November 7, 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
The last month has been very eventful. First of all winter has come, it's now -10 outside and about -20 at night. But we are cozy and warm in our square log house, with a full woodshed of wood. God is Good!
After the last letter I wrote we were able to install our septic, thank you all very much!! We also had the excavator enlarge our moat" that runs along the front of our property. He also excavated a "sink hole" for our ditches to drain into. Our house in Takuchet sits in a bowl, and so the first few years we were hear we got flooded pretty bad. Every year I have improved the flood water management profile of our property and now, with these final excavations, I think we, and our neighbors should be dry this spring.
On the 4th of October Rebecca and I and the girls all went to the city. This was a planned trip, I need to renew my residency permit in November but I need to get all of the documents together for that permit in the city well in advance. We also needed to file to get a permanent residency permit for baby Kirsten. Normally this process, at least in the past, has entailed a long list of documents. Financial reports, AIDS test, venereal disease test, drug test, TB test, and so on. For an adult these can be intrusive and exhausting. For a six month old baby they are completely beyond the pale of tolerance, not to mention the trauma to the babies parents! So you can imagine our elation, our ecstasy, our complete sense of relief when I was told by our helpful migrations officer that "the law has changed, all of those requirements are no longer required for extension or for minor applicants whose parents already have residency permits." PRAISE THE LORD! I wept from relief, literally when I heard that I wouldn't have to haul my baby through that ordeal. What a blessing. They did add an expensive Russian language and Social Studies test, which I aced with no trouble. Rebecca will have to take this test next year and I think she'll breeze right through it as well. What a blessing.
We were in the city for 13 days, as I mentioned primarily to deal with documents. But we also were able to do a lot of outreach as well. I ended up giving four lectures, two about home-education and two about farming (one of these was open to the public, one was for the students of the Krasnoyarsk State Agricultural Institute). I also had 8 media appearances (mainly TV but also a radio show which was fun). Through the "merry milk man" phenomena God has really opened up, and continues to open up, a lot of oppurtunities to speak into peoples lives. In all my lectures and media appearances I am unapologetic about the reasons why we are in Russia, our faith and the Gospel.
Speaking of media appearances I wanted to mention here how God is using our "virtual" presence in Russia as well. I just got news from the 11th rural missionary who has been inspired to move out to the village, or to start a work in a village where they already live, since last August. Most of the people who have written to me about starting a ministry are using our model, starting a farm as a "tent making" venture and starting a church in several villages at once. This year has really been a year of unseen multiplication. I have also received word from nearly 60 people (both believers and non believers) who were inspired to leave the city and start a farm. I believe that for the believers this is the first step towards active ministry in the nearby villages, and for the non believers who are beginning farmers, I pray that God would touch them and then eventually they may also begin to minister to the villages around them, in due time! So even though my farming or home education lectures are not strictly evangelical in nature, I take every opportunity to share the message of Christ and village missions, and God has been using that in amazing ways.
I was also able to preach in two churches while we were in the city. Please pray that all these seeds that are sown would germinate and sprout and produce a plentiful crop of souls for Christ and workers for the Kingdom!
While we were in the city we also put our farm/family/ministry vehicle through the gantlet of garages and mechanics. Keeping a vehicle on the road can be expensive, especially when your roads are dirt and the vehicles are old. But I couldn't imagine not having a good car, and I wanted to just say thank you to all of you who help us keep these rigs on the road. They literally help "drive" our ministry! So we got our Delica out of the shop, Rebecca and I drove home and then I let the work crew for the orphanage use it to drive up here to start the last stage of the orphanage construction.
Unfortunately, four miles from home somehow the antifreeze drained out of the Delica and the engine overheated. It blew a head gasket for sure, and we are now in the process of diagnosing the engine to see how much damage was down to the engine block and head itself. So exasperating to get the car out of the shop, a rebuilt fuel pump, a ton of work done on the suspension, breaks pads replaced, new tires, some wiring problems fixed, just to now be rig-less again! We actually have a second car, a Honda Odessey that was donated to us by a believer in Krasnoyarsk last December, so it was a good backup rig, except the crew boss (of the orphanage construction crew) had asked to borrow the Odyssey to go to a church conference in Boguchany and broke the ignition lock while driving it. So, we now have two cars, both in good "working condition", but neither work!!!
