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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Foursquare Churches Legally Registered!


Dear Friends of Russia,

It is with a heart filled with joy that I let you know the Foursquare Church of Russia has completed it's filing for legal registration. The government would not accept the name Foursquare, saying it was not Russian, so we had to go with “Full Gospel Churches of Russia.” There is a backlash against registering "foreign" religions in Russia. They then informed us today that if we go more than a year without breaking any laws, we may be able to apply to change the name to the original choice.

Thank you so much for all your prayers. We could tell you were praying for us. This morning we were talking about how God had given us the peace of the Lord that everything was going to be fine. If God controls the hearts of kings, the hearts of a few governments officials is no problem.

I thought it would be helpful to explain why registration so important: What limited freedom these pastors and churches have is granted to them through being legally registered with the government. Over the past few years more and more of their freedoms have been taken away. The nationalist, the communist, and the Russian Orthodox Church are working together to limit and even “stamp out” all forms of “foreign religion.” This continues to make the life of the evangelical Christian difficult. They are members of a minority religion with few rights. They are viewed with suspicion and discrimination against them is encouraged. While registration will not remove this, it does help the churches.

Please continue to pray that the spiritual strongholds of Russia are destroyed (Nationalism, Xenophobia, and Autocracy). These strongholds result in blinding Pride, Fear and Hatred of all things “foreign,” and the desire to control. It is against these strongholds that we must take a stand. Pray for the pastors, churches, and Christians of Russia to be free from all forms of these national strongholds.

Continue to pray for the continued development of a healthy movement of Foursquare Churches in Russia.

Pray for the leaders to be strengthened in faith and filled with wisdom for leading God’s people.

Pray for the churches to be of one heart and one mind, and free from the national strongholds.

Pray that our leaders and churches continue to be “salt and light” in this nation. One thing we constantly seek to cultivate is the understanding that we are not “against anyone.” We are not against the Orthodox Church. Rather we are thankful for those who have borne faithful witness to Christ in that Church. We are not trying to import an “American” or “European” religion into Russia. We are helping Russians develop an indigenous, authentic expression of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is relationally connected with the global Foursquare Family of Churches.

Pray that God will continue to guide and bless us as we seek “to build healthy, indigenous, reproducing churches throughout Russia.”


Jeff Roper
Foursquare Regional Missionary Serving Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova.
Russian Leaders and Missionaries

The Jar of Honey

Mark 12:41-44 41 Jesus went over to the collection box in the Temple and sat and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two pennies. 43 He called his disciples to him and said, "I assure you, this poor widow has given more than all the others have given. 44 For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has." NLT

It was a simple jar of honey, given to me after I had preached at a local church. Such a simple gift, but given in love. Love for God and the desire to bless those who minister in Christ’s name. In America a jar of honey would be an unexpected gift to a visiting preacher. You might expect a check, a handful of cash, or perhaps an invitation to a local restaurant for an after church meal, but not a jar of honey. In Russia such a gift is not unusual, but I hope I never take such a gift lightly.

Like the widow mentioned in Mark 12:41-44, the young woman, who gave me the jar of honey, gave a gift out of her relative poverty. It was a gift more to God, than to me, and I accepted it as such. This jar of honey would probably sell for nearly $10.00 in the local market. That is the average daily wage of a worker in Russia. Honey is a luxury that many families here cannot afford, yet it was given to me, an American, who compared to most Russians has a huge salary. I was humbled and honored to accept this gift.

This jar of honey reminded me of so many more gifts of this nature that we have received. The gift of friendship is probably the best one. A young woman, who has helped us over and over again said to us, “Well that is how one treats strangers when they are in your country!” How profound. Then there was the time we were invited to tea with a local grandmother. She lives in a small apartment near us. Almost everyday we see her outside selling her vegetables or flowers from her garden. She baby-sits to supplement her meager pension. Yet, because we say hello to her whenever we see her, she has become our friend. When we went for tea she insisted that we take home two large jars of pickled vegetables. The fruit of her labor, given to us in love.

