March 3, 2004
She hobbles out of her door, two small mutts in attendance. Timothy greets her with excited shouts, barking loudly at her two companions. “Come on,” she yells at him, her face wrinkling in a smile of greeting, “hurry up or we’ll leave you behind.” She makes her painful way out into our courtyard and heads for the street, Timothy toddling after her with gasps of excitement. Her two small dogs run up to him, their bodies wriggling in delight to say ‘hi’. Timothy continues to bark at them in mutual greeting. Our ancient neighbor yells again “Hurry up! Time for a walk.” Timothy is beside himself with joy as he does his best to keep up with his new learned walking skills. We are off on a tour of the surrounding area, sprinkling oatmeal on the hard packed snow for the local birds. The neighborhood pigeons have come to know Timothy’s excited shouts and come in a whirr of wings to settle nearby for the feast. A flock of sparrows and finches come to investigate, as well as a couple of large crows who soon loose interest in the offered meal.
Our ventures out into the freezing cold everyday are a highlight for both Timothy and I. He protests in loud cries on having to go inside, frozen nose or no. We have made friends with the other mothers or grandmothers who bring their small ones out for a bit of “fresh” air everyday – a Russian tradition no matter the temperature. On days where it reaches close to 0 degrees F. I tend to do the quick 20 minute tour. If it is in the teens, we are often out for 45 to 50 minutes. Several times a day, Timothy insists on sitting in our deep set windowsills to watch the cars and trucks go by, as well as the few hardy folks walking their dogs. Each dog is greeted with excited barks and tapping on the window. Timothy thinks cats are just a smaller version of his favorite animal and bark at them as well. He really is a delight as his personality blossoms, and he becomes more communicative. He uses sign language to say “please and thank you” , as well as “all done” and is just beginning to add words to his vocabulary, “duck” being his first word after papa and mama. Aaron insists it sounds like “dude” and says Tim is bound to be a surfer.
Life seems to slow down during the long bitter months of winter. We wait expectantly for the spring thaw, mud and all, and the warmer weather. This year, we will not be returning home to the U.S. We have chosen instead to take a family vacation and visit the ruins of the New Testament churches located in Turkey. Ephesus has some of the best Roman ruins in the world as well as the wonderful attraction of being on the Aegean Sea. We also plan to visit a missionary we support in the Ukraine and meet with John and Ruth Maletz and their family (Ramona’s Sister and Brother in Law) in Kiev. They will be traveling to the Ukraine for several weeks of ministry and are bringing their four children with them! We are delighted to be able to spend time with them as well as Natasha this summer.
Of course the downside is that we will not be able to see all of our family as well as many of our good friends this year. Please feel free however to come and visit us in St. Petersburg. We will give you the royal tour and you can sample Ramona’s gourmet cooking free of charge.
For those of you who have followed the Tajik story. Many of you know that the families returned to Tajikistan following the brutal killing of one of their children. Ricardo, the YWAM base leader had a chance to fly down to Tajikistan with Alexei to meet with the families there, and see how they were doing. All they had in departing St Petersburg was a telephone number and the name of a town. They were able to miraculously contact one of the men who met them and brought them to the compound where the families were living. They are doing much better there in their homeland, each family having a room to themselves, running water, etc. Ricardo and Alexei were treated like royalty, and were joyously received by the families who were astonished that the YWAM leadership had kept their word to visit and check up on them. The leaders of the families say that there is no work available in Tajikistan, and they may have to come back to St. Pete’s to find work, a matter that the women are distressed about. Please continue to pray for them as a group. They have heard the gospel, and God’s word does not come back void. Pray for Christian contacts in their area as well as a continued stable living condition for them as a group.
Blessings and love to you all in the name of our Lord!