This actually is an area I need a lot of prayer in. I personally do not drive, and Rebecca can not drive every time we need something, so I end up relying on a lot of extra help to drive me, or to drive for us. Consequently I have a lot of people telling me that everyone else except themselves is an awful driver, or that their crazy and wild driving style is actually rational and calm and if I only drove myself I would understand. Well I do understand that these drivers have a cumulative tendency in destroying cars faster than I can repair them! So I need wisdom in how to deal with drivers, how to set up good rational guidelines for drivers and how to follow through with consequences when drivers destroy things. Please pray for this, that we can get the Delica and the Odyssey running with as little outlay as possible and that I would have wisdom to deal with my drivers.
As I mentioned above, the work crew for the Orphanage showed up in Oseenavy Mees to finish the work on the orphanage. Hopefull by the beginning of December the orphanage construction saga will be over! Five US teams, four Russian contractors, things done over several times, but we are finally on our last and final push! What we will have is a beautiful 2670 sqr foot facility, fully functional and capable of housing up to 20 children and their parents. The only problem? The parents. PLEASE continue to PRAY that the Lord would provide that perfect family, to use this facility. Back in 2007, I was naive, I sincerely believed that the problem with ministry was the lack of resources, facilities or and infrastructure. And while these are needs, more often than not the limiting factor is, as always, laborers for the Kingdom. So pray that the Lord of the Harvest, the Father of the fatherless, would send a family who would use this facility to minister to the orphans of this region.
On the down side, I have been having some health issues. I had a pretty bad asthma attack that started on the 24th of September, just a few days after I got home from Kemerova, and lasted till the 5th of October when Rebecca and I went to the city. I had another serious asthma attack on Oct 18, three days after getting back from the city with Rebecca and the girls. This attack was life threatening and I only got real relief by heading South to Krasnoyarsk. I stayed in Krasnoyarsk for the remainder of October, just about two weeks. Following the suggestions of a pneumologist, I borrowed an industrial Ozone generator from a friend and bought a pretty high grade three stage air cleaner and sent them home. Rebecca set these up in the house and cleaned the air in the house for about a week before I returned. I got back in the village yesterday and so things seem to be doing, although not a hundred percent better, at least controllable.
As I shared in my last email, I think the Lord is moving us from hear, and my continued asthma issues, which seem to only flare up when I am in Takuchet or Oseenavy Mees, seem to be confirmation of this, or at least more evidence on the side of moving on. Please pray for healing and for guidance as we pray about the next step. Please also pray that God would provide a pastor to lead the churches in Takuchet and Oseenavy Mees, both so that we can take a long overdue furlough in the US to see family and friends, as well as to free us up to make the next step. As always, the need is laborers.
Rebecca and the girls are doing very well. The girls continue to blow our minds with their memorization ability, they both recited 1 Corinthians 13 in church the other Sunday and are going to be reciting Ephesions 6:10-19 "The Armor of God" next Sunday. They are both learning to read and write and count and do basic math this year. We have been blessed with our girls! Kirsten continues to be a perpetual source of Sunshine! A happier baby I have never seen! Rebecca got a hand cranked carding machine and is merrily carding her way through two years worth of sheep wool, the little machine is an "industrial revolution" compared to the carding brushes she used to use! Rebecca has also started making soap for us, and to sell to our farm produce clientele! I really did get a Proverbs 31 woman for a wife! Speaking of which, she is sitting next to me as I write this prepping hides for tanning! So I'll wrap this up, let her read and edit for me and do some hide prepping myself!!
Thank you so much for your prayer! Thank you so much for lifting us up. As Paul says in Ephesians, pray for us that we may always open our mouths boldly to declare the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Justus Rebecca, Tirzah, Adara and Baby Kirsten