Another family gave us a jar of home grown vegetables after visiting their church. Just recently, while doing business, we stopped at a small indoor kiosk to purchase a pad of paper. The vendor realized we were from America and quickly pulled her 2005 calendar of her desk and said “here, I would like to give you something, I’m sorry it is almost used up, but I just want to give you something”.

Russians are a giving people, even though they often have little to give

It is easy to give a gift out of our wealth, but so much better to give a gift out of our need. At the same time, as one who receives such gifts, it is frightening to be responsible for them. How do we respond when we have so much and the giver has so little? As “faith” missionaries, Karen and I are supported by the gifts of others. It is a difficult lesson to learn how to graciously receive a gift. How hard to just say, “Why thank you so much!” We always want to repay the person by giving something in return. This is often the way we respond to God’s grace. He gives it to us freely, paid in full, by Christ. We try and repay God or earn what He freely gives. Our response should be one of thanksgiving for His wonderful mercy.

Rom 6:23 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. NLT

Thursday, December 01, 2005

God's Strength

John 14: 12-14 Truly, Truly I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do, and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

We have come not in our own strength and gifting, but in total weakness and humility. Without a promise like this one from the gospel of John there would be no ability to walk forward in what God has called us to do.

I heard someone in a leadership conference this year say, “Our zeal and enthusiasm for the lost and our desire to see lives changed probably far exceeds our abilities.” For someone living in a foreign culture, struggling with language and communication, constantly finding themselves ‘doing the wrong thing’ and often being culturally embarrassed, this statement reverberated within my spirit.

Constantly carrying an ache around in my heart for the lost ness of the people I live among and love, I long to find a way to penetrate the darkness that sucks the life from them. For many people in Russia life has never been better, but the hopelessness of the soul is so obvious to those who are able to recognize the symptoms. It’s always fun and energizing to share the victories and the ‘cool stories’ with friends and family, but the reality is that daily we are faced with an overwhelming sense of how small and ineffective we are. It’s an inevitable mental struggle when the fruit of our labor seems so obscure.

Fortunately, the reality of that feeling is not reality at all. It is the smoke and mirrors of a spiritual enemy whose only goal and purpose is to destroy; people, families, lives, ministries. God’s love for these people so far exceeds my love that I find rest and reassurance that my purpose is God’s purpose; to see them come face to face with a loving Savior.

When our children were little we raised chickens for fun and I remember how the hens, when they “went broody,” would sit patiently for weeks gently tending and turning the eggs until the life within could no longer be contained in a hard shell. With the tenacious instinct with which they were created the babies broke through the shell that held them prisoner and came out into the light and freedom. The hen did nothing but faithfully fulfill her purpose of nurture and care. The life came from the source of the Creator.

Knowing that by ourselves we can do nothing, Michael and I pray daily for our people that the Holy Spirit would brood over this region. In helplessness we pray from a position of disadvantage, a place of difficulty, asking in Jesus name for people to be birthed into the kingdom that God would be glorified. His promises are Yes and Amen.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Zavolzha Churchplant Update

On Friday November 18, we visited Eduard and Vadim at Vadim’s home in a village on the edge of Zavolzha. We met for the first time, Vadim’s wife Tatiana and their two children. Vadim lives in a typical village home, constructed of logs and then trimmed with wooden siding. The main house is two rooms; a large kitchen and dining area, and a living room/bedroom combination. The house is heated by forced hot water. They have running cold water, but no actual hot water heater, so they heat all their cleaning water on the small stove. By Russian village standards they live pretty well. They have a small garden and the house has several storage areas and as well they have several small storage buildings on their lot. The bathroom facilities consist of an unattached outhouse.

Our meeting was quite encouraging. These folks are really excited about the coming church plant. They are working diligently to evangelize their town. Both brothers visit local hospitals and orphanages to distribute literature and pray for people. Eduard openly shares the Gospel with those that he works with. Recently Eduard was appointed to a commission to study the city’s response in case of a natural or man made disaster. At the end of the meeting Eduard told the attendees, “all this planning is good, but we need to remember that ultimately it is God who is our source of protection!”

