Greetings from extremely hot Siberia. Usually when you think of Siberia, you think of extreme cold. However, even though it is summer here and is usually fairly warm some summers…it has been extremely hot. It has been in the mid to upper 90’s for over a week. We are patiently waiting for some cooler weather. Please pray with us that it will come soon. You may have heard or read about the many fires in Russia over the past few weeks. But, please know that these fires are not close to us though there is some haze from the fires in other provinces. The land is dry and we could use some rain, but the Lord is watching over us and we are all safe.
We decided to let the team tell you what has been going on with us these past few days. So, enjoy reading.
From Josh: Today (Sunday) we were at the bus stop and there were about eight Russian kids trying to talk to us. After about twenty minutes of trying to figure out what they were saying we decided to give them a tract and I guess it explained a lot about what we were doing . Then our bus arrived so we left the stop hoping we had made a difference.
Holly: Sometimes when I think about my future I tend to get nervous and really scared that I’m going to make the wrong decisions and mess up my life. Psalm 48:14 says “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end”. I read this verse during devotions this morning and it really stood out to me because no matter how many mistakes I make in my life, God is always going to be guiding me. No one here on this earth could do what God does and I am extremely thankful that He is in control.
From Matt: Yesterday before church, a blind woman walked up to Steve and me. Her son was helping her walk around the park where we were and you could tell she wanted to talk to people and be nice to everyone she ran into. She came up to us and started speaking English. Steve and I were both surprised and started talking with her. She asked us why we were here and we said we were on a mission trip from America. She was surprised and seemed kind of happy about it though. So we talked to her and her son asked her questions and she answered him back (in Russian). As we were talking, Steve was trying to get into his bag and get a tract to give to her but she wanted to continue on her walk before Steve got the tract out. After a little while we went to church and took our seats. Our team of 12 was at least half of the congregation, but I was still happy to see people there praising the Lord and smiling at us even though we couldn’t speak Russian. The service started and a praise group started off the service. I knew some of the songs but it’s hard to sing in English when everyone else is singing in Russian. Then we were called up to give a presentation, so we went up, sang a song, introduced ourselves and then had a team member give a testimony. Then Steve went up and preached the sermon. After he was done, the pastor went up and gave his sermon. The service lasted more than 90 min. which is a long service, but it was still good. Then we went to a pizza place and had lunch and then to the store to get a few things. After the store we waited for the bus. I was talking with the leaders, but behind us the rest of the team was talking to some Russian teens. Steve stopped the conversation and said “look at that”. It was a large swarm of teenagers talking. We couldn’t quite hear what they were saying, but it still looked cool. The bus finally came and we hopped on. On our way home the other Russian team (from the Russia Boot Camp) got on. It was kind of funny because that morning we got on the bus and at the next stop they got on to go to a different church service. So we rode together and got off and walked back to the base. Once back at the base we had R and R for 45 min, then verse reviews, then supper and library reading. At 8:00 we had quizzing and 10:00 we had group devotions. But the best part about the whole day was that morning, when we could talk to the blind woman and kind of share the word of God. 1 Tim. 4:12 “Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers: in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
From Rachel: Some verses that have really stood out to me this summer are 2 Timothy 2:4-5 “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.” I have realized and have lovingly been told by my leaders that I have been doing just enough to get by—going through the motions when it comes to growing in my walk with my Savior. I have spent so much time focusing on things that don’t really matter and the physical part of our project here that I have missed out on really deepening my relationship with Jesus. I have had to ask myself if I am pushing myself as far as I could, am I relying on God and stepping out of my comfort zone to share what I have learned with others? Now that I look back I can see opportunities I missed by not relying fully on God and trusting Him when I should have. I came to Russia to help lead people to Jesus and that is something worth giving my all for.
From Carly: Today (Tuesday) we went into Shadrinsk to purchase some souvenirs and to visit our friendly neighborhood Babushka Katya, who served us an excellent and overwhelmingly large lunch. But in order to get to that part we first had to take the bumpy bus ride into town. People stared as we got on to the all too crowded bus. They stared when we got off, while we shopped, and while we walked to Babushka’s apartment. When we passed the street vendors in the open air market they would turn to each other and whisper about the strange foreigners who spoke no Russian and had no translator, wore boots in 100 degree weather, and had all matching maroon shirts and royal blue backpacks. One woman knew where we were from and what we were doing. I was able to pick out the words “Krasnaya Niva” and “misiya” from what she was saying in answer to another vendor’s questions. We were the furthest thing from anonymous, but standing out didn’t bother me for the first time in a long time. As I reflect on it now, I realize that the way we were dressed was serving as a silent testimony. In just such a way are we called to give a testimony and distinguish ourselves through everything we wear and do, not just at Teen Missions, but all the time, through our lives. As Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” This is probably the biggest lesson God is teaching me, personally, through this summer.
From Katie: As I sit here looking back on this summer in Russia, I can’t help but wonder what the future will hold. I have learned many different things in my time in this beautiful country and I cannot wait to get home and apply these life lessons to my everyday life and challenge myself to keep growing in my walk with God. At the beginning of Boot Camp I was having issues, both mentally and physically and was ready to give up and go home. But with the help of my leaders, friends, and family, I prayed and God helped me push through. I read in Psalm 91:15-16 “He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” I came to learn that God will always help you and keep you safe. All you have to do is ask for help. Without the struggles of Boot Camp I can guarantee I would not be where I am today. I would not be in this wonderful country of Russia and I would not be where I am spiritually, for I feel that I have grown in my faith. Now that the summer is coming to an end I wonder what God’s plan for me is. I wonder what my life will turn out like. I wonder how God is going to use me. Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ ” I know that God has a plan for my life. His plan may not be what I have planned to do with my life, but if He calls me to do something or be something, even if I never thought that’s where I would be, I will listen to Him. His will is my will. I am a servant of God.
From Canaan: This has been a great summer so far. The banya may be the best contribution to society the Russians have ever made. I have devleoped mad bargaining skills. Us guys have had an interesting God’s Gentleman class with plenty of rabbit trails, attempting to prove ourselves worthy of Chapter 4 (guy/girl relationships) and the traps Steve sets like “Is dating mentioned anywhere in the Bible?” We’ve been doing very well learning our verses and quizzing, with the exception of my -60 score in one quiz. It was Steve’s fault. Every time I’m around him I mess up, whether splitting wood, quizzing, nailing, or saying my verses. We have enjoyed soccer games, even though we got beat 8-2 by 10 year olds. I’ve grown a lot spiritually. Part of it is due to my “gift” for coming on 4 teams- my new vs packet complete with all of Romans 12, John 15, Psalm 103, and II Timothy 2. This has been my best summer yet. The summer has gone by far to fast. If My family is reading, I miss you guys and I will see you in less than a week. It’s spooky how much I have turned into my dad… I have probably said “My dad says” 50 times this trip. I am looking forward to sharing my summer with you all when I return.