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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Thank the Lord for the Internet

The Internet is a remarkable tool which makes missionary life much easier and bearable. Because of this technology we can do so many things that just a few short years ago where so much more difficult, if not impossible. This blog is a good example. It is an excellent way to keep our supporters updated about the work we do here.

Internet phone services are also wonderful tools. We use Skype Internet phone service. Yesterday, on Christmas day we were able to make 4 phone calls to America from our computer. The connection was very clear and the total cost for over an hour of conversation with our family in three different states was about $1.20.

Internet chatting is nice also. Every day we are able to chat with our families in America. This goes a long way toward alleviating the loneliness of family separation. We also feel connected to America as we are able to read the news daily on the Internet. We actually have a high speed internet connection which is sent to our apartment via a wireless connection from a tower in the city.

We remember 1994-96 when we served our first term in Russia. Email technology was new. Our computer had a DOS email program. All of the phone lines in Russia were analog and party (shared) lines! We had an auto-dialer for the email program and it would often dial the connection 100 times or more before it connected. Often it would not connect for days. When another person would pick up their phone on our shared connection, our connection would crash and we would have to start the whole process over again. This happened continually. We often spent 4-5 hours just trying to collect a few emails.
In 1995-96 we didn't even have a phone in our apartment. We would have to take a tram across the city in the sub-zero weather, to an apartment we rented as an office, to use that telephone. At that time we were living in the city of Dzerzhinsk. The office of our Internet service was in Nizhny Novgorod, 30 miles away. If we had problems with the service providers software we had to take our laptop (A Toshiba with a 360 processor) on the train to Nizhny and then across Nizhny to the office, the total trip would take about 5 hours. Life here is not as conveinent as in Ameria, but the Internet has certainly helped things.

Automobile Fund Update

As many of you know, we are raising funds to purchase a much needed vehicle (see the post below titled "Ministry Update October 23). Our stated goal is $20,000.00 though we may be able to purchase a vehicle for closer to $15,000.

When we left America on November 30th we had close to $8000.00 in our automobile fund, all of which had been raised in 3 short months. We now have nearly $9000 so our goal is becoming reachable. We want to ask you to pray with us for that goal to be met and consider a possible gift to the fund if the Lord should speak to you.

Thanks for all you do to help keep us serving in Russia.

Mike and Karen

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Greetings from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia!

Christmas Greetings from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia!

We pray that this season will be full of Joy, Hope and Peace as you celebrate the birth of our Savior and the New Year.

We will be celebrating the holidays here in Russia. This will be the first Christmas that we have not shared with our families in our 31 years of marriage. We miss our family especially at this time of year. But we are happy to be serving the people of Russia.

We do have a Christmas tree and are enjoying listening to some Christmas music. One side note is that in almost every retail store we have been in recently we have heard American Christmas music playing!

Below, you will find several new posts telling about life here.

God Bless you during the holiday season

Michael & Karen McDonald

Clothing Distribution

Here are some photos of families who have received packages of clothing which were sent by the NNE Foursquare churches. These clothing packages have been a real blessing to families who daily struggle to clothe and feed their children. Many of these families, because of the choices they make as believers, work for wages far less than they might otherwise. As members of the Body of Christ, you have blessed Russian families during the Holiday Season.

The clothing is being distributed to Christian families, non-believers and orphanages.

Thank you to all individuals and churches who have sent clothing. We still have 6-8 packages in process and will distribute them as they arrive.

We especially want to thank Ginger and David Wheat who headed up a clothing drive from Harvest Christian Fellowship, Manchester, and who paid for much of the postage for over 25 boxes of clothing! Thanks Ginger and David.

Winter is here!

It is finally winter here. After some unusually warm weather in the high 30s and 40s it has at last turned to real winter weather. We are experiencing temperatures in the high teens and twenties. The ground is frozen and covered in snow. The Volga and Oka rivers have still not frozen over which is unusual.

The nights are really long here now. On December 22 daylight was at 8:30 AM and it was dark by 4:00 PM

Yesterday we took a 30 minute bus ride outside of town to the new MegaMall. It’s true, we now have a large western style shopping mall right outside of town. There is a food court, an IKEA furniture store, an OBI which is similar to a Home Depot, and a supermarket called Ashan, which is similar to a Super Wal-Mart. Along with this there are the usual clothing, and shoes stores, etc. The mall even has a small indoor ice skating rink!

Russia is changing rapidly. New malls and other western conveniences are popping up around the country. Yet within ½ a mile of this new mall with it’s several thousand parking spaces, you will find small Russian villages with no indoor bathrooms, and perhaps being heated by wood. We are amazed that Russians can afford to shop at the mall as the prices in general were higher than prices for the same type items in America. We have been shocked at the continuing high prices for clothing and other consumer goods here. In general here we pay less rent and utilities but almost everything else is more expensive than in America. This obviously leaves many families scraping to make ends meet.

We hope to get a few photos of the mall soon to post on this blog.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fall Foursquare Russia Conference

While Karen and I were in America the Fall Foursquare Leadership Conference was held near Sochi, Russia. Nick Tsaryov and his wife Ira, our church planters in Nizhny Novgorod were able to attend. Here is a report from Jeff Roper:

At the annual Foursquare Russia conference, held at the end of October in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea, leaders from across Russia gathered representing the 15 Foursquare Churches in Russia.

Key note speakers at this conference were Ap and Anita Verwayen of Holland, Jeff and Debbie Roper, Regional Coordinators for Eastern Europe, and Slava Naniyants, national leader of Foursquare Russia.

The three day event was marked by powerful ministry times and wonderful fellowship. Even though Russia is a vast country comprising 9 time zones, the unity and fellowship of the Foursquare church is vibrant and growing.

The Foursquare Church of Russia is now developing resources and strategies to further equip local pastors and leaders, effectively evangelize and disciple converts, plant churches, reach out to those in bondage to drugs and alcohol through rehabilitation centers, and starting a training center for the purpose of equipping future leaders.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Back to Russia

Hello from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia!

We are now back online as it took a week to get our internet connection up and running again.

We arrived back in Nizhny Novgorod on Friday night December 1 at 11:30 PM. It was a long trip of nearly 30 hours and we were really relieved to finally arrive. One really cool thing was that due to our new residency status we were able to go through the "citizens" line at the airport. This made getting through customs a bit easier and we also did not need to fill out the usual customs forms required by foreigners. We also did not need to register with the city officials and get the stamp on our visas! This is pretty neat and certainly is a time saver. Registering and getting the stamp in the past could takes several trips to multiple offices over several days. One last thing, we also did not need to get a new aids test, another benefit of being a resident.

We are still dealing with a bit of jet lag. We find that the jet lag is much worse coming from America to Russia rather than Russia to America. We both also picked up colds on the plane ride. Despite the jet lag and colds we have plunged back into language study, having had three lessons so far. The lessons have mostly been review of previous material and our tired brains have been stretched to the maximum.

Tomorrow (Sunday the 10th of December) we will be meeting with our church planters from Zavolzha, Eduard and Vadim. We have a planning session to prepare for our concert outreach next month. We will be hosting a small team from the First Nations Bible Institute, a Foursquare Bible school in Los Angeles. Randy and Cheryl Barnetson will be leading the team and Cheryl will be doing several concerts in this area. The team will also be speaking in churches and schools. Please pray with us for this team. It is illegal to evangelize in either schools or public theaters. We will need both wisdom and favor to use the gifts of the team in creative ways as we and they seek to share the Gospel with the Russian people and work toward establishing a new church in Zavolzha.

It is unusually warm in Russia right now. The temperature has been in the low 40s most of the week. The snow has melted and everything is muddy, grey and drab. This is kind of depressing and we are looking forward to some snow to cover over the mud and trash.

Here are a couple of views from our living room window

Prayer Request!

Mike broke a tooth this week and will need to visit a dentist soon. Pray that we will find a competent dentist that can take care of the problem without a lot of hassle, pain or cost.