Eduard and Vadim also write and distribute a two page Christian journal in town. This month’s journal was devoted to an article describing the dangers of non-Christian sects. This was an important article as in Russia, anything that is not part of the Orthodox Church is usually consider a sect or cult. They have also spent some time witnessing to local teens and discussing with them the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Last month we were able to purchase $100.00 worth of literature for distribution in Zavolzha. Eduard and Vadim have asked for more as they have nearly distributed everything that was purchased. Next month we will purchase a new guitar for the church plant and another $100.00 worth of literature. We are working on a budget proposal for the outreaches we plan in late January. Our plan is to rent a small hall, do some advertising in the local newspaper and bus-stop billboards and then show evangelistic movies and have a guest speaker. We are also looking into the possibility of having several Christian music groups help with a concert or two in Zavolzha.

Please pray with us that this church plant will be succesful in reaching the city of Zazolzha.

Russian Road Trip

On Friday November 18 we took a bus ride to Zavolzha to visit our church planting partners, Eduard and Vadim (more about that in the next post). In America when you mention taking a trip by bus it conjures up pictures of Greyhound, or Trailways, a nice clean comfortable bus with either heat in the winter or air-conditioning in the summer. When you read about us taking a bus trip here in Russia, put those pictures out of your mind.

City Bus pictured here

Our trip began by meeting Ira, our translator at the local city bus stop by our apartment. We stood out in the 34 degree temperatures and the pouring rain for about ten minutes as we waited for a city bus to take us to the inter-city bus terminal. As it was about 4:00 PM the buses are jam packed with people. There is usually just enough room to squeeze on. Wresting with an umbrella, a back-back and the small change to pay the ticket person, while trying to hang on desperately as the drive imagines he is racing the Grand Prix in France is challenging at best. The drivers usually race down the streets as fast as they can, edging out other buses and cars as they seek to be the first to the next stop light.

When the light changes to green we’re off! With the horn blaring and the driver muttering curses we careen our way down the street. As we approach the next stop everyone wonders if the driver is actually going to stop. He approaches the stop at full speed and then at the last second slams on the brakes and slides toward the curb, never worrying about pedestrians or cars. All of us who are crammed in and standing are propelled into the person in front of us and we hang onto the overhead hand rail hoping we won’t lose our grip, fall to the floor and be trampled by the exiting and entering passengers. In Russia, as a little child, you are taught to get on the bus as soon as the door opens,… so, as soon as the door opens the exiting passengers and the entering passengers collide in a tangle as each tries to make their way. The driver, still in a hurry waits impatiently. Other buses pull up behind ours and begin blowing their horns so our driver will leave. As the last passengers squeeze into the bus, some, barely in the door, the bus leaves. It’s not uncommon for a bus to start off with the door still open and a passenger trying to get up the stairs and onto the bus. If anyone is not all the way in, the door slams into them forcing them to step up the stairs and literally shove the people in front of them. This is very normal and not considered rude for the Russians, but oh, so very difficult for us westerners who were taught that it is very wrong to push and shove. We find that we have had to learn to act against our preconditioned thinking and behaving and act contrary to everything that “seems natural” to us in order to carry on here.

The ride across the city is complicated by the old Soviet city designs. Russian cities simply were not designed to handle the amount of traffic that they see today. In the Soviet era, only a few people were able to own cars. Traffic was light and most people rode public transportation. Nowadays more and more Russians are purchasing automobiles and learning to drive. City streets are jammed with cars and buses during the rush hours. On this particular trip a small fender bender caused traffic to back up about two miles on our side of the river. After riding in the Grand Prix, we rolled to a stop and then crawled bumper to bumper as we made our way over the bridge toward the train station. To get to the bus station we had to walk a quarter mile in the rain from the train station. Of course we were late!

An inter-city bus station

Arriving at the bus station, which looks a bit like an old warehouse in any inner city industrial area in America, we could see no buses headed toward Zavolzha. Ira stood in line for about ten minutes (we can discuss waiting in lines in Russia in future post) and found out that the next bus to Zavolzha didn’t leave for about 40 minutes. So, we bought our tickets and sat and waited. The bus arrived right on time and we were able to get decent seats. Off we went into the night.

