salvation, and other hard questions!

Two of the team-members from Wisconsin have been in prison ministry with Campus Crusade for the past 33 years. They are the ones who gave the seminar the 1 Saturday we were in Siberia. Corporal Marina is over the whole Novokuznetsk region of prisons and she was with us at some of the prisons and she attended the seminar with much interest. I think there is a great work going on there and that a prison ministry is about to explode all over Russia. Please pray for Russia and its prison ministry.

The Russian government just created a chaplain position in its prison system and invited the Orthodox church to fill it; which they agreed to. But once they found out it was not a paid position they withdrew their support, so now it is open to literally anyone who volunteers to be chaplain. So the church is trying to fill the role, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to serve the prisoners and spread the gospel!

The church has a vision to reach every single village and people group in Russia and Siberia and all the churches have been challenged to take a year and send people out to their surrounding villages. Please pray that their message will be received and accepted. One of the churches we visited stars at 10am and finishes at 6pm! They have 2 hours of worship, then lunch, then evangelism training, then visitation/evangelism in the village and surrounding countryside. Boy, doesn't that convict you when you are sitting in a pew looking at your watch wondering if your favorite restaurant will have a long line because the preacher is running late!?!

There is still so much more I could tell you, but words are not enough. Maybe next year you could go too and experience the stories first hand?! :)) I will try and get pictures up a soon as I can.

God bless

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