Friday, July 18, 2008
I had a really exciting day. We met some of the youth from the Methodist church in Syktyvkar and went for a walk. After lunch we went to the house of one of the youth. Dima is handicapped. He can sit up for 2 hours sometimes, but he is usually bedridden. He is in his mid-twenties and maybe 3 or 4 feet tall. He does a lot of the technological work for the church. He lives a life full of joy and enthusiasm for the cause of Christ. We watched different plays the youth had done for church that he had videotaped. Every video was underscored by his high pitched squeals of laughter and delight. It was truly one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. (Branden, Lauren, and me with Dima at church) We began sharing our stories of how we came to faith. Ksusha was invited to church by the new girl in school. Anya was invited by Ksusha. Vica was invited by Anya. Dima became a Christian after the people from church would come and spend time with him every week. When it was my turn to share how I came to faith Ksusha said, "Michael will share his story in Russian." It might have been a joke, I don't know. I do know that I did it. I gave my testimony in Russian. I needed help with a few words, and I'm sure it wasn't pretty - but I shared my life story in Russian. I almost cried when I finished - partially because I was so happy and felt such accomplishment and partially because I was so touched by the whole experience. So that's where I'm at right now. I'm living in a beautiful little city where night doesn't begin until 2 AM and I wake up to the sunshine in the morning. I'm getting by with my Russian language - it's difficult and ugly, but it passes with a little help from my friends. I'm surrounded by beautiful people of tremendous faith. I love and miss all of you, and am so grateful for the continued prayer. Love, Michael.