Friday, January 3, 2014

Furlough Is Upon Us! (2013-2014)

In an effort to catch up on our ministry I wanted to first of all let everyone know that our family flew out of Krasnoyarsk, Russia on November 6th to begin a short five month furlough. Since we have our permanent residency permits, we can only be outside the borders of Russia for no more than six months. That is why we take a shorter furlough.
Now, I have to tell you that the weeks approaching our furlough were a whirlwind. We had so much work we wanted to get done on our house to make it more "user-friendly" for the new missionary couple that would be moving in and taking care of our house, pets, and church family. So, to say that we were physically and mentally ready for a furlough is an understatement!
However, this was the first furlough for us to where we have had to leave so many new converts, as well as, people we were establishing relationships with and witnessing to on a regular basis. Therefore, we had a difficult time leaving! There were tears shed by all as we had our last services before our departure.

We were so touched by people who came to our house to say goodbye and take pictures with us reminding us to not forget them and to return "home" to Russia! How could we forget!? We will miss them terribly!

James and Amber Pranger arrived approximately a week and a half before we were to fly back to the US. They are taking care of our ministry, house, and pets while we are gone on furlough. James' parents had been missionaries in Russia since James was six years old. Growing up as an MK in Russia means James is able to "hit the ground running" and preach and witness in Russian as soon as his feet land on Russian soil.
We met Amber during a survey trip they took here to Krasnoyarsk a few years ago. This time however they have brought their little son, Jacob, along with them and he is definitely a popular little "item" around the village!

This photo is dark but I love it as the girls gathered around little Jacob Pranger to take pics together!

Once our departure date arrived, the kids were all excited to be traveling somewhere, to fly again on an airplane, and to see their extended family. So, our adventure begins with a five hour flight to Moscow. We also had a twelve hour layover in Moscow but us parents had no desire to spend all  that time getting across town to Red Square so we decided to take a shorter trip... and just find the "golden arches"!

Waiting for the AeroExpress train to head to another station.

Sleep deprivation is only slightly obvious at this point.

Moscow is overwhelming to me. The streets are very wide and getting from point A to point B requires a lot of walking or if you are in a car, sitting in traffic for hours. It is such a busy city full of people!
 The McDonald's restaurants are so nice and, in our opinion, the food is much more fresh and yummy in Moscow than in the US! 

We can almost taste the Big Macs now!

McDonald's here are often two story buildings, very clean...

...and very busy!!


As we sat and enjoyed our unhealthy, yet delicious meal, we had a nice window seat view of a huge shopping mall across the street. There are many shopping malls in Russia like this one but in Moscow they are even larger and several stories tall.

Often they are ornately decorated and seem almost like cities within themselves.

After our long stop in Moscow it was time for us to continue our adventure with a two and a half hour flight on to Germany. We arrived late in the evening.When we fly back to the States we do our best to spend one night sleeping in a hotel either in Moscow or the next country stop.  The jet lag seems to really get you when the whole time you've been flying it is daylight outside! After finally finding a taxi from the airport, we were driven to our hotel. It was a bit interesting as the driver didn't know where the hotel was so we took a little longer to get there. On the way we all enjoyed listening to him yell the name of the hotel in German into his phone so that it would give him correct directions only to finally give in and pull off the road to type it in. Eventually, we arrived.

Never a dull moment!

Welcome to the Hotel Kesterbach! 

We had thought we had rooms reserved through an online booking site but as we gave our information to the clerk at the desk, we found out that there were no rooms reserved for us. Thankfully, they weren't so full that we couldn't stay there that night and they gave us the rooms for the same rate we were quoted online!

I love visiting Germany!

Ryan saw this sign on the door the next morning and at first glance thought it said "Drunken". As you can see he was shocked. 

As we prepared to board our flight to the US David and I walked around a little by our gate and couldn't resist buying some sort of pastry before we left the country. After all, what else do you do with those leftover Euro coins besides buy pastries, right?!

Let me introduce you to our extremely yummy doughnut pretzel. 
Wow, did this thing melt in your mouth!

