Sunday, September 7, 2008

Journey to Siberia

I am writing this blog while sitting in an airport café in Novosibersk, Siberia. There has been no lack of excitement the last 24 hours. First, we wrapped up a great week with the pastors and Christian workers at Moscow Theological Seminary. They expressed their appreciation with kind words, hugs, and gifts. They really seem committed to taking this and running with it. One of them, Sergei, who is full-time with the Russian Baptist Union, informed us that he has been asked by the seminary to begin teaching what he is learning in the Biblical Counseling Training to area pastors on an ongoing basis! Others shared how it is impacting them personally and shaping the way they intend to do ministry in their churches and ministries. It is very apparent that God is at work in all of this. He has put this hunger and passion in their hearts. We are filled with joy for what he is doing and that he allowed us to be a part of this. But this was only the beginning

We left for the airport at 5:00 pm to catch a 9:00 pm flight to Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. The streets and highways around Moscow were like parking lot. What might normally take 45 minutes (if there was no traffic) took over three hours. We had been told that we had to make it to the gate by 8:40 pm or we would miss our flight. At 7:50 pm, we were still sitting in traffic inside the city limits of Moscow with little prospect of emerging from an endless line of traffic. We were praying diligently because the next flight would not leave until 1:40 am and there would have been a significant charge for re-booking. Suddenly things began to open. And then the excitement began. Our taxi driver suddenly morphed into Jeff Gordon, swerving in and out of traffic at speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour. We narrowly missed hitting or sideswiping several vehicles. And our driver even got into a road rage encounter with another driver. When we arrived at the airport, everything was a blur. Do you remember the old Hertz commercials with OJ Simpson running through the airport? We did. Somehow we made it on to the plane. We praise God once again for amazing answer to prayer—including the fact that we are still alive! After taking off, we had a five hour flight to Krasnoyarsk (four time zones east of Moscow). Just as were about to land, we were re-directed to Novosibersk (500 miles west) where we waited nearly five hours until the weather cleared. We finally arrived in Krasnoyarsk around 4:00 pm (Krasnoyarsk time) on Saturday or nearly 13 hours after our flight had left Moscow. We are exactly 12 hours ahead of Detroit.

Needless to say we are very tired and our internal clocks are messed up. But inwardly we are being refreshed by Rashid and Svetlana and their three wonderful daughters, Dasha (17), Natasha (15), and Masha (11). They are feeding us well and we are enjoying their fellowship.

Tomorrow we will attend Grace Church where we will be teaching beginning on Tuesday. We are expecting anywhere from 55 to 70 to attend. Since Internet access is more limited here, this may be my last blog for a few days. Pray for our bodies to adapt and recharge so we will be refreshed and ready to teach on Tuesday. Pray also for our students and us, that God will prepare all of our hearts for the ministry of His life-changing Word.


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