An inter-city bus

The ride itself was uneventful. The driver was pretty good and nothing broke down. The bus wasn’t heated very well so we were cold and the windows were covered with condensation making it difficult to see anything on the ride. After arriving at the bus station in Zavolzha we walked from there, through the edge of town in the dark, crossed over the train tracks and made our way down a muddy, pot hole filled dirt road for about ½ a mile toward Vadim’s home with only a flash light to keep us from falling into the pot holes. Total time, door to door, 3 ½ hours.

The hot cup of tea we were offered when we arrived never tasted so good!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Wonderful Russian Family

Nikolai and Irena Tsaryovi with 4 of their six children

As we mentioned in our last post, we are in the beginning of a relationship with Nikolai and Irena Tsaryovi. This week we visited them in their apartment, had dinner together and just spent time getting to know one another. This family of 8 lives in a very small 2 room apartment. In America we would call it a three room apartment, but in Russia the kitchen is not counted. It is no wonder in this apartment as the kitchen is about five feet by five feet (which is smaller than the average walk in closet in an American home). It contains a small sink, a water heater, a very small and old refrigerator, an ancient two burner gas stove and a very tiny washing machine.

The living room (pictured here) also functions as the family room, dining room, and bedroom for Nick and Irena. Every night they roll out a thin mattress on the floor for their bed. The six children ranging in age from 2 ½ to 19 all sleep in the bedroom, dormitory style in three sets of bunk beds. We don’t say any of this to invoke sympathy for these folks, but rather to just shed some light on the living conditions of many families in Russia. Unlike most families, Nick and Irena made the decision to have a large family. They believe that children are a blessing from the Lord. The children are wonderful examples of what effect Christian parents can have. They were well behaved, gracious and friendly and obviously helpful and caring toward one another. It was a delight to have the honor of being invited into their home and into their family circle.

We hope to be able to help out this family and others by providing clothing for the children. If you or your church would like to be involved in this project please let us know. We can always use new, or good quality used clothing here. Many Christian families struggle with poverty due to the continuing economic woes in Russia. If you are interested in helping, drop us an email at . Anything you can do would be greatly appreciated. Clothing or other packages would need to be mailed, surface mail to our address. Shipping time is 6 to 12 weeks.

We will continue meeting with Nick and Irena weekly over the next months as we plan for the planting of the first Foursquare church in Nizhny Novgorod. Please pray with us that the Lord will send laborers into the harvest and that this new church will be a light in this desperately dark place. Pray that the Lord will provide the needed rental facility, the equipment and the finances to get this church up and running.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Russian Winter

Winter is upon us here in Russia. We have had snow several times and soon the ground will be blanketed until next spring. Winter here always reminds us of the harsh reality of life in Russia. Many Russian believers live below the poverty level set by the government. Orphanages struggle to cloth the children in their care.

We are often amazed by how little money Russian families live on. We recently met a Russian Pastor and his wife,Nikolai and Irina This couple has 6 children, which is a huge family by Russian standards. The average Russian family has one child. All other pregnancies are terminated by abortion.

Nikolai and Irina subsist on about $200 US per month. This is way below the poverty level. Their children range in age from university student to toddler. Nikolai works as a car mechanic often working 14 hours a day. Due to the destruction of the Russian economy and widespread unemployment, this is the only work he can find. Nikolai is a qualified pastor who leads a home Bible study. We hope to work with them in the near future to plant the first Foursquare church in Nizhny Novgorod.

Karen and I will be helping this family this winter. We though that our readers would want to know of ways they can do the same. If you would be interested in helping to bless this family or other Russian believers like them there are several ways you could do so.
  • You or your church could collect good quality used or new clothing and mail it to us. We could then distribute it to those in need.
  • You could make a financial donation which we could use to purchase clothing or food here in Russia.

We were thrilled to hear that the Bath Maine Foursquare church is sending a box of mittens, scarves hats and other items for us to distribute to orphans. This is a real blessing and we could use more items like this.

If this is of interest to you please let us know via email or by posting a comment to this article.

