catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 2, Num 19 :: 2003.10.10 — 2003.10.23


To Russia, with love

Jan. 25, 4:30 p.m.

It's hard to believe I'm FINALLY on my way to Russia! In some respects it seems like it's been forever trying to get ready, yet it was just September when I "got the call" (from God).


Jan. 26, 12:50 a.m. central U.S. time, 7:50 a.m. in Germany


Well, I've made it this far. We had a good flight from Chicago to Germany, but try as I might, I didn't get much sleep. It's amazing how many people have done this trip many times before. The youngest in our group is 10 years old and the oldest is in her early eighties.

Jan. 26, 9:00 p.m. Russian time

I've made it—I'm in St. Petersburg! The name of the large hotel we're staying in is the Cosmos. The rooms are clean, we have our own bathroom, and the windows aren't drafty. From what I understand, that may not be the case in our break away city.


Jan. 27, 4:30 p.m.

Our day has been spent in orientation and meeting our interpreter, Julia. Julia explained how Russia was an atheist country for years. During that time, Christians were persecuted and even put in prison. Julia has been a Christian for 3 years, and was even baptized in the Black Sea! How exciting!
We finally met as a small group that will be traveling together in Russia. It consists of Elizabeth, a mom of 6 children; Tom and his Russian born daughter, Olga; Julia, our interpreter; and myself.


Jan. 28, 9:00 a.m.


Our first location was an orphanage that houses children whose parents have lost custody. The main goal is that the children will become good citizens of the city and country—unlike their parents. In our small group meeting, the teacher (an Orthodox Russian) couldn't understand how we could have the SAME God when she lives in Russia and we are from America. Julia did a great job explaining how God lives in our hearts, not in a country.


Jan. 29, 7:00 p.m.

Today we went to a youth prison—doesn't that sound like an oxymoron? The boys ranged in age from 16-21, and were in prison for stealing all the way up to murder. A few of the boys had some serious questions relating to Christianity. Julia did an excellent job of explaining Christ to a young man. I don't ever think I'll forget his eyes—they were so questioning. (He had bright red hair and baby blue eyes.) The orthodox priest told him if he smoked, he couldn't talk to God. He was so confused because he didn't know who to believe—us or the priest. Julia told him to take some quiet time and ask the Holy Spirit to guide him in the right direction. We hope to meet him in Heaven some day!


Jan. 30, 11:00 p.m.

We left for Volhov this morning on some very slippery, snowy roads. The pastor from the Volhov Central Baptist Church spoke after dinner. Pastor Stephan said their church had prayed a lot for us and our visit. He told us there were only 12 believers in 1990, but since then 300,000 New Testaments have been passed out. The church has even been able, with the help from other American/Christian volunteers, to build their own building—quite an undertaking in Russia!


Jan. 31, 10:00 a.m.

Visiting the Railroad County Hospital, I felt like one of God's disciples. After touring the different areas, our group was given permission to pass out gospel bracelets (that tell the story of salvation) in the corridor. The corridor was the waiting area for people waiting to see the doctors, and was packed with people of all different ages and illnesses. Tom explained the story of salvation, and Julia interpreted.
In the evening our group was invited to the home where Julia was staying. I can't imagine just getting off work and having 10 people come over at the last minute—and they didn't even know us! This was just a sampling of how gracious the Russian people are! We were invited back, and I hope we can go.


Feb. 1, 7:00 p.m.

We visited two churches today, a Pentecostal church and a Baptist church. It was by invitation only, for the Russian people. They had been selected by a social agency, as there are so many poor people in Volhov. Along with learning about God, the people received, among other things, food, vitamins, and children's Bible storybooks. There is so much more to sharing the Gospel than just talking about it; the human body must be fed also.
Evenings are great here as we get fellow Russian Christians to visit with us. They are so hungry to talk about God and what he has done, and is doing in their lives—they are so on fire for the Lord. Again it reminds me of Bible times when people used to get together in homes to discuss God.


Feb. 2, 10:00 p.m.

Today, Sunday, was a beautiful day spent in worship at the Pentecostal Church. The service was over 3 hours, but it sure didn't seem that long. There aren't any words to explain how I felt as we sang songs in English, while the Russians sang with us in Russian at the same time—all praising God in our own languages, yet God understood us all!
This evening a group of women from the Baptist church came to the hotel to sing for us. It's amazing what God has done in this previously Communist country!


Feb. 3, 11:00 p.m.

Central Hospital was our destination today, where we were asked to go to the rehab/therapy department. Thankfully the fourth wall was a divided petition, as there were so many people they couldn't all fit in the room. I spent my time passing out gospel bead bracelets and touching the elderly patients. Some of the patients were bedridden, so they asked us to go to the rooms. Julia joined me as I sat on the bed of a 78-year-old woman. Julia asked her if she had Jesus in her heart, and she said yes, she had just asked Him into her life when we were speaking! How wonderful to think that we will see her in Heaven some day!


Feb. 4, 11 p.m.

Rodnichok Orphanage was our afternoon stop: a place that may have changed my life! After the traditional time spent entertaining us, we were split into groups. This is where I met Alik, a special 12-year-old whose only wish is to be "part of a family." For some reason, I just couldn't take my eyes off of him! There is a lot more to the story of Alik, but I'll save that for another time.

This morning I had volunteered to go with a group to visit some teenagers. It was about 8:30 p.m. when it was finally time to go and I was tired. I didn't feel like putting on my boots, coat, mittens, etc. and heading out into the cold, to walk 20 minutes. The walk was refreshing, and as long as I kept my scarf over my mouth I was fine. We weren't sure what we were getting ourselves into, as this "assignment" wasn't through Josh McDowell Ministries. One of the women who had heard us speak before was in charge of the teenagers that lived in the "dorm." Americans had never been invited in before, and we were warned to stay together as a group. Most of the kids, 17-18 years old, were living here as they didn't have families, and were learning different trades before they went out on their own. Some of them had heard about Jesus before and were anxious to let us know that. Hopefully, some seeds were either planted or watered tonight.

Feb. 5, 11:30 p.m.

We were told we were going to a very sad place today, the Philipok Rehab Center, a home for children with handicaps. I felt like I was back in the 50s as the equipment was so old, and they didn't even have an elevator (the children who couldn't walk were carried up the stairs). While the children sang songs for us, a little girl named Yana who was deaf and had other physical problems came over by us. She took turns sitting on our laps and playing with us. It goes to show that God uses even little things to show His glory. The staff was impressed with the love we showed to Yana. She had just come to the school and needed a lot of love.

It was bittersweet tonight, as it was the last night as a group. Everyone had gone from not knowing each other a week and a half ago, to becoming very close friends. We had all shared our testimonies, laughter, tears and hugs, and now it was time to say goodbye, not only to each other, but also to our Russian family. God truly blessed all of us who went on this trip. I know I left a big part of my heart in Russia, and I can?t wait to return!

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