March 24, 2005
The battle rages on. God has gripped my heart thoroughly these last few weeks and my time in His word and in prayer has been sweet. Around me the battle rages on in the lives of many dear friends and other missionaries. My desire is call upon those prayer warriors who have years of intercessory experience. Tuesday was an especially difficult day. We received two calls. One telling us our landlord had been killed and money and apartment documents stolen from him. He was a gentle young man, whose soft spoken voice will be greatly missed. My instructions from Aaron – Don’t open the door to anyone you don’t know, ever! Our names and address were on the apartment documents taken, as well as how much we pay a month in rent. The second call came minutes later when a close YWAM missionary friend called to tell us that his fanny pack with his family’s passports, car documents, credit cards and money for the base ministries was stolen. Because his license was in there as well, he will not be able to drive his family of four, and the cost to reregister the car, get new visas and passports for the family, etc is well beyond their budget. He saw the men who stole it get into a Mercedes Benz and drive off. This family has been hit especially hard the last few months as they have decided to take on the YWAM base leadership here in St. Petersburg. The enemy loves to attack those who step out for the Lord.
Our third prayer request is for a Baptist pastor and his wife who have served for 17 years in the former Soviet Union. They have been forced to leave the mission field due to his serious health problems - a direct result of stress in his life. Currently, one of their Russian neighbors is filing a suit against them for supposed damage done to her ceiling during remodeling of their apartment. They offered to repair the cracks in her ceiling which could have happened long before their remodel job, but she is insisting on $20,000 compensation, 10 times the actual cost of a high quality repair job. The husband is with the children in the states while the wife is here alone packing up and getting ready to leave. 7 men showed up at her apartment last Thursday to “arrest” her furniture (meaning she could not sell or give it away) and told her she could not leave the country till the court decision was made – a decision that could take years. A local member of their congregation stepped in and took responsibility on behalf of the missionary family. Please pray for peace for this family as well as justice done in this court decision. Many times judges here base their decision on the size of the bribe offered by one or the other party. And pray for Kathy, the wife as she is especially vulnerable in this time of being alone while her family is home in the U.S. It has been an emotional and difficult time for her to be solely responsible for packing and selling 7 years worth of living memories.
For those of you who don’t know, we bought a van which was promptly impounded two days after Aaron started driving it. Evidently the law was changed the first of this year and not all the documents were in perfect order, so the road police, who pull over people randomly looking for bribes, took our car. At least this officer was honest enough to admit to Aaron that he gets a cut of the impound fee from the towing company for impounding cars. We got a chuckle out of that honest crook. After 300 dollars in fees and a change of ownership documents we finally got our van back. Lo and behold the same officer pulled Aaron over again (most likely hoping he hadn’t done everything correctly) but all our papers were in order and he was forced to let Aaron go. Now however, we are struggling with a huge problem with the intake manifold which will cost close to $2000 to fix (a third of the value of the car). Our car is a rare breed (Estima/Enima), made in Japan for driving in Japan, and the parts are horrendously expensive. Of course the labor isn’t cheap either. The advice from the repair shop, sell the car and don’t tell the new owners what the problem is. Of course this is not an option for us, so pray that we will be able to find the part in Finland when we leave to give birth to our second child. In the mean time, we are only burning half our diesel and leaving the rest in a cloud of black smoke behind us. Who would have thought car ownership could be such a burden here.
Wow it sounds like life is depressing for us here, but in truth we are truly blessed, and the Lord has been working in our lives and in our hearts. We have an opportunity to start a pastoral ministry for the YWAM base here, a much needed service, and we have become coordinators for the worship ministry at our church. Timothy and I have started daily devotions and are having great fun learning about creation, drawing, coloring, and cutting included. He is growing in leaps and bounds and at 2 years 3 months is adding words daily to his vocabulary. The difficult part is figuring out if they are in Russian or English, or just his own Baby talk. Mom is getting to be a pretty good interpreter! We wait with joy for our little girl, and are slowly accumulating a few pink outfits, bows included.
To my dear sisters who have written and called I want to thank you for your intersession on my behalf. I have felt the prayers in my life and my spirit is being renewed every day as I come into the presence of the Lord. He is amazingly good and merciful.
We love you and look forward to seeing you this fall.
Ramona, Aaron, Timothy, and Baby Girl Bogott