Monday, October 24, 2005

First Annual Russia Foursquare Leadership Conference

Conference attendees
We are back from our trip to Sochi, Russia. Sochi is a tourist city located in the southwest of Russia on the shores of the Black Sea. There are currently two churches in Sochi which are in the process of becoming a part of the Foursquare movement in Russia.

The first Foursquare Russia Leadership Conference was held in Sochi last week. About 45 leaders from several major areas of Russia attended. We were able to bring Vadim and Eduard, our church planting partners from the town of Zavolzha, and Pastors Igor and Olga Voronin, from the church Laza, here in Nizhny Novgorod.

Mike Larkin and Slava Naniyants, Russia National Leader

Jeff Roper our supervisor, and Mike Larkin, director of Foursquare Missions also attended. Mike was the morning speaker each day.

Time was spent in building ongoing relationship, casting vision for the future of Foursquare Russia, and ministering to one another. The second afternoon we held a business meeting to discuss the registration process for the churches and to elect/appoint regional representatives.
Nizhny Leaders at the Business meeting

Karen and I were able to spend an extra two days in Sochi relaxing before our trip home. The weather was cool and rainy but better than snow and ice, which we expect in Nizhny Novgorod soon. Unfortunately we both came down with some bug on our last day and we are still fighting the effects of this illness.

Karen and I: Note the Palm trees!

Below are some photos of the conference.

Russian Leaders from our city,
Nizhny Novgorod

Mike Larkin, Slava, Korean Foursquare Missionary to The Sakalin Islands, Russia, Yung Wan, and His Korean Pastor

Jeff and Debbie Roper our Foursquare Missions supervisors from America

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Book Reviews

The Key to Everything: By Jack Hayford

Recently I completed reading the book “The Key to Everything”, by Pastor Jack Hayford. Pastor Jack is also the President of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. . The book is published by creation House publishers and the ISBN # is 0-88419-415-9.
“The Key to Everything”, is an excellent book based upon the theme of giving. This is not another charismatic book on the blessing of financial tithing, but rather a book about the blessing of giving; giving love, forgiveness, acceptance, as well as giving financially. Hayford says that our attitude toward giving in any area of our life is the “key” to receiving the blessings of God. I was both encouraged and convicted while reading my way through this book. At no time does the book encourage manipulative or emotional giving.

In each chapter Hayford uses both personal anecdotes and scriptural teaching to share on different aspects of giving. I would encourage pastors to study this book closely and use it for teaching outlines in his or her congregation. The teaching is well balanced and Scriptural.

Territorial Spirits and World Evangelism: By Chuck Lowe

Territorial Spirits and World Evangelism is written by missionary Chuck Lowe, and published by Mentor/OMF. The ISBN # is 185792399-5.

In the last ten years a large number of books have been written about the theme of spiritual warfare and territorial spirits. Many of the books have been written by Peter Wagner or associates of his ministry. While I have a great deal of respect for Peter Wagner I do believe that at times he goes a bit overboard. Territorial Spirits and World Evangelism is a good counter-balance.

This book is described as “A Biblical, historical and missiological critique of Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare”. I found it to be well balanced and reasonably well written. I do not necessarily agree with all of Lowe’s conclusions, but I do think that the book is a good balance to some of the wilder theories concerning spiritual warfare.

The book is written from a non-charismatic/non-Pentecostal viewpoint, and should be considered in that light. Lowe is not a cessationist in theology and at no time does he dismiss the idea of the need for spiritual warfare. He does however take exception with some of the current teaching propagated by Wagner.

Lowe offers his rational for a different approach to spiritual warfare, a model based upon the life work of James Fraser, a missionary to the Far East at the turn of the twentieth century.

Overall I enjoyed this book very much. I would recommend it to anyone who has read Wagner’s books on the subject.


Tonight we will take the overnight train to Moscow and then tomorrow take a 2 hour flight to Sochi, a town in Southern Russia, located on the Black Sea.

