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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Praise, Worship & Prayer - Rehab Center - near Nizhny Novgorod Russia

This is a brief video clip of recovering addicts having a time of worship & prayer. Notice that they are all wearing coats as the rehab center doesn't yet have a heating system. This was taped on September 24th.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another day, Another Video

This isn't great quality, but it gives you an idea of what the local rehab center looks like. This was shot while I was teaching this week. It was about 50 degrees outside and the building has not heat! About 25 people are living there. I love teaching these young believers!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Karen's Dance Lesson

Sometimes we just have fun doing things with friends. Here is a short video of our friend Olga Lukmonova teaching Karen some Russian dance steps.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Worship Video

This is a short clip of worship at one of the local charismatic churches in Nizhny Novgorod. The church is 15 years old and was founded by a former teacher. It is called the Vine and is one of the more successful churches in the city. They are currently building a worship center. In Russia it is often very beneficial to own a building as it adds legitimacy to your church. A protestant church is a somewhat less likely to be viewed as a cult if they have their own building.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Russian Funeral

This is a video of a Russian funeral procession. The people are waiting for the coffin to be carried out of the house and they will then walk along the street, carrying the coffin with the lid off, to a vehicle that will take it to the cemetery for burial. The music is live and was picked up by our video camera. We shot this from our living room window. It is an old video which is why you see snow on the ground even though today is September 17.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Birthday Video

Karen's birthday was in June, but a Russian friend just gave us this short video clip which she took. The song being sung is a traditional Russian birthday song.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Kenzie Mariah McDonald

Our son Jon Mark and daughter-in-law Heather are now the proud parents of Kenzie Mariah McDonald. Kenzie was born Friday, September 05, 2008. She weighs 7lbs, 3oz, and is 20 ¼ inches long. She is absolutely beautiful!!!!! Mom, Dad and baby are doing well. Kenzie is our 8th grandchild. As our Russian friends say - We are Rich -

Another Russian Wedding

On Saturday the 6th we participated in a day long celebration of the wedding of our young friends Artyom and Masha.

A Russian wedding day is interesting and different from an American wedding. If you are a part of the complete celebration you start by gathering early in the morning at the bride's home. There you help with breakfast while the bride has her hair done and prepares for the wedding. In a small Russian apartment things can get crowded and chaotic but still be lots of fun.

The Bride Getting Done Up

As the bride gets ready for her day the groom makes his appearance. He comes to claim his bride and Russian tradition is that there are a few games to play and tasks to accomplish in order for him to "buy" his bride before he is allowed access into the apartment. Finally the bridegroom is welcomed into the apartment. He greets his bride and everyone eats a light breakfast together of cold sausages, cheeses, fruits and candies.

The Groom Coming for His Bride

Artyom and Masha

Karen Helping Set the Breakfast Table

After breakfast the wedding party drives to the “Wedding Palace,” a government facility where civil marriage ceremonies are done. In many ways wedding here are done on a “conveyor system.” If there are a lot of weddings to complete that day your wedding party has a specific time scheduled and you get in line to wait your turn. When your number is called the wedding party enters a small wedding hall were the civil officials, with much pomp and circumstance begin the ceremony. There is usually someone who plays wedding music through a PA system while the officials talk about the purpose of marriage and finally after about 10 minutes pronounce the couple Husband and Wife.

As in America the groom kisses his bride, photos are taken and everyone is happy and smiling. After the ceremony you can go to another room where a professional photographer waits to take the official wedding party photo.

At The Wedding Palace

Once the civil ceremony is complete the wedding party drives to several different places throughout the city to take more photos and video. This can take anywhere from two to four hours. The bride and groom often have favorite or traditional locations where they want photos to be taken.

It is a tradition for the bride and groom to visit the local WWII war memorial place her bouquet there and have photos taken. It is interesting that this happens both in large cities with elaborate memorial parks and in simple villages with only a small stone memorial.

After several hours of photo and video shooting we all gathered at a local restaurant to enjoy the wedding meal and celebration. Because this was a marriage of believers the pastor of our church did a short Christian ceremony in the hall at the restaurant. This is often the case for Russian evangelicals. Most churches do not own their own buildings, which makes it difficult to have a church wedding.

After the ceremony and a prayer of blessing we began the elaborate meal with many courses and lots to drink. As this particular wedding was mixed believers and non-believers there was a lot of wine available, but the traditional multiple bottles of vodka had been left out. In Russia most believers will not drink alcohol, though a few do on social occasions.

The Wedding Meal

Before the wedding party arrived

The wedding feast is broken up by games, dancing and lots of fun. Karen and I had to take part in a dance contest, where we were voted #1 and received a prize, but it wasn't because we were so awesome and light of foot! It was more like they were having fun as well as mercy on the old doddering American couple. The day was a long one, but we had lots of fun. We finally arrived back home at 10:30 PM, 14.5 hours after leaving in the morning.

Church on Sunday

This is just a quick short post about church.

Cornerstone Church is running about 135 people in attendance on Sunday afternoons. This number has been fairly consistent over the summer months. Currently we are in “harvest” season in Russia. People often spend their weekends outside of the city at their gardens, picking and preserving food that will help them through the winter. We expect attendance to begin climbing at the beginning of October.


This Sunday we heard a good message about obedience and the blessing of God in our lives. We also celebrated the graduation of fourteen people from the basic believers class.

As usual at the end of the service Pastor Dmitry gave a call for repentance. Eight people responded to his appeal and came forward. After they were led in a prayer of repentance they received a New testament and an invitation to the next cycle of the New Believers class.

Those Who Repented