Our morning started off a little bit slower than normal. We didn’t have any obligations until 1pm. I went on my morning walk and came back to see if I could get the internet working at our end, and then met Drew and Nadia for breakfast in the hotel dining room. I’m going to miss those breakfasts. There are just way too many delicious things to choose from.
Since we had the morning off, we did a little site seeing in Kirovochepetsk. I hadn’t been down to the big Russian Orthodox church by the river, so Drew and Nadia led the way. It was actually quite a beautiful place. And quite busy for a Saturday morning. In one room they were baptizing babies, and just before we walked out, they walked in two open coffins for two older ladies who had died. Quite fascinating to watch.
We walked on to see the WWII memorial (every city in Russia has one – they lost millions and millions of soldiers in that war).
Then it was off to do a little more shopping. Then we made our way to the big field where we had another baseball game set up. Drew and I took turns pitching to the kids and giving them instructions as best we could. You know what? Baseball has an amazing amount of rules that can seem quite confusing to people who have never seen the game. The difference between a forced out and tagging a runner, whether or not to run if the ball is hit in the air, balls and strikes, it can all seem quite confusing. I imagine the kids might have thought Drew and I were just making up new rules as we went along. But the kids did seem to love to play baseball. After the game we headed back to the hotel to clean up a bit, then headed off to a quick lunch/dinner at the café next door.
We took a taxi to the Baptist center and Alexi and his crew had set up their music equipment outside and a small crowd was gathering. Alexi and Laurin Harrison took turns playing songs and I got up for a few minutes in the middle to speak. I shared briefly the parable that Jesus told in Luke 12 of the rich man who spent his life building bigger barns instead of building his life to live for God. I told the audience about our experience with the coffins in the church earlier in the morning and reminded them that we will all die one day. Are we ready to tell your maker what you’ve done with your life? Alexi and Lauren did a few more songs and then we hung out with the crowd for awhile to talk and connect. It was a good night.
We’re now back at the hotel and are beginning to pack because tomorrow we start the long journey home.
This will probably be my last update until we actually get home. Here’s what’s up for the next two days: Early tomorrow (7am) we get picked up and will be taken to the city of Kirov (we’re currently in Kirovochepetsk). Alexi and Natasha live in Kirov and there is a small church that meets in their home. Alexi has asked everyone to come to a special church service at 8am so we can meet with the church, teach, and share communion. Then Alexi will get us to the train station where our train leaves at 11am. For some reason this will be an extra long train ride back to Moscow (3 hours longer than the usual train), but it’s so we can arrive in Moscow on Monday morning at 4am. That will give us enough time to take another train to the airport, get checked in, and our flight leaves at 10am. The first leg of the air journey goes to Amsterdam, where we have a 4 hour layover, then on to Milwaukee with another 3 hour layover, and then on to L.A. where we ought to arrive a little before midnight on Monday.
If you could keep Nadia in your prayers – she’s starting to feel a little feverish – there’s been a virus going around here – and we’ve got two solid days of travel ahead.