Ten and a half hours later we arrive in Seattle. 
We are here! What's next on the agenda you ask? 
Showers for all?
Not until after we rush to our home church to unload our luggage so that we can repack one bag and send our daughter off to attend Teen Winter Conference. 
The bus left 30 minutes after we arrived at the church.

Our teens ready for a great conference!

Yes, never a dull moment! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vacation Bible School 2013 - Day One

This year's Vacation Bible School program had been a dream for several years. Dee had found the 'Mad About Jesus' website several years ago and was excited about implementing some of their wonderful science experiment object lessons into a week long VBS program one day here in Russia. There was only one problem - we needed a mad scientist! We are so grateful for those who have been saved through the ministry here in our village and this year we had wanted to include them as much as possible in our VBS program. Several of them were not able to help as we had hoped but, one lady was willing even to be a mad scientist in order to help these precious children understand Bible principles taught during the week!

The lady standing on the right in the jeans and the white jacket was a new Mother that we had bring her daughter for the first time! This year was a great year for new children that we have not previously been able to work with attending VBS! We had adults bring their children or stop by to watch every day!

Praying before the activities begin for Day One!
And so without further adieu, we would like to introduce you to...Mrs. Pipetkina, our 'mad' scientist for our 'Laboratory of Fun' VBS program 2013! 

I believe this is one of my favorite photos of the week. The minute Ryan noticed who Mrs. Pipetkina actually was he just laughed! 

Dee teaching the smaller age group.
Don't you love our flannel graph "holder"??

The Bible lesson for the first day was the Woman at the Well.

David teaching the older age group.
Immediately after the Bible lesson, we gathered all the children together again for the experiment. Mrs. Pipetkina was very nervous about the experiments as children are not her usual listening age! You see, Mrs. Pipetkina is actually a geneticist! She has given many lectures, but had never worked with children. She was challenged and spent much time in prayer asking God to help her make the experiment clear and easily understandable for the children. We had to translate each experiment and spend many hours together talking through them so that she knew exactly what needed to be said and how to convey the message. This week definitely caused her to lean on the Lord and that is a great position for her to be in - trusting in Christ to help her!

The children were looking forward to something new and exciting to watch when it was time to gather around for the experiment. 

This experiment can be described in detail here but these photos just have to be shared! Mrs. Pipetkina has a fear of balloons. So, this first experiment was a challenge for her to have to pop THREE balloons on purpose! We even offered to pop them for her since David understands her fear (hmm, his wife has the same "strong dislike" for balloons!) but she promised to be brave. She did great! Best of all were her faces as each balloon popped!

Sin separates us from God.

Can you help me put the balloon back together?

But, John 7:38 says, " He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."

Both water and salvation are priceless and free. 
Both are available to everyone!

The balloon filled with water does not pop, but is protected, when it is exposed to open flame.

As is the person who puts his/her faith in Jesus Christ!

The experiment went well! The children understood and were amazed that the water balloon did not pop!

Next on the schedule, review game time!

After snack time, it was time for a few games!

The first game required the kids to hold each other at the elbow and without breaking the chain, get their bodies through the hula hoop and on down the line.

There are usually a few clowns in the group but this little guy just made us laugh with his funny faces while he concentrated on getting through that hula hoop!

The next game was a bit of a risky one on our part but we saw this game played at a good friend's son's birthday party and it was a lot of messy fun!

We did a little simpler version where the kids stand in line, each team having two players (one on each side of the table) blindfolded and ready to dig into a jello and whipped cream pie with their hands! Inside the pie were gummy worms, rice, and beans. The goal was for the children to find as many beans as they could, pull them out of the pie mess and onto the tablecloth in 30 seconds. The team with the most beans found wins!

I gave the instructions and David made sure to taste test the whipped cream just in case it was bad! ;)

The beautiful pies!

And their off!

Okay, so the risk was worth taking! They LOVED this game! Girls and boys alike!

After washing their hands off in a bucket of water, they received their papers to complete and bring back the next day and all went home. 
Our program lasts two hours and it is a packed two hours with no time in between activities for them to wander off. This year the first few days felt like the two hours was more like 30 minutes! The time seemed to pass so quickly from start to finish! 

We were so thankful for the great beginning of VBS 2013 with a total of 28 kids in attendance!

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