We will be attending the first Russia Foursquare Conference for pastors and leaders. We expect about 50 people to attend including pastors and leaders from as far away as the Sakalin Islands, near Japan, Novosibirsk, a large city in Siberia, Chelyabinsk, a large city in the southern Ural mountains, Krasnodar in Southwest Russia, our city Nizhny Novgorod and several other locations.

We will be taking four Russian believers to the conference. Eduard Galyanov and Vadim Salovov, as well as Igor and Olga Voronin, Pastors of the church Loza (the Vine), which we attend.

Eduard and Vadim are the two brothers who will be planting a Foursquare Church in Zavolzha. Igor and Olga, are good friends, great pastors and leaders who are interested in the Foursquare movement in Russia.

The conference will run from Monday evening till Wednesday evening. We will be out of email and computer access for the entire week (unless we are able to go to a computer cafe), so we will update this blog sometime after the 22nd.

Keep us in your prayers as we will be near the areas of Russia that have been having much terrorist activity. Last week Muslim terrorists attacked a city called Nal'Chik, and about 100 people were killed in total.

Friday, October 14, 2005

David Brainerd

David Brainerd was born in Massachusetts in 1718. As a young man he studied for the ministry. He felt a call from God to serve as a missionary to the Indian tribes in what was then the wilderness area of Western Massachusetts. At that time, young men who desired to enter the ministry, apprenticed under a clergyman. In 1742 David was licensed to preach the Gospel, and was soon thereafter appointed as a missionary to the Indian tribes. He only lived five more years, dedicating his short life to preaching the Gospel to the Indians of Western Massachusetts.
He died Friday October 9, 1747 at 29 years of age.

I will begin a series of posts from David's diary. I believe that the book is a spiritual classic and should be read by every believer.

Here is an excerpt from his diary dated October 17, 1742

Lord's Day, October 17. Had a considerable sense of my helplessness and inability; saw that I must be dependent on God for all I want, and especially when I went to the place of public worship. I found I could not speak a word for God without His special help and assistance. I went into the assembly, trembling, as I frequently do, under a sense of insufficiency to do anything in the cause of God as I ought to do. But it pleased God to afford me much assistance, and there seemed to be a considerable effect on the hearers. In the evening, I felt a disposition to praise God for His goodness to me, that He had enabled me in some measure to be faithful. My soul rejoiced to think that I had thus performed the work of one day more, and was one day nearer my eternal and, I trust, heavenly home. Oh that I might be "faithful to the death, fulfilling as an hireling my day," till the shades of the evening of life shall free my soul from the toils of the day!.
This evening in secret prayer I felt exceeding solemn, and such longing desires after deliverance from sin and after conformity to God as melted my heart. Oh, I longed to be "delivered from this body of death"! I felt inward pleasing pain that I could not be conformed to God entirely, fully, and forever. I scarce ever preach without first being visited with inward conflicts and sore trials. Blessed be the Lord for these trials and distresses as they are blessed for my humbling.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Terrorists in Russia

If you have not heard, terrorists attacked a city in Southern Russia today. The attack was in a city called Nal'Chik. 60-80 people may be dead. Russian news is not very reliable and the death and injury counts are generally not correct. We will be close to this area next week attending a conference. We will probably be about 8 hours away from this town.

The terrorists are from the break-away territory of Chechnya. There is a 150 year or older history of bad blood, murder and genocide between the Chechens and the Russians. Russia conquered this area over 150 years ago. Stalin killed hundreds of thousands in the 1940s. The Chechens were deported enmasse to Siberia in the 1940s. The whole area is a mess and no one knows how to fix it. Add to this mix Muslim extremists and you can understand why this area is in turmoil.

Pray for the believers in this area. Russian Protestants are in extreme danger there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Life In a Russian Village

Karen and I live in Nizhny Novgorod, a city of about 1.5 million people. Depending on who you ask Nizhny Novgorod is the 3rd or 5th largest city in Russia. Russian cities are changing very rapidly. Ten years ago there were hardly any supermarkets and no malls outside of Moscow. Now nearly every large city has several of each. We have at least 10 supermarkets and five small malls in Nizhny Novgorod. Life in rural Russia however, has changed very little.

