I didn’t know it was okay to watch a movie while driving a taxi…

… but I guess it is.  🙂  Taxi rides are always full of stories.  There’s the time the driver was texting and changing the radio station at the same time.  Or the time I found an open bottle of something in the back seat and the driver smelt strongly of alcohol.  It is in these times that I suddenly become a prayer warrior!  Who needs books and studies to strengthen your prayer life; just take a ride in a taxi every once in a while and you’ll be set.  

Last night (a very busy night) was no exception.  The snow was whirling around the car and sticking to the slick roads.  (This is the most I have ever seen it snow here… it’s March… just wanted to point that out…)  I saw an icon stuck to the dashboard and remembered a story I heard of someone using this to begin talking about God.  So I tried to form a logical sentence in my head before opening my mouth, “кто это?” (who is this?)  I asked, pointing to the icon.  I said that I am a foreigner and I don’t know about these things.  He explained that if you have problems or need help the icon can help.  He said He believes in God and that God helps.  I asked him why he needs icons as well as God, why can’t he just pray to God.  He said that He has God too and showed me an icon of Jesus hanging on his windshield.  I asked if he reads the Bible.  When he said no I told him that the Bible has all the answers about God and life.  We were pulling up to my apartment when I invited him to come to our church if he would like to know what’s in the Bible.  But, I think I forgot to tell him when we meet.  

At the Bible study earlier tonight I heard stories of God working and changing lives, and I believe this gave me boldness to speak out about the truth.  I did not want to miss out on any blessing God had for me or my taxi driver.  So I encourage you to go and tell the life changing news of Jesus!!  I think a large percentage of you can speak the language of the people around you, so you have the ability to say so much more than I could.  So go, tell!  Also, go to church!!  And spend so, so much time talking with other Christians about how God is working in your life and the lives of those around you because this gives you boldness!  It is part of the cloud of witness that surrounds us.  Woohoo, I’m all fired up 🙂  

“We don’t like your cross”

A few weeks ago David was sitting in the home of Yuri and his parents. “Our son is in bad shape and needs rehab or he will kill himself” they said. David invited them to church the next day where they would meet the men from the rehab center and then Yuri could go back with them to the center. He gave them his card with his number on it, and in the corner was a little cross. But it wasn’t the orthodox cross. When David checked with them to make sure they would be at church they said, “we don’t need your help, we don’t like your cross.” David was shocked! Their son was about to die and they were worried that their crosses were different! He talked with them for a long time and finally they decided to come to church anyway. Sunday morning the whole family came and the mom and son even stayed the whole time. After the service Yuri went to rehab and stayed there for a few weeks, but he did not finish the program.
Last night I was sitting in a Bible study David leads for people who aren’t part of the church. Yuri (in the picture with the gray shirt) and his mom (with the zebra striped scarf) were there (as they usually are) with big smiles on their faces. When I see them in church they always greet me warmly and Lena (the mom) wraps me in a big hug. Last night was no exception. As we began Yuri said he had something to say. I was translating for a visitor…
“This Monday I was talking with a friend on the internet. This friend has been going to church for like 10 years. So we talked and talked. And then I said hang on I have to repent.” At witch point I said the words but only after I said them I realized what he was saying!!!
“After I prayed I got back online and my friend asked me how I feel. I said that I am just sitting here with a big grin on my face and don’t know why. The next day I read the Bible and it was so different. It was like a new book!”
It was so neat to be his voice to the woman I was translating for and tell her of another man whom God has brought to Himself!

Please pray for Yuri, Lena and the father. Praise the Lord for His amazing work!

In lesson today…

I read an article on family centers in Russia. The next three hours of the lesson flew out the window as we discussed families and marriage. I did nothing to instigate this prolonged conversation! Sometimes, I admit, that I add things or ask questions on a topic to get my teacher talking so I can have a break from all the grammar. This time I actually tried to get back to the textbook. But it was a very interesting topic for both of us and so we talked… We talked about families with only one child, families with many, how the centers help families in Russia, what life was like during the Soviet Union, and that there is still hope for me to be married (which is something I already knew)…
While we talked about parents and their relationship with their children it seemed natural to talk about our Heavenly Father and His relationship with us. I talked about how it is good for children to have responsibilities and learn through difficult tasks, and that is why God allows difficulties in our lives. He is working and shaping us to be better people (ultimately to have the best relationship with Him).
I truly am thankful for every difficult task I have come up against! I know my Savior in a deeper way because of how He held me and helped me through the struggle.

An evening with Alla

My friend Alla is an energetic cosmetologist who loves to sing and loves The Lord. I went to get a little trim today and asked if we could hang out afterwards. So we visited while she reshaped my locks and then we walked across the street to a classy cafe. During our time together I realized she wasn’t dumbing down the words she would use (because I hardly knew any of them). But she was always careful to talk slow and ask if I understood. We talked and ate and listened to the live music playing in the background. Then we decided to run to the “dollar “store for a few things. The man working there kept yelling at us for touching stuff (at a dollar store!). I think he wanted to go home for the night. We made our purchases, walked to the bus station and hopped on a bus together. Alla encouraged me that she understands me and thinks I am doing well with Russian. She said I am already a part of the family at church and when I am not there everyone notices. She is always saying a good word and it is sweet, like honey, to the soul. I dearly love this girl. It was also so refreshing to be together just doing normal things with another person. Tonight I didn’t have to eat alone or go shopping alone, or even ride alone on the bus.
I am now sitting in my room and hear my neighbor crying next door. I pray that God will provide a way for me to meet them and speak openly about Jesus!
Tomorrow I have my guitar and Russian lessons. I am praying for both my teachers, that God will continue to work in their lives to bring them to a saving knowledge of Him.