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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sunday Service - Serving Means Many Things

Sunday was an interesting day.  Because Cornerstone church is currently meeting at 3:00 PM our day began late.

Last Wednesday Pastor Dmitry had asked  Karen to preach this week on the topic of making Jesus the center of our families and she brought a wonderful message.   She firmly represented the idea that a marriage is not a hierarchical structure, but rather a mutual relationship of servanthood and submission to one another with Christ as the center of the relationship. It was interesting watching as people listened intently with many taking notes and nodding in agreement.

Just as the service was starting, we noticed some old friends from another city enter the hall.  The family, a mother with her son and daughter, is from Dzerzhinsk and to our knowledge had never been to the church in Nizhny Novgorod.  The mom and daughter had actually given their lives to Christ 16 years ago under our ministry in Dzerzhinsk.  At that time the son, Nikita, was only 4 years old.  The last time that we saw Nikita was about 6 years ago when he was still in high school and now he is a young man 20 years of age.

After the service the daughter came up to greet us with her mom and brother not far behind.  I noticed that Nikita had a large duffle bag with him which gave me a clue as to why they were here this day.  We asked the mom, and as we suspected, Nikita had been using drugs and found himself addicted.  This is such a common story in Russia.  Young people are bored and searching for something more in life.  Drugs are easy to come by and many young people use them.  Nikita had grown up in church with a believing mother, but sadly, was now a drug addict. 

 While we chatted with the daughter, the mom spoke with the leaders of the Balakhna center. They told her to bring Nikita to the church office the next day, and they would drive him to the center and admit him.  Tatiana was worried that Nikita might change his mind if he went back home so she asked if it was possible to go to the center that night. Pastor Oleg told her he would not be returning that evening, but that they could take a bus to the center and the leaders there would induct Nikita that night.  This was not a realistic option since the bus trip would take about 2.5 hours and then mother and daughter would not be able to make it back to their own home because the buses would stop running for the night.

As Karen and I watched this unfold it was clear to us that we could and should drive them to the center.  These people were like family to us so we canceled our evening plans. 

Unfortunately our car was back at our apartment because we had come to church with friends, so while I stayed with our friend as she made arrangements for her son to enter the program, Karen left without me to go home and get the car ready.  It had been snowing for about 10 hours and by now we had another 6” or 8” of snow which was blowing and drifting.

The family and I took public transport back to our home where Karen was ready and waiting.  As we all loaded into the car the snow was falling furiously.  The temperature was near zero and our Russian car fought to keep the windows from icing over.  Through the heavily falling snow we drove for an hour and a half across the city and out into the darkness, past outlying villages to the small village of Mogiltsy where the rehab house is located.

We teach at this center every week so we know most of the people.  We were greeted warmly and Nikita and his mom began the induction process.  Meanwhile Karen and I had fun hanging out and conversing with several of the residents.  It was cold at the center!  Only about 60F inside. Everyone was wearing jackets and some had blankets around them. By this time it was almost 8:00PM and when the leaders asked if we would stay for the evening meal we gladly accepted as we had not eaten since lunchtime. 

After supper Mom and sister said their good-byes and off we went into the swirling snow to take our friends back to their home in Dzerzhinsk.  The road was icy and the wind was howling, but we arrived safely within an hour.  

After saying good-bye to our dear friends we began our final drive of the night back to Nizhny Novgorod about 50 minutes away.  The snow was still falling, blowing and drifting, and the road was icy, but we made it home with no problems, feeling satisfied that our day had been productive and helpful.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A Day In The Life

On Friday we drove north of the city to the town of Balakhnah to teach at the Cornerstone rehab center, and then later we drove to the town of Gorodets to teach at the homeless shelter also operated by Cornerstone Church. Here are some photos and video of the day.

 The view as we leave our driveway

On the road to our co-worker Sveta's  apartment

People double park right in the road!

 The side street where Sveta lives

We saw this Hummer2 Pick-up on the way!

The sign below the large yellow sign is an advertisement for Viagra - only 100rubles! (about $3)

Going towards the river from the center of the city. 

Down the hill to the new bridge

And, over the river we go

A church on the lower side of the river

Traveling through the lower city

And finally, an hour after we leave our apartment, we are at the edge of the city. 
Traffic was not bad this day

On the open road outside the city

1/2 hour later we see the driveway to the rehab center

The Banya/washroom and laundry drying outside

Worship with the rehabilitants

More worship - peoples' lives being changed

17 people at the center presently
They are asking the Lord to send them 50

On the road, heading to Zavolzhe and then Gorodets
Snow and freezing rain was falling

After stopping at the supermarket to buy fruit for our friends at the homeless center,
we are on the road driving across the dam on the Volga river and it is getting darker.

By the time we arrive in Gorodets it is dark and snowing 

The snow covered dirt road to the homeless center.
In the spring it is a sea of mud.

This is the small kitchen inside the homeless center
 for the current population of about 20 people.
The house has two small bedrooms, a large living room and this kitchen
Most of the homeless are sleeping on mattresses on the floor.

Some of the brothers and sisters at the center.
  We hear some great stories of God's grace here.
What we see when we are driving

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