Yesterday we received a phone call from Pastor Nick, asking us if we would like to join his family for a walk along the river. Of course we said yes, so about an hour later, he arrived with Irina, his wife and their youngest daughter, Anya. We packed ourselves into his trusty little Oka automobile and headed to the river, which is about a 10 minute drive from our apartment. When we arrived at the river bank we saw that Nick’s son, Igor and another daughter, Masha, had walked to the river so that we could ride in the car.
We spent about ½ an hour walking and talking, and then Nick chose a place to build a fire and have a cookout, Russian style. Most of us ran around picking up trash and litter while Igor gathered firewood and started a small fire. We roasted hot dogs (chicken dogs, not my favorite) on sticks over the fire and ate them with bread, apples and oranges. We had some warmed home-made fruit juice to drink. The whole time we were chatting with one another, using all the English and Russian we knew, trying to understand and be understood. It was nice to see this well adjusted Russian family spend a Sunday afternoon together, and to be invited to be a part of their family time.
The afternoon was delightful. The weather was warm and sunny and we enjoyed watching the boats passing up the Volga River.
The only thing that marred the afternoon were the quantities of trash that littered (covered) the entire riverside. Nizhny Novgorod is a very dirty city, and the riverbank is no exception. The embankments look almost like a landfill in places. Many Russians will drop their trash and litter wherever they are. It doesn’t matter if there is a trash container nearby, they will still throw their trash on the ground. To us this reflects some of the deep spiritual sickness which grips this country. Why would you trash the place where you live? It seems to be a symptom of a deeper sense of hopelessness and despair. Added to this was the thought that nothing belongs to you, so why take care of it, which was the result of 75 years of communism and centuries of serfdom. We long to see this spiritual despair turned into new life through Christ. Only a living relationship with God can cause the changes that are needed here. The Gospel message of hope and life is desperately needed here. Pray with us for more laborers in the harvest.
Trash along the river bank
Monastary on the Volga River
Above the monastary is the apartment building where we used to live
In the far distance you can see the
Bridge over the Volga river