My plans for the 2020 trip to Samara, Russia are officially underway! Whoo hoot!
As many (most) of you know, I’ve been traveling to Samara annually since 2001. Not exactly a space odyssey (ha ha), but equal to one in venturing into the unknown, exploring foreign shores, and discovering opportunities to share hope in Christ.
Throughout the years, by far the most attractive facet of Russian life and culture has been its people. Sure, the history, art, and music are second-to-none. The challenges of the language, living in a big city, and staying a step ahead of the ever-changing rules keep me on my toes. But it’s the people I truly love, and continue to love. So many have opened their arms and homes and hearts to me in tangible, unforgettable ways. We’re like family–sharing births, deaths, graduations, divorces, marriages, grief, joy, misunderstandings and reconciliations. In plain words, we’re gratefully growing old together.
That means each trip I’m still able to make is a gift for me. It’s not getting easier, believe me. I was 51 when God set me on this path.
So…this year will be a “double jubilee” as some in Russia have informed me. Celebrating 20 years of ministry, and 70 years of life. So far, I know I will be teaching a 4-session “Through-the-Bible” series at the new Assembly of God fellowship that started up just as I was leaving last year. Pastor Sasha and Sveta moved from Pestravka (the house that faith built) to Samara, where they felt their daughter would get a better education, and where Sasha could be closer to the work he does. I also hope to be invited back to speak at the mid-week women’s group at Tree of Life church (also in Samara). Of course I will be seeing all my beloved friends, the English students of Nina Kuznetzova, and the dearest Katya and her children in Zhiguliovsk. In my final week, I’ll be enjoying another short river cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow, seeing ancient historical places such as Kizhi along the way. Yes, a super-busy but fun 5 weeks.
MOST exciting is that I now have copies of Her Shining Eyes to take to all my English-speaking friends–many of whom were instrumental in the creation of the story. What a joy it will be for me to present them with my debut novel, set in their city.
I’m so grateful for your interest in what God is doing in Russia and through one introverted but committed follower of Jesus.
A mile walked with a friend has only 100 steps.–Russian proverb