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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Russian Health Issues and Pollution

There have been several interesting articles concerning Russia on the internet recently. One article posted on named three Russian cities as among the ten most polluted cities in the world. One of the cities, Dzerzhinsk, is where Karen and I lived with our children in 1994-96. Dzerzhinsk is only about 30 miles from where we currently live. At that time we would often wake up in the morning, look out our window and see a chemical haze hanging in the air. We still visit Dzerzhinsk on a regular basis to speak at the church we planted there in the 90s. In fact many chemical dumps, chemical waste incinerators and dumping sites exist all thourghout the area in which we live.

Here is what the MSNBC article said:

"42-year life expectancy
According to the report, the 300,000 people in Dzherzhinsk, a chemical weapons manufacturing site during the Cold War era, have a life expectancy about “half that of the richest nations.” The life expectancy for men in the city is about 42 years and about 47 for women."

The link to read the full article is

Here is another article describing the pollution in Dzerzhinsk and the surrounding area:

and this is from an article at:

"Dzerzhinsk leads the Nizhny oblast in problematic pregnancies, with more miscarriages and anemia, and complications during childbirth. The infant mortality rate stands at 20.3 per thousand, and that the death rate is 2.4 times the birthrate. The WHO has found human milk in Dzerzhinsk mothers to be highly toxic, with high levels of PCBs. It's so bad that they even called for the reduction of breast feeding.

A few steps have even been taken to improve peoples' health. Up until the mid-90s, two villages in the shadow of one of Dzerzhinsk's largest factories -- plastic producing Kaprolaktan -- drank from wells, despite the toxic sludge within a stone's throw. Now their water is piped in. But even today, some locals will go fishing in the shadow of the factory, a few hundred feet from a canal filled with red-brown sludge that carries ethyl-benzene, phenantrene, isomeric acid and other goodies from the Sintez factory into the Oka river.

Cows graze right next to the 50 hectare White Sea, so called because of the huge amounts of polyvinyl chloride and ammonia left over from cyanide production at Kaprolaktan that give the water a white glow. In the same area, levels of mercury and PCBs -- highly toxic compounds believed to be carcinogenic and now banned in the US -- multiplied standard levels by hundreds to thousands of times. DDT has been found exceeding acceptable limits by up to 21,000 times. Here the stench is also unbearable. And Levashov estimates there are up to 60 such waste dumps, although not all as dramatic."

As you might imagine, living 30 miles from one of the most polluted places on the face of the earth, and ministering there, can be potentially hazardous to your health. Much of the drinking water for our city comes from the river were the chemical plants pour the waste materials. Much of the produce we eat is grown in soil heavily comtaminated with PCBs, dioxins, DDT and heavey metals As you read this and think about us, the believers and other residents of this area , please pray for our health and safety.

Mike and Karen

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

On the Road Again - Part 2

On Sunday October 15 we traveled from Charlestown New Hampshire to South Royalton Vermont. That morning we spoke at "The Journey", South Royalton Foursquare Church, pastored by Dave and Anna Wright.

An Early Morning Scene
The Connecticut River, crossing a bridge from New Hampshire into Vermont

A view from our car, Route 91 North heading toward South Royalton, Vermont

"The Journey"

Foursquare Church, South Royalton Vermont

On the Road Again - Part 1

We have been busy the last few weeks visiting churches every weekend. We had a great time in Skowhegan, Maine were pastors Jeff and Laura Gurney and their congregation hosted us. The Skowhegan Foursquare Church is one of our earliest supporters and faithfully give each month to keep us on the field.

The Kennebeck River runs through Skowhegan and the entire area was beautiful as the fall foliage was near it's peak.

On the road to Skowhegan Maine

Kennebeck River Skowhegan Maine

Skowhegan Maine Foursquare Church

Central Maine Christian Center

The following week we visted Charlestown, New Hampshire where we attended and participated in a missions conference Friday night and all day Saturday. On Sunday morning we left Charlestown, New Hampshire for South Royalton Vermont were we spoke in the morning service at the South Royalton Foursquare Church.

On our way to Charlestown, New Hampshire we passed through Walpole, New Hampshire. This is the building where the Walpole Foursquare Church meets.

We saw this sign in a yard on a side street in Charlestown, New Hampshire

We stayed in this beautiful home while in Charlestown, New Hampshire

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Live Web Cam

If you ever want to see a live view of Nizhny Novgorod, follow this link.

This is from a web cam located on the fourth floor of a bank in Nizhny Novgorod. It is live 24/7. The view is of Gorky Square. We live about 15 minutes walk from here. Timewise Nizhny Novgorod is 8 hours ahead of New England, except for a brief period when daylight savings time starts before it does in New England.

While you are watching please take a moment and pray for Nizhny Novgorod and the surrounding area. Pray for:

  • Hearts open to the Gospel
  • Supernatural encounters with Christ among the people of Russia
  • Laborers for the work in the area
  • Sufficient funds for the work of church planting
  • Health and safety for the missionaries serving in Nizhny Novgorod
  • Complete political freedom for the church in Russia

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


We have been in the U.S. for a little over a month. We are enjoying seeing our family and friends and meeting some new friends, but we are actually getting anxious to get back to Russia. Russia is our now home and we miss it. I (Mike) have been enjoying being able to watch football on TV!
We will be speaking in churches every Sunday from now until we leave on November 30th. We will be attending and particpating in a Missions Conference in Charlestown NH. We are looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with our extended family.

As many of our readers know we have been praying for finances to purchase a 4 wheel drive vehicle for more than a year. When we arrived in the U.S. we had no money set aside for a vehicle. Since we have been in America we have received over $4500.00 toward the purchase of a vehicle! We are thankful for this, and continue to pray for the rest of the needed funds.

Our goal is $20,000 With this we can purchase a reasonably good quality Russian made vehicle large enough to carry 5-6 people and equipment, and pay for the registration and insurance for one year. We can purchase a smaller Russian made vehicle for about $15,000 Car prices in Russia have risen about 12% to 15% over the last year due to inflation and a drop in the exchange rate for the dollar.

We will make our final decision on the purchased based upon timing and money available. We could also possibly purchase a used imported vehicle such as a Nissan or Honda. They are more reliable than Russian made but expensive, starting in the $15,000 range. The new imported vehicles are prohibitively expensive due to high import taxes in Russia. For example a Nissan X Terra which would work well for us, lists for about $21,000 in America and $35,000 in Russia.

This is an UAZ Patriot a Russian made 4 wheel drive SUV that sells for about $18,500. It seats six and has a lot of storage space for equipment.

To the right is an UAZ Hunter which sell for about $15,000. Not as comfortable as the Patriot but has the same seating and storage capacity.

This is a Chevy/Niva which seats four and sells for about $15,000. It is smaller than either UAZ model but probably more comfortable than the UAZ Hunter. It is nor as heavy duty as either of the UAZ models. It is the only vehicle of the three that has air conditioning. Few Russian made vehicles feature air conditioning. Despite being so far north, Russian summer can be brutally hot.

Pray with us as we seek the rest of the needed finances. A vehicle will help us in ministry in Russia as our opportunities have increased and we need to travel more.