This summer we spent a week in the small town of Vacha. Vacha has a population of about 8000 people and is not really a village, but in Russia it is not considered a city, and there is no real Russian language equivalent for our word "town".
A typical street in Vacha.
As with many smaller Russian towns people live either in apartment buildings or wooden homes. The apartment buildings were built anywhere from the early 1930's and up to the present time. The building in this photo is of a typically apartment built in the 1940's. Russian apartment buildings can be pretty grim. The only comparison we can make to America is that they are like apartments in our inner city public housing projects.
A Soviet era apartment building (left) and a village home (below right).

In small Russian towns and villages many people live in traditional wooden homes. From the outside they look somewhat like our wood frame homes in America, but in reality the are log cabins. The log homes may or may not be covered with wooden plank siding. If they are in good repair and painted they are very charming. These log homes usually do not have running water and the bathroom facilities are "indoor" outhouses. The outhouse is a toilet room attached to the side or rear of the home. We stayed in such a home this summer.
All the household water must be carried from a local pump or well by hand. After you do this a few times, never have a shower, and use the outhouse on a regular basis, the charm of the log cabin tends to wear off.

Heat for these homes could either be hot water steam, or in the older homes there might be a traditional brick wood stove (pictured here) that is used for cooking baking and heating the home. In days past Russian families actually slept on top of these brick ovens on special built bed shelves. This would be good way to keep toasty warm on a cold Russian winter night.

That's me (Mike) in the light blue shirt, carrying water up the hill to the home where we stayed.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Time for an Update

We began this blog in June while we were in America. I mostly wanted to see how a blog worked and to see if it would be a worthwhile project.

Since being back in Russia we have been busy with life here. Language lessons, hosting an American team and just living our day to day life has kept us pretty busy.

Our son, Jon Mark, who is stationed somewhere in Kuwait recently wrote to me and said, "Hey what's the point of having a blog if you don't update it"? "Doh!. That point being well taken I will try and post regular updates and articles.

Today is Sunday, and in about an hour we are off to church. The picture is of Karen about 1 block from the church we attend.

Getting to church is a 40 minute bus ride and a 5 minute walk. We will be going to church today with Ira, a young woman who is a university student and a new believer. Ira is doing some interpreting work for us. Later in the day, back at our apartment we will be meeting with Edward and Vadim, two Russian guys who are in the process of planting a new church. This will be the second planted Foursquare church in Russia! (If you have any questions about Foursquare or planting churches just leave me a comment). Ira will interpret for us.

The weather today is pretty nice. Sort of like New England this time of year. Soon we will see some colder weather and snow. The days are getting shorter here. It is now dark by 7:00 PM. When we adjust for daylight savings time this month we will begin the long, dark winter days. We love Russia, but the winters can be a bit daunting.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Life in America:

We live in Russia most of the year. We have been living there for 14 months, but we also lived in Russia for 19 months in 1994-96. Life in America is very different and we see it through new eyes now.

American's seem to be obsessed by:
  • New and bigger everything
  • Mindless TV
  • To much food
  • Worthless "News"

Why as Americans do we buy into the need to always upgrade, always get something newer, or better, or tastier? Do we really think it is important to know what Paris is doing today? Will our life be any different if we know who Tom Cruise is dating this week?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Our Son and Iraq

Our son, Jon Mark recently received notice of activation for full-time service in the U.S. army. This is his third activation. He recently departed for Ft. Benning Georgia where he will receive advanced training. From there he will presumably deploy to Iraq.

As parents we have mixed feelings. We are proud of his service to our country and his patriotism. We are concerned about what awaits him. We worry about his young wife left behind. We mourn for all the soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in Iraq, and we also mourn for the thousands of dead and wounded Iraqi citizens, the orphaned children, the widows.

We believe that Saddam was a bad guy and needed to go, but we wonder if there was a better way to resolve the political probems in Iraq. None of this wondering and second guessing will change the present reality so we continue to pray for peace, stability and freedom in Iraq.

What do you think? Should we be in Iraq? Is it wise to bring freedom through a military invasion of a country? I have no answers, just questions.