Young Bruce Ruotsala and I arrived safely to Moscow on the 16th. Since I was here last, Sheremetova Airport has opened some of the large additions they have been building and so I was a bit confused when we arrived, but we were able to orient ourselves and make our way to the Kasanski Train Station in downtown Moscow via bus, express train and subway. A few hours later we were both soundly asleep on the night train from Moscow to Cheboksary, the capital city of The Republic of Chuvashia.
In Cheboksary we fellowshipped with the small group of brothers and sisters that comprise the local Lutheran Church. Guided by Brother Konstantin Subbotin, Bruce and I also had the privilege of visiting the language section of the city’s main university and spent the day meeting with different groups of students and teachers sharing our lives and the gospel with them. Like most institutions of the kind, sharing of the gospel in this kind of environment is not necessarily permissible, but this is Russia, as one of the university teachers said to us, and so the rules are often fluid. Afterwards, we agreed together that the Lord had been with us and our visit to the university had been blessed. By His grace, we were able to encourage the few Christians we met in the groups, but also were able to plant seeds of life into many young hearts. During our visit to the university we were introduced to the Dean of the Language department and were subsequently invited the Dean’s home that evening for dinner, which we readily accepted, sensing the Lord’s hand in allowing this very important contact and key to future visits.
From Cheboksary Bruce and I bused to Yoshkar Ola in the neighboring Republic of Mari El. While there we stayed at the Lutheran Mission House, which was built with the love and help of Finnish Christians, and is a welcome haven for many. During our stay in Mari El, we fellowshipped and visited many of the local Christians, and worked with Deacon Sasha & Annya Mitukovu in a nearby village, visiting homes and holding a service in the Lutheran village church. We also visited and spoke with the psychologists and volunteer staff of the Yoshkar Ola Crisis Centre, something we have been doing for a number of years now, and to which I always look forward.
Now it is very early morning and Bruce and I are on a train heading for Ekaterinburg. Bruce, as well as everyone else around me in this open train car are sleeping, but outside our windows the sun is shining down on the villages and countryside streaming by, melting the thin layer of stubborn spring frost.. When I look out on the scintillating country side passing by, I can’t help to feel sad for so many in the world who do not recognize our Lord in this beautiful creation, but I realize too, that it is only by His grace that I myself can see it. May God work though us, as He has ordained, to open the eyes and hearts of those around us, not only to His presence, but to His great love, grace and eternal salvation.
God’s grace and peace to each of you,