The Story of our Move to Russia

We figured out pretty quickly why they suggested we get there 4 hours early We figured out pretty quickly why they suggested we get there 4 hours early

Robert ? July 2005

(Click the photos to enlarge)

Well, it?s hard to believe but the time has finally come and we are now full-time residents of Russia. We arrived here a week ago today, but what?s even more amazing is that all 24 of our bags arrived with us. After weeks of working at paring down our possessions by way of a couple garage sales, a lot of giveaways, and a couple trips to the city dump, we managed to reduce our ?stuff? into 24 suitcases and duffle bags. After putting it to pencil, we found that paying for extra baggage would be much cheaper than shipping by container, or any other option available to us. And, since our two sons were traveling with us, we were able to get four more bags checked for free.

Our new home was a welcome site in the dawns early light of July the 4th Our new home was a welcome site in the dawns early light of July the 4th

East-West is part of a multi-mission pastor training center here in our city, and they sent their driver and van to meet our 4:00am flight from Vienna. With our sons, Aaron and Ben, serving as pack-mules, we managed to get our bags hauled out to the curb and loaded every one of them in the van. I rode with the luggage while Ann and the boys followed in a taxi and by 6am the morning of July 4th, we were at our new home. Fortunately for us, this was a day that the ?lift? (Russian word for elevator) was working to our 10th floor apartment, and with our sons still serving as pack-mules, we were moved-in in no time.

Enjoying breakfast that first morning with our sons was such a great gift God gave us Enjoying breakfast that first morning with our sons was such a great gift God gave us

We?ve completed our first week here and we still don?t have a workable internet connection at our home, so I am sending this update from a local coffee shop that now offers WiFi. No, it?s not Starbucks. They still don?t have those here, and it?s not likely we ever will. We don?t even have a McDonald?s here believe it or not. They say this is the buckle of the ?Red Belt? and that our local government perhaps has some residual communist leanings. Thus, Krasnodar has very little western influence and certainly no western restaurant chains. We have to be in Moscow in October for some East-West meetings and you can bet we?ll make a stop in at the local TGI Fridays for some good ole ?American? cookin?. We?ll probably still manage to avoid McDonald?s though.

Our new friend Maj Lis gave us a tour of the pastor training center Our new friend Maj Lis gave us a tour of the pastor training center

Enough already of the politics of local food! What about us!?! How are we doing you ask? We?ll thanks for asking. We are still a bit overwhelmed, which is where we?ve been for some months now. But, more than anything we are overwhelmed with the intense awareness of the Hand of God on our lives in these months. We know that so much of what we are feeling is a direct result of the chorus of intercession that has been rising to our Father?s throne. We can?t begin to thank you enough for your faithful and prayerful support of this work. God?s provision through the gifts of His people has been so amazing that only He can be glorified in it. But even more the power of His presence and intervention because of the intercession of His people has been astounding.

A difficult goodbye, but an awesome week we had together! A difficult goodbye, but an awesome week we had together!

His provision for our sons to travel with us and spend this first week here was even more valuable and precious than we could have ever imagined. We knew that to try to say goodbye to our sons in the chaos of that last week in Dallas would have been so painfully pointless, so to have those days alone with them here in Russia was just a huge gift from God. Sitting around our little kitchen table in our Russian flat with them that last night I described it as ?the best of times and the worst of times?. The best for what the week itself had meant to us all, and the worst for what that last day felt like. I thought I?d had some hard days this past couple years, but this one took the cake. When I awoke that last day, realizing that I would have to put them on the plane for ?home? in the wee hours of that next morning, I was overtaken with a painful sense of grief. Like so many other times in my life, I began to sense the spiritual attack of the enemy throwing up to me my failures and inadequacies as a father. But, as God, the ultimate Spiritual Victor in the battle would have it, by the end of the day I was ready to release them into the hands of the only Father who is adequate to meet their every need and to nurture and equip them sufficiently for the race He has marked out for them to run.

So, they were off with everything we would allow them to bring on their backs.  They had to carry in our extra suitcases, so they weren't allowed to bring their own. So, they were off with everything we would allow them to bring on their backs. They had to carry in our extra suitcases, so they weren't allowed to bring their own.

So, that morning we put them on the plane, took a long tearful taxi ride back to our flat and began in earnest the process of enculturation. For me, after over a month with an average of 3 hours of sleep per night (literally), this process began with a 17 hour-long nap. I awoke the next day with my whole body in extreme pain, probably from not moving for so long, and not eating for so long either. One of the first positive adjustments to my new culture will hopefully be adjusting to getting a more normal sleep regimen established. We?ve been waking up with the chickens, literally. The roosters begin crowing about 3:00am actually, but most nights now, we?ve been able to sleep until almost sunrise, which for this part of Russia, this time of year, comes about 6:00am.

So far the lift has worked almost everyday.  Being on the 10th floor may have been God's way of ensuring that we get our exercise. So far the lift has worked almost everyday. Being on the 10th floor may have been God's way of ensuring that we get our exercise.

As great as this first week has been in just about every way, I have already hit the wall a few times in the culture shock department. All our pre-field training suggested that shouldn?t happen for a few months. But, for me, I am hoping that I adjust more readily to the language and culture than I have to the dial-up internet connection. We have been here so many times before and I am fully aware of how much longer it takes to get anything done here. But, with all the business I planned to take care of on the internet this week, I am seeing that the difference between the broadband internet connection I was spoiled to at home and the dial-up connection that I will be using here, may be about the same as the difference between the trolley-bus I will be using here and the North Dallas Tollway I left behind. Please pray for patience in this process and all that it means to embrace another culture.

Our first church service in Krasnodar Our first church service in Krasnodar

Sunday we attended our first church service here. The church we visited this week must be the largest in the region with about 2,000 people attending regularly, but with the political climate here, it is virtually impossible for an evangelical church to get property. So, this church meets in a tent outside the city. The service was typical Russian in length at three hours, but anything but typical otherwise, and the worshippers were anything but stoic. The Joy of the Lord filled that tent as those 2,000 voices lifted up His praises in Russian. We couldn?t even pretend to sing along. Very few songs were familiar to us but the Spirit was definitely familiar. A short Gospel message was presented in the middle of the three hours and an altar call was given in which 40-50 people of all walks came forward to express their desire to put their trust in Christ as Savior. Each person was joined by a different member of the church who prayed for them individually and began immediately to get them hooked up with one of the 100+ small groups in the church. Wow! This is what I call a church! Maybe they don?t need us. Maybe God has another place for us, but this is the one church we learned of last year here in Krasnodar that is very proactive in orphan ministry as one area of outreach. If this isn?t the church for us, I would expect that at the least we may be teaming up with some of its members in orphan ministry projects here in Krasnodar.

Stay tuned to this website for more on God?s move in our hearts, in this work, and in this, our new Russian home. For more on our first week and the precious moments with our sons, check the photo gallery. Thanks again for your valued prayer support. We can?t do this without you.