Its Definitely Winter in Krasnodar

Posing at -20 C, across the street from our flat Posing at -20 C, across the street from our flat

January 2006

So many of our friends were worried about us moving to Russia and being cold.  I even remember when we first arrived in July some missionary friends in Africa writing us and wanting to know if we were staying warm, that they were thinking about us.  Well, that was when Krasnodar was experiencing an unusual heat wave and it had been 113 F for a week!  Yes, that?s right 113 F in a country that doesn?t have air conditioning in public transportation or many other places.  We were very grateful to be on the 10th floor with windows on each side of the flat and could get a draft going.  We also purchased 2 fans and would use our window unit for an hour or two a day when we just couldn?t handle it.  The air conditioner really raises the electric bill ? just like in the States!


Everyone told us that because we were so far south in Russia and near the Black Sea that our winters are not that cold and we don?t always get snow every year. Well . . . evidently this winter is another record breaker!  (Of course, the Fuqua?s have arrived!J).  The temperature has been hovering around freezing for about 2 weeks with intermittent snow and ice.  (That?s 0 degrees C and 32 degrees F)  And then last week we got up and checked our thermometer mounted outside the kitchen window and it was -15 C!  Tonight they are forecasting -28 C (that?s -20 F to most of our loved ones across the ocean!)


Winter Out Our Kitchen Window Winter Out Our Kitchen Window

The snow is absolutely beautiful, especially from our apartment window where we can see the trees and rooftops dusted with the beautiful, clean white powder.  But the ice is treacherous and then it melts a little and is a mess (and so are your shoes and your pants) and then re-freezes.


We have learned to do the ?Russian shuffle?, the way the Russians walk to avoid falling on the ice.  I?ve fallen twice since all of this hit, and that?s two times too many but the only thing I hurt was my pride.  So glad Robert was there to help me up.  I kind of feel like the little kid in ?The Christmas Story? that is all bundled up in his snowsuit and can barely move.


We were planning to go to Voronezh this weekend to check on the ?You Are Not Alone Club? and our friends there but when we called our co-worker, Alina, she reported that Voronezh was experiencing the coldest winter they have had in 10 years!  It?s about 500 kilometers north of us and the city has basically had to shut down because of the cold.  The temperature has been around -30C (that?s -22F to you guys!).  Brrr?.  They say there are no traffic jams in Moscow because they can?t get the cars started. That?s one way to cut down on traffic!


This is the cafe downstairs, next to our Supermarket.  They only have outdoor seating, so naturally they're closed for a while.  You can see our bedroom balcony on the tenth floor above in the background This is the cafe downstairs, next to our Supermarket. They only have outdoor seating, so naturally they're closed for a while. You can see our bedroom balcony on the tenth floor above in the background

So, we are staying bundled up when we have to go out.  (Always have Chapstick in my pocket).  Yesterday when Robert and I were walking to the trolleybus stop, about three blocks from our apartment, our faces actually hurt.  While riding on the trolleybus the windows were a lace-pattern of ice.  We drink lots of hot chai, coffee and hot chocolate (thank you to our precious friends who sent the chocolate!) and when we are indoors we are warm.


In the past 10 years when we would bring teams into the orphanages to do programs we usually would come in late fall or spring or do summer camps.  We?ve not been to Russia that much in the dead of winter.  And from all reports this is a very unusually cold winter, especially for this part of Russia.  But I can?t help but remember ?our kids? in the orphanages.  Most of those buildings are so old and worn down, especially those that are away from the bigger cities that it is almost impossible to get adequately warm.


Only one time have we actually been allowed to sleep in an orphanage with our team a few years ago in Kirov.  There was a problem with there not being enough space at the hotel to house all of us and the interpreters so we elected to put the interpreters in the hotel and the Americans shared some rooms with the teens.  That was quite a cultural experience on many different levels but one I cherished in order to get a better understanding of what life is like growing up in an orphanage.


I remember the girls being so hospitable and eager to share their space with us ? even giggly.  At one point they brought their jam box in so we could listen to their music.  Of course we didn?t understand what they were wanting, because we didn?t have any interpreters.  Maybe now, after the little Russian I have learned, I could make out their intent to share with us ? a way of showing hospitality ? something the Russians are very good at!


But the rooms were damp and cold and with very little lighting.  The darkness added to the coldness.  The beds were hard and of course, all alike.  They did have wool blankets in this particular orphanage but nothing extra special.  All this to say is that I continue to think of myself first when dealing with the ?hardships? of this country and then I realize why God has called us here -- to equip us to better minister to those who are truly in real need.  Lord, forgive me.


Here we are in front of Krasnodar Bible Church with our apartment building in the background. Here we are in front of Krasnodar Bible Church with our apartment building in the background.

So, we appreciate your continued prayers for us as your missionaries ?for our safety and comfort.  We don?t take those things for granted!  But will you also remember those for whom we came?  For the kids in the orphanages and on the street that have no experience of what it means to really ?warm up? and be comfortable.  Will you remember in your prayers all the people of Russia, as they face another cold winter outside that they will truly experience the love of God on the inside?  Will you pray that we will continue to persevere in our studies to prepare us to take the Good News to a people that are desperate to hear and receive it?

Thanks so much.  It warms our hearts to know you are praying for us!