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Monday, April 16, 2007

School Outing

On the 11th of April we took a 2 hour bus ride to the town of Zavolzha. We had been invited there to give a brief presentation about life in America to several classes of Jr. High students.

After the presentation and a quick lunch we and a select group of the students boarded a small bus and rode to Gorodets, about 20 minutes away. In Gorodets we picked up a few more students and adults and rode into the countryside where we visited a “Holy Spring”, which was located in an area near were an ancient Russian Saint, Nickolai had lived.

The Entrance to the Spring

The Spring

Water has an interesting place within the Russian spiritual and secular culture. We don’t quite understand it but Russians have a reverence and somewhat superstitious belief in the power of water to heal and to cleanse. Russia abounds in “Holy Springs”, sites were natural springs are places of pilgrimage forOrthodox believers. They drink the water, bathe in the water and carry away vessels of water to their homes. Often the locations are related to a “saint” who lived in the area. Presumably the springs were originally places were the saint came for drinking water and over the years they acquired a reputation of being “holy places”. During our visit dozens of people came to drink water and to take water home in jars or jugs.
You Can Bathe Here

We took a quick hike to see the spring, and then came back to the parking area were we had the treat of seeing water for tea heated in an authentic Russian Samovar, a tea kettle which is heated by placing small burning embers and charcoal into a central pipe. The pipe heats the water which is surrounding it in the samovar. You can see the samovar in the 3rd picture below, sitting on the table.

Sharing the Easter Story

Traditional Russian Easter Food
Notice the "Orthodox" Cross

The children and adults had also prepared some traditional Russian Easter food for us. As we stood in the cold wind drinking our tea and eating our snacks several students gave a presentation about Easter, and an woman who is an Orthodox believer told the story of Easter using a Bible and picture book. Unfortunately the presentation was a bit boring and the young teens hardly listened. There probably are better ways to present the Gospel, but this woman was at least trying to do so. Because Karen and I are not “Orthodox” we are forbidden to speak to children about the Gospel in a school setting. Our hope is to build strong relationships and then be able to share about our faith in a natural way, outside